Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Sundress for Genevieve

I suggested to Genevieve that she needed something between her pink dress and shorts and tees to wear this summer.  She agreed.  And after she approved the pattern, she basically let me have my way with fabric and such!

However, she was wary of the dress for a while because she had to try it on several times as I fitted the tricky bodice, and she hated the feel of the seams on her skin.  I cut up one of her knit camisoles and handstitched it into the bodice as a soft lining to cover the seams she objected to.  It worked perfectly!

 Now Genevieve wants me to sew her another sundress, but I'm wary because this was not an easy pattern (thrifty note: I borrowed it from a friend).  I think the elastic should be shorter on the pockets so they're snugged tighter to the dress. I think the bottom ruffle should be a tad fuller.  That bodice was a real pain and I had to rip out stitches a number of times.

The gorgeous ribbon was just enough leftover from my Bavarian princess dress.  I want to be twinsies with her yet this summer, when we both wear our dresses.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Lemonade Fever

My big kids read a book for school called Chocolate Fever, and today Ben told me cheerfully that he has "lemonade fever."  He was mixing up a half-gallon of lemonade for his lemonade stand, which he has been doing every hot afternoon after his chores are done for two weeks now.  

He's finally hit on a scheme for making money that works!  He has a product to be proud of (recipe below), he's learning about supplies and inventory (he buys his own and makes his own), and he's learning customer service.  At first, Ben would yell "would you like some lemonade?" at every pedestrian, but I patiently convinced him that people don't always want to answer questions or make eye contact. He's learned to yell "lemonade!" "fifty cents a cup!" "fresh squeezed lemonade!"  

I also tried to convince him to make a bigger, brighter sign, but he's convinced that his yell is the ticket to success.

Recently, I was returning from an errand on foot when I saw a sweet young couple dawdling at the historic church, and he had one of Ben's lemonade cups dangling from his hand.  So I told Ben that I had seen some of his customers, and his face lit up because they were memorable:  "they gave me five dollars for two cups of lemonade!"  With some probing, I found out that young Ben said upon receipt of aforesaid five dollars:  "do you want change?"  Oh Ben.  Dear Ben.  We sat right down and had a lesson on giving change and how that change is given, as a right, back to the customer, and how any tip is handled as a surprise and a bonus with a huge thank you. 

 But the little old ladies are not helping this lesson to stick, because as often as not, they simply hand Ben some money as they wander by, declining a cup of lemonade.  

Ben is making very good money, actually.  My heart is warmed by all the people who want to encourage a kid.. . the neighbor who insisted that Ben take two dollars because fifty cents is not enough for a cup. . . the big sister who buys lemonade. . . the repeat neighbor customers. . .the contractor who came on business and bought a cup from Ben and told Ben personally that the lemonade was delicious and then later in an email to me that the lemonade was really good. . ..  It really is.  Try it yourself!

Ben's Lemonade (will not make you feverish, does not involve simple syrup or waiting, does not need adult help if you can handle a knife)

Makes a half gallon

Thinly slice three scrubbed lemons.  Pick out the seeds as best you can.

Put lemons in sturdy half-gallon pitcher.  Add 3/4 cup sugar.
Pound and mash with a wooden spoon (Ben says this is his favorite part).
Fill up pitcher with cold water and ice cubes.  Stir. Taste, and adjust flavor with bottled lemon juice if needed (this is my favorite part, to see my son tasting with panache and confidence; sometimes he asks me to taste it also, and then we discuss seriously, as cooking peers do).

In the event that you want to store this lemonade for more than a few hours, fish out the floating lemon slices and keep them separately or discard.  They will turn the lemonade bitter if they sit in there too long, and they're mostly for pretty anyway.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Relatives, Permaculture, and Hot Dogs

We went to visit Uncle Ron and Aunt Elena on a little trip.  They spoiled us.  We sat up late on their cozy front porch, talking, and made delicious food together (apparently Phoebe was sitting up on the counter licking the cake batter bowl, but I was out on a bike ride and didn't see it).  We visited the SteelStacks together, a lively place with fascinating history.

One of the books I had along to read was Gaia's Garden, recommended by Amanda Soule. I like the idea of permaculture, and this second edition has a chapter on urban permaculture which is making me think and consider. I think I also understand why my dear friend was looking for stacks of newspapers when she started her garden (to mulch!  mulch everything!).

