30 October, 2007

Say Cheese!


This is my favorite quote from the book I just finished, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle," by Barbara Kingsolver.

"A lot of human hobbies, from knitting sweaters to building model airplanes, are probably rooted in the same human desire to control an entire process of manufacture. Karl Marx called it the antidote to alienation. Modern business pyschologists generally agree, noting that workers will build a better car when they participate in the whole assembly rather than just slapping on one bolt, over and over, all the tedious livelong day. In the case of modern food, our single-bolt job has become the boring act of poking things in our mouths, with no feeling for any other stage in the process. It's a pretty obvious consequence that one should care little about the product. When I ponder the question of why Americans eat so much bad food on purpose, this is my best guess: alimentary alienation. We can't feel how or why it hurts. We're dying for an antidote."

So THAT'S why I don't feel like doing anything but canning and cooking these days! Actually this part of the book is all about making your own cheeses, and I got SO excited reading it. I had been talking to Eric about wanting to make my own yogurt, but now I am keen to try both. It's kind of funny that we feel less alienated when we are completely in control of something that we do alone.

Anyways, with the holidays (and my birthday) approaching, I thought I would add this book to my wish list. For anyone else who's interested in making their own cheeses, it's considered the ultimate reference!

*All pictures are from the New England Cheesmaking Supply website.

The Pumpkin Karver


... is a horrible, horrible movie you should not rent this Halloween. You should, however, be sure to carve some pumpkins, and hang some faux-spiderwebs. We did both this weekend, and had a few friends over to partake. You can find the recipes for all the snacks I served on my recipe blog, and here are some pictures of our decorations.

It was really hard to get a good shot of the buffet; we had replaced all the light bulbs in the room with red ones, so I had to use a flash. We served an assortment of hor d'oeuvres: cheese buttons, caprese skewers, cheese crisps, caramelized onion tarts, olives, almonds, gingersnaps, and of course candy. I also took Blueprint's suggestion and served prosecco with a choice of mixers (homemade ginger syrup, blood orange bitters, apricot nectar, and sour cherry juice).


In case you couldn't tell, the "Ghostrider" pumpkin with the stars is mine, and the Chargers helmet "Howdy" is Eric's.

Almost Turkey Time

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it's all about spending time with your family and friends, and eating good food. I love making the traditional meal, and usually end up doing so at some point in the spring or summer as well as fall. This year, I am very excited to be cooking a heritage turkey, which I just ordered from our local butcher. I am hoping to make this year's dinner as local-food-centric as possible, with as few pre-made ingredients as possible. I'll be making the stuffing from cornmeal I bought at the Butte Creek Mill in Oregon last month, and the corn pudding from local corn I froze this summer, and the pumpkin pie will come from local pumpkins (take that, Libby's!). The only thing I think I will have to import are the cranberries, which just don't grow in California. But if I can get them from an environmentally responsible producer, I'll be ok with that. I plan on giving thanks to my community this year. If you are interested in finding a heritage turkey for your Thanksgiving table, go to http://www.localharvest.org to find a producer near you.

26 October, 2007

Harvest


I just got home from the florist's, where I put together this bouquet. I love the red-orange of the dahlias!

Kitchen Remodel: Day Nine


Countertops! (Sort of... the tile goes in on Tuesday.)

25 October, 2007

Tile!

Alright, so I know I said I wasn't going to post pics of the bathroom until it was finished, but I can't resist. The tile is about half done, and I think it looks beautiful!

24 October, 2007

Imaginary Kitchens

I wouldn't trade my red and turquoise kitchen for the world, but I always thought that if I had a second kitchen (like maybe in my vacation beach house), I would go with an orange theme. You all know how much I love orange juice glasses, and there are always so many wonderful orange items when I'm thrifting. On second thought, maybe the orange kitchen would be in the cabin/chalet, and I'd do a green kitchen in the beach house.


These lovely mugs are for sale at Sea Glass Vintage on Etsy. If you have an orange kitchen, please consider buying them, for my sake.


... and this Pyrex dish from Plaid Pony Vintage.


Any maybe also this teapot from Hi and Lo Modern, while you're at it...



Or perhaps these gorgeous Cathrineholm bowls from Ebay.

Oh, heck, you may as well throw in these, too (also from Ebay).







... just for starters...

23 October, 2007

Kitchen Lamp


This is the new lamp we're getting for the kitchen! It's from School House Electric Co..

Kitchen Remodel: Day Six


Cabinets! So many cabinets! The storage seems endless! Sorry, I'm just a little excited after living for over a year with just one cupboard.... As you can see, the cabinets are not yet painted (that's my job), and there will be glass in the doors above, but things are definitely beginning to look good!

Bathroom Before


I've decided that it is going to be too hard to take progressive photos of the bathroom remodel, because the room is so small, but here are the "before" pics. In the meantime, I can tell you that the ugly faux-marble shower surround, glass doors, and the Motel 6 style fixtures are already gone (finally), and the shower is now surrounded by black plastic sheeting until tile work begins tomorrow. "After" pics will be up next week, hopefully!

22 October, 2007

Kitchen Remodel: Day Five- Finally!


We are back on track with the remodel; today they ripped up the bathroom (sorry no pics- I'll take some tomorrow) and pulled out part of our kitchen counter so that tomorrow they can install our new cabinets! I am so excited about that part! And Wednesday the tile starts going in, which will be amazing. Stay tuned!

