Tuesday, March 29, 2011

It's a dog's life!

No exciting adventures with the dogs lately. Life is routine these days which is ok but doesn't make for any fun photo ops. Over the winter, Jasmine's leg has improved immensely. She rarely limps anymore. Jack, on the other hand, seems to be getting more stiff and usually ends up limping after we've gone for a walk. He's getting a bunch of white furs popping up these days. Even Jasmine is getting a slight white mustache now. Bear doesn't want to spend the days outside anymore so when I'm getting ready to leave for the day, he runs upstairs and hides so I can't drag him out. So it's true, the dogs are getting older. :o( I think this year, they will all 3 be considered senior dogs. Tucker is maturing a bit and can be trusted more. He doesn't chew on EVERYTHING these days...and he might go a few days without touching the cardboard boxes we leave out for him. He's still an energetic dog who always wants to be on the go. Bear is tolerating him more these days. Mainly because Tucker is sick of being bullied and is now standing up for himself from time to time. I came out of the bathroom one evening to find Bear and Tucker holding tails...how cute! The only reason they were laying that close together was because there wasn't room to spread out! And here's a few shots I got of the dogs recently that I liked. Well, I don't really like the one of Jack (he looks so sad) but he needed to be included too. Their life isn't exciting but they get everything they need...and I think they're pretty happy (usually).

Thin Split Pea Soup

I found this recipe online. She used yellow split peas instead of the green but green was what I had. It happened to fall on St. Patrick's day though I didn't realize it at the time. I thought it was really good but Adam said the kale was a little weird. Next time (and there will be a next time) I will just leave it out of the pot and add it only to my bowl because I really liked it. Thin Split Pea Soup
1 cup yellow split peas 3 cups water 2 bay leaves ¼ teaspoon paprika 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 onion, chopped 1 clove garlic, sliced 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced 1 quart chicken stock 1 cup kale, chopped and steamed ½ teaspoon sea salt

  1. In a medium sauce pan, bring split peas, water, bay leaves and paprika to a boil

  2. Reduce and simmer for 1 hour, until peas break apart

  3. Remove peas from heat, discard bay leaves and place peas in blender

  4. Puree peas on high speed, until smooth, then set aside

  5. In a large sauce pan, heat oil and sauté onion over medium low until translucent, 10-15 minutes

  6. Add garlic and mushrooms and sauté until tender

  7. Stir pureed peas, stock, kale and salt into onion, mushroom mixture

  8. Warm and serve

I served it with a wedge of cornbread. Yum, down home cooking!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Adam loves me, this I know, for the clothesline told me so!

Adam is so good to me! There are so many projects that need his attention. Some are for the house (main living area), some of for the business and some personal. When he was still working for NCR, and didn't have much free time, he still managed to do little things for me that he thought I would appreciate. I am not an outwardly emotional person and I know he's always disappointed when I don't give him an enthusiastic response to something but he still does it anyway and I love seeing the smile on his face when he shows it to me and explains it all to me. Whenever he finishes a project for me, I am always amazed at how selfless he can be with his precious time. I, sad to say, am not so selfless. I am pretty stingy with my time. I try not to be but it just doesn't come so natural to me as it seems to for him. Last weekend, when we were working on the fence, we talked about our future plans for the side yard. I mentioned (as I mentioned in the past to him) that this was the most logical spot in our yard for a clothesline. You can't really see it from the road , the neighbors on one side could only see it if they came out of their house and around to that side of their yard (this is the side of the house we just put the fence up on) and no one borders us on the backside so. When I got home on Tuesday, I think it was, Adam was in the driveway working on building the clothesline poles!The next day, they were set in the ground with cement. I was told I couldn't use them until Saturday and I was very excited to get to use them. Unfortunately, the cement didn't set for some reason so I didn't get to use them yet. This view is from the back woods, looking through the dog pen. (Excuse the blue mess up top, please.) Monday, after work, I was planning on going to a nearby park with hiking trails with Olympia, a friend of mine, to do a test hike with loaded backpacks to see how we will do with a full load for a weekend backpacking trip we'll be doing this upcoming fall. She called me early morning and told me she had gotten a stomach virus and wouldn't be able to make it after all which freed up my evening. Adam told me we could work on resetting the poles when I got home. So I took the evening off of biking and walking the dogs for a good cause. ;o) Here's the upper post. Adam built it with a handy dandy table for folding or for setting the basket on. The table's not level though so that will need some minor tweaking. Tucker spent quite a bit of time supervising us from the deck. He was very concerned that I was home but not within reach of him. Adam drilled the holes with the fence post auger, we leveled off the poles and had to put guy lines on them in all four directions to make sure they set level. We mixed the cement and dumped it into the holes but we only had enough cement for half of each pole. Well, we decided that was a good thing because it would give the cement in the bottom a chance to dry a bit before the rest of the load got dumped in the next evening. By the time we got everything cleaned up and put away, it was 9:30 and we hadn't eaten or cooked so Adam ordered a pizza from Papa John's. Tonight, I was going to ride my bike after work before we got down to business finishing off filling the holes with cement. But Adam decided that while we were going to be getting stuff dirty with cement, he might as well set the posts for the fence we'll be putting in near the clothesline...the one we weren't able to get done the night we put up the one in our neighbor's yard. I strained my neck at work and can't look up when bending over so it turned out that I wouldn't be able to bike today after all anyway so that's precisely the position I have to be in to bike. Good thing because we were working much longer than I planned on. We took quite a bit of time leveling off the the fence line and marking it all out...figuring out the angle for the gate, where to put it. That all took quite some time. Finally, Adam drilled 2 of the fence post holes and it was already dark when we were mixing up the cement. We filled up those two holes as well as topping off the clothesline holes. We still have 3 holes to drill and fill but we already know where they're going at least so, in theory, it shouldn't take more than a couple hours. Our theories on time are usually proven wrong though. Now, this weekend, I will be hanging something and getting great pleasure by watching them blow in the breeze! Working on this project with him has shown me just how much time each project can really take....and it makes me appreciate him even more for all he's willing to do to improve the house and yard. I know that a clothesline was probably on the very bottom of his list of things to do (especially since he doesn't even like having his clothes line dried because of the stiffness factor) but he did it anyway, to make me happy and it took a lot of his time. He didn't complain and I really do appreciate it! Thanks so much Adam, I love you too!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sweet silence...and other outdoor stuff