I have a lot to learn in gardening, so I was especially fascinated by Aunt Elena's gardens.  She mixed veggies and herbs in with her flowers.  She composts her scraps in one of the ways Gaia's Garden mentions:  just put the stuff in the ground and let it go.  Her soil sample tested beautifully last year.  And she has little broken bits of china here and there in the sweetest way. I adore the mix of order and whimsy in her garden:  not perfect and prissy, but definitely cared for, definitely abundant and happy.

On the drive home, we stopped at Yocco's Hot Dogs.  My hot dog quest continues! I wasn't seeking out a hot dog joint - we just needed somewhere fast to get food that hopefully wasn't a chain and hopefully before the toddler lost her mind.  My husband remembered that foodie friends had worshiped at the Yocco's shrine, so we wanted to check it out.  The hot dogs were fine - good, sure - but my attention was caught by their steamed buns. I had never heard of steamed buns before a commenter on my Patagonian hot dog post mentioned Chicago-style hot dogs, and I went googling off to do some research.

Yocco's clearly is an institution and has a loyal following.  I always love when people make a fuss about food - it immediately becomes a goal of mine to track down the food and taste it.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Baby Meals

These are rice + toppings meals that I carried out recently to families with new babies (we have a raft of new babies at church - fun!).  I was pleased with the efficient way of carrying the meal and how pretty it looked.

This is Korean beef, rice, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, with a sprinkling of my very own cilantro over the veggies.  There was eclair dessert to go along, too.

This is rice and teriyaki pork, with toasted coconut sprinkled over it, beside purple cabbage slaw with lime and cilantro, plus fresh pineapple.  There were mocha drops to go along, too.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Nine

Ben was running around wearing his eight shirt the other day, when my  husband said, wait, aren't you nine years old?  (How did that happen?  My heart, my little boy!  He looks like a gawky teenager in an adorable way)

He turned nine way back in April, and I finally made him a nine shirt.  It's from these pajama scraps. No sooner had Ben put it on than he got in an argument with a sibling and the shirt got yanked, pulling loose some of the seams where I had pieced together the nine out of little scraps.  I mended it with a topstitch zig-zag, and he was off and running.

In fact, Ben ran his bike directly into a wall in a race with a friend because his brakes failed.  He is husking corn in the photo, and he could not even eat it off the cob because his mouth was so sore and his teeth loose.  That Ben!  He must be nine.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Very Interesting Patagonian Hot Dog

I love to eat adventurously, but I don't have many adventures when it comes to hot dogs.  I usually have some combination of ketchup, mustard, chopped onion, pickle relish, and sauerkraut.

 But when I read about the Patagonian hot dog, I started hunting down ingredients immediately because I am inevitably attracted to weird recipes.  I am excited to tell you that this one is a winner!

Patagonia is the region at the bottom of South America (Chile and Argentina), and apparently, these toppings make up their standard hot dog.  I did ask my aunt who lives in Ecuador if she had heard of them, and she hadn't, so maybe the Patagonian hot dogs are skipping over the rest of South America and enthralling the USA.

You will need:
avocado mayo (recipe below)
chopped tomatoes
chopped cilantro
hot dogs
hot dog buns

Put all these toppings on a grilled hot dog and you may not even think of ketchup and mustard for hot dogs again.  So good!  I even bought a can of sauerkraut for these dogs since my homemade stuff is long gone and the fall cabbages are a ways off yet.  

Avocado Mayo
In a food processor, puree:
1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
1/3 c. mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. pickled jalapeno (or use fresh jalapeno and add some vinegar or lemon juice)
1 scallion, chopped
1 garlic clove
pinch salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Notes: Feel free to adjust the spiciness level to your liking, although mine turned out spicy and it was so good that way (but too much for Phoebe, sadly). The avocado mayo will keep in the fridge for about a week.  It's an excellent condiment for sandwiches or atop rice and beans or slathered on tomato slices.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Fifteen Degrees Cooler at the River

The cold river water cools the air above it and sends that cool breeze along the floodplain.  And here, there are lots of tall trees to sink the area in green shade.  Refreshing and so welcome after a picnic with friends!

In the twilight, I could feel the hot concrete and macadam exhaling its heat as we drove back into the city.  But our skin was still cool from the river water.