summer’s coming.

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Just in case y’all forgot that you too can have a personalized cocktail in minutes!

Well, weeks really. But it only takes minutes of effort! Find fruits or herbs or whatever the heck you have laying around the house that’s edible (edible undies?? ew), chop it up, put it in a jar, cover with your favorite spirit. I chose vodka today. Let it sit, then taste after five days. Let it infuse as long as you still like the taste. M

You can also mix various fruits together! I also just made a rhubarb and strawberry infusion. Bing!

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Two Delicious Experiments.

Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes & Beef Satay.

mmmmm, sweet potatoes.
some of you may also refer to sweet potatoes as ‘yams’, but you’d actually be talking about something quite different. so listen up! or continue to sound like a produce idiot. or something. so in case you are interested in the difference between a yam and a sweet potato (and why you have most likely never eaten an actual yam) read on. if not, scroll on!

the yam belongs to the Dioscoreaceae family, whereas sweet potatoes are in the Convolvulaceae family (a.k.a the Morning Glory family – if you ever grow sweet potatoes, check out the leaves, they look just like morning glory!) yams are a root vegetable found in Asia, Latin America and in West Africa where it is a culturally significant commodity. so yeah, that’s a little bit about why you’ve never tasted a yam, but most likely LOVE sweet potatoes, like i do! the following sweet potatoes are the Garnet variety.

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for these beauties, i rubbed the skins with oil and baked them (at 375) in the oven, whole, until soft. i followed this recipe as i went through a recent love affair with this blog. after cooked, i sliced the sweet potatoes in half and scooped out the goodstuff and put it in a bowl. have you made twice-baked potatoes before? if so, then you might think that the above step would be easy, but you’d be wrong. the sweet potato skin is much more fragile that a “regular” potato, so try to be very careful not to tear it.

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mash the warm sweet potato flesh with butter, garlic, milk, salt and pepper. fold in thyme and goat cheese (chevre). the recipe called for feta – but goat cheese is a billion times better in my opinion, so eat that. now, the recipe told me to put the mash mixture into a piping back, and pipe it into the sweet potato shells. i don’t have a piping bag, do you? so i loaded the mixture into a plastic ziplock (the mash should be cool enough to not heat the plastic), snipped a corner, and piped the mash in that way. i think that the blogger must have had a different mash consistency than myself, because i couldn’t really get the mash to have a stiffened, piped design/pattern. (ps. forget the green onion in the photo above, but then dig deep to remember it again for the dish below.)

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see what i mean, no fancy piping design. but! totally didn’t matter because it still looked nice, and tasted even better. ok, so after you put the mash into the shells, bake the potatoes for an additional 10-15 minutes, then crumble chevre and chopped pecans on top. i recommend toasting the pecans first, for maximum deliciousness.

on to the next dish…

lemme just take a second to say that this Beef Satay was one of the mother-lovin’ BEST things i have ever eaten!!! so amazing. so pleasantly surprised. so delicious.

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The ingredients in the satay marinade include:
1/3 cup dry roasted peanuts
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1/4 stalk lemongrass, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon peeled and diced baby ginger — uhhh, or adult ginger?
1 tablespoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

(Reserve 1/3 cup of the marinade to use in the peanut sauce. )

Marinate steak that has been cubed in the marinade for at least 4 hours. After that time, put cubes of marinated beef onto wood skewers and grill in hot oil for 2 minutes on each side until browned. i used a cast iron skillet and coconut oil and that worked just fine. serve skewers with peanut sauce and green onions! ta-dah!

for the peanut sauce, i recommend using your favorite recipe. the ingredients list in the original recipe is a little long. this is the peanut sauce that we drink like water around here:
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup warm water
3 T soy sauce
3 T rice vinegar
1 T dark sesame oil
1.5 teaspoons hot chili paste

whisk together all ingredients. alter the water quantity to reach desired consistency.

hope you try it ya’ll!

knocking back a shrub.

i have no idea where i came across the Shrub, but i want to be part of its revival! i am still wrapping my mind around exactly what makes a shrub a shrub, i.e. is it simply a drinking vinegar? or does it become a shrub proper when mixed with alcohol? or mixed with fizzy water?