21 October, 2007

Contentment

Yesterday was Seymour's first birthday! We partied hard at Point Isabel, and he ended his day with a snuggle on Eric's lap.

18 October, 2007

Happiness Is...

Tuberose Thursdays:


A while back the flower guy at our local grocery store tipped me off that the tuberoses always come in on Thursdays. They are one of my favorite flowers, and I love having them in the house whenever I can; they make everything smell like a warm, tropical evening. So I'm always excited when I need to go to the store on a Thursday, because it means I can buy a bunch and I know they will last me.

Squashes for soup:


From left to right: Sweet Dumpling squash, Butternut squash, and Sugar pumpkins.

Canned figs in syrup:

16 October, 2007

14 October, 2007

Pickled Peppers


I really love Peppadew peppers, those little, sweet, spicy peppers you can scoop up at your grocery store's olive bar, for about $10 per pound. They are great in pasta, sandwiches, or cocktails, and their tangy brine makes a fantastic salad dressing. So I was pretty excited to see tiny peppers for sale at my local market, for just $1.99 per pound, and I decided to try pickling them myself. I am more than happy with the results, and I'm planning to go back for more! Click here for the recipe.

A Small Difference

I started reading Barbara Kingsolver's latest non-fiction book yesterday and was inspired. The book follows Kingsolver, her husband, and their two children over a year in which they vowed to eat only food produced in their county. Together, they swore off all food from outside sources, with the exceptions of coffee, chocolate, grains, and olive oil, which they continued to buy from independent manufacturers operating under Fair Trade. The entire family moved to a farm in the Appilachians, where they began to grow their own produce, as well as befriending and purchasing food from neighboring farms, all in an effort to counteract the way America handles food. According to Kingsolver, 17% of our nation's energy use is for agriculture: for processing and transportation. If you think about it, buying tomatoes in January requires jet fuel from Chile, and truck fuel to your local store.


I myself am not ready to swear off all non-locally grown food, but I do really admire the gesture, and I have decided to do my best to buy food seasonally when I can. I already make an effort to buy organic foods from smaller companies, and since I am lucky enough to live in California, where the growing seasons are longer and more frequent, I want to take better advantage of this. So yesterday I went out and bought up the last of the summer produce (sweet corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, beans, and blackberries) and the first of fall (pomegranates [see above, rinsed and ready to freeze]), with the intention of freezing and canning them for use in the winter. I have been buying frozen corn for years, but now I can save my money and maybe make a small difference in the processing, transport, and consumption of that product, if I simply freeze my own.


*To find farmers near you, or canning recipes, check out http://pickyourown.org or http://localharvest.com. Also, if you live in the Bay Area, check out the Local Foods Wheel made by some friends of friends.

12 October, 2007

Rain or Shine

Here in California, we have beautiful weather all year 'round... except during the rainy season, which just began. Even though I've lived here for most of my life, I have never quite got used to being damp for weeks at a time. For the most part, it's innocuous, just a drip, drip, drip on your rooftop that makes being indoors feel luxurious and cozy. But occasionally it becomes torrential, gushing down from the sky in thick, rainy heartbeats. In 12th grade the rain was so heavy that the school parking lot flooded, making it impossible to open your car door without the water pouring in around your feet.


I have never been a boot person, and the only rainboots I ever want are the brightly-colored kids' pairs that are just an inch too short for my foot. So when I found these "Rain or Shine" shoes from Sigerson Morrison on Ebay, I snatched them up. Now that the rain has started, I can say that they are well worth the $25 I spent on them! If you live anywhere that has its share of rain, I highly recommend taking a peek at Ebay for a pair of these. They come in a variety of colors and are made entirely of rubber, with a good, textured sole, and cushy, removable insoles, and they generally go for about $30.00.

What a Hoot!

While we're talking about trends, what about owls? Owls have been all OVER the place for the last year or two, and I'm sure you've seen enough vases, pillows, wall-hangings, and piggy (owly?) banks. Maybe you've seen enough lamps, too, but that's just too bad because here are some more!

These are from Ebay.







Oh, Dear


Damn you, Urban Outfitters! You know I love brightly colored, shiny things, and this lamp is WAY too tempting. Also, although I have seen my share of cuckoo clocks these days*, this is my favorite one so far.



*see Design Sponge, Casa Sugar, Happy Mundane, Modern Roost, Anthropologie, and WalMart, among others....

Cushion Crush


I love these Vietnamese pillows from Lotus Bleu! I'll take all three, please! They also carry a gorgeous selection of laquerware...

11 October, 2007

Shoes!

My parents just returned from London, and my mom brought me back these amazing knock-offs of my favorite Sigerson Morrisons! She got them for me in blue and yellow, and I love them. Thanks, mom!

Floored

Eric and I have been staring at linoleum swatches for days, and it's very hard to visualize an entire floor based on a tiny square, so I put together these mock-ups, based on our favorite swatches. Bear in mind that the counter will be tiled in white with red detail, and the backsplash will come up almost to the height of the window. Also, there will be a counter running along the left-hand wall, so there will be less floor showing than in these pictures.


This is assuming that we can get the linoleum tiles in small enough squares. Here's what it would look like with bigger squares: