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Showing posts from 2009

One Day & One Cheat Left

The makings for the white chocolate martini are chilling in the fridge.  Technically, we may not actually have one tomorrow as we have been invited to no less than THREE New Year's Eve parties, and if I have a white chocolate martini before a party we won't actually make it TO the party.  But it's nice to know it's there....

Bizarrely, I have now lost interest in my chocolate stash.  Knowing I'll be able to have it seems to be enough.  Obviously, I respond to the "forbidden fruit" idea, which I sort of knew.  Idaho is quite close to Nevada & legalized gambling, but the only times I thought it was any fun were the times I did it while I was underage.  I like knowing I have chocolate in the house--and will be hiding some of it so Andy doesn't eat it all--but if I do have any on Friday, it will be a very small piece. 

Since we were staying with relatives over Christmas, we suspended our diet while we were there.  I would never expect anyone hosting u…

This I Had To Share

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In general, I'm a big fan of Amazon.com.  Not only do they have everything, it's been a great way to research food products from home.  So, today while trying to figure out a good gift (or gifts) to send as a hospitality "thank you" gift, I pulled up Amazon's website and typed in "gifts."  The first item that popped up:


something called "Jingle Jugs Animatronics Singing Dancing Boobs."  And this is what Amazon thinks I am most likely to be looking for as a gift.  Which makes sense, of course, as the last order I placed with them was for some Shirley Temple dvds for my nephews and niece.  I can see how they would obviously connect the two. 

Then again, I can guarantee that it's something they don't already have...............

Getting Ready For Friday........

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Any guesses what I'm missing most today?

The Christmas Letter

Holiday Greetings!

2009 has been quite a year here at Château Sutton-Goar. This year we:

decided to see if we would feel any difference if we eliminated all processed foods (unknown ingredients, food coloring, high fructose corn syrup) from our diet for one year.


are a bit disappointed to find out that it really does make a huge difference


have a new appreciation for the bravery of our friends who came over to our house for dinner anyway


had an astounding amount of bizarre-looking meals. If you add spinach to almost everything, it increases the nutritional value, but occasionally one feels like one is eating a pulverized Oscar the Grouch


are really glad the one year is almost up


learned to make homemade liqueurs—and in the future would use decaffeinated coffee for Kahlua unless one intends to have cocktails at 7:00 AM


threw a “zucchini cookoff” party and PEOPLE ACTUALLY CAME!


picked several pounds of cherries...which explains all the cherry jam everyone is getting for Chris…

Lessons From Oprah

Recently, a friend mentioned that she had learned a lot from an article in Oprah's magazine.  I thought it was a great article, and thought the holidays would be a great time to share some highlights from "What I Know for Sure" by Oprah Winfrey:

"Every birthday, you decide whether to mark it the end of your greatest days or the beginning of your finest hour."

 "Reading gives you the ability to reach higher ground"

"When you get the chance, go for it.  You can't accomplish anything worthwhile if you inhibit yourself."

"Live so that at the end of each day, you can say, 'I did my very best.'"

"What have you done today to make you feel proud?"

"Making the decision to look after yourself is the ultimate in healthcare."

As long as we play the 'us and them' game, we don't evolve as people, as a nation, as a planet."

"If you feel incomplete, you alone must fill yourself with love in all your em…

Cough Drops

Okay, the cold is back and really hanging on, so there goes my theory about the no processed foods/no colds thing.  I did find some cough drops without artificial colors or flavors, but they seem to have no "active" ingredients either, so I broke down and bought some bizarrely pink lozenges that do have artificial--albeit really bad--flavoring, and of course they work really, really well.  I promise I really was trying to stick to the rules and have been gargling with saltwater like a maniac, but I'm getting a bit desperate. Maybe not desperate enough to try a mustard plaster or anything really horrible, but if this is still hanging around by Christmas, who knows???????

