Friday Faves


I’m enjoying my time in Kingman,staying with my dear friend Cat’s family with her. Mainly, we’re just spending time sitting and visiting and watching TV and just plain lounging around.

Today, we went out for a bit to visit some of the historic sites around town, which was nice. Kingman is situated along Historic Route 66. Many of the buildings along the highway are old motels. I love the juxtaposition between “historic” buildings and a truly pre-historic landscape.

Kingman through the car window.
 
The landscape is just so beautiful.

Love the sky!
 
We stopped by the Mohave County Court House, a grand old building from 1914, with a World War I memorial. Although, I have to agree with Cat, in that I can’t help but see this statue and think, “Save the clock tower!”

Court House, Kingman
 
Then, once we were done looking at these buildings downtown, we headed over to the old Powerhouse building, where Cat’s mother Arlene works in the Route 66 gift shop.

Powerhouse Visitor Center
 
While there, we visited the Route 66 Museum.

Route 66 Museum neon sign
 
Love this hand-made sign!

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What does all this have to do with “Friday Faves?” Well, I’m traveling, so you just know I have my favorite, well-loved and well-used (abused?) travel mug. I tell you, when this thing finally fails for good, I’m going to be is serious trouble. I have five or six travel mugs of different styles and sizes, but this one is my favorite, and gets used far more often than any of the others.

My favorite, well-loved, well-used travel mug
 
Whatever had been printed on the metal plate is long-forgotten. At one time it had a handle, but that broke off probably within the first couple of months of use, leaving a good crack around the outer layer of plastic, which means that sometimes the inner plastic layer sometimes spins freely making it difficult to unscrew the lid when its sat for a long period of time.

But, for all its problems, it is the perfect size, and keeps my tea piping hot for over an hour. The size is perfect for slipping into my book bag when I’m done, which means it was with most of the time when I was commuting to work and during my years in school. And it’s also a well-traveled travel mug. It’s been to Louisiana, Tahoe, Redding, Seattle, Australia, and now Arizona. And, Lord-of-Travel-Mugs willing, it will travel with me to Texas in January, and other exciting places in the future!

 

Veggies!


I’m traveling this week, but still wanted to share my photo and recipe ideas. Which won’t be much, really. I picked up veggies on Tuesday afternoon, and pretty much just sorted them into their appropriate corners of the kitchen. Then I left super early on Wednesday morning.

Chicken, roasted cauliflower, and beet salad.
 
Last Week
My main push earlier this week was to clean out the fridge and save as many things as possible, so they didn’t spoil. It was a bit of a challenge, but I managed to either use or store all the veggies from last week, but only barely. Mainly, it happened in one big meal that we enjoyed over two days. I roasted a chicken, made this wonderful roasted cauliflower and couscous dish, and then made a salad with fresh lettuce and roasted beets. Yum!

I managed to sauté up the kale and greens, and then put them in the freezer for use in this and that. In fact, I made up some soups for Eric to eat while I’m gone, and included a hefty serving of chard in each. Also a couple of small tomatoes.

The green tomatoes got roasted up with a few peppers I had in the back of the fridge, and an onion, and then put in a jar in the freezer for a future pork chop or chicken breast.

Instead of the cauliflower and cheese dish I had been planning on doing, I went with a new recipe I found for roasted cauliflower and kalamata olive and israeli couscous on Oh My Veggies. “Oh my!” is right! I think this is my new favorite cauliflower recipe. I adjusted it a bit, and will continue to tinker with it. And then I’ll share it with you all.

I didn’t get to the braised broccoli or chorizo and bean soup. The broccoli got chopped and frozen. The beans are waiting in a jar on the kitchen windowsill.

November 13 Veggies
 
If it looks like a smaller haul this week it’s only because the scale is skewed by the size of this enormous cabbage! We also got three cups of cornmeal (which the farm grows and processes on site), a rutabaga, some small red tomatoes, a butternut  squash, a white onion, and one teeny shallot. (I traded endive and half a pumpkin for the whole squash and small shallot.)

