Saturday, April 30, 2011

Junque Food

In an effort to try to live a little more economically, to eat somewhat more wholesomely, Da Hubster and I have been making our bread for a good year now. This is not a very original idea, seeing as people have made their own bread since the invention of fire. Hey, if I could make little loaves on hot stones in the back yard, I would be all over that! Imagine what a conversation starter that would be when you have people over for dinner! But I digress…

We used to make by hand, with all the kneading and letting it rise, etc. the various recipes we tried called for, but there are times when time is just not on our side. So we set out to find a cheap yet durable bread machine. We checked out local garage sales, the second-hand stores were a bust, and retail outlets in our area only sold brands or models that did not get great online reviews. We thought about buying a more expensive model online, but paying for shipping chaffed our budget. And then a co-worker mentioned that she had one and wanted to get rid of it. SCORE! I actually ended up trading her a discontinued crafting die-cutter kit that I never used for the bread machine. DOUBLE SCORE! Cleaned out some clutter AND got something in return that pulls it's weight around here. *glares at lazy cats*

So, it still takes 4 hours to make a loaf of bread, but I don’t have to knead it. We usually set it to run overnight, and let me tell you, the smell of fresh baked bread when you wake up in the morning is PHENOM (A NOM NOM).

Here is the simplest and most often used recipe in our house. Please make sure to read the manufacturer's instructions for your particular bread machine. Dump these ingredients into the machine in the order they are listed:

  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast (this is equal to one packet)

Close the lid and wait 10 minutes. After 10 minutes or so, peek in and make sure there is bubbling. If so, you are good to go! Proceed by adding:

  • ¼ cup veggie oil
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Close lid and press button for the first cycle or "Basic" (however it reads on your machine). Go about your business. 3 ½ hours later, your home is going to smell so freaking wonderful, you will have to sit on your hands to keep from ripping the undercooked loaf of bread out of your machine and gnawing on it. Try to restrain yourself.  :)

Now, if someone could only teach me how to slice bread evenly, I'd be IN!

Here’s an extra tip. Because there are no preservatives in your newly made bread, it doesn’t last as long as a store bought loaf. We’ve eaten the bread up to a week after making it, having sealed it in a plastic baggie, but it does tend to lose some of its awesome flavor after a few days. It’s not bad, so if you can finish the loaf, great, but what I’ve been doing is taking the leftover heels and stuff, and freezing them. When I’m making a salad, I’ll take a heel of bread – cube it, toss with a little olive oil, garlic, and seasonings, and toast them on a cookie sheet in the oven at around 400f. ***CROUTONS! And soooo much better than store bought. Any left over croutons do best in a ziplock baggy with a small square of paper towel to soak up any extra oil, or any moisture that might not have baked out of bread. But there probably won’t be any leftovers. They are that good.

(picture from )

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Updated Junque-yard

The pictures in the last post were from this past weekend. With all the rain we've been getting this week, the flowers have 'sploded! Here's some updates. :)

This last one is a poor confused Asiatic lily. I planted them early because they started sprouting in the bag. Poor thing is a couple of months early. Such a small bloom. But next year they will be straightened out, though.


Spring has been slow here on the neo-faux-ghetto homestead (the term "Urban Homestead" has been copyrighted by people who want to make a buck off a term they didn't coin, but that's gripe for another time). It's been cold, windy, rainy for the most part. We did have a couple of days of sun and warmth - literally 2 days - a couple of weeks ago, but it was enough to knock my spring bulbs off their schedule.

The tulips are stunted yet blooming, the daffodils have no flower buds on them yet, and the hyacinth are just starting pop, but look like they've been through the ringer:
Tulips. There were here from the last homeowners, and they natualized well, and are dividing quickly.

The hyacinth. It's a little be-draggled, but hanging in there.

This is Columbine. It's never bloomed, but it keeps coming back every year.

