Thursday, July 30, 2009

There's a Peach Pie in the Kitchen

Well hello. How are you today? Did I hear a "just peachy"? You jokesters.
Now, gather round, pull up a chair, pour yourself a glass of iced tea. I've made a peach pie for you!

This summer I wanted to bake a traditional peach pie. I saw some fancy versions that tempted me, but I decided I wanted to try out a very basic pie first. The pie I wanted would be at home in a farmhouse kitchen, made from peaches freshly plucked from the trees, and rolled up with ingredients on hand. I did a little searching and came up with a recipe called Summer Sweet Peach Pie from the Good Things Catered blog.

This pie was just what I wanted--luscious peaches warmed by cinnamon and a touch of nutmeg, swimming around in a pool of brown sugar and fragrant juice. The crust* was buttery, salty and sweet with a bit of crunch. This was my first ever attempt at a lattice-topped pie, and I think it turned out pretty decently. I love that it looks homey, like something you'd see cooling in your grandmother's kitchen.

* * * * *

*The crust recipe is from Dorie Greenspan's super-wonderful book Baking: From My Home to Yours. Here's the recipe for a single crust, just double it if you'd like to make the lattice top.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

You're a rainbow, CSA Day!

Doesn't the sight of all these vegetables make you feel warm and fuzzy inside? Don't you just want to hug a farmer right now?

Wow-oh-wow, I am loving this week's farm fresh vegetables!
We've got Roma beans, squash and zucchini, potatoes, white and green cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, spicy blue basil (I think), cherry tomatoes, and onions.

Here's a better look at the tomatoes:
They are riotously colorful. I love the pale yellow ones, the purply red blobs, the little red-orange spheres, the green one flecked with yellow, and that lone orange torpedo-shaped one.

And this pile of beans? Gorgeous. I can't wait to eat them. My mom already cooked her half of them up. She called last night to say that they were wonderful--and she doesn't usually like green beans at all.

Thanks to Finger Pickin' Farms for the beans and of course the rest of these lovely vegetables. We'll be eating well!

Oh, and yesterday at the farmers' market they were giving out free plates of grilled fruit and vegetables. Mom and I sat down to a delicious snack of grilled eggplant, squash, and peaches, topped with basil, olive oil, and goat cheese. It was a wonderful snack! The peaches were my favorite; the grilling really brought out their sweetness and the creamy goat cheese tasted fabulous with it! Thanks Phoenix Hill Farmers' Market!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Buttercup Doily Pillow

I've really been on a roll making these doily pillow covers. This one is made from a buttercup yellow linen/cotton blend fabric and a white doily (another wedding leftover). It was pretty exciting to sew this one all by myself--my first independent sewing project. Woohoo!

The doily sewing part is the most relaxing because I can just curl up on the couch with my big quilting hoop (a lovely thrift store find) and sew away. Then I haul my sewing machine into the kitchen, drag the kitchen table close to the wall so the cord will reach the outlet, and get stitching the pieces together. Someday I hope to have a little space where my sewing machine can live permanently, but for now it's living a transient life and that's ok.

The fabric backing really lets the doily shine. It makes all of those little crochet stitches pop! I love finding new uses for vintage handmade things because it just makes my heart hurt to think of someone's hard work and effort languishing in a box somewhere. Yesterday I stumbled across a box in the basement of a thrift store just stuffed full of vintage doilies. It's so sad!

I've got more of these pillows in the works, and I'd also love to make a doily totebag.

If you've got any more project ideas for using doilies, I'd like to hear them.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Walking between the storms


Saturday morning after the rain stopped, K and I headed out to run some errands. I took a walk while he was at the barber. The local signage is amazing.

Bike shop

Sometimes this is just what you need

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Easy like Sunday Morning

Good morning! Today was an early wake up for K and me. No reason, we just couldn't sleep any longer. So we were out of bed before 7 a.m., drinking coffee and popping some cinnamon rolls into the oven. I made the dough last night and refrigerated the rolls overnight so that this morning all I had to do was bake them and whip up some icing. You can find the recipe from the Black Apple here. I did make a few changes--instead of making two giant cinnamon rolls (why in the world would you ever do this?) I cut the dough into 6 rolls. I had trouble finishing one in this smaller size, anyway. I also cut the icing recipe in half, which made for a much more enjoyable cinnamon roll experience for me. I made this recipe once before and followed the icing recipe exactly. Whoa, with so much icing, it was too sweet!

