Friday, February 25, 2011

Thanks Michael Pollan!

I am reading In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan.  I am enthralled.  Totally enthralled.  All-I-want-to-do-is-read enthralled.  I have read other Pollan books, but not this one.  I wish I had read it first!  I appreciate his humor and common sense.  I appreciate the style in which he writes.  I appreciate his message in general--it is so simple and yet profound.

As a result of my food reading (and my blog reading) I felt inspired to go adventure in the kitchen and make a fabulous dinner last night, ready and waiting when Matt got home from work.  I think I succeeded quite nicely, too.  Curried root vegetables and butternut squash over couscous.  I also managed to make three things I have never before made: carrot cake, hummus, and two loaves of bread. 

I have made buns, breadsticks, flatbread, corn bread, biscuits, and all sorts of breads...except an actual loaf.  It came about basically because I was cold and refusing to turn up the heater any further.  Ah ha, I thought, bake bread and the oven will help heat it up in here!  Plus, I'll get bread! 

I think they turned out great. 

Matt is the hummus maker at our house.  He has made 100% of the hummus eaten at our household since we "discovered" it.  He had mentioned that he was going to make some yesterday morning, but sadly there was none waiting for me when I got home.  As I was peering in the fridge wishing he had made hummus I thought, well that HAS to be one of the easiest things to make.  So I did.  And it was.  And it was quite different than Matt's hummus.  Both are good, but different.  (I am eating it as we speak and it is even better today!)

We don't usually have dessert out house, but last night I wanted to do something special...and keep the oven running!  So, I made my very first carrot cake.  Actually I made two small heart shaped cakes--one for each of us.  I served them with agave syrup drizzled on top.  It was super simple and hey, any time I can add a veggie in addition to the sugar I should take it!  Also, they were absolutely delicious.  I'll have to come back at post the recipe.

Then I still had time to wash all the dishes in my nice, warm kitchen. 

Matt was super appreciatve of the clean, warm house filled yummy smells and tastes. 

(Thanks Michael Pollan!)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

On My Mind

Today I have pasta making on my mind.

Matt has taken to making out own pasta.  We were buying organic pasta at the discount grocer we use, but there was still the issue of the plastic bags they came in.  Also, even at discount prices it seemed like we were spending too much money on pasta.  Pasta is one of my favorite meals.  Is is so versatile.  So, in the spirit of why-buy-it-when-I-can-make-it, one of the qualities I greatly admire in Matt, he started making it at home.  I so far have had nothing to do with the pasta making...well, other than eating it.  A few weeks ago when having dinner at Matt's parent's house we were loaned a pasta maker. (Pictured above, at left with hand crank.  It makes a variety of types, even ravioli!)  Matt has used it now and is quite impressed with how easy it made it.  He has sworn off store-bought pasta forever and is quite eager to show me how it works.  So, it will be a pasta making day!  Maybe a pasta making weekend!

The This Is On My Mind concept come from  Rhonda on her Down to Earth blog.

Friday, February 4, 2011

On My Mind...

Today I am thinking a lot about sewing.  I have plans to do something crafty with my pal Laurel on Sunday (we're thinking a feminine counterbalance to Super Bowl Sunday) and I really want to figure out this hat.

I confess that I am basically brand-new to sewing, aside from two home-ec projects in junior high, one skirt I helped my mom make in high school, and some basic mending.  So, it might have been a bit lofty of me to think I could measure, design, and sew my own hat pattern right off the bat.  But, try I did!  This one is actually the second attempt as I was so dissatisfied with the first one that I took it all a part again and started over.  I am still not satisfied with it for various reasons in both construction and aesthetics (there are raw edges on the inside and I refuse to show a photo of the back because I hate how it looks!).  But, it is a hat.  That much is for certain.  I am proud none the less and I learned a whole lot.  I really like sewing.  It seems to me to be one of those skills most people used to have but now no one does.  Even with my electric sewing machine I feel connected to a simpler time.

