A not atypical weekend
August 4th, 2013

Harking back to the old days of blogging, I decided to keep track of all the cool stuff I did this weekend!

There is an intentional double negative in the title. This weekend contained 3 types of activities: things I do regularly, things I do every once in a while, and things I do semi-regularly but with certain specific details.

So, speaking of #3, Friday started out with (almost) free tickets to see Bobcat Goldthwait do standup. I have never seen Bobcat in person before, but I have gone to see comedy at this club (Cobb’s) a few times since I’ve lived here. Then we said hi and got this picture that I look awkward in:

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Note: I am a really big fan of Bobcat, and his set was a lot of fun. Apparently the early show before us featured a less enthusiastic crowd, but he seemed to think we were cool and told a lot of stories (in addition to his rehearsed standup).

The next day, J left to go to a bachelorette party for the night, leaving me to get into trouble. I chose to go shopping, make food, and watch movies.

Before I left to shop, I started some No-Knead Bread in the Dutch Oven, the first thing we’ve made in the D.O. You just mix the flour/yeast/salt/water and let sit for 12-24 hours for the “slow-rise”.

bread-dough1

The first thing I set to work on when I got back was some potato-leek-cauliflower soup in the slow cooker. I found it here, who found it here:

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Its just potatos, cauliflower, leeks, onion, carrot, broth, and some rosemary & s/p. Chop it up, stick it in the slow-cooker for 6 hours on low. Then blend as much as you like for consistency, and you have 6 quarts of soup!

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(You will notice a quarter glass of beer next to it, that’s home-brew styled after the “Cooper’s Sparkling” australian brew).

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Behind my slow-cooker is the beer tree I bought J, which can both sanitize (using an attachment) and dry beer bottles.

Next to it is fruit for kombucha! I’ve made kombucha a few times now and am trying to get more comfortable with the process. It’s supposed to be good for you, but I just like how it tastes and makes me feel. This kombucha has been brewing 3 weeks:

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Most other people’s kombucha is a little darker than this, but this is SF so the weather isn’t too warm and I don’t get great airflow in my kitchen, so this is probably less fermented than other 3-week kombuchas.

I mostly follow this recipe to brew, using jasmine or oolong tea, and let sit on top of my fridge. Then I do a secondary fermentation in beer bottles, adding either ginger + lemon or juice + chia seeds. This time the ginger I got was kind of dry, so I did less ginger lemon than usual, and used fresh raspberries that I blended in my food processor.

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My current kombucha bottling process is still a little annoying, but I’m getting faster at it (it’s all about planning!) I’m sure with some better bottles and brewing vessel I could make it go faster. This one involves funnels and saran wrap.

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Now it was about time to go back to the bread I put together last night, but first I was a good boyfriend and swept the living room for the people who were going to crash here tonight:

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(I also got our music room, afterwards I was temporarily distracted by my fretless bass, despite the air mattress)

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Ok, enough bragging about our awesome apartment.

Next I had to roll the sticky gunky bread dough together into a ball, even though it had yet to really take on any sort of shape. So this really meant covering it in flour, which kept it from spilling out everywhere, giving it a sense of form.

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Then I stuck it in the dutch oven I’d been pre-heating in the stove (although not for long enough), and let it do its thing. 45 mins later it was finished and lookin pretty good!

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In retrospect, I should have let it rise for a little after “forming” it, and let the dutch oven cook up a bit. I also realized that my dutch oven is giant for such a small loaf of bread. But, it was easy and tasted good! Sweet.

During this I watched movies that I haven’t been able to motivate myself to watch. This included Gang Tapes (which was interesting if not a little draining), then The Girl Next Door (a disturbing yet incredibly well-made account of real-life torture – why do I do this to myself?), and then cleansed my palate with 48 Hours (ridiculous, but fun and easy).

It wasn’t over though, even when I ate the soup! The next day I went to a free concert at Stern Grove (a beautiful donated park in SF) featuring The Relatives and Shuggie Otis, which was awesome. I also got there right on time for the music and scored the best seats I’ve had at the venue:

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(I snapped this picture during intermission, so no one is there, but the Relatives were amazing and Shuggie Otis is a funk-legend (who played bass on one of my favorite Frank Zappa tunes!)

Life coming full-circle. Then I came home and watched Herzog’s Grizzly Man, which brought back found memories of Alaska (oh yeah, I went to Alaska courtesy of my family and it was so wonderfully humbling – I will throw something together for that).

