Saturday, May 31, 2008
I took pictures before my parents went to bed (the puppy is sleeping in their room).
We're going to call her "Maxie" because her sire's name is "Max." She's a German Shepherd and about 8 weeks old.
I'll try to get better pictures when it's light out...
Thursday, May 29, 2008
These pics don't do it justice and OMG! It smells SO GOOD! If you bake, you've gotta make it! I got this recipe off an internet site a long time ago and don't remember where, and I've significantly altered it since then.
Blueberry Pie with Crumble Topping
This pie can be easily made with bought frozen pie dough (the kind without a top crust - obviously), but you should bake for 10 minutes before adding the filling. Or you may use your favorite pie dough recipe.
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour (all purpose)
4 cups of blueberries
1/2 tsp lemon zest
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled
1/2 brown sugar
1 cup of flour (all purpose)
1/2 tsp cinammon
6 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Make the crumble topping. Mix brown sugar, flour and cinammon in a bowl. Cut the butter into pieces and work in with your fingers until a dough comes together. Place in the freezer so that crumbling will be easier.
- Make the filling. Sift the flour and sugar together, add the blueberries, lemon juice and zest. Fold together gently until mixed.
- Pour blueberry mixture into pie crust, cut up 2 tbsp of butter and place on top. Crumble topping and cover the top of the pie more or less evenly.
- Bake for 35 - 40 minutes.
- Place on a cooling rack to cool before serving.
Friday, May 23, 2008
They are totally YUM! Small, because I couldn't double the recipe like I wanted to (I didn't have enough baking powder) and it's a small recipe, but GOOD! I will definitely make more of these in a few days. If you make them, unless you're just making them for yourself and no one else, I recommend at least doubling the recipe to get more/larger muffins.
Here's the recipe:
Blueberry Wheat Muffins
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup plain flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup blueberries
Heat oven to 400 °F. Grease muffin pan. Beat egg, stir in milk and oil. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl, and then add liquid ingredients. Stir just until moistened. Batter will be lumpy. Add blueberries. (Add frozen blueberries without thawing.) Fill cups 2/3 full. Bake 15 to 20 minutes. Makes 8 to 10 muffins.
Lower Fat Recipe: Replace oil with 2 1/2 tablespoons applesauce and reduce milk to 1/4 cup milk.
Lower Sugar Recipe: Replace sugar with 7 tablespoons Splenda® and 1 tablespoon honey. (Measure 1/2 cup of Splenda and remove 1 tablespoon to equal 7 tablespoons.) Add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda.
It's from the Clemson University Extension, of all places!
Also, apparently my cat, Blossom (that's this one ---> ) likes blueberry muffins. She knocked one (just one, thankfully) onto the floor before I knew it and proceeded to munch on it. LOL! I chased her away and threw out the half-chewed one and put the rest away before she could get her paws on more. She was disappointed. *giggles*
Addendum: Blossom got into the trash, got the muffin out and ate the rest of it. All that's left is a little pile of crumbs on the carpet. *shakes head* Silly kitty! I hope she hasn't made herself sick on it. So far, she seems fine.
Everything else is wonderful! Altogether, we picked 14 pounds of blueberries in about two hours. Yum, yum, yum! I picked 5.9 pounds, beating my dad by a tenth of a pound (haha!), and my mom got the rest... maybe a third of a bucket, about 2.3 pounds.
It wasn't too hot either, thank goodness! And the bugs weren't bad (probably because of the aforementioned pesticides). One lady though who was picking too, she said, "Oh, I hate these Florida bugs!" flapping her hand around the bushes. I said, "They aren't that bad. They're worse in the middle of the summer." (Really, they weren't that bad. Mostly butterflies, stinkbugs, and some spiders, which were small and not aggressive types, and wasps that sat high on the bushes and didn't really fly around much.) And she said, "Well, back home, the bugs are only just waking up!" I said, "They never go away down here. You get used to it," and shrugged. She walked on, picking and making less than pleased noises. LOL! Yankee tourists!
One other weird bug-related thing occurred, which might be gross, so if you're squeemish, skip the rest of this paragraph. The lady taking money at the farm stand said to someone asking about the bugs that there were mostly stinkbugs in their fields. She added that their workers called them "jumils"(?) and they eat them live in the field by biting off and then spitting out the heads and then eating the rest, when they find them while picking berries. They say that they're spicy. o.O Uh... No, thanks, I'll pass...
My mom will make a cobbler tomorrow. I'm making muffins this evening, and very soon, there shall be PIE as well! *sparkly eyes* There will be pictures, I promise!
