Category Archives: food

I Won a Cookbook!

Okay, so it’s not crochet related, but worth mentioning anyway…..because my other passion, besides crochet, is cooking. And since it’s been 500 degrees for the last 5 months, there’s not been much fiber handling going on here at the cottage. So, I’m browsing around looking for interesting food/recipe blogs (for when the temps moderate enough that I can stand to cook indoors again) when I stumbled on Rachel’s blog, The Crispy Cook-Living Gluten-Free. Whether you’re avoiding gluten or not, she’s got some droolicious-looking recipes to share!

The cookbook I won is called ‘Light & Spicy’ by Barbara Gibbons. Rachel has included the recipe for Canary Island Mojo Sauce from the cookbook….it’s what caught my attention and prompted me to enter her giveaway. I’d completely forgotten about it, what with preparing to dodge hurricanes & all. Her email telling me I’d won just made my day!

Visit Rachel’s blog (don’t miss this month’s cookbook giveaway!) @ The Crispy Cook.

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Summer’s Bounty and French Heritage

In summer, it’s hard to pick up a crochet hook, no matter how many ideas may be lurking in one’s head. I might manage to work a few rows every couple of days, but there’s just so many pressing activities that can only be done during summer that crocheting gets pushed aside or stacked upon. It’s just the way it is.                           

And this is what consumes most of my time during the summer. Because of the heat, I’m out there by 7 a.m. most mornings. I’m always anxious to see what’s taken place during the night. While I was sleeping, the garden was growing (fyi….a watermelon vine can grow 12″ in the night), and it never ceases to amaze me to see the changes that take place overnight. I work until the sun peaks over the treetops and the temperature feels as if it goes up 10 degrees immediately. Then I pick up my basket and hoe to head for the house to begin processing the daily harvest. I try to do this during the morning while the house stays relatively cool, even with the stove on. Later, in the evening, I’ll be back in the garden, weeding and watering, until it’s too dark to see.

My paternal heritage is French, and while I’ll most probably never set foot on French soil, I can feel the tug of my roots in the earth and the fruit it bears. To the French, eating well is very nearly a religion. I’m reading a book now called The French At Table… which accounts the history & reasons for their love of good food. So far, it’s an enjoyable and funny book that I would recommend to other Francophiles.

Traditionally, the French (as well as other Europeans) take a loooong lunch break, which can be as long a 2 hours or more and can even include a short nap. I can relate to that tradition & have taken to insisting that lunchtime is slow time. As I explained to DD, it’s about taking the time to savor the blessings of the earth and the fruits of our labor. We are thankful to have such abundance.

It pleases me to look upon my garden. It also makes my mouth water, thinking of the sweet, golden corn that will soon share my plate with fresh, juicy tomatoes and crispy fried okra. It comforts me knowing that my pantry & freezer will hold most of the bounty, to be enjoyed long after summer has passed and the crochet begins again in earnest.

Introducing the Loxodrome Hat

As I was saying…….

LOL, I told you I was going to be busy. I didn’t expect to be so busy that I didn’t post for over a month! But a farm in the springtime can be a busy, busy place. During my silent interim here, I’ve canned 37 pints and frozen 2 gallon bags of snap beans and frozen 2 gallons of yellow squash. The tomatoes are beginning to ripen, but we eat them so fast there’s not enough left to can, although I’ve promised DH at least a few cans of salsa. I expect the okra will be the next to be harvested and canned/frozen, followed by the corn. And when that happens, you won’t hear from me again for awhile 🙂

BUT…..there has been crochet!! I did manage to design this hat during those rare times when I wasn’t picking beans or canning or dead asleep from sheer exhaustion. I’m proud to introduce the Loxodrome Hat.

 A loxodrome is a spherical spiral and what better way to translate that than into a hat. The pattern is easy enough for a beginning crocheter and produces a whirling (heh) fashion accessory.

I’ve several more ideas waiting to be worked up as time permits. There’s a bag on one hook and a baby cardi on another. All I need is more time……….

No Yarn But Lots of Spring Fever

As you’ll notice, it’s been a month since my last post. I hesitated writing anything as I’m trying to keep this blog focused on crochet as much as possible. But I’ve been in a crochet rut. Actually, more of a crochet gulley, if you want to know the truth. That’s not due to lacking project ideas….I have a bucketful of those. I guess I’m suffering from crochet burnout…….that, and a healthy dose of Spring Fever.