Now it’s Monday and life is back to normal as seems to happen on such Monday’s. Reality is full of deadlines and root canals (I wish I was lying about the root canals)….

Wormwood in My Backyard
June 19th, 2011

I have not blogged about my backyard in quite some time. Most of this is because I actually haven’t been doing anything with it recently. Honestly, I put a lot of time, effort, and money into last years attempt and didn’t feel it was quite worth it. However, I did learn quite a lot about how to garden more effectively, and this year I think I’m going to focus on less plants but hopefully get more useable food. One of my big problems last year is that I started everything at the same time – so I would go weeks without anything to harvest and then suddenly WHAMMO! I have 3 huge kale plants, 6 heads of lettuce, 2 giant zucchinis, and more string beans then I could eat in a week.

A lot of the last rounds of plants didn’t get picked until very recently, so I’m going to post some pictures of what happens when you don’t pick kale, lettuce, beets, etc. for an extended period of time in day or so.

However, I did want to show you what happened to one of my wormwood plants. These started as incredibly tiny seeds, and I kind of bought them on a whim – however one of the plants did very well. Keep in mind I probably haven’t watered this thing in 9 or 10 months:

It's next to a water pitcher for size reference

Yes, that entire plant is wormwood. Holy shit, right? Well, it seems like I HAVE to make absinthe now – although it only calls for an oz and a half of wormwood. So, if anyone out there reading this wants me to mail them some wormwood leaves, please drop me a line and I’d be happy to send you some.

Zucchini Cornbread Casserole
August 17th, 2010

I’m trying to use up some of this goddamn zucchini, so I made some super easy casserole at the recommendation of a friend of mine. The recipe is here, and I suggest you read most of the comments for ideas on how to tweak this before making. I did salt and then squeeze all the zucchini before adding it, and it still ended up a little watery, but not too bad. Here’s a haphazard shot of (most of) the ingredients:

Not pictured, the jiffy mix that really makes this easy.

Anyway, I followed the directions for the most part, just salted the zucchini and let it sit for an hour in a colander, then squeezed before adding to everything else. I also upped the cheese a little bit, specifically for the mix part, and added one (small) chopped red pepper. After cooking for about an hour, it was mostly done, but I ended up sticking it back in the oven for another 10 minutes after eating a piece. Then I put it out to share:

One of the perks of living w. me is that I have too much food so I share

While not the tastiest thing ever, anything that uses up 4 cups of zucchini is a good recipe for me right now. I finally finished the first giant zucchini so am working on the next one. Of course, I’m also growing regular sized zucchini’s from the other plants as well. If my tomatoes turn out to be half as prolific, I’ll be ecstatic!

Next up – what to do w. all the green beans….

More Giant Zucchini
August 14th, 2010

I’m pretty sure that my butternut squash cross-pollinated w. the zucchini and that is why I’m getting absolutely ginormous zucchini from it. Here’s the one I just picked.

15 inches wide, 4.5 across

I don’t have a funny picture of me running away from it b/c I can’t get it and myself in the frame w.o someone else taking the picture. This week will be a myriad of zucchini pastas and casseroles, and I might try to fire up my grill.

Been Too Long Since a Gardening Update
August 11th, 2010

Things are growing – surprise surprise!

Check out my oregano! (last time)

I know I probably shouldn't let it flower, but I just don't have that many uses for it!

I have a whole row of tomatoes now, although only a couple of them are bearing fruit, and it’s currently only the Mexican Midgets. I sure hope I get some heirlooms soon – my roommates have a measly little tomato plant with larger tomatoes then I have! (from May)

They take forever to water....

Here’s an especially large plant that I needed to buy reinforcements for:
Gimme a damn tomato already!

And that area that I planted some seeds in a little while ago:

The big plants are California Poppies

My garden spot is full of life (not just giant zucchinis):

Some of this is weeds, but most is intentional

Beans too!

It had been ages since I took a roof shot – look at the difference since November:

Some of the rungs to my roof were a bit loose, so this might be the last time I go up there

And while I was up there, here’s a shot of Sutro Tower:

My old room had a great view of this as well

P.S. — I have a drummer and there will be shows soon….(get excited!)

Zucchini Bread (barely makes a dent in my huge zucchini)
August 1st, 2010

I’ll update this later with the recipe and any instructions, but look at how much bread I can make from such a small bit of my giant zucchini from tha previous post!

