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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

She Cut Off Their Tails...

She cut off their tails..
and made liver cleansing juices and beet kvass.*

My friend and sustainable nut, Kelly, recently taught me how to make some fermented foods, sauerkraut and kvass, using the whey from cultured yogurt (Brown Cow makes quick whey if you are in a hurry).

Basically a beet kvass is a slightly fermented drink made by soaking cubed beets with whey, ginger, a drop of lavender oil, and some salt — everything in a sterilized container. You can see how I hurriedly wrote up the recipe on the jar as Kelly was leaving. After a couple days in a dark cupboard you end up with a fairly mild, sweet and healthful drink. Apparently it's better than just juicing beets because the fermentation neutralizes the acids. Here's a similar recipe, if you're inclined. Unfortunately my kvass turned out too salty (we experimented with sulfuric Black Salt, which was a bit gnar), but the one Kelly made was dee-lish. I even liked her green drink, which was made with weeds harvested from her alley! If you're local and looking to learn how to make therapeutic foods, Kelly's your gal.

I'm also really excited about the kraut. We have a local, kim chee-style raw kraut that we love, but it's pricey. I'm hoping to make a homemade replacement. A couple more weeks and we get to try out the stinky goodness.

More creepy beet root pics here.


*Thanks to Blaize for pointing out that this kvass is not the same as the traditional Russian drink.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Pizza My Heart

In our town (and several others) there's a pizza joint called, Pizza My Heart. On Valentine's Day they used to make heart-shaped pizza, not sure if they still do. Even when it's round it tastes great — a definite stop-by.

This one here is homemade. The dough was going in a heart-y direction, so I went with it.

The makings: Trader Joe's whole wheat dough, TJ's organic pasta sauce, non-organic mozzarella, Applegate's nitrate-free pepperoni.

This is one of our family's fast food compromises.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Pimientos de Padrón


Yum! Yum! And, more Yum!

Fry in a little olive oil until the skin blisters. Serve on a brown paper bag with a generous amount of sea salt and large quantities of beer. Good company adds a nice touch. It's a social food, but can also turn into a bit of a frenzy. Keep on cooking. One basket is *not* enough.

Don't wash them first or they'll splatter like crazy. Eat whole. Well, not the stems, silly. Even my five-year-old likes them. The two-year-old just licks the salt.

My best Padrón year, ever, was when we got to house sit and tend a garden that had a row of Padróns just coming on. We ate and ate and ate that August.

Read more about them here, here, or here.

They're out of stock but you can get the seeds here. Or, here's a place that doesn't seem to be out of stock. Or, here. I haven't bought seeds from any of these places. If you really want to know the inside scoop on where to buy seeds, you could email my friend, Andy, who grew the peppers in this photo.

I also saw that you can buy the fresh peppers here. Or, why not invest in the future and talk a local farmer to grow some. Yum!

Thanks, Julia!

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

My Own Personal Bokeh

Alice in Wonderland Cookie Cutters
Here's a set of Alice in Wonderland cookie cutters that I made for my sister many years ago. I consider these a crafty personal best. My favorite is the Walrus (top left) — those tusks were tough, I tell you. I like how he turned out. These were all done about the same time as the gnome cutters — that's why my wrists got so wrecked!

This year, I had wanted to make and decorate the Alice cookies for an Easter tea party like we used to do — but, kid-wise, I'm still a year or two away from that. I'm OK with them making messy kid versions, but, I want to have the freedom to be perfectionistic and spend *lots* of time getting all detailey. With kid interruptions clocking in every one-to-two minutes, it's just not going to happen anytime soon. That's been one of my parenting lessons — to be looser, to let things go, to not get caught up in the details.

Some who know me may laugh at that idea — that big ol' sloppy Michelle needs to loosen up. I'm not really known for being neat and tidy. I once got fired by my dad for not mowing the lawn correctly (I liked spiral, he liked straight lines). I do tend to let *a lot* of things go. For instance, just the other day I had to choose whether or not to take my shoes off when stepping onto our white-ish carpet. I thought, "Which are dirtier: my feet or my shoes?" I kept my shoes on. When I told my sister that story, she said, "That's *so* you."

Dirty feet just aren't something I focus on. Creating — even if it's just cookie decoration — will always take precedent over hygiene, or, any cleaning, really. Perhaps I'm set on macro? My personal bokeh is large — it's big enough to artistically blur my dirty, size 10.5 US feet; or, the twenty-odd loads of dirty laundry; or, two days worth of dishes. I'm OK with that. And, kids definitely have a macro way of seeing the world. Now, if I could just set my husband to have a narrow depth of field when viewing the house. ;)


More cookie cutter pics over at flickr.

