The heat has broken! Having sat in mid 90s heat for two days, 82 degrees feels dreamy. We slept in the basement last night. That was a huge improvement. Its 76 degrees down there just now. Which is why I hope my next house is underground.
This morning a neighbor gardener gave me three volunteer tomatillo plants that sprouted in her plot from last years fruit. When I saw them, I realized the main weed I had been pulling from my plot this year was in fact so many volunteer tomatillos! Those things produce!
The kimchi is bubbling nicely now. I check it a dozen times a day just to watch the dancing bubbles. I taste the broth nearly as many times. Three days in and the sourness is just starting to arrive. Even with the open windows, it is perfuming our kitchen. The smell seems to travel, too, as flies congregate on the outside of the screen covering the window nearest the crock. I’ve noticed this before. Flies love fermenting produce. Glad we have good screens! I also cover the crock with a pillowcase. No fruit flies inside yet, but a few show up every year.
I am starting to get on top of the work wave. I still need to hover by the computer waiting for emails. If I leave it for even a few minutes, they start piling up.
Really happy Friday is here. You?
I did too much yesterday and I am off to a bad start again. The idea is to get up early and take care of the gardens before it gets hot and then rest (work as a lawyer at the computer) during the day. So I pedaled to the garden to give young things a water life preserver on which I hope they float out the day. Everything looks great there. I pulled out three turnips.
The roots will hold up in the fridge just fine, but aging greens is a favor to no one. While I got breakfast ready, I cooked up the turnip greens.
I added some beet greens, too. Half of the result will be dinner tonight.
I moved the kimchi downstairs. It was bubbling up a storm upstairs. Seems quiet down in the basement. No bubbles around the edge. I will move it back upstairs after the heat breaks tonight. The broth coming up over the white plate is beautiful.
The kimchi itself is super, too. Not sour yet, but a week from now it will be ready.
We still have five pints from last year. The year old kimchi is really sour. Storing it in the fridge after the countertop fermentation slows the souring considerably, but it isn’t arrested. Fun to track the slow evolution. We are getting better about eating it with almost anything. A current favorite is to use it as a relish on fake sausage on a roll. When I bring a jar to a cookout, it sometimes flies out of the jar. Other times no one touches it (except Lacey and I). Kind of depends on whether I make a sales pitch. A few comments go a long way. Without a backstory, it may look kind of boring or even spooky to some. We also put blops on salads and of course eat some with rice. Wonderful to have a jar in the fridge waiting to spice up any meal.
To the desk, then.
I picked the wrong day to pedal to the garden and pull out all the bok choi and an arm load of mustard and collard greens. The temp climbed to 93 and I could feel the threat of it as soon as I woke up. Nice that I made that first trip at 6:00 am, but the harvest set in motion a bunch of work that is best done right away. So I did the work right away. Too much to do to stop and make photographs, so I can only share the words.
First I washed the produce in a plastic bin outside. Earwigs love bok choi and I have no desire to bring them into my kitchen. They float to the surface and I skim them up and toss them on the yard. I enjoyed working with cool water. A second wash in the kitchen, and then to the cookbooks. I had bought everything I needed on Saturday, but nowhere near enough. There was so much bok choi! Back on the bike, then, to the grocery for more ginger, onions, daikon and peppers. Having procured those, the rest was easy, if a little boring. Peeling some garlic is fine, but peeling 30 cloves is tiresome. Grating some ginger is fun, but a cup and a quarter is work. I made ten pints of kimchi and four pints of sarson ki collards. The kimchi is bubbling on the counter now (I should move it downstairs–93 degrees will speed things along a bit too quickly). The sarson ki collards are in the freezer, but for the pint we’ll eat tonight.
My dad is headed into surgery right now. They need to open up his leg to clean the knee they put in there a couple of years ago. That’s where the infection that put him in the hospital two nights ago is located. Apparently infections can compromise the juncture between my dad’s bone and the artificial knee. If it gets bad enough, they could have to remove the new knee and put in another. Yikes. I should know more tomorrow.
I spent most of my work day redoing work. Transactions start with a proposed schedule and as often as not, the schedule gets delayed. With each delay, I have to carefully poke through all I have done and try to make it right. Not hard, but when I am doing it for the eighth time on a single deal, I start to get grouchy. I used to be so easy going, but age has eroded my patience and good nature (for this anyway). I get paid very well so I shouldn’t complain, but shouldn’t doesn’t stop the irritation.