I love it when I remember to take before pictures

Mmmm, zucchini bread

Update! This recipe comes from my Mom. It’s a very sweet bread – she also makes a pumpkin bread that I’ve found I prefer more savory, but this zucchini bread is delicious with the amount of sugar indicated in the recipe. This recipe will make about 2 bundt-sized loaves – I used 1.5 times as much to make the amount above.

Dry Ingredients:

  • 3 c flour
  • 2 c sugar
  • 3 t cinnamon
  • 1 t salt
  • ½ to 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 c chopped walnuts

Wet Ingredients

  • 2 c vegetable oil (actually, I would use just a little bit less then 2 cups, this bread came out a little on the oily side)
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 t vanilla

& of course, 2 c grated zucchini

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients except for the walnuts together.
  3. Add the zucchini to the dry ingredients.
  4. Making sure not to beat, mix in the wet ingredients one at a time, with the oil first.
  5. Add the walnuts last
  6. Pour into a greased bundt pan and cook for 40 – 60 minutes (I find it’s closer to 60 minutes).

And that’s it! It’s really easy and tasty!

My Zucchini Is Huge
July 27th, 2010

I grew a big-assed zucchini because I thought it was actually a butternut squash plant. For shame.

Eat it before it eats you!

I'm sorry, I look kinda awkward.

Sweet Potato & Kale Curry
July 2nd, 2010

I’ve made this three times now and am starting to get the hang of it. I especially like that the recipe I started from was very barebones in what spices to use and in what quantity. I probably checked another website to get an idea of what dishes add more of what and less of other things b/c I’m still figuring stuff like that out. However the process is pretty easy and the results are quite tasty. It uses a few more canned ingredients then an ideal meal for me, but since the Kale and Sweet Potatoes I’ve been using are from the farmers market (or sometimes, my backyard) I don’t feel like I’m cheating too much.

I likely found this recipe just by googling kale recipes because I had so much of it at the end of last year, but found it on Spark Recipes. One of the things I look for is how complicated ingredients are, and how necessary they are to the meal.

Anyway, I highly suggest you check out the original recipe, but I cut some things in half and add more then others. It ends up being mildly sweet w. a nice background spice – I could probably make it a quite a bit spicier and not lose any of the inherent sweetness from the sweet potatoes.

Anyway, here we go:

  • 1/2 cup onion (I use onion sparingly, if at all)
  • 1 clove garlic (just the one, sometimes I don’t even use it all. I use garlic less often then onions)
  • Spices – I usually use between 1/2 tbsp and a full tbsp of the following (Because it’s what I have in my kitchen):
    • tumeric
    • cumin
    • coriander
    • chili powder
    • curry powder (I use a little more of this)
    • nutmeg (I use a little less of this)
    • ginger
    • cinnamon (not a lot)
    • cayenne pepper (I use less of this then the chili powder).
  • 2 1/2 cups kale (more then the recipe calls for, because I always have a ton). Wash, remove the stems, and chop.
  • 2 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (this ends up being less then two sweet potatoes usually, again, add more if you want)
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or the equivalent)
  • 1 can of stewed tomatoes (or equivalent)
  • less then a can of coconut milk (or if you use it all, up the amount of spices you use. The Original recipe doesn’t call for much coconut milk, but it’s so good!)
  • honey to taste (I like honey)
  • water as needed
  • olive oil as needed

Prep is easy, although you need to pay a little attention. First, go ahead and stem the kale, cut the onions, and dice the sweet potatoes.

I've used both yams and sweet potatoes - this time I used both

Now, sautee the onions in some olive oil for a couple minutes until it’s tender.

Add the garlic and spices and just a little bit of water (around a 1/4 cup – start w. less) and cook that for a few (4 or 5 is fine) minutes. You want enough liquid to simmer the kale in, but you don’t need that much. Go ahead and add the kale in here now – it will start to wilt and take up less space in the saucepan so you don’t need too much liquid in the pan. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer this for 10 minutes.

Add the Kale

Next, add your sweet potatoes, tomatoes, chick peas, coconut milk, and the honey. You may need a little bit more water here so you have enough liquid to cover the potatoes and make sure they get cooked. If you have stock to add, I would use that instead though. (always use stock instead of water!) Increase the heat just a touch and simmer for 30 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. You want the sweet potatoes to be soft but not mushy. Everything else should retain it’s texture (I’ve worried about overcooking the kale before but it’s come out fine) in that time period too, providing you are just simmering.

Let it simmer...

And that’s it! I serve over brown rice, but I serve almost everything over brown rice.

Lunch!

