Aug 8, 2014

iPhone Foodies



iPhone Foodies!


Hello my lovely readers,

I hope August is starting out good for you. You know, I think if we were able to peek into someone's iPhone pics, we would see the usual friends' photos, children, grand babies, a few travel pics, and always gatherings. But, then again, I think we would also see another side of the iPhone's owner if all their pics were revealed. Well, that is what happened to me just last night. I got a notice on my phone telling me that my "iCloud" was full and I should delete data or buy more space. Not one to be ordered around by a phone, I decided to take a gander at what was taking up so much room. It seems to be photos...go figure. Yes, I had the usual travel pics, several future possible antique purchases, our kitties, and even a selfie of our seven-year anniversary on the very date we first met in the park (above). We are sitting on the very bench where we first exchanged our flirting, and where I was asked to be the barber's wife. BTW, I am digging the barber's beard...and it is even longer now. I think it is masculine and sexy. I tease him that he is just excited to be able to grow something above his neck after decades of being clean-shaven both on chin and head....hahaha.

As I scrolled through all my iPhone images, I started to see a pattern. A lot of darn food shots. I realize that just about all the food shots were taken in haste, so I could text it to my barber husband while he is at work.  You see, I believe we are what I call "iPhone Foodies." My shots were not taken for "beauty" but for "boost." My beloved is a real foodie - and I love that about him. He is on his feet all day long, cutting hair, shaving men, and being an ear to the customer who shares a tale or two. It is just exhausting work, as he comes home and needs to soak in the hot bath to soothe his aching back and feet. 

It's not a big secret that I truly enjoy cooking - especially from scratch. I never realized how many food images I take, and how many I have deleted in the past (100's!). I discovered that my beloved gets a boost when I quickly text him what I am doing in the kitchen - especially if I am making dinner. His reply text is almost always, "Mmmmm! Looks good!" His text always makes me smile, but I realize that a quick pic also makes him smile, hopefully takes his mind of his feet, and most importantly, will make him a happy husband who can't wait to get home (to me...not just dinner :-)

So last night, as I was about to delete even more food pics, I thought about you all. I thought it would be fun to show you a side of us - iPhone Foodies - that actually is a big part of who we are.  Not so pretty pics (some pretty darn blurry), but lots of love and work behind the-less-than-perfect shots. If quick pics make my beloved smile, then maybe they will bring a smile to you too.

Enjoy!




This was a bread making experiment day. I like to take a pic of the steps and text them so my barber husband can feel like a part of it, and like I said, to maybe distract him a bit from all his standing.





I was making artisan bread with a very "quick and easy" recipe. And actually, it was! The bread turned out to be delicious and just the perfect size for the two of us.





This was my first time to make cabbage rolls. They turned out great and I am happy to say that since then, I no longer need toothpicks to hold them together. I simmer them over sauerkraut and serve them with a red sauce and a dab of sour cream. Another hit according to my beloved. In fact, he was so impressed, he insisted on giving his Polish friend (cabbage roll expert) a bag full. I just recently got a report from said Polish friend, and he said they were wonderful.




It looks like I had to take a bite and then took a pic....actually, I seemed to have several photos of food with bites taken out of them. I get so busy in the kitchen, I almost forget to take a pic before I go on to the next step.






Sometimes, my foodie pics come straight from the garden. Below are some harvested greens and herbs that I snapped and text to my better half, "Look how much today!"






After harvesting the above herbs, I dry them, and then store them in vintage jars. The purple basil is by far, our favorite. I use it in my tomato basil soup - very creamy!!







Sometimes, I don't text any pics until it is all done...like this farm-raised hen and lots of vegetables (some from our garden).  I think it helps him get through the last hour of work - he knows I set it out to "rest" for quite a while to get the juices going. I have an antique graniteware roaster that has a tight lid and a little, tiny, steam flap that I barely open, letting only a little steam out.





I will share a sweet something about my sweetie. He loves a little nightcap. His "nightcap" is a bite of something sweet and some milk. I try to always make him something that is "healthy" and at the very least, not from a box with chemicals. Below is some "healthy" oatmeal cookies with some chocolate chunks. He LOVES them - he doesn't realize that I use a little almond extract to give it a little kick. My reasoning is I am using real eggs, real butter, good oats, and good milk. No chemicals, not a lot of sugar. But when I text him these cookies...I already know if I don't have milk in the fridge, he will stop on the way home to get some.






