My Etsy Shop

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A few of my favorite things...

I've been busying myself with holiday projects lately. I made the ornament "tree" on the left side of the mantle. I saw a similar one in Martha Stewart Living magazine years ago and thought it was really cool.

Here's a closeup of the tree before I put the smallest ornaments on it. I bought a styrofoam cone and spray painted it red and used a hot glue gun to attach all the little ornaments. There are over 250 ornaments on this thing...doesn't look like that many, does it? When I was mostly done with it I found out where I should have bought the supplies in the first place: The SF Flower Mart. Specifically, Shibata Floral. I got the fresh 15' evergreen garland at the Flower Mart too.

I love to bake Christmas cookies. I bought some springerle cookie molds from House on the Hill. Springerle, according to H. o' the H., originated in Bavaria and Alsace as early as the 1600s. The other day I tackled making some cookies using one of their recipes. These 2 shots show the molded and trimmed cookies unbaked. You need to let them dry overnight so that the designs will not puff out too much when you bake them.

The cookies puff up like little pillows when you bake them. The smaller cookies need to bake at a very low temperature. They are only supposed to turn a little golden on the bottoms when they are done. It was hard to get my oven to a low enough temperature. Later that evening, when I tried to make dinner, the oven was acting oddly. Dinner was still raw after an hour of baking at 375 degrees. So, perhaps the oven is now broken. My oven is over 50 years old and has been showing its age.

I decided to decorate the cookies with a little edible gold luster dust. It's nice because it highlights the raised designs. All I did was brush it in with a soft brush.

Here are some of the bigger cookies.

So, now it's time to pack up the cookies and ship them off to my family back east. I hope they like them. Thursday Sharon & I are going to make some Wedgewood Jasperware style ornaments using paperclay and the cookie molds.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Harvest Time...Chard...Carrots!

Back in June, I planted these seeds in my raised bed in my urban back yard.

I've been harvesting rainbow chard and carrots from my little raised bed lately. They are so colorful, it makes me happy. Here's my recipe for chard casserole. I made this up because most of the recipes I found used only the leaves and told you to toss the stems. This upset my "wasting food is a sin" mentality. Anyhow, read on and you can make it too.

I used about 2 large bunches of rainbow chard for this recipe. Separate the stems from the leaves. I like to use kitchen scissors for this. Wash the chard. Dry and chop the stems and one onion and saute in a little olive oil until everything's translucent. Pour the mixture into an oiled baking dish and spread evenly with a spatula.

Sprinkle this mixture with a little salt and pepper and shake on some plain breadcrumbs and grated parmesan cheese to lightly cover. This forms sort of a "crust" or base for the casserole.

Next, lift the leaves from the water you've washed them in and tear in pieces and shake off most of the water and place them in the same saute pan. Cook, turning with tongs, until wilted.

Remove the cooked leaves from the pan with tongs, shaking off most of the moisture. Distribute the leaves evenly on top of the stem base and pat down to even the top. Sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper and some freshly ground nutmeg.

Now top the leaves with some grated cheese. I like to use gruyere because it has a nice nutty flavor that complements the chard.

Beat some eggs. I normally would have used 6-8 eggs for this size (9" x 13") pan, but I only had 5 so, 5 it is! Pour the eggs evenly around the dish. Top with some pine nuts for added visual appeal and crunch. Now bake this puppy in a 350 oven for 30-45 minutes, until the cheese on top starts to get golden brown.

If you stick a knife in the center of the casserole, it should come out clean. If not, bake a little longer. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting into squares to serve.

I roasted the whole carrots in the oven at the same time and marinated and grilled some chops for this dinner. We served it with Toasted Head Chardonnay, which I like because it has a weird name and an illustration of a bear spewing flames on the label. Normally I don't buy it because it is too expensive, but Safeway had it on sale last week.

I usually serve the chard casserole as a main dish, but these chops needed to be cooked that day. It's really good as a brunch dish, especially good to bring to a potluck too. It's good served warm or at room temperature. It reheats very well. There's still some left if you want to come over for lunch.

What blog post would be complete without some pictures of Ace? Here he is at 6 months old now, getting big and getting into everything. Yesterday I opened the refrigerator and he went right in, straight to the back.

I'm thinking of planting some fava beans for a winter crop. I'd like to grow some different colored beets too. My beets grew so fast this time.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Late Summer

It's hot today. It was even hotter yesterday. This is Ace's first heat wave. He doesn't know how to handle it. He's been crashing out on his back in different locations, trying to stay cool.

Last night it was so hot that we had to open the door to the kitty cat "forbidden zone,"otherwise known as the bedroom, to get some air circulation. Ace wasted no time in checking it all out, including diving right under the covers.