* * * * *

Look at this harvest!
Tomatoes and Lemon Balm

We gathered up quite a few tomatoes from the garden yesterday. The big one is a black krim, the red is an Amish paste, and see those yellow ones? Those are supposed to be Mr. Stripey. Yeah, definitely no stripes. No worries, though, because I'm sure they'll still make excellent tomato sandwiches for lunch today.

Yesterday was such a busy day, but in the best of ways. K and I visited the farmers' market to buy some peaches because I want to make a peach pie this week. We went for a walk, I baked 2 loaves of bread (light wheat and white), and we watched some episodes of Mad Men. Even though we just started watching it, we're already addicted. The sets! The clothes! Love it. We made dinner together and later picked those tomatoes. We also had to fend off some garden intruders, intent on stealing our watermelons. More on that later. Oh! And I started a new cross stitch. It was a very good day!

Enjoy your Sunday! I hope it's filled with delights.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What's in your purse?

I spent yesterday morning with my sister, Julie, browsing through the library and getting great deals on cardigans at the thrift store. We had such fun!

Well, when Julie showed up at my house at 8:30 yesterday morning, she'd already been up for 4 hours. It seems she spent those hours watching shows about Heidi Klum and coming up with photography ideas. Now, Julie has never taken a photography class and doesn't currently have a working camera, but she does have lots of imagination. She's already decided on some projects she wants to do for her first photography class this fall, even though she hasn't seen the syllabus yet! One project will involve shadows and the other will document the contents of purses, wallets, and pockets. "You can tell so much about a person from her purse," she said. She added, "Plus, I'm really curious to see what people have in there!"

She wanted to see the contents of my purse, and so I obliged with the disclaimer of, "I don't keep much in my purse because I'm always changing bags." I was so surprised by just how much stuff was in my purse, and Julie was right. The things in my purse are a pretty decent representation of my life. Julie emptied out her purse too, and we snapped some photos.

Can you guess which photo is of Julie's stuff and which is mine?

Notable things from purse #1: Coach wristlet, newly crocheted Kate hat, iPod, lots of lip glosses, book (My Sister's Keeper)

Notable things from purse #2: bandana, Taco Bell hot sauce, movie ticket stubs (Harry Potter and Bruno), doily, CD (She & Him, Volume 1)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

CSA Day: What to do with beets?

We got heaps of vegetables from our Finger Pickin' Farms CSA this week.

In roughly clockwise order starting from 12 o'clock: Lots of different squash, beets, swiss chard, onions, peppers, cucumbers, lettuces, red, white, and blue potatoes, red and yellow tomatoes.

Beets--if nothing else, they look pretty.

I'm pretty sure that the last time I ate a beet was in kindergarten. It was squishy and came from a can. And I recall President Obama saying that beets are the only food he doesn't like. Beets also remind me of a cartoon I used to watch called Doug.* Maybe you remember it. There was a Beatles-like band on the show called "The Beets."

Anyway, I don't really know what to do with this bundle of beets. Roast them? Juice them? The thought of juicing them makes my nose wrinkle up, so maybe I'll just go with roasting. I'm open to suggestions, though. Anybody got any good beet recipes?

* * * * *

*Superdork alert: This is a link to the opening sequence of Doug on the Disney Channel. I watched the original Doug on Nickelodeon, but can't find the theme song with video. Here's a link to the song, which is quite classic as far as '90s cartoon theme songs go.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pretzels and Lemonade

Yesterday I didn't feel so well--one of those achy, it hurts to move, I guess I'll just sleep kind of days--but I didn't let it get me down. I used what energy I had to make soft pretzels, one of my favorite foods ever. I have such a hard time resisting them when I go to the mall. I'm pretty sure I made this whole batch of sixteen pretzels for the same amount of money it would cost you to buy one at the mall. No, mall pretzels aren't so expensive, it's just that homemade pretzels are a wonderful bargain.

When I make these again, I'll sprinkle more salt on each pretzel. I didn't take into account how much salt would fall off! Oh, and I also need to get some really good dipping sauce. K and I both love getting that little cup of cheese at the mall, so if we could make some of that it would really take these pretzels to the next level.

The recipe is from Smitten Kitchen, the blog where Deb cooks up the most amazing food. Seriously, her recipes are always fantastic, so if you're looking to try out something new, check out her recipe index. Definitely let me know what you make! I want to try out her watermelon lemonade so badly, but I'm waiting for the watermelons in the garden to ripen. Agh, I hate being patient!

Luckily, I already had lemons on hand and while waiting for the watermelons to be ready, I made some Lemon Sorbet from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop. This sorbet is basically just frozen lemonade, and it's delightful.* It lasts longer than regular lemonade since you can't slurp it down all at once without getting a cold headache. If you're interested in the recipe, go here.

Right now I am so in love with summer. There were times I doubted my love, like when summer got so hot that it was an all-day sweatfest at my house. But today, I love summer. I love the garden, all of the ice creams and sorbets I get to make, and the farmers' markets. I hope you're having a good summer, too!

* * * * *

*At a wine tasting in North Carolina, the lady next to me (who definitely thought she knew a lot about wine) kept calling all of the wines "delightful." I couldn't help giggling a little.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ziggy Lace Cowl and Headband

Happy Monday! I hope you had a good weekend. K and I worked on some projects, cleaned, and had a game night with some friends (thanks Julia and Lucas!). I also finished crocheting this pretty cowl/headband.

A couple of weeks ago I picked up some Pure Silk yarn at the Knit Nook's summer sale. It's soft and well, silky, and I just couldn't wait to make something with it. I decided to try out the Ziggy Lace Scarf pattern, which has been on my radar for quite a while. The pattern is quick and easy and looks super-cool.

I had all intentions of making a scarf, but over the weekend I decided that I'd like to be able to use the silk yarn for a couple of other projects. So, the Ziggy Lace Scarf instantly morphed into the Ziggy Lace Cowl/headband. I simply stitched the ends together to form a tube, which kept my neck warm over the chilly summer weekend (strange weather). Come fall, it will also work to keep my ears warm. I love it!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Baby love

I crocheted this little pink hat for Rachel's soon-to-be-born baby. I think the yellow flower and the scalloped edge look so dainty. Patterns for both the hat and flower are on Ravelry. They're fast, easy projects, and I would definitely recommend them. I think every baby deserves some handmade goodness to welcome them into the world.

Rachel and Julie

Rachel is one of my sister's closest friends and the one she's known the longest. They've known each other since they were only weeks old, as their cribs were next to one another at day care. So, I've watched Rachel grow up, and I can't believe that she's going to be a mother in just a couple of months.

What I remember most about Rachel when she was a child is that she'd always tell my sister she loved her. Like, after they had played together and it was time to go home, she'd say, "I love you, Julie." Or later, when they went to different elementary schools and didn't see each other as often as they'd like, Rachel would say, "I love you," when they were finally reunited. It was so sweet and adorable!

Rachel, here's wishing you the best of luck and all the happiness in the world!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Okonomiyaki--It's delicious cabbage goodness, people to describe okonomiyaki? I've heard it called both a Japanese pizza and a Japanese pancake, though neither of those does it justice. It is this utterly delicious Japanese dish that would really catch on around the world if only someone could figure out how to explain it to people. It's mostly cabbage, mixed with scallions and batter, topped with anything your heart desires and cooked on a griddle. My favorite add-ins are cheese and mochi (chewy rice cakes), and K likes pretty much any kind of meat and cheese on his. The very best part is okonomiyaki sauce, which is the brown sauce in the picture above, and Japanese mayonnaise. It's heaven on a plate, and I'd like to share it with the world.

Buu's Up, located just outside of Kyoto, is the restaurant where I first fell in love with okonomiyaki.

They served up this tasty griddleful of cabbage, and my life would never be the same.

Here's the recipe K and I use to make okonomiyaki at home, but let me just say, the sauce makes it. We buy our okonomiyaki sauce, but the cookbook includes a recipe for it so it is possible to make your own. I'd recommend stopping by an Asian grocery and buying it. While you're there, get some Japanese mayonnaise because it's worth it. K and I use it all the time for topping sandwiches or for mixing with miso as a dip. The flavor is different than American mayonnaise.

Okonomiyaki (Osaka-style)

(recipe from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant cookbook, a seriously awesome cookbook)
**my notes are in italics**

1 sheet nori (about 8 x 7 inches)--This is an optional topping, but we didn't have any, so we left this out. We're all about convenience around here.

2 eggs
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 cup water
2 tablespoons sake
pinch of salt (optional)
2 cups shredded cabbage (1 1/2-inch strips)
1/4 cup shredded carrot (1 1/2 inch strips)--we left this out, too
4 whole scallions, cut in half lengthwise and into 1-inch strips (about 1 cup)--we substituted finely diced onion

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup cooked shrimp, cut in 1/2 inch pieces (or cooked crabmeat or seitan, thinly sliced)--we used cheese. Feel free to use anything you want--bacon, ham, mochi, etc.