This Week
Well, nothing, really. Unless I do some cooking for my hosts. If I do, I’ll be sure to share it. Otherwise, I’m going to enjoy my mini vacation, and visit with my friend and her parents.

The cabbage will keep for a week in the fridge. The cornmeal goes into the freezer. The rutabaga goes in the crisper, and the squash and onion will go on the counter. Eric has been instructed to eat the tomatoes.

Although I’m not cooking, I am already thinking of things to do with these yummy veggies. The rutabaga will get roasted with other root veggies, and the cornmeal is going to become delicious griddle cakes. I just need to come up with something fun for the cabbage.

Any ideas?

Monday Musings


Autumn Candle
 
I read this lovely blog post about lighting candles as an evening ritual during the dark autumn and winter evenings. What a lovely custom. And a great way to create an atmosphere of calm to celebrate this season of turning inward.

This is certainly something I will be working to incorporate into my daily routine for the next couple of months. It will, I hope, be especially, important during the so-called Silly Season, which is already beginning to show up here and there. (I just saw a commercial for Macy’s holiday whatever. Which, considering how little actual, live TV I watch, means that if I’m seeing one, other folks must be seeing dozens.)

While I had a reasonably busy day with the tree guys here, lunch with a friend, working on work stuff, working on blog stuff, baking and cooking, and then getting things ready for work in the garden tomorrow, it’s been kind of nice knowing that come 5 o’clock or so, I’ll light a couple of candles, sit down with a cup of tea and a nice book and enjoy a few precious moments of quiet.

Keep on rolling!


Things just keep on rolling around here. And I’m still looking for the perfect balance between all my various interests. I’m always a little confused when people say they’re bored. I can’t even imagine. I can imagine being depressed and not wanting to do anything. I can imagine being too tired to do anything. But being bored? No. Not possible. I just have too many different things competing for my time. So many blog posts I want to write. Books to read. Biographies to research. Games to play. Shows and movies to watch. Gardening tasks that need to get done. Recipes to be tried out.

So yeah. I’m never bored.

Speaking of gardening tasks, this last week saw some actual movement in a positive direction on the back yard/garden area.

Side yard
 
Look at this mess. The good news is that what you see is all going to go away. In the far corner, on top of that planter box looking thing between the house and the fence, was where he had originally put the spinning compost bin. As you can imagine, once those weeds get after the second or third rain of the season, the chances of me going to dump compostables out there in my slippers and pajamas is pretty darn low. So, I had Eric empty what was in it, and enlisted my friend DJ to help me move it to a more easily accessible area, just to the far left of this photo.

Every thing else is going to go away. All the weeds and grass. The wood in the corner. Even the black compost bin, once its contents get converted to the spinner. Even the fence. I’ve been saving large boxes for a while now, so once everything is moved, and the grass is chopped down a bit, it’s getting covered with cardboard and lots of mulch.

I can’t wait to see how it looks once everything is done!

So, where’s the mulch coming from? Interesting that you should ask. It’s coming from the front yard. Well, sorta.

This lovely tree is on its way out. It’s big and beautiful, I know. But it’s pulling up the sidewalk. And every year we’re worried it’s going to start dropping branches. It’s a flowering pear that I suspect was planted when the neighborhood was originally put in, back in the late 1980s, making it roughly 25 years old. Only a few houses on the street still have their original trees, and they’re all the same. The only reason they’ve managed to keep them is that the homeowners managed to keep their trees small by way of routine trimming and, in some cases, completely cutting back all branches every winter. None of which this tree has had. By the time we moved in, it was already this big. We had it severely trimmed back twice, but it was already too large to do very much.

Flowering Pear
 
So, it’s time for it to go. So we’ve hired our neighbor Mike, who’s also a landscaper and tree guy, to take it out. Tomorrow. By Monday afternoon, it’ll be gone. We’ve asked him to completely clear out the planter strip, grinding the stump out, and giving us a nothing-but-dirt area to play with! How exciting!

In its place, we’ve tentatively decided on two crepe myrtles. Our choices are rather limited. The City of Santa Rosa only allows a handful of trees, depending on the size of the planter box. All of them are nice trees, but I have a special spot in my heart for crepe myrtles.