And speaking at stopping at the store for milk...I laughed when I came across this pic last night. I am guessing I took it to show him I went grocery shopping as it was most likely over due! How funny that he is such a foodie, that the food can still be in bags, and that makes him happy. How cute.




And another grocery shopping pic...there is  story here. About a week prior to taking this pic, my foodie and I were in the grocery store. I was all the way on the other side when I discovered I needed a small can of diced tomatoes. I sent him to go get a SMALL can of diced tomatoes, and I told him I would meet him at the counter. He shows up, and says there aren't any small cans of diced tomatoes only huge ones - and shows me the one he found. Exasperated, as he has a very well-earned reputation of not finding most things, I tell him that I KNOW there are small cans of it, as it is a store staple. He insists there isn't. I shake my head, and tell him again, I KNOW there is, he just didn't find it. He was adamant that I was wrong and betted me $5 that there are none. 

So I head for the aisle and tell him I am 100% sure they have diced tomatoes.  Well, you can guess how the story ends. There was NO small cans of diced tomatoes...and I stood there dumbfounded and whining, "How in the world can a store not have small cans of diced tomatoes??! That's like not having any loaves of bread!" I look up and his hand is out for payment, and a big grin on his face.  Determined not "to lose" I point to rows and rows of small cans of crushed tomatoes and point to them and say, "Well, see here, here are the small cans!" And he is very quick to correct me that the can says "CRUSHED not DICED." And I try to convince him (to no avail) that he should have known that crushed would work as well as diced...sigh...I can only imagine what the customers thought as they walked past our conversation.




Well, the story continues...only days later, I made a quick stop at the same store, and happened to go down the tomato aisle, and well, well, well, what do I see? CASES of diced tomatoes. So I snapped a quick pic (pretty blurry) and quickly texted him, "SEE...I TOLD you they have it...." to which he texted back, "Not the day you said they did though." Darn it. (I think I still owe him $5 - don't tell him.)


We had a bumper crop of spinach this year. So I found myself making lots of spinach and cheese quiche. So quick, so easy and so good! LOTS of spinach in it, and it refrigerates and keeps so well.





After a few quiches, I decided that we should probably not be eating so much crust, so I started to make crustless quiche. It was a big hit, and very simple as well. Plus, I think him getting a pic of a different type of quiche added to the excitement...hahaha.





I almost didn't include the pic of mushrooms below, as that is the only pic to the story. However, I thought it would be fun to show you that sometimes I even take a quick pic of just the ingredients to let him guess what I am making. But when he sees a pile of sliced mushrooms, he knows I am going to be making rich mushroom soup (one of his favorites).  I had to laugh at myself when I saw this pic...almost as bad as the bags of groceries!





This year we did pretty well with the potatoes. We estimated we got about 40 pounds or so. It was fun (but hard work) digging them up. I think once I get a pressure canner, I will make lots of potato soup and can it. I make the soup with homemade stock, bits of bacon, onion, and lots of potatoes and of course, some cream. It is so hardy and perfect for a snowy day.









It's hard to believe that such huge potatoes started out like this below:





But until I can get a good pressure canner, I am preserving my potatoes for winter in other ways. I don't have a root cellar, so I am freezing potatoes both in sticks and whole as well. Those little ones below in the bowl, will be frozen whole after I blanch them. 




I just blanched the sticks and now I am "flash freezing" them before I bag them up.



I made twice baked potatoes, as well as roasted potatoes with our own grown herbs. I see my foodie popping them in his mouth as if they were candy.  





We didn't get a lot of apples this year - I think the hard winter had a lot to do with it, as local orchards have small crops this year also. So with the few apples we did manage to harvest, I made an apple crumb cake just the other day. It turned out so delicious. 













I hope you enjoyed my little iPhone food tour. After looking at these, I realize I need to hold the phone more stable. Or, maybe get out my good camera and use that instead. But, when in the kitchen, and pans, bowls, and ingredients everywhere, I just don't think about getting out the Canon.  I think I will try to take a pic here and there of when I serve it...but then again, that may not go well for Mr. Foodie. When my dish is served to my beloved, it is meant to be eaten, and not serve as a model. :-)

I'm very lucky to have a better half that appreciates and compliments every meal (EVERY meal) and that makes spending time in the kitchen all the more enjoyable. That, and using fresh ingredients, homegrown produce, while supporting the local farms. I hope your meals, be it fast food, homemade, or out of a box, is eaten with gusto - and with a loved one -that is the secret recipe for a really grand dish!

from my house to your house

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Jul 13, 2014

Getting the Moonbeam Glow



Late, two nights ago, I was sitting on the sofa, after a tiring day and looked up and saw what could be a really beautiful moon. I got up and opened up the front door, stepped out, and was just amazed by it. I called out to my barber husband, 

“Come here! You have to see the moon!” 





