Friday, April 30, 2010

Well, Fed, and Well-Fed.

It's been a long hard week at work. So my husband, who is pretty much the awesomest human being who has ever lived, made me buffalo chili. I came home tired one night this week to a warm, snug house, a flickering fire in our pellet stove, and the most lucious aroma... he slow-cooked this buffalo brisket until it was spoon-tender, then did it up with beans and beer, and made the best chili I've ever had in my life. I curled up in front of the fire with a big bowl of that buffalo chili and my favorite Oregon brew, and for awhile I knew what my cats feel like when we pet them as they sleep in the sunshine after breakfast. It's just utter contentment.

So this morning I got the urge to bake and I made an apple pie. A gluten-free apple pie, which turned out to be WAY better than any other pie I've ever made. I could get going on this gluten-free thing, I think, if the bread were better. But this pie was the bomb diggity!

Just look at this flaky crust!


Anyway, Keith is sick, and convalescing in the bedroom today because tomorrow he leaves for L.A. again. I get a little mini-break out of it though! We're driving down to Ashland, our happyplace, and spending the day down there, seeing a show and whatnot. Then Sunday morning we're leaving VERY early (well before dawn) to head down into California, where Keith is dropping me off at the Amtrak station so I can ride back up to Portland. I'll have about 7 or 8 hours on the train to just enjoy the scenery and some relaxation. Ohh, bliss.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Whew. I'm beat.

Busy busy weekend! Yesterday we started out at the farmers' market - find of the day, the season's first strawberries, all sweet like candy, and a lovely vanilla caramel made from goats' milk. Yum! Then we went to a meeting for Delia Lopez's Congressional campaign, and then home for yard work. TONS of weeding and Keith cut the grass for the first time since we bought this house in August - haha, it was awful. Then we scrubbed the house top to bottom and collapsed exhausted by the fire after our showers.

This morning I was up at 6:30 to get ready for the pancake party. I made all seven pancake mixes, got dressed, whipped up some raw cream; Keith made a lovely banana-strawberry compote topping and we set out maple syrup and butter. Our guests arrived at 10 a.m. to see the baby chicks while Keith got started on pancakes and waffles.

SEVEN FLAVORS of pancakes AND waffles. We were stuffed by halfway through! But I got a lot of great feedback. It looks like Ginger Chai Spice is going to be my biggest hit. I have comment cards to work from and I'll be tweaking the recipes and having another party very soon.

But now Keith and I are off to finally relax. We're taking the paper and some mimosas outside to the backyard, where we will spend the afternoon in the sunshine, reading the news and doing the crossword together, sipping mimosas and finally - FINALLY - relaxing.

Friday, April 23, 2010

So... many... pancakes...

We've been testing gluten-free pancake recipes for over a week now and having pancakes or waffles (sometimes both) for breakfast just about every day. Yesterday it was oatmeal chocolate chip pancakes, but they weren't quite it, so I tweaked the recipe and made them again this morning. Spot-on. I've never seen oatmeal chocolate chip pancakes before and am quite pleased with myself for thinking of it. They're delicious.

I should have my pancake/waffle mixes for sale online very shortly, and hopefully in another month or two I can get set up to start selling them at farmer's markets and other events around Portland. We're having a tasting party on Sunday so our friends can come give their input on the different flavors.

Flavors currently:
Open Book (plain, you can add fruit or vanilla or whatever)
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip
Banana Chocolate Chip
Apple Cinnamon
Ginger Chai Spice

So far my favorite is the Open Book with vanilla, but I have high hopes for the banana chocolate chip once I get it perfected!

This whole thing has been a lot of fun, but urgh, I could really use a break from eating pancakes for awhile.

Monday, April 19, 2010

RIP, Doris.

After several weeks of decline, Doris fell yesterday evening and never got up. This morning she was still lying there, looking dead, but still breathing slightly... so Keith ended her suffering and she's gone on to wherever the good chickens go.

She was as friendly as she was beautiful, always the first one to come over and say hello when we went outside, and even on the last evening of her life she was eager to enjoy a kitchen treat or a handful of scratch. We still don't know what was wrong with her, but the other hens are fine so apparently it wasn't contagious.

