Come in, look around. Let me know what you think! Comments are always welcome and encouraged.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

dc trip

The last two weeks have been CRAZY. I had to deal with a home invasion (more on that later) traveled to dc, and then we FINALLY got our bees. I will be blogging about all these things but I decided to do the dc trip first.

On friday, Greg and I left for dc to have Easter and celebrate his 31st birthday with his family. We went downtown, ate blue crab with his family, had Easter Brunch and got to visit Great Falls National Park. I had a great time. The weather was perfect. Sunny and in the low 80's the whole three days we were there.

Greg in front of a giant metal tree in a park

Washington Monument. I took a lot of pictures downtown but
I think everyone has seen all them in one way or another so I won't bother to share.

Greg used to be in this historic building when he worked at the wilderness society. Its really old.

my first time eating blue crab. It was messy but tasty!

Great Falls/Potomac River
I am excited to add this to my growing list of National Parks I've visited!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

vanilla! ...and some other stuff

My whole apartment smells like vanilla! My homemade vanilla extract experiment is a success and I bottled the finish product this morning. It took about 12 weeks for it to be ready but it turned out fantastic. Greg has used it for several batches of homemade brownies. I bottled the finished extract in these cute little recycled glass bottles.

There are lots of vanilla pieces left over.  I am going to get another batch going-a few more fresh beans and more vodka and the beans will continue to infuse the alcohol (that's the idea anyway).  I think I may also make some lemon extract. Same idea, just put lemon peel inside the alcohol instead of vanilla.

I've been trying to stay busy while we are waiting for our bees. Any day now..... I've transplanted my tomato seedlings into bigger containers. Cardboard milk cartons work great for that. And we have plenty. Greg drinks about a half gallon a day!

And for you animal lovers out there.....

My sister's new puppy, Darla. She's not dead, just sleeping.

My uncle's beast-dog, Smoke, begging me for a bite of my dinner.

Monday, April 11, 2011

dehydrated mushrooms (because they were on sale)

So I finally got in on the 11 boxes for $10.00 mushroom sale at Meijer. Organic mushrooms for less than a dollar a box is a steal people! We eat a lot of mushrooms so why not stock up?  Food prices keep getting higher and higher while my income keeps getting lower and lower. I have to make up for the difference in, well, unique ways, okay? I decided to dry the majority of the cheap mushrooms so I can throw them in soup and risotto whenever I feel like it. Using dried mushrooms I bought on sale and in bulk will save me about 20 bucks.

oh the possibilities

I quartered the baby bella mushrooms

and sliced the white buttons

ready for the cupboard
After they dried in the dehydrator (12 hrs or so) I put them in canning jars with a bit of paper towel in the bottom to absorb any moisture that sneaks in there. Dried mushrooms + moisture=moldy mushrooms. Food saver bags would work well too. I really havent used my dehydrator very much and its really easy. The only thing I've ever really used it for were the hot peppers I grew 2 years ago-which are still delicious in soup, stew, curry, etc. I bet my dehydrator will make several more appearances in this blog. I am just waiting for mangos to go on sale next. Mmm, mango chips....

fyi-you can dry mushrooms (and lots of other things) at a very low temp in the oven if you don't have a dehydrator. Google it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

from scratch: wildflower honey and browned butter ice cream

With beekeeping season right around the corner, Greg and I wanted to do something fun with the last of our stored honey from last year.  I found this recipe quite a while ago and filed it under "rainy day project".  Well since it has rained every day since forever ago, last night was the perfect time to pull out that recipe and give it a shot.

We borrowed my sister's antique ice cream machine, gathered the ingredients and prepared the recipe.  I'd rather not take credit for someone else's genius (and I have a fear of being sued) so if you would like to try this ice cream you should go here for the recipe.  The ingredients are simple: whole milk, cream, honey, butter and egg yolks. It took about 15 minutes to prepare and maybe another 15 to freeze-despite mechanical issues. The recipe made about 3 cups of frozen ice cream (not including the cup or so we couldn't stop ourselves from eating while the ice cream was freezing). The recipe called for unsalted butter but we used salted. Its hard to explain but sometimes adding just a touch of salt to sweet things makes it taste better?

We poured the mix in the barrel of the machine, plugged it in and it immediately made a loud clicking noise- a noise that tells you something is wrong. We unplugged it again, messed with the barrel, thinking the ice was packed to tightly to allow it to spin. We were able to spin the barrel easily by hand so we inspected the motor and discovered that even though it was working, the part that attaches to the barrel and made it spin, wasn't turning correctly. In the time it took to inspect the motor ("when I say inspect" i really just mean looking clueless while scratching our heads) I guess the ice cream got cold enough to freeze

Its hard to describe the taste of heaven but I will give it a shot- creamy, honey-sweet with a touch of buttery caramel.  How does that sound?

honey ice cream mix cooking on left, butter browning on right, dirty stove top everywhere

butter sufficiently browned

butter goes in honey ice cream mix

antique ice cream machine....didn't work.

turning the mix by hand

the finished product

Greg decided to try coffee ice cream. That was really good too.
same base recipe as above but 2/3 cup sugar in place of honey
1 cup strong coffee and a few tbs fine grounds

Oh, kitty is still sick. Its a weird kind of sickness though....
maybe its a man cold?

She only seems sick when she knows your looking

she thought I was busy cleaning the kitchen but I managed to sneak this picture.

I'm always on the lookout for recipes with honey. Anybody have any other good ones?

Monday, April 4, 2011

bird bath blue

got home from work at 8:00pm. I'm tired and chilled. I've been walking around in puddles all day and my pants got soaked up to the knees. I have to make this (yet again) a short post.

Even though I've been exhausted lately I managed to find the time to paint my toes. Its amazing how a little 5 minute paint job improves your mood.
Wet and Wild, Bird Bath Blue, $2.29.

don't make fun of my weird shaped toes. I can't help it.

Kitty is sick. She has a cold but she still manages to wake me up at 4am with her tuna breath.

The Meijer 10/10 and 11th free came back around. I finally got my organic baby bella mushrooms...11 boxes for 10 bucks. That will save me about 20 dollars since they are usually about 2.99 a package.   I am going to dry them with the food dehydrator.  I freaking love mushrooms, okay? Read about my mushroom madness here. So there will be a post later this week about food dehydrating.

I got three types of melons in the mail the other day. Tiny watermelons (2 lbs) and two types of mini cantaloupe. I couldn't help it. Why are mini versions of things so much cuter and more appealing? Thankfully my parents agreed to expand the garden to accomodate a few melon plants-just a few. Bees love melons. I'm doing it for them.....

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tell me this doesn't look amazingly delicious
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2 lbs-5 1/2 inches long. pocket sized.

Serenade (F1)
softball sized. I can see a little ball of ice cream nestled in the center.