Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Garden pics

The best thing about this flower bed, is knowing that I either grew it from seed, or got given almost every plant in this flower bed.   And the knowledge that the year before last it was a patch of crab grass.

Today we tried something new for dinner and Im not convinced that I would do it again.  I caramelised some red onions in red wine, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar.  Then I made crepes and layered the crepes with goats cheese and red onions so that there were four layers.  it was yummy but I would probably try making this in the form of a panini next time.

The Irony of it...

More about why I was driving toward town at 745am this morning later, but guess who I was driving behind at that very same 3-way this morning! Yes, you guessed it, Mister Grumpy! So if you know anyone with a gold F150 whose number plate is LX6 831 then please, please lecture him on the Highway Code! Or just shout abuse at him when you see him driving around town!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Road rage?

This is in honour of the nasty man on his way into town from Clear
Creek early this afternoon.

I was riding back from CC and was almost to the 3-way where you would turn left to get to College Hill. This old guy with his obese wife in the passenger seat of his gold Ford pickup, honked his horn three times and yelled "get out of the damn road", as he drove past me. If you are going to exhibit road rage to a cyclists, dont do it when you are about to have to stop at a 3-way. So of course I caught up to him and yelled "I dont think so" as I went past. I ended up three cars ahead of him. Then when the other cars had passed me again, I obnoxiously pulled out into the middle of my lane and proceeded to ride there, taking up as much room as I could! So he rode behind me laying on his horn from about 100 yards past the 3-way to the top of that small hill on the way back into town (about 3-5 minutes for those that dont know). As he finally went passed (my ears were ringing) I gave him the biggest smile I could muster, teeth and all. If you are going to be ignorant, sir, I shall be obnoxious! Share the road!

I hope no one else was riding in town at that time and had to deal
with him.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Crazy day

Well, as promised, it was a crazy sunday. I begun by making a delicious sweet potato cake, roasting some beets, baking three loaves of bread, cleaning the kitchen, mopping the kitchen floor, playing out in the yard and burning the cinnamon rolls we were going to eat for breakfast... and all before I had even gotten Danny out of bed!


Then I set up my soaker hose irrigation system, watered some flower beds in the back (which incidentally, look beautiful), frosted the sweet potato cake (it was gorgeous!), showered and made the beet salsa.  Then I sped round to my boss' house to jump in the pool and grill out.

I didn't get to take a picture of the most beautiful cake Ive made in a long time, because it got snapped up pretty quick! I thoroughly recommend this recipe, the only thing I did different was I added 2 tbs ground flax and 2 tsp ginger powder. The couple of hours in the fridge before serving is also essential for cake integrity. Yum!

So the beet salsa is phenomenal guys! You have got to try making this delicious side item next time you grill out. 

Beet Salsa

Five plum sized beets, roasted, peeled and chopped
2" piece of ginger, peeled and shredded
zest and chopped flesh of one orange
Couple of tbs honey
large splash of orange juice
large splash of lemon juice
Lots of balsamic vinegar (way more than you think you need)
Red wine if you have it handy (just a dash)

Wrap some similar sized beets in tin foil then roast for an hour to an hour and a half at 350F. Leave them to cool in the foil, so its good to do this in advance at your leisure. 

Place all ingredients in a deep, heavy bottomed frying pan and simmer until liquid has completely reduced (about 20-30 minutes).

Great on freshly baked multi-grain bread!

Best if served warm but also delicious cold the next day. Don't make this if you are not a huge fan of ginger and balsamic vinegar!

Oh, and incase you are keeping track... we miserably lost our third softball game of the season. We do so well in the  beginning, we again only needed one more run to win by the first innings, but then we suck!  A lot of it was Danny and I this time! He is sick and I wasn't feeling good so we came straight home from work, climbed into bed, and only woke up when he got a random phone call at 715pm.  Then we had to quickly eat some dinner and dash out to the ball fields. Not the way to start a game! I made some good stops as short-stop, but my throwing left a lot to be desired this time round!

