More of Everything Else, please

muffins

It didn’t feel like an Adventuring Sort of Day, even though Juno stalled just shy of letting us in on the snow dump. It was blustery and I felt chilled unless I was standing inches from the fire. Snow was swirling ’round outside our windows, but didn’t seem to land anywhere. It was a Chocolate Banana Muffins for Breakfast sort of Day, instead.

fivesenses101

It was a taste of sunshine from the south kind of day, a daydreaming of green things while we pored over our notes from myriad seed catalogs and planned our garden sort of day.

plant

The increase in daylight hours does all of us good, even in the thick of a winter storm. It sets me to thinking hopeful thoughts, whereas weeks ago, in the deepest darkness of the year, I struggled to get through even the most basic, every day tasks. Not least of all, it makes sledding more sparkly, and the boy likes to stay outside digging in the ice until dinnertime.

progress

Less moping means more of Everything Else.

fivesenses103

I revel in this mid-Winter time, when my brain is messy with ideas and there are so many unfinished projects around the house. Big projects, like our kitchen-in-progress, and the wee projects that remind us it’s okay to stop moving every once in a while and not feel guilty about it. If only for a few minutes in a day, while my eyes search and my fingers fit puzzle pieces together, I can move freely about in the brain clutter and start tidying up.

There’s a lot going on in there. I hope this is the year I figure out how to pick the choicest bits out and share them with the world.

Errata and: How to Put Five Pounds of Vegetables Into a Half Gallon Jar

Welcome!

Well, that was a bit longer of a hiatus than I had planned. I’ll be changing things up a bit here; doing some housekeeping. In the meantime, if you found your way here via the Hibernate workshop with the lovely Heather, I’m afraid I have some errata to report on the Bee Comforted hot water bottle cozy! It’s just one line:

errata

The eyelet round should read:

*k2tog, k1, yo, p1* repeat from * to end of row.

It was there in my notes all along. Sorry if I confuzzled you!

enchantedmesa

In sweater-land, I just started the fun part on my Enchanted Mesa pullover. I’m using sportweight, which feels like a slog since playing with a bulky project, but it’s interesting enough to keep me going. I’ve lost steam on the body of my fingering weight sweater, so hoping to complete the Mesa as a “break” from that. Knit, knit, knit. For so many more inches. Couldn’t handle the tiny, tiny yarn any longer.

cabbages

In other news, there are still vegetables at the farmer’s market in January in Vermont. I plan on purchasing cabbage each weekend until there isn’t any, and doing up a batch of new kraut every Sunday. It’s insurance, like successive plantings in the garden. Hopefully, I forget what they all are and have lovely surprises months from now. Because C has been on me to start processing the garlic we harvested back in August (yeah, yeah, let’s talk about this later), Garlic Kraut is what happened last night.

In the half-hour it took to whip this up, the sky went from sparkling, icy afternoon to dim and dusky, so here is the result, complete with dramatic lighting:

garlickraut

In three weeks, I’ll put it in the fridge, and try not to touch it for another couple of months. It will be challenging, but I probably have enough purple kimchi and gingered kohlrabi to see me through. Here’s what I did:

Garlic Kraut

5 heads cabbage, shredded

3 oz. garlic, peeled and crushed with the side of a knife (for me, this was 5 heads)

enough carrots, sliced, to bring the total weight of vegetables, after prep, up to 5 pounds (weighing is important here!)

3 tablespoons Real Salt

Aaaaah, the simplicity is stunning!

Mix thoroughly in a large (very large) bowl or a food-grade bucket, with your hands. Once thoroughly combined, I like to let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes or so before I start to pack it. This time, I didn’t bother pounding it in the bucket, but rather just added small amounts to the jar at a time, and then really packed it in with a wooden pounder after each addition. By the time it was packed to the neck, there was a good inch of brine over the top when pressed. I placed one full cabbage leaf over the mixture and then weighed it down with an itty bitty pyrex bowl (the kind that comes with a set of nesting bowls like this), but you can use any glass weight. Stay away from metal and plastic in your ferments.

This is the magic formula for me: 5 pounds vegetation, 3 tablespoons salt. Works every time and fits perfectly in a half-gallon jar. I should probably do something more scientific, but why mess with it? We had maybe two cups of unsquished mix leftover, so I threw it into the soup that was simmering on the stove, and all was well. The worms in our little worm composter are currently enjoying the cabbage cores and carrot skin. Life is beautiful.

promises, promises (Fermented Cocoa Granola of Awesomeness: a recipe)

granolablogweb

Yes, this is the stuff. Several batches were tested and devoured in record time, so I thought it best to trial the cocoa/maple ratio at double volume before presenting the recipe to you. You really do need to go for quantity here, people. Please, just trust me on this point.

granolaweb

I’ve been making riffs on this fantastic recipe for quite some time, and while we love it with all manner of hearts and rainbows, there was just something missing. One day, as we were at the Co-op doing the usual bulk bin rounds, I realized that we, somewhat absently, tend to get a little chocolate granola for the road on a fairly regular basis. It’s locally made, and it’s delicious, but in my opinion, it’s an out-of-hand treat that is far too sweet for the breakfast table. Also, the price of ready made granola, even out of the bulk bin, can be prohibitive from, say, actually buying in bulk.

granola2

Okay, so don’t cry when you see the list of ingredients. It’s not cheap to make it this way, either. It is, however, far more bioavailable and nutritionally satisfying, not to mention delicious, and I find those benefits to outweigh the initial investment in quality ingredients (which turn out to cost less per pound of finished product than the unfermented bulk bin version, anyway). You should end up with at least 2 gallons of finished product, which you are likely to consume at a slower rate than it’s non-fermented cousin, as this is dense with healthy fat and sustaining calories.

