Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Amish Proverbs

So, I have an infatuation with the Amish.  I don't think that is any secret.  I don't want to be Amish, but I really think they've got a lot to teach us!   Some years ago I read a really terrific book called Amish Peace: Simple Wisdom for A Complicated World by Suzanne Woods Fisher.  It was so terrific in fact that I bought a copy for my mother and I basically never buy books.  In it I found a sweet selection of Amish proverbs which I copied down.  Having recently unearthed the list in one of my journals I thought perhaps I'd share it as I so enjoyed re-reading them. 

Take all you want, eat all you take.

 He who has no money is poor; he who has nothing but money is even poorer.

 We live simply so that others may simply live.

 Trickles tend to become streams, and steams become torrents.

 The most beautiful attire is a smile.

 A man is rich in proportion to the things that he can afford to leave alone.

 Medicine and advice are two things more pleasant to give than to receive.

 Jumping for joy is good exercise.

 Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.

 Live each short hour with God and the long years will take care of themselves.

Enjoy today, it won’t come back.

Days are like suitcases, all the same size, but some people are able to pack more into them than others.

 More is caught than taught.

 To mistreat God’s creation is to offend the Creator.

God likes small people.  He cannot use big ones.

 Beware of the man who knows the answer before he understands the question.

 A task takes as long as it takes.

 Our duty is not to see through one another but to see one another through.

 Community is like an old coat—you aren’t aware of it until it is taken away.

 The light that shines farthest, shines brightest at home.

 Swallowing pride rarely gives you indigestion.

 It isn’t the mountains ahead that wear you out, it’s the grain of sand in your shoe.

 Do unto others as if you were the other.

 Trusting God turns problems into opportunities.

 It is better to hold out a helping hand than to point a finger.

 It is the set of the sails and not the gales that determine the path you go.

 Kindness, when given away, keeps coming back.

A friend is like a rainbow, always there for you after a storm.

 If you are true to your faith, there are things you give up for your faith.

 Put the swing where the children want it.  The grass will grow back.

 A heart touched by grace brings joy to the face.

 The person who forgives does more for himself than anyone else.

Good deeds have echoes.

There are no degrees of honesty.

Swallowing words before you say them is so much better than having to eat them afterward.

A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when it finally comes.

We are not promised skies always blue, but a Helper to see us through.

You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage him.

 Opportunity may knock once, but temptation bangs on your front door forever.

 Pride in your work puts joy in your day.

 The year is a never-ending adventure.

 It takes both sunny and rainy days to make a life complete.

 Life just has to be lived as it comes.  Good things, bad things, life still has to go on.

Whatever you fill your mind with fills your heart, and whatever fills your heart comes out of your mouth.

Camping With Mama

Matt and I went camping with my mother, step-dad, and niece last weekend.  We'd penciled it into the calendar quite a long time back since we all know how quickly summer weekends fill up. 
We camped along the Hyalite Reservoir just outside of Bozeman, MT.   We camped at nearly the same spot two years ago.  Keleigh was so little then!
We played Scrabble.  Keleigh was on Grandma's team. 
I lost as usual.  My mom won (probably all that help she had!)
My step-sister and her dog came out for a visit.  The dog ended up biting Keleigh.  It was....well...interesting.  (For the record I am sure the dog was unintentionally provoked by the victim, but none the less it was an intense couple of moments.)  Keleigh sure liked walking the dog around on its leash though.
Keleigh, Matt, and I had a little jam session/sing along down on the shore.  Keleigh actually did some pretty nice improv with that harmonica.  It played quite well with a couple of my songs and I was quite impressed.  There were only a few finger-nail-on-the-chalk-board type notes.  She really wants to play guitar, but its just pretty much too big for her yet.  She likes the harmonica and the maracas a lot, too.
I cannot remember a camping trip with my mom where she didn't spend a great deal of time reading.  I think that is the height of camping relaxation for her.   Naturally, Matt and I both brought our books, too! I never did crack mine though.

Keleigh wanted a tree stump stool to sit on (like Matt had).  He rolled one over to the fireside for her and then, in a moment of playful enthusiasm over his new hatchet, he stripped it of all the bark for her, too.  It ended up a nice, smooth throne.  It even had little foot rests in the form of the stumpy remainders of the tree's cut off branches.  She seemed pleased.  So did Matt.

