Saturday, June 28, 2008

Praying Mantis

One animal I never get tired of looking at is the praying mantis. I saw a TV show on them once that continues to haunt me. These things are killing machines! They will eat anything, and I mean anything, so long as the size ratio works in their favor. They are lightning fast, have powerful jaws, and are not noticeably encumbered by conscience. Most people know that the female will eat the male after mating; did you also know that she'll snack on him while mating? And that it doesn't affect his performance? I watched a mantis grab and eat a *hummingbird*, for heaven's sake. The other thing is that there are more species of mantises than I ever dreamed, many of which are designed for specific plants. There is an orchid mantis, for example, that is simply undetectable when sitting on its plant, much to the misfortune of whoever comes along to pollinate it. It's been said before, I know, but we should all thank our lucky stars that insect exoskeleton limitations keep them small, because we would be toast otherwise.

This particular mantis is up on our roof garden, which may account for the non-existent pest problem up there. On the other hand, our plants are withering from some sort of nasty blight or soil problem, so maybe its just that the pests can't be bothered.

Friday, June 27, 2008


It went great! The only problems were my fault, not the method's. To wit: 1) shouldn't have processed the veggies so long, as I would have liked pieces rather than just juice; 2) should have rinsed the grains first and lowered the grain-to-veg ratio so as to cut down on gumminess.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Great Tabouli Experiment

or, Gazpacho By Other Means. I usually make tabouli the way the box says, by soaking the bulgur in boiling water. I read somewhere, though, that a traditional way of doing it is simply to soak the grains in the tomato juice itself, a method which seems like it would be a lot more flavorful. So: I whizzed the giant mutant tomato in the food processor with a cucumber, an onion, and a whole bunch of parsley, and am soaking the bulgur in that (with some salt). I'll let you know how it goes.

I was going to post a picture of the work in progress, but honestly, it's not that pretty.

Skirt Steak

turnips, brown rice, chicken sausage, salad of cucumbers and roasted golden beets: these are what we've been having for dinner lately.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mystery Squash

You know that squash vine that appeared in our garden? I'm thinking it's pumpkin! The pictured fruit grew from about an inch to what you see in a week.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mutant Tomato

Check out the amazing tomato our CSA sent us today!


of potatoes and shiitake mushrooms, with tarragon. Huge strawberries for dessert.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Crab Cakes

With quinoa and salad of cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and salata cheese. Very good, but the real news was the Sunday lunch we had at Miss Melissa's Cafe, about 20 minutes outside of town. Friends, this is Southern food as I'd never had it before. Absolutely traditional menu and technique (I had roast pork, fried catfish, black-eyed peas, collard greens, and corn bread) but with meticulous attention to fresh ingredients, cooking times, and flavor balances. It was a revelation: I always thought I wasn't a big fan of the salt-and-sugar laced flavors of southern cooking, but it turns out I'd just never had anything but the cafeteria version. The real thing is out of this world.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Harvest Festival

I know I've mentioned my spouse's dread of a dinner plate with no animal protein on it, but he has another side: king of the farmer's market. When he comes home with a big haul he's like a hunter with his kill, ready to feast. Last night it was roasted cauliflower, carrots, and shiitakes, fried brussels sprouts, and corn on the cob. We ate ourselves silly. For dessert there was squash bread made from those little yellow crook neck squashes.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Skirt Steak

with sweet potatoes and green beans.

Publisher's Socks

At last! These have been finished for some time, but as they were a gift I couldn't put them up here. Aren't they nice? Koigu wool, "Retro Rib" pattern. I made them for my friend and publisher Luke; I am an inveterately selfish knitter, but even I recognize that publishing a book of mine suggests a special thank you. The book in question is "A-Quiver with Significance: Marianne Moore 1932-1936" and should be up on Amazon any time now. Weirdly, it is already up on French Amazon.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bonsai Tunic

The latest project, fresh off the needles. The pattern is called "Bonsai Tunic" and is quite popular on the internet. I like it a lot, especially the fact that it is sleeveless: quick to knit.

Zucchini Bread, Two Days Out

The only thing better than any given baked good containing spice is that same treat several days after it was made. I had time to reflect on this truth this morning as I polished off the remaining third of a loaf for breakfast.
Dinner, by the way, was a relative dud: pork chops with apples and sage, brown rice. Should have been good, but was just ok.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Whole Wheat Angel Hair

with pesto. Also, salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, spring onions, and dill; it was so good I drank the remaining juice right from the bowl. Pictured is zucchini bread, our dessert. Zucchini is actually the only vegetable (besides normal turnips) that I don't like, but I'm a fiend for zucchini bread. Props to Staci, who took it from the oven at the perfect moment.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Roast Chicken

with tarragon, corn on the cob, sauteed bacon/onions/apples/cabbage. Yum!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Jewelry Rack

Have I mentioned lately that I have but to suggest an idea and my spouse makes it so? I have for some time wanted a nice big wall-mounted system for keeping my jewelry straight, and voila: one trip to Home Depot later, my spouse invented the above. I love it. All the big clunky necklaces, by the way, are from Subversive for Target, one of those designer collaborations Target is doing these days. I've loved Subversive jewelry for a long time, so when I saw the cheapo versions at Target, I went absolutely bananas. No one else in my town has any because I bought it all.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


See that squash plant dominating the garden? It has huge orange flowers that open in the sunlight and close in the shade; in the mornings when they're open we watch the bumblebees go to work on them. We look to have a bumper crop of squash pretty soon. The only thing is...we didn't plant any squash! However that plant got there it wasn't through any knowing act of ours. You can imagine our excitement as we wait to see what kind of fruit it produces. The scarecrow is entirely our daughter's design; the pearl necklace draped on the pumpkin is its hair.

By the way, the ferny things in the squash photo are asparagus plants; we're told we'll have edible asparagus in a year or two.

Quinoa with Hiziki

That's Japanese sea vegetable to you and me, and a fine addition to the quinoa. The spouse ate his and said, with a mixture of pride and wonder, "I'll bet I'm the only guy in Alabama eating quinoa and sea weed tonight." We had it with delicious garden turnips, and fried chicken.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Cabbage and Apples, Pt. 2

Second verse, same as the first; except that we were out of onions so I subbed in ginger. Every bit as good.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Cabbage and Apples

We're doing this one again tonight because lordy, was it good. I sauteed bacon, spring onions, green apples, and green cabbage, and served it over leftover barley; we just moaned as we ate it. Speaking of that cabbage: it was bigger than my head and weighed more than one of my babies! We only dented it with last night's dinner.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Good Heavens

Do we never eat dinner around here any more? Of course we do, but somehow my blogging has gone on summer vacation. I think you can guess what we had for dinner this week; fill in one of the following: "We had broiled (skirt steak/lamb chops/chicken) with (brown rice/quinoa/barley) and roasted (turnips/carrots/shitaakes/fennel/cauliflower/broccoli).