Thanks to Emily at Five Flowers for teaching me about bokeh.

P.S. The title is set to this tune.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Two Small Farms

Originally uploaded by Green Kitchen.

Originally uploaded by Green Kitchen.

Today is the first day of the veggie box from our CSA. If you've never connected yourself to a local food grower, I highly recommend it. It's good for your tummy, the land, the farmer, the kids — and, sometimes you get to bottle feed a baby goat.

On a different vegetable note:
One of my goals this summer is to make home-canned vegetable soup. I've had a pressure canner for years and I've always been afraid of it. I've lost the directions, so it's even scarier. It's like these.

And, thanks to Julia for the photos. I don't get many photos of me with the kids, goat or otherwise.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Soup & Bread


Two of my favorite things — yum!

It was a cold rainy day here yesterday, with snow in the mountains! That only happens once or twice a year. We stayed home and made bread, looked for rainbows, caught hail in our mouths, painted pictures, and watched videos. On rainy days without school, filling up the ten and a half hours that papa isn't home is always interesting (How do you do it Eren?). What do you do, especially when you have a little one that makes doing bigger kid things a little challenging? We have a list of things to do while he's napping, but that still leaves at least nine hours. And, someone always seems to have a bit of a cold, which makes me not want to take them out into the cold.

On a different note: I love it when people share their favorite cookbooks. The Soup & Bread book is one of mine (Patchwork Slaw with Curried Vinaigrette; Chicken with Pasta Soup; Oatmeal Molasses Bread). I love a cookbook with prose, and Crescent Dragonwagon is a great storyteller. I love reading about the life she and her husband created at Dairy Hollow House in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Awhile back I looked online to see if the Inn was still going and was sad to see that it is closed (now a writer's retreat) and that Crescent's husband had died — hit while bicycling.

I just checked and Amazon didn't have the book. I'm sure you can find it used.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

500 Gumdrops, Less 30

OK. I love the way these gumdrop wreaths look. But, having just finished one, I think everyone that has ever made one is CRAZY, including me. Did anyone mention how time consuming and tedious they are? Did you know that three pounds of gumdrops is about 500 small gumdrops? I thought my five-year-old and I could whip one out in a little sibling nap session. Nope. He was done after about the first 80 or so. It took much longer than a nap, maybe three to four hours. It's definitely cool, though — I just hope it doesn't become a holiday tradition. ;)


After writing this I went back and googled Gumdrop Wreath Blog and I got the actual time commitment from Alicia. Guess I should have done more homework. I never was good at reading the directions all the way through.

Here are some other gumdrop wreath stories:
Sparkle Power
My Paper Crane
Hula Seventy
Crazy Mokes
Hey Lucy
Sew Darn Cute
Bella Dia
Teen Sleuth

P.S. It's funny what crafty types will find too tedious to do. I've met at least one knitter who can't stand to rip out seams from sewing, but thinks nothing of frogging a sweater. Personally, I'm afraid of My First Sweater because it might involve large quantities of frogging.

P.P.S. I forgot to mention that I wrapped the Styrofoam form with masking tape, which made it impossible to poke a toothpick through. I had to make a pilot hole with a sharp metal tool first for each hole. This could have been part of my frustration.

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Friday, October 05, 2007


Originally uploaded by Green Kitchen.

Originally uploaded by Green Kitchen.

Future Farmer
Originally uploaded by Green Kitchen.
ROOTS For Reading*
Once upon a time I worked on a very fun project, called ROOT, with my friends over at Mariquita Farm. It featured Andy's writings about life as it relates to food and growing food — he's a farmer with a philosophy major. Each issue was 18 pages and included a seasonal recipe or two. I had the unique pleasure of complete artistic control; from choosing the paper (yummy French paper and a cool sparkle paper that I forget the name of), to creating the illustrations, it was all me. I also got to employ a couple friends to take photos and make images — Blaize helped edit it. We even had a testimonial from Susie Bright. ROOT fulfilled my longtime dream of collaborative creative work amongst friends. We did one issue per season for four seasons.