What I Have Learned This Week

*  Mice apparently don't hibernate

*  Having a huge cup of coffee before trying to paint ceramics is probably not the best idea unless one is fond of polka dots

*  There really is no limit to the number of times I can watch A Muppet Christmas Carol.

*  Diet Pepsi tastes just as good as I remember

*  If any of your friends have children in college, it's handy to have a math whiz on speed-dial

*  Having one's alma mater make it into a bowl game will make even the least-interested alumna consider attending the game for at least 20 seconds.....right until she remembers it would involve sitting outside on December 30 in an area that has "winter"

*  One can NEVER have too many groups of great girlfriends

*  The "live-and-let-live" policy for bugs that I talked myself into this summer does not include fruit flies.

*  A week of temperatures right around zero will stop one from whining about ANY other winter weather one gets

*  She who feels smugness about gettin…

Fudge!

Admittedly, I was pretty worried about making fudge.  How easy is it to just taste a little here & there? 

So I started to make it Thursday and discovered in my exuberance to be buying chocolate of any kind that I had purchased the WRONG chocolate chips.  I purchased milk chocolate instead of semi sweet, so I put it off until Friday.  Fortunately or unfortunately, my cold returned Thursday night.  I made it to the store & back before having to return to bed and sleeping most of the day, so no fudge yesterday either.

Determined, this morning I got up feeling a bit groggy but slightly better, and finally mixed up the fudge first thing--before I could get dizzy AND before my stomach could feel better enough to stop being nauseous at the very thought of chocolate.  And I am happy to report that the layered mint fudge is done, in the fridge, and I didn't have ANY!!!!  Okay, to be fair it didn't even sound good, but still.....I MADE FUDGE WITHOUT HAVING ANY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!…

And Today's Great Test of Toni's Willpower Is....

Making fudge without eating any of it. 

Help!

I Suppose It Had To Happen

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2 cats
          + birds that aren't bright enough to fly south for the winter
          + lots of people at Soup Night to impress with one's hunting prowess
        -----------------------------------------

            Theo's Live Bird Floorshow!!!!!



Personally, I think it might have been to get even for the cast/water therapy thing, but maybe he was just sharing.  Luckily, one of the guests is a actually a pretty decent bird hunter, since somebody


turned the bird loose under one of the tables.

And yes, our guests CAN move pretty quickly when properly motivated.....

17 Days To Go

I'd like to say that we've been discussing art, literature, philosophy--anything remotely thoughtful--over the last couple days, but most of our conversations right now are about food.  Forbidden Food.  What can we have January 1?  What are we most looking forward to?  What can we have January 2?  Etc. 

While we know that we can't really go back to a "normal" diet, there are some things I'd REALLY like to have access to once in a while:

* Worchestershire sauce
* salad dressing
* cream cheese
* coconut milk
* ANY soup stock that hasn't involved a whole bunch of chopping and simmering on my part
* the occasional ham sandwich
* chocolate chips
* soups from cans or bags (only occasionally, but I really miss Campbell's tomato soup)
* Grape Nuts
* sour cream
* olives
* almost anything that hasn't just taken at least 20 minutes to make



We haven't exactly decided what will happen on January 1--definitely not a food free-for-all unless we decide that J…

We Cheated

OK, so we didn't set out to cheat.  Today we had arranged to meet a friend at one of our favorite restaurants and we had actually looked at their menu online to discuss what would be legal & what wouldn't, and I was excited to see that they made their own Caesar salad dressing (though mercifully not at the table, because as I aware of the egg & oil & anchovies, I don't like to be reminded of it) so I was looking forward to a legal salad. 

It turns out, they are not open for lunch on Saturday, and when it is snowing and 18 degrees is not the time to be standing around debating options, so we opted for a nearby Chinese restaurant because it was A) open, B) nearby, and C) likely to be heated. 

It turns out, the food was not even remotely legal but it was warm & I got to have some of that marvelous "Americanized" chow mien with the crunchy completely-processed noodles.  Unfortunately, it was our third cheat of the week, but I just can't feel much …

Recipe | P Allen Smith Garden Home

Know How Many Easy-To-Take Appetizers Involve Cream Cheese?

