Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Is it Spring yet?

I've been having a hankering for fresh herbs. Every time I pay money for an anemic bundle of wilty herbs at the supermarket I tell myself that I should already have these things in the backyard. What sort of person buys fresh herbs? Well with any luck I won't be one of those people anymore. Around Christmas time I bought a little mini-greenhouse thingie and some seeds. Once i got back from New York, I set up my little house, soaked the cute little peat pellets and sowed my seeds.

I did something similar last year when I had the desire to paint Chinese Lanterns and thought it would be cool to grow my own. That didn't turn out so well, but given my earlier success with tomatoes, I'm willing to try it again. So I've chosen to start with three things, cilantro, parsley and mint. The first two I chose because those are the ones I buy the most by the bunch to cook with and the mint I chose for summertime iced teas and to muddle into yummy mojitos.

The fact that all three are hearty plants and are supposed to grow like weeds once they get going was the clincher for me. The photo is after only two weeks of growth. The tall ones in front are the cilantro and already starting to show a curly leaf on their second set of leaves. In the middle is the mint. They don't look like much now, but I've already told them how happy I am to have them growing for me. In the back is the parsley. Every day I see a new seed sprouting.

I feel like a kid coming into the office to see how they are doing each morning. I have co-workers visit to see how they are doing. Seriously, they walk right over to check them out and then leave without saying anything to me if I'm on the phone or something.

Stop by to see how my garden is growing.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Baby it's souper cold outside

Now I realize that it's a lot colder in a lot of other places, but man oh man it's cold outside. I am the first to admit that I'm a big ol' baby and have lost my ability to tolerate hot and cold. I also know that my heat miser brother in Singapore and the cold miser brother in Minnesota are snickering at me. Snicker away, because I have found a bright side to all of this. This week I'm calling my bright side, Spicy Goulash. Next week I'm thinking chicken soup. I've been watching Jamie Oliver's new show, Jamie at Home and just the word goulash made me think of my mom and comfort food. I'm not sure what the deal is serving this dish with rice. But my German mother wouldn't dream of serving this with anything but egg noodles. I was actually kind of excited by the idea of egg noodles. I even found some nice hearty whole wheat noodles that was the perfect foil to Jamie's goulash recipe.

Now I really need to find a few people to start a soup club with me. I love soup. Nothing warms the soul and all your other bits as well as a nice soup. I think the only thing better is a nice soup that someone else has made. Right? So if you are interested, intrigued and willing to make soup on command then let me know.

On a separate note, I'm going to be adding old posts from my old blog, starts and stop and Tune Talk in to this blog. I'll be using the original dates, so they will show up as archived posts. Once I'm done I'll let you all know.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Squirrel in a sweater


There are many things in life that just make you go, huh?, but this one I believe deserves a capital H. I don't know who to credit for the first spotting of this cute squirrel. It might have been randomly found on Cute Overload. After checking it out again last night, I thought to snopes it. The crazy thing is that she appears to be totally real, not photoshopped or gasp, taxidermically preserved, and her name is Sugar Bush Squirrel, squirrel of a thousand outfits. After about 20 minutes of horrified fascination, scanning every photo and watching the video montages, you just have to ask the next logical question, why? Why would you fashion thousands of squirrel-sized outfits and post them on the Internet.

Okay, I know. It's all about keeping Sugar Bush's Mama in the bling. I suppose we all need to have a purpose in life and this is her purpose. Now if you think I'm looking down on this enterprising woman and her fashionista squirrel. You are dead wrong. I checked out Sugar's My Space page (we'll be friends soon, so I feel okay calling her by her first name) and she's got some serious star friends. I mean if Jimmy Buffet and Eminem both hang with the squirrel it's got to be good, right?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

cool gadgets I love and use

Honestly I could probably write a blog about all the cool gadgets I love to use. But I won't because I'd like to appear to be a well-rounded individual. A while back I was catching up on my blog reading and stumbled upon a combo of tools that seemed intriguing. One is called Todoist. It's your basic to do list, but hosted online so that you can get to it, whether you are home, in the office or keeping yourself out of trouble with your mobile device in the waiting room of your dentist's office. Adam at LifeHacker took it a step further and added the plug-in Launchy to the works. Launchy launches stuff off your desktop without your having to find the icon or looking it up in your bookmarks list. It's actually pretty intuitive right from the start, so it was love at first Alt+space when I typed pho and up popped a link to the agency phone directory on our internal Intranet. For the first week, my new 'game' of choice was "stump launchy". I would type stuff to see if it wouldn't work. Then I decided that this game was a tad juvenile and started setting it up to index my music and other data files. The bad side is that I don't really need to organize myself to find things.

While I really don't need any new gadgets, I'd be curious if you are using something else that you feel is cooler or a useful addition to my gadget corral. If you already use these items and are equally enamored, maybe we can start a fan club.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Black cake

I'm making black cake today. I first came upon it in a book by Laurie Colwin Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen. I was thrilled to try it years ago when my roommates, 2 sisters from St Lucia, received a black cake from their mother one Christmas. It was in fact as good as I had imagined. I always wanted to try to make one myself. Laurie Colwin includes the recipe in her book, so it really was just a matter of getting the ingredients together and doing it.

So here I am. I did a web search for one ingredient, burnt sugar essence. Not something you would typically find in your local supermarket. (I did, my Safeway carries it, but yours might not). In doing so I came across this article and recipe variation. I'll be using this recipe today. But I was curious how much cake I would have gotten from several pounds of fruit and flour. Further searching found that others more driven than I, did follow Ms. Colwin's original recipe and had a lot more cake than they expected. So far, mine looks pretty good. I may have burnt out my hand mixer trying to manage all the ingredients. On the bright side, I'm pretty sure I didn't overwork the batter. I've to let it rest for a while before I can try it so, I can share my wait with you. Now you have to admit that this is a properly named cake. These babies are black!