So safe travels, Doris. You'll be missed.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Gluten-Free Pancakes!

Well, after a week or two of attempts and tweaks, we've done it. We, my beloved husband and I, have mastered the gluten-free pancake!

This morning we made plain, vanilla, and apple-cinnamon to test out the recipe. I am stuffed. The apple-cinnamon pancakes in particular are a real stick-to-your-ribs kind, which you wouldn't expect from gluten-free. But they were so delicious that Keith was eating them straight out of the skillet without any butter or syrup, which he never does! So I'm really proud of myself for having finally nailed this recipe down. These pancakes rise beautifully in the pan and have that chewy, moist texture that pancake lovers dream about.

If you're waiting eagerly for the recipe, don't hold your breath, but you can still have some. I will soon be selling the premade mix (in a variety of flavors) to finance a food cart, on the way to my longtime dream of owning my own cafe. Next weekend we're having a pancake party to try out all the different flavors on a new audience, and shortly after that I hope to be in business!

In the meantime, it's a beautiful day outside, the sun is shining, and we have all the windows and screen doors open to let the fresh spring air in. The cats are basking in the sunlight, Chet Baker is playing on the stereo, the coffee is hot and fresh, and Keith and I are about to go indulge in our Sunday morning routine of doing the crossword together. After that I suppose we'll take a nice walk.

We'll need it to work off these pancakes.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Baby Chicks, Settling In!

Yes, yes, I'll return to cooking and gardening soon. But for right now, here's more on BABY CHICKS!

Hatching is done, and it's official, we have seven chicks out of the nine eggs. Well done, Mama Hen! They're all adorable, and right now they're running around getting settled into the bigger, more secure apartment we made them in the garage. I moved them a little while ago and I don't know if Lana will ever forgive me. She FLIPPED.

I moved Lana first, then the chicks, who immediately fanned out all over the new apartment while Lana tried to make a new nest in a hurry so she could get them back under her wings. She clucked and scolded them as she worked, and probably had a few unprintable words for me if any such words exist in Chickenese. You be the judge:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Babies: The Video!

Keith got this little video of Lana and some of her chicks earlier today. They were just born this morning and already they just want to run around and explore! Lana wants them to hang out underneath her where they're safe, but they want to check things out, so she's getting a frustrated tone today.

Before I post the video, I have to share this one chick picture we got today too. Look at all that FLUFF! Don't you just want to nuzzle and cuddle it all day long?!

So anyway, here's the video! Peep peep peep!

(And please excuse our ugly dirty garage walls. We haven't painted in there yet.)


Lana's fertilized eggs were a day or two late hatching, and we were about to give up on them. We were just discussing yesterday whether to get her another batch of fertile eggs, or try to break her out of her brooding altogether. We decided to give it another day or two.

So I got up this morning and went to check on Lana, and she was even more defensive than usual. I endured some sharp pecking to lift her up slightly and check on the eggs...

...and there were two little black and white faces looking up at me!

I ran inside to get Keith, who joined me in the garage. We didn't lift Lana again, so I'm not sure how many babies are under there. However, we did listen closely and heard some chipping/cracking sounds, so there are still more chicks hatching. And we definitely have at least two.

Sometime tomorrow we'll move them to a roomier space (still in the garage, but with a bit more room for the chicks to move around and explore). Hopefully then I can get some pictures. But the eggs are indeed hatching and we have baby chicks today!

UPDATE: One little chick came out to explore and I managed to get this one picture. There were others, peeping like crazy and occasionally sneaking a look out from under Lana's wings, but this is the only one brave enough to come out for a real look. And this one is definitely the Australorp we wanted. I really hope it isn't a little rooster! But either way, isn't it cute?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Cakes, Pie, and a Mess O'Greens

Last night's shiitake mushroom risotto was superb - nice and creamy, and it went so beautifully with purple kale raab. But it was even better this morning. I beat two eggs and mixed them into the leftover risotto, then made them into patties and cooked them up in a little olive oil. They were SO GOOD! I've had fried risotto cakes before but never made them, and I'd put these up against anyone else's.