Keleigh did a little wading in the cold reservoir.  She couldn't entice any of the grown ups to join her though.
A storm rolled in during the late afternoon, as tends to be the case in the mountains.  It was neat to watch the reservoir being pelted, ripple after ripple, with rain drops.  We played some cards as we hid out from the rain.
Matt and Keleigh started a campfire around sunset.  She had been, not so patiently waiting for it to get close to dusk so they could do so.  She was glad to be assistant to the fire builder.
Matt reading the Hiking Yellowstone book...planning a great adventure for us since we have no tie-dye selling gigs in the month of August.
This is the I'm-a-crazed-lunatic-with-a-hatchet photo.  Don't you think?!  He'd wanted one for a while and we picked up this one for $10 at a yard sale.  He is very pleased with it so far.
The next morning Keleigh woke up (in the camper) and came out (to the tent) to find me and Matt.  We bundled her up, made some hot chocolate, and started a morning fire.
Her coat had been overlooked in the packing stage of the trip so we just bundled her in my clothes, which I found quite endearing especially as she tottered around camp in my over-sized coat.  She looked so sad and cold when I first opened the tent door!  But with a down coat, a wool hat, and knee-high stockings it didn't take long for her to get over it.  Plus, she was dressed as me, which she seemed to like and, as mentioned, I found super cute.

We all had a grand time I think.  I know I did.  We'll have to be sure and pencil it in again next year!  I think my deep love of camping has its origins in my mother so it seems only right we should.

First Peppers

 I picked the first peppers of the season last night for dinner--Hungarian Wax Peppers, to be specific.  Yum.  Oh, how I adore peppers!   Just about all of them....well, probably not this one, but in general, spicy or sweet, I think peppers are fabulous in just about every thing.

Maybe I've told this story here before, but maybe not:  Last year Matt was concerned that he'd started too many pepper plants.  He was talking about not planting all of them because there would be so many.  I told him that I was 100% confident that I would eat any amount of peppers he could produce.  Not to worry.  They won't go bad as long as I am around.  Raw, stir-fried, roasted, grilled, sauteed, you name it.  I love it.
Last night it was a spicy garlic stir fry with homegrown onion, kale, and peppers.  I thought it was a beautiful rainbow of a dish--red, orange, yellow, green, tan.  If only we'd had some purple peppers, too!

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Library Bunnies

The mama cottontail rabbit that live under the library has had her second batch of kittens for the season and much joy accompanies the sight of such a precious little bunny.   This is an annual occurrence, but this no less diminished my pleasure in watching them.  I mean, I think just about all babies (rabbit, human, or otherwise) are just precious and heart-warming in their innocent sweetness and softness and vulnerability. 
The whole library, staff and students, were just absolutely taken with the first batch who would boldly sit right by the front entrance as people passed them, even when they were so tiny you could probably fit all of them in your shoe!   The four kittens would cause quite a stir.  There were many days where just about every person who came in to the library came in talking about the bunnies.  "Did you guys know you've got bunnies out there?!"  "Aren't those the cutest little rabbits ever?!"  "Have you see those babies out there?"  And so on. 
The second litter is a little more cautious (which I find a bit odd since school is not in session as it was with the first litter so there is less foot traffic).  They've been using what I'd considered the secondary hole further from the main door and have only just today started venturing out into the grass on the other side of the sidewalk from their home. Mama was keeping a sharp eye out though, as evidenced by her proximity in the photos.  So far, I've only seen one kitten in this litter. 
It is so interesting to watch as they progressively venture further and further from the safety of their hole.  It is also interesting to watch how they can disappear from sight, hole or no hole (like when they duck into the wood vines and lily leaves).  I cannot imagine what the great big, noisy world must feel like to such a small, little critter.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

My Green Man Cameo

You may or may not remember when I introduced my friend Green Man.  Well, a while back Green Man and his wife asked me for a little help with a video they were planning to shoot about where to go for reliable sources of environmental information.  Always glad to help a friend as well as promote environmental awareness and information literacy I was eager to help with the video.  The video was just recently released.  You might just recognize the friendly librarian as yours truly.

