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Showing posts from 2013

Preparing for Christmas

Last week I made some candied peel in preparation for plum pudding and mincemeat. After boiling the citrus peel in sugar water for over an hour, I spooned it out to dry and was left with a sweet-tart syrup. Just the right thing to go in the Christmas beer.

Yes, Christmas beer! Last year I made dozens of mince pies - homemade mincemeat in shortbread crusts - some of which Spouse brought around to the neighbors. It was his way of introducing ourselves (well, himself. I shyly stayed home) and sharing a bit of British Culture. This year I suggested that in addition to mince pies we give a bottle of homebrew, hence the Christmas beer.

I've only recently gotten back into home brewing, thanks to Northern Brewer's one gallon kits. They make just enough for a one-beer-drinker household. For a holiday brew though, I needed to not only make more, but to work without a net kit. I had previously bought some crushed grains at Homebrew Emporium with the plan of making custom one gallon batch…

Putting the garden to bed

Child is helping


So the summer is ending and, while it wasn't a lot, we did manage to grow some things this year.

The most recent item to appear was a cucumber plant. I didn't even know I'd grown one! This plant was doing well but I really didn't know what it was (a good reason to label your seeds when you plant them) until the blossoms started to turn into fruit.

Next up, the tomatoes! We do have a couple "larger" tomatoes, but the cherry tomatoes (did not know we had those, but I got the plants second hand) have turned into a bumper crop. The red ones aren't lasting long as we tend to munch them pretty quickly.

Cherry tomatoes
The potatoes, which I really though would go well, are a bit, um, small. These are the Marris Pipers that we grew in the container. I had anticipated at least 10 pounds but we only got enough for a small colander. They're tasty though!

The other potatoes are even fewer (and many still in the ground), but given the hills weren't part…

Knitting up a storm

This is a bit of a catch-up on some knitting. I joined a knit-along Google Group and hadn't made anything (wasn't really into the patterns) until June. The June pattern was this market bag.

It also allowed me some stash busting of random acrylic yarn. The handle did end up too long for me (stretches a crazy amount when full) but it works for Spouse.

For July, I suggested an Aran sweater tea cozy. It wasn't chosen, but I decided to make it anyway. Here is the Sprog showing it off.

And a close-up of the front

And here's the back.

This one used some wool I bought at a farm shop a few years ago. I only had one skein so was limited to a small project. This seemed the perfect user for it. And I think the tea pot looks quite dapper!


Our very first radish!

Child tends her garden

And here's the video I wanted to post with the garden pictures but apparently I can't post videos from the mobile app.

Things are growing

I'm trying mobile blogging this time,  so it's a quick postThe potatoes are doing so well!  It's almost time to add more soil to form hills.The peas are coming up too.
And the tomato and peppers are still alive.The big news from my seed planting is the beans are starting to sprout. The child's garden is coming along too, in spite of her sitting in it.


The front of our house has a small bed that I dug out and reserved for perennial herbs last year. I had tarragon, thyme and sage but only the sage really lasted. And not just lasted but THRIVED! Thrived like a nuclear-fulled lizard in 1960s Japan.

Sadly, the tarragon, the one I really, really wanted there, did not make it. But the thyme does seem to have survived, even if it didn't flourish like the sage.  There were a couple of leafless plants in the back that I transplanted into the front without knowing if they were perennials too I think one came back.

So I think this random thing is the mint Spouse planted. I plucked a leaf and it was very mity, but there are many groundcover pants in the mint families too, so I'm not sure. with luck, whwn it gets bigger I'll be able to propperly identify it.


So I haven't posted in a while.
We are still dealing with the child's lead poisoning. Her levels went up again, coinciding with he warmer weather and more outdoor time. One possible reason was that the sunlight and vitamin D were expediting the transfer of stored lead from bones to blood. The other possibility was lead in the soil.

We started her back on basic iron supplements, but also had the soil tested at the state university. One concern was that the soil in the raised beds was suspect, but there was also an open dirt patch where a tree went down and we were working on getting the stump out. I thought that the front would actually be the most contaminated, but as it happened`that and the raised beds were fine but the back was at medium levels, which is still unsafe for growing food and, to us, playing.

Spouse had done some research and found that sunflowers can take some of the contaminants out of the soil.We're testing that with the spot where the willow tree used t…

Bay Rum

We started the Bay Rum aftershave tonight. Here am I, disheveled from work, and very sleepy child making the concoction.

Puttering about the kitchen

Over the past few weeks I've used my crockpot more than I had in the previous year or so of owning it. It's a tiny one with only one setting ("On") but it got us a good batch of Hoppin' John on New Year's day, some okay "baked" beans, and most recently I've used it for easy seitan!

I haven't eaten land animals in decades but I do like a chewy, "meaty" mouthfeel in food. So far, the best homemade seitan recipe I have found is from the now defunct blog A Veg*n for Dinner. It's the Seitan Fillet Mignon and I probably should have taken a peek at it before making seitan last night. Still, my batch, based on a ratio of 1 part vital wheat gluten to 3/4 part liquid, was pretty tasty. The biggest boon, however, was simmering it overnight in the crockpot. TONS of flavour and no hassle! I flipped it over in the broth once a few hours after putting it in but other than that I didn't touch it until this morning when I remove…