Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pickled Zucchini Relish

The last batch of bread & butter zucchini pickle chips I made with tiny courgettes came out so well with a dash of hot curry powder, that I could think of no other use for the overgrown squash yellow and "black beauty" squashes from James' garden than to make up a zucchini relish - basically the same sort of sweet & sour brine as bread & butter chips but with coarsely grated zucchini & onions.

Relish Ingredients:
  • 12 cups of overgrown squash - skins on but cut out seedy/pithy areas if needed
  • 4-5 fist size red onions
  • 5 Tb sea salt
  • Optional: coarsely grated carrots or red or green sweet pepper
Coarsely grate squash & onions, toss with sea salt and let sit for a couple hours or overnight.  Drain & rinse well - squeeze gently with your hands to get out the liquid.

Brine Ingredients:
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 Tb mustard seed
  • 1 Tb turmeric
  • 1 tsp hot curry powder
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, ground
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds, ground
Combine the brine ingredients, dissolve the sugar and bring to a boil.  Add the vegetables, bring to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes.   Ladle into hot sterilized jars and process in hot water bath depending on size of jar - 10 minutes for 8 oz jars, 15 minutes for 16 oz jars - time starts from return to boiling.

  • TBD

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Squash, pears & lemons!

This morning I started to feel a return to the normal rhythms of summer after being laid up following knee surgery - yeah, I sure know how to have fun!  My friend James gifted me some giant squash last weekend and I admit - I blinked - some of my cocozelle got really enormous.  But having 20# of overgrown squash in the kitchen doesn't present enough of a challeng.

This morning, I borrowed a friend's truck and headed off to pick pears & lemons at someone's house in Kensington.  The pears are small and green, falling easily off the tree - none are really ripe yet so I don't know how they will taste.  The lemons were offered while I was busy picking pears - and they are round, soft ripe Meyer lemons that smell positively gorgeous.

On the way home, I stopped at the Temescal Farmer's Market and ran into Asiya from ForageOakland - I hustled her to the parking lot to load her bag with pears & lemons - we had a nice chat about her blog (go check it out!) and caught up a bit.   James took a few pears and lemons on Sunday, and more are promised to Veronika later this week.  Time to go plan some preserving projects & check in on my garden!

Friday, August 13, 2010

The LAST French Press I Will Ever Buy

After more than 6 years of service, I somehow managed to set down my  Bonjour french press carafe at an angle in the last 1" before it touched the dish towel covered countertop in such a way that it fractured.  After cursing and smashing the last bits of it into the recycling bin, I checked prices for replacements online and hiked up to the strip mall at the corner to see what they had at CVS. 

As I passed Starbucks, my brain checked me and I went in to take a look.  They had a Bodum Bistro stainless steel double wall 34 oz french press.  Intrigued, I continued to CVS to see the options.  The press they had there was glass and horribly flimsy plastic for $19.99 - about the cost of the replacement glass online. 

It took me about five seconds to see that the $50 stainless steel model would save me money in the long run - even if the handle breaks off - the carafe will work forever and I won't have to put the last cup of coffee in the microwave to warm it up because it's better insulated.  Even better, when I got home - I saw that Starbucks has some sort of deal with Bodum as the price listed on the Bodum website is $80! 

Yes, it was Starbucks.  Yes, it is made in China.  But - I'll never have to replace it!  I'll just call that green and call it a day.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My New Fave - Bamboosa Circle Skirt

After a week on the beach and a relatively sprightly return on the Kalalau Beach Trail in Kauai last spring, I wanted to treat myself to a day on the town in Kapa'a the following day.  After I got a haircut, I wanted something more comfortable than the shorts and cotton knit sundress I had been wearing.  I happened to walk into a store selling Bamboosa clothing - made from sustainably grown & organic bamboo. 

The knee-length skirt has been so comfortable that I went to the website and got two more skirts - and a pair of men's boxers made of the same fabric - for myself.  I could be come positively large as a house and not care wearing these skirts. 

After placing my order online - I e-mailed customer service a few days later to find out how long it would take to receive my items.  Their customer service was quick, responsive and friendly (thanks Jennifer!).

My purchase arrived today - everything is as I hoped: Priya Skirt, Priya Circle Skirt (just a longer version), knit scarf and men's boxers.  The men's boxers are VERY comfortable.  The entire package was plastic free!  Recycled cardboard box sealed with brown-tape-glue and the clothing was wrapped in chlorine free recycled tissue and tied with brown twine.  No plastic!

Even better than recycling...

Lately, I have been seeing a ton of televisions offered "free" on Freecycle and the free section of Craigslist.  It baffles me that people never think of donating perfectly good working televisions & DVD players to their local children's hospital or nursing home.  When I mention this to folks - it's like a lightbulb goes off over their heads.  Recently, I splurged and got a new television - but my 19" CRT television still works perfectly well and doesn't have any bad spots (why should it since I have only watched movies on it and am hardly a couch potato).  I confess - with my recent convalescence, I just decided I wanted a bigger and more energy efficient TV that doesn't weigh so much.  And a DVI to stream Netflix.

Rather than Freecycle my television and old DVD players, I called the Children's Hospital Family home - turns out they do need a TV and DVD players.  The Oakland Children's Hospital also need lots of other stuff - things that I never thought of for crafts projects and such.

Here are a few things that tickled my fancy:

  • Art and craft supplies 
  • Beanie Babies 
  • Crayons & Colored Pencils 
  • Crossword Puzzle Books: for both kids and parents 
  • Games: such as Monopoly, Clue, Scrabble, Battleship, Chutes and Ladders, Yahtzee, Life, chess, checkers, Boggle, Trouble, Connect Four and memory games 
  • Hot Wheels Toys, Small Cars & Trucks 
  • Journals, Blank Books, NotebooksMad Libs 
  • Magazines: for all ages, including magazines in Spanish 
  • Mini Needlepoint Kits
  • Playing Cards: including UNO, Old Maid, Crazy Eights 
  • Safety Scissors 
  • Scrapbook Supplies
  • Stationary Sets
  • Stickers 
  • Knitting Yarn & Knitting Needles: all sizes (Family Resource & Information Center) 
  • Crochet Hooks: (Family Resource & Information Center)
  • Booties: Knit or crochet baby booties (including preemie size)
  • Favors: Make tray favors or origami for patient meal trays
  • Sew: Sew a quilt or wheelchair backpack. Please use only new, not used fabric.
I think I am most likely to make up a bunch of twin size quilts with small pillows to send sick kids home with sweet dreams.  Last little girl who received a quilt I made said it was "magic" - a big red velvet heart with gold fringe on a field of 8" wide alternating green & white patterned and white bands.  I've been kind of thinking about making less pattern oriented quilts and using up some fabric - but using a simpler background to do some fun applique stuff - and maybe these kids can be my guinea pigs.  :)

I wonder how kids would love the little creatures that Hannah at Bittersweet makes, like the cute little froggy.