Eggplants, Clemantis, and the Like

Things are going swimmingly in the garden, despite the rather ridiculous hot and dry conditions.  We hope this continues to be the trend..the good growing that is, not the ridiculous heat.  The ditch is empty again (for the second time) because the local farmers are pulling more water than normal to irrigate their crops, but we hope it will be filled again soon.  it was just a couple days the first time.  Otherwise I guess we'll bite the bullet and pay for city water to keep things green and growing.  I'm hopeful it won't come to that though.
Looking over the garden towards the west, with a little Matt hiding out back there behind the tomatoes.
We're growing two types of eggplants this year--purple long and black beauty.  We've never grown any kind of eggplant before.  They are starting to set fruit and we are pretty gosh darn excited!  Isn't this the cutest baby eggplant you ever saw?  Okay, I admit I haven't see that many....but still.
Matt had been admiring this little eggplant (at center of photo) all the while not noticing the much larger one laying on the dirt below it.   He was quite pleasantly surprised.
Looking over the garden towards the east.
Matt in amongst the volunteers...who have really taken off in recent days.
They are setting fruit as well.
There are still a few kale plants growing strong out in the beds.  This one is easily three feet across.  We've never had such a good year with greens.
A portion of the herb garden located out the front door in a raised flower bed.  We're making pesto soon with the basil.  Its been on the to-do list since last week.  We'll also be drying several other herbs for later use.
I never knew what a Clematis was before we bought this place, but they are on the fast track to being my favorite flowers.  There are so many blossoms and they are so stunning and it seems to just go on and on and on blooming.  They grow up the fence between us and the neighbors who are self-described as flower obsessed.
Matt with the tomatoes that tied for the let's-see-who-gets-to-the-top-of-the-cage-first contest.  I didn't even know there was such a competition, but apparently Matt did.  It was the Old German tomatoes who won.  Matt has taken to calling them The Rogers after his dad who is of German ancestry and as hearty as these heirloom tomatoes are supposed to be.
Its nice to just be able to sit and enjoy the beauty of all your labors, listen to the birds, and breathe it all in.
I became acquainted with Hen and Chicks plants when I moved in as well.  They are so precious and have a striking resemblance to the lotus, don't you think?
Things are in a constant state of rather rapid change in the garden.  A good rain, a good watering, good sunshine, good compost and it can be like the difference between black and white.  One day the squash are fairly small and a few days pass and they've become gigantic.  I am sure that before I know it, and before I am ready for it, it will be the season to be overwhelmed with abundance and pressure to get it all put up or eaten up.  But, I am up for that kind of pressure.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Simple Woman's Day Book for July 24, 2012

Outside my window...it is just slightly overcast.  I hope the sun doesn't burn it off before I walk home from work.  Its amazing how much cooler cloud cover makes things.

I am thinking.... food.  I need to plan a dinner menu and canning agenda pronto if I have any hopes of saying ahead of the seasonal produce.

I am thankful for... Matt.  He's so great.

From the kitchen...that delightful and familiar smell of fresh baked bread and flax seed crackers!

I am wearing...a vintage patchwork skirt, black polo shirt, and birkenstocks.

I am creating...my first dress, my first socks, and a dish cloth.

I am going... camping with my mother soon.

I am reading... Wife No. 19 by Anne Eliza Young and The Langoliers by Stephen King.  I have diverse reading interests I guess you could say.

On my mind... my dreadful summer cold.  This is the second summer cold I’ve gotten this year.  Since I rarely get sick I find this most unpleasant and annoying.  This second one is a real doosey, too. 

Around the house...everything is neat and tidy and coming along nicely.  We really, really like our new house.  It is so perfect for us.

One of my favorite things...the bright lemon colored yellow warblers that sing and flit around the yard to my delight.  They were not common backyard birds at our rental house across town.

A few plans for the rest of the week... hopefully catch a baseball game with my dad, harvest basil and make pesto, plant a few last things in the summer garden, and lay in my hammock and rest.

A small window into my life...
The boys checking out their father's garden during Adam's recent visit.  They are all green thumbs.
 This format come from the Simple Woman blog.