Most of them.

This month almost everything we've been invited to attend involves bringing food of some sort.  When taking food to a party, it's easiest to have things that can be served cool or at room temperature.  Crackers, cheese balls, dips--they all work really well and are, of course, illegal.  Even normal cheese in a block is a bit daunting--we have had several inadvertent "cheats" because initially I forgot that in reality, there's no way for cheese to be orange, and then I was foolish enough to believe that smoked gouda might be slightly off-white because of the smoking.  Nope--all food coloring.  And I have discovered at least one of the reasons that most of our dairy products contain some sort of stabilizer--yogurt separates.  Make a dip out of yogurt and IF you can cover up the tangy yogurt taste that, by now, we're frankly a little sick of, it might STILL separate by the time you get it to where you're going. 

So, this year every party is ge…

'Tis The Season To Be Eating

Fa la la la la, la la la la

Scores of friends we must be meeting

Fa la la la la, la la la la

Don we now our loose apparel

Fa la la, la la la, la la la

While our health and waistlines we imperil

FA LA LA LA LA, LA LA LA LA.......

Rules That Should Exist

*  Furnaces should only have problems in October when they're only sort of needed....not in December when they're really, really, REALLY needed

*  Food eaten at Christmas parties should not make you fat since you're really only eating to be sociable and it would hurt the host's feelings to abstain

*  All stores should be required to keep at least ONE replacement carafe in stock for every coffee maker they carry.  Depriving customers of a regular caffeine fix is really low on the customer service scale

*  Companies should just admit that unless they are involved in anything regarding retail, Christmas, or perhaps food that they really aren't going to do any business in December anyway and should stop interfering with their employee's holiday enjoyment

*  Cats should come with "snooze" and "mute" buttons.  "Rewind" might be interesting as well

* My Yahoo mail account would automatically realize that I do not have a penis and therefor…

Turns Out, The Answer Would Be "No"

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We had frozen blueberries


and frozen cherries

so I thought "Great, I'll get pink and purple frosting."  Since I didn't want the frosting to actually taste like cherries or blueberries as it turns out that even I have some food weirdness limits (who knew?), I defrosted them and smashed some of the juice out

stirred the juice into the frosting--being careful to add a little more sugar to compensate for the extra liquid

and voila!

I think there's a sort of slight hint of purple in the one on the right.  Of course, you can see it better when you compare it with just the white frosting

See?  It looks like 3 paint samples of "beige," doesn't it.  On the cookies doesn't help much

but I think from this angle

you can see a bit of color.  And that my counters are dirty, but we're "overlooking" that part....

And, of course, all those decorator things--sprinkles, red hots, colored sugar--are completely off limits, so this is as good as these cookies a…

Today's Question....

Can one color sugar cookie frosting with berry juice and would one want to?  And even if they end up completely bizarre looking, will people still want to eat the cookies at the Christmas party?


It has taken 11 months, but I have finally missed food coloring....

Allergies

One of the problems with living the Year of No Processed Foods experiment is it often takes so much time JUST to live it that I don't have as much time as I had hoped to do research into topics that come up.  Like allergies.

Spending as much time as I do reading labels this year, I regularly see allergy warnings--usually the nuts, wheat, and gluten issues.  Sometimes it will actually say that the product doesn't contain any allergens, but was processed in a plant that processes other things that contain allergens.  And this seems to be necessary.

When I was in first grade, it was discovered that I am allergic to milk.  Know how they discovered it?  My mother took me to an allergist, he gave us a list of common food allergens, had her remove all of them and then introduce them in serious quantity one by one, and when I reacted we would have found the one I was allergic to.  We didn't question this, it worked like a charm, and I was only sorry that we started with the onion …

Something I Hadn't Thought About

We do not watch television.  Sometimes we watch a movie or a documentary--in fact I normally have the television on for about 30 minutes before going to sleep every night so I can knit & unwind and it helps me transition to sleep (I have always suspected that it has something to do with a study I read in college that says your brain has the exact same wave pattern when you're watching television as when you are sleeping).  Occasionally we get a wild hair, locate all the remotes, and figure out how to get the digital signal box to work with our bunny ears so we can watch something on the 4 PBS channels we now get.  Nor do we listen to the radio except for NPR or PRI.  Normally for me it's audio books--Andy does podcasts.