We had them for breakfast with some sliced radishes, then went to the farmers' market for a lovely morning. I loaded up on greens of every kind - some huge turnips with turnip greens, mustard greens, turnip raab, red chard, green onions, slim tender asparagus (the first of the year! Woohoo!)... a few other things too, but it was all green. It's spring, after all. Bright colors and fruits come later.

Dinner tonight looks like wild Chinook salmon, along with the asparagus we got today and the rest of the risotto cakes. I did get some rhubarb today too, actually, and I want to experiment with gluten-free pie crust, so I might entertain this idea I'm having for ginger-rhubarb pie sweetened with honey instead of sugar. But that might have to wait until tomorrow.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Productivity, or at least the attempt.

Got the day to myself, as Keith is working a long day today, and it looks like a nice one. I've got the fire going - it was freezing this morning and I have to admit the house is a lot more comfortable since I managed to get the fire lit, and even though I don't really need it here in the middle of the day, I'd rather keep it going and stay warm than bundle up and have to light it again later.

So I'm trying to be productive today, get a little writing done and a bit of planning for my upcoming (hopefully) food cart, might break out the sewing machine and make curtains for the bedroom, thinking of trying out a gluten-free cornbread recipe to see if it works, and I'm feeling thoughtful which always means it's time to make risotto. I've got some shiitake mushrooms to use up and they'll go nicely in risotto with a bit of sage. I doubt Keith will be home for dinner so that means I have my little risotto feast by myself (I'm serving it with kale raab and radishes on the side, mmm) and then we'll have risotto cakes for breakfast in the morning. (Which will save us from spending $5 apiece on those incredible tamales they have at the farmers' market on Saturdays.)

Lana's fertile eggs are due to hatch this weekend, and she's looking a bit more alert than usual, so she might be feeling some movement under there. I can't see anything happening though, and she's not budging, so I don't really have any news to report just yet. There ought to be some baby chicks this weekend though and I will certainly post pictures as soon as I have them!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Mmmm, fire.

We don't do Easter, but Pix Patisserie dropped the magic words: "Free chocolate."

We were so there.

Sunday we got in line early for the egg hunt at Pix, and when the doors opened we ran in to find a little plastic egg. (Sadly, we were only allowed one per person.) Inside each egg was a coupon - I got a free chocolate, and Keith got a free macaroon. The shop was a madhouse so we decided to go elsewhere for breakfast; it was a cold and windy morning, but we walked a few blocks down to the Detour Cafe for breakfast and a kiwi-strawberry mimosa. We'd brought the paper, but wound up just doing the crossword puzzle together over breakfast, which doesn't sound like a huge fun laugh but actually was.

After breakfast we went back to Pix and decided to use those coupons after all. So I ordered a rosemary mocha and a chipotle chocolate, and Keith got a port macaroon. We read the rest of the paper and lingered for awhile and then went back home to light the fireplace.

Our fireplace has been getting a workout lately, as the weather has turned cold and damp again, and our furnace is broken again. As I type this morning, it is 58 degrees Fahrenheit in this house. I'm in my socks, flannel pants, and hoodie, with a blanket over my lap and a space heater running. The upside to a chilly house is the increased love we're getting from the cats; they're so happy to snuggle up to a warm body that I'm getting kittycuddles all day long.

We did get some gardening done on Sunday afternoon as well - we worked up the soil in that weedy strip along the south side of our property, where our seven-foot-tall fence of grapes grows in summer. It needed a ground cover, but it was too long a strip to plant starts, so we scattered wild strawberry seeds all over. It'll be a couple of years before the strawberries really take over, but that's fine, we can wait. In the meantime we planted some cultivated strawberry starts under the roses by the porch, and some parsley and thyme there too. All are thriving.

Lana is still setting, but we expect baby chicks sometime this weekend. And at that point I guess we'll have to move this space heater to the garage, because it really is too cold for baby chicks to make it out there. Spring is doing the best it can to get going, but winter's not going without a fight.

Thank goodness for the fireplace.