Sunday, April 29, 2012

Leek Tart

Linking up with Skip To My Lou today!

I grow leeks every couple of years and the only drawback to leeks is that they really aren't ready after one season.  However, the cool thing is that after the winter, they are one of the few things out there, growing with abandon and I do love it when spring comes and actual foods are growing without my effort.

My leeks never get like the huge things in the stores.  Last year, I let them sit longer and they went to seed and were VERY woody.  I didn't mind, but k-ster didn't like picking "sticks" out of his food, so I can't do that again.  I'm ok with small, finger sized leeks.

This spring, I was surprised to see about 12 leeks growing where I don't remember planting them!  I always get a little freaked out about eating a food that I didn't actually plant.  Like, where did this rogue plant come from?  Could it be poisonous (when it looks like every single one that I grew?)  For those who are keeping track, this is further evidence  that I make no sense.

I could sense that they were about to bolt, so I picked them today and made this Leek Tart as a little pre-supper entertainment**.

Preheat oven to 375.

These were all of my leeks.  Together, they might have equalled 3 of those that you get at the store.

I washed them, cut the roots off and most of the green.


You can see that I couldn't help using some of the green. I  think people are nuts to throw away every piece of green, so I go as far as I can before they start to feel thick and tough. I also added about 1/3 of an onion because there wasn't as much leek as I wanted there to be.  I added 2 cloves of garlic and sauteed it all in olive oil.

And the garlic stuck to the pan and I wasn't too happy.


I happened to have a pie crust in the refrigerator which is almost unheard of.  But I got tricked by Stop and Shop and then didn't have the desire to fight with customer service.  So now I have a plethora of pie crust.

Anycrust, I put some Grey Poupon mustard, some Greek Oregano that was just popping up the garden and smooshed them around the pie crust.


I grated some parmesan and Colby Jack cheese on the bottom and then put the sauteed stuff on top and then put a little more cheese on top of that.  I added Italian herb blend because I didn't have Herbes de Provence and except for the lavender, they are really the same blend.  Oh, I put some cracked pepper too.


I folded the pie crust around "rustic" style.


I baked it at 375 for 22 minutes and it was pretty tasty!

The real recipe is here, but who has time for real recipes?  And you'll see that I really didn't follow this actual recipe at all.  It was merely a suggestion.

I can't tell you a single quantity except "some" of everything.  Oh, and ONE pie crust.  And TWO cloves of garlic.

** K-ster isn't too thrilled when I serve something we already ate, so I figured I'd create a diversion.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Slugs Are Thugs

Slugs are assholes.

I planted 20 carrots. They were doing so well.

I have a serious slug problem every spring, but it's been so dry this spring, I thought I was safe. I went from cute little carrot tops to these in a matter of days.

 

Little green sticks, some reduced to nothing. 



 I have 2 of these full carrot tops left. 


I even brought out the beer traps, just like the slugs like.  But then it rained and watered down the beer and the slugs thought the carrot tops were tastier.  And less hazardous.


I've been reduced to bringing out the big guns. I'm going to try putting my seedlings in jails like these to keep the slugs out.  They'll eat anything except tomatoes.

They're really putting a damper on my fabulous spring.

Monday, April 23, 2012

I Fell For It Every Time

As I said the other day, I spent a few days at my sister a-ster's house during April vacation.  Since I rarely go away, people always think it sounds exotic that I went to my sister's, so they always want to know what I did.

And I never have anything normal to say.  I just say "nothing, really" because that's what I do when I go there.  And I like that.  I do nothing, a-ster cooks because she likes to do that, and then I come home.  And now that l-ster is on the scene, I play with her while a-ster makes my meals.

Why would I bother to go anywhere else?

Where they live, there are a lot of deer.   Like so many deer, it's a nuisance.  I'm still pretty amazed by the herds of deer that we see and the way they dart out into traffic.

This time, I only saw a couple of deer one evening when I was walking.

 But this thing?  I saw it no less than 15 times a day and every time, I'd think "oh wow, there's a deer right next door!"  EVERY. TIME.  For 4 days.  Sometimes, I'd be in the yard, and turn around and see it and think it was real even though 10 minutes before, it was fake.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Just A Regular Coffee, Please

This post is so ludicrous, I feel like I just have to share it here and here   and here and  here and here

Hop on over there, after you read this, and see what else people have to share!

