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Archive for December, 2010

My, that’s a beautiful pie, you’re probably saying to yourself.  Wonder what it’s for, you’re asking yourself.  Wonder what kind it is, you’re musing, also to yourself.

Duh, it’s the birthday kind, dudes and dudettes!  You may remember that The Brother and I were born on Christmas Day.  Oh, the sympathetic choruses that usually erupt when I share that fact.  But in case you’re counting, you’ve noticed that it’s only been 6 months since my last birthday pie.  That’s because we celebrate our birthdays in July, much like furniture stores (Christmas in July sales ring a bell?).  The Mothership insists on birthday cakes on our real birthday, too, though (uh, can you see ulterior motive?) so yes, we get two cakes per year, and two songs.  That’s twice the wishes that you get, misfits.  Don’t feel so sorry for me anymore, now, do you?  Hate me with a passion now, don’t you?  Wish you could be the BMG, don’t you?

Oh, and speaking of passion, it’s a Passionfruit Meringue Pie from the inimitable Hoosier Mama Pie Company right here in Chicago.  Never tried them before?  Whores.

So what else has that CRAZY Alchemist been up to these days?!  is no doubt the other question on your curious minds.  Well… organizing my INSANE seed collection, for one.  I HEART this time of year in the garden, even though it’s all covered in snow and the earth is frozen solid.  Why?  Because it’s far enough away from the blistering heat-filled frenzy of harvest-time that I’ve finally forgotten the ridiculous overenthusiastic messes I got myself into last season.  Hence, I’m once again overenthusiastic and ridiculous.  That, and the seed catalogs are here.  Ooh, pretty!

So like a kid going through a super-secret candy stash in a super-secret treehouse labeled with a sign reading “No Boyz Allowd,”, I’ve been giggling and rifling and sorting and scheming while rubbing my hands together evilly.  The key difference being that now Boyz are Allowd.  At least, The Boy iz.  I mean, is.

Ooh!  Ooh!  Another project!  What you see there is a 5-gallon keg hooked up to a CO2 tank.  Big freaking deal, you’re saying.  Ooh, a freaking keg, you’re saying.  Oh, she thinks she’s so freaking special because she has a keg, you’re saying.

Well, you’re right!  Because…

It’s full of…homemade ginger ale!  Yesterday The Boy and I adjusted and reworked this recipe to just about fill a 5-gallon keg, with the lime juice tossed right in with it all.  Yep–that’s right.  Almost 5 gallons of homemade, REAL GINGER ginger ale.  Now that we can force carbonate massive quantities of stuff ‘n things, we thought we’d do it up right and at least enable our booze-o-holism.

You see, lately we’ve gotten into the habit of relaxing on the couch with a whiskey sour.  Mmm…whiskey sours.  How I love you.  But we wondered–could we do this less expensively at home, especially considering the fact that we only buy natural sodas?  Could we use, like, evaporated cane juice?  And super high quality ginger?  Could we up the pungency to make this a digestive aid?  Could we BLOW OUR OWN FUCKING MINDS WITH WHISKEY SOUR EXCELLENCE?

The answer: an easy yes.  In two days it’ll be fully carbonated, and then you won’t hear from me for a while, because I’ll be in a whiskey-induced stupor complete with ginger trips and whimsical hallucinations.

And what in TARNATION is that?!  Was the next question on your lips.  Why, it’s a pearl oyster mushroom farm, materials purchased from these mushroom-crazy people.  Seriously.  They own the domain “fungi.com”.  You know they’re not screwing around.  I’m starting a shiitake mushroom farm, too, but that one is in the process of being “shocked” in the refrigerator.  For now, my little farm is happy.  Y’know how I know?

A baby mushroom!  Oh, glory be, it worked!  Let’s have a closer look, sans my manicure:

Aww, it’s so cute!  I think we should name it.  Please deposit your name suggestions in my comment box.  Then I will bestow the best name upon it, and then when I eat it I can feel like I’m losing a friend HOW QUAINT.  The best part of this is, it keeps going for a while (the shiitake one is a bit more productive than the oyster farm).  When it stops producing indoors I’m going to break it up, soak it for a day, and use it to inoculate a fresh bale of straw.  Then it’s all getting spread into a layer in the spot under the tree WHERE NOTHING WILL GROW.  But you know what?  Mushrooms want to go to there.  Mushrooms like growing in dark, clammy spaces.  Mushrooms aren’t too good for the shade.  What, you think you’re too good for the shade or something?  Mushrooms aren’t too good for the shade.  Your mom is too good for the shade.  Mushrooms will never be too good for the shade.