Toast the nori by waving it over a flame until it stiffens slightly, but be careful--it burns easily. Crumble into little pieces and set aside.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add the flour and water and continue beating until you have a batter the consistency of pancake batter. Add the sake and salt. Fold in the cabbage, carrots, and scallions. be sure to mix the batter and vegetables together evenly. Each okonomiyaki will use 1/4 of this mixture.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a standard 10-inch skillet. We used a griddle. Spoon 1/4 of the batter onto the hot skillet (like a pancake) making sure the vegetables are evenly distributed. Then sprinkle 1/4 of the shrimp, crabmeat, or seitan on top. We mixed the cheese directly into the batter. Cook each side on medium heat for 2 minutes, until lightly browned. Reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for another 5 minutes, occasionally turning and gently pressing the okonomiyaki with a spatula. Prepare three more okonomiyaki as above. Keep the finished pancakes warm in a low oven while making the rest, or use two skillets and make two okonomiyaki at a time.

Serve hot with the sauce to taste--I recommend 1 tablespoon per okonomiyaki--and top with a sprinkling of toasted nori. Don't skimp on the sauce and be sure to squeeze some Japanese mayonnaise on this. Every place I ate okonomiyaki in Japan served it with sauce and mayo, not to mention a healthy serving of bonito flakes, which appear to dance when they hit the heat of the okonomiyaki. Dancing fish flakes weird me out. Check out the video below to see what I mean.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

CSA Day, once again

Colorful bounty from Finger Pickin' Farms

I've really started looking forward to Tuesdays because of the wonderful food we get through our CSA. This week we got loads of good vegetables. We came home with arrowhead cabbages, swiss chard, 2 kinds of lettuce, white cucumbers, green cucumbers, zephyr bicolor squash, basil, hot peppers, Yukon gold potatoes, blue potatoes (though they look purple to me!), and sweet peppers. I can't wait to start cooking!

The swiss chard is looking mighty pretty.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Oh happy day

Hand-sewing the doily to the fabric

Saturday night K and I watched a movie, and since I have a hard time keeping my hands still, I worked on sewing this doily to this lovely, nubby, undyed cotton fabric. The doily is my favorite of the ones we used as wedding decorations.

Doily pillow (I love you, doily pillow!)

My mom came over yesterday to help me sew this envelope-back pillow cover. I am so happy with how it turned out. It's not a hard pattern, but I have so little experience that I get nervous just turning on my sewing machine. We used this pattern from Apartment Therapy, which only requires sewing straight lines, so anyone with basic sewing skills should be able to manage. I made it, after all. I've got lots more doilies leftover from the wedding and some extra fabric, so I plan on making more pillows like this. It'll be good to get more sewing experience, plus I just think they're pretty.

Big ol' scoops of homemade peach ice cream

After we finished the pillow cover, we high-fived* and ate cups of peach ice cream that I made a couple of days ago. It was a delightful way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

* * * * *

*No, we didn't, but we should have.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Art in Public Places: Asheville Edition

While we were traipsing around downtown Asheville, browsing through shops and galleries, I snapped some pictures of the paintings that I saw outside. I just can't get enough of this kind of public art. Downtown Asheville is fun and funky, so the art we saw reflected the city well. Here's a little sampling of what we saw:

Bright and colorful painting on brick

Part of a huge wall mural in downtown Asheville

Growing plants in old shoes! (and can you see us in the window?)

Flowers painted on the wall of a public parking lot in Black Mountain, NC

I love that part of this old advertisement remains even though the building has been repainted.

I hope that you're enjoying your Sunday! I'm getting a sewing lesson from my mom this afternoon, so hopefully I'll have a finished product to show you soon.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Camp Honeymoon

We went camping in Asheville, North Carolina last weekend. It was a great little getaway. We spent time browsing at the farmers' market, strolling through downtown Asheville, eating ice cream in the small town of Black Mountain, touring the Biltmore, and doing camp things like making fires, reading, and battling against the rain that wanted to come into our tent. Fun times.

Here are a few photos of our trip:

Campfires smell so wonderful. They're a little hard to make, but look! Success.

Our campground neighbors had this cool hippie van.

K relaxed inside the tent.

I tried so hard to like sweet tea (& isn't camp hair lovely).

Doughnut peaches were my favorite food of the trip. Second place award goes to a tomato sandwich with sweet potato fries at Tupelo Honey Cafe.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

In the Summertime

"We're not bad people,
We're not dirty,
We're not mean,
We love everybody,
But we do as we please."*

This song feels like summer to me.
It's fun, it's catchy,
and it makes me want to dance.
Don't you just want to saunter down the road
singing this song?

