After the Halloween decorations get put away and it's too early to start decking the halls these make for a lovely transition: Decoupaged acorns
A new to me blog: House*Tweaking The very admirable adventures of a young couple that have down-sized into a 53 year old fixer-upper. My advice is to start at the beginning (of her archives) and work your way to the present time.
How cute are these for a Halloween party buffet? Boo Berries
We are already spookifying my Dad's house in preparation for the big Halloween Soiree. I keep startling myself when I walk into the bathroom and see the blood dripping down the mirror.
I hope everyone has a spooktacular (groan...) weekend!
I have been craving something made with pumpkin. Other than a few cooler days it hasn't quite been soup weather so I can't make my standard pumpkin soup recipes (Susan Branch's recipe from her Vinyard Seasons cookbook which I don't see on her website anymore. Go buy Heart of the Home if you don't already have one of her books).
So I made pumpkin bread instead. Anyone remember the great canned pumpkin shortage a year or two ago? You couldn't find canned pumpkin to save your life. I tend to keep a can or two in my pantry just in case.
I looked online for pumpkin bread recipes and ended up tweaking a couple recipes to suit my tastes. This recipe makes three loaves; one to eat right away, one to freeze and one to take to your Dad.
4 cups flour 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder 2 tsp. cinnamon 2 tsp. nutmeg 2 tsp. cloves 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice 3 cups sugar 2 15 oz. cans pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) 1 cup oil 6 eggs 2 tsp. vanilla
Pre-heat oven to 350 F degrees. Grease and flour (or line with parchment paper like I did) three 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pans.
Whisk the first six dry ingredients together. Mix the wet ingredients with the sugar. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet until just combined.
Divide evenly between the three loaf pans and bake for one hour (check at 45 minutes, do the toothpick test and remove when the toothpick comes out clean. Mine actually took about 65 minutes). Cool in pan for ten minutes and then remove and cool on rack completely before eating or freezing. Even better the next day.
I'm thinking of renaming this blog to "Once in a Blue Moon." Sigh. Sorry about the lack of posts. My 12 hour days have not let up and there is no end in sight. Next weekend is the big Halloween party so I'll have lots to share about that. I would love to share my costume with you right now but certain people like the element of surprise. So stay tuned for that.
Have a wonderfully relaxing Fall weekend everyone!
I thought we were about due for a chicken post. Haven't done one of those in a while.
I noticed something interesting today. I was looking at the eggs in our refrigerator and while I can't tell the Rhode Island Reds' eggs apart I can very definitely tell which ones Grace, the Buff Cochin has laid. Her eggs have a shell that is a lighter color and rougher texture than the other eggs and they are bigger and pointier. The Red lay an egg that is a rosy brown color and smooth and almost shiny.
Well I was counting the eggs in the fridge and we have 20 of them. And 8 of them were laid by Grace. We pretty much eat the older eggs first so you can figure we are eating them in the order they were laid. Which means Grace is laying at twice the pace of her red headed sisters. Eight of her eggs and twelve divided up between the other three chickens.
We are thinking that we will get two more chicks next Spring. Not sure what type yet. I kind of want Ameraucanas so we have blue/green eggs but I don't know much about their temperment.
We have settled into a routine with them. We let them out of their run just about every day (weather permitting) for a few hours. We can't leave them out unsupervised for too long because we have had coyotes and the occassional stray dog come on the property. So we only let them out when we can keep an eye on them.
Doing the weekly coop chores takes less than half an hour. We clean out the dirty wood shavings from their coop and rake out the run. Wash and refill their waterer (more often in hot weather) and refill the feeder. About every six months we do a deep scrub down with bleachy water.
Along with their laying crumble and whatever bugs and greenery they forage on their own, Rick gives them a treat of fresh fruit or veggies every morning - zucchini, tomatoes, kale, oranges (which we stopped because we heard too much citric acid isn't good for shell production), apples - whatever we have on hand.
They sure have been a lot of fun and I've never once felt like they were too much work. They are just so fun to watch and they are so personable and friendly.
The annual Halloween Costume Party invitations have been sent out. Each year I like to top my previous year's effort.
The inspiration for this year's invitation came from an image I stumbled upon on Pinterest. I tracked it down to this Flickr account.
Almost all of the work was done in Photoshop Elements. I just layered images until I got the look I wanted. Then I printed the cover and insides on matte photo paper. I mounted the inside artwork on thin foam to give the invitation a more 'bookish' feel to it.
As always I have to make several prototypes before I get it the way I want to. I was having trouble getting the foam and photo paper to adhere to each other. I finally found that double sided tape from Duck to do the trick. This is by no means meant for archival quality mounting but if you want something to stay stuck together this tape will do the job.
Fall has certainly arrived around here and I have the pumpkin on my new deck to prove it! I am loving the cooler weather. I think it is short-lived though as the temperatures are supposed to get up to the high 70's this weekend. Perfect puttering in the garden weather.
Happy Monday. I'm actually feeling rather exhausted from my weekend and would like a day or three to recuperate.
I was down at my Dad's this weekend (since Thursday) and took advantage of the local farmer's market. For some reason I've never really gotten into the routine of going to a Farmer's market up where we live. For one - I find the Bay Area ones to be superior. I think most of the local farmers in my area actually go down to the Bay Area and participate in the ones down there.
I should investigate this further....
Anyway, since I was here on Saturday two of my sisters and I met up on Saturday morning and walked to one of the local Farmer's Market. It wasn't that large, in number of vendors, but they did have a good variety of goods.
Gosh I love Dahlias. I need to grow my own.
I ended up getting corn, tomatoes, basil, peppers, fresh baked pitas, honey and beeswax hand cream.
The best thing about Farmer's Markets, in my opinion, is getting to talk with the vendors about their products. They are, almost without exception, very passionate about it.
Whenever you go to a FM (okay I'm tired of typing out Farmer's Market so we are going to employ acronyms from here on out in this post...) there will be the central casting vendors with a huge display of perfect looking tomatoes, pyramids of carrots, the glossiest peppers - and there will be a huge crowd buying up the product.
I tend to walk right past those and head for the booth with no customers.
Stop and talk with the vendors the have a small table, with one or two products. This is where you will find someone that is so happy to share with you the history behind what they are selling, their philosophy on raising what ever it is they are selling - ways to prepare or use their product. To me this is the real benefit of a FM.
I am lucky in that I have great access to fabulous produce year round. But the local market that is selling it to me is a middle man. They don't know that the peppers in this pile are much sweeter than the ones in the other pile and the reasons why.
Or that the honey purveyor's husband was off removing a swarm of bees from someone's attic and that those bees would be brought to their farm and become part of their operation.
To me it makes the honey sweeter when I know the people and the story behind it.
On Saturday I made stuffed peppers and corn on the cob. On Sunday I made a caprese salad with the tomatoes and basil. We also had cornbread and drizzled honey on it.
The peppers were fabulous. They were Corno di Toro peppers. They are very similar to bell peppers but they are sweeter. The shape is different too - they are long and slightly curved. When I make stuffed peppers I like to split them vertically (if the stem is at the top). Then I just make a simple stuffing of sauteed shallots, sweet Italian sausage (turkey or chicken since I don't eat pork), rice, cheddar cheese, salt & pepper to taste. And I only use yellow, orange or red peppers - I don't like the green ones (for anything actually).
I hope everyone had a lovely weekend and that you got to eat fabulous, fresh food.