Friday, December 31, 2010

Yellow treat

Today I went on my first bike ride since my trip in Sept. I kept putting it off all day because I was tired. I finally got on my bike a little after 3 and decided that I wouldn't be walking the dogs today so I could put all my energy into my ride. The new rim is slightly thinner than the old one so I had to do a road side brake adjustment. I have breaking power in the rear now but it's not full power so I need to tinker with it a little bit more.

We had snow fall on Christmas and early this week, it was still on the ground. Today was 60 degrees! It was beautiful! Apparently, this dandelion plant thought it was spring because it was full of bright yellow flowers. It was quite eager to enjoy the weather like me! Well, I pulled over and plucked the flowers. I wrapped them in a cloth and put them in a pocket in my bike bag.

The bike ride was great! I really enjoyed myself and it gave me enough energy that when I got home, I ran upstairs and changed into regular clothes and walked the dogs after all.

After getting back home from the walk, I started preparing dinner. On tonight's menu were two new things to me. Dandelion fritters and beets. I have cooked with beets one time. It was used in a recipe that also used canned corned beef. Suffice it to say that the canned corned beef was the only thing I tasted in that one bite I was able to make myself eat.

To prepare the dandelions for the fritters, I had to strip all the green stuff off. Then, you make up a batter with eggs, milk and flour. Cover the dandelions in batter and fry that.

They were pretty good...and I ate half of them before I could get a picture. Whoops. They reminded me of a cross between a chayote squash and an eggplant.

The beet was wrapped inside a foil packet with a little oil and provence herbs (which contains lavender). Then, when they were done roasting, I splashed it with some lemon juice and parsley. I was afraid I was not going to like it but it was pretty good...though I think I'll try cooking it some other way next time.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sandwich on cast iron and a weed on the broccoli

I have been reading this book about this couple who lived in the Canadian wilderness from the 40's-60's. They talked some about the wild foods they ate. This wasn't one of them that they talked about eating but it inspired me to get back outside and see what food I could find to eat. I noticed in the fall that we had garlic mustard plants growing in the side yard so I went back to see if they survived the snow we had this week. They did! There's not much left but it's still there so I grabbed a handful.

Garlic mustard plant has a garlicky flavor/smell to it though it's much more mild than garlic. I really could have used more than I got but I didn't want to use it all at once. I'll get back to that in a second.

On Christmas, Lanette told me about this cast iron griddle/grill that they had for years but they weren't sure where it came from. They never used it so were getting rid of it. I said, "Oh, give it to me!" So she handed it over thankful to have it out of her house...and I'm thankful to have it in mine! I made use of it today for my sandwich which I have named "ham & cheese pannini with a twist". The is the grill side, the other side is smooth but you've got to have the marks for a pannini. I would have liked to have had a bacon or steak press to squish this sandwich down but I don't have one so I left it its original size.

So, back to the garlic mustard...or is mustard garlic....I can't quite remember. Anyway, back to the plant. I cut it up into thin strips and threw it in a pan with a little bit of butter. After a few minutes, I threw in some cooked broccoli. I let that cook for a few minutes while the cheese was finishing up melting on my pannini.

The twist on the sandwich is that it has apple butter and sliced apples in it. I've had it before with the apples but never with the apple butter. I really liked both the sandwich and the broccoli. I was a little worried about the garlic mustard because the wild greens I've tried so far are extremely bitter but this wasn't at all. I'll definitely be using it again. But I probably only have enough for one more dish. Then I'll have to wait until spring/summer for more to grow.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas decorations finally out

I had brought out the Christmas tree into the living room. I even got the boxes of ornaments/decorations out of the attic but the two never met. Finally, while I was home sick for 4 days I decided to tackle it. It's not very festive but I had a "Hoarders" marathon while decorating. I couldn't find any Christmas movies. And since I was watching hoarders I had to weed through my Christmas stuff. Our first Christmas after we were married, I went crazy at the dollar store, the dollar general, family dollar and thrift stores collecting Christmas stuff. I bought a bunch of cheap decorations. I had them set up on the large entertainment center we had at the time as well as filling up the china cabinet which we also no longer have. So most of the stuff never came back out to play. I went through everything before moving out West and got rid of about half of it. This time, I got rid of all but a few things that I had bought that year. They just didn't appeal to me anymore. It doesn't bother me that there's not many decorations like it seemed to that year.

