Tuesday, September 30, 2014

molly shoves herself under a stick pile

the stick pile was about twice the size it is in these pictures when i had the bonfire last week.

there was a mouse under the firepit/stick pile. my maple tree drops lots of sticks and small branches. i toss them in the firepit all year long, and eventually burn them. its been a while since i had a fire. but molly found a mouse.
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molly just shoves her head in trying to get to it
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puppy comes and helps molly find the mouse
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molly comes around to where puppy was and shoves her head in again
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just a little farther
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and then she shoved herself UNDERNEATH the entire stick pile! just lifted it up on top of her to get to that mouse.
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blurry distance photo showing all the sticks up on top of her. and when she backed out, the pile set down like nothing had happened!
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molly and her prize. (she wasnt done playing with it yet, and was worried i was going to take it)
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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

pears glorious pears

my pears from the parker tree.
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35 pears here. missing a few that had fallen off the tree earlier. a couple of these went home with my mom.
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these pears are huge! a good handful!!
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my luscious tree pears
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not as big as parker. taller and skinnier.
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same white bowl as above in the first picture. 14 luscious pears. (missing a few that had fallen off the tree earlier)
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luscious pears in the greenhouse
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turns out letting the pears ripe in the greenhouse was bad. they got sunburned and mushy on one side, and stayed green and hard on the other.
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they kinda rotted from the inside out, stem and seeds first.
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i cut away the mushy parts and saved what i could
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see, mushy middle, the outside is good
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so i made pearsauce with the salvaged bits. nothing but pears and water.
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it was UNBELIEVABLY sweet. absolutely NO sugar added.
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but all hope was not lost. i only put SOME of the pears in the greenhouse. after i read that pears need a cooling period before they start ripening properly, i took half and put them in the fridge. then ripened them on my counter.
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Monday, September 22, 2014

i had a lock fall apart on me

ever been curious how locks work? while sorting thru unidentified keys, a lock fell apart on me. this is what the tumbler looks like. each of those holes holds a pin.
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the bottom of the lock tumbler is actually open
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start inserting the key. the bump on the key doesnt match the pin, and the pin sticks out excessively.
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with the key all the way in, all the pins are raised, but not sticking out excessively. this enables the tumbler to turn. if the pins are down, springs from above prevent it from turning. if the pins are up, that prevents it from turning.
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key in, pins up and level, able to turn
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key out, pins down
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these are the pins, notice they're all different heights
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each red line corresponds with a pin. the bumps in the key lift the pins to each of their correct heights, allowing the lock to be turned. when picking a lock, EACH pin has to be lifted to the exact correct height. too high and the tumbler wont turn. too low and the tumbler wont turn. times 5 separate pins on this tumbler/lock. it takes skill and a whole set of tiny little specialized tools to do that. i cant do that. well i've never actually tried. i just love knowing how things work.
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springs hold the pins in their down position. (i lost two of the springs in the leaves and rocks below the porch door. i was quite surprised when the whole tumbler pulled out of the lock when i pulled the key back.)
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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

feta meat pies

i made feta meat pies. they were really good!

first, make pie dough and refrigerate.
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the pastry dough then needs to be rolled out.
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roll out and cut into 6 pieces (next time i'll work harder at getting it a little thinner and cutting the edges square)
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cook up the meat and tomatoes
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then add the feta. this is the filling.
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parchment paper! use half the filling on the first six. put the other half of the filling in the fridge for the other half of the pie dough. or if you're feeding more than one or two people, make it all at once.
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into the oven they go
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bake and eat eat eat
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i did a little better with the second half of the dough, but was too busy eating to take an after picture
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oh they were so good! i could eat them every day!
i used this recipe:


sausage and feta hand pies
Makes 1 dozen
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 small head fennel (about 1 pound), trimmed, cored, and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 plum tomatoes, quartered lengthwise, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
All-purpose flour, for dusting
Pate Brisee** (http://www.marthastewart.com/281029/pate-brisee)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons fennel seeds

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Crumble sausage into pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a paper-towel-lined plate; set aside.
Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to skillet along with the onion; cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add sliced fennel and red pepper flakes; season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring, until they release their juices, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the reserved sausage, and stir to combine. Remove from heat, and let cool completely. Stir in feta cheese and parsley; set filling aside.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees, with racks in the upper and lower thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one piece of dough to a 16-by-11-inch rectangle. Trim to 15 by 10 inches. Cut into 6 squares (5 inches each). With a dry pastry brush, sweep off excess flour. Place 1/2 cup filling in the center of each square. Fold up all four corners around the filling, so that the points meet in the center but do not touch (leave about 1/4 inch of space between them). Repeat with remaining piece of dough and filling. Transfer to prepared baking sheets.
Brush tops of dough with the beaten egg, and sprinkle with fennel seeds. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until pies are golden brown and filling is set, about 40 minutes. Cool slightly on a wire rack. Serve warm.

**the recipe for pate brisee (pie crust) is here

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut in pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor, and process for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. With the machine running, add the ice water in a slow, steady stream, through the feed tube, just until the dough holds together. Do not process for more than 30 seconds.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface. Divide in two. Place each half on a sheet of plastic wrap. Flatten, and form two discs. Wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour before using.

i deviated from the recipe because i cant do peppers. so no black pepper and no red pepper flakes. instead i added sage, marjoram, basil to the meat mix. and i added the fennel seed to the mix instead of sprinkling on top. i used dried parsley instead of fresh. and when only cooking 6 instead of 12, only cook for 32-35 minutes instead of the full 40.

SO GOOD! but it makes a dozen, so half the pate brisse (pie crust) and half the filling went in my fridge. easy enough to throw them in the oven on another day. i ate three of the six i made for dinner. its so freaking good. i am stuffed to the gills, and have 3 more i could eat. i will DEFINITELY be making this recipe again. the pie crust was pretty easy too. i've never made pie crust before. easier than bread!

Monday, September 15, 2014

watermelon baby

watermelon from my garden.
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i cut it in quarters and distributed it, me, puppy, molly, and sweetpea.
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puppy loves watermelon
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molly likes watermelon too
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she really likes it!
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puppy inhales it
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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

black-eyed peas and hoppin john

black eyed peas drying up
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drying in the greenhouse
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sorting blackeyed peas
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these are the discards. discolored ones may rot and spoil the whole bunch. the teeny tiny ones are no good either.
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making hoppin john.
parcook some black eyed peas (cook for half the time), drain and rinse.
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cook up the sausage, garlic, and onions (i used sweet onion, thats why theres so much onion)
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drain and set aside
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oops, i should have started you with cooking the rice first, since that takes longest
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add the rice to the peas and the sausage. add some raw veggies. add can of broth. cook for the other half of the time for the black eyed peas.
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my hoppin john recipe:
2 cups brown rice
half a bag of frozen black eyed peas
1 pound sausage
1 onion
tablespoon chopped garlic
1 can of beef broth
vegetables of your choice

hoppin john is really any dish made with black eyed peas, rice, and pork of some kind. there are a million different versions out there.