Spicy Grilled Bok Choy

I got the idea for this recipe from the folks at Prairie Heritage Farms, a small organic family farm near Conrad, MT.   It sounded superb since I've a liking for both spicy and grilled.  And I just happened to have some boy choy on hand as well.  Perfect!

I couldn't find the camera, so you'll just have to take my word for it that it was a beautiful dish in addition to tasty.  The spicy sauce gave the leaves a slight hint of red.  The grilling made the leaves just start to crisp and brown around the edges.  They were tender and flavorful. Matt is still on the fence about bok choy, but he thought they were okay.  I thought  they were just incredible....much, much better than just okay!  So, I ate probably 3/4 of them.  Hey, more for me!

Spicy Grilled Bok Choy
2 head bok choy, thick stem removed and cut into 2inch pieces
3 T white wine vinegar
1 t hot sauce (or chili paste)
2 T oil
2 T sesame seeds
salt and pepper, to taste

Whisk together all ingredients except bok choy.
Add bok choy and stir until well coated.
At this point you can let the bok choy marinate as long as desired.  We ended up marinating ours for four days which was way longer than we'd planned.
Place marinated bok choy pieces into a grilling basket.
Grill over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, being sure to turn them so they don't burn.  They should be crisp, but not blackened.
Toss with leftover marinade if desired.

One of the things I love about marinating vegetables is that you can save the marinade to use again to marinate something else later, or as a stir-fry sauce which will be the destiny of this leftover sauce.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Cell Phone Ettiqute (or Lack There Of)

I usually strive for sunny and positive.  This post is not that.  It is more irritated and disappointed than anything else.

I am increasingly frustrated with the intrusion of cell phone technology into my life and social interactions.  I can no longer keep it quietly to myself. 

When I am with my friends I have noticed an appalling amount of them spend much of their time on their phones—when driving, hanging out with friends, out a ball games and concerts, even at the dinner table!  It drives me bonkers.  I can’t help but feel it is incredibly rude.  Perhaps this behavior is just inevitable in my peer group and I should learn to accept it, but I find it so unacceptable that I just cannot seem to do so. 

Example # 1:  I am talking with friend A.  She receives a text.  She tries to continue carrying on the conversation with me while she engages in a totally different conversation with someone else in a series of back and forth texts.  But, I can tell she is no longer with me.  She is splitting her focus and it is abundantly clear in her conversation with me.  It is no longer articulate and lively like it just was moments before.  It is distracted and disjointed with lots of ums, uhs, likes, and little to no eye contact.   A story that should take 30 seconds takes several minutes as it is being consistently interrupted.

I loathe this.  I don’t care how much they tell you they are listening while they fiddle with their phones it is absolutely not the same.  Multitasking works in that each of the tasks is done a little less well because you’re not giving it 100% of your attention.  This is no different with phones.     Only the thing they are doing less well is being my friend which makes it more important to me.

Example # 2:  When I have a small group over to the house for dinner, conversation, and board games and friend B spends the evening partially contributing to the conversation all the while playing games on his phone how am I supposed to feel?  I, for one, feel insulted.  I want to say, with snarky sarcasm, “I’m so sorry that your group of friends are so terribly boring that sitting and talking, connecting with us, is not excitement enough for you….that you need to play a video game in order to have the evening be enough fun and stimulation for you.”

 I think this is pathetic.  It’s pathetic that people aren’t satisfied with conversing with their friends and family.  It’s pathetic that fictitious games are more relevant and important than real live people.  It’s pathetic that friend B thinks it is acceptable to do this and that society isn’t bucking it.  I know many people that do this sort of thing.  In my circle is it dishearteningly common--to the point I don’t think anyone finds it rude except me.   It’s perfectly normal now. 

To me even if I am not enthralled in the activities when I am a guest at someone’s home it would be beyond common courtesy to just withdraw from the conversation to do my own thing.  Again, I just find it rude, rude, rude.  (And even though I am sure they find me rude when I try to tell them they should join us real people, I refuse to just let it slide any more, especially when they are guests at my home.)  When did we let rudeness get canonized into acceptable social decorum?