Alas, the ipad is back in my mother's hands and out of mine and I am not too sad.  My father is a little surprised that I don't love the ipad because he loves all that is Apple.

Ahhh, spacing.  See that?  There's a space between the last little paragraph and this one.  On the ipad, I can't make spaces appear in blogger, so it really puts a cramp in my blogging style.  And, don't tell k-ster, but since 99.5% of my time spent at a computer is related to blogging, I don't need any more cramps in my style than I already have.

Ahh, space again.

Anyspace, back to my post.

I spent the first 4 days of my school vacation at my sister a-ster's house.  It's nice to go there and not really have plans.  L-ster is almost a year old and is very busy standing and crawling.   She's still taking 2 naps a day, so we didn't make too many plans to do stuff.  And I was fine with that.  Plus it was 85 degrees one day and that was way too hot too soon for me, so I was fine to just loll about on the blanket in the back yard while supervising l-ster in a heat induced coma.

The last day I was there, we went to the zoo.  I get a kick out of the zoo, especially because it's free, so there's no pressure to be there for any length of time.  We were there for a couple of hours and then on the way out, we thought it would be nice to get a coffee from Starbucks.

When I'm on vacation, summer vacation or one during the year, I tend to drink iced coffee in the afternoon.  Around here, my choices are limited, so it's either my house special thanks to the Keurig, or Dunkin Donuts.

I am not familiar with the workings of Starbucks.  In fact, the only Starbucks I have been in was in Paris in February and it was incident free, as I expected this would be.

A-ster sat outside with l-ster and I went in to get her a soy latte and a drink for myself.  I intended to get an iced coffee, but when I walked in the door, I remembered that I once had a Starbucks Frappucino in a bottle (from the grocery store, those nasty things you can buy) that later was possibly the cause of the only food poisoning I've ever experienced.  I have a thing about food that might have been involved in making me sick, so I immediately was not interested in a cold coffee beverage from Starbucks.

I should have left at that point.

Instead, I thought I'd have a hot coffee.  With cream and sugar.  While I make my coffee at home black for the most part, I do like actual cream and sugar in mine when I'm buying it.

So, I walked up to the counter and ordered a tall soy latte with no incident.  I thought that would be the tricky order.  And then I tried to order myself some coffee.

If they just had normal sizes (small, medium, large, this would be a lot easier).

Me:  And a regular tall latte for me, you know, with cream and sugar.

Barista:  Umm, you mean you want syrup?

Me:  Syrup?  No, I want cream and sugar.

Barista:  Do you mean like packets of sugar?

Me:  Oh, do I do it?  Do I have to put the sugar in myself?  Is that what you mean?  (I swear, I was not shrieking this, or trying to look distressed but I wonder if she thought I was going to freak out)

Barista:  Um, well, um, like packets?  Do you want packets of sugar?  Or syrup?

Again, I should have taken the soy latte and left at that point.  I briefly scanned the room to see if I was missing the little station where maybe I do my own cream and sugar, but I was blinded by the "packets or syrup" thing, so I didn't see anything.

Me:  Ok, I don't want any of your stinkin' syrups, no flavors, just cream and sugar.  Now, do I have to do it or do you?

Barista:  (very patiently explaining) We have syrups, is that what you mean?  Like our classic syrup?  That doesn't have any flavoring.

Me:  Classic?  What is it?

Barista:  It's like liquid sugar.

Me:  Ok, fine.  Liquid sugar and cream.  In my latte.

So, she writes something on a cup for me, writes the S for soy latte on a cup and then puts the cups to the side.  For the imaginary person next to her to deal with them I guess, because she turned and helped the next customer while I stood there like a fool.

The next customer just got an unsweetened iced coffee and left in like 2 seconds.  Like I should have.

Then it was just me again.  With my outrageous order of cream and sugar.  That the Barista should get for me.

Since the imaginary coffee pourer/latte  maker didn't appear, now the girl had to deal with me.  So she made the soy latte, no problem.

Then it was time for mine.  My "cream and sugar" with the liquid sugar syrup.  And the cream that was going into a latte?  I was only thinking that it should not take like 20 minutes when I am only one of 2 customers in the store.  And that I really should have ordered a cold coffee because this hot one will take forever to cool.