But every December, one of the radio stations plays all Christmas music, so we listen to the real broadcast radio in December....or until the "Dehlila" show comes on--then we sprint to the radio and shut it off.  Not that there's anything wron…

"Julie & Julia," Again

Today we went to see the movie Julie & Julia at the dollar theater--which incidentally is now a $3 theater, or $4 theater if you want junk food & beverage....which you know I wanted but I think the carpet might have been closer to being legal on our diet than any of the movie theater food, so $3 in our world.  Andy had not seen the movie yet, and enjoyed it so much he is downstairs in the kitchen making THE pizza crust (Julia Child's cornmeal pizza crust--sooooo recommended)

It's hard NOT to be inspired by Julia Child.  She had what I can only describe as "infectious happiness."  She seems to have approached everything--life, love, food--with a full heart and no reservations.  Is it any wonder the world loved her?

Thanksgiving--The Aftermath

I guess it was too much to hope for to have no ill effects after Thanksgiving dinner, but I did hope for it all the same.  My optimism runneth over.....as does indigestion.   I think the roll, turkey, and the green salad with no dressing was all fine, and while we know that my stuffing didn't contain any processed ingredients, stuffing is still incredibly rich, so that might have been a bit of a shock to our mostly low-fat diets, but I think the real culprits might have been the other salads which all sported copious amounts of mayonnaise.  I don't actually care for mayo in general, and I haven't checked to see what's actually in the commercial variety (note for next trip to grocery store), but I'm guessing it's quite far on the "illegal" scale.

So....yesterday I made a broccoli soup for dinner, today for lunch I had a very large bowl of steamed peas and a few nuts for lunch, and tonight for dinner we had spaghetti squash (first baked, then sautéed wi…

Black Friday

Yesterday we spent Thanksgiving with a large group of friends, and one of the traditions of this particular group is to go around the table (and as there are usually around 30 people, so this is a major part of the day) and each person says what they are thankful for.  Considering so much of what is being said and done lately, I took special note of things that WEREN'T mentioned:

*  No one gave thanks for having a large television, or an expensive car

*  No one gave thanks for the hours and hours they had spent in front of television sets in the last year

*  No one gave thanks for television commentators spreading messages of hate and advocating violence

*  No one gave thanks for the internet

*  No one gave thanks for all the time spent gossiping about others

*  No one gave thanks for giving abusive or hurtful relationships "just one more chance"

*  No one gave thanks for having said, "Not now, maybe later"

While in college, I received the best advice I have …

Thanksgiving Eve

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in America, which is supposed to symbolize the time when the Pilgrims and their Native American neighbors who had taken pity on the ill-prepared new arrivals and helped them figure out how not to starve, got together and feasted for three days.  Now, of course, with the aid of refrigeration and microwave, we can stretch the feast out even longer--usually until the very sight of turkey and stuffing makes everyone shudder.  Of course, no one ever minds having pumpkin pie for several days in a row.  Amazing how that works out......

Some things I've wondered about Thanksgiving:

*  The traditional Thanksgiving day is spent with women cooking a big feast, everyone eating, then men retiring into the living room to watch football for the rest of the day while the women do all the dishes.  WHO THOUGHT THAT PROGRAM UP????? 

*  Is it the fact that the main character might be eaten that stopped Rankin-Bass from making Thanksgiving cartoons in the 1970s?

