Thursday

[cooking] Blueberry Peach Pie and Peach Sangria

Had dinner guest over this past weekend to celebrate a belated birthday (we missed the actual party while we were in Quebec last month). I wanted to make a summery pie with blueberries and since peaches are in season as well...



Blueberry peach pie it is. The pie also serves as a belated birthday card:



The text got a little bit harder to read after baking:


The pie was super with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

And since I had peaches on hand, it was peach sangria time:


This sangria is out-of-control tasty. A bottle of sauvignon blanc, a cup of Applejack brandy, half of cup of triple sec, half a bottle of Tropicana Peach Passion Fruit probiotic drink, juice of one lime, peach slices. Pour over ice and mix with plain seltzer. It's incredible. And as long as you keep the seltzer separate, you can keep the pitcher in the fridge and just pour off a fizzy peachy drink whenever.

Wednesday

[cooking] Eggplant fan

Received two quite beautiful eggplants in the CSA this week and googled around, looking for a recipe. I found a nice one for a pretty eggplant fan.



After salting both sides of the... panels? Wings? Patties? After salting both sides of the eggplant slices, I left it to drain on a plate for an hour. Next time I'll leave it in a colander in the sink- a lot of moisture did come out and it pooled on the plate. I put paper towels between the slices and pressed out more liquid before assembling the rest of the ingredients.


I rubbed olive oil all over the eggplant surfaces and stuffed with sliced yellow tomato and onion. Then I roasted in the oven for 45 min at 350. Then I added shredded mozzarella all over, upped the temp to 400 and baked an additional 15 min. Finished with chopped basil:


Not pictured but also added: grated cured egg yolk all over the top (made this veg dish more savory and filling as a main course). This was delish! Definitely made me a FAN of eggplant, har har har. Next time I'll smear pesto over the eggplant cut surfaces and forgo the basil garnish.

I've got an Asian-inspired plan for the other eggplant tonight: miso glazed and broiled. Will serve with ssam since we have a whole head of leafy lettuce to eat. 

Tuesday

[misc] Penny Tuesday

My mother recently gifted us with a beautiful new cherry dining room set- table and seating for six and a sideboard. We finally put the legs on the new table and started shuffling furniture around the house (the old table went into my craft room, which meant the couch there had to be moved to the living room, which meant the ratty couch there needs to be moved above the garage, etc). While the rest of the house is in a messy state of adjustment (*cough* my craft room *cough*), the dining room looks quite nice. We were even able to separate the boardgame bookshelves and squeeze in the sideboard and put miscellaneous gaming tackle boxes under it.

As I was walking by the dining room from the kitchen to the living room, something caught my eye:


I did a double-take. 


Penny, on the new sideboard, with her "What are YOU looking at?" face. This is why I can't have nice things.

Monday

[misc] Penny Monday

Just a quick post. Flickr pages are not loading for me... Not sure if this means I should find another image hosting service... Will give it a few more days...

Penny in Rocky's hay box:



Busy weekend. Saturday I went to work to start cleaning/redesigning the front flower bed. I arrived a little later than I wanted- 10am. The admin was already there and had done so much already. I brought home a ton of irises to clean up. Then I went to see Dollar's band play on the green in Lebanon at an anti-natural gas pipeline rally. 

Sunday I cleaned up all the irises, made a (late) birthday pie for Dollar's step dad, who was coming over for dinner with Dolllar's mom on Sunday night. Busy day cleaning for that- I only invite people over when I need to clean the house.

Cast on for a new project that I've got to hurry up and complete. The Fair pre-registration form is due by Sept. 1.

Wednesday

[cooking] Six eggs

In an effort to use up eggs, I wanted to try salt-cured egg yolks. I've seen these pop up here and there on foodie blogs- and the recipes looks ridiculously easy: cover egg yolks with salt/sugar and wait. I can do that. 

I took six eggs and separated the yolks from the whites, one at a time, sliding the yolks into a spot on a mix of 75% salt and 25% sugar. The whites I would dump into a container for later use.

Salt-curing egg yolks. Will dig them out of the salt in 4 or 5 days.

Then I covered the yolks with more salt/sugar mix, closed the containers and put them into the back of the fridge. 

But what to do with six egg whites? I went with this recipe for chocolate pavlova. My only change was trying to plop out six individual sized pavlovas on a parchment sheet, rather than making one big one.