He comes out of the kitchen and onto the front porch and hugs me from behind as we both look up. 

“Yeah, that sure is pretty isn’t it?” he says with a squeeze. We watch for a minute or two, as the clouds, very quickly covered, and then uncovered, and again recovered the moon. Suddenly, he suggests,


“Why don’t you take pictures of it?”



I had just spent some time that day shooting, and was pooped. It was so dark outside, I knew I would need a tripod, and I have no lens for that type of shot. 





“Nah,” I said. “Won’t turn out good, it will be gone soon, and I’m tired.”

He asked me again, and prodded me bit, until I agreed but told him don’t expect much. (I apologize for the graininess...had highest iso set and it was handheld...)

My camera was still in the living room and I knew I had no time for the tripod, as the clouds were coming in and very soon, the moon would be covered. I turn on my camera, look up, zoomed in, and began to focus the lens.

And just like that...






...I am once again one in my own world with my camera.  Everything around me disappears, as I work my settings, watch the clouds, refocus, and kept clicking. All these photos were taken in less than one minute, as the clouds seemed to whip by and then before I knew it, the moon disappeared quietly, behind a soft blanket of wispy clouds.

Why am I sharing this? 

Well, mainly because I like you a lot, and like to share. But also, that tiny exercise in creativity was such a wonderful reminder of how our lives can be filled with creative passion. I define creative passion as an adventure that leaves the creator longing for more time to create. 







Isn’t that what passionate, creative souls actually long for? More time? We don’t long to actually crave to create, because we do and always will. But the issue of time is actually paradoxical. While I am passionately creating (be it cooking, designing, shooting, painting, gardening...), I am lost in a timeless euphoria, while at the same time, keenly aware of how confining my creative clock continues to tick loudly. Be it the constant movement of natural light that challenges my creativity, moment by moment. Or be it the time it takes for paint to dry, a cake to rise, or for vegetables to grow in my garden. How incongruous  is my creative spirit that gets lost in the passion of weeding, clipping, caring, watering, and eventually, harvesting my vegetables, while at the same time, patiently present of the seasons and the time it takes to produce the products of my passion?






Although it was late, and I was tired, as soon as I held up my camera to my eye, it was as if I was being refreshed. I no longer was tired, and I didn’t even notice that my beloved quietly left me alone on the porch, as he learned long ago, my love affair with my lens is a competition he rather not enter. 





What this experience taught me was taking only a moment for our passion is like fresh air to the creative soul. We so often put off our creative projects for so many reasons...it is late...I am tired...need to get the house cleaned...must cook dinner...and on and on. But what is so easy to forget is that even if only for a moment, the more we indulge our creative soul, the more alive we are for our loved ones and are able to perform our daily, mundane chores with more purpose  Everything just seems better, feels better, and looks better when our creative soul is momentarily released.





Like I stated earlier, these images took less than one minute to take...but that one minute ignited my creative spirit with a blast of fresh air. When I returned from the porch and joined my barber husband on the sofa, I forgot I was even tired. I happily clicked through my images on the camera screen to show him, and he smiled down at me and said, “Aren’t you glad you took the pictures now?” 

I smiled up at him.

I nodded and thought how happy I am to be on our sofa, with my beloved, and with the very slight glow of moonbeam shining in through our window. 






And that is what our creative spirit is like...it can brightly glow, or at times, it can only slightly glow...we just need to keep our window open so as to receive the beauty of our passion.





May your moonbeam always glow...just keep your window open to receive it.

from my house to your house,




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Jun 26, 2014

My Favorite Things Part 3



Updated 26 June
please note that I just discovered many comments that never made it to my email! Please see comments section for my response, and I apologize to all who took time to comment, but never made it to me. Cyber "connections" can be so frustrating! 


Hello!

I hope this week is going well for you. I went out of town for a bit, and when I returned, I brought with me a nasty cold (or flu?) and as I make my way through my second box of kleenex, I thought I would finish up my mini series on a few of my favorite things that happen to be vintage, that I use routinely. I have enjoyed the emails I have received, learning about what you like to use as well.