The dining room chandelier. I added the teddy bear after I couldn't find a spot for him that I felt was safe from Tucker's grasp.

I love my nativity set. It looks a lot like the Willow Tree stuff but it's just a set from Walmart. I waited a few years to find the right one. The sign was a gift from Valerie many years ago.

The angel and the Mary, Joseph and Jesus figurines were from the dollar tree from our first year. I was going to get rid of them too since their eyes are a little creepy but decided to go ahead and keep them.

The dining room table. I sure could use a Christmas table cloth...maybe by next year.

The entertainment center. This is what's lfet of my Santa collection. There used to be a ton. But I decided to just keep my favorites.

And then of course, there's a tree. I found this tree at a thrift store. It's the kind that has a lodge pole in the center and all the branches are glued in place so there's no assembly. :o) Besides that, I just love it. It's compact, I like that! Adam thinks it's a Charlie Brown type tree. I usually have berry garland on it but I wasn't able to find the box with it in it until after I had already put the ornaments on so I used it elsewhere in the house (in the pine garland around the front door and on the chandilier.

Our first Christmas, I decided to paint some little ornaments with scenes from some of the things we had done together. Some are much better than others but it's fun to see them because it reminds us of that year. I had plans on continuing it every year but it never happened.

Sunset while on a dolphin cruise in Hilton Head, SC.

Well, this one is hard to tell but it's the mountains with fall colors we saw while driving through North Georgia.

This is supposed to be Hickory Nut Falls where Adam asked me to marry him.

This is Chimney Rock in North Carolina.

The Hilton Head lighthouse.

Hilton Head beach.

St. Simmons lighthouse.

This one is my favorite, it's a racoon that followed us around a nature reserve in Southern Georgia. He actually walked with us like a dog. When we got to the car, he jumped onto the car and wouldn't let us in. He wanted to be fed and he hissed at us when we got close to the car. I finally was able to get in while Adam distracted him and I got a bagle and threw it out. When the racoon ran to the bagel, Adam hopped in and we took off real fast before he hopped back on the car.

It still doesn't seem possible that Christmas is this week. It has snuck up on me, no matter how many times I talk about it or think about it, or prepare for it, it just doesn't seem close yet.

Merry Christmas! I hope it's full of family, love, making memories and sharing with others.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Something new

I haven't been updating the blog lately because it feels like I haven't done anything interesting. But, I recently tried something I've been wanting to do for a while. I found a recipe for sprouted bread online. The only ingredient is sprouted wheat berries. I've bought the Ezekiel bread before which is sprouted grains and nothing else. It tastes slightly different than regular bread but much better for you since it doesn't have any chemicals in it. But a loaf of that bread is $5-6. Since I'm always looking for ways to do things for cheaper, I decided to take on the challenge.

I do have a seed sprouter but it's not nearly big enough for grains so I came up with this:
It's my mixing bowl, a spatter screen and a plastic cookie sheet lid to catch any dripping water. You have to soak the berries overnight then drain. Rinse and drain them 3 times a day for 3 days. Then they're ready for making bread.

I loaded them in the food processor and processed them. I noticed that I didn't particularly like the scent the crushed berries gave off. Then I dumped them into the smallest loaf pan I have. It just barely fit inside the crock pot. The recipe said to cook it in the crock pot for 8 hours. So I put them in just before going to bed.

I was so excited to have a slice with my breakfast the following morning. I opened up the crock pot and the smell hit me. Not a good smell. It was very soggy, not like bread at all. I took a tiny bite. It was disgusting! I'm sad about that. I want to give sprouted bread another chance but next time I think I'll go with a more traditional risen bread with flour made from dehydrated sprouted wheat.
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