I don't know what I'm doing when it comes to meringue. I watched some videos and read some blogs- this one was particularly helpful. I got my meringue to the point of shiny, hold-the-bowl-upside-down stiffness, but... I don't think my sugar was incorporated well enough. I only use organic sugar which tents to have bigger grains and... I don't know, I could still see the sugar when I was portioning out the meringue onto the baking sheet. Which, when heated in the oven, I think caused the pavlovas to collapse and spread? My pavlovas were flat and chewy, rather than lofty and cake-y. 

I had one:

pavlova

pavlova

And unfortunately threw the rest away. The edges were good (and whipped cream + berries + shaved chocolate was the BEST way to enjoy this) but the center of the pavlova couldn't be cut with a fork. It was like... chocolate jerky. Disappoint. Maybe next time I should use superfine sugar? Or let the meringue mix for longer? Or bake at a different oven temp? Every recipe I found seemed to use a different temp, ranging from 150 F to 350 F. I think I did mine at 300 F. 

I guess I would be willing to try meringue again... since I know I'm going to be making cured egg yolks again! The yolks turned out excellent.

After 6 days, I took the containers out of the back of the fridge, gently dug out the gold disks of treasure and brushed off the salt/sugar. They had the consistency of soft gummy bears. I rinsed each under the faucet and patted dry with paper towel- at this point I could pull off any chalazae (those white stringy bits) that had stuck to the yolk when I first set them to cure. Then I put them onto a greased cooling rack to dehydrate in the oven at 150 F for two hours. When they cooled, they were fairly hard.

Salt cured egg yolks. After 6 days, dug them out of the salt, rinsed, finished dehydrating in the oven at 150 F for two hours. I suppose I should make some pasta now, to grate this over.

My desire is homemade pasta with sage browned butter and these yolks shaved over it... But I was feeling lazy, so I just shaved some over buttered corn-on-the-cob that we were having with dinner:

Grated yolk over corn on the cob. Fan-f'ing-tastic . These cured egg yolks are 💯

The yolk shavings didn't melt (I don't know why, but I thought that they would) and the corn didn't taste yolk-y. It just tasted extra good. The shavings themselves just taste... umami. The yolks are currently in a ziplock bag in the fridge and are easy to grab and grate when the urge strikes. Maybe... over mashed potatoes? Popcorn? Should I just motivate and make ton of pasta and freeze most of it so I can enjoy homemade pasta whenever? ... FINE. But I know we'll just end up eating pasta every night until it's gone.

Tuesday

[cooking] Blueberry Raspberry Muffins

Sunday morning (before whisking MF off to the vet- he's doing much better, btw), I quickly made some blueberry raspberry muffins:

Blueberry Raspberry Muffins

The blueberries are fresh (I am getting a pint weekly as part of the CSA) and the raspberries are frozen. I used the raspberries that I picked a little over a week ago and froze; I looooove having a gallon zip-lock bag of big red raspberries in the freezer to use whenever.

Blueberry Raspberry Muffins

Raspberries comprised 50% of the fruit but really dominate the aroma and flavor. Dollar picked one up and took a bite, thinking they were just blueberry muffins (usually the only kind of fruit muffins I make), and said "OOOooo raspberry".

Blueberry Raspberry Muffins

Ooo raspberry, indeed.

Monday

[misc] Murderface Monday

Murderface got to go on on a very exciting excursion to the vet for an emergency visit Sunday morning.

Sunday not-so-funday for Murderface. Emergency vet visit- Rocky bit him pretty bad on his butt. Rocky's getting castrated in a couple weeks to curb his aggression.

He's okay- getting better. He was bitten very bad in the butt by Rocky, our rabbit.

So, Sunday morning MF is having trouble going to the bathroom. He's trying to go in the litterbox and out of the litterbox and having small accidents all over the house. I'm following him and he's actively trying to poop on the bath mats, the front door rug, under my desk in the craft room on paper- everywhere. I scoop him up and turn him over in my lap to clean his butt- and I see a deep hole next to his anus and blood. 

I calmly put him down. Calmly walk to the kitchen and calmly call the vet's emergency line. As I wait for a callback, I frantically hurry to the bedroom to wake Dollar, get dressed and say, "We gotta go! We gotta go now! Murderface needs to go to the vet right now! Get ready!" 

We get the callback, drive down and have him thoroughly checked. It wasn't a pooping issue, which is what I had initially called for. I saw him pooping and then saw blood- I thought they were related. Actually it was a deep, painful bite that, not knowing what the pain was about and given how close it was to his... you know, made MF try to go to the bathroom nonstop. 