So, she starts pumping the liquid sugar and I hear it sputtering like it's the end of the bottle, so now she has to get another one.  Now the imaginary person DOES appear and she says something about "this lady wants classic syrup" and then I didn't hear the rest but I am sure it involved a good chuckle in the back.

Classic syrup appeared but the bottle was too full, so she had to pour some down the drain.  WHAT????  She manages to reassemble the pump and squirts in some more and then the fun begins.  Now she has to add cream to my latte.  I guess.  Because I heard her frothing something.  And then she was kind of bumping around looking for a spoon to hold back the froth and then she did some more finagling back there.

Finally, she handed me the soy latte and then stumbled over what she was going to call mine.  And she added that she didn't know if it was sweet enough, but if I needed more liquid sugar, to let her know.  I heard like 5 pumps go into that cup, so I was sure it would be sweet enough.  Especially since it's liquid sugar and it's likely hundreds of times sweeter than any packet could ever be.

What a great disappointment it turned out to be!  Mostly milk!  In a latte.  Go figure~!

As I was explaining my annoyance at all that went on and how it took so loong, a-ster was rolling on the floor that I asked the girl to do cream and sugar for me.

That's not how it's done at Starbucks and she should know, because she lived on the west coast for a decade.  She played out for me what the conversation was probably like between the Baristas when I left--- remember the one who made me put cream and sugar in it for her????  What a princess!

And it was only then, as I said the word latte out loud that I realized I should not have asked for cream in my latte.

In my confusion, in the world where tall is small and vente doesn't mean #20, I was thinking latte just meant coffee.  I forgot about the milk part of the latte.  I was so confused by all of the lingo. 

And I'm usually so good with languages.

I should have ordered a drip coffee, a-ster now tells me.

And I should have just gone to Dunkin Donuts.

And just so we're clear that I am not alone in my Starbucks nightmare, look at what I found on another site!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Nobody Mess With Me- I've Got A Frozen Chicken In This Bag

As I've mentioned befor I like to get organic chickens and eggs from a farm near my sister a-ster's house. As I left today, she handed me an absurdly frozen chicken and a dozen eggs to bring home with me on the train. Yet another advantage to taking the train. No shake down over my luggage contents. What, is that weird? At least I feel safe. One swing of this bag and I'd knock someone out for a week. This chicken is so frozen! When I told k-ster I was bringing home a chicken, he Thought I meant a live one. And Instead of being concerned about what we were going to do with a live chicken in our yard, he was more worried that I was bringing it on the train. His reaction? NO LIVE CHICKENS ON THE TRAIN!!! THIS ISN'T EFFING INDIA!!! This is my last Post with this iPad. Yippee.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I'm Still Here

But the iPad? Not my friend. I'll be ack to regular posting later this week. Hope you will surviv the delay...

Friday, April 13, 2012

I Think the Internet Is Setting Me Up

I am pretty sure that right now, technology is out to get me and i blame it on these guys http://www.sparkling74.blogspot.com/2012/03/verizons-helping.html I don't know how, but I am sure they are doing this to me in their behind the scenes technology world. Because, until this morning, this post was all about the "pineapple plant" that I am "growing". But then I touched my mothers iPad that I am using while I visit y sister's and I made that post vanish and I can't repost the pictures until get home. My laptop is heavy and the battery is completely dead, and I am curious about tablets, so I asked my other if I could use her iPad for this trip. I am not in love. I fact, i am pretty annoyed. It's not all the sliding, gliding joy I though it would be. So, stick around and see what 5 days of iPad use does to me. I will either figure it out and fall I love and my other will have to pry it out of my hands when I get home,or I will toss it I the canal as I drive hoe and bid it farewell.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Love Is A Many Splendor Thing

What does that even mean?

I happened upon these two scenes in my yard today.  Spring is definitely in the air and everything seems to be in love.

 A couple of peas holding hands over the trellis.

A couple of tractors settling in -- to watch a movie, perhaps?

And once again, I speak to you  Verizon.  Shove it.

Monday, April 9, 2012

What A Swell Company

My sister watched from the ferry window while her backpack fell off the luggage cart and was not only dragged around the parking lot, but also run over by the cart itself.  When she got off the ferry and got her back, it was torn up and streaked with tire tracks.