Monday, May 19, 2008
Legal Defense Fund Moves to Stop Animal ID Program;
Files Intent to Sue Letter with USDA and Michigan Department of Agriculture
Falls Church, Virginia, (May 15, 2008) -- Attorneys for the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund today sent a Notice of Intent to Sue letter to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) over implementation of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS), a plan to electronically track every livestock animal in the country.
The Notice asks the USDA and MDA to "immediately suspend the funding and implementation of NAIS," and "fully and fairly examine" whether there is even a need for such a program.
Taaron Meikle, Fund president, said that contrary to USDA's claim, NAIS will do nothing to protect the health of livestock and poultry. "At a time when food safety and costs are a concern, the USDA has spent over $118 million to promote a program that will burden everyone from pleasure horse owners to ranchers and small farmers to individuals who raise a few chickens or steers on their own land for their own use."
Once fully implemented, the NAIS program would require every person who owns even one livestock or poultry animal (a single chicken or a pet pony) to register their property with the state and federal government, to tag each animal, and to report "events" to a database within 24 hours. Reportable events would include such things as a private sale, a state fair, or a horse show.
The Notice charges that USDA has never published rules regarding NAIS, in violation of the Federal Administrative Procedures Act; has never performed an Environmental Impact Statement or an Environmental Assessment as required by the National Environmental Policy Act; is in violation of the Regulatory Flexibility Act that requires them to analyze proposed rules for their impact on small entities and local governments; and violates religious freedoms guaranteed by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
"We also think there are constitutional issues at stake here," Meikle noted. "The requirement to use electronic ear tags or RFID chips violates the religious beliefs of some farmers, such as the Amish, and provisions in a memorandum of understanding between the USDA and the MDA could violate the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution by requiring the state to stop and inspect vehicles carrying livestock without a warrant or probable cause."
The MDA has implemented the first two stages of NAIS -property registration and animal identification - for all cattle and farmers across the state as part of its mandatory bovine tuberculosis disease control program, which is mandated by a grant from the USDA.
"While touted as a disease control program, the NAIS will drive many small farmers out of business" Meikle noted, "and burden every person who owns even one horse, chicken, cow, goat, sheep, pig, llama, alpaca, or other livestock animal with expensive and intrusive government regulations."
Joe Golimbieski, a farmer from Standish, Michigan and Fund member, explains: "The cost of the tags is just the start. We're at the mercy of whatever price the stockyards charge to do the tagging. And our farm doesn't have extra employees to deal with paperwork. NAIS is likely to put us out of business."
Gary Cox, General Counsel for the Fund, states that "USDA and MDA have exceeded their authority and they have completely failed to follow the proper procedures. We are calling on the agencies to immediately halt implementation of the program or face appropriate action."
About The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund: The Fund's mission is to defend the freedoms and to broaden the rights of sustainable farmers and their consumers to produce and consume local, nutrient-dense foods. Concerned citizens can support the Fund by joining at www.farmtoconsumer.org or by contacting the Fund at 703-208-FARM. The Fund's sister organization, the Farm-to-Consumer Foundation (www.farmtoconsumerfoundation.org), works to support farmers engaged in sustainable farm stewardship and promote consumer access to local, nutrient-dense food.
Editor's Note: The Notice of Intent to Sue the (USDA) and (MDA) is available at www.farmtoconsumer.org
Taaron G. Meikle
President, Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund and Farm-to-Consumer Foundation
Cummings & Company LLC
Friday, May 16, 2008
If you don't watch Supernatural, this summer is the perfect time to start and catch up because next season could be the most amazing yet. Kripke & Co. keep upping the ante and it is impressive!
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Weeded, fertilized and watered the garden, picked cucumbers and green beans.
Went out to lunch at the mall and then to Dillards because they were having a sale on bedding and my parents had gotten some Dillards gift certificates for Christmas this last year and they wanted me to get linens for the spare beds at the cabin. Got Ralph Lauren sheets and pillowcases for next to nothing. Yay!
Then went to the Joann's by that mall because they often have really good remnants. I got two linen remnants to make napkins with. Yay!
Came home, decided to get paint chips from Lowes, which is around the corner from our house, so that I can match things for the cabin. We aren't painting anything, but I've already gotten my bedding, and the granite in the bathroom has colors in it that I want to pick out in the towels, so I needed a close match in color that was more portable than either bedding or a slab of granite - hence, paint chips. Did that.
