FO!

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Wow, it’s about time I wrote another blog post. I hope this will be a jump-start to better attendance here at my blog.

So, here is my latest FO (finished object).  It’s a lap blanket made for our excellent friends, Mike and Karla, who recently moved from Atlanta to Michigan.  When I learned they were going to Michigan, I realized they would need something warm.  I also wanted it to be symbolic of their years in Georgia and to speak to their locavore souls.  Thus, I made a quick trip here — Southern Estate Alpacas in Adairsville, Georgia, and bought some of their locally raised alpaca yarn.

The whole enchilada

The whole enchilada

So the lap blanket is not only warm, it’s connected to their old home in Georgia in a profound way.  I sure hope they enjoy using it as much as I enjoyed knitting it.  You can see the pattern in detail on my Ravelry page right here.  I’m calling it the Back to Square One blanket.

Close up of Back to Square One blanket

Close up of Back to Square One blanket

It’s a very fun knitting technique I found in a pattern by Artemis Ardornments—you basically start with a straight line of stitches but little by little “zip up” the center by doing k3tog decreases in the middle, thus making the diagonal line in each square.  It was a perfect combination of easy knitting — all garter stitch — but with a little twist that makes it interesting.

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See the diagonal line made as the decreases zip up what was a straight line into a square?

I did 5 squares by 6 squares, and I picked up and knit the edging in broken rib pattern.  Then finished with a stretchy bind off.

What have you finished recently?

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The Wonderful Strangeness of Human Silence

A few weeks ago, I heard a most excellent interview with the brilliant actor Bryan Cranston.  He was (is?) starring as LBJ in a theater production somewhere urbane and sophisticated, and he talked about how duplicating LBJ’s voice each night was very hard on his own vocal chords.  So he was going about the rest of his life without speaking, in order to rest his voice for his performances.  He carried around a notebook to explain that he was on voice rest, but said that the response to his silence was always one of befuddlement and difficulty understanding why he would ever do such a thing.

I’m experiencing the same reaction.  Unfortunately, my self-imposed silence is not for artistic purposes but simply because the pollen is wreaking havoc with my sinuses and throat this spring, and I have lost my voice.

Other than breathing, eating, the . . . ahem . . . opposite of eating, and (hopefully) sleeping, talking is really the only activity that most humans engage in every day.  Not talking seems to be very hard for people to handle, so I’m staying at home and away from people.  Obviously, I’m not using the telephone.  It’s quite an isolating experience, but not exactly bad.  I can now understand why religious devotees take a vow of silence and why many deaf and mute people say they would never choose to have their hearing.

It really makes it possible to hear yourself and the universe thinking.  I wonder how long I can keep it up . . .

 

Smoothie Cubes = Decent Workday Breakfast

Simplest way I’ve found to get a healthy start on my busy mornings: smoothie cubes.  I make green smoothie ice cubes whenever I have a surfeit of greens and super-ripe fruit.  I keep them in the freezer, and on hectic work mornings, I blend a few cubes with some apple juice and a little water to make a super fast smoothie that involves no peeling, cutting, or composting, because that all took place on a weekend when I had time for those shenanigans. 

Greens for smoothies

A typical surfeit, left to right: lettuce mix, kale, and spinach

My favorite combination is  kale, spinach, banana, and peaches.  I sometimes add a little honey if the greens outnumber the fruit.  I simply blend the greens and fruit with a little water to make a thick puree.  Then I freeze the puree in ice cube trays.  Pop them out and save them in a container in the freezer.

An added benefit?  I can use up greens when they are exploding out of the garden, not to mention the ever-present overripe banana or two.

Bumper Crop

Bumper Crop is my attempt to celebrate the intersection of the garden and the kitchen — an intersection at which many of us love to linger, I think.  This week’s Bumper Crop is green beans.  We grow two kinds of green beans: Maxibel Haricot Vert (a nice skinny bean) and Romano Italian flats, and we’ve been very lucky to have a great crop of each this year.  That said, there are only so many times I want simple steamed beans, or roasted beans, or green beans with potatoes and ham, or the hundreds of ways I’ve been cooking green beans this and every summer of my adulthood!  So I came up with a new one:

Soy and Sesame Beans

Steam green beans for about 6 minutes. Immediately plunge them into some ice water to stop the cooking so they’ll be bright green and crisp-tender.

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Put a little drizzle of soy sauce and a few drops of sesame oil in a bowl.  Add the beans and swirl them around to coat.

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Put the beans in the refrigerator and chill for a few hours to get them good and cold.

Eat with chopsticks!

This is how I like my recipes: so simple it’s almost a crime.  Note: I’m not being cheeky with the last instruction—I firmly believe these beans are a more pleasing food experience if eaten with chopsticks.  Don’t you find that to be true about some foods?

For this iteration of Soy and Sesame Beans I sliced some Italian flats into two skinny pieces before steaming them.

Please leave a comment and tell us about your Bumper Crop; in other words, what are you doing with what you’re growing?

Bumper Crop

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It’s time for Bumper Crop: What’s coming out of your garden, and, more importantly, what are you doing with it?  Every gardener knows the beautiful dilemma of having so much of a certain crop or two that you actually wish for the plants to stop producing, right?  So, leave a comment and tell me how you deal with your bumper crop.

Like so many southern gardeners, we have squash and squash and squash and squash.  I learned a great way to use it and some other vegetables that are also prolific in the summer: Summer Soup.  This recipe comes courtesy of Lynn Pugh at Cane Creek Farms in Cumming, GA.

Summer Soup

Chop up summer squash, potatoes, carrots and onion into relatively uniform pieces.  Chop up another 2 potatoes into bigger chunks and set these aside.

Put the uniformly chopped vegetables in a big stock pot with plenty of vegetable stock or bouillon to cover it (and maybe have an extra inch of liquid).  Bring it all to a boil, and add the bigger potato chunks at this point.  Let it all simmer until the first vegetables are nice and soft and the bigger potatoes are, y’know, soft enough.

Use an immersion blender (easiest) or pour the whole shebang into your blender (be careful not to burn yourself with splashing soup!).  Blend it into a nice smooth pureed soup, but leave some of the big potato chunks unblended or semi-blended.  They add a nice texture.

Add chopped dill and salt and pepper.  Enjoy!

Hot farm, summer in the country

June is departing and, very nicely, leaving us with some cooler temperatures.  The Etc. garden is packed full, and I’m enjoying the bounty so much.  Tonight’s menu included roasted beets with their own sautéed greens and a Zephyr squash pie that turned out so much better than I imagined.  I used leftover Riverview Farms grits, mixed in a little garlic powder and pressed it into a pie crust.  Baked that about 12 minutes to firm it up.  Then I sautéed squash and minced onions, mixed them with some chopped flat-leaf parsley and the fantastic goat’s milk feta that I bought from The Goat Farmer at the Big Canoe farmers’ market.  Dumped the filling into the cooled grits crust, topped it all with some panko and put it in the refrigerator to wait until dinner time.  At dinner time, I baked it about 20 minutes total, and then L’Homme and I wolfed it down.  Yum!

What is coming out of your garden, and what are you doing with it?