 If you look closely, in the middle of the pic you’ll see a tiny green gem that, someday, will turn into a globe of juicy, red sweetness. The smell of a tomato plant is one of my earliest memories, I daresay as far back as my infancy. I have a picture of my Mother, standing in a garden of tomato plants. I don’t remember her growing other vegetables in her garden, but I do remember the kitchen windowsill lined with ripening tomatoes. I can just barely remember now…I must have been four years old….Mama showing me which ones were ready to eat and letting me eat all I wanted. Her health began to decline a couple years later and she never gardened again, but to this day, the smell of a tomato plant takes me back to those early, carefree days of my childhood.

While the yarn and hook have been sitting neglected, I’ve been outside planting and mowing and pruning. We planted corn, okra, watermelon, canteloupe (Charentais!!!), cukes, squash, snap beans and shell beans. I was beginning to think it would never quit raining long enough to get the crops in before the temps went to 90+, but we managed to get it planted in the last couple of weeks. New to the garden this year are shell beans. I’m trying to get more beans in our diet….did you know beans help lower cholesterol?…..but wanted more variety than our usual pintos. This year, I planted Black Valentine, Jacob’s Cattle and Vermont Cranberry beans. They’re all heirloom varieties, some dating as far back as the 1700s. I’ve learned that, sometimes, old beats new & improved hands-down. In my veggie garden, only the tomatoes are hybrids because they actually do best in my environment. Everything else is open pollinated.

With warmer weather comes home improvement projects. I can’t decide whether to do the bathroom or kitchen first; DH is anxious to redo the kitchen cabinets but the bathroom is in dire need of a facelift. Maybe I’ll just tackle the bathroom while he works on the kitchen. Or maybe I’ll just sit on the bench under the oak tree and watch the chickadees 🙂

 

 

Sunday Morning Pancakes

My Dad always made pancakes on Sunday mornings. It became a tradition that I carry on to this day. When I was a kid, I had a dog named Lucky who was a medium-sized terrier with boundless energy. Our eat-in kitchen had a picture window that was about 3′ above floor level…meaning that the window was about 4′ from actual ground level. I’m convinced that terriers have springs in their hind legs, because Lucky could jump high enough to look in that kitchen window as we were eating Sunday breakfast. We’d sit there, laughing between bites of pancake, as Lucky’s black and white head would appear just over the bottom of the window about every 15 seconds. This only happened on Sunday mornings, mind you, and the reason is because Daddy always cooked a couple pancakes for Lucky, too. These many decades later, I still smile when I think of that head popping up and down to see what was going on in the kitchen and if his pancakes were coming soon. These days, my dog Pepper sits between our chairs, on his hind legs, begging for his Sunday morning pancakes 🙂

I’m sitting here with the window open to a symphony of birdsong; cardinals, bluejays, sparrows, purple martins, woodpeckers, mockingbirds….all seem to be rejoicing for the return of Spring.  I had to cover the tomato plants Friday night for fear of frost and hopefully that’s the last of the serious cold weather. I’m hoping to plant beans and squash this week; corn, okra and melons will have to wait for warmer temps.

My sweetie is building a kitchen pantry for me….an upright, shallow depth, 2-door, freestanding pantry 🙂  I won’t have to hunt for canned goods or lose a box of crackers that have been hidden under piles of other groceries. We’re planning to start full-blown kitchen remodeling in the coming months and the anticipation is killing me. It’s definitely time for change.

I’ve almost completed the baby project I wrote about in my last post. My crochet time will probably get cut in the next few weeks with gardening and remodeling projects taking more of my time. Even with the days getting longer, there still doesn’t seem to be enough time to do everything.

I’m glad for the time change. My body seems more in tune with daylight saving time, I can’t seem to stay awake past 8 p.m. during standard time….which makes for very short days, indeed. But now,  the clock says it already after 9 a.m., which means it’s time to go cook pancakes.

I Didn’t See My Name In The Obituaries This Morning

This will fall under the category of the rambling post, nothing related to crochet. Consider yourself warned 🙂

Besides crocheting, my other favorite pasttime is cooking. Thanks to the Food Network, my skills have improved tremendously, much to the appreciation of my DH. I intended to post mouth-watering pics, but it seems that I’m having trouble being still today, so that my food looks fuzzy, which is not what one might call ‘appealing’. You’ll just have to use your imagination.