The heat! We don’t have air conditioning so as soon as the heat shows up, I am in it. Tumblers of ice water all day. A fan. Move a little slower. Eat a little less. Then night comes, the sun goes and sleep seems like it might just be possible.
That’s all. A bit too much. Maybe less tomorrow.
I don’t mean to be a snob. I may not even be right. I am just hugely thankful for this lunch. Thankful, too, that my employer and clients trust me to do good work from home. Thankful, especially, that my clients have excused me from attending preclosings this month while we are massively busy. All of this together sets me up to have this lunch.
I made the sarson ki saag (mustard and spinach) two days ago with mustard greens from the garden. I’ve been making various versions of saags for years, but this is the first time I used mustard, too. A big positive difference. Much more complex. I made the chole curry last night from The Indian Vegan kitchen (look for quick chickpea curry). I made the spiced rice just now. Not from a recipe (but from quizzing indian cooks), so I am happy to share the collabo directions. I caramelized a small onion for 15 minutes in an open pressure cooker, then tossed in 1 tsp cumin and two bay leaves and fried for a few seconds, then tossed in 2 cups soaked brown rice, cardamom seeds from four pods, a half of a cinnamon stick and six cloves and tossed it well. Then I added 2.75 cups of water and a quarter cup each of frozen peas and corn. Pressure cooked for 20 minutes, then added 1 tsp garam masala and 1/2 tsp salt just before eating. I have seen recipes that add a bit of turmeric and some black pepper corns. Sounds good. Maybe next time.
Had a driveway party on Saturday. Brought the tiki bar into the garage, added a cooler with half gallons of Steadfast’s Sorghum Pale Ale and Firestone’s Union Jack IPA, and had on hand handles of Tito’s Vodka, Tanqueray Gin and Dewer’s Scotch. We put the hurt on the growlers and the Dewer’s (I’ve been on a scotch and soda jag lately and brought my friends along for the ride). I also put out a quart of corn nuts (yes haw!). About 20 people showed up. We sat in lawn chairs on the driveway from five to nine, closed the garage door for an hour long garage session and then ended up in the house for the last hour. It was so much fun. About half our guests showed up on bicycles. Two babies were present (and blankets were spread on the drive for a play area). Frida wandered from guest to guest trying to shake loose bits of Little Anthony’s pizza and subs from softies. Thanks to everyone for making our evening so enjoyable.
Sunday we drove to Long Island for a funeral service for Lacey’s great uncle, Abe. Abe was a pistol. No other way to say it. A pistol we loved. Florence, Abe’s wife, was a miracle of composure all through our visit. How did she do that? Strength. All the family came together and shared love. The service and reception were in Abe and Florence’s home. I was glad to be able to see it. I had heard so much about it. It is lovely. The highlights are the brick drive and patio (Abe was a brick man, as in that was his career) and a sun room. Word is the family came together to assemble the drive and patio and that Abe and his brother built the sunroom together. A labor of love and it showed. Sighs.
Just pedaled downtown to pick up Big Harp’s White Hat LP from Fuzz Records. Loving on that. Also bought LPs form The Mountain Goats, the Mynabirds and Neutral Milk Hotel. Looks like Saddle Creek has started slipping CDs into their LPs. Good move. Loved the downloads, but CDs are so much better. So much new music to enjoy! Is the weekend here yet?
Still with the working. So much working. I should go.
Maple tree seeds, that is. I thought they needed to touch soil or even be buried in it to do their thing, but I was wrong. They can sprout while suspended over the soil and send a root down to the ground. Like a metal helicopter lowering a life line, but here the lifeline is saving the helicopter. Wow. See Frida’s tail by my finger? If there was a tree that dropped big fuzzy dog tail seeds, I’d plant one in a heartbeat.
Badminton net is up and volleying happened. A still life of repose.
BBQ lunch (ribz and potato salad thanks to Vegan Diner).
Lacey and Frida abused the dignity of digital photography.
Our sister in law brought us a personalized totem pole made by my brother in law. Talented fellow! I don’t know why Lacey is holding two chickens–artistic license or premonition? I want a brown shirt with big gold polka dots and green pants. This is something that might need to be sewn rather than bought.
Last evening Mahar’s bestowed upon us two nice beers from Olde Burnside Brewing (East Hartford, Connecticut). A Ten Penny Ale (five penny ale was herstorically the standard brew, so ten penny ale was the special stuff) and a Dirty Penny Ale (their Ten Penny Ale mixed with some of their stout–a black and tan). Both delightfully low in alcohol and delicious. The brewer started as a seller of ice. They are sitting over an aquifer with delicious water. They even sell the water to folks. The proprietors asked customers buying large quantities of water what they were doing with it. Their reply was “brewing beer!” The proprietors got in on the act, and I am glad they did.