The rest of the garden is also a mess. I have this idea that I’m going to mulch the rest of the back yard area, plant some winter veggies (peas, chard, kale, etc.), and sweep the leaves from under the tress. But it’s unlikely that any of that is going to happen this week.

I’m leaving town for a week early on Wednesday morning. It’s going to be a fun trip. Between now and then, it’s going to be full throttle for getting through the work and household tasks I need to handle before leaving: running errands, packing, cleaning out the fridge, queuing posts and posts and posts, and so on.

Hope you have a great week, friends.

Friday Faves


Looking around, it was a bit of a challenge to find a couple of things that are making me happy in my immediate environment. I mean, other than food and Eric and the cats and friends. When thinking about the things around me, my most likely emotion isn’t so much happiness as anxiety, mixed with some resignation. And even, for certain things, a strong sense of dread.

The house is in a state of flux right now. We’re getting more serious about starting the kitchen work, and the front yard is waiting for a contractor to return a call so we can get started redoing that. The back yard, the garden, and most other rooms in the house have been somewhat neglected over the last couple of months. I’ve thrown myself into my new online social media gig a bit more heavily than I maybe should have, and coupled with my existing blogging goals for my “princess blog” and re-invigorating this blog, and a light sprinkling of depression, well… the house is a mess.

This anxiety is almost overwhelming at times, which, of course, makes it harder to pull myself out of any holes I happen to fall into. And, the worst part is, I know it’s all self-inflicted. The sense of “oh, that needs to get done too” is all coming from me. The feeling that I’m not doing enough is all from my own head.

Which, of course, is why it’s so important to take a few minutes to look around more clearly and really focus on the things that bring me joy.

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The Christmas cactus (which has never been transplanted) is enjoying the change in the the weather, and putting on loads of lovely buds. It’s even flowered once or twice! I keep thinking I’ll transplant it, but it seems so happy where it is.

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I get a happy, warm feeling every time I walk by our adorable pie-topper. I just can’t believe we actually got married! And I’m so so so happy with Eric and all the wonderful things he does and how much he loves me even when he doesn’t understand how my brain works.

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While the back yard and patio areas is mostly filled with dead plants in pots and leaves everywhere, the pink sourgrass is just coming back into its true beauty. I know some people think of these as weeds, but I think they’re beautiful. And it’ll make this lovely mounding pink puff all winter.

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And last, but certainly not least, even when I’m disgusted by my gross and messy kitchen (gross because it needs a serious overhaul AND because it’s often in need of a serious cleaning), I just have to look at the stack of jars on the windowsill, filled with beans and grapes and other miscellaneous dried goods that will get used eventually. There were more jars of beans here until recently when I made a big pot of mixed beans and spices for our breakfasts. But, slowly, over the winter, I’m sure I’ll restock it with a cup of this and a cup of that from the farm, and various dried veggies and fruits I plan to make with my new food dehydrator.

Veggies!


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This week’s haul was enormous! Look at those beets! And, more importantly, look at those beet greens! More kale for more kale salad! Beautiful carrots. The last of the golden cheery tomatoes. (I just noticed that typo. I’m letting it stand. It makes me smile.) Some wonderful cauliflower. Potatoes and an onion. And, most exciting of all, lettuce! Look at those lovely little heads of greenery! I have special designs on those two teeny little red endives.

Last Week
First, before I dive into this week’s menu plan, a quick follow up on last week’s plan. OK, so, we had so many leftovers from the week before, and then there was an impulse to make pizza instead of soup, so, as of this writing, NONE of the recipes on the menu were actually made. Maybe later today. I’ll update this post with any changes.

This Week
Because of how little cooking happened last week, the plan for the coming week will probably a bit of a mash-up between things from last week and new things, because I’m going out of town for a week, starting on Wednesday, a lot of these veggies will probably get stored or frozen to use later. That’s how life goes, right? “Best-laid plans” and all that.

