never had any other desire so that one which I have had always, that I might be master at last of a small house and a large Garden.

-A. Cowley, The Garden, 1666

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

best laid floor o' nooks an' pantries

I had planned to post about a beautifully triumphant weekend in which we finally have a refinished breakfast nook floor...
After all, we did set aside an entire weekend for the endeavor. How long could it possibly take...we've already done the hard part (taking up 2 layers of vinyl and scraping up the majority of the black gooey mildewy mastic which was applied right over a nice pine foor), right?

*maybe*, whispered my ambitous optimistic and ultimately unrealistic project angel jumping up and down excitedly on my shoulder, *maybe we can even get to putting in the antique hutch and other furniture, after all we did get the fast dry polyurethane!*

Did I mention that our budget for this restoration job is about what a normal couple would spend going out to dinner? Not a special occasion type restaurant, more of a "its tuesday and I'm feeling oppressed by the task of cooking" type joint.
So we (I) made the amazing decision to save money by NOT renting the proper floor sander...we'll just use borrowed belt sanders (free)! After all, its a really small room!

UPDATE: As my aunt (and Robert Burns) observes about home DIY projects:
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft a-gley.

We are still sanding.
And we have busted both of the borrowed belt sanders (Hi Mom...tell Dad we owe him a trip to harbor freight...) So back to sanding this evening (decided to ignore the nook on my Monday birthday and yesterday flounced out to a concert).

In the mean time: I'll show off some really sweet porcelain bird napkin rings. Goodwill find which was half off...a whopping 75c for the whole flock.
and they also qualify me for joining in over at Faded Charm for White Wednesday!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

new to me.

Before the frost set in I managed to score some green heirloom tomatoes. They looked really pretty sitting in my vintage lustre bowl but it was time to use them (instead of waiting too long and throwing them out). That great orange octagonal bowl, by the way, was a lucky recent score at a junk store in Roanoke ($4!). Not new (check out the chips and wear), but new to me and I love it...think of filling it with would glow!
I've never used green tomatoes before and couldn't even think of anything else besides "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe".
So that's what I improvised. First I sliced them about 1/4" thick and then set up 3 bowls: 1. corn flour mixed with a little salt and pepper 2. milk and 3. stone ground cornmeal (bought at the state fair from people operating an old portable stone was fascinating to watch) mixed with a bit of cayenne. The slices were dredged and dipped and dredged in sucession and piled on a plate while a pan of oil was heating up. The slices were shallow fried on each side til golden (about 2-3 minutes).

I served them up with a thrown together remoulade (yogurt/sourcream, old bay seasoning, bubbies real relish, cayenne, pepper), sauteed kale with hot sauce and cornbread. The cornbread was baking and the kale was simmering while I prepared the tomatoes so everything was hot at the same time (for once)! The cornbread incorporated some more recent finds: blue cornmeal from the state fair, pink himalayan salt, a "limited edition" pastured organic butter and my pastured farmer's market eggs from Faith Farms.

This dinner turned out to be fabulous, filling, and frugal (about $1 per person excluding the pantry items). Perfect seasonal fare for vegetarian night on an early fall evening. And a successful expedition into uncharted culinary terrain.

I'm also attempting to link into my first linky carnival...we'll see how that goes considering my technical shortcomings...

Pennywise Platter Thursday at the Nourishing Gourmet.

Monday, November 1, 2010

the haunted small house.

I like my halloween decor as imagined through an Edward Gorey illustration. The porch of the small house was decorated in an attempt to lure...ahem, I mean, welcome...prospective trick-or-treaters. I wasn't overly hopeful considering the dearth of children in the population of our "town", but you never know...

First, you must pet our outside cat, Billy. She may look spooky, but she's really a sweety. And she comes in handy as a free source of haunted ambience.

Next, up the stairs past the pumpkins where you may enjoy our window memorial to Poe. Nothing says Halloween like Poe to me.

Happy skull votives (dollar store) sit on piles of books (collections of Poe, an early 20thc biography of Poe, The Poe Shadow, and a collection of Mrs Riddell Ghost stories because I couldn't find any more Poe books...). They also provide precarious perches for a small flock of (okay, two) black feathered ravens.

Then come up to the front door to be welcome by these little ghosties on the wreath by the knocker...if you still dare, knock on the door for your candy (butterfingers this year) or choose from the various glow-in-the dark beasties. (FYI my husband chose both.)

As you leave, you may see a haunted ghost in the side yard...I was inspired by "The Long Black Veil" and by the irresistable fact our side yard is enclosed by a white picket fence and features a willow tree.
The lady is dressed in my elizabethan collared linen smock cinched with a black ribbon and a long black (okay, grey...the dye didn't take properly)silk gauze veil that flutters in even the slightest breeze. The stones and sign are dollar tree. As someone who actually spent a semester in a cemetery doing research for a paper on gravestone iconography, I'm not exactly over-impressed by the dollar stones. Next year I might flip them over and repaint the backs...

Did we get trick-or-treaters? Well, after dark I gave up and just left the plastic pumpkin filled with treats on the porch whilst hubby and I went to the amusement park to scare ourselves silly and ride roller coasters. When we came back, most of the treats were gone. Trick-or-treaters....or something else?

the great basil harvest

End of last week, I saw that the temperature was predicted to swoop near the 30s...and that meant it was time to gather ye basil while ye may. We have a large potful on the back porch which yielded a large colander full. The stems and a few leaves were left to hopefully re-seed the pot once again (maintenance free herbs).

What to do with a couple hundred basil leaves? Make pesto! I grind it up with pignolis, salt, olive oil, parmesan, and garlic. Thats it! Then scoop it into a oil sprayed ice cube tray and save for a zippy punch of summer flavor in the middle of the winter. Pop out the cubes when frozen and store in a freezer bag. The size is perfect for pasta for two or a dollop for ratatouille or soup. It even retains its color.

And what do you have for dinner when you're too busy making pesto?

a fried egg with rooster hot sauce, pesto on toast, and the last tomato fried.