24 May 2009

Joining the Club

It never fails that every time I sit down to update my blog, Miss Runtlets has an unstoppable urge to sit on my lap. She really is the sweetest little girl--good thing, too, because it makes it impossible to toss her off.

So, dear blog readers, for this post, and all future posts, you can imagine a happy, purring, snuggly brown tabby kitten on my lap. I, on tne other hand, am going to try to happily ignore her.

It's only Sunday morning but this weekend has felt so long. J had dental surgery on Friday that's left him swollen and in a lot of pain. I went to a "total body conditioning" class on Saturday and got my ass handed to me. A good friend of mine had, in the words of her psychologist, a "mild manic break" that's left me both worried and scared about her road to recovery. And, of course, what's a summer weekend without a wedding? Another of our friends has joined the "old & married" club.

We clean up nicely, don't we?

It was a nice wedding--an outside, small-ish garden wedding and there really is nothing more romantic than watching two people exchange vows. I'm a closeted wedding cryer, but I managed to hold it together to take pictures (thank goodness for busy hands).

Today, we're left cleaning and starting food prep for my parents to visit tomorrow.

17 May 2009

Notes From the Weekend Kitchen

I've spent the majority of my weekend in the kitchen--I love the sudden bursts of culinary productivity!

It started with picking up my CSA box from the farmer's market. Inside were these amazing sugar snap peas--they are the perfect raw snack.. crispy, slightly sweet. I stocked up on two extra quarts to last me through the week!

After picking up our box, I decided to pick strawberries before the season ends. We've been getting steady supplies through our CSA, but I like to freeze them so we can have strawberries throughout the year. The 40 lbs I picked last year lasted us until about a month ago. And, of course, nothing beats homemade, strawberry jam!

The nearly constant rain from this year has been really difficult on the strawberry crop. There were a lot of strawberries with rain damage and it was sad to see so many otherwise ripe strawberries going to waste. As I tend to clean them up as I prepare them for freezing, I tried to pick some of the not-so-beautiful strawberries. I didn't realize I had done that until I returned home and started cleaning them up. I spent almost 4 hours in the kitchen with 20-lbs of strawberries!

While I was cutting, chopping and washing the strawberries, I got inspired to make some garlic herb bread for dinner last night. As I was occupied with the strawberries, I thought that finding a bread machine recipe was the way to go. I found one that looked decent and I faithfully loaded it into my bread machine. As I checked on its progress, it seemed too soft, so after an hour or two in the machine, I took it out, kneaded it by hand and added flour until it held together better.

Was it a success? I suppose so, because as of this morning, this was all that was left:

Since I altered the recipe so much from its original form, I feel pretty good about posting the recipe that I ended up with. Some of the measurements aren't exact--I'm sorry bakers, but I am not a baker. Measuring ingredients precisely is one of the reasons why I don't bake more than I do. :)

Garlic-Herb Cheese Bread:

In a bread machine, add the following:

1 1/4 c warm water
3 c unbleached flour
2 T sugar
2 T softened butter
3 T cheese (est.) (I used sharp cheddar)
1 T yeast
5 t total - your choice of seasonings. I used two cloves garlic, oregano, salt.

I let my bread machine mix the mixture for about an hour and a half until I couldn't stand watching it any longer and thought I could do better if I kneaded it by hand. When I pulled it out of the machine, it was a very, very soft and sticky dough. I added 1/4 c flour and kneaded it until it was still soft, but less sticky. All together, I'm guessing I added a total of 3/4 c - 1 c flour.

After I was happy with the dough consistency, I folded in some extra cheese, probably about half a cup. I patted it into a medium bread loaf pan to rise for about 30 minutes.

In a preheated, 350 degree oven, I baked it for about 30 minutes and then checked it every 5-7 minutes. It took about an hour to cook altogether, but as your loaf pan may be a different size or material, I'd recommend keeping an eye on it.

The end result was delicious--the bread has an amazingly soft, light texture and as we will be fighting over the last piece, I imagine I'll be making more soon!

If you try the recipe, please let me know how it turns out!

03 May 2009

Forgotten Knitting + My Dog is Trying to Tell Me Something

It's been one of those... well, what do you call it? Weeks from hell? Yes, one of those. Not that anything has happened that's so terrible to me, but it seems like everyone around me is grappling with some enormous personal struggle. It feels like there's one giant inhale.. and no one wants to exhale.

Me? Things are okay but life can just be exhausting sometimes. I have piles of to-do lists and less than 5 hours before my weekend ends.

My mother-in-law spent the better part of the weekend with us. It was a nice visit, punctuated with frequent thrifting, a perfect trip to the farmer's market and delicious meals. She left this morning and I've spent the day doing laundry and trying to get the house ready for the week.

One of the things that concerns us most is, always, Q's behavior. I will admit to being a tad partial, but he IS much better than he used to be. Of course, with company, you always hope that your "children" are on good behavior. And Q started off the visit with a bang. So to speak.

Q frequently has joint problems, so I try to give him Happy Hips that have Glucosamine supplement to keep him nice and strong. Runt, who is immensely curious about anything bigger than her that she can jump on, likes to sometimes jump on the fridge and knocks down gifts to the grateful Q below. Of course, these things don't happen while we're at home. Oh, no. They wait to happen until we have guests (and my MIL, at that), and then they're not just tiny problems, but larger, longer-lasting problems.

Long story short, it appears as if Runt knocked down an ENTIRE (read: brand new) bag of Happy Hips, to which Q ate all of. Every last one. This not only led to swollen-belly Q, but also farting Q and the Q that got to sleep alone downstairs. Which in turn, led to difficulties with the outside life, too. Because Q is so hairy, he, ahem, sometimes gets things stuck which leads him to an immediate bath. I will spare you the details, but I'm thankful that I have an awesome husband and a pretty good dog, and with some snipping and some other disgusting maneuvers, we managed to get everything cleaned up.

Everything good, right?

So, jump forward to today, when I gave Q a toy for being (mostly) good during the weekend. A nice innocent toy..

I had tears in my eyes from laughing so hard when I turned the toy around to find this greeting me:

I think my dog is trying to tell me something.