Lettuce Harvest!
June 29th, 2010

I probably should have done it at least a week ago (likely more), but I pulled the lettuce out of the ground that I, like the kale I picked last week, also started in the kitchen window a few months back. They obviously got bigger then necessary, and there’s more then I know what to do with. If I want to make this lettuce growing thing work, I’ll need to find a method of working it so I have just one or two heads of lettuce in the ground at a time, and at different intervals, otherwise I have nothing and then WAY TOO MUCH, as you can see:

I remember when they were just baby seeds!

I learned some things though – the crisp mint was the most hardy and grew the most. However, it was REALLY affected by pests, there were a bunch of insects living in/near the crisp mint plants but not the other ones. I think it had to do w. the structure of the lettuce head – it grew fast and upright, allowing for more places to hide. I’m not that grossed out by insects living in my plant or eating it, but some people might be I guess. However, I’m not going to use pesticides in my garden so that’s how it goes. The crisp mint is also the greatest producer, another reason not to have too much of it – I should have definitely pulled it sooner. I really like both the mascara and yugoslavian red varieties, they look very cool and taste quite tasty. I’ve been eating them in a salad w. some the rest of the kale, some soybeans (that I completely overcooked, but it kind of worked out b/c they taste different now), a few green beans, and these grape tomatoes I got at the Crocker-Galleria Farmers Market last week that are ridiculously sweet and tasty.

It’s time to start some more lettuce – it’s so hard to predict though. Honestly, I have thus far had the best results with this batch of seeds I started in egg cartons w.o plastic or heat in the germinating process. They did take a long time to grow actual leaves and I did move them a few times, but those plants are all pretty happy, whereas the ones I’ve started in the cell packs with a little more attention to detail have gotten to tall too fast and don’t survive the transition outdoors. Attempts to container garden with things like spinach and lettuce have had issues too, as there has either been too much or too little rain. I have picked up some actual seed starting mix (as opposed to high quality soil w. fertilizers/etc already in it), so we’ll see if that helps or not. The shallowness of the egg cartons made things take a while, but at least it did it right!

I planted some flowers in the backyard from seed as well, after working the soil a little bit w. the last bag of planting soil in my backyard. On a side note, it’s a little hilarious how much effort needs to be spent on obtaining dirt and poop. Personally, I have to rent a zip car for an hour or so, drive up and down a hill, park, cart around, buy, get into my backyard (which is a pain b/c I don’t have a key to the side gate b/c technically its just for us to use to take the trash out), and then return the car. All for some dirt and worm poop. At least the parking spot is convenient. Anyway, I planted Echinacea, Sunflowers, and Little Buttons in this area that has always been weeds. The ground was really dry and tough b/c of the on/off sun and lack of rain. It’s also on the top-most part of the garden and on a slope, so water travels downhill. Who knows if they’ll grow, but I think if I keep them watered correctly it could turn into something:

Here goes nothing!

In addition to harvesting and planting, I also cut down the milk thistle – it had gotten out of control. I cut a few seed pods, but the fact is I already have a bag of milk thistle seeds I spent a bunch of money on that I haven’t used (that bag of seeds is where the plant came from – I believe it was just two seedlings when I transplanted it) so I apparently haven’t determined a use for milk thistle other then it grows fast and bites you when you don’t expect it, at least one that I’m willing to put the effort into. I”m hoping it’s prickly nature wont prevent it from being compostable.

I'm not sure what to do w. it - sure is prickly stuff.

Garden Update!
June 25th, 2010

Wow, it’s had to have been a while since an update, eh? Since May. Well, check it out!

My tomatoes are flourishing, altho tha pepper has seen better days. It’s pretty impressive what the oregano looks like – and it smells great!

Oregano!

A kale plant I picked (and made curry with – will blog about that soon as I took pics) that started in an egg carton in my window (sorry so blurry):
Mmm, kale!

Lettuce of three different varieties, also started in my window:
There's Crisp Mint (bright green), Yugoslavian Red (semi-head typed lettuce in front), and Mascara (leafier red lettuce behind the Yugoslavian Red).(

The front patch of plants on the left is butternut squash, which sprouted 4x faster then the black beauty zucchini in the back (barely visible from this angle – way less sun on that part of the garden). To the right are the string bean plants:

Seriously, look at this tomato plant!
Big Tomato Plant

I’m a bit concerned about the fence that threatens to fall over and squash this plant, which I guess you can’t see very well from this picture. The fence broke off and is getting worse, so I’ve written the neighbors a note – it’s been REALLY windy recently too, so that doesn’t help.

  • Tha OBAR!




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