She called LLBean to see what they would do about it.  They told her they have a guarantee and would be happy to replace it if she would send it in.  She explained that it had been dragged around a parking lot and they still told her they'd replace it.

And they did.

That was in the 90s.

Ever since then, I have never hesitated to return things to LLBean when they've worn out or not held up to their claims.  And they've refunded me every single time, or sent another, at my request.

Even without a receipt.

20 years ago, I bought my first LLBean backpack.


2 trips to Europe, a million bike rides and years of carrying everything and anything, my LLBean backpack was finally starting to lose its luster.  The zipper wasn't reliable anymore and kept splitting (in the airport on my way to France!!).  And the fabric was kind of nasty.  BUt otherwise, it was in pretty good condition.

I don't even know if they make them like this anymore.  They have all sorts of funky kinds now.

But I wanted to see if they would still uphold their guarantee.

And they did!!  20 years later!!!  Nary a question.

I returned them with a pair of slippers whose fleece was worn out and they gave me a credit of $83.99 for the two things!!  WHOOO HOOO!

What a great company.  They have my loyalty.

You know who isn't a great company lately?  This one.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

I'm Pushing Spring Like A User Pushes Pills

Joining up with Skip To My Lou ...

...because even though this isn't crafty, I sure did make it happen! It's hard to believe it'll be 2 more months before I can see this kind of lushness again.


Or hear the happy hum of these guys snacking on the milkweed flowers.


So, here's what I have going on to tide me over.  This is the first whole year I've had with the greenhouse, so I started some stuff in the fall that I hoped would grow over the winter.

First was the broccoli that I started in October and grew all winter.  About a month ago, I started picking the florets and then when they started to practically melt in the 100 degree heat in the greenhouse a few weeks ago, I put them outside.



 Happily, we had a mild winter, so those that were left outside in garden #1 were able to winter over.  This is what's left after I cut off a bunch of florets last week to make soup.  Plenty more is a comin'.


I started peas in the greenhouse to be sure they get a good start.  We have some awful crows here that will flip the new plants right out of the ground, if I'm not careful.  I put them in these containers so I could move them out and not transplant them and because I wanted to grow something that would benefit the soil in them and peas are supposed to do that.

I never seem to grow enough pea plants to actually get more than a handful of pods at a time, so I've planted quite a few this year.



 I thought my greenhouse would actually stay above freezing if I had lot of black fabric in it, but it really didn't.  As soon as the temperature dropped outside, it dropped in the greenhouse.  After a particularly cold night that I wasn't prepared for in November, all of my geraniums that I thought would be lush and plentiful throughout the winter just died.

Today, I saw this little geranium growing back from the dead plants from November.


Here are some zinnias all ready to goo crazy.  These are the rest of the seeds from that 25 cent packet I bought at Dollar Tree last year that grew 3-5 feet tall.


My "kerrits".   I have 3 packets of carrot seeds from my Kerrits pants and so far, this is what I have growing.  Now that I know what carrot tops look like, I might actually know what I'm doing this year~!


THese are volunteer sunflowers.  I'm serious!  I have no idea where they came from, but they all grew with my peas.  There were no sunflower seeds with my peas when I planted them, so this is a great mystery.  The only answer I have is that they must have been clustered in that bit of compost that I used for the peas.  They are really hot to trot and I really want to put them outside but I think they will die if it gets really cold.


These sunflowers are not volunteers.  I deliberately planted these from some seeds that I saved last year.  They look a little different from the plants above, which makes this even more of a mystery.  Can't wait to see what they end  up looking like!


Radishes.  I've never grown radishes but I'm going to try them this year.


These are the swiss chard plants I've been growing all winter.  I've picked a bunch a couple of times and they are doing fine.  Some of them look like they might be starting to bolt because it does get so hot in the greenhouse some days when I don't open the sides before I leave for school.


Look closely.  These are the swiss chard plants that came back from what I planted in garden #1 last year!  I think I counted 5 or 6 of them.  It surprised me last year when 2 of my plants came back, so this year, I made sure to look as soon as things started to green up in the garden.  I think they'll  produce a little before going to seed.


New swiss chard seedlings.  I want to put these out but I think I'll wait until the end of April.