Then went to the other Joann's which is next to another mall about equidistant as the other one in another direction from my house. That one is bigger and I wanted to see if I would luck out on fabric for curtains for my room. Alas, I did not. But I did luck out on stumbling upon a fabulous sale. They're remodeling that store and so half of it is on clearance right now and another quarter is seriously discounted. Yay! All magazines 10% off, a lot of yarn on clearance, fabric, beads, all sorts of things... I got more remnants (linen - again... I think I'm becoming obsessed with linen remnants for napkins and placemats), DMC's Encyclopedia of Needlework (every kind of needlework - if you use a needle of any sort to do it, it's in there, in detail with pictures), linen embroidery thread and magazines.
I got the new Victoria magazine because it's full of inspiration for the cabin interior design, and the Spring 2008 Spin-off Magazine. This in particular is a must have! They have a bunch of knit lace shawls (!!! - not patterns but extremely inspiring nonetheless), as well as a couple of knit hat patterns for any gauge handspun.
But the piece-de-resistance are the Danish Tied-Shawls (if you click the hotlink of "Spin-off Magazine" above and scroll down you can see a pictures of a small part of one of these shawls). There are patterns and they are made with handspun, hand-dyed yarn. And they're folksy and beautiful. And useful! They tie in the back so they won't fall off and will stay put while you're doing important things. Did I mention they're handspun, hand-dyed (with natural dyes too!), and hand-knit. I'm bouncing with joy every time I even look at the pretty pictures! The magazine is $7.99, but for this alone it's so worth it. Go. Run. Buy a copy. There are a lot of other useful looking things in there too, but I'm far too distracted by the shawl pattern to look at anything else seriously yet. I am so making myself one this summer! I'm tired of not having my own shawl... I've made bunches for others, but never kept any myself. There are more patterns for these types of shawls available at the author's website.
Oh, and Happy Mother's Day! :D
*off to obsess over the Danish Shawl some more*
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Before baking (I don't have bread pans... I should probably fix that sometime soon):
I did one of them round because I didn't have a third rectangular casserole dish. It actually turned out pretty good considering that I didn't have instructions handy on how to braid it for that kind of shape...
Now, this was the first time I'd used this particular challah recipe. The Cuisinart Bread Machine recipe, baked in the oven instead of the bread machine, had a more Publix bakery kind of texture. (Publix is the best source of bakery challah around here, grocery store or not. No one that I know buys it anywhere else.) That is to say, an almost nonexistent crust and soft inside. This recipe, however, produces loaves with a thicker crust and which are a little on the dry side. I think this could be remedied either by baking at 350, instead of 375, or reducing bake time. As it is, I think they could be improved by adding raisins, currents, and/or cinnamon. If I added cinnamon... or even cinnamon-sugar, I would do so after the "snakes" were rolled for braiding, either by rolling the snakes unevenly in the spice or sprinkling it onto them and then braiding as usual. Because the dough rises a final time after that, it should probably make it look like the cinnamon was swirled through the dough... or something.
The modified the challah recipe I used from "Like Mama Used to Make... and More" published by the Ann Arbor (Michigan) Hadassah in 1986:
1/2 cup warm water
2 packages dry yeast
1/2 cup oil (I use extra virgin olive oil)
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp salt
1 1/2 cups very hot water
3 eggs + 1 egg to brush on the dough before baking
7 cups of flour (approximately - and I used bread flour, but all-purpose could also work)
Dissolve the yeast in warm water. Mix oil, salt, and sugar with the very hot water until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Let cool. Beat the 3 eggs into the yeast, then add it to the oil and water mixture. Add 4 cups of flour and mix well. The dough will be very sticky at this point, probably best not to use your hands yet. Add additional flour a half cup at a time to make a firm dough. Knead until the dough is smooth. Place the dough in an oiled bowl (like a large mixing bowl or a proper dough bowl*) and turn so that all sides are coated with oil. Cover loosely with a clean slightly damp tea towel or plastic wrap and let rise 1 hour, until doubled.
Punch down and divide into 3 parts. Each of these will make one loaf. Each loaf with be comprised of two braided sections, one atop the other. Divide each part into 4 parts. Of those 4 parts, divide one again into 3 parts for the smaller top braid. Take the three larger pieces and roll them into snakes of the same length (whatever seems a reasonable length to you). Lay them out next to each other and pinch together at one end. Braid them as if braiding hair, and pinch together at the end to secure. Take the smaller pieces made from the 4th part, and repeat this process. Lay the smaller braid a top the larger and pinch where needed to adhere them together.
Place loaves in greased bread pan, brush with egg, cover and let rise again for at least 35 minutes, to double. Repeat this for the second and third loaves. You may choose to sprinkle poppy or sesame seeds on top at this time.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, then 15 minutes at 350.
Let cool a few minutes in pan, remove and let cool completely on a cooling rack before slicing.
* This dough bowl is the best baking purchase I've made EVER! It really does help dough rise quickly and evenly. It retains heat from the dough and insulates it to keep it warm and help the yeast do its work. I love mine ever so much.
