Sunday, January 11, 2009

My weekend, how was yours?

This is the first weekend we've had the house since December 19th. It was great having my husband's family and my father here over the Christmas holiday, and then my dad stayed on until last Thursday (1/8). He headed off to spend a few months with my younger brother in Texas where the weather will no doubt be better/warmer than here. We had a good time but it's good to be alone in our house again.

Having become an introvert by accident, it's very confusing to be around people now. I have been supposed to go to several things this week and have ditched them to stay blissfully home and knit. It is never so sweet to be at home as when you aren't where you are "supposed" to be. All things that I ditched were optional, I didn't bug out on any teaching or jobs or anything - just on being social.

Which used to be recharging for me. Sometimes it can be sort of okay and fun and I am sure if I went, I would have had a fun time. But as tired as I am and as the base of my neck is still burning from the October accident most of the time, I opted to not.

Knitting: I put the bottom indigo patch on the sweater. It looks really good. I used up one of the 2 dyed skeins. At the very end, I put a row of perl so there is a raised row and then 5 more rows of knit/perl that curls up a bit. I can either make a hem with it or leave it. It looks sort of cool and architectural. I need some time and focus to pick up the stitches on the sleeves and add a few ribbed rows of indigo. Then I need to figure out what to do with the opening edges. They are plain and curling in now.

I attached a goofy little tassel on a long stalk on the hat I made for my grand-nephew. It's a neat yarn, an acrylic/wool blend in random primary colors. It knit up quite attractively and I think he might be able to wear it as it's not a single (gang-related) color. I finished it a week ago, I just had to locate the yarn needle (thank M!). After finding and using it, I tucked it into the very sexy suede needle organizer that M made for me. She was devilishly clever - she re-purposed a tiny suede pencil skirt into this wonderful gift. I am tucking double-pointed needles, yarn needles, crochet hooks, etc. into it and still have tons of room for more tools. It's a joy to use and I feel so smug and loved using it. I still have a lot of this yarn left over, so I am knitting up another hat until I have the brain-cells to go back to work on the sweater.

There are still many months of cold here but I am really excited about getting done. I guess I have maybe 6 hours of knitting left.

But what I really want to be is a sock knitter. But more about that later. I have to finish these things before I get back to socks.

Brewing: I seem to have successfully rescued the 5 gallon batch of plum/peach from becoming vinegar. I bombed it with a ton of sulfite to kill everything in the carboy, then let it sit for a week to let the sulfite dissipate. Right before people came in December, I rehyrated a packed of K1-V yeast (a vigorous yeast able to tolerate hostile conditions) and threw it into the carboy. I then tucked it away for weeks without any care. It seems like something good lived as I have a nice small head of foam and no vinegar taste. I aerated it today as the fermentation is active. There was a looooong lag phase until something got working, but I don't taste any off flavors so it must not have been too stressed. There is lots of nutrients from the fruits, but I wish I had some DAP to feed it. I may feed it a bit tomorrow depending on what the aeration today did.

The Day at the Fair mead that I started early December is in the final stages of fermenting. I am glad as I am running out of mead to share! I'll rack it sometime in January onto some spices and let it sit for a few weeks then rack off the spices and let it age some more in bulk. I'll bottle in Feb or March. I do want to start another 10 gallons of mead just to go into stock. I let my drinkable/sharable stock get really low. About all I have are things that are set back, like the Leap Year Raspberry - not to be opened for 4 years. My plum/rhubarb/oak that I set back for a year about a sometime ago (I wrote it down, but I forget when) should be getting ready to taste to see how it's aged.

Horse: I worked with Kyra Saturday and it went really well. I finally clicked about a technical issue with what we were working with last winter and then I just did it. It was really cool and worked well. Yay! I am thrilled that I start riding lessons on one of the school horses on Monday afternoon (tomorrow)!

Garden: Spent most of the day with M going over the seed catalogs. We've got 3 catalogs that we need to order from which disturbs my Wa, but I'll get over it. I need to put stuff we decided into a spreadsheet to make it easier to order and also plan out seed starting schedule. I am having trouble with scale. Last time I gardened was as a Market Gardener feeding 7 families. Now it's for the 3 of us. I just realized that I might be able to take extra produce to the Farmer's Market along with the herbal products so I need to think about that. I am liking this idea. I'd need to figure out the harvesting schedule before the markets but it could be a win-win situation. hmm.

Some of those seed catalogs are total garden porn. It's been hard to resist but we planned out what uses we had for each of the vegetables and have been sticking to one variety per use. Except for tomatoes. Which we still are being very restrained. We are going to order plants - 3 snacking, 3 plum, 3 slicers. Much of which we are going to sauce and roast.

I opened a freezer box of M's fire roasted tomatoes and we put together a killer salad:

2 leaves of organic romaine lettuce leaves per person, chopped
a handful of herbs from the indoor herb garden (parsley, winter savory, Greek oregano, lemon scented geranium, basil), chopped roughly
goat cheese
Little Smokie sausages
Defrosted fire-roasted yellow brandywine tomatoes

Dressing: balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, grapeseed oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice, salt, pepper.

Lay out the lettuce leaves on a plate, sprinkle with herbs. Arrange sausages, goat cheese and tomatoes around. Drizzle with dressing. Eat and moan a lot. I totally licked the bowl.

It is always such a triumph to eat summer in the middle of winter. And there is more left. I might just make a tomato soup with half and half to eat with my sourdough bread. drool.

What is it about tomatoes? You can tell the veggies that are popular by the numbers of varieties, I think. There is only one type of rutabaga seeds offered and that is in only one of the 3 catalogs we are ordering from. An under appreciated veg if ever there was one. But tomatoes! All of the catalogs have pages of different types. The descriptions are quite lavish. And the pictures are jewel-like. The number of varieties my have something to do with the genetics of the plant, but I doubt it. We monkeys are pretty industrious when we want to Improve something.

Baking: I know, I've never blogged about baking before. I used to bake but not much anymore. I hate all the cookies and stuff around tempting me. And I don't have a workplace to take things to anymore. And a LOT of my friends are gluten-free. This Holiday, my nephew took some of the starter that my husband uses for pancakes and made some pretty yummy sour-dough bread. Now, in another incarnation, I used to make bread nearly daily to feed the housemates. I used a high protein Frances Moore Lappe "Diet for a Small Planet" recipe that had soy grits and dried milk and I had the recipe memorised. A slice was a meal in and of itself. Toasted it was amazing.

So sourdough is different. In my attempt to make a good loaf, so far (last week) I made a sour lump that was not at all bread-like. I blame the lack of a "warm place" that it needs to rise. I am trying the here-to-fore unused warming drawer that made me want to buy our stove tonight. What I don't have is my thermometer so I can make sure it is warm enough to rise without killing or overworking the starter. It's been raising an hour now and there isn't a lot of difference. But hope springs eternal. And if I fail again, I'm going to add a bit of regular yeast to the bread next time. The flavor is really good, it may just not be able to rise enough to make a good bread. See, I am not always an obsessed purist. Stop laughing. It is true. This will allow me the opportunity to prove this.

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