Marigolds.  Like the zinnias, these are the final seeds from the 25 cent packet of marigold I bought last year at the Dollar Tree and these were marigold BUSHES, not plants!  Now that i know how big they should get, I will be a little smarter about where I plant them!


 Kale.  I only grew kale once.  I am not the biggest fan of it, but maybe I will grow to like it!


K-ster's lavender from last year.  A couple of these plants are looking really healthy.  They took forever to start last year and didn't seem like they were doing all that well, but here they are!


I started green beans in these pots.  I will plant many more successions since I had success (ha ha) with blanching and freezing them last year.  Like the peas, I put them in these pots to benefit the soil.


And now for confession.  When I bought the greenhouse, I could have bought a heater kit for another couple hundred dollars.  It's a propane system.  I thought it was pretty ludicrous since this is a plastic greenhouse with plenty of non sealed seams.  It seemed like I'd just be throwing money away.

Plus, I was sure I would be able to keep things above 32 degrees over the winter.

Alas, there was the great frost of November that ruined everything but the broccoli, chard, lavender and apparently that one little geranium, so I gave up on doing much this past winter.

When we had unseasonable HOT weather a few weeks ago, I couldn't help myself and I planted a lot of stuff.  And then they talked about it going back to freezing.  And I thought about all of the seeds that would die.

And how I wasn't going to be running seed trays in and out of my house for the next month on the nights we might have a frost.

So, k-ster put a propane heater out there for one night and though it didn't keep it hot, it did keep the temperature up a little bit.  But I didn't like that heater and it doesn't have much in the way of controls, so I bought this little number.


I am such a cheater.  I've used it a few times and it has kept it slightly warmer.  Warm enough that I notice a difference when I walk in.  It actually has settings and I can set it to only go on when the air is colder than the temperature I want.  I haven't yet had to really test it to see if it will keep the air warmer than 32 degrees if it's really cold outside.

And I have no idea what it will do to the electric bill.

And I get to add to my list of things that keep me up at night "what if the greenhouse burns down".  K-ster says that won't happen because there's nothing near it that can fall on it to make catch on fire.  But you know how things happen that can't be explained.

So there we go, a little preview of what's to come for gardens #1 and #2.   And possibly #3?  Hmmm........

I'm still not over this.  They can bite me.




Friday, April 6, 2012

No One Wore the Pants

Linking up with : Finding the Funny

I know you think I have an obsession with talking about underwear.    Maybe I do.  I talk about it here, here and here.  I probably should see someone about this.

But this time, I have a little something  to share about underwear.  And it's not mine!

Fumbling around in the laundry basket before school, I grabbed my gym shorts so I could teach a class at the gym after school.

Imagine my shock when they didn't fit!
In my haste to grab these:



I grabbed k-ster's underwear!  And I realized it as I had like 5 minutes before my class started.  None of my own shorts were in my bag, not even a dirty pair.  No yoga pants just waiting to be found.

It's a women's gym, so pretty much anything goes, but since k-ster is about twice my size, they wouldn't stay up!

So I had to teach in the pants I wore to school all day!

Nothing like Pilates in regular pants.  Non stretchy, regular pants. 

Well, I guess Pilates in men's underwear would really have been something,  but I wasn't ready to show them MY underwear in the process, so regular pants it was!

Oh, on a completely unrelated note.   Verizon?  As my student yelled to me when I waved as I passed by her walking down the road, you can SUCK IT!!!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Who's Counting

Ok, as of yesterday, I officially became one of those teachers who now works with someone she taught.  What does that mean????

He's like 27 or so.  I taught him during my first year.   It's not like we're THAT far apart in age.

But it's definitely weird.

Guess I better make sure I keep working on this or I'll  be "old" before I know it!

Oh, did you see my post about Verizon?   You better see what kind words I  have for them here.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Such Cuteness

Joining Made By You Mondayswith this new kid in the block. 




I thought this little guy was really cute, so I made one.  It's supposed to be alpaca.  I'm thinking more hedgehog or lamb.  But cute, anyway.

He's for sale on my etsy if you are so inclined.  He took forever to make but I did learn that loop stitch.  And he cracks me up every time I look at him.

He tickles my fancy~!

Did you miss my post about all of the good that Verizon is doing?  If you have Verizon, you better check this post.