Wikipedia tells me this (and i always believe everything i read on Wikipedia):
“In terms of mixed drinks, shrub is the name of two different, but related, acidulated beverages. One type of shrub is a fruit liqueur that was popular in 17th and 18th century England, typically made with rum or brandy mixed with sugar and the juice or rinds of citrus fruit.” (This reminds me more of an Old Fashioned cocktail.)

–OR–

“A second type of shrub is a cocktail or soft drink that was popular during America’s colonial era, made by mixing drinking vinegar syrup with spirits, water, or carbonated water.The name also is applied to the sweetened vinegar-based syrup, also known as drinking vinegar, from which the latter drink is made. Drinking vinegar is infused with fruit juice (and at times herbs and spices) for use in mixed drinks.” (This is more like it.)

OK, so i think i got it. it seems that the vinegar (fermented with sugar) and infused with fruit/herbs are the key ingredients to shrubs. from there you can add fizzy water or vodka or whatever! my partner is in LOVE with fermented shit. he makes kimchi and sauerkraut and beer and cider….but have you ever seen ME make something fermented?! no. ’cause i think it smells like sewer. very, very distinct sewer that comes from an RV/motorhome when your dad dumps the shitter into that hole in the ground. yah, that’s what kimchi smells like to me. want a kiss?

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my dreamy husband man is also a farmer, and one day he brought home a handful of rhubarb in which i really didn’t know what to do with. so i let it sit around our kitchen for a while and co-star in images such as this, until i came across this shrub business.

cut up the rhubarb (or other fruit) into large chunks. i think i added 1 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 cup rhubarb, and 1/2 cup sugar to a quart jar. i put the jar in a cool, dark cupboard for two days to kickstart fermentation, i then moved the jar into the fridge for 14 days. i also like to shake things, so i think i probably turned the jar over a few times. or a hundred times.

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when ready, take the drinking vinegar out of the fridge and strain our the fruit. i took this lovely blurry picture where you can see the old rhubarb pieces in the sieve, and the beautiful colored shrub on the right. Sodastream should pay me for all the advertising i give them in these posts, but i digress – mix shrub and fizzy water together to taste and serve with ice.

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add vodka! i never did for some strange reason. so make me proud and add vodka! or gin.

shrubs.

personalized frittata.

i recently brought frittata muffins to a friend’s birthday brunch and a gal there said, “i had never seen these things before last week, then someone brought them to a baby shower, and now here they are again!”. huh, i didn’t know that i was so en vogue. that’s probably the first time that’s ever happened.

it’s totally geeky, and i know that it doesn’t make much of a difference when it comes to taste, but i am really into small, bite-sized, personalized portions of food. i like the look and i like that it’s all mine. so why make a frittata in a cast iron skillet like regular fools do, when you can make them in a muffin tin?!

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preheat oven to 375 degrees. whisk together eggs, a bit of milk, & salt/pepper. if you use too much milk, then your muffins will get too fluffy and overrun the cups. fully eggs are the shit if you are scrambling, but they don’t work as well here. in fact, you could even omit the milk if you like.

determine the other ingredients you want in your frittata; these frittata muffins include sun-dried tomatoes, onions, and cheddar. ensure that the cups are non-stick by using a non-stick spray or heavy butter. i like to add the additional ingredients directly into the cups instead of the eggs so that they are well distributed. if the additional ingredients are light enough, finely chopped chives for example, you can add them directly to the eggs.

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so, add all ingredients to muffin tin, filling each cup 3/4 full. you can top with cheese at this time or you can wait until the frittatas cook for a bit. cook 8-10 minutes. i also like to broil at the last couple minutes to brown cheese.

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yum! pop those suckers out of the tin and serve. this is the easiest breakfast item to construct – and you can create a variety of frittata muffins to please all you picky friends/kids/cats. enjoy!

summer cubes.

although i eat local, which inherently means seasonal, i can’t seem to keep these blog posts relevant to the season! so here’s another idea to save up for sweet summer melons and berries.

again inspired by Spoon Fork Bacon, and my undying love for fancy schmancy cocktails, i used watermelon and blackberry juice to make these ice cubes.

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the watermelon component was a no brainer as i just mashed up a very ripe watermelon and loaded that into ice trays. seeds and all, as you can tell.  after i set in the watermelon, i layered blackberry juice on top. the blackberry juice was processed by hand from hand-picked Himalayan blackberries (invasive!) in Willow Creek, CA. mash blackberries through a fine sieve and collect the juice. it is a VERY tedious process, but well worth it!

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freeze this bitch and pop out cubes for spritzers and cocktails. i have a Sodasteam, which i LOVE and highly recommend, so add cubes directly to soda water, OR add vodka, soda water, and fruit cubes.

get creative with yer fruits, people!

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terrarium.

mini terrariums have been popping up all over the place lately. and by lately, i mean in 2012. so even though i’m a little behind the times, i still wanted to try to make one!

to gain inspiration, i looked around the hyperweb for images of terrariums and realized that i actually had all the elements of a simple terrarium laying around the house. IMG_1382_a

my sister gave me the pretty glass teapot for christmas one year,  the mini succulent was a farmer’s market purchase, moss and small plant from our walkway, and a few other pieces from around the yard including a weird ceramic ball thing, and a broken shell earring. also, you need activated charcoal and small pebbles.

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mix the activated charcoal with some soil, it will help to reduce any odors and filter the water. now, place pebbles or coarse sand in the bottom of your jar before layering on the soil. you don’t want mold in your terrarium, so the charcoal and the sand will help to properly drain the soil. using a stick/chopstick/finger/laser beam, make divots in the soil and insert your plants. lay moss on top of the soil. throw in the extras to decorate. ta-da! simple! this is what my terrarium looked like when finished.

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and then this is what it looked like a few minutes later! see that condensation starting to form?!  and i was like, dammit! this terrarium shit is harder than i thought! this bitch is gonna fog up the whole time and i won’t be able to see all the cute, mini items in this radical teapot! and i quickly realized that this is just the nature of a terrarium and determined that if i crack the lid a bit, the glass would clear for the most part. you don’t want your terrarium to dry out, so put a little bit of water in there depending on the humidity of you house and such.

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go out ya’ll, and have a terrium-good time.

Fall Bling.

guess what? it’s not fall anymore. but i wish it was because fall is the best time of year in Humboldt County. it’s warm, clear, and full of beautiful colors.

so, i’m kind of a dork in a wannabe-marthastewart-workfromhome-charlotteyork kind of way in that i like my home to reflect the season. i was inspired by a friend’s fall mantle and decided that mine needed a makeover as well.

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i am admittedly a trinket-type person.  i like baubles and have to restrain from collecting clutter especially if i don’t get rid of old items when new things catch my eye and i bring them home. like lost kittens. in with the new, out with the old. ok, not at all like lost kittens.

this mantle contains some of my very favorite items  including: 1) vintage glass washboard, 2) handmade baskets that isaiah and i, well, handmade, during an ethnobotany class, 3) succulents, 4) buttons!, ) yellow, orange, lavender, 5) pyrex, 6) owls from my grandma, and 7) the most killer thing i have EVER found on craigslist – an old type setters drawer! the drawer has an ornate pull and next to it is an old, yellowed sticker that says the font size and type, and “In the heart of the Great Redwood Belt with its many Large Lumbering Mills, Fine Ranches.”  rock!!

if you want to see what the mantle looked like before the edit, you can check out this here post.

peace out babies.