Today we pedaled to the Olde English Pub for pints. We have a friend whose wife told us he hates the English (his ancestors were Irish). I am glad I don’t have a group of people I hate. If there was such a group, a member of it would open a really wonderful pub and I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it. Not to make light of other people’s feelings, but instead to celebrate an open heart (and mug). But wait. While I don’t hate the people who open and work at restaurants that serve animals (as food), I am increasingly unwilling to patronize places offering next to nothing for compassionate diners. French fries and whisky used to be enough, but more recently I register a mild offense when places don’t offer a variety of critter free entrees. Salads and sides don’t count. Pastas maybe count if they are super awesome (but they so rarely are–being designed to derive most of their flavor from cheese). The world knows we exist. To make a menu that doesn’t offer us much or anything is just unwelcoming. Harrumph.
Where was I? We each had Middle Age’s Old Marcus and shared our first and last bag of Walker’s Tomato Ketchup chips. Golly these chips are good. Why did they need to add whey?
I think we’ve done enough for one day. I hope Lacey agrees. I am ready to sit still.
Meet Your Treat has me in the mood to make baked donuts, but I don’t want to buy the nonstick donut pans that are currently available. I wrote to Lodge and asked them to make a cast iron donut pan. Do me a solid and write to them as well. They need to know there will be be hundreds of buyers. If every one of my 30 or so subscribers writes, we’ll only have hundreds to go. Do it! [Update: Maybe don't! Nearly a week and they haven't replied. Always surprising, but I will live.]
The caretaker at the park said a storm was coming. He described it as a “real pisser.” He’s old. He’s local. He works outdoors. I took his warning seriously. I cleaned my gutters, put on new gutter extensions and mowed the lawn. The storm isn’t here yet and it doesn’t look like it is coming. Oh well. I was able to pedal to the garden and see all the tiny seedlings poking up through to the soil. That’s always a treat. The ride there and back was magical. Perfect temps. Not much wind. Little traffic. Slow rolling. I felt like a kid on summer vacation (if only for a moment). Sigh!
Hope you are having a great day.
Did I say I was going to be quiet for awhile? Oops. Although my work is picking up, I am waiting for others to do their work before I can start mine. I need to fill in the blanks in my day, and cooking is as good an activity as any. I recently picked up Vegan Diner, a cookbook by Julie Hasson published in 2011. It is filled with fun and comforting recipes.
I just finished making my first recipe–a batch of Ms. Hasson’s Great Smoky Mountain Cheeze. I haven’t tasted the final product (it is in the fridge setting up now), but the tastes I snuck while cooking and cleaning up were fantastic. Even before time in the fridge it is very thick. The last minute or so of whisking over heat was a pretty good work out (or maybe my pathetic lawyering wrists need some beefing up).
Ms. Hasson says her Great Smoky Mountain Cheeze can be sliced or spread, so I am thinking it will be pretty close to Wayfare Foods We Can’t Say It’s Cheese spreads. Love those spreads, but they are pricey so I rarely buy them. Ms. Hasson also says her Cheeze makes a great grilled cheese. Sounds right and good. That’s something I would never do with the Wayfare Foods spread–it would probably take a single $5 tub to make 2 sandwiches! A batch of the Great Smoky Mountain Cheeze recipe costs around $5 and would easily make six grilled cheese sandwiches, if not more.
I am excited to make some fake sausages from the Vegan Diner, too. That’s another thing I enjoy only rarely because of the high cost of packaged versions from the co-op. Cheese and sausages? Because of the theme of the cookbook, there are a fair number of analogs, but they appear to be done well and without many funky ingredients. The number of recipes won’t disappoint–the recipe list is as long as a typical diner menu. Breakfast recipes include muffins, biscuits, sweet rolls, breads, donuts, waffles, pancakes and scrambles. There is a section on savory breads with ten varied offerings. Recipes for sides include soups, salads, slaws, potato salads, onion rings and fries. Hot sandwich offerings are many, with recipes for reubens, sloppy joes, sliders and burgers. Main dishes include jambalaya, bbq ribz and various seitan roasts. Desserts offerings are as broad as the other categories, with recipes for cookies, puddings, pies, cakes, ice creams and malts. The cookbook appears to be a strong addition to my ever growing collection. I am sure I will be going back to it again and again.
I must be hungry–it is all sounding a little too good. I should go eat something.