* * * * *

*This is my interpretation of the lyrics and I feel pretty
confident that this is how the song goes.
I wanted to double check, but after going to 3 lyrics
websites and finding that they all had different
lyrics for this part (none that matched mine exactly),
I gave up. What do you think they're saying?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Yay for CSA day!

Welcome to any Phoenix Hill Farmers' Market goers who've found their way to my blog. I'm glad to have you here and hope you'll enjoy reading.

This is my first year to have a CSA subscription, and my husband and I are splitting it with my mom. Our CSA is through Finger Pickin' Farms in southern Indiana. We've all really enjoyed eating fresh, local fruits and vegetables and trying some that we wouldn't normally think to buy. So far, I've been particularly charmed by the luscious lettuces and delicate strawberries. I'm most looking forward to a bounty of tomatoes!

I post about our CSA each Tuesday (or sometimes Wednesday). During the rest of the week, I write about the goings-on in my life. I make it my mission to find beauty in everyday occurrences. You'd be surprised how much beauty life just hands to you, if only you look for it.

Here are the contents of this week's CSA box from Finger Pickin' Farms:

This week we got Red Russian Kale, purple carrots, arrowhead cabbages, lots of potatoes, green and white cucumbers, a Magda squash, some zephyr squash, and a head of garlic.

The purple potatoes--scrubbed, cut, and ready for roasting. Such a vibrant shade!

The carrots and potatoes were quickly roasted for tonight's dinner. The cucumbers will top bagels with cream cheese, and will be thrown into either raita or tzatziki sauce. The cabbage will probably become a casserole and the kale will be a quick saute with garlic, lemon juice, and soy sauce.

Thanks so much to Sue (who writes the Phoenix Hill Farmers' Market blog and another delightful blog called Urban Little House) for finding me!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!



and Blue

Happy Independence Day!

Pictures of the red, white, and blue things I love:

Top--Details on a building in Maysville, Kentucky.

Middle--Delicious homemade vanilla ice cream. I'd made it once before and it definitely did not disappoint the second time around. It's creamy, luscious, and filled with vanilla flavor. It's so easy and would be a fun activity for your 4th of July get-together. Next time I whip some up, I'd love to make some hot fudge sauce for sundaes. Mmm...sundaes. I wish I had one right now!

Bottom--A pretty cloud in a blue sky that I spied from the car last week. At first it look like a dove, and then it magically morphed into a heart. I took this picture sometime between the dove--heart transformation, so I think it might look like a mutant.

I hope you have a wonderful and safe holiday jam-packed with fun!

* * * * *
Thanks to a glitch, this post did not go up as scheduled. Please accept my belated holiday wishes!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Art Walk

Happy Friday! Who's ready for a holiday weekend? I know I am!*

Let's get out of the house and take in some fresh air.
Go on now, get out your walking shoes. We're going on a mission to find some art around the neighborhood.

That Ivory. She's got more suitors than you can shake a stick at.**

This sculpture is on an island in the middle of the street. It's a tiny little hump of land. I think it would make for a sweet and simple wedding site.

A little crudely drawn heart, but I appreciate the sentiment. All you need is love, right?

Let's head to Longest Avenue, where there's a magnificent mural. It's floral and whimsical, adding a burst of color that brightens up an otherwise normal sidewalk.

I love how the door in the last picture blends in with the painting. Don't you wish you could go in and see what's on the inside?

I keep trying to pick a favorite flower from this work, but I don't think I can! I'm just really grateful that artwork like this exists. It adds so much color to the neighborhood and always makes me smile.

The artist behind this mural is Sara Jane Harpole. She has a website, which you can see she's painted in the last picture. Just click on the picture if you'd like to see it bigger. Be sure to stop by her website if you're interested in seeing more of her work.

Now go and enjoy your weekend. Grill up some (veggie) burgers. Drink some iced tea. Take a dip in a pool. Play safe with fireworks. Marvel at this wonderful world.

* * * * *

*I'll be away from the computer to enjoy the weekend, but I've left some posts for you, so you don't get lonesome. I won't have you crying over me.

**My dad has this theory about the saying "more than you can shake a stick at." If you know him, ask him to explain it. He'll undoubtedly act it out.
If you don't know him, I'll do my best to explain here: Imagine a wild dog runs up to you. You can grab a stick and fend him off. More dogs approach and so you shake your stick at them, threatening them. Well, as more wild dogs gather around to attack you, there comes a point when shaking a stick will no longer work to hold them off. The sheer number of them becomes so great that they aren't afraid of you and you have to surrender. That's more than you can shake a stick at.


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