Finally, something other than food to blog about!

Today's post was made possible by our neighbor's dogs. They spend all day barking at us, our house, our dogs, or us if we ever have the audacity to step outside. Georgia, the large German Shepherd, is the biggest offender. She's been teaching the others the fine art of barking. Other neighbors have been complaining as well. So, Adam devised a plan to hopefully shut them up. One problem is that most people know we have a lot of dogs since they see ours out with me. But not everyone realizes she also has a lot of dogs and people think that the barking dogs are ours...we don't want animal control fining us for their dogs.

We started at around 2. We tore down the old fence so we had no choice but to finish it that night which meant working into the dark hours. Mike even stuck around the whole time to help make sure we weren't having to work too late. It was a great help having a third person there.

Adam did most of the nailing while Mike and I were more in charge of getting the boards to Adam where he needed them, supplying him with more nails and various other little jobs.

I was screwing in a horizontal board that the slats would later get nailed to when I broke the bit. It was the only one that size that Adam had so he made a quick trip to the auto parts store down the street to get a new one. While he was gone, I ran inside and made a margharita pizza with an extra pizza dough I had baked earlier in the week. I slipped it in the oven just as he pulled into the driveway. We took a quick break to grab a bite to eat.

We finished around 9. It was a long day and when we sat down, I started to feel VERY sleepy! I worked harder than I thought I had. So what we actually did was extend the wooden fence we put in 5-6 years ago and then wrapped it around the front of our neighbor's yard. Adam got permission, of course. There were two reasons to pay for their part of the fence... 1 is that now there are no holes for the yorkies to slip in and out of and then come into our yard to torment our dogs. There's actually a line of solid cinder blocks lining the inside of the fence so Georgia can't dig holes for them to get out of. The other reason is so that they can't see the street and hopefully won't spend as much time barking. So far, it's very promising. I have hardly heard her at all since we put the fence up!!!! The little dogs are quiet since she's quiet. I'm hoping it lasts but only time will tell. When I put the curtains up in the dining room (the room she can see from the yard) she was quiet for a couple of weeks before she got bored enough to just bark at nothing all day.

We're also going to be fencing in the front of the dog's pen on our side as well but it got to be too late that night. We also have to go ahead and line the whole inside of our fence with the same solid cinder blocks because Georgia has been digging under the fence on her side all voer the place and then gnawing on the slats and making big holes in them. The stupid little yorkies stick their heads through the holes...I'm not sure how they haven't been bitten yet. But like I said, that's a project for another day.

Something else I've been working on is my garden plot. This is the area that Adam had pulled the bushes out of so I could have it for a garden. I started in the fall with a shovel. It was very slow work. But this time around, I am using the pick ax. It's going so much faster! I still have to pick the dirt up with a shovel and haul it out but it will be much easier now that the ground is lossened. I had these giant plants that were as tall as the house in the corner. Adam hated them. They did look pretty bad right there, I will admit. Anyway, I've been getting as many roots of that plant out as possible as I go. They are huge and really stuck in there! I'm thinking I will be having some of this plant poking out for the life of the yard.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

mango chutney

I saved this post as a draft almost a week ago, I think because I didn't have the recipe for the chutney in front of me and I wanted to include it...but I never have it when I am ready to sit down and blog. So I will just have to come back another time and include the recipe (which I got from NT).