Things you need:

16 cups rolled oats
1 cup butter (I prefer salted) and 1 cup coconut oil, melted together and cooled slightly
3 cups whole yogurt
4 cups water

Things you need to do:

Mix the oats, butter, coconut oil, yogurt, and water together in a large bowl. Cover with a clean towel or cloth and let sit at room temperature for 24-36 hours.

More things you need:

2 cups maple syrup (or a combination of maple syrup and honey…maple flavor compliments the chocolate more favorably than using all honey)
1 1/2 cups raw cacao powder
3 teaspoons sea salt
2+ (to taste) teaspoons cinnamon

More things to do:

Mix the maple syrup, cacao powder, salt, and cinnamon. You made want to heat the sweetener a bit to thin it out for mixing. It takes some doing with a whisk, but perseverance will get all the cocoa powder incorporated and smooth. Add this to your oats and mix well. I mean really well. This is the hardest part and takes some serious elbow grease. Your soaked oats well be a heavy, glommed up mess. Use a wooded spoon to force the sweetener mixture into the oat mixture. You will exhaust your mixing arm, but remind yourself that it will be worth it.

Spread the mixture evenly onto the trays of a dehydrator (my preferred method), or onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Only do this with an oven if you can set it to a really low temperature and you’re around to keep an eye on it.

In the dehydrator, I give it about 24 hours on 115 degrees. In the oven, you’ll have to monitor closely and timing will vary greatly. Report back, if you will, and I can incorporate that info here. You know it’s done when it’s thoroughly dry and will snap apart.

And lastly (also, optionally):

I don’t find this step to be optional, because I think to play with one’s food is an act of virtue, especially when you’re upping the delight factor in consuming said food. Here is where your personal tastes and artistic flair get in on the action…don’t cage that creative beast! I like to add the following:

2 cups shredded coconut, lightly toasted
3 cups sliced “crispy” almonds
2 cups currants, raisins, or juice-sweetened dried cranberries

Pecans and/or walnuts are a fantastic replacement for/addition to the almonds. Goji berries, dried blueberries or cherries, um…apples? Use what you like!

Other flavor options we’ve tried are adding vanilla and/or almond extract, or chili powder in the sweetening step. Oh, and more cinnamon. One time, I had recently dehydrated mint leaves in the dehydrator and didn’t want to deal with cleaning it thoroughly and ended up with a mint-infused cocoa granola, which was quite delicious. Tell me your favorites!

granolakitty

Beezer likes it, too.

I’m a day late, but can I play in the This Week in My Kitchen blog hop? Why yes, yes I can.

Cheers!

the circle game

welivehere

It’s been a wild ride into autumn, life in a constant state of flux-y turmoil sprinkled with the odd joyful moment. The photo above illustrates finding one of those odd joyful moments in a sweet golden hour of the last week of summer, reminding ourselves that we live in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

Do you remember the 52 Project? It fell off the face of my blog, but not because I’m a slacker. It’s just that this happened, a while back:

birthdayblog

…and The Boy said he didn’t want me to post so many portraits of him in this space anymore.

So, I stopped.

These days, I ask his permission before I publish any posts with his image. He is old enough now to require that consideration and I do my best to respect it. Well, except for right at this moment while he’s in bed, but if he wants me to remove his gleeful splashing face in the morning, I will do so without hesitation. I have a feeling, though, that he’ll really get a kick out of it.

And, remember the One Shot Project? I didn’t discontinue that on account of being a slacker, either. My lens experienced a sudden recovery from its mysterious illness and stopped crapping out after only one shot. Simple as that. I suppose I could have continued with the project, anyway, but it seemed a little…I don’t know…contrived, I guess.

All that said, the only reason I haven’t shared my now-well-tested and ridiculously delicious recipe for fermented cocoa granola is because I’m a slacker. Stay tuned.

recruiting

intimacy

Intimacy

Yo. We’re in our final week of Summer on the Luminous Traces Collective, and I find some relief in our theme of Letting Go. Summer and I, we’re okay and all, but Autumn…well, we’re tight. I’m really looking forward to continuing to host this project through my favorite season in New England, and we’ve got a few spots to fill. If you’re interested in sparking your creative work with a weekly prompt, and sharing your images, please be in touch either here or there! There’s also a FB page, of course, with a magical “Message” button. Use it.