Friday, May 09, 2008
But, yes, pictures...
Long-shots of the garden rows:
Pink Brandywine tomatoes:
The haul from yesterday...
Okra and cucmbers:
Green beans and a pepper:
I also picked a squash yesterday, but I didn't take a picture of it for some reason...
I found a part of a shedded black snake skin:
It's good to have these around. They aren't venomous or aggressive, and they keep the rattlesnakes away.
Also took pics of the herb garden:
There's dill, cilantro, oragano, basil, rosemary, tarragon, sage and chives.
The dill (the yellow) and cilantro (the white) are insisting upon flowering... I held them back as long as I could. I hope I'll be able to collect seeds, but we'll see. And there's my Basye's Purple rugosa rose blooming in this photo too...
And one more... gratuitous pond photo:
Today, I'm baking challah. Last night's episode of Supernatural was so OMG! O.O it induced baking. So challah. *nods* There will be pics later... and possibly a recipe...
Thursday, May 08, 2008
more cat pictures
*giggles like mad* I <3's it so!
I knew before I clicked that this was what the card would be. Maybe I'm a bit psychic too...
You are The High Priestess
Science, Wisdom, Knowledge, Education.
The High Priestess is the card of knowledge, instinctual, supernatural, secret knowledge. She holds scrolls of arcane information that she might, or might not reveal to you. The moon crown on her head as well as the crescent by her foot indicates her willingness to illuminate what you otherwise might not see, reveal the secrets you need to know. The High Priestess is also associated with the moon however and can also indicate change or fluxuation, particularily when it comes to your moods.
What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.
My favorite deck is the LOTR deck, and I didn't really like any of the decks that were options for this quiz, so I put the LOTR deck High Priestess card in here. I really to buy that deck... *puts on list of things to do*
But here they are!
We start with the new yarn I got for my stash from KnitPicks.com a few days ago:
The Renaissance Sampler:
The Georgian Sampler:
The Victorian Sampler:
All of the colors are much brighter than this. The Renaissance colors were very hard to photograph because they are dark and deep and my lighting sucks. Aubergine, hunter green, burgundy, chocolate... Beautiful colors all!
There's also the sock yarn I got... I needed another $5 to get the free shipping, so the sock yarn pretty much paid for itself. Dolphin and Porchini Gloss Sock Yarn. I'm making Lickity Split tabi socks with it. It seems to be perfect for this pattern. Got gauge with no problem on US 1 needles. But I've gotten much better at the provisional kind of cast-on since the last time I attempted it! So YAY!!! These will take forever to do, but that's how hand-knit socks are... Here's what I had as of last night:
I've also been working on the Pedicure socks from knitty.com, using old-style Cotton Ease by LionBrand.
In other news, the cabin is very nearly finished. I've been charged with picking out everything. So far, for all the things I'm to choose, we're under budget. :D It's a miracle, for sure!
Granite for the bathroom countertops:
My reflection can pretty clearly be seen in these photos. Any pink tones you see are reflected from my shirt that I was wearing at the time. I liked it because while it has a neutral over-all feel to it and at first appears to be a rich brown, when one is looking right at it up close, the abundance of periwinkle and sky blue inclusions become apparent. So it's kinda surprising as well as pretty and subtle... It's called "Sapphire Blue" or "Sapphire Brown" depending on the distributor.
The sink that will go in this granite in my bathroom is this lovely thing:
The light fixture for both bathrooms is the one in the middle in this photo:
Drawer/door pulls/knobs for both bathrooms:
And the fixtures for the sink and shower in my bathroom:
The only thing that could make this bathroom better is if we could get white-painted wood cabinets with bead-board paneling in the doors. But alas, those would be custom cabinets and too much for the budget. So we're going with pre-fab solid oak, natural stained cabinets... I can always paint and alter them later if I really get persnickety about it.
I'm really excited that it's almost done. Now, the only thing I have left to pick out right now is a mattress for my room. I know I'm going with an all-natural latex mattress because the idea of off-gassing beyond freaks me out, not to mention lack of petroleum consumption is always a bonus! These mattresses, contrary to popular belief, are not like the memory foam mattresses, they aren't hot (they actually breathe very well), and if you know where to shop for them, they aren't any more expensive than conventional mattresses of similar quality. 'Cuz let's face it, high quality mattresses are never cheap.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
What kind of yarn are you?
You are Dishcloth Cotton.You are a very hard worker, most at home when you're at home. You are thrifty and seemingly born to clean. You are considered to be a Plain Jane, but you are too practical to notice.
Take this quiz!
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