If you made that citrus dressing and loved it, but had too much left over... we had the best simple spring dinner tonight. I boiled some lovely red potatoes, cut to about 1/2 inch squares, and some corn, then tossed this with the remaining citrus dressing from last week (with flax oil added for flavour), fresh spinach from our garden (tastes so much better than store bought!), garlic greens from the garden and left over spring onions and kum kwats. Then sprinkled sesame seeds over the top. It was simple yet nutritious and light.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tiring saturday

Well, its that time of  year again in Oxford... Today was the annual Double Decker festival in Oxford. I personally think it is highly overrated, but thats just me.  Our day began at 6am when our alarms rudely woke us.  We had to set up tents at the cycling club Spring Ride starting point by 7am. ugh.  There were lots of volunteers there by 8am so I was able to ride too, which was great.  There seemed to be some confusion about the start and the group I wanted to ride with left before I even realised that the ride had begun.  But I had also wanted to ride with our out of town friends from Columbia, Missouri, JP Vinsen.  He has been riding with some old guys whenever he comes to town and I felt that it was high time that he got a good ride! So I selfishly lured him away from the old guys and we completed a 50 mile ride with 16mph winds with an average of 20mph. Dont tell me that isnt freakin awesome!  Good job JP, made some awesome pulls dude!  Ready for another one tomorrow morning?

Well after the awesome ride, I came home and ate lunch sitting on my back porch in speckled sunlight.  Awesome!  Watered the vegetables and got showered up and into a nice linen dress. I even washed my hair!!!  It never fails, whenever I wash my hair, someone always comments on how nice it looks and did I do anything different. Yes I did something different, I washed it! ha!

I then had to break down the tents and tables that the bike club had used. ugh. Clean up was pretty easy and swift though.

I then walked to the square and straight on through the chaos of people and artsy fartsy over-priced booths of crap and headed straight to Meg's Place.  She wasnt in yet so we wandered the booths and decided that yes, everything there was in fact pointless or overpriced.  We then went back to Meg's to drink Margaritas (me) and Pimms and lemonade (Danny and Rory). Awesome! oh and destroy her delicious guacamole. Thanks Meg.

I popped over to the farmers market and picked up some sweet potatoes.  I have wanted to make a cake for a while, then Summer posted about sweet potatoes and I thought, we grow those here in Mississippi and I know who sells them.  So despite never having cooked or tasted a sweet potato cake, Im going to make one tomorrow. I had wanted to make it tonight, but I am just too tired.  I bought my last four tomato plants, two different heirloom varieties, one of which was a plum lemon and I just cant remember the other.  I then went looking for hose stakes at Home Depot but they were a fortune so I decided to use the money I would have spent on those to buy a much more appropriately priced oakleaf hydrangea for the back and I figured out a way to make some hose stakes out of materials I have at home!

Tomorrows job is a very important one.  I must have a fully functioning irrigation system for my vegetables by the end of tomorrow.  I also have to make a cake and a side to take over to Andrew's house for their pool party.  I have to plant those azaleas I bought last week and hopefully get some weeding, feeding and mulching done.  I also need to make us some bread as we demolished our two loaves this week.  Its terrible having delicious fresh bread in the house!

The good news on the vegetable patch is that most of the beans are showing the heads already!

Its going to be a busy sunday. 

Monday, April 20, 2009

Talented folks

We are some talented folks! We lost our first softball game tonight 11-1. wow! Its kinda not fair though, there are three Brits on the team who dont even know the rules. We are having an emergency practice tomorrow night. I guess some people actually want to try and win at some point this season. Danny and I are in it for the fun though, luckily, coz I dont think we will win a game!