ROOTS For Dinner
My favorite way to use up the leftover roots from my Two Small Farms CSA box, including the ones my family doesn't like, is to dice them up small; toss them with olive oil, salt, and an herb or two; and roast them at high heat until they're caramelized bits of perfection. I think I got the idea from this book. It's a great way to get turnips and beets into people who think they don't like them.

ROOTS For Fashion
I'm horrible with laundry and/or bibs, so we have a lot of stains around here. I remember seeing a cool stain cover up over at Little Green's Flickr. So, in anticipation of dressing my baby for today's harvest festival I did a root version of stain management.

*I'm sure Julia still has copies of ROOT that she would love to sell. You can contact her at julia[at]mariquita[dot]com.

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Make Your Own Cookie Cutters — or — How to Ruin Your Wrists

Originally uploaded by Green Kitchen.

Originally uploaded by Green Kitchen.
Since we've been thinking about gnomes a lot lately, I thought I'd show you a gnome craft of yore.* This cookie cutter is something I did way back when I was in college — back when my dream home was a castle (got to cross that off my list a few years ago); back when I suffered the unrequited love of Zeffirelli's Romeo & Juliet on Beta, not even VHS; back when I made a yearly costumed pilgrimage to the Renaissance Faire. Man, that was a lifetime ago.

I got the idea of making cookie cutters from a woman at the Ren Faire. She sat on a stool with a pair of pliers, quickly bending metal into any shape of your choice. She had a book of drawings, some of them quite elaborate — I chose a cat and a dragon.

Next step was to find some metal strips. I went to a local sheet metal shop and told them what I was doing. I felt a bit little-woman-ish, but the guys were pretty nice and suggested the smallest gauge metal they had on hand. I didn't have the money to special order something thinner. They cut up a bunch of strips and bent over/crimped one of the edges, so there would be the cutting edge and the pushing edge.

After getting the materials it was really quite easy, sort of. I drew an outline of the shape I wanted to make, and, with a couple pairs of needle-nose pliers, bent the metal to fit. The only difference between me and the woman at the Ren Faire was that my metal was about two times the thickness. I bullied my way through each cookie cutter and my wrists suffered for it — they haven't been the same since. Apparently, I like to suffer for my craft, because I made several gnomes as gifts, as well as, a set of Alice in Wonderland cutters for my sister, including, Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum and The Walrus.

To finish the cookie cutters, I had a friend solder the ends together. He didn't charge, just wanted a dinner date in exchange. I thought the price a little high and avoided him for a long time. I guess I'm willing to suffer for my craft, but never have been one to pimp myself for craft. I'll leave that to my friend, Meghan. ;)

Overall, I'd say the cookie cutters were some of my more successful crafts. I still like them, we use them occasionally, and they'll last for friggin' ever.

*I still forget Blaize's definition of Yore.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Toes & Jams

Two days of

berry picking

with Bitter Betty.

I told you

I don't bathe



I was such

a grump,


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Monday, November 20, 2006

I Heart Posole

Originally uploaded by Green Kitchen.
Posole is good, real good — It will cure what ails you. The chiles will kick a cold right out of your head and the whole mess might even get you past the wintertime blues, at least while you are eating it. I made some of this yummy Mexican soup this weekend to help get us through my son's birthday party, which included a day at the amusement park and lots of sugary treats. Posole is a comforting food, a grounding food Kids whacked out on sugar Parents chaperoning a wild kid-party need it.

Now, I know you can make posole with canned hominy — I've tried this, but, it is not the same as making it from scratch. For better texture, appearance, mouth-feel, and taste you need to use the dried dent corn called maize blanco. When you buy maize blanco you also need to get some lime, not limes, but lime, called cal in Spanish — this stuff helps take the hull off of the corn.

Here are some detailed instructions for cooking the corn with the lime. The way I did it was to boil a big pot of water, add three rough tablespoons of cal, stir till dissolved, add about 2 lbs of maize blanco. I boiled it until I could see the hull starting to soften and slough off. Then I dumped the corn into my sink colander and rinsed with water while stirring. The yellowish hulls wash off pretty easily. At this point you can add the corn to your soup-in-progress, but, if you want the corn to cook faster and "popcorn," or flower, then you will need to remove the little brown pointy part of the kernel, it's called de-heading. You can either pick it off with a thumbnail or slice it off with a knife. It took me about an hour and a half to do two pounds of corn with my kids "helping me." Two pounds of corn was enough to make two large pots of soup.

The rest of the soup is pretty easy and there are many variations. I make it a little different each time, always with satisfying results. Here is the ingredient list from my last batch of posole.