Of course, he had to check out both ends of the situation.

The garden is soaking up the sun's rays while the daylight is still lingering into evening. The scarlet runner beans are getting some beautiful red flowers, despite the entire pot having been blown over completely upside down by the wind a couple of weeks ago.

The crops have grown so much I can hardly believe it. I hope I can get to the carrots before the gophers find them.

The Santa Barbara daisies are flourishing. Cabbage moths were chasing each other this afternoon. I seem to have a lot of dragonflies and bees too.

The bees really like this flower, appropriately named Bee Balm. The hummingbirds are going after it too.

This week we introduced Ace to the shed, which has a shelf with a kitty perch with a great view of the bird baths. Ace has been enjoying the birdy circus, although he tries to lunge at the towhees who hop too close to his screen window.

Another new thing for Ace this week is combing. Unlike any other cat we've had, Ace enjoys having his tummy combed. He's purring away here.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Miraloma Ranch

This land used to be a ranch long ago, according to the historians. Having given up on trying to grow tomatoes in the fog, and tiring of battling the kikuyu grass, I have decided to stick to cool season vegetables only and garden in containers. This is the first time I have gotten scarlet runner beans (above) to grow in my yard.

Here's the raised bed, planted with baby beets, 4 different types of carrots (including purple ones and red ones and white ones,) Merveille de Quatre Saisons lettuce, and Bright Lights chard. I am using floating row cover, which is making a huge difference in the growth rate of the plants. It keeps the moisture and warmth in and the critters out. For the time being anyhow, knock wood.

I have at least 4 different kinds of thyme growing in this pot. I have finally found the right combo of sunlight and water, as much as I can manage to give them.

The other night I thinned the beets and lettuce and I made myself a nice beet salad with feta cheese and toasted walnuts and I had steamed beet greens on the side. Mmmmmm.

We've been invaded by pocket gophers for the first time in 26 years here. They dig and mound up the dirt and wreck your lawn and whatever else they can get their grubby paws on. I have only a tiny lawn in the back and they are ruining it. They are actually sorta cute. If you click on the link you can see a photo of one. There are tons of them in Golden Gate Park.

We tried Molemax, which Steve got from Orchard Supply Hardware. The guy at the store said to Steve, "You can buy these things...none of them work..." It's supposed to make the soil smell bad to gophers. Another non-lethal method I'm trying this week is pictured above. It's a stake that you put three batteries in and stick in the ground and it makes a sound that's supposed to drive the gophers away. My neighbor told me, "They don't work." The jury's out on this one. I've yet to resort to plastic explosives, a la Carl Spackler of Caddyshack fame.

Let's forget about the #$&*%ing gophers and concentrate on how sweet Ace is. You can feast your eyes on more pictures of Ace by clicking here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What's New with Ace?

Ace had a visit from his cousin Christina from San Diego. It's hard to say which one of them enjoyed it more. They both had a blast. They would have played together all day, if we let them.

Keeping Ace out of trouble is almost a full-time job. He has discovered that there are lots of yummy wires hidden behind the computer. This is a very good place to lie down, stick your paws out from under the monitor and bat at mom's fingers on the keyboard. Cool things happen when you walk across the keyboard too.

Sometimes a wild jungle beast appears hidden in the leaves of the Schleffera. He's just waiting for an opportunity to pounce. I'm scared, aren't you?

Another cool pastime is trying out various sleeping poses. This is a cute one curled up in his bed with Kitty. When we brought Ace home, Kitty was bigger than he was. You can see that the tables have turned.

Here's a less dignified on the couch pose. Growing so fast requires putting in a lot of nap time. Ace is no slouch in this department.

A few of Ace's loyal subjects like to keep watch over him while he sleeps. When they are not keeping watch, they spend time migrating to inaccessible spots, such as way, way under the couch.

Steve says we now have taken over 500 photos of Ace. He is 4 months old today.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ace is getting bigger

Ace has added a few new fans to his fan club lately. Here he is posing with his new members Linda and Janet in the bathroom, which is his favorite room.

Ace likes to get on the toilet so he can check himself out in the mirror on the back of the door. Sometimes this leads to accidental closing of the door. Oops. He's looking quite handsome here.

One of Ace's new tricks is deposing stuffed kitty from the top of the scratching post. He does not like having her up there, or catnip mouse either.

After knocking her off, he gives her a good thrashing. (This is an "action shot" which is why it appears blurry.)

Ace assumes his rightful position of King Kitty.

But sometimes Ace is in a more contemplative mood, quietly gazing out the window at the neighborhood doings.

And sometimes he just likes to sleep on his favorite pillow.