crafty_packrat: (GardeningPots)
Shortly after I arrived at the new apartment, I planted hibiscus in front of the hedge with the hope of harvesting them for red zinger and agua fresca making. However, they were shortly weed-wacked out existance by the groundskeeping staff.

So, my solution -- since tenants are allowed to plant in the flowerbeds and even lay out raised beds if they spring for the supplies themselves, was to buy supplies and make a bed for my plants that was unambiguously a maintained, not to be weedwacked, in-cultivation bed.

I did it this morning -- with some help from [personal profile] holli last night to get the bags of topsoil, compost, tools and such to my place she has a car. )

Also, I went with a neighbor up to Behnke's Nursery, and came back with fish fertlizer, microrhyzia innoculatant, and some pamphlets on amaryllis care. We had fun looking around, and she might go back for some indoor paperwhites. If that happens, I might go with her for saffron crocuces and maybe a few more amaryllis bulbs. They had already sold out of all the fall vegetable seedlings they carry, which surprised me. But I picked up two dill seedling and planted them when we got back. At the very least they'll give me fresh dill for a while -- they might seed and give the caterpillars something to eat next spring, if I'm lucky.

Surprisingly, all the work on the flowerbed (including cleaning up) only took two hours. We'll just have to see how sore I am in the morning, to see if I'm up to digging up all the mint some ex-neighbor planted in that bed -- it has to come out, but it might be next weekend.
crafty_packrat: (foodie)
Head of hard-necked garlic, red and yellow onions, sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes (for Japanese pickling), osso bucco, pears, sunchokes, feta cheese, batard of white bread, and a muffin.

Making Jidi Bel Zet this afternoon, along with White Bean Dip and roast sunchokes this afternoon.
crafty_packrat: (foodie)
We had to set these in a skillet with water as a double boiler of a sort to loosen up the caramel bottoms of these, but these Orange-Vanilla Caramel Cremes turned out wonderfully when we upended them.

Basically, we made flan with a melting orange caramel top by flipping them out. Next time, I'd slice the orange peel into much thinner slivers, but [personal profile] ellen_fremedon pointed out that they really nicely countered the rich sweetness of the custard, so using the peel so aggressively worked out.

So tasty! )



So the great Cook-In was a great success, though we both wished several times for a bigger, better laid-out kitchen. And more people to eat all the food, because seriously, it seemed that we Cooked All things.

And I seriously want to try more recipes from Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume -- these are fabulously tasty recipes.
crafty_packrat: (foodie)
After the ice cream and walk, [personal profile] ellen_fremedon and I came back and contemplated giving up...

but we had already grilled the sliced zucchini (and has to hastily save the ice cream, since we had both forgotten it on the countertop. Oops. It was soft and a bit melted, but should be okay by tomorrow evening).

Anyway, we retrieved the zucchini and decided to make only a half recipe, reserving the rest of the ingredients for later. Which is when we discovered the squash blossoms were still at [personal profile] ellen_fremedon's place. Oops again.

All that cleared up, I weighed out the feta cheese (Bulgarian, I believe, and wonderfully sharp) and [personal profile] ellen_fremedon whipped up the dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, and toasted seseme seeds (since we didn't have nigella seeds -- talk about a speciality item).

Grilled zucchini are quite tasty! )

I don't know if the squash blossoms would have improved the salad or not, but it was pretty darned tasty anyway.
crafty_packrat: (foodie)
Bloated with all the food we made and consumed, [personal profile] ellen_fremedon and I scooped out cones of the Strawberry-Hibiscus ice cream I set to set this morning and went for a post-prandial walk.

Sweet and purple )

The ice cream itself was somewhat soft, and I think I might modify the custard next time to use only yolks instead of whole eggs -- and use smaller bits of strawberries. I think on the verge strawberries gave the best flavor, considering I used both them and some bought from the co-op on Saturday.
crafty_packrat: (foodie)
After we were able to contemplate food again -- at least an hour later -- [personal profile] ellen_fremedon and I fried up the falafel we made with red chard.

The recipe said to make falafels about the size of golfballs. I'd say smaller would be better, given the problems we had with falafels about that size. Bits of chards tended to float off into the frying oil, and sometimes the falafel just broke apart.

They were very tasty, though, because after we took them out of the frying oil [personal profile] ellen_fremedon sprinkled them with salt. Chard, especially the stalks, apparently gets a wonderfully sweet finish when fried, and who doesn't like crispy bits with salt? I liked mine with a healthy dash of tumeric as well, but your mileage may vary.

Tasty balls of chard and chickpea )

[personal profile] ellen_fremedon suggests that shallow-fried chard might be a tasty thing indeed to sprinkle over popcorn some day. I've fried parsley, and seriously cruchy greens are kind of irresistible.
crafty_packrat: (foodie)
[personal profile] ellen_fremedon and I wisely got together on Saturday and figured out our meal plan for today, so we could get the best ingredients and split cost.

Of course, we chose Jidi Bel Zet -- Veal Shanks with Saffron and Seven Spice -- before realizing that first, no one was selling veal shanks, and second, the goat shanks (the recipe is adapted from a recipe for goat) were two-and-a-half-dollars more per pound than osso bucco from the bison ranch. Otoh, there was no guarantee that the bison people had osso bucco availabe either, but their saleswoman promised she'd be able to sell us stew meat and a marrowbone if the osso bucco wasn't available. Which was why I bought a marrowbone on Sunday.

The first thing we had to do this morning was make Baharat -- the blend of sweet paprika, cumin, black pepper, ginger, cinnamon, hot paprika, and coriander -- which is the titular Seven Spice. Hand grinding 4 tsps of black pepper is a chore, especially with a mini-grinder, and I finally resorted to cracking the black pepper with my mortar and pestle. After dredging and browning the meat, we stuffed it in the oven and worked on prep work for other dishes, with just a timer to keep us going.

Cooking the shallots, garlic and saffron in one skillet and the sweet potatoes in another, and then dumping them all back in the dutch oven to cook on the stove top worked well. Once they were cooked through, [personal profile] ellen_fremedon showed me how to get the marrow out of a marrowbone with a butter knife, and put the blood and juices she saved when we opened the meat packages to enrich the dish. Adding a half a lemon's worth of juice, we set back and let the whole thing rest.

Instead of serving with saffron rice, we just ate it with the pita bread left from the first course... omgGOOD )

It doesn't look like much in the pot, but trust me, it smelled wonderful and tasted fabulous.
crafty_packrat: (foodie)
[personal profile] ellen_fremedon came over to watch the end of the local Independence Day parade -- two pipe-and-drum corps, two steel drum groups, 5 troops of Girl Scouts (represent! 1 troop of Juniors, 2 of Daisies, 2 of Brownies), lots of classic Thunderbirds, a Delorean, a Cadillac ambulance, a bunch of historic fire trucks, a basset-hound brigade, a Sons of the Desert Marching Club and a push-mower precision drill team.

Dip made from white beans, roasted garlic and goat feta pureed with olive oil, lemon juice and zest, and toasted cumin seed, topped with za'atar. Yum! )

Smashed cucumber salad with mint, toasted pistachio, greek yogurt, dill, black raspberries (because you can't actually buy mulberries), and homemade pomegranate molasses. Fabulous! )

The smashed cucumbers were kind of fun, but getting a seedless variety is going to be very important when I make it again.
crafty_packrat: (foodie)
So, the pink peppercorn meringues are finished -- they came out unexpectedly huge, and I will probably give many of them away.

The orange vanilla caramel cremes are finished, but I think I went past caramel into 'butterscotch hard candy', so the bottoms have a crust like a creme brulee. Ooops.

The strawberry-hibiscius ice cream is in the freezer setting up, and it tastedfabulous.

The white bean dip is half done -- the spices, oil and lemon juice are the only thing that needs to be added. The chard for the falefel is cooling now, after being blanched.

The meat is thawed, so after the parade, I'll get that started.
crafty_packrat: (foodie)
Garlic, onions, red chard, bison stew meat and marrowbone (substituting for bison shanks), apricots, methley plums, black raspberries, zucchini, cucumbers, cheese danish, chicken empanada, lemon balm plant, quart of pie cherries, half-gallon milk, and batard of white bread

Plans for a quark cheesecake in abeyance until I get a springform pan.

Tomorrow will be the cook-in (like a cook-out but indoors because it's too damned hot out already) where I try out a bunch of recipes from Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume. I'm going to do some prelim work today -- making the ice cream base, pre-cooking beans, roasting garlic, etc.
crafty_packrat: (foodie)
Yesterday, [personal profile] greenygal, [personal profile] ellen_fremedon and I did part of the Art Hop in Takoma Park.

Now and Then had just gotten in a new order of Malabrigo, including new colorways, so [personal profile] ellen_fremedon spent a bit of time ooohing over them while we waited for [personal profile] greenygal.

Well, first we had lunch at Middle Eastern Cuisine, which was both reasonable priced and not too crowded when we went in. We split an appetizer of baba ganoush, and then I had the chicken shwarma for my entree, and the kenefa for dessert. I like kenefa immensely -- it's a desserts from the Middle Eastern-to-Indian 'pour syrup on stuff' family.

We walked around a bit, and decided to go into the DC part of Takoma -- since it's the opposite way away from the Metro station, I don't go there often. However, I think I should perhaps go there, especially when I want to pick up take-out. I have no idea what 'boom-boom shrimp' are, but the place we walked by that listed them in the window looked *interesting*.

The neatest shop we entered was SiTea The Spice Boutique -- which is more of a tea shop than a spice shop. They had an amazing assort of blends -- I picked up Sweet Georgia Brown (black with peach), Temple of Gunpowder (green), Chocolate Pillow Mint (green with mint and cacao nibs) and Cacao Pow!! (black with cacao nibs). I passed on Thor's Hammer (black with yerba mate and ginseng) and Mocha Chocolate Bliss (black with coffee beans and cacao nibs), mainly on the grounds that I didn't want to vibrate. [personal profile] ellen_fremedon picked four different blends -- mostly roibos blends (Kiss Me Guido, My Jamacian Guy, I believe,) and maybe one of the whites -- and [personal profile] greenygal bought two, one of which was That's Why The Lady is a Vamp. As you can imagine, the names are *hilarious* and sometimes very apt.

I think, at this rate, I really need another teapot. And definitely another infuser, since I seem to have lost half of mine. Oops.

Finally, I am almost finished on the first of my Ringwood gloves so pretty )

I may use these as therapy gloves if/when I get cold spells this summer. I might buy a skein of the same color ('Snowbird') is Malabrigo Rios, which is the superwash worsted yarn, and make myself matching socks for when my feet get unbearably cold at night.

I'm also blocking my Sariel shawl soon, and I'll post photos as soon as it's finished.

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