It was a lovely relaxing yet productive weekend. Saturday I cleaned both bathrooms and ironed Danny's shirt all before yoga. Chilled out at yoga, had lunch with my particularly handsome husband, did the grocery shopping, bought 16 tomato plants and 10 bell pepper plants, went to softball practice, vacuumed and tidied the house. phew. The girlies came over for a totally random dinner that only girls can do! I roasted butternut squash in honey, lemon, cinnamon and ginger with hazelnuts and raisins. Meg made an awesome salad. It was so awesome I have absolutely no clue what was in it! I seem to remember sweet potato, a small bean, quinoa, bell peppers, avocado and tons of other stuff. Megan brought cous cous which we tossed with some green onions and kum kwats and Tasha made a delicious sweet thing for dessert, a raspberry crisp. We polished off a bottle of Zinfandel and sewed, crocheted and plain old chilled together all night long.

Danny got in late saturday from his wedding, so by the time he woke up sunday morning I had already planted some of my new veggies before the rain, unpacked the dishwasher, cleaned the kitchen and shaved Tux (he looks so stinkin cute when his hair is short! Ill get you a picture soon, I promise). All of that by 1030am! I then made Danny french toast, although I have no idea what is french about it and popped in and out in the yard between storms. Got the tomatoes and peppers planted.  Got some sunflower seeds and corn in the ground and some mounds of dirt in for the butternut and spaghetti squash. We just have to sit tight and wait for it all to grow now!  When it starts to look good, Ill take you a photo. I just hope the deer dont chow down on it while Im away. We might have to get a roster of folks with dogs to have them walk around peeing on things each day to scare the deer away!

Oh and I also managed to clean out the fridge and the Tupperware random kitchen cupboard. Its amazing the little things that become hard when you share your house with someone. Every time I had whittled the food stocks down in the fridge and was about to clean it, our lodger would do her grocery shopping so I couldnt clean it after all. Its just the little things that are nice about living on your own again!

Our latest challenge is trying to get a refund on our vacation flights to England this summer. In a frenzy of people fussing that the flight prices would go up, we bought our tickets as soon as they were available. It cost us a whopping $3200 to fly to the UK in June. Oh mum, why does your  birthday have to be at peak season! So now of course the flights are around $1600 for two, instead of one. We are trying to cancel the first flight and re-buy them at the far cheaper price, since you cant jet get refunded. We shall see! Its Danny's mission this week!  Good luck old chap!

This week is Earth week and tomorrow is bike to lunch day. I usually bike to work, but dont usually eat lunch, so it should be fun. Anyone that wants to join, meet at the Union on Campus at noon and we will ride from there.  I dont know where we are going but you get 25% off at Old Venice, Proud Larrys or Two Stick. It should be fun!

Friday, April 17, 2009

What a week

Well folks. This awful week has finally come to an end. I shall attempt to have a relaxing saturday; yoga, lunch with my wonderful husband, dinner and chit chat with my girl friends, and if we are feeling daring, 80s dance night in town!

Say good bye to this week. Au revoir. Lets just vow never to have another week like this one.

To make myself feel better, I shall buy lots of tomato plants for my garden tomorrow!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ugh. Thursdays

I had such a very bla day today.

The only good things that happened to me today was my sunny lunchtime run and eating tasty snack food chatting to Tasha at the Chamber of Commerce event this evening. But Ive got a tummy ache from that now, so maybe it wasnt a good thing after all!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What a day

Well, if you thought you had a heck of a day...

My day did begin with a nice walk with the dogs first thing. 

Then the craziness began.  Our first meeting begun at 830am. At 1020am we were allowed to break briefly for tea. Then I had a conference call at 1030am for which the lady who called the conference call was 20 minutes late. Then the second meeting begun at 1130am til someone called for lunch. 

I did manage to sneak in a quick 5 mile run around town for lunch! Yeay for seeing the sun!

The third meeting begun at 215pm and ended when we all became incoherent around 415pm. Wow! Bleary eyed or what!  I am, however, surprised to report that it was in fact, one of our more successful meetings and I actually feel like we made progress. Unfortunately though, our boss didnt get through every thing he wanted to get through, so I suppose there will be another meeting sometime this week! 

I didnt ride this afternoon as I had planned, but instead finished building my bean support trellis and sowed some seeds. We have a 10ft wide trellis now, soon to be supporting soy beans, sugar snap peas, speckled butter beans and pole beans. I hope it works!

So, my first iris bloomed yesterday, and another two today. So of course, I took some pictures!

I also thought you might like to see the broccoli and lettuce even though its all in its baby stages still.


And finally, if you ever have left overs and random vegetables that you dont know what to do with, then I suggest a fried rice style dinner, which is what I had tonight. Rice from dinner the other day, carrots, kale, corn, peas, ginger (of course) and garlic. Oh, and soy sauce, lemon juice and some cashews thrown in for good luck. Delicious, quick and easy! 


Danny however wanted a burger and fries, and I just thought they looked so cute in their pan.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Spring garden update

Last week I ran around late one evening taking pictures of everything I feared I might lose if there was a frost.  In the eventuality, we lucked out, but here are the pictures anyway!

Not usually one to brag, but I hit some fliers at softball tonight!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Congratulations Dr. Ozeren

Well, we just had so much fun that we forgot to take any pictures tonight... but a huge thank you to everyone who came over tonight to congratulate Dr. Ozeren on passing his defense, I presume with flying colours, as that's what he does in every situation, and making it such a lovely evening for all!

Again, in case you didnt hear me... CONGRATULATIONS YAVUZ!!! Great job! 

I made that delicious citrus dressing again, so Ill repeat since everyone kept asking me for it again (which, by the way, totally boosts my ego!)

Place the following in a jar and shake vigorously!
Olive oil
Lemon juice
Rice wine vinegar
Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
toasted sesame seeds

Its also a great dipping sauce for hot fresh pita bread!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

I forgot to tell you!

So I forgot to tell you during the weekend but I had a close encounter of the bird kind this week. They are officially back. My family of humming birds! I was getting some stuff out of the car on the driveway tuesday when a noise like a miniature airplane wooshed past my head. So I dropped my stuff and stood dead still. Then I saw little Mister Hummingbird perched on the wisteria vine, which shows you just how small he is, since the vine didnt even waiver. Then on wednesday I tried to get you a picture of Mrs Hummingbird but she is still camera shy. Give it some time and Ill get a good picture!

Took a few days off work and got some good clearing achieved in the garden. Bought 7 beautiful bright red azaleas and planted a new bed, which looks just great! But the best thing about the new bed is that I only bought 4 new things for it, $30 total, the rest came from other areas of my garden. Its going to look gorgeous when they all take hold.

Crazy crazy storm all day today. I really enjoyed it though (unusual for me and storms) as I sat in the garage with the door open. Yes, I was messing with my worms again. I tried Danny's suggestion this time, which alas did not work. He suggested sieving the worm waste through a sieve so that only worms were left. Great idea, right. However the castings are too large to go trough the sieve, and in some cases, the worms would make a break for freedom and try and get through the sieve holes themselves. One poor guy couldnt decide which was the safest route so got himself all caught going through one way, then the other until he was looped through about 4 different times. It took a few hours, but I got the bottom tote cleared enough that I could then fit the top tote back in it. So hopefully now the rest of the worms will move up of their own accord. I got a whole bucket of pure beautiful fertilizer that I will be spreading on my greens later on this week.

Its going to be a crazy week. Congratulations party for the new Dr. Ozeron tomorrow night. Softball practice tuesday. Chamber of Commerce meeting thursday and the Veggie potluck friday. The theme is breakfast for dinner, whatever will I make?

Speaking of dinner, tonight we tried something different. Which I thought was delicious, but Danny said it was, different. hmmmmm. Wonder what this boy talk translates into in English. I made gorgeous multi-grain pita breads (happy to supply the recipe to anyone that wants it) that we had served with a range of cheeses (goats cheese, mozzarella and cheddar) proscuitto ham, chopped ham, olives, home made pesto and homemade marinara. Then you got to make your own mini pizzas. I thought it was great because you didnt have to have a whole pizza of the same thing, but Danny said it was...different. Ah well, guess we wont be having that again eh! Live and learn. Id definitely make that delicious pita bread again though!

Ah, its monday again tomorrow. A new week.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Monday, April 6, 2009

Fingers crossed people!