The question was then- who bit him? Penny, Santana or Rocky? We didn't see it happen so we can only guess but I'm 99.9999% certain that it was the rabbit. We have seen the rabbit get aggressive with the cats and the bite looked exactly like Rocky's two front teeth. Plus, Penny and Santana would never bite MF in the butt. Come on- that's not what cats do. The vet asked if Rocky is castrated and we have no idea but assume no. The vet said that intact male rabbits only get more aggressive the older they get, so... Rocky now has an appointment to get fixed in a couple weeks. 

We feel so bad for MF. He's the sweetest cat, a total pacifist. We usually let Rocky out of his hutch when we get home from work- then during the evening the cats and rabbit tend to chill on a fleece blanket that we put on the floor. The vet pointed out that the bite was on MF's butt, so he was trying to run away. Ugh. I get the feeling that MF was prob sitting or laying on the blanket, the rabbit ran up to him, MF jumped up and tried to get away, which startled the rabbit, who then lashed out to bite him.

Thankfully we caught the deep bite quickly- he hardly had a fever and the wound wasn't pussy/infected. He got a shot of antibiotics, rabies, something to curb the diarrhea he was having, and sub-q fluids to rehydrate him. We have some cleaning and disinfectant ointment to apply twice a day. He was a little depressed all day yesterday after we returned home but I think he was sleeping off all the shots. Last night he slept between us in bed on a towel all night. This morning he was purry and affectionate- he didn't seem to mind too much the cleaning/ointment application and then ate his breakfast in bed. The wound already looks MUCH better than yesterday. We are also administering lots of TLC.

Friday

[gardening] Lavender Sachets

Collected all the dried lavender and made sachets this week. There were a lot of fine twigs that had to be picked out after rubbing the bundles between my hands over a big bowl to get most of the initial dried buds off. That's fine, I sat on the couch with the bug bowl in my lap and hand picked the stems out while watching a documentary.

Then it was easy to scoop a spoonful of dried lavender into little purple tulle fabric bags.

Homemade lavender sachets

I made a dozen little sachets to throw into yarn storage and dresser drawers. 

Homemade lavender sachets

The ones I made last year are still quite fragrant. Just a squeeze or two and they are as aromatic as they day they were bagged.

This past spring I dug up a lavender plant, divided it and placed the divisions in a few new locations. I'm not sure what will come back next year but I'm trying to expand my collection of lavender plants. I really love this easy harvesting/drying/sacheting.

Thursday

[knitting] Double Cable Twist socks - complete!

Done and washed and blocked:

Socks are dooooooone. #knitting #sockknitting


Pattern: Double Cable Twist (Rav link)

Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Glimmer, two balls

Needles: US 2 DPNs

Modifications: Accidentally knit the cuff of the first sock over 66 stitches. Not sure how I accidentally cast on less than required but once the pattern for the main leg started, I just increased another 6 stitched to 72. I noted it and remembered to do the same thing for the second sock.

The yarn was great- I encountered no knots in either ball. The glimmer/sparkle effect from the metallic tinsel in the yarn is nice. The finished socks are so soft.

I've gone back to the lodestar mittens and I'm not loving it. They're turning out so small. I'd don't particularly enjoy juggling 4 balls of yarn at once. I'm tempted to rip...

Wednesday

[gardening] Daylilies galore

It's already August. I have so many daylilies blooming now:

Here's a nice peach one that a co-worker gave me years ago:

Just peachy!

Siloam 'Bo Peep':

Siloam bo peep

'Girlish Laughter':

'Girlish Laughter'

'Shores of Time':

'Shores of Time' daylily.

'Secret of Contentment':

'Secret of Contentment' takes ruffled edge to a whole new level. #daylilies #gardening

'Shattered Illusions': 

'Shattered Illusions' daylily; new to me this year.

'Little Grapette':

Daylily

Mystery red:

Daylily

Mystery burgundy:

Daylily

Mystery magenta:

Daylily

Mystery siloam:

Daylily

'Destined to See':

'Destined to See'

'Guided by Voices': 

'Guided by Voices'

Mystery red:

Daylily

Other stuff is blooming, too. 