Anticipating full retirement in a couple of months (we’re in semi-retirement phase now), My dh is having a bit of trouble getting into the mindset of not having something to do everyday. It’s a problem I never expected to encounter, he being such an intelligent person with so many interests. But age takes it’s toll and things that used to appeal to him no longer capture his attention. Being the wonderful wife than I am *ahem*, I’ve been trying to help him ease into this idea of not having the pressures of the daily grind and the anticipation of enjoying so much free time to do what he wants at his own leisure. And then there’s trying to keep him out from under my feet, following me around all day long, obviously without direction and so talking to me for mind-numbing hours on end. Try as I might, I just cannot even feign interest in how to repair the door window-motor on a 1998 Pontiac. God love him. Thankfully, however, he’s re-discovered his love of fishing, so I manage to find a few hours of respite to be able to focus on my own thoughts and activities.

I do love for him to be happy, though, and one sure way to accomplish that is with food. Today, I’ve decided to cook one of his all-time favorite meals; pinto beans, turnip greens and cornbread…..simple food that is sure to comfort his body and spirit. The greens are fresh-picked from his garden, which of course make them taste all the better. While I was preparing the greens, I’d put some salt pork in the pot to render and into that I added diced onions, to ‘sweat’. Random thought: I wonder how it came about to call softening onions, ‘sweating’? The images it conjures in my head are less than appetizing. ‘Release their flavor’ would have been sufficient instruction. Sweating is just too personal for my tastes, pardon the pun 🙂

On Thanksgiving Day, after dinner, we decided to run to the nearby park. It’s an old park that we used to play in as children, where companies would have their annual barbecue picnics and families would have their reunions. It seems that many years ago, someone planted a grove of pecan trees in the park and people have been allowed to pick the pecans every Fall. But it become such a popular pasttime that, unless your timing and luck were perfect, there wasn’t anything left to pick up. We hadn’t gone to check the crop in several years, but either our timing and luck were just right or most folks figured it’s just easier to buy them at the store. We arrived to find we had the entire park to ourselves. We’d brought a large coffee can, thinking we’d be lucky to fill it. As it turned out, we managed to fill it and a grocery bag that was in the back of the car. Apparently, it’s my job to shell said pecans, so in the evenings when we’re watching TV, I sit on the floor and shell until I get a cup of pecan meat. I do alot of baking at Christmas time. Yesterday, I made 2 loaves of pecan bread and, today, will make 2 loaves of apple bread. And then I’ll have to shell more pecans.

The weather has turned overcast and it’s beginning to look like winter….as much as winter can look on the Gulf Coast. I’m looking out the window at the battered and brown leaves of the banana trees that need to be cut down and the pine needles and cones that need to be picked up. But that’s for another day. There’s food to prepare and gifts to buy and family to visit. Life becomes more precious everyday as one gets older. My Daddy used to enjoy saying “I looked in the obituaries this morning and didn’t see my name, so I went to play golf”. Here’s to retirement and enjoying living another day. Cheers!

Hints of Autumn

autumn-flowers-006-small.jpgautumn-flowers-004-small.jpgautumn-002-small.jpgThe signs of Autumn are there…..the changing angle of the sun coming through the window, leaves beginning to fall, and the autumn flowers are now in bloom. From left to right: Obedient Plant, Fall Sunflowers and, most magnificent of all, Confederate Rose….which isn’t really a rose, but actually a hibiscus. So, in spite of the temperature currently being 84° and having to reluctantly turn the A/C on again (after a teaser cool front), I know Autumn is almost here to stay, banishing summer ’07 into history.

And I am soooo ready! Having lived here on the Gulf Coast all my life, I know the cool weather doesn’t really begin in earnest until Halloween-ish. Even then, I remember spending Thanksgivings past wearing shorts. Here’s hoping not this year. In fact, I’m doing all I can to entice Autumn to stay. Today, I made a pot of chili. It’s 84 sweaty degrees & I’m cooking chili. Is that desperate or what?

 autumn-008-small.jpg And yes, those are beans in my chili. To all you chili purists out there, I make no apologies. We like the beans in the chili. We’re native Texans, born & raised, and have always eaten our chili with beans. So there.

autumn-007-small.jpgOh, and there has been crocheting. What is it, you ask? Why, it’s the birth of a wrap done in the rich colors of Autumn…when Summer is reluctant to leave but Winter says it must.