There is rumored to be a freeze tonight and I simply cant go round covering everything in my garden! I covered some hydrangeas that were small enough to cover, the elephant ear bulbs, even though I dont know if they are coming back or not, and the marigold seedlings. Let's hope it all survives!  I ran around the yard taking pictures of everything tonight just incase its a hard freeze and it kills the beautiful azalea blooms that cover my garden right now.  Hopefully Ill get around to posting those soon, but by the time Id planted some bushes Id been given and walked those dogs, it was already pretty late.

By my calculations, this should hopefully be our last freeze of the year so I will get to start those corn rows and beans that Ive been excited to try this year! Got a lot of vegetable patch work to do first though... got to formulate my timed irrigation system to keep the garden going when Im not here, and Ive got to build some frames for the beans. Never a dull moment with a garden!

It pays off though, we will be eating a spinach and winter lettuce salad wednesday night all organically grown in my front yard!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Awesome weekend!

So much to tell you about, not enough time in the day to write!

Ha! I was going to start at saturday morning, but having just downloaded my photos, I realised I forgot a particularly important event friday night!

Friday night I checked on my wormies. The little Night Crawlers have been living in our laundry room for almost a year now.  They had started to smell lately, which usually means the balance is all out of whack. Yes, they were all out of whack! They had eaten all of their food and all of their bedding! Greedy buggers! So I now have an entire tote full of beautiful worm poo that my soon-to-be-planted tomato plants are going to absolutely love! But then there is that dilemma of how to get them out of the poo and into another tote. So at Nicole's suggestion, I made up another tote of bedding and food and placed it on top. However it was higher in the other tote because there was so much poo in there. So I then had to tape a ripped up plastic bag around it so that any escapies would be caught. It was a good job I did this because lots of little guys have lost their way and ended up down there. Im going to give them a month to move house, then I guess Ill have to pack their bags and evict them.

Getting the new home ready for inhabitance

Freddie, Larry and Lee

What an exciting Friday night!

Saturday morning I woke up good and early. In fact, the singing birds outside my bedroom window woke me at 7am. Then I felt this strong manly arm wrap around me and I thought it wouldnt be so bad to start working in a little while so that I could enjoy a snuggle. So I finally got up around 740am to start my busy day.

It began with bagel baking - always delicious warm and fresh in the mornings.

I moved on to cup cake making.  While I remember, dont make the jelly donut cupcakes in Veganomicon. They just dont work. You had to drop the jam into the batter before baking. Well it sunk, duh. So if you want to make these, bake the batter and then spoon in some jam when they are cooled.

Then, having eaten my lovely warm bagel I went to work outside... last week, Danny's aunt Karen gave me four trash bags full of day lilies from her garden. You all know how much such generosity means to me, and how desperate I have been all week to plant them! So I got to work. After the entire day outside splitting and planting day lilies, I was sun burnt but still not finished... but I had to make cookies and some more cupcakes for the gathering at my boss' house.  I apologise to every one at the gathering saturday night, I was tired and Im not used to eating at 830pm, so I was really hungry. Well obviously I went into total shut down!

Sunday was more chilled. Finished planting the day lilies in a snip. Then moved on to some long over due weeding! ugh. Actually it was nice. I just sat at various spots around the garden pulling up weeds. I chatted to a good friend and pulled away.  The only frustrating thing is the sheer volume of gum balls, and it seems that as I pick them up (as I dont want them in my leaf pile for next years mulch) more fall off the trees. But all in all, Id say I had a very theraputic day!  We popped to the farmers market and grocery store later on this afternoon, picking up a gorgeous lamb shoulder at the former. 

Dinner was masterful and so little effort! I throughly recommend the following with your choice of meat.  I cut lots of fresh rosemary and mint from the garden and placed it in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish, along with a bulb of garlic split into cloves and some canola oil. On this I placed the lamb shoulder and rubbed it with cumin, sea salt and pepper, covered the whole thing with tin foil and baked at 325F for an hour. After an hour I lifted up the lamb and placed potatoes and rutabaga (large cubes) underneath and then carrots and parsnips around the edge, and baked for another hour. Perfect. We had this with stuffing (just because!) and a mix of steamed greens tossed in the leftover lemon vinaigrette from salad the other day. Like I said, a masterpiece!