*  If ret…

Gearing Up For Thanksgiving

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This year we are joining a large group of friends for Thanksgiving, and I have volunteered to bring stuffing.  Besides being the only traditional "Thanksgiving" food that I'm truly confident of, it's probably the only one we can make "legally."  Since we're going to someone else's house, the actual meal will fall under our "when in Rome...." exception, which is basically that we can eat what is served at someone else's home, provided we don't abuse it--such as having a soda or something.  However, I do feel obligated to make sure that what I take is legal, so I have been making bread in the bread machine

to use as my stale bread, and it's now sitting out getting "stale"


And incidentally, 3 pounds of bread is a LOT of bread.

To be honest, I usually make the bread to use for stuffing as it's such a HUGE percentage of the end product.  Not that I have ever made the bread by hand--let's not get stupid here.  But some…

Along the Food Lines.....

I thought this was worth sharing:

Ten Foods That Thankfully Flopped

He's Home!!!!!!

Andy arrived home safe & sound late Friday night, and I am slowly adjusting back to non-survivalist cooking.  Aside from the leftover Indian food we had for breakfast, that is.  By Wednesday night the casserole was thankfully gone, so Thursday a friend and I went out to lunch at one of the few "legal" places around--a Mongolian Barbecue place.  I would guess some of the sauces are off limits, but I picked the simple ones, so I think I did okay.  Since we ate lunch late, I just skipped dinner entirely--which isn't really good for me, but I figured as healthy as we've been eating this year, my body could probably cut me a little slack one night.  I think the real low point might have been Friday, when I had popcorn for lunch (the real popped stuff, not microwave, and sprinkled with herbs).  I did graze on pomegranates and other fruit all week, and a few nuts whenever I got to feeling a bit light-headed, so not quite as unhealthy as it probably sounds but probably m…

I Have Been Good!!!!

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Lazy, but good.

Monday I fixed a totally-legal casserole so I could have easy leftovers and not be tempted, but 7 meals straight of the same thing will get to anybody I think, so tonight's plan was to move on to peanut butter & banana, to be followed by peanut butter and apple tomorrow

which might have worked out well if I could get the darn jar open.  Obviously, I could make my own peanut butter, but would blow the whole "as little involvement as possible" diet I seem to have adopted while Andy is gone. 

Luckily, it's a new fruit season, and two of my favorites are on--red globe grapes and

pomegranates are here!  Andy isn't a big fan as he doesn't really like any foods that are really difficult to eat, so there may or may not be some still around by the time he gets home.  But, I CAN promise him peanut butter!

Questions For The Universe

*  Why can the smoke detectors only decide they need batteries at 3:00 AM?

*  How many sweaters can I own before it becomes "obsessive?"

*  Do I do anything as fast as I seem to think I can?

*  What do cats without owners do for entertainment and why don't my cats do it?

*  How many film adaptations of Dickens's "A Christmas Carol" are there?

*  How is it possible that I found THREE matching shoes when cleaning out my closet--not just two?  Do they breed or were there two pairs and the laundry's Sock Black Hole has decided to up the ante?  

*  How many people do I have to talk to before NOT shaving one's legs becomes fashionable in America?

*  If they completely rewrite the story when converting a book to a movie, why do filmmakers even bother keeping the original title?

*  Would one find more items in a grocery store WITHOUT any unknown ingredients, or without any KNOWN ingredients?

Five Days Without a Witness.....

So......10 1/2 months into our "no processed foods" experiment, I'm fantasizing about the strangest stuff, AND I'm without a witness for 5 whole days.

Uh oh............

Sunday Night

Tonight I'm making pizza, using the Julia Child cornmeal pizza crust recipe as usual.  I haven't yet just baked a crust and eaten it plain, but I'm not going to rule that out--it really is THAT good.  Of course, what else could one expect from Julia Child?  And.....brace yourself for a great shock.....there is no butter involved!  Who would have dreamed it was possible?  