Before I show you a few of my favorite things, I would like to announce the:

WINNER of GIFT CERTIFICATE TO SHOP NOVICA

IS

SANDI OF A COTTAGE MUSE - CONGRATULATIONS! 

Click HERE to see the site!


In case you have no idea what I am talking about - the last two posts were in honor of NOVICA, an artisan website that is affiliated with National Geographic. I purchased a leather messenger bag - that I just love and - see my last post. NOVICA asked that I review their site, offered me a gift certificate to order something to review (my messenger bag) and offered a gift certificate to a lucky reader. In case you wonder how the winner wins...I write down numbers on little scraps of paper, and put them in a bowl, close my eyes and whichever number I choose, it correlates with a commenter in order that the comments were received. I happened to pick #1, and Sandi was the first one to comment. I numbered all the way through the second post. Congrats Sandi, and I will be emailing you with the details.




Now to a favorite silver cup of mine. This belonged to my father, and after he died, my mother gave it to me. It sits in my bathroom all the time (holding Q-tips, or eye drops...whatever). But I found a new use for it recently. After my first knee surgery (and my second), I couldn't stand to shower, so I took lots of baths. I grabbed this one day, and I used it to pour water over my head so I could wash and rinse my hair. During some pretty painful soaks, I did find it comforting to use my dad's cup - sort of like him "petting" my hair/head like he so often did as I grew up. If you were lucky enough to have a loving dad (uncle, grandfather), you know what I am talking about - that heavy, big, warm, gentle hand that finds its way to your head and strokes the top and down to the nape of the neck and then up again to the top of the head with a little finishing pat. I don't remember him leaning down and kissing me on top of my head...I think that must be a mom's job...but dads seem to like to "pet" heads, I think.  :-)










Another favorite vintage item have is somewhat "new" to me. I found this wonderful old (and heavy!) handmade pin cushion at an antique fair. I began sewing after 30 years of not touching a machine, and I discovered that having several pin cushions, is way easier than just having one. Seems like no matter where I am at my work table, the pin cushion was always out of reach - now I have two - one at each end! I love how the end of the cushion is hand sewn with what most would call "crude" but I think of it as more "folk-artsy" stitches. I wish I knew what was stuffed inside to make it so hard and heavy, but still can be pierced!   










Another tool, that I absolutely love and use a LOT, is my vintage chinois. I just love this and I got it for about $10. A brand new chinois can run up to $140 (but there are many that are less expensive than that)! 





My vintage chinois works just as well as a new one - mainly because I do most of the work! That is the key - the chinois doesn't have to be fancy-schmancy, as long as you know how to use it (just patient stirring the pestle).  I use it to smash all my homegrown tomatoes and I get more juice this way without the seeds. I always put my chinois in a large flat pan, such as short stock pot (usually the one I am going to use for the soup). Mainly, I use a large pan, because I tend to be messy, and I like room to work. These are used to make things super smooth such as soups, broths, puddings, or sauces. My tomato-basil soup is very creamy and very rich.






My little stand with its little legs have great patina (or some may call it scratched up!), but the mesh part is still in tact and the wooden pestle fits perfectly inside the mesh. In case you are wondering, I can all my garden tomatoes, so the tomatoes I am smashing already have the skins off of them. You don't have to remove the skins, just cut the tomatoes in chunks, and stir the pestle round and round till you get juice. The left over pulp is perfect for the compost pile!







And finally, another little vintage favorite is my vintage aluminum water thermos. I found this at an antique mall, and knew it would be perfect for those hot days while working in the garden. 







I just fill it with ice and carry it around the garden with me. It insulates wonderfully, and I like feeling the cold metal. I replaced the top with a clean milk glass lined canning lid. No metal taste with the glass, and yet, very sturdy. I tend to knock it over, or kick it out of the way as I weed the garden. I also like the fact that I am "recycling" meaning, instead of going out and getting something brand new, I just use what has been around for some time now. As long as an old item is safe to use, does its job, and is practical, I am all over it.




I hope you enjoyed this little mini tour of my found (and usable!) objects. For those who haven't gone to NOVICA site to view all the artisans around the world, I invite you to see what fellow artists are creating and selling. By the way, here are some links that NOVICA tells me they are highlighting at the moment and I thought you might like as well:



Again, thank you for stopping by to visit, but more importantly, for supporting fellow artisans. I feel very grateful to be considered as a colleague in the creative world. 

from my house to your house,

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