The corn:
Dried hominy (maize blanco)
Slaked lime (cal, for preparation of the corn)

The soup:
Pork shoulder roast (in the past I've used pork butt and/or chicken)
Mixed dried chiles (New Mex, Negro, California or whatever you like)
Tomatoes (I used a small can of diced)
Chicken broth (I like Pacific organic with salt)
Bay leaves
Olive oil

The toppings:
Cabbage (thinly sliced)
Monterey Jack (grated)
Cilantro (picked of stems)
Radishes (thinly sliced)
Onions (diced)
Lime wedges
Jalapeño (sliced)
Tortilla chips (homemade is a must)

While prepping the corn get the meat cooking since it's a tough cut that needs a long, slow cooking (like two or three hours) to tenderize it. In the large soup pot start with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, adding a diced onion when the oil is hot. Cook awhile till the onions soften up, then add the pork roast cut up into large chucks, about 3 inches cubed. Brown the meat if you can, or not, either is good. Throw in some minced garlic, stir, and let it cook a couple minutes. Add a box of chicken broth and/or some water. A few bay leaves and some Mexican oregano can go in now.

Heat a cast iron skillet and add the chiles turning them to warm them. I forget why I do this — I think it softens them. I didn't want too spicy a soup this time so I pulled off the stem ends and tried to remove most of the seeds. I then put about six or seven chiles into the blender with some water to make a basic chile paste. I've made more elaborate mixtures before, but this worked fine.

Add the chile paste to the soup and a can of fresh tomatoes if you wish. I think the tomatoes are not authentic to posole, but I like the depth of flavor they add. When you are done with the corn add it to the soup. If it looks like you need some more liquid add water or broth. When the corn has cooked an hour or you can add some salt. Keep tasting it and adjusting the flavors to your liking. Sometimes I make mine spicy hot and sometimes mild. j

Top with your favorite toppings from the list above. You must make your own tortilla chips to make this a truly scrumptious soup. Just cut up corn tortillas and fry them up in a pan, add salt, and then hide till dinnertime because they will get eaten up otherwise.


P.S. I forgot to mention that the whole process takes a good 3 to 4 hours, but it's worth it. While you are at it you might as well make a lot and freeze some.

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Finished Projects--Two Years Later!

Originally uploaded by Green Kitchen.
There's something about having this blog that makes me finish projects. In the past, abandoned projects would go unfinished forever haunting me and causing me much guilt. But, now, the new blogging me gets these things done for the satisfaction of posting them, which is somehow more motivating than actually giving the gift. Hmmm? For my sister's bridal shower I had two gifts, a sewing kit and a cookbook, neither was completed until this month. When was she married, you might ask -- nearly two years ago! Thanks for waiting sis.

Originally uploaded by Green Kitchen.
This cottage needlebook, made from a pattern (I can't remember the book) is the final addition to the sewing kit. All of the wonderful needlebooks posted lately (see here, here, and here) gave me the inspiration to get mine done. All I had to do was sew in the pieces of fabric to put the needles in. It took about five minutes to finish. Why did I wait two years! Note: the fabric for the needlebook is a wonderful woven wool/rayon felt, the same as I used for my embroidered stockings. It's a little more rough around the edges than regular wool felt, but it is so soft and drapes beautifully.

Originally uploaded by Green Kitchen.
Originally the sewing box was an ugly brown stain. A quick remedy of matte red spray paint with black details made me much happier. I took the whole box apart before painting it to get a cleaner look. Then, I filled the kit with vintage supplies! Hunting for the notions was the funnest part.

Bridal Shower Cookbook
Originally uploaded by Green Kitchen.
The cookbook was a collective gift that I organized and art directed, and then let lie fallow. It's called "Whatcha Got Cookin'" and everyone brought a favorite recipe and decorated (you could say "scrapbooked," but that word leaves a bad taste in my mouth) a page to add to the book. I can't say it's fine bindery, but I did learn a bit about grommets and glueing fabric to cardboard. The book has been sitting unbound until just recently. The party invitations were also tied into the cooking theme. I drew a caricature of my sis holding a spoon and a spatula and then hand decorating the cards with felt, tulle, and rickrack.

Whew! Two projects done, many more to go. Coming up next in the world of unfinished projects: circus-themed bean bag toss game, vinyl and polyester quilt handbags, vintage fabric appliqued heart quilt.

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