For the sauce I have some home-canned tomatoes simmering on the stove with some spices, dehydrated bell peppers and tomatoes, and an insane amount of garlic.  Think of the craziest amount of garlic you would ever put in something and add two cloves.  I don't think anyone will want to sit next to Andy on the plane in the morning.  If garlic really does have any health properties, Andy and I will live to be 100 at this rate.


....and might end up with lots of elbow room on airplanes...........

47 Days Left!

Yep!  Only 47 more days until we can totally & completely make ourselves ill.

Actually, we're going to have a bit of a preview next week.  Andy will be on a business trip for 5 days, and this will be the longest either of us have had to negotiate "bad" food since this experiment began.  Even my week in McCall allowed me to be pretty healthy--while not strictly "legal"--because I stayed in a condo with a kitchen.  So, And is packing antacids and raisins, and he's hoping there's a grocery store nearby. 

Eating in restaurants this year has mostly become an exercise in bravery.  There are two good, locally-owned restaurants in this area that we feel pretty confident about and which haven't caused any sort of stomach upset, but all the rest--most obviously the chains--have become a waste of calories & a cheat.  Knowing one is likely to end up in some serious pain probably doesn't do much for any restaurant, but there is a processed-food TASTE…

Wednesday

(Tuesday:  head out to a nearby farm to help a friend vaccinate her horses and haul back a load of horse manure for the garden)

Manage to sleep until 7:00 AM, in spite of the best efforts of two cats.  Jumping out of bed with eagerness is not possible when a large load of horse poop is waiting.

7:30:  suck down coffee while wondering if it wouldn't be best to not be fully awake

8:30: notice it's supposed to rain later.  Not sure what that will do to a truckload of horse manure, but bet it won't be pleasant.

8:31:  Sigh heavily, get dressed, grab the shovel and wheelbarrow.

8:35:  Feel very "empowered" to be doing the physical labor while my husband works to support us

8:40:  Secretly hope that the neighbors who keep letting their dogs out to poop on everyone else's lawn without cleaning up after them let their dogs out TODAY, thinking that having a nice smelly dog might be adequate repayment

8:45:  Wonder why, if everyone is so "into" organic garde…

A Salt By Any Other Name....

I have long been in the habit of buying roasted sunflower kernels from the bulk bins--usually mixing salted and unsalted--to sprinkle on salads or whatever, and we've been doing it this year as well.  Sunflower kernels and salt--that's legal, right?

Turns out, it isn't.  This week the label was changed slightly to:

sunflower kernels and salt (salt, tricalcium phosphate, yellow prussiate of soda)

Now I vaguely remember from chemistry that there are a whole bunch of things that can be labeled as "salt," but I rather assumed that the food industry had largely agreed that salt is sodium chloride, or perhaps calcium chloride in a bit of a stretch.  Time for a bit of research.

It turns out that tricalcium phosphate is an anticaking agent used in spices, and yellow prussiate of soda is an anticaking agent used in road & food grade salt.  So we've probably been consuming yellow prussiate of soda all year, and I'd guess we've had a fair bit of tricalcium ph…

Toast

So 10+ months into this, and it has become my considered opinion that if it involves homemade bread, toast really is a meal in itself.....even if it IS for 5 meals in a row........

What Happens to Health Insurance Premiums? - ABC News

What Happens to Health Insurance Premiums? - ABC News


Hm......I wonder why the insurance industry is spending so much to defeat health care reform.....

Bake Us This Day Our Daily Bread

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At the risk of being labeled a food heathen, I didn't think the Julia Child bread really had much flavor--and I swear I'm not just sore that it took almost the whole day.  Well, maybe a little....

Julia does, however, explain a lot about making bread so I decided to take my new knowledge and apply it to my favorite bread recipe--Sourdough Honey Oatmeal.

I have been working on this recipe for about 10 years, and I had arrived at a really great flavor but I was still having trouble with the texture.  Time to bring in....JULIA.

