8.30.2008

sad spuds

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My potatoes have looked like shit for a few months but I kept watering them hoping there would be earthy hidden treasures behind that old rubber. They were so gorgeous at first. Fingers crossed. But then I knocked over a tire tower expecting what was promised to me: 20-30 pounds of spuds and instead I got like 20-30 ounces. Super lame and disappointing. I think it is blight which also got my tomatoes but they are still producing like crazy.



The whole point of the tire stack was to force the stem into root by burying it. And since potatoes are a root, then you'd have an assload of potatoes to enjoy. But I carefully removed tire by tire, heart racing in anticipation of a Mountain of Potatoes, only to uncover a scrawny helping that served Andy and me and one friend as a side dish to our giant elk steaks.



The first lame yield looks especially lamer with a thumb as a point of reference.

I waited another few weeks to knock over the second stack and it was slightly better but still, the little-eyed dudes were all lounging at the very bottom. In other back yard news, the chickens are doing well although Bossy still isn't laying...many think we have a cock on our hands.

This is my first time growing potatoes because of the space issue in my small plot. They never flowered. I am wondering if I should have left them in the ground longer...just when you think your thumb is bright green, mother nature bitch slaps you and says you have a long way to go.

8.18.2008

spiffed up piggies

Yesterday, I bought shoes that I love. Shoes that even when half-off were more money than I felt comfortable spending. Thank you, Anne, for justifying this purchase. You are a good friend.

The color is envy. And I was. I wasn't even going to try them on and then I did. I had memories of this store during this sale last year when I was very pregnant and I tried shoes on and fell flat on my face in the middle of the crazed ladies clamoring for the Michael Stars t shirts and size 27 skinny jeans. I came home with shoes on that day as well, but these. Oh my.



These shoes are inspiring me to clean out my closet and get rid of everything I don't love as much. Or at least organize my closet so I can always look at them.

I bought another pair as well that I do also adore. They are cute and practical as they are neutral and comfortable and summer-sexy. But, the emerald beauties have my heart.

8.16.2008

a hitch in my giddyup

I haven't been running much. I miss it.


Everything after pregnancy and childbirth is really different, although I beg to differ with people who claim you can't do everything you did before. Because you can. It's just different. You can go to a late dinner at a friend's house but you might have to deal with an unpredictable nap schedule the next day or you can go on a run but you might have to deal with pulling over with the jog stroller in the middle of a busy street to wrestle with two sports bras and a leashed dog to access the boob your bug is whining for.


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It's lame not because I am living a whole new role that has rocked my world in the best possible way but because I know I need running to keep my sanity and my ego in check and I am not prioritizing it. I keep writing about it hoping the blog accountability factor will solidify my commitment and that isn't working. I have to be much more intentioned about exercise now. I can squeeze it in if I run to work but that means getting all my work stuff packed, my bug's stuff packed and both of us ready really early. But most of all, it means I can't take Alice. So if I run before work with the stroller and a dog, this mama is about to lose her shit with the circus that ensues so the whole point of running to keep my sanity and ego in check gets tossed aside. Instead, I get home grumpy with the whole scene.


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I have a whole new appreciation for my body after growing a human and pushing it through my pelvis but I do also have an honest frustration with the new softer-ness to my shape. So I know that I need this to feel like a rock star and that I need to go with dog or kid and not both. What is it about me, and women all over the place, that we always feel like we need to accommodate other's needs and not our own?


It would be OK if I ran just by myself. I haven't done that in years. It seems that I am now in a place that necessitates some mammal always needing something from me. But I do know this: if I prioritize running for me, I will be a better mama to my mammals. So, I guess this is it. My true declaration. I am deciding right now to run with or without creatures and to do it because I need it. That's simple enough. Maybe.

8.11.2008

one can only consume so many mojitos

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Montana can grow some mean mint. I love mint--love the way it looks and smells, the way it thoughtfully fills in around all of the other bush-like plants in my low-water garden. It is also a natural mosquito repellent. Not to be confused with mojitos, because it attracts those.

I went to an Indian dinner party and was charged with making a vegetarian dish. I made two and was happy to use up about four cups of mint from my garden.

Both recipes turned out fabulous and were a perfect accompaniment to the lamb curry, pea and carrot salad, eggplant dahls and cucumber salad the other ladies prepared. It is funny how potlucks always work out with good friends and how they are a total disaster with acquaintances. With pals, everyone makes their best dish and brings plenty of it but throw a potluck for folks you don't know so well and dinner ends up being chips and salsa and crusty bread with cheese. Maybe a depressing raw veggie tray and/or a flat of assorted cookies from Costco.

Anyway, our meal rocked although there was one major disaster: In my enthusiastic pulsing of the mint date sauce, I broke the giraffe lady sculpture I bought for Andy for father's day. Bummer.

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:: :: ::

mint and date dipping sauce (chef: Padma Lakshmi)

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Ingredients:
  • 2 cups mint leaves
  • 3 pitted Medjool dates, finely chopped
  • 1 serrano chile, seeded and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Salt
In a blender, combine the mint leaves, dates, serrano chile, lemon juice and water and puree until smooth. Transfer the dipping sauce to a bowl and season with salt. Serve at room temperature.