I can understand the convenience and purpose of cell phone.  I know people who use cell phones in ways that are completely agreeable to me.  They have not let it take over center stage of their lives.  I admire that.  Tools are great, but they are just tools.  People forget that about their cell phones.  They are tools and nothing more.   It is more like they’ve become a dear friend or a personal assistant to keep their scattered brains together.  It has become phone, day planner, address book, camera, computer, mp3 player, TV, ebook reader, dictionary, GPS navigator and more.  I know people make the argument that having all these things in one device is brilliant.  In some ways I can see what they are saying.  But paper day planners never interrupt you in the middle of talking with your brother.  TVs used to stay at home meaning people had to converse with each other or use their own brains to entertain themselves in cars, in line at the bank, waiting for the bus, etc.  Computers used to not be in your pocket telling you where to turn left to get to your friend’s house across town meaning people had to actually plan ahead and know where they were going or how to read maps, all skills that are pretty important.   There is a lot cell phone offer, and there is a lot they take away.

It seems like such a vulnerable position to strive to put yourself in to—utter dependence on technology for normal day-to-day activities that didn’t previously require it.  Example 3:  Friend C regularly breaks and/or loses her phone.  That means she loses her “whole world.”   She’s got no phone numbers to call even her closest friends, no day planner to remind her of class schedules this week, no photos of her children at the zoo, no sense of direction about how to get to a house in the Heights, and in the cases where she loses it, a whole wealth of personal information free floating in the city.  Not to mention the money it costs to replace her phone.  I just can’t understand why she continues to follow this misguided path.  This has also been the case with friends in areas without cell service, such as camping up in the mountains.  They are lost and you can tell they really feel it.  It’s almost like you’ve caught them naked.  They don’t quite know what to do with themselves.   There is nothing to fiddle with during the lulls in conversations or the quiet of the night.  They don’t have their safety net to protect them from their own thoughts.

You might think all this cell phone technology makes people more social and more connected which might make all these things worthwhile in the end, but from my personal experience that is not the case.  I also believe the connections made are much shallower.  Example 4: Friend D doesn’t like to talk on her phone.  She only likes to text on it.  When we were discussing this I learned it was because she doesn’t like to “waste” time with all the “niceties” that go along with making a phone call.  The “Hi, how are you?”  “Oh, good, just working on a little project in the yard, waiting for you to get off work.  What are you up to?”  “Oh, I just got home and now I am starting to cook dinner.  We got some great stuff at the market this weekend.  What time are you coming over?”  She just wants to skip right to the heart of the matter the “What time are you coming over part?”  For me, the niceties are a part of the friendship.  I don’t want to skip them.  I enjoy them.  I was baffled I must admit by the fact she would skip them over every time if she could.  It also makes me feel self-conscious when I talk with her, like I might be wasting her time with my small talk.  I always thought that the “niceties” were life.  And they are nice in any case so why the rush to eliminate them?  I don’t understand why we’re in a hurry so much.  We drive because it’s too slow to walk, make minute rice because brown takes too long, and text so we don’t have to converse with our friends?!  What is going on?!

Example 5: Friend E never checks his voice mails.  I don’t even bother to leave them anymore.  I am irritated by this growing trend as well.  It’s like they’ve forgotten that the first use of the telephone was for talking to people.  If it’s not a text it is too much work for him.  When I’ve asked people say they like texts better because they don’t have to stop what they’re doing to answer it, but I’ve already made my feelings on that pretty clear.  They are indeed stopping what they’re doing.  I’d respect them a whole lot more if they just said “Excuse me a minute.” and stepped away to talk or text. 

But there seems to be no time to stop and talk or stop and text.  Its a go, go, go life and there isn't time.  That is also why I see so many people driving and using their phones.  Its a perfect way to make use of that dead time where you're driving.  I know this because almost a decade ago I was quite guilty of this myself.  The only problem is that distracted driving is as dangerous as drunken driving.  But, it hasn't nearly the negative social stigma of the latter.   Example 6:  The only serious bicycle wreck I've been in was because of a woman who commited the duel error of driving while talking on her phone and not using a turn signal.  Fortunately I only got scrapes and bruises, but with cars and bicycles it could have been deadly!  I kept asking myself if she hadn't been on the phone would she have used her blinker?  Would she have seen me?   Could it all have been prevented?  I'll never know, but I do know that driving was not the only thing she was focused on.  I know two people who have died in car accidents where cell phones were at least partially responsible for their deaths.  And yet I see people I know and love and countless strangers who have their own loved ones casually multitasking between the wheel and the screen....when one of the tasks is easily lethal.  I find it appalling and scary.  I share the road with these people!

