I really hadn’t prepped the beds enough so it took me a few days to get through the whole pile- but it was gone in less than a week! Didn’t even kill the grass under the pile!
Here’s some before and after pictures- mulch makes such a big difference!
Still SO much to do- I’ve got room for more plants now, I want to get a delivery of wood chips for the path and sitting area.Posted on March 25th, 2013 by Susanna
The Our House section of our blog has had only before pictures- so in an attempt to update with some current photos I took some quick photos of our kitchen this morning. It was a good excuse to give it a good ol’ clean.
We’d call it 95% done. There are still some minor things I’d like to get done:
-make a window curtain
-paint/replace kickboards under cabinets
-make a pull-out trash/recycling compartment
-make a small shelf to the right of the fridge for cereal and bags
- finish up some trim around the island and cabinets
Posted on March 20th, 2013 by Dan
I have probably tried about half of the recipes from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice since I received it in the winter. I figured I would only post them if I was proud of the bread, in both visual appeal as well as taste and texture. Not to say they have been bad (pretty tastey in fact), but I’m looking for perfect. I did some sourdough experimenting, then got frustrated and put it in the refrigerator for long-term storage. This let me not worry about feeding and strengthening my starter every week, so I could focus on some of the other non-sourdough recipes.
I’ve been wanting to make bagels for a while. My co-worker once suggested sourdough blueberry bagels, so I will have to pull out the starter again soon, but in the meantime, these ‘water’ bagels do just fine. They’re thick and chewy. Susanna’s sister (who had some experience in a Jewish bagel shop) suggested that they everything bagels needed more salt and a tougher shell (more steam, a trademark of commercial bakery ovens, which I may not be able to reproduce at home), but otherwise they were ‘almost there’.
I have made this recipe twice now, both times making half the batch into sesame and half in ‘everything’ bagels. My everything bagel blend is a mix of sesame seeds, poppy seeds, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, dried minced onions and fennel seeds.Posted on March 17th, 2013 by Susanna
I spend a lot of time on craigslist… when I saw a post giving away maple sap for free I got seriously excited. I’ve always wanted to make maple syrup, but tapping trees sounds like a lot of work. So we e-mailed the guy and picked up 13 gallons of sap the next day, and immediately started boiling it. Thank goodness we had an empty carboy plus a bucket for brewing to transport the sap.
We had 3 pots going at once and about 20 hours later we had about a quart and a half of maple syrup!
It was super easy and super fun. I sure wish we had a hood over our stove though, our house got pretty steamy, and was above 65 degrees for the first time this winter! Anyway, Dan was thoughtful enough to take some samples as we boiled and so we got these cool pictures to compare the colors along the boiling process.
Posted on March 10th, 2013 by Susanna
We ended up combining all of these samples towards the end and boiling it down a little more so it got even darker. We made pancakes last weekend and used it- delicious! I may be biased, but I think it’s the best maple syrup I’ve ever had!
We’ve made lots of progress since our last post about our upstairs improvements. After finishing the drywall, installing recessed lights, and putting in some extra insulation, we hung some bead board on the knee walls, painted everything (took FOREVER) and finally layed the new floor. Laying the floor was way too much fun, I seriously could lay floors all day long.
The new floors made such a huge difference, especially once we put all the trim back up. We especially love our upstairs now because it’s like a giant dance floor- we’ve hosted a few dance parties, including a break dancing party:
So then we got started on our closet. We decided to try and build it ourselves.
It worked out really well and is ridiculously more functional than our old single rod closet. Next post we’ll have some final photos and a budget breakdown!Posted on March 8th, 2013 by Dan
We’ve made this recipe a couple times and really like it. It’s more like a chartreuse than a gin, but it’s still really good in a gin and tonic. Plus you can change around the recipe according to your tastes. We put together this recipe based on a few others that we found online, but every time we’ve made it we’ve changed it a little bit. Ingredients
- 1 cup vodka
- 2 Tbl Juniper berries (divided)
- 4″ peel grapefruit
- 1″ sprig rosemary
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 small piece of anise star
- 3 green cardamom pods
- 4 black whole peppercorns
- 2 allspice berries
- 1 small bay leaf
- 3 dried chamomile flowers
- Crush 1/2 Tbl of the juniper berries and combine with 1/2 Tbl of whole juniper berries in a glass jar with the vodka and let sit overnight (covered in dark place).