So now I am trying to decide how to proceed.  I'd like to just fix THIS hat to my liking, but am not sure that will happen as perhaps I need to adjust the pattern....?  Or maybe the third time would be the charm.  I hate to start on a new hat because I know if it turns out better I will never wear this first one again and I hate to waste the fabric and time and well, it matches my green twirling skirt!  Also, I can't bring myself to buy new fabric until I look into sustainability).  I am not sure what to do so I've just been thinking about it today and looking the hat over.

"I am just not sure."  Basically that is my skill level with sewing.  I am not sure.  I just wing it.  I guess it works, but is not super efficient I don't think (here I remember myself ripping the seams apart to start over several times.)  Trial and error is a way to learn and the lessons seem to stick pretty well.

My mother ordered me the same sewing book she used as a young woman.  Maybe that will help.  It certainly can't hurt!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Camping/Backpacking Checklist

 In a fit of spring fever I went through and consolidated three different backpacking/camping checklists into one.  I love making lists and being organized and if I can't actually BE out in the woods now this is a nice alternative!  The red items are the reduced-load backpacking checklist, as opposed to the car-camping-bring-whatever-the-heck-you-want sort of checklist.  The food list is just an idea list.  We bring different things every time we go out camping.  Tea and spices, however, go with us no matter where we end up.  Certainly there are things that we could add and things we could leave, but this is what we have found we like to bring along.  I am sure it will continue to be honed and updated as we upgrade gear and continue to evolve in our camping.

_____Pack Cover
_____Day Pack (included in Matt's backpack)
_____Trekking poles
_____Tent (inc. rainfly, poles, footprint, stakes)
_____Sleeping Bag
_____Sleeping Pads
_____Water Purification Tablets
_____Water Bottles and/or Jug
_____Stove and Fuel
_____Bear Bag and Cord
_____Dualist Cookset
_____Utensils (spork, knife, spatula)
_____Frying Pan
_____Coffee Mug
_____Quick-dry Towel
_____1st Aid Kit
_____Multi-Tool and/or Pocket Knife
_____Matches and/or Lighter
_____Small Shovel
_____Headlamp and/or Lantern
_____Camp Chair
_____Plastic Garbage Bags
_____Plastic Ziplock Bags
_____Duct Tape
_____Hand Saw
_____Repair and Spare Parts Kit
_____Bear Spray

_____Toilet Paper
_____Hand Sanitizer
_____Insect Repellent
_____Hair Brush
_____Field Guides (Birds, Flowers, Trees, etc)
_____Paper and Pen
_____Extra Batteries
_____Games (cards, travel scrabble, boggle, etc)

_____Hiking Boots
_____Sandals/Water Shoes
_____Socks (preferred wool or synthetic)
_____Wide-brimmed Sun Hat
_____Rain Clothes
_____Long Sleeved Shirts (Preferred Quick Drying, not Cotton)
_____Short Sleeved Shirts (Preferred Quick Drying, not Cotton)
_____Warm Top (Preferred Wool or Fleece)
_____Vest or Jacket (Preferred Wool or Fleece)
_____Hiking Shorts or Pants (Preferred Quick Drying, not Cotton)
_____Camp Pants
_____Long Underwear
_____Stocking Cap
_____Extra Clothing Layers as Required By Trip

_____Spices (salt/pepper, bouillon, multi-container)
_____Tea Bags
_____Dehydrated Black Bean Soup
_____Lentils and Rice/Couscous/Quinoa
_____Grilled Cheese Sandwich
_____Rice/Couscous/Quinoa with Jerky
_____Southwest Couscous
_____Quesadillas (cheese or hummus varieties)
_____Breakfast Potatoes
_____Chili(like) Soup
_____Mashed Potatoes
_____Hummus and Chips
_____Dried Fruit
_____Granola Bars
_____Oatmeal (with PB, fruit, or nut add-ins)