Dreaming of Fire.

so i am sitting, sitting, sitting around waiting for my cells to regenerate. sounds electric right? i recently had major knee surgery (MCL, ACL, and meniscus repair) and besides doing physical therapy three times a day, guess what i am supposed to be doing? NOTHING. not a goddam thing! just sit around. sit there. wait for the bone to regrow around my new ligaments. sitting, sitting, sit, roll, adjust, sit, sitting.

i am in hell.

so while i O.D. on Sex and the City reruns, trashy magazines, and easy snacks, i got to thinking about summer, friends, and more mobile times.

IMG_2017hosting a fire out on the deck over the summer is pretty much the best thing that could ever happen to me. preempt that with a local baseball game and a food truck burrito and you have everyday magic. my good pal, JB, of Jason Barnes Photography had a fab idea one evening. He is always coming up with something amazing to photograph.

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JB did all the work; I sat on the sidelines snapping photos. He had the idea to tie a rope to a metal whisk, fill the whisk with steel wool, then light the wool on fire. Our other friend, Chris (who just had a meniscus repair, coincidentally) spun the flying, fiery contraption to create this effect!

IMG_2024I stole JB’s flash to capture this killer picture of Chris. Such a great summer night, thanks friends!

 

Drunken Apple

hi ya’ll!

this delicious cocktail is so easy to make that it hardly seems to warrant a blog about it. but because it’s so easy, maybe you will get right on it, and have a glass tonight.

i was inspired to throw this together for a dinner i was making for friends by this lovely blog!  her images are beautiful and the ideas are gems. her recipe suggests using Riesling for the wine but i’m sure i merely used a cheap pinot grigio or chardonnay. my favorite apples are Braeburn, so that’s what i coarsely chopped to soak in the wine.

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sometimes i plan my meals and cocktails well in advance, but more often than not, i do things at the last minute. so true to form, i started infusing the wine with the apples in the afternoon for the evening meal. and it turned out great! i also did not add any sparkling wine even though i am totally addicted to it right now. i think people often use champagne to celebrate a special occasion, so i guess in this house, a Thursday is a special occasion. anyway, leave the apples in the wine for as little as two hours, or up to 24. if the apples get brown, remove those apples before serving and add fresh apples for garnish.  enjoy!

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old dresser made older.

so if you were to see me and isaiah’s first house together, you would say that the decor was 70s thrift store specials meets poor kid frat house with a little childhood bedroom thrown in. we loved it, we loved buying furniture together,  and now nearly allll of that junk is gone, except for this.

this 70s style dresser has been in our shed for ages. it was a spider motel with mold for drapes. the wood was damp and swollen so the drawer and sliding doors barely worked. i almost got rid of it a million times as it has been in that shed for over 3 years. then i decided…project!  i’ve always wanted to learn how to distress furniture. you know, like take a piece that is new (or newer) and make it look like it was handed down to you from your grandma’s grandma. ’cause let’s be honest, not all grandmas have good taste in furniture, so we didn’t all end up with some rad, vintage hutch like this or this!

anyhooters, so i wanted to distress the shit out of this thing and use it for more storage in my kitchen. i wanted it to be light and subtle whilst trying to rid it of that essence d’ Bee Gee. first, i took it apart, sanded it a little, and cleaned it. (oh wait, reaaaaly first, i looked up on the hyperweb how to distress furniture.  you can too!)

next, i applied a base coat of matte white paint and i didn’t make it too pretty or perfect. i applied more paint in some places than others. i then sanded off some paint in places that made sense if the piece had experienced wear and tear, like corners, handles, face of sliding doors, etc.

then i distressed this dresser by whacking it with a hammer, scratching it, thwacking a chain against it – general mayhem kind of shit. i bought dark stain at the hardware store (coffee grounds also work, i’ve heard), and rubbed the stain into areas of the dresser that again, would’ve seen wear over time.  wipe away extra stain.

result. (you wanna hear something funny, i ALWAYS mistype ‘result’ and type ‘reslut’. in professional documents it doesn’t go over that well.)

and because i want to incorporate more white into my decor like my pal Marisa (don’t be afraid of white people), I painted the little green shelf thing too.

now go get your distress on.