As normal, I mixed a cup of starter

from the dreadful-looking sponge that lives in my fridge.  Sourdough is just a live yeast culture, and by mixing a cup of the starter with warm water & flour and setting it in a warm place to ferment overnight


otherwise known as a food dehydrator in our house, a new sponge is created and ready for use the next day.  To replenish the starter, you put one or two cups of the new sponge into the old one & it can last i…

"High spending but lagging quality"

This is an interesting article that came out today:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/healthusdisease

According to this article, the US spends TWICE as much as other countries such as the United Kingdom, France, and Germany....you know, those countries with that "dangerous" socialized medicine.

Real Porn For Women

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Today's mail just arrived, and it seems that our postal carrier has figured out TRUE porn for women:


catalogs for pajamas, wine & chocolate, and yarn.

And they say men don't understand women......

Needing To Get My Act Together

Toni, last night:

Feeling on-top of everything, decides to mix up some nonfat yogurt and dehydrated dates for a breakfast dish she discovered a few months ago.  Mixes thoroughly, and puts it in the fridge.

Toni, this morning before coffee:

Totally forgetting everything, she opens the refrigerator and sees a Rubbermade bowl with white stuff.  Takes it out, asking, "What on earth is this muck?"

Lesson number 1 learned today:  My night & morning selves don't communicate at all, and forcing them to leave notes for each other might not be a bad idea.

Lesson number 2 learned today:  food tastes better if you haven't just referred to it as "muck."

We've Got Garlic!

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Next year's garlic crop has been planted!

Last year I ordered the planting stock (as garlic that you can actually plant seems to be called) very late so my order was basically "whatever you have left that would be easy to grow."  That translated into Polish White and Susanville varieties.  It turns out both are "softneck" garlic types, which didn't make sense to me until I was planting this year's "sampler pack."  This


is a "hardneck" garlic--which means it has a big stick-thing in the middle of the head & cloves growing around it.  As it also turns out, only hardneck garlic grows "scapes," which I'll show you pictures of when they actually grow.  Other bloggers were talking about all the things they were doing with their scapes last year (my favorite being Rachel's idea for garlic pesto--doesn't that just sound wonderful?), and I kept checking my garlic and wondering what the heck I was doing wrong.  (With g…

Happy Halloween from Chateau Sutton-Goar

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Doin' It The Hard Way...

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Which could actually be a subtitle for my blog, don't you think?

I decided to make bread this week.  Not just any bread--I've made bread for years, though not on a really regular basis.  Julia Child's bread. 

I had borrowed the library's copy of this

and after trying her cornmeal pizza crust, I had to order a copy for us before I could return it.  Crazy to spend $50 on a cookbook for just one recipe, you say?  You didn't try the pizza crust.  Amazing stuff.  I think we've had pizza once a week ever since.  However, I decided that since there are more than just 2 pages and one recipe in this book, maybe I should try a second recipe.  So I picked the whole wheat bread.

It is actually a 2-day process, because in a 4-cup measuring cup

(which she is VERY specific about), you mix up water, yeast, and sugar and set it in a warm place overnight.  Andy was a bit disgruntled to learn that I will turn the heat up for a yeast sponge but not for him, but the sponge doesn'…

On The Good Side.....

....it's now cold enough to plant garlic. 

On the bad side, it actually went streaking right past "cold enough" to 32 degrees.  Brrrrrrrr!

And You Thought It Was Confusing BEFORE.....

The other day I added quinoa to some black bean quisedillas I was making.  I had heard that it was supposed to be a really healthy grain, and I thought I'd sneak a little in.  (First rule of cooking in Toni's world:  If it's got a little liquid and a reasonably strong flavor, it's a great place to add something healthy)

The quiesedillas turned out pretty well, and just to verify what I thought I knew about quinoa--basically that it was good for you and that it had quite a bit of protein for a grain--so I did a little Google search.

The problem with the internet is that Google can't really distinguish between the website of places that do research, or fact-check, or have some connection to reality and those run by some guy named Bubba sitting at his computer in the basement of his mother's house wearing his tin-foil hat to protect his brain from alien brain scans.  I always try to pick domain names that look like they belong to something credible.  So, when I se…

Just What Did He Think He Was Buying?