<panting>

My apologies.

And now for something completely different!  (Name that reference.)  The Boy purchased this for moi for Christmas–a 5 lb. bag of the best gummy bears on the face of planet earth–Haribo (the gold bag).  I have no idea where he got this.  Truth be told, I’m not in a questionin’ sort of mood.  I’m just going to accept this gift along with the knowledge that I will soon be morbidly obese and extremely jolly.  Then I’ll be breakin’ and entering on all y’all next year and depositing presents whilst wearing a furry red suit and scarfing your cookies.  ‘Cause that’s how I do.  Thanks, The Boy.

Aaaand sorting my recipes.  Something about this season puts me into a major nesting/housecleaning frenzy.  I want to get rid of things I  never use, sort the things I do, make lists of things I want, cry because I can’t have the things I want, and frolic through IKEA.  And I do mean frolic.  I also take my paleness to new heights (THIS YEAR I’M GOING FOR TRANSPARENCY!), and get in the mood to watch a lot of historical/period flicks, like “The Young Victoria,” “Emma,” “Pride and Prejudice,” or “Anne of Green Friggin’ Gables.”

I really, really love Anne of Green Friggin’ Gables.  I saw a picture of the actual Green Gables on The Internets Place once, and I actually cried.

Yeah, that’s right–I have feelings.  Don’t act so surprised.  Even though I was.

Could’ve been the gummy bears.

Anyhoo, my physical recipes are being sorted down, clipped out, and I guess organized into boxes.  Anyone out there have a great system for keeping that straight?  I’m also planning to organize my online recipes, back them up onto discs, and then make cards for them so I have a physical copy of every recipe, just in case.  Then I want all my physical recipes to be stored digitally as well.  Am I making too big a thing of this?  I have nightmares where my house burns down and all I can think about is all of my treasured recipes, lost forever.  Oh, yeah, and like, my home and memories and stuff.  But you know.  That stuff can be replaced with judicious purchases made on the black market.  My recipes?  Not so much.

Ah, my sourdough starter.  Sweet, sweet sourdough starter (sour, sour sourdough starter?).  This is the second time now that I’ve let it sit for an eternity, neglected to scrape down the sides, and ended up with mold.  If you’re experienced with souring, you know that mold isn’t a big deal–no need to start over or anything.  You just try to salvage a small quantity of starter that hasn’t been touched by any mold and feed it for a few days.  Most likely the yeast will be strong enough to take over once again.  But the whole process is a pain in the neck.  And a reminder to bake more bread.  And really, who DOESN’T need a reminder to bake more bread?

I see some sluggish bubbling.  That means all hope is not lost.  In fact, bubbles are pretty much the universal sign for “All hope is not lost.”

And sprouting!  (Our fermentation room, she is busy.)  These are Fenugreek seeds–supposedly, they’re great for people with allergies/asthma and digestive issues.  They also smell amazing while they sprout–just like fennel.  I’m thinking these would be great over a sausage and vegetable soup, or on a grilled cheese sandwich.

Not much activity so far, but there are a few seed coats starting to burst open.

Aside from that, we’re just working out the plans for a big batch of kimchi–my first, actually.  I’ve come into some bok choy.  (How come I always “come into” things like bok choy or fennel, and not, you know, like, money?)  Naturally, when you’ve come into bok choy, the next logical step is making kim chi.  Any tips?  I’ve found about eight billion recipes that look pretty good to me.  Also, will you promise not to think I’m insane if I like what I taste and then plant a kim chi bok choy and radish garden?

So what’s going on in your little homesteads?  Any projects?  What did The Santa bring you?  Or if you’re Jewish, how was the Chinese food?

I’m so GOOD at asking the questions that matter.

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Around the holidays.

When The Boy and I are super busy.  Drinking.

And super-stressed. About finding enough to drink.

And probably not up to feeding ourselves very well. No time–we’re drinkin’.

We’re reminded of how the soil continues to take care of us because we took care of the soil. (Before drinking!)

Everything in these pics was in this morning’s CSA boxes. (…drinking?)

A pleasant reminder to take care of ourselves this holiday season and remember what we’ve worked so hard for.  (Love and peace and family and friends.  No, just kidding, it’s drinking!)

Looking for a meaningful New Year’s resolution?  (Besides drinking?)  Why not subscribe to a CSA already?

(In Chicagoland and looking for a great, no-fuss CSA provider?  Try Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks.  Subscribe to boxes, or even place a la carte orders for extras like meat, dairy, bread, and those less local choices, like bananas.)

Happy Holidays, friends!

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