This recipe caught my eye after we had fish tacos with mango salsa. That was so yummy. So, I got what I needed and made up these 3 jars of mango chutney. The recipe said it would all fit in one jar...they lied. If I had known it was going to be so much, I would have made half of it without onions so Adam could eat some too.

I really think the ginger monster is so cute! Do you see him too?

This is a lacto-fermented food. So you incoluate it with lactic acid (the whey from yogurt) and let it sit on the counter for 3 days. It's bubbly...like soda. So that part I don't like but I don't notice it when I eat it on food.

I grilled some talapia on the George Foreman grill and topped it with some mango chutney. Yum!! Adam said to me, "Ewww, is that your onion chutney?" He has no idea what he's missing. I'll have to make the next batch without onions for him.

I've been making/eating a lot more lacto-fermented foods lately because of the health benefits they have. They loaded with probiotics (as long as you don't cook them) and bacteria for your intestines and colon. Also, I learned that they help break down something in the meat (though off the top of my head I can't recall what it is) that is hard for bodies to digest.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

margharita pizza and raw brownies

Dinner...mmm. I'm so hungry right now that just thinking about it is making my stomach growl. Anyway, a couple of nights ago, we made dinner together. Adam had bought this log of fresh mozzerella and while we were snacking on it, I decided we needed to have a margharita pizza. It's our favorite kind, followed by hawaiian. After baking the crust, we topped it with a pizza sauce Adam made, chopped basil, pieces of tomato and small chunks of the fresh mozzerella. It doesn't melt very much like the hard blocks of mozzerella does. It was so good! Unfortunately, it didn't last very long. But the recipe made enough for 2 doughs so the other dough will be made into the same pizza in a night or two. Can't wait!

Then, for dessert, I made these raw brownies. I started making these when I was on the raw diet. I don't make them very often but they are good on occassion. They don't taste like brownies but they satisfy my sweet tooth.

It's a cup of dates, a cup of walnuts, a tsp. of cocnut oil (though you could sub butter, I'm sure) and 1/4 cup cocoa. You process it all in the food processor. The longer you proccess, the more dense they become. That's the way I prefer them. Then, you press into shape (I used a Ziploc container) and chill for an hour. Adam's never tried them.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


All the years we've lived here, we've had these giant bushes in front of the windows that blocked anyone from being able to see in. But after the flooding, Adam ripped them out so he could fix it. So, for the past 6 months or so, there's been an open view into our house, especially at night. I wanted lace curtains and I already had the fabric before he ripped out the bushes. Well, I don't think lace would really cut it anymore. Really, the final straw in finally doing it was that we have new neighbors who are always out in their backyard and their backyard is right inline with our bay window. So, I finally made a decision on new curtains and put them up today.



They're nothing fancy looking but they are insulated so hopefully they'll help reduce cooling/heating costs.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Normalish enchiladas

Adam came upstairs from the garage just as I was throwing a homemade corn tortilla onto the griddle. He was very excited that I made some more. These tortillas got filled with a pork, spinach, mushroom mixture. I made a not too spicy enchilada sauce to cover them and cooked up the pan. They were pretty tasty and Adam even ate leftovers the next day. When I asked him if he was ok with eating them or if he wanted me to cook something else, he said, "When you make your weirdish foods, I am not too thrilled about eating them two nights in a row. But when you make your normalish foods, I don't have a problem eating leftovers." Poor Adam, I guess I do make weirdish foods a lot. I am trying to learn to cook to make both of us happy...maybe some day I'll get there.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

sourdough starter

I let my last sourdough starter die. It was sad to have to throw it away. It was a good one. The last two started I've made (the only ones) have been from scratch, letting flour, water and pineapple juice catch the yeast in the air. But this time, I wanted one that wouldn't take a couple months to get going so I made one that uses commercial yeast...so it's a cheater sourdough. I found the recipe in Back to Basics.

3 1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 package active dry yeast
2 cups warm water (105 - 115 degrees)

Combine the 1st three ingredients in a glass or ceramic bowl. Gradually add the warm water, beating until smooth. Cove with cheesecloth and let stand in a warm place for three days.

After the amount needed for the recipe is remvoed, replenish the starter by adding 1 1/2 cups flour and 1 cup warm water to remaining starter. Beat until smooth and let stand in a warm place until mixture bubbles well, at least 8 hours. Store, loosely covered, in the refrigerator and use and replenish at least once every two weeks.

The thing I like about making sourdough bread is that there is far less kneading involved than with conventional bread. Plus, I just like the flavor.

I made sourdough rye. The recipe wasn't all that spectacular so I won't share the recipe. But the starter definitely bubbles up.

I tried the circular pattern and it was a flop.

They turned out to be quite large!
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