Globe thistle:

Globe thistle 🌎

I'm getting hydrangea blossoms this year- which rarely happens:

#hydrangea

Pimula Capitata. That white powder is called 'farina', which is Italian for 'flour'. It's a natural feature of this primrose and not mold:

#primulacapitata #primula

Speaking of primrose, there is a very confused little primula in the back shade bed:

What's going on here. It's not spring anymore, you dummies. Primrose in July.

I'm getting a second round of blossoms from a rose bush I planed over Memorial Day in memory of my father:

I'm going to get a second round of blooms from my dad's memorial rose bush. 🌹

Tansy, good for natural dying:

Tansy blooming like crazy now... @vtcrafttours you want some?

All the wild apple trees are loaded with fruit:

Apple

Looking forward to wild apple pie this fall!

Tuesday

[spinning] Brown mystery handspun

The last of the yarn that I spun for Tour de Fleece:

Brown Handspun

Bulky two-ply. I assume it's wool but also suspect the white blips are silk and the sheen makes me think there's alpaca in there, too. The mystery fiber was just a 10 oz roll in a plastic bag. I should start cataloging stuff better.

Brown handspun

Enough to make a very, very warm winter sweater for a tiny little niece. Which I am wont to do.

All the TdF yarn, skeined and washed:

All the yarn spun for Tour de Fleece. #tourdefleece #spinning

Very happy with the amount I got done over the month of July.

I have a car appointment after work today and envision finishing up the grey cabled socks. Woot wooooot.

Monday

[cooking] Blueberry Hand Pies

Just in time to do this month's Bakealong Challenge from King Arthur Flour: Blueberry Hand Pies-

Blueberry Hand Pies


For months I've been working my way through bags and bags of frozen blueberries that my mom has given me every summer over the years. That's right- years. I've been using bags dated as far back as '2014' to boil and reduce into compote. Sure those berries are hella icy but I'm dumping them into a pot to boil down so all the water eventually evaporates. I add a glug or two of maple syrup and a teaspoon of cinnamon while it reduces. After simmering a few hours, I have a very thick blueberry sauce. (I bring this to work every morning for breakfast, in a cup with plain yogurt and granola.) I was thrilled to FINALLY be down to the last quart bag marked '2015'. Until I pulled out the top freezer drawer looking for something and saw 6 quart bags of blueberries labelled '2016'. WTFFFFFF. 

Anyway- these hand pies were easy for me because the filling was already done. The only hard part was the dough. Which wasn't even all that hard:

Blueberry Hand Pies

It's like a faux laminated dough. Lots of butter (two sticks... TWO STICKS OF BUTTER). I used uber thick plain greek yogurt instead of sour cream (because yogurt for breakfast). The dough was a little finicky to bring together because butter and yogurt are the only things adding any kind of moisture- and even then, you want the butter to stay kind of cool and solid so it can evaporate in the oven and add flakiness to the finished pastry. So I'm just kind of mashing together flour and yogurt together with my hands, trying to press it into something that will hold together. A little plastic bench scraper came in handy here to scrape under the dough and fold into an envelope.
Let the dough chill in the fridge, then roll it out into a 14" by 14" square to cut into sixteen 3.5" squares.

I mean, I don't know what your rolling skills are like but mine are non-existent. I remember taking a cracker class at KAF with my mom and sister and when it came time to roll out the dough to cut into crackers, my mom looked at my dough, laughed and pointed it out to my sister- "Look at Amy's dough- ha ha ha." (#tigermom) I was going for a rectangle and it looked like Westeros. That's why I like making pies- you can cut away all the messed-up, cracked edges. 

This 'roll into a 14" by 14" square' plan wasn't working for me nor the dough, so I took a big ring and made an executive decision- these f'ing hand pies are going to be round. I found some small cutters to cut away vents for the tops.

Blueberry Hand Pies

I did have to re-roll some scraps, which isn't ideal for loftiness but I just stacked the scraps and rolled them, still hoping for layers. And re-rolling allowed me to cut enough circles to make 10 little pies instead of 8 (and probably the fact that they were round instead of square affected the final number).

Crimped edges, brushed with milk, sprinkled with sugar:

Blueberry Hand Pies

All baked:

Blueberry Hand Pies

Only a few leaked and that's because the seal wasn't sealed properly. I'm very (pleasantly) surprised that none boiled up through the top shaped vents.

Dollar's away this week so there's no one to help me eat these. There's so much butter (dos palos!), I'm going to freeze these and see how they reheat from frozen at a later date. Sigh, putting blueberries BACK into the freezer.