I have one flower garden. It's in the front of the house. I've been working to make it a continual blooming perennial garden. I love spring flowers - tulips, daffodils, crocus, etc. Every year I plant more and more bulbs until the thing is fairly bursting. I've been trying to add lilies and iris for later in the year, so it always has something blooming. Those of you that have this type of garden know the frustration of TIMING. it's a challenge, but I'm finally pulling ahead. I *think* I'm getting it down, as something's flowering in there most of the time. I've also started adding hostas for fill-in greenery. I'm hoping to put in some lilly of the valley for ground cover soon.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Junque-ology & Junque-yard

This scary image is one that's going to give me nightmares to years to come. Our house, built in the 1950's came with a 50 foot TV antenna in the backyard. Over the winter, one of the legs broke away from the in ground cement block and is now swaying dangerously toward our roof. As a temp fix, Da Hubster anchored it with rope to a fencepost at the back of the property, but the antenna needs to come down.

I have no problem with this. It's an eyesore. I have, however, in years past, planted morning glories around the base to pretty it up, and I would have missed being able to do that, so I asked if Da Hubster could possibly leave some of it at the base for me. He said he'd try.

This is a pic of the antenna and the start of the morning glories

I love my morning glories:

Anyway, we've been waiting for the rain to stop, and the wind to die down, so that Da Hubster can make the climb up and start hacking, or buzz-sawing his way back down. Easter Sunday appears to be the day. We will see how it goes. If you don't hear from me, it's because I had a heart attack watching him do this. *nods*
This is a test of texting in a blog...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

New Junqueology Design

Do we like it better than the original? Yes? No? Maybe? I'm still playing with my graphics program, but it's not as flexible as my old one, so I haven't gotten it down yet. I'm tinkering with different Logo-pix, and I may switch it up from time to time.

Happy Easter, everyone! I leave you with some old eggs I created many, many moons ago...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Upcoming Junqueology projects...

I'm having trouble with my motivationals this weekend. My original plan was to come home Friday night and clean house so that I'd have the weekend to putter around with the myriad of projects we have lined up for this spring. However, it's been a really trying week, and I just was not feeling the cleaning mode, other than to take a few swipes at the bathroom and kitchen before playing on the computer and going to bed.

Martha Stewart, I am not.

So, I figured in the time honored tradition of all full time workers out there, I'd not be able to sleep in on a Saturday, get up, and start my homage to Mr. Clean in the bright and shiny morning. HA. Yeah. I actually did sleep in, until 9-ish (this is unheard of for me), and when I did, I woke up to the beginnings of a head cold/sinus & ear infection.

So I am not motivated today to much else other than keep myself from whining and whimpering.

I will, however, tell you some of the upcoming Junque projects I've got in mind for this spring and summer. Please disregard the excess tissues on the floor. And you might want to put on a mask, just in case.

This poor piece of un-luv-ed furniture was left for dead in our garage when we bought the place. The previous owner used it, and used it well. Then the mice used it, and they used it well, too. Now, it's all mine! First, though, I gotta fix it. Give it a good loving. The picture above was taken last summer after we dug it out of the garage. I liked the height of the desktop, and thought it would make a great potter's bench, if it wasn't too rotted. If I could get it waterproofed. As you can see this desk is in rough shape, made even rougher after being outside all winter (I wasn't smart enough to put it back in the garage before the first snow last year).

After it dries out, I will strip the (ugh-ly) green paint off, sand it until it's smooth as a baby's bottom, and weather proof it. I'm stuck on colors though. Not sure if I want to stain it or paint it. And what colors??? Black would be easy enough, but there has to be a snazzier color - if only my brain would pick one! Or maybe I should just go white??? Ah well...first things first - clean it up, repair it, then decide. If I have the pocket change AND the where-with-all, I plan on creating a mosaic tile topper. We'll have to see if the top sands flat, or if I need to rip it off and put a ply-wood topper on it. *rubs hands at the thought of digging out the power tools*

This potter bench will be a mid-summer project, when I can count on the day's being warm, and all my veggies are in the ground, doing their thangs. But I promis to keep you all posted. :)

I have 2 Junque-yard projects slated for before this one, though. I'll write about both here breifly, then detail later with pix and everything.