So for my birthday my sister gave me a subscription to Mother Earth News, which is a magazine devoted to growing your own food, living off the land, etc. We are loving it—and learning a lot about why some things haven’t worked as well as we had hoped.  This issue has articles on planting fall cover crops (done on one bed--I still need to do the others), planting garlic (YAY!), cooking with applesauce (YUM!) and growing veggies in the winter (you know I'm going to).


October/November issue just arrived, and as I was flipping through the pages, the following letter heading caught my eye: Hates Our “Wacko Spew.” Okay, who wouldn’t be intrigued? A subscriber—SUBSCRIBER--wrote the following in a letter:


“I tend to ‘throw up’ in my mouth just a little more each and every time I read your wacko ‘save the Earth’ spew.” 

He goes on to assert that there is "no such thing as man-made global warming," and asks, "Did a bunch of liberal hippies overtake your headquarters?"

Martha

Last year you might remember I decided to do a "month of Martha," where I pretended to be Martha Stewart except without the staff & the money.  The idea behind my experiments is generally to learn something, but mostly what I learned that month is that it stinks to be Martha without the staff and the money.  I still have a few aspirations, so I get Martha's email newsletters for organizational tips, crafting tips, and seasonal tips, though I have to admit I still don't know if I really like Martha Stewart. 

On the one hand, I can truly admire the woman's business sense.  She started out as a caterer, and has now built an empire.  That's impressive. 

The thing that makes it difficult (besides her insistence on the "perfect" way to do everything) is that Martha and I do not live in the same universe.  Four years ago when I was planning our wedding, I actually borrowed a Martha wedding DVD from the library.  In it, Martha explained how to make a g…

New Lesson Learned Today

Just because it was 2 full cups of zucchini when you put it IN the freezer, don't think it's going to be 2 full cups of zucchini when you take it OUT of the freezer.  More like 3/4 of a cup.

Just Over Two Months Left!!!!

I thought that I was getting better at being able to plan meals and stay organized, but it turns out that it was really only because of the garden out the back door.  Now it's back to being a bit of a struggle to keep on top of what I have decided is our highly-overrated need to eat regularly.  Yesterday I sat down with my calendar, a menu planner, and several cookbooks to see if I could figure out meal plans for the next two months, and was instantly reminded why I haven't been using cookbooks this year:

We can't use many of the ingredients.

Believe it or not, the "healthy" cookbooks are the worst.  The healthy "alternative" ingredients--even tofu--are completely off limits this year.  Not that I've exactly been losing sleep over not getting tofu or anything--let's not be silly here--but I did think I might be able to use those cookbooks. 

I thought it might help to keep a spreadsheet of all my canning efforts this year, and I think it will in …

Never A Dull Moment....

So Andy and I are learning Italian together in preparation for a future trip to Italy when he turns 50, so today he sent me the following for Italian practice:

"Pinguini mangiato le mie mutande"

which (we think) means "Penguins ate my underwear."

So you can see we're learning the most useful phrases first.....

Things I've Learned This Week

*  "Quick" lunches were a lot easier when it was warm enough to have yogurt smoothies on a regular basis.

*  Not everyone bakes a "stringy" spaghetti squash, which is probably good news if you don't have a pot of spaghetti sauce waiting for it.

*  Every time I think humans have reached an all-time-low, there's a "Reality TV" show just waiting to prove me wrong.

*  Asking people what his or her favorite books are is a great way to find some new authors. 

*  The idea of going out to get a truckload of manure for the garden was a much more sellable idea BEFORE we knew it would probably be fresh and steaming.

*  Petunias are a very determined flower.  I have petunias coming up now that I didn't even plant.  That's my kind of flower!

*  If you feel the need to make sweeping statements on Facebook about "all" of any group, I'm probably going to feel the need to "de-friend" you.  

*  It's hard not to feel a bit unlov…