Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What I've Been Up To, Pt. I

So, here we are backtracking all the way to March. At the end of March, we went to Houston for my littlest sister's wedding. the day before all the madness started, we went down to Hermann Park for a little sightseeing. Bf and I are Travel Nerds. It doesn't matter where we go, or why we go there,- we'll always manage to find something educational to do and see. This time we went to the butterfly exhibit at the Museum of Natural Science. So awesome.

In the butterfly exhibit, you sweat your butt off while wandering around in a rainforest-like enclosure. All the butterflies just flutter around you, and you have to resist the urge to swat at them as they fly by (or land on you!) It's pretty awesome.

I love this blue one. I think it's one of the Morphos.

Camouflage butterfly says that he is an owl, not a butterfly. No clue how this pic came out so perfectly in focus, but I just love it.
Fuzzy pic of the butterfly nursery. The orange and black striped one is emerging from his (or her) cocoon! I could have watched that for hours. First a little twitch...then a wiggle...then some more wiggling...then a bit of a wing...then more wing...then a butterfly! So exciting.

Posting two days in a row, look at me go. Hey, that rhymes.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Uh, hello.

Hello, everyone (especially Kerry).

So sad that it's taken me this long to get myself back to this space. It's a tricky thing, blogging. First there are stretches of days where everything is so regular, mundane, and ordinary that it hardly seems worth mentioning. And as we all know, I am not a person who slows down and remembers to breathe, or sees the beauty in a glass of water and a peice of toast or something. I mean yeah, those are good things. But they aren't MY things. It's all tomfoolery, all the time around these parts. But then there are occasions and things worth mentioning, finds worth sharing, and thoughts worth saving for later, and I don't do very well at that either. Time slips by at a rate of speed greater than my internet connection, and then it seems less than relevant. But it's all worth keeping, you just have to get around to it.


Although I want to start way back in March, I would like to mention something first. This is the week of two very big anniversaries. First, it was two years ago that I brought home a terrified little hound named Sticks who was not house trained, got car sick, and would not walk on a leash. Now Maya keeps amazing us every day with the things she is willing to take in stride, and how very much she likes to snuggle. And bite your butt if she wants attention. And how loudly she barks. And how much she likes to go for walks. And car rides. And how she went to the Farmer's Market and walked through downtown traffic and into throngs of people and had only one freakout when the Kettle Corn man fired up his big kettle. She's a good girl. Perhaps on our three year anniversary, I will write about how she doesn't rip up potted plants. That would be nice.

The other anniversary is the one that marks the passing of our first year as a family, me and BF and Lilly and Maya and Charlie. A year ago, he arrived after a 10 hour drive in a car full of clothes, cds, and a big dumb dog. Now, I can hardly remember a time when I didn't wake up next to him (or Lilly, depending on if she got cold and snuck up into the bed between us). It's so easy to bicker about money, dishwasher loading principles, dinner, and TV viewing that I forget how really lonely I would be without them. It's been a most educational year, one where I learned a lot about compromise and team work and the awesome power of just being nice.

I've got lots more to catch up on here, and I promise to do just that. But this is getting awfully long, and that's no good. And since pictureless posts are no fun, here's a sunset for you.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Let Us Speak of Pickled Things

Here lately, what with the interest in canning, I have given a lot of thought to pickled things. I love them. I love pickles in many forms, and I know that it's a typical food in the south, but I am not sure about other places. Anyway, we had a dinner party last weekend, and I put together a few of my favorite pickled things of late and called it an appetizer. They were hits, so I thought I would share these with you.

These pickled cucumbers are struggling to find a name with me. They need a special name because they aren't even pickles really- more like brined cucumbers. And they are also very Asian-flavored- lots of ginger and fish sauce. But they are crisp and crunchy and have about a thousand different uses- they are great on top of a peice of grilled tuna, great in sandwiches, on crackers, or just crammed into your mouth while you hang out on your deck, all bundled up and pretending it's spring. I adapted this recipe from a marinade I found in one of our cookbooks on modern asian and thai cooking.

Asian Briney Cucumber Thingys

3in peice of fresh ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves
just a bit of thai chili paste or maybe a dash of Sriracha
5T sugar
5T fish sauce
juice of 2 limes
1/3 c of water
2 cucumbers, seeded and sliced sort of thin

mix it all up and toss in the cucumbers. at first the cukes will not be very well covered by the marinade, but within about 20 minutes they will give up some of their juice and kind of settle in. Let sit overnight. This will keep for about 10 days in a sealed container.

I feel like people should make the most of what's available locally. This is double true when you are lucky enough to live in a fishing town, where local shrimp can be bought pretty much fresh off the boat. If you can't go down to the docks for your shrimp, find the best ones you can get. As with all things, that is the difference between goodness and greatness.

