Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fried Dandelion Blossoms - For Real!

My readers have given me an education about eating dandelion.  Sylvia says you can eat all the parts all the time and Janelle pointed me to a blog with various creative dandelion recipes, including pickling buds to make "capers." (Be still my locavore heart!)

I could not resist the fried blossoms.  I sent my children out to the yard, even though the recent downpour had sort of pulverized the dandelions.  What children don't like to pick flowers?  And what children don't like to make a real contribution to the adult world?  Genevieve and Ben were in raptures.  Since then, Ben keeps bringing me fistfuls of limp dandelion heads, beaming with purpose and pleasure.  I find the piles everywhere and I am charmed.

I've never fried anything batter-dipped before, so I wasn't sure what I was aiming for; I think my batter was a bit thin, so I ended up with little fritters with my sodden flowers instead of puffy individual flowers.  But! the little fritters were fantastic (especially, like all fried things, with cocktail sauce).

Actually, it was a fabulous meal:  pasta salad with oranges, asparagus, feta and mint, plus some cold broiled salmon with rosemary from my mother in law (everything looks better on a robin's egg blue plate - especially peachy colored things). 

Nobody asked about dessert. Should I roast and dry some dandelion roots now, to brew like as a coffee substitute? Hey, if the economy crashes any further, we may be grateful for such quixotic tricks.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Marker Rolls for Everyone

If you want a marker roll (or crayon or pencil or pen), you can now order one from me.  I have already been commissioned to make four for dear bloggy friends, so I figure these are a good thing to offer.

And I put more flowers and ruffle scarves in the shop too (and more to come - we had a big photo shoot a few days ago).  I bullied my sister into allowing me to post this photo, and that after she modeled for free inbetween teaching and sleeping.

Dear Melanie.  You are beautiful and patient and you make my things look so good.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Stop and Smell the Flowers

I laugh every time I look at this trio of photos, at the little story unfolding here.
Joining Leila's {pretty happy funny real} collection today.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dandelion from the Back Yard

I cleaned up all the dead vegetation from winter last week and paused to look at the dandelion greens I was weeding.  Why, I asked myself, was the stuff at market good enough to buy and eat, but not my own dandelions from my back yard where never a chemical has been??  So I fetched my kitchen scissors and basin and cut all the dandelion leaves. 

I washed it, wrapped it a dishtowel, and bagged it.  It's kept, beautifully crisp and fresh, for over a week now, a fast lunch with dressing and eggs on hand.  And the dandelions are in full downy yellow flower all over the yard, past eating.  But that's ok:  I'm going to market today for other spring goodies.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Tortoise Walks the Hares Around the City

We walk a lot of places with our children because we live downtown.  But children don't walk the way adults do!  They run or suddenly stop to inspect something for five minutes.  They want to stand on tiptoes on the curb or climb up every set of steps.  They tend to stop and ponder directly in front of the plodding adult.

I realize I have begun to teach my children city walking manners - not just important safety rules, but also pleasantries of the walk.

For safety:

Stop well back from the street corners - don't make the drivers nervous!

Stop, look and listen at every driveway and cross street; hold an adult's hand while crossing.

No fancy hopping or running while we're crossing a street - just walking like adults.
(Ben must look down at the red light under the sewer grates every time; this can take five minutes and attracts attention - I've gotten used to it).

For walking pleasantry:

Stay to one side.

Don't walk in front of someone.  And do your stopping and pondering to the side.

If someone says hello, say hello back, but children do not start conversations with unknown adults.
I've found on days that we aren't walking somewhere, the children need a run at the park because they have become accustomed to the exercise and fresh air.  I do still take a stroller on market days, but I should really just take a cart; in fact, I sold my double stroller last week as both children are definitely too big for it.  I love taking walks with my big kids. . . .even in the role of tortoise.

Friday, April 22, 2011

"hot dogs, fries, a chocolate shake - Dodger needs a potty break"

That line from Racer Dogs was the inspiration for Ben's birthday - plus some broccoli, popcorn, and chocolate cake with peanut butter icing.

And Lady Gaga (my cousin in Genevieve's tutu). 

Genevieve gave Ben a present, her own creation entirely, as soon as she woke up.  So sweet.

Being that it's Holy Week, we did Ben's birthday a bit on the fly. . . .Mr. Thrift did the racer dog, Dodger, on the cake beautifully and then I slapdashed the words as I ran by.

And the balloons remained in a pool, not strung  up as intended.

But the birthday boy noticed none of the shortcuts and all of the glory.  I love the simplicity of a child's joy - so inspirational.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

First Asparagus, Into a Pizza

Last year we had the first asparagus two weeks early and it was next to a pizza.

 This year, I spotted a recipe in Real Simple that used ricotta; I had a bargain container of ricotta in the fridge and not one recipe in mind (of course, when I don't have ricotta, then I see tempting recipes including ricotta all the time).

I spread ricotta on the pizza dough, sprinkled on chopped garlic, asparagus, and parmesan. 

At the table, we topped our slices with radish greens (recipe called for arugula) in a lemony vinaigrette.  I have baked greens on pizzas before and that is good, but eating lightly dressed greens on top of the hot slice was a delightful contrast.

 We will definitely do it again, maybe with a sprinkle of green olives too.  This will be another ricotta trick:  an easy, tasty white pizza.

We also had a traditional tomato sauce pizza with mushrooms.

And then I froze the rest of the ricotta - it can wait for the next white pizza.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Have a Good Recipe for Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins?

There's no discernible reason for why I suddenly need to have lemon poppy seed muffins; I mean, I can't connect it to anyone's blog or a stroll past a bakery window or a book I'm reading.  The problem is, however, that my cookbooks do not have a recipe and the one I got online does not please me.  They are not lemony enough and they did not include baking soda even though they had yogurt, but I liked the quarter-cup of poppy seeds.