Obviously I cannot control other people and wouldn't really want to.  I don't want to be a dictator.  I just wish other people could see all that cell phones are causing them to lose, not just all they gain.  I keep having this delightful, dreamy thought about the zone of influence in my own home.  My thought is that I’d like to make my house a cell phone free zone.  Or not cell phone free, but cell phone restricted.  Something along the lines of, you can leave your cell phone in the craft room.  If you want to use it you have to stay in there.  But, I think this would scare my friends away from ever coming to my house…with the exception of Derek.  I know such a rule wouldn’t bother him.  I also would expect this rule would not ruffle our immediate families too much.  But in our peer group…oh, I can only imagine the outrage.  Which I find depressing and disappointing.  I honestly feel many of them would never voluntarily go to a place where they couldn’t text at will.  I hope my personal peer group is an aberration, and that this isn’t indicative of young people in general, but I fear it is more commonplace than I’d like.  For better or worse, people are....enthusiastic....to be kind, about their cell phones.

Is it too much to ask that the people I am with really be with me?  To be here, in this place with these people having this experience together.  To have the whole of my friends spirit in our exchanges with each other.  Is that too much to ask?  Am I being selfish because I want them to be 100% in the moment with me?

I feel in my core that the answer is no, but that I am so nearly alone in this assessment as to make it irrelevant.

Friday, July 20, 2012

In The Night Garden

Derek wanted to see how the garden was growing, but it was already dark.  Not to be discouraged we found a flashlight and went out for a spotlight garden tour. 

The night garden has a different feel than in the day.  I've enjoyed the coolness and darkness of it before, but I'd never taken a flashlight out.

With the beam of the flashlight we pointed out tomatoes and onions and cauliflower.  But, we also pointed out some less expected things, too. 

There were so many critters back there, some of whom show themselves in the daylight hours, but some of whom must spend the day hiding out in cool, dark places, underground.  There were big, iridescent beetles carrying slugs through the grass in their little mouths.  They looked black in certain light, but would also start to shine like a piece of silver...and then lime-greenish silver.  They were pretty lovely for beetles, which I admit are not my favorite of all the critters.  The house finches were singing the last songs of the evening from the bush on the north fence and the crickets picked it up where the birds left off.  A long legged spider was hanging in the tomatoes branches.  There was a six foot section of  garden bed that was covered, just covered, in long, fat earthworms.  Some of them shot quickly back into their holes when the light hit them.  I still counted 19, I think.  We're glad to see them.  They help carry the compost top dressing we give each plant down into the soil, enriching it.

It was really neat to be able to see all that was going on at the soil level in the garden at night.  For all the quietness it was a bustle of activity.

Yay! Adam's Home!

Hooray!  Adam is home from California for a few days!  We are all so glad to see him!
Matt was stuck at work for most of the evening, but I was able to ride over and spend the night watching Ryan and Adam duel it out in beer pong, laughing, petting dogs, checking out Ryan's rapidly expanding gardening endeavors, and enjoying the shade from a "zero gravity" chair.  Matt joined us all after work.
My favorite doggy in the world, Gus.

While the boys played ball Bek ordered us some pizza!  Yum.
When family gets spread apart you just relish and delight in every possible moment together.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

An Itty-Bitty Pickle

Do you see the teeny-tiny little pickle there in the jar, near the center of the photo?  It was so cute.  Littlest pickle I ever saw.  I actually kind of remember placing it on top of a jar when we were canning these up last year.  I'd forgotten about it though until I popped this lid off a new jar for an appetizer at our dinner party last night.  Since Matt likes pickles the smaller the better its seemed only right to let him have it.

