27 September 2013

September Recap

This month was much more of a struggle than last month.  Last month I felt like I was kicking butt, this month has been more of a battle with my to-do list.  But at least I made a beautiful galette.
What this boils down to is the fact that my goals sort of fell by the wayside.  Let's recap:
  • Watch these videos on Climate Change: the Scientific Debate.  I watched...3.
  • Read an edifying book.  Nope nope nope.  I tried, but only made it a few pages
  • Sell or give away some of the stuff I no longer use.  Those things are sitting in boxes, ready to go...but they're still here.  I did get rid of a few things.
  • Continue to preserve food through canning or freezing.  Yes!  I did this!  I canned tomatoes, and I'm going to do some hot sauce and applesauce this weekend!
  • Get ready for some September events!  I put together a slideshow of a bunch of area gardens / harvests for our annual Harvest Celebration!  The event is on Sunday and I'm really looking forward to it.
  • Spend a day on a lake.  Well, I drove all the way around Lake Michigan.  That's got to count for something, right?
October looms, and I've finally crossed to the dark side: it's fall.  It took me awhile to accept it, but frost on my windshield in the morning, pumpkin cake, apple picking, a spiced cider and doughnut party, and bright red leaves don't lie.
  • A home-pressed cider and homemade doughnut party!  We're pressing cider this weekend, and this friend has promised to make some doughnuts!  It's going to be great!
  • It looks like I'll be going on a couple business trips to visit customers.  I have mixed feelings about this - but it's definitely a positive step for the company I work for.
  • Other than that, I have no real plans except to catch up.  Things have been pretty crazy lately and I'm getting behind, so I'm HOPING October will slow down.
As always, some photos from my month...
A friend told me about some perfect wine peaches available at a can't-say-no-to-that price.  Six hours later, I had a bucket of peach wine started.

I started my first batch of beer!  An India Black Ale - and they weren't kidding about the how dark this beer is!  I only screwed it up a little bit, hopefully it was all even out in the end. (behind it:  rhubarb wine from this spring, and the aforementioned peach wine is wrapped up in a white towel.)
 The family spent a day and Gram's house picking apples.
That left us with an SUV full of apples!  What to do with all this bounty?
I used this ancient contraption to crank out my first-ever homemade applesauce, then added a little maple syrup and cinnamon for a delicious treat.
And lastly, we've been gifted some hops.  Holy mother of hops, batman!  We aren't receiving everything in this photo, but I'm sure a few ounces will find their way into the India Black Ale pictured above.  (It looks like popcorn in this photo.  I guess there are worse things it could look like)
Well, happy fall.  It's here, there's no stopping it, might as well embrace the brisk air and the ugly sweaters.

13 September 2013

Superfood Quinoa Salad

We've been trying to eat healthy foods lately, and I spotted a photo from Oh She Glows, I just had to make something like it.  The problem is, I was basing in on the photo/title rather than the actual recipe, so it turned out completely different.
Oh well.  Still delicious, and packed with health foods.  I started out with the great pile of garden cucumbers that have been plaguing me (did I just say the garden produce has been plaguing me?!  No, it's been great!  And only a little scary).
To which I added quinoa (I totally neglected the lentils used in the original recipe, mostly because I forgot them and was too lazy to actually go back and cook some), red onions and basil.
And oh yeah, I said superfoods.  So we've got quinoa, let's add some avocado and salmon.  Some garden peppers and a little salt and pepper to top it off.
Superfood Quinoa Salad
  • 3 c. chopped cucumberes
  • 3 c. cooked quinoa (cooled)
  • 1 c. chopped red onion
  • .5 c. chopped fresh basil
  • 1 avocado, sliced into chunks
  • 1 can alaskan salmon (~14oz)
  • 2 green peppers
  • optional: 1 tomato, chopped (Kyle's preferred version)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
1.  Easy peasy.  Put it all together.
Makes a great lunch or a side dish for dinner.

06 September 2013

Rainbow Salsa + Easy Homemade Tortilla Chips

One of the best things about the farmers market is the different varieties available.  All different kinds of tomatoes and peppers!
When I saw these orange cherry tomatoes, I knew they would have to be combined with our yellow pear tomatoes and red cherry tomatoes.
Then I realized we're growing some banana peppers, green peppers, and merlot peppers, and there was only one way to go from there:  rainbow salsa!
Check out these merlot peppers!  Deep purple.
Look, it's a rainbow! 
So everything needs to get chopped up for fresh salsa.  If you can't yet tell, I had a lot of fun taking photos.  This was a really pretty array of vegetables to photograh.
I don't put forth much effort to grow my blog, nor do I make any money from it.  I blog because I enjoy it.  Blogging is my creative outlet.  And in some ways, this salsa is my art.
But once you have salsa, you need a transportation vessel for it.  For some reason, I never connected the fact that even "healthy" tortilla chips were deep fried.  I LOVE tortilla chips.  They make it to the dinner line-up at least once a week.
So there has to be a better way, right?  Well it turns out, there is.  And it's easy.  And fast.  And you can choose any spices you want (choose garlic!).  We put them in an air-tight container and they held their crunch, but they're definitely the best when they're fresh.
Bake and eat.  With fresh salsa.  Maybe even rainbow salsa.
Rainbow Salsa
  • 1 c. red cherry tomatoes
  • 1 c. orange cherry tomatoes
  • 1 c. yellow pear tomatoes
  • .5 c. red onion
  • 1 merlot pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 2 banana peppers
  • 2 limes (juice + zest)
  • 2 tbs fresh cilantro
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
1.  Chop everything up.
2.  Combine.
3.  Eat!

Homemade Baked Tortilla Chips (based on this)

  • Corn tortillas
  • Any spice you want (suggested: a bit of cayenne, some garlic, smoked paprika, a light dusting of cinnamon, or cumin)
1.  Preheat oven to 400*F.  Prepare a pan by putting a metal cooling rack on it.
2.  Slice the tortillas into sixths (can also slice them into quarters).  Spread tortilla pieces on cooling rack.
3.  Sprinkle spice of your choice on tortilla pieces.
4.  Bake for 10 minutes.
Oh, and I promised some September goals for this week.
  • Watch these videos on Climate Change: the Scientific Debate (each are ten minutes long, so you can watch a few at a time until you get through them all).
  • Read an edifying book.
  • Sell or give away some of the stuff I no longer use.
  • Continue to preserve food through canning or freezing (more tomatoes? more pesto? apples?).
  • Get ready for some September events!  I'm putting together a slideshow of a bunch of area gardens / harvests!  How fun is that?  We're also putting together a cookbook full of recipes that use mostly local foods.
  • Spend a day on a lake.  Doesn't matter which one :)
Okay!  I don't know how it's September already, but I'm loving this hot weather.  I've heard rumors at work that "they" say September should be pretty warm, but the warming of the Great Lakes means we're in for a snowy fall.  And...one more photo from last night's photoshoot...