Pickled Shrimp
Adapted from This Recipe

2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
large onion, sliced thin
green pepper, rough chopped
1C vegetable oil
1 1/2 C ketchup
2C Apple Cider Vinegar
1T yellow mustard
3T worstershire
1t Old Bay
a few shakes of salt, pepper, and hot sauce

mix up everything but the shrimp in a giant bowl. drop the shrimp in boiling water for just a short short time- like one minute. Seriously. It won't look to be fully cooked, but the vinegar will continue that process. If you fully cook them when you boil the shrimp you will end up with some very tough shrimp, and we all know that's not fun. Serve with crackers.

Have a great weekend! There are buds on the trees here, and the dogwoods are in full bloom. I will be popping Claritins, enjoying the view, and wishing for more pickled things.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Knitting on St. Pats

It's St. Patrick's Day, so it is not only awesome that i have completed, photographed knitting to show you (and knitting in progress for that matter, now that I think of it- I have sucked on that front too.), but that knitting is also green in color. Fancy that.

My Wicked Sweater. Eh.
I am very proud that I knit an item of clothing, and it hasn't fallen to shreds or burst into flames. And short sleeved sweaters are actually feasible for me to own, what with us having like two weeks of winter. But I tell you what, right up there with No Wire Hangers, EVER is no worsted weight sweaters. Ever. It's a bad look for me. That, along with me knitting this probably a size or so too big means that there's a boxiness to the middle that honestly I have worked way to hard at the gym to get rid of. Oh well, win some, lose some. Here is the Rav page, and the yarn is Cascade 220 in Irelande. Hmm. How appropriate.

The Textured Shawl, for more worsted weight fun:
(and the shawl is sitting with my Oxalis and actually looks kind of nice with that purple. Maybe I will knit the plant a shawl as well.) I shopped at home for this- there are three balls of this stuff that have been hanging around for ever. I think it's so funny that I am knitting a shawl. At first i thought that maybe it was like my transformation into someone's grandma or something was becoming more complete. But no, it turns out they are kind of trendy and fancy right now. you don't wear them with the point in the back, you wear them in the front sort of like the stars of Young Guns II or an old timey bankrobber or what not. It's The Cool Thing To Do, and this is the first time in a while that I have been aware of what the cool thing is, I am running with it.

In neon green.

I hope your St. Pat's is loads of fun, and reeks of cabbage. We are cabbage-less, but BF informs me that he will be staying in and having a one man party of sorts. Goober Go Bragh!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Playing Hooky

Younges Island, SC

It's rainy, I'm tired, and I should be in spinning class right now. I should also be sharing a thought provoking post on pickles, or perhaps modeling a new green sweater for you, but all that will just have to wait. Sometimes not doing what you should be doing is the best thing to do.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Jelly Jar Is Half Full

I tried.

I failed.

Sort of.

this is yet another foray into yet more uncharted territory. Up above in those sunny pictures, you see some Three Citrus Marmalade, from Well Preserved. This book was a Christmas gift, and I fell in love with the idea of preserving small batches of things at the height of their awesomeness (really, in December, who doesn't dream of a time when zucchini is in season?) and having them to enjoy later. Each recipe for preserving something is followed by a handful of recipes that use that item as a key ingredient, and I must say, those recipes are sexy.

Yeah, I called them sexy.

So, for the first time ever I made marmalade. I got to use my candy thermometer, I carefully processed all the jars like i should have, and all of them sealed. I understand the process and no longer have a fear that during water bath processing, all the jars will explode and glass shards will go in my eyes. Vivid imagination + generalized fear of the unfamiliar = eternally living in a B horror movie, if only in my own mind. So that's the good thing.

The bad thing is that i HATE the resulting marmalade. HAAAAAAAAAATE. And you know who is to blame for this? Me. That's who. I mean in retrospect, I should have known that while i like oranges quite a lot, I don't like grapefruit at all. Lemon- eh. So why I thought that a great thing to make would be Three Citrus Marmalade with grapefruit and lemon- well, I'm just not sure.

Now back to the good thing. It's actually a Great Thing. While stirring and canning and timing, I got that smug feeling that I thrive on. And since my shady little yard that is patrolled by mongrel dogs isn't conducive to growing things, the next best thing is buying stuff that other people have grown, and putting it in little jars to store away for another time. The bonus is that BF REALLY enjoyed the process. Surprisingly so. It involves science, precision, gadgets, and squirreling away food- not sure why I didn't realize sooner that this could be his life's work. I figure since I am In Charge when it comes to the kitchen, he will be a great little minion, and lord knows I do love to Supervise. But yay! Another thing we like to do together, and another thing that has me looking forward to a good Southern Summer- long growing season, lots of time for trial and error.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Another Outing

Spring is most certainly arriving here, and that means that it is the season for outings. We are playing Tourist in our own town a lot lately. It's great for a transplant like the BF and for a jaded local like me to be able to go enjoy these things together.

This week we visited the Angel Oak. It's the oldest living thing east of the Mississippi. It's 65 feet tall, at least 1500 years old, and just awe inspiring. We arrived bright and early on Sunday, and were able to catch the most beautiful light...through the fence because the park didn't open till 1 on Sundays. Doh!

By the time we went back, it was close to the end of the day, and the clouds had moved in. Stunning still, but there was something about that light.