Sautéed Greens. Moving this up to the top of the list, as there are a whole lot of greens hanging out in my fridge right now. Kale, chard, beet greens, and broccoli and cauliflower leaves. So many greens. And mushrooms. And garlic and onions. And then into the freezer.

Roasted Green Tomato Salsa. Also still waiting are the green tomatoes. And green onions. And I found some peppers in the back of the crisper drawer that are still in good shape. So, they’re all going to get roasted up and turned into something delicious to go over fish or pork or something. Later.

Beet Salad. Like a real lettuce salad with roasted beets and some goat cheese. Oh, and maybe some dried, sweetened cranberries and walnuts. And a red onion. And balsamic dressing. Yum! I’ve been missing salad greens. They don’t grow well as a summer crop around here, but now that the temps have cooled off and the rain is back, we’ll be in tender greens for a while!

Roasted Cauliflower and Cheese. So I saw this post by Smitten Kitchen a week or so ago, and tried to make my own version of it but with a meat sauce and a bechamel sauce, thinking it would be kinda like a noodle-less pastitsio, but it didn’t turn out like I expected. It was still absolutely delicious, don’t get me wrong. And over orzo, it was probably the best meal we ate all week. But I think I should go back to the original plan of just cauliflower and cheese sauce in the oven. OK, maybe with extra garlic. And some wax potatoes. We’ll see what I actually come up with.

Bean, Chard and Chorizo Soup. This might get put on hold for a while. While I love it, I don’t know if I have time to make it this week, along with all the other prep work and cooking that needs to get done before I leave town. Since the beans are already dry, and the chorizo is still frozen, it can hold for a couple of weeks. It’s not like we’re going to stop getting chard any time soon.

Braised or Roasted Broccoli. I’m still craving this. In fact, I saw this recipe for roasted broccoli and faro that renewed my broccoli craving. I was actually toying with the idea of switching out the feta, or adding cauliflower. I’ll keep you posted.

The carrots will join the other carrots in the crisper drawer. The potatoes will keep well in the pantry. The tomatoes will get eaten as a snack, with every last one being savored in precisely the manner late-season tomatoes deserve.

R/W/L/P


Even though I’ve been staying busy with lots of cooking and blogging, I’ve also been doing some other leisurely activities.

My Berlin Kitchen cover
 
Reading:
I put My Berlin Kitchen on my wishlist ages ago, and got it as a gift from my sister last Christmas/Birthday-time. I read the first chapter or two but had to put it down to get through my last semester at school. I finally got back around to reading it this last week, and I’m loving every minute of it!

I love reading cookbooks in general, because of the kinds of stories even the most basic one can tell just from the collection of recipes and the order they’re put into. But my favorite are cookbooks that have actual stories associated with the recipes.

This book takes that to a whole new level! Each chapter is a story in itself, and at the end there’s a recipe associated with it! It’s absolutely perfect! All cookbooks should be like this! (OK, probably not, but still… I’m very happy.)

Gilmore Girls
 
Watching:
Working my way through Gilmore Girls. I’m currently on season 4, episode 9, where Rory and Lorelai go to a college football game with Lorelai’s parents. I am very much in love with this show! It’s not perfect. I still find myself cringing once in a while with a poorly chosen word or a ‘joke’ that punches down instead of up. But on the whole, it’s a fantastic show, with lots of really funny and touching scenes highlighting relationships between women (mother, daughter, grandmother, friend, etc.).

Listening to:
I haven’t been listening to very much music lately, outside of the few times I’m driving in my car. That said, the song that’s been playing off and on in my head has been You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile. It was placed there by someone just posting an offhand comment on Twitter a couple of weeks ago, and lodged itself in there pretty good. Good thing I like musicals.

diner dash
 
Playing:
I have been almost obsessed with Diner Dash. I don’t know how to explain it. I just have to play it whenever I have a minute of two free. I’m determined to get three stars on each level. I’m stuck on level 57. I have two stars, but just haven’t been able to manage keeping everyone happy to get enough points for three stars. It’s silly. I know.

So. What are you watching, reading, listening, or playing these days? Anything fun or interesting?