New Friends and New Foods

Matt and I have somewhat recently made some awesome new friends, Michelle and Dave.  We've known them very casually for some time as friends-of-friends that we see out at musical events mostly, but until the last month or so that was the extent of the friendship.  Then Dave invited us over for dinner an event we've replicated a couple times since with much enjoyment all around.  They love to cook delicious food and have people over to eat it, even better than that for Matt and I is that Michelle is vegan and Dave a very flexible omnivore who loves vegan food. They enjoy playing board games and listening to music both live and recorded.  They are quite smart and interesting and fun to converse with.  Basically everything I could be looking for in friends, really.
Michelle made us soup with some kale that we'd sent home with her from our abundance and shared with us a large portion of it.  It was really yummy (and that reminds me that I still need to get the recipe from her!).  It served Matt and I for dinner both Monday and Tuesday.  And then last night they brought over a vegan spinach quiche.  I've hardly had to cook at all this week and yet I've been eating so well!  Its been pretty awesome.

I'd never had a quiche before in my life, made vegan or with eggs.  I think this shocked Michelle somewhat.  I never enjoyed eggs so quiche was just never up my alley.  Also, as such I can in no way vouch for the similarity between this dish and a traditional egg quiche.  I can, however, vouch that it was absolutely fabulous tasting and very filling.  And really, that's the most important part.

She got the recipe here, though I think she modified it....just like I would if I'd been making it I am sure. 

Beth's Red Hot

Well, I did make my own hot sauce.  After eating a few too meals that were good, but would have been GREAT if they were spicier I just decided to go for it.  I think I felt a little bit of pressure not to screw up or waste my precious homegrown peppers, but ultimately I figured I better just jump right in and go for it.  What was the worst thing that could happen?  I'd have a dozen peppers to throw in the compost if it failed.  And if it succeeded....well it would be pretty darn fantastic I thought!

I am a Frank's Red Hot person.  I like hot sauces in general, but all hot sauce people have one sauce in particular they prefer.  I think my sister's family is a cholula family, whereas Alli and J.D. are sriracha people.  I've always been partial to Frank's.  Its vinegary, and spicy, but not face melting.  I  eat it so much that we would buy the industrial size, something like half a gallon, and refill a normal sized bottle from it.  So, that last gallon is finally gone.  We bought it years ago (its not like it goes bad quickly since its mostly vinegar) and I'd been kind of waiting and wondering for the time this would happen--when the bottle would be empty and I'd need to resupply.  See, Frank's is not organic.  When I bought that last industrial size bottle I wasn't too concerned about stuff like that, but now I am.  I was wondering what I'd do when the jug ran out.  Would I continue to buy Frank's since I like it so much?  Could I find an organic (or local) hot sauce that wouldn't break the bank and that I'd enjoy just as much?  Or could I make my own?  Would I enjoy that as much as Frank's? 
It turns out yes I can make my own and it is quite flavorful and spicy.  I don't think its quite a good as Frank's (yet) but I have a whole life ahead of me to tweak the recipe to my satisfaction and curiosity.  Some of the recipes I was looking at called for apple cider vinegar.  I'd like to see what that does to the flavor.  Others had a touch of sweetener.  I wondered what it would be like with the green cayenne peppers which I also have a jar of. 

But since I was trying to replicate Frank's I just went with straight white vinegar and peppers.  It is darn good as it is, but not quite vinegary enough for me.  Matt says he like it better than Franks which he always found too strong with vinegar. 

And it was so easy.  And makes it so that my hot sauce doesn't come in a one-time-use, disposable container that I'll have to just throw out or recycle.  And oh how I like that.
Here it is:

Beth's Red Hot (from Dried Peppers)

10 dried red cayenne peppers
1 C white vinegar
3 cloves garlic (I used my friend Derek's homegrown garlic which he kindly gifted us some of.)
1/2 t sea salt

Heat water to a boil
Pour over peppers in a small bowl until the peppers are just covered.
Weight the peppers down with a canning jar or spoons so they remain submerged.
Allow to sit for about 30 minutes or so until they are rehydrated.
Put all ingredients into a blender and blend well, being very careful not to breathe anywhere near the open blender.  In fact, if you have rubber gloves and a dust masks its not a bad idea to use them.  Peppers can be intense, especially when being pulverized.
Pass through a fine mesh strainer if you wish to remove the seeds.  (Our Vitamix will just puree the seeds, too, so this step may not be applicable to everyone.)
Pour into your jar or bottle. 

This recipe could also easily be multiplied and canned for future use.