Ill leave you with more tulip pics and the pups outside earlier on.  They are snoring right now, food comas after the lamb shoulder we just gave them to gnaw on!



Off to bed now to read my book. What a relaxing, but productive weekend!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Crazy Lady

Yes, I know that it is not nice to make fun of people, but I really have to share with you, the attire of the crazy lady in the post office yesterday.  Well, perhaps she wasn't crazy, but someone sure as hell stole her dress sense.  This is what she was wearing, from the top down...a purple and grey tie-died long sleeved tee-shirt. Either charcoal grey or black trousers which were about 4 inches too short, not capris, just too short.  Brown slouch boots under the trousers bottoms.  Doesn't sound all that strange, is that what you think... then she had what I would consider to be a beach sarong wrapped around at old women's waist height, so almost at her ribcage and coming down almost to the bottom of the trousers, so that you only saw about 6 inches of trousers.  The sarong had drawings of fish on it in varying shades of brown.  The outfit was topped off with a (faux?) leather handbag with a studded peace sign on it.  I don't know what struck me so much about this woman's attire, but I couldn't stop staring at her. I am sure the guy behind her thought I was looking at him because he kept turning around, but I could not take my eyes off this woman! 

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Cinnamon dipped mini-scones

Well, for all of you who enjoyed these at the baby shower sunday, and for those of you who got the not so good batch I took to work monday morning (as they werent good enough for the shower!), here is the recipe for the cinnamon dipped mini-scones from "A Passion for Baking" by Marcy Goldman.

Makes 36 mini scones


3 c all purpose flour
1 c sugar
3/4 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
3/4 c unsalted butter, room temp, cut into chunks
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 lg eggs, room temp
3/4 - 1 c heavy whipping cream

Cinnamon Dip
4 tbs unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2-3 cups confectioners' sugar
whipping cream or milk as required

Preheat oven to 425F. Stack two sheets together and grease top sheet. Arrange oven rack to upper third position.

In a food processor, add flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder and blend brielfy.  Add butter and pulse to make a coarse, grainy mixture.
If you dont have a food processor, I feel your pain... I just got one for my birthday this year. No, seriously, if you dont have a food processor, use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour.  This is the most important stage of scone making, if you skimp here, you scones will be a flop.

Turn out mixture into a large bowl.  Make a well in the center and stir in vanilla, eggs (whisked) and whipping cream to make a soft dough.  If it is stiff, add more cream.

Using an ice cream scoop or melon scoop (depending upon size of scones desired) deposit balls of dough onto sheets.

Bake until scones are puffy and golden brown. 22-25 minutes for large ice cream scoop scones. 12-15 minutes for miniature scones.

Meanwhile, for cinnamon dip, whisk together all ingredients until you have a thick but drippy glaze.  Add more confectioners' sugar or cream as required.

Cool scones to warm and dip into cinnamon dip (holding by edges of base). Dip again once topping is set.

Pop them in your mouth and enjoy!

On a different note...if I think I had a good ride monday, today blew it out of the water. Oh my gosh, I had the wind at my tail on the way out to the lake and made it out there at an average of 20mph! A personal best by far! Got stopped by an irate British man and Danish (I think) woman looking for someone's house. Strange. Obviously the wind was against me on the way home, but my average had only dropped to 18.8 mph by the time I made it to the house. Still a personal best for lone riding. Didnt draft off anyone! 

I need my thursday morning yoga now to stretch out those sore muscles.

Yes, I hear what you are saying... yet again I had vowed to go to bed early and I am now posting at 1018pm. I know people, I know. I got stuck at work late, so my ride was late and it just spiraled down hill from there.  Did manage to mop the kitchen floor and finish the laundry though, so it wasnt a wasted evening.