I served with poppadoms that night and have since used the leftovers in rice and on sandwiches and it is fab.

chickpea salad with yogurt and herbs (chef: Jerry Traunfeld)

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Ingredients:
  • Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas—rinsed, drained and patted dry
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 3/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Pour the chickpeas into a large bowl. In a small skillet, heat the peanut oil until shimmering. Add the mustard seeds, partially cover the skillet and cook over moderately high heat until the mustard seeds stop popping, about 1 minute. Add the cumin and fennel seeds and the crushed red pepper and cook until the mixture is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour the hot oil and spices over the chickpeas. Stir in the yogurt, lemon juice, sliced scallions, chopped cilantro and mint and salt. Serve at room temperature.

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8.07.2008

yo. Isn't this supposed to be a gardening blog or something?

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Yes, I still garden. In fact I have spent much of my free time in my plot which is why I haven't written about it. But still. My checklist of potential amazing and inspiring posts is growing so, tonight, with my largish glass of pinot noir and bowl of lesbian popcorn (that is what my friend calls my popcorn with brewer's yeast, garlic salt and olive oil), I am at my computer to write awesome words and showcase mouth-watering photographs about my tiny backyard edible jungle.

And a jungle it has become. In trying to decide what the heck to cut out of my busy summer, I decided weeding would hit to road. Well, really, I weed *just before* the intruders go to seed and then pitch the gargantuan plants in the trash so as to not sow those pesky seeds. It is a lovely strategy if one can get over the not-so-tidy appearance of the whole mess: water the puhjesus out of the earth, wait several hours until the sun warms the muddy soil into damp dankness and then grab the thick weed stalks and voila. This gardener just bought herself another few weeks.

Anyway. The tomatoes. They are really good this year (although I may be a bit in denial about a potential fungus). It's a good thing the tomatoes rock because my carrots are super shitty. Like no germination. But I do need to mention that I threw the rest of the seeds in the soil like what if and they germinated in the mega heat of Western Montana summer. So, hey, maybe the carrots can redeem themselves. Maybe.

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Back to those ripe, fleshy, round, red, saucy maters. The Sungolds were first. They always are with their sun-kissed ocher perfection . But my first hugey huge slicer was a Cosmonaut and then the Siberian.

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Then the Golden Girl with her show-offy complexion and perfect figure.

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And the beets are pure heaven. Although Chioggia had a lame germination, those that made it are gorgeous swirls of 1984 lipstick and white chalk. We made an epic salad last night of steamed beets and barely steamed beet greens with a dressing of dijon, balsamic, olive oil and salt. I am learning that it is totally worth the extra coin to get good mustard, vinegar, oil and salt. But that's another post.

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The Detroit Dark Red rock my world. They are huge and perfect.

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We have peppers.

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I harvested the onions and they are tiny but cute. How does one get bigger onions?

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So things are growing well on the stead. Every meal tastes like summer which is a good thing because the light and my mood are changing. Fall is approaching. I can feel it in my veins. Canning soon.

8.03.2008

the boat

Bug and I just returned from a vacation in Steamboat Springs visiting our pals, Megs and Pete. We had a fab time even though I underestimated the effect elevation would have on martini consumption...

Pete is a chef and owns three restaurants. So, we ate like really effing great food and drank amazing wine the entire time I was there. Without exception.



They chose to live a bit out of town away from the overstuffed ski culture where we sat on their deck staring at mountains and aspens and listening to hummingbirds or bats depending on whether it was coffee or wine we were enjoying. Sometimes we stayed in our pjs until the afternoon when we ventured out for a hike.



Steamboat is a lot like so many absolutely gorgeous mountain towns that is not so slowly changing into a playground and/or business investment. Megs calls the base of the mountain Condoland (all those condos are built by hardworking people who live six to a trailer on the edge of town) and it is so right on. I don't think any more structures could be crammed into the small plot of land. And much to the dismay of fisherman, the lovely, slow-moving Yampa River has no fewer than hundreds of beer-drinking tubers floating at any given moment. It will be interesting to see what the threshold is. Missoula isn't an exception to some of these issues regarding fast growth, limited affordable housing and environmental impact. Hmmm.

We visited the tiny town of Oak Creek and I imagined Steamboat once being like it: quiet, lazy, a few abandoned buildings, dirt roads, crazy people and small town politics. For example, we visited the thrift store and the owner was busily making several dozen hand-written signs that read Taser Free Zone and Check our Taser at the Door. It turns out that the ex-mayor was pursued in a police chase the week before and followed into her home where she was tased four times. Seriously.



So, back to the FOOD. Going to Steamboat? Don't miss Three Peaks Grill, Cottonwood Grill and La Montana. We ate seared ahi tuna, buffalo fried oysters, Asian caesar salad, hoison glazed ribs, and corn bread with lime butter. Those were some of the appetizers. For entrees we ate crab-stuffed mahi mahi, Peking duck, Shichimi Ahi tuna over pad thai, teriyaki steak and my favorite, the Cambodian Hot Pot: shrimp, sea scallops, baby clams and crisp Asian vegetables, simmered in a spicy coconut shrimp broth and tossed with rice noodles.




Then, there was dessert: chocolate pyramid with chocolate mousse and ginger creme brulee with crystallized berries. And, then, there was the wine which I can't remember because it was so good that it was all I could do to not pass out from bliss.



And the company. It is one of my favorite things to have my bug meet my best friends. It was a good trip. Meg and Pete: thanks for being so generous, hilarious and fun.

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