The first is to whip up one, two, possibly three more raised beds in the back yard for veggie growing. Da Hubster's out there right now, marking off where we are going to build a bed along the back fence for our berry bushes. Our goal is to make them with scrap wood we have on-hand. They won't be pretty, but they will get the job done. Pretty will come later, if I can talk the budget into a few cans of paint. :)

The second project is a re-do of a walkway in the backyard. Originally it was made of cement pavers about 100 years ago. It's completely overgrown, totally not level and as it goes downhill anyway, it's pretty much a hazard for walking. I've been buttering up Da Hubster into helping me fix it. It won't take much, other than muscles and time. He's got Da Muscles (hubba Hubba), and I got the time. I will do a detail of this project later, but for now, I think I need to whip out some cookies for bribery.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Today's Junque Food

JunqueFood – last night’s pizza was born of leftovers and pantry items. I'd made the crust a while ago, and it was frozen, just waiting to be used. The toppings were a few slices of crumbled bacon, mushrooms, and some awesome canned pickled banana peppers from last summer. This is probably one of the best pizzas I've ever concocted, and I will be making it again!

Quickie Spicy Pizza Sauce

1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 large diced onion
1 large diced green pepper (or one cup frozen green pepper)
½ Tsp sugar or acid reducer of your choice (I use Agave Nectar)
Chicken or veggie broth/stock/bouillon
Splash of Balsamic Vinegar
Dash of Cayenne Pepper
Crushed, dried Basil
Olive Oil

Heat a pot with some olive oil, add the onions and peppers. Cook the onions until translucent, add can of tomatoes. Add cayenne, sugar, vinegar, & stock. Bring to a quick boil, the lower temp to simmer. Simmer for an hour or so until flavors melded. Turn off temp and stir in crushed basil.

Can be used immediately, or you can parcel into 3-4 freezer containers & freeze until needed.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Today's Junque Food

This weekend has been a moderate for cooking. DaMan is off doing DaManly stuff, and I've been prepping lunches for the coming week. We are expecting rain and cold, so I am leaning towards the warmth - temperature and spiciness.

I'm currently roasting a mess of sweet potatoes to mash with butter and just a wee bit of brown sugar. It's a good meal for me at work, easy to heat, and stays with me. It also helps my sweet tooth, so I don't crave candy - the vending machine in the lunch room is just EVIL! And the GI of sweet potatoes means my blood sugar won't spike and drop during the day. I really, really hate that feeling.

I made a double batch of Curried Chicken Salad for us for lunches, too. This spicy mix is great for sandwiches. I like to put some in a container, and put it on the bread at mealtime, so that the bread doesn't get soggy, as it can with mayo-based salads. It's wicked simple to put together, too, just use your favorite tuna salad mixings, swap out canned chicken instead of tuna, then add a heaping teaspoon of Patak's Hot Red Curry Paste:

This stuff is amazing! Try it, you'll see!

A New Incarnation

Having several different blogs for different interests meant that I didn't post to any of them! Guilt from neglecting my blogs, and guilt from neglecting my want to give in to all the ramblings in my brain has made it so that I decided to combine my interests into one voice...and I'm calling it Junque.

Here I'll spill the tidbits that fill my weekends - cooking, gardening, crafting, and my new interest, recycling and upcycling junk into useful and handsome items. I get such a charge out of recycling garbage, and even more so when I pull stuff out of the recylcing container and put it back into use as something else. I also get a charge out of growing my own food and herbs, and then finding ways to use the leftovers and "waste" productively.

I intend to break down posts into sub-categories to keep my need for organization:

*Junque-yard - gardening, composting, and alternative uses for homegrown items.
*Junque-food - cooking, preserving, canning, and EATING! :)
*Junque-jewelry - originally started as I use my grandmother's old jewelry to make new wearable art.
*Junque-??? - I have to come up with another name for the upcycling section. Does anyone have any suggestion? I was thinking Junque-ology.

Comments are always appreciated.