I want a straightforward lemon poppy seed muffin recipe, one that I can make in the morning, with no monkey-business ingredients like lemon yogurt or separated eggs or lemon extract.  Can you help me?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Saturday Afternoon Gifts

I looked at my dining room table Saturday afternoon, at three piles for three occasions.

Palm Sunday songleading - - walking into worship ahead of the congregation and inviting them to follow as we sing. That's worship leading. Took me years to understand that.

(Hyacinth from A's son - I must plant some hyacinths this year for their heady scent)

Birthday gift (a book by Rumer Godden) for our neighbor Kim. I love using a postcard as greeting card and decoration on top of a present.

The ribbon was saved from a box of chocolates a few months ago.

Hostess gift for my cousin's dinner party. She requested that we all bring flowers to celebrate spring - my daffies didn't open up as soon as I thought they would! And I took her two bright dishcloths in a little pottery bowl because she is gathering things for her college apartment.

A little glow of satisfaction, tending to these gifts for loved ones on this busy weekend.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Latino Frying Cheese

It really is labeled "Frying Cheese" at the Latino grocery store a few blocks over.  I don't know more than that!  I can't quite remember what led me to buy this cheese a few years ago, or how I knew what to do with it.  It's only about $4 a pound - not expensive for cheese.  And you slice it up, toss it in a frying pan, and it tastes so good, like grilled cheese good, only faster.

We like it with any food remotely Latino.  Here it was burritos with cabbage salad.

I like exploring ethnic grocery stores.. . .fingering exotic ingredients, peeking at the other customers' carts and clothing. . .the reminder that I am very white, middle-class American and not everybody is.  It's what I like about thrift stores, too, versus the mall: the thrill of fulfilling my shopping list with what's available or scrapping the list altogether, the way my taste is shifted and broadened by seeing things I didn't know existed.  What do you think?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ben, Pantless

What can you do when you're away from home and the potty-trainer goes through all the extra clothes?

Go without and go home.  Laugh.  Take a picture.  (Notice his paper "sunglasses" made on Grandpa's adding machine)

I'm linking up with Leila's {pretty happy funny real}.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Shoestring Chic #6: Kindergarten Registration

This was kindergarten registration day - looking presentable to the outside world, yet able to do my housework without needing to change.  The dark colors automatically look more urban and formal, too, even though they are everyday clothes.

You've seen this shirt before here.  My sister has told me these jeans are too big for me, and after looking at these photos, I'm inclined to agree.

The yard was bustling, so the photos were quick snaps as my husband worked on raised beds and I handed him the camera.  And the children were busily digging and messing and getting pink cheeks.  I'm so glad spring is here!

Shoestring Chic:
thrifted Gap shirt:  $1
black sweater:  gift from mother in law
thrifted jeans:  $4
black leather belt: over 10 years old!
black Dansko clogs:  $50
silver hoops - a wonderful sale: $4
total:  $59

If you did a Shoestring Chic outfit, link to this post and then put your link in the Mr. Linky below.  If you want to play along and don't have a blog, just describe your outfit in the comments.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sunday Dinner: Make-Ahead Chicken Casserole

mmmmm - Mennonite comfort food is more like it.  This is an easy casserole with macaroni, chicken, and veggies that has to soak overnight before baking.  It does call for a can of cream of mushroom soup, which I do not buy or cook with; that can be replaced with a homemade extra-thick white sauce, or a homemade cream soup mix from Simply in Season which is what I used. (Just say the word and I'll post the recipe if you want.)

thaw turkey (picked off the Thanksgiving turkey bones)
hardboil eggs
cook up the cream soup
assemble casserole

Sunday morning:
set casserole on timed bake

Sunday noon:
open up cranberry sauce
cook peas
set table

Now a word about that canned cranberry sauce:  I keep some on hand to make sandwiches with.  It's great with brie and spinach.  However, in a pinch, it works well as a tart sauce.  There is going to be a lot of pinching around here because I am starting to teach another eight-week ESL class today.  In other times, I would have made cranberry applesauce.  It's something I'm thinking a lot about right now - the trade offs I make between family, teaching, and homekeeping.

Updated, with recipe:

Make-Ahead Chicken Casserole (tweaked from Mennonite Country-Style Recipes)
Combine in greased 8x12:
1- 2 c. diced cooked chicken/turkey
1.5 cups uncooked macaroni
3/4 c. grated sharp cheese
1 10 oz. can cream of chicken soup OR 1 and 1/4 c. cup very thick white sauce OR cream soup substitute below
2 c. milk and chicken stock combined
1/2 c. celery or parsley, chopped
2-3 hardboiled eggs, chopped
1/2 - 1 chopped onion
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning (or sage and thyme)

Allow to sit in fridge at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.  Bake at 350 for 1 hour.  Can double and bake in 9x13 (increase baking time 20 minutes).

I think this is a flexible recipe - it's just basically heating the casserole through, so you want to be sure you have a good ratio of solids to liquids. The first time I made it, I added more macaroni and milk instead of  hardboiled eggs.  I have never used the full amount of chicken, just increased the poultry seasoning.  I used fresh parsley this time instead of celery, making the casserole much prettier.  I think there's room with experimenting with peas or carrots too.

Cream Soup Substitute - - from Simply in Season
Mix and store, covered, in fridge:
2 c. dry milk powder
3/4 c. cornstarch
1/4 c. dry bouillion
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. dried minced onion

To use as one 10-ounce can of cream soup, combine 1 and 1/4 c. cold water with 1/3 cup mix in saucepan.  Cook and stir over low heat until thick.