Thursday, September 29, 2011


Tear your attention from the new Kindles for a moment and contemplate a book, a real book, a very big book of 890 pages. It’s full of proven recipes and explanations of why the recipes work, not just a bunch of professional photos of results that, however attractive, are unrealistic. I wouldn't have known about this book if I hadn't won it on Sherri B's blog, Little House in Paradise. Her contest was simple and generous--just share a recipe and she'd draw the winning one out of a hat. No demands to follow on Twitter or "like" on Facebook or sign up for this or that. It was a gesture of community and sharing instead of publicity and commerce. And my plum sauce recipe won the book!

It's a book for browsing while sitting on the couch or propping on the kitchen counter while you cook. You drool over a description of roasted sweet potatoes: “We wanted a method that gave us potatoes with a nicely caramelized exterior, a smooth, creamy interior, and an earthy sweetness.” That trumps sweet potato fries in both quality and lower calories.

I’ve been roasting lots of vegetables lately with a touch of healthy olive oil for moisture, finding that roasting results in more texture, flavor and sweetness. This book has the definitive directions and oven temperatures for the different types of veggies.

I didn’t really turn to the dessert chapter. The book just sort of fell open to “Fallen chocolate cake, or molten chocolate cake, is an undercooked-in-the-center mound of intense, buttery chocolate cake….We were after individual portions of intensely flavored chocolate cake that had a light texture and an irresistibly runny center.”
“We throw out the rulebook on conventional cooking wisdom and accept nothing at face value….” My kind of place. Thank you, Sherri!

Book with kitchen floor cleaner. No, he didn't drool on it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Serving beer to under-aged drinkers--

--and hoping they won't live to feel the hangover in the morning.
I didn't have much of a slug problem this year until I planted microgreens for a fall crop. You'd think I'd planted the greens for the slimers alone.

That shows only a bit of the damage. Ordinarily I wouldn't waste good ale on slugs, but my son left a glass unfinished last night (20-something male? Unfinished glass of beer? Rare but it can happen). He was going to pour it down the drain. "No! Stop!" I pleaded, throwing myself at his feet. "Give it to the slugs; they haven't had a drink in years."

Actually, my attitude is more like Sleeping Beauty's stepmother with the apple. I dug the plastic bowl into the ground so that the lip is level with the dirt. Those mollusks will slip right in while going, "What is that heavenly and intoxicating smell? I must investigate." I expect to find some drowned slugs tomorrow but will spare you the graphics. Slugs are gross at any time and even worse when swimming in beer. But I will have my revenge!

Note: I came across this film, made in Oregon, of racing slugs. Especially enjoyable if you're into aliens and slime.

Friday, September 23, 2011

In celebration of plum sauce

Table-surf? Moi? Nu-uh, no way.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Last two weeks before the Airedale quilt raffle

Below is a picture of the 2011 Airedale Rescue drool-worthy quilt. Today I went to the  Airedale Quilting Bee website to snag some raffle tickets.

The Bee began in 1999, inspired by the success of the fundraising book Houses Full of Laughter (with yrs truly as editor). Since then, clever and talented quilters have worked together every year to make and raffle off a quilt, raising over $125,000 over that time. I hope you'll go here to donate for a chance at this year's quilt and, best of all, to help Airedales in need of forever homes. 

Here's what the site says: "The Airedale Quilting Bee creates beautiful art quilts and then has an on-line fundraising campaign for donations to the Airedale Terrier Club of America's Rescue Committee. This committee oversees all funds donated to rescue and helps regional and state Airedale rescue groups defray the costs of rescuing countless aged, injured, neglected and newborn Airedales Terriers."


Go to the Quilting Bee website for more great photos!

Monday, September 19, 2011

What happens while you are canning plum sauce

He was happily chewing on his squeaky ball as I started work in the kitchen, having been demonically possessed with the idea of making several jars of Asian-style plum sauce right now. Plum sauce has to cook down for quite some time. I was mesmerized by the stirring, not to mention the plum tomatoes  drying in the oven that needed occasional sampling. Obsessed by plums.

Meanwhile, the general air of concentration wafting through the house must have influenced Miro, who quietly went to work on his own artistic project.

That photo shows only part of the room. The overall impression was of an exploded pillow. After I picked up the mess, vacuumed the living room, washed the cooking utensils, cleaned up the kitchen, and made a cup of tea, I heard the happy "ping" of the lid of one of the canning jars cooling into a tight seal. The sound provoked thunderous barking and much rushing around the house, followed by another ping and more barking and rushing around. (That was the dog, not me.) Fortunately, there were only four jars.

I've just noticed that the number of this blog's followers has reached 100! Thank you! I've been so busy that I missed my usual Friday./Saturday posting. Logging in to find 100 today is a wonderful gift.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Yard art

With only a couple of weeks free between summer and fall quarter teaching, I've been working on the long list of end-of-summer tasks. Naturally, when walls need painting, the carpets need cleaning, the car desperately needs washing, and so on, I find something different to do. I decided it was time to restore the crumbling cement lawn burro and cart before they turned to a pile of sand. What was going to be a super-quick job with leftover deck stain became a little more complex.
The burro was in a corner of the back yard when I moved here; now he's in front, standing guard as my version of a lawn gnome. His front hooves point outwards like Miro's feet. I was sorely tempted to paint the burro with Airedale markings but he probably looks better as hoofed stock.
The other lawn burro.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

winterizing the coop

Every fall I add a coat of waterproofing stain to the coop. By now I think the stain is what holds it together. I dug around the old cans of paint in the garage and am slowly transforming the coop from redwood stain to multi-color scrap lumber with a chicken painted on the door.