- Add the rest of the ingredients, including the rest of the juniper berries and let infuse in a dark place, covered, at room temperature for 24 hours.
- Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth or coffee filter.
While we’re not the type of vegans that really “miss” cheese- when I saw this recipe I was interested and thought I’d give it a try. It’s really easy and turned out really good- although neither of us can really say how “real” it is- but fortunately neither of us care. I hope to make more of her cheeses. This picture is from after the cheese sat in water for 2 weeks (we tried brine at first but it made the cheese inediblely salty). It started to fall apart a little and the texture is different- but its still delicious.
We also made pizza with it- it melted pretty nicely.
I’ve also just been putting it on turkey sandwiches or just on bread and toasting. Yum!Posted on January 27th, 2013 by Dan
After long wait and much anticipation, I am now the proud owner of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread. by Peter Reinhart. I’ve now read through the introduction sections and have gotten to the formula (recipe) sections. Since he begins with the pre-ferments, I’ll skip ahead to bread number one as I begin my quest to bake all the breads in this book. I’ve already learned so much from the introductory chapters on shaping and calculating ingredient weights for recipes, not to mention the all the science behind creating and baking ‘world class bread’.
I may not tackle each bread in the order given, but I certainly hope to try each one at least once in a vegan fashion. This has been a desire of mine for nearly a year and has only grown stronger as I continue to experiment with and refine my own bread baking techniques. Coincidentally, the timing is appropriate to dedicate this challenge to one of my favorite vegan bloggers who, as of the new year, has retired from his blog, VeganDad. His blog was one of the first to provide me with consistently reliable and delicious vegan recipes (very important for a leery vegan) and is so frequently visited on my browser that when you type the letter ‘v’, it’s the first site to appear; it will certainly be missed. So here begins, in honor of VeganDad’s Baking Through the Bread Baker’s Apprentice, Anadama Bread.
Frankly, I wasn’t thrilled to start off with a cornmeal loaf bread- give me those french baguettes! But, I decided to start off relatively easy with a simple soaker and pan loaf. The recipe makes 3 pounds, but I made two 2 pound loaves, so I could practice tinkering with the baker’s formula. I was actually really surprised with how much we liked the bread. The molasses was amazing and the crumb was soft and chewy.
- Make sure to use a 100% vegetable based shortening.
- I added an additional 114g of bread flour while kneading to make up for my particular type of molasses.
Posted on January 24th, 2013 by Dan
This recipe was my first introduction to bulgur and now I’m a big fan. This little grain cooks up toasty and nutty and keeps it’s toothy texture. With fried chicken style seitan, asparagus, lots of garlic and lemon, and balsamic vinegar, this is one for the books. It’s quick to make and produces about 4 servings.
- 8oz package of chicken style seitan
- 1 sprig rosemary, plus 1/2 tsp chopped rosemary
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, divided
- juice from half of a lemon
- 1 cup of vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup quick cooking bulgur
- Half a bunch of asparagus spears
- salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds
- 1 tbl balsamic vinegar
- Saute the onion, a pinch of salt, and 2 cloves of garlic in a medium saucepan over medium heat until soft, then add the bulgur and vegetable broth.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, covered, until all the water is absorbed. Take off heat and set aside.
- In a heavy bottomed pan (preferably cast iron), heat 1/4 cup of oil on high heat. Once the oil is hot add the chopped seitan and rosemary sprig, and fry until crispy and golden brown.
- To prepare the asparagus, wash and chop asparagus into 2 inch pieces. Arrange on a small sheet pan and drizzle half of remaining oil from the setain and toss with lemon juice, tsp of salt, and remaining 2 cloves of garlic. Bake (in oven or toaster oven at 350) stirring halfway through, for 15 minutes or until the edges are crisp and asparagus is bright green.
- Combine the asparagus with the bulgur mixture and seitan. Add balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tsp chopped rosemary, and sliced almonds. Enjoy!!
And here is my very disorganized “craft corner”:
And the worst closet in the world:
So far we’ve finished the drywall seams which were just raw seams since we bought the house, installed recessed lights, and added some insulation where it was lacking (no wonder its so cold up there!). Here’s a picture of Dan doing some insulation/ electrical work. Thank goodness he’s so skinny!
Although anything we do up there will be an improvement, we’ve got big plans! Here’s some of my inspiration: