Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Junque Pile

The holiday weekend has been nice, with a few bumps in the road, but that's to be expected, right?  Saturday started out with a trip to the local farmer's market, where we bought some of the tomato and pepper plants. We have a favorite vendor there, a life-long multi-generation farmer woman who always takes the time to talk to us, and give up hints and tips on growing. She also sells lots of heirloom variety plants, and we have had great luck with her plants. She's friendly, knowledgeable, and a hoot to chat with.  I believe she's got a secret crush on the Hubster, and it's reciprocated, even though he won't admit it.

It's not normally too early in the season to plant the warm weather veggies, but the spring has been so cloudy and cold, most of the tomatoes and peppers aren't as robust looking as they normally are. But we make do, right?

picture borrowed from www.plantertomato.com
We like to buy farm eggs at the market when we can, but the ultra-premium price they go for here is not conducive to our family budget. At least some of the time. This past Saturday we decided to splurge when we say another vendor was selling duck eggs. Never having had them, we chatted the seller up on the difference between duck and chicken eggs. They are larger, richer, with a bigger and more vibrant yolk. If you've had farm fresh eggs vs. store bought commercially laid chicken eggs, you know the yolks are more vibrant in and of themselves. Duck eggs go way beyond!  We brought them home, lovingly cradled in my arms, and I set to work frying up a couple for us. Delicious! The whole meal was.  I felt all down home. Bacon, a fried duck egg, and toast made of home made bread. It was almost a religious experience. If the city I live in won't give in and let the residents keep chickens (a cause I've helped lobby in the past), I'm going to smuggle a couple of ducks in here, I swear it.  :)

The weather precluded us from planting a lot, though the Hubster did construct a cage for growing potatoes. We were originally going to grow them in a set of leftover tires from our car, but after researching on the net, he decided that a cage of landscaper's cloth filled with straw would be more to his liking. He planted a good 4 lbs worth of potato eyes, while I attempted to weed the herb garden and the poor pitiful strawberry garden.

The soil has been to wet to mess with the strawberries, and as a result, the grass has started to take over the patch. But when I saw that they were struggling to put out their pretty little blossoms, I knew I had to do something. So Sunday, I was delicately weeding in and amongst the strawberry crowns, trying not to disturb them, while ripping out the grass. Thankfully, Hubster was smart and got a couple of extra bales of straw, as we hear it makes for great mulch, and weed suppressor.

When it was storming too much, or the fog was too thick, we'd come inside and do the normal weekend things every body does, cook, clean, etc. I attempted to make some home made hamburger and hot dog buns, with a 50% success rate. I made the buns too small, anticapating that they would grow larger after the last rise.  Not so much, unfortunately. Next time I will try not to be so frugal and squeeze more buns out of the batch. Either that or we will have to have teeny tiny burgers.  LOL.  Check out the recipe I used here: Belle's Hamburger Bun recipe on Allrecipes.com.

On a sad note, my microwave died on Sunday.  It was a quick and most likely a painless death for the poor overworked thing. It was a gift from one of Hubster's cousins, and we'd had it for most of the time we've been co-habbing (about 8 years). I was heating something up, and it just shut down. I thought that the circuit breaker blew, as it occasionally does. The fridge and the microwave are on the same circuit, and they occasionally fight each other for current (it's an older house).  But no, the circuit didnt need to be reset, and the fridge was still running. I guess the fridge won that little battle.

I breifly contemplated running and experiment where we see how long we can go without a microwave before Mr and Mrs Junque kill each other, then I slapped myself upside the said and told myself to get real. I may be all for "Living the Simple Life," but there's simple, and then there's simple.  Right?

Today, the weather god's have promised sunshine and warm temps. I'm holding them to their promise, and we will get those tomatoes and peppers planted.  We will also get the cukes, zuke, and loofa seeds in their appointed spots and make the appropriate genuflections to the above named gods that the weather becomes summer like, and the seeds germinate.  I draw the line at ritual killings, but do you think they would take an offering of some misshapen hamburger buns??

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Junque Yard

It's Memorial Day weekend, and in my neck of the urban woods, that means it's planting weekend. Our frost free days start around this time of year, though you wouldn't know it from the temperature this Spring. I've complained enough about the lack of warmth, and the excess of rain, and I shan't do it again here (yes, I said shan't).

My house has very little natural sunlight peeping into the windows, and my years' past attempts from starting my garden from seed indoors have been failures. Yes, I've tried grow lights, fluorescent, etc. and all I get are thin, leggy stalks that struggle to survive. If one of my herd of cats doesn't dig into the soil and kill the burgeoning seedlings, they are too weak to make it outside. So unless I seed directly outside, I buy starters from the local Farmer's Market. I am lucky enough to live in an area where farms do good work. Tomatoes and peppers are must haves in my garden. DaMan and I have found that we enjoy Roma tomatoes for canning. We just put them up plain to turn them into sauces at a later date. I have a fondness for banana peppers, which I pickle and can vast quantities of, but love to slice them fresh and put into salads, or just dress with vinegar and a little oil, maybe a wee bit of onion for a quickie side dish.

Bell peppers are a staple in this house hold - all colors of the rainbow. The price of bells in the grocery store have doubled and sometimes tripled over the winter. I can't swallow paying $3.99 for a red/orange/yellow pepper. I plan on doubling my production of those this year, and freezing them for cooking with later on.

Cucumbers are another thing that I enjoy growing. I don't buy starts of those, as they are a warm weather plant, and I can seed those direct. I'm going to be trying out a bush variety that is supposedly more compact than the vine variety. The plan is to pick them small to make pickles, but there's always a few that hide under the foliage, and grow GI-NORMOUS.  Those will go towards making pickle relish. I made both sweet and dill relish last summer, and ran out of the sweet sometime after Christmas.  They made handy gifts, and were well received.

DaMan has a fondness for green beans. Unfortunately, we get lazy, and let the bean grow too large. Then they get tough and stringy, and not very palatable. Lesson learned. Pick your green beans early and often!

This year we are going to be trying potatoes. DaMan will be growing them in a set of tires. Yes, tires.  Potatoes grow in an interesting way.  You get starter spuds from the nursery, and cut them up so they have at least one eye each. Place the tire where you want to grow (where they will get at least 6 hours of sunlight a day), and throw some compost, or well amended soil, or heck, even rotted straw in the bottom. Lay the potato pieces eye side up, and cover with more soil or straw. Water well. The eyes become the stalks of the plants. When the stalks are about 6 inches high and leafy, throw more soil around them, mounding them up. Continue to do the same, and when the stalks and leaves wither and brown, yank them out of the soil, and count how many new potatoes you have!  The tires (or you could use a clean dark colored garbage can) act as a warmer for the soil (black draws in the heat from the sun). But it also serves the purpose of growing something else that isn't taking up space in your garden. And here at the urban micro-mini ranch, space is at a premium.

I haven't even touched on our fruit bushes, the lettuce "patch", or the herb garden...yet. :)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Junque Food

"Isn't she lovely? Isn't she wonderful?" I have to say, DaMan and I are contenders in the home made pizza arena. We've got it down to a science, but it's kind of fun, too.

I make the pizza dough in batches of four, and freeze them. I make the sauce ahead of time and freeze it too. The toppings are always what we have on hand. Now that summer's coming, the variety will change, as veggies will be plucked from our garden and thrown on a whim.

This pizza was topped with pepperoni, cheese, pickled banana peppers, and fresh spinach from the garden. And it was heavenly. Now, I'm not saying that I will never order for pizza delivery again, but I tell you, when you can make it so easily, it's hard to justify dialing up Domino's.

My online friend, Cherry, gave me her recipe for pizza dough.  She said she found it online long enough ago that she doesn't remember where, but has tweaked the recipe enough that it probably doesn't matter.

Pizza Crust

1 package yeast (or 2 1/4 tablespoons if you buy your yeast in bulk)
1 tsp sugar
1 c very warm water
2 1/2 c bread flour
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp italian seasoning ( I just used powdered garlic and crushed basil)

Combine the water, yeast and sugar. Let it rest til the yeast starts to bubble (about 10 minutes). Add half the flour, the oil, salt, and Italian seasoning, Gradually add as much flour as needed to make a soft dough, Dump onto floured surface and knead for 5 to 6 minutes. Let rest for 20 to 30 minutes. Divide into 2 equal portions. Roll out to desired thickness/size. I usually prebake the crust for 6 to 7 minutes at 400, top, and bake another 6 to 7 minutes. Of course, the baking times will vary with how thick or thin you roll your crust.

I also poke the crust with a fork several times just before putting it in the oven for the blind bake so that it doesn't puff up any more. We like our crust thin here at the micro mini-ranch.

As I said, I double this recipe, and make 4 crusts at a time. I ball the unbaked crust into ziplock baggies and freeze what I won't use in a week. Cherry has said that she rolls out her crusts and does the first bake, then freezes them. If I had more space in my freezer, I would probably do the same thing, as it would be quicker to throw the end product together at night after I get home from work, but I don't.  The frozen dough takes about 2 hours to thaw, or is thawed if I take it out in the morning and put it in the fridge before work.  It's a little wet and sticky, but that is handled by tossing on a bit of flour and doing a quick knead prior to rolling out.  The dough also stays fresh in the fridge for about a week.

I challenge you all to make a fresh pizza from the ground up. Tell me what fresh veggies you use, odd combos that work for you and your family. Making something from scratch is so satisfying, isn't it?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Musings at the Junque Pile.

Hi there,

It was productive, yet an unspactacular weekend at the mini-micro urban ranch. There are times when non-drama is good for the soul, and this was one of those times.  The spring, which to date has been cold, cloudy, and rainy, took a break for a warmer interlude, and that led the hubster and I to dash outside and do as much as we could under a gentle but shining sun.  He washed the dog, and I weeded. He mowed most of the lawn. I weeded. He weeded. I mowed the rest of the lawn. We both weeded. I potted some plants. Weeding commenced. You get the idea.

Wild Rhubarb and Stubborn Dandelion suffered and died horrible deaths. Yes, you can eat the rhubarb, but you really wouldn't want to. I used to give it to co-workers, but they never asked for more. I took it as a sign. The dandelions...well, they were taking up valuable real estate.

I went to the local Farmer's Market. Gosh, I missed that place. They have several during the week, but I cannot go as they are during work hours. The Saturday one is special to me. I've made acquaintance with some of the vendors there. It gives me a sense of peace knowing that I, a former Flower Child of the 70's, turned Valley Girl of the 80's can talk about bees and eggs and tomato varieties and double headed begonias. I feel like I'm starting to come home. I'm what you might call...a late bloomer.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Junque-olgy - It's Curtains for you!

I'm in desperate need to get rid of my mini-blinds. They are disgusting and broken, and UGH!

I'm starting easy, because it's many, many moons since I hauled out the sewing machine (remember "Hammer Time?" - remember "Hammer Pants?" - yeah, I made those).  I want to make cafe curtains for one window in the kitchen that sits over the sink.  The walls are pale yellow.  The counter top is a mottled pottery color (not orange, not brown, but just like a clay pot), the appliances are all white.

So, I'm looking for fun and funky prints to buy for curtains this morning, and most of the things I like are labeled "Juvenile." I'm trying not to be insulted, and mostly I'm just giggling at the thought of truly WILD prints, and the look on DaMan's face when I finally get them up.

say...something like this: 

But he probably wouldn't have a problem with this:

I love this, but it's a jersey knit, and not at all right for curtains:

... and people wonder why I never get anything done.

So help me out...wild prints, that aren't too dark (my house is light challenged), in the yellow/red/green family preferably. Please?

I promise to write up the whole process of what is sure to be a comedy of errors - Me vs. Sewing Machine vs. Tension Rods, etc.

And!!!  Bonus points to those that might point in me in a trying Junque-like fashion of re-using something else to make my curtains.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Junque Yard

It's a slow news day on the neo-faux-ghetto homestead...

Spring has been a cold and wet loser-fest. I hate to sound like a Negative Nelly, but I heard one newscaster say something to the effect of there only have been 4 clear days since the end of February. And it's probably been longer, because I remember January and February both being cloudy all the freakin' time.

The point is, there hasn't been any dang sun.

This makes for slow growing here on the urban micro-mini-ranch. I've got herbs going crazy, but that's about it. The sugar snap peas that I planted at the end of March are only 2 inches high. My spinach and lettuce aren't even worth mentioning - and that's usually my first bumper crop of the season!

The strawberries are struggling, as the ground has been too wet to weed and replant the runners that popped up at the end of fall last year. Yeah, they don't tell you that, do they? You may only get about a month's worth of strawberries (these being the June-bearing variety), but they make baby plants all summer long. I swear strawberries are like the bunny-rabbits of plants.

I have one herb that I have no idea what it is. It's driving me crazy. It smells a little bit like oregano, but it looks nothing like the oregano I've got, and I only planted one kind. It's the mystery herb, and it's about to get the axe, unless I can identify it.

I have onions coming up that I planted last spring. They disappeared mid-summer and I figured I must have planted them in a place that was too wet for them to tolerate, they got soggy and croaked. Nope..these are apparently ghost onions, and have decided to come back and haunt my herb garden again this spring. Will they disappear again mid-summer?  I'll keep you informed....

And lastly, I spent 2 hours tying up the raspberry canes tonight. I'd been kind of ignoring them, because they were supposed to be dug up and put into a new bed that we've been trying to build since there was still snow on the ground. However the weather hasn't allowed us to get back there and finish. Well, that and the fact that we ran out of wood, and haven't found any other useable scavenged wood lately. So, those darn raspberries, being contrary by nature, decided to grow like nothing else in my edible beds, which means like Popeye's forearms after a can of spinach. I decided that the raspberries will be moved after they have been harvested (I didn't want them not to produce if I moved them too late in the season - I know raspberries are hardy, but still...if you've ever had fresh off the vine, you know why I'm being cautious), so we've got a couple of months yet to finish the berry boxes at the back of the yard.

I'm going to the Farmer's Market for the first time this year on Saturday. I've been waiting to see if it's open yet, and finally got word that it is, so look out farmers. I'm-ma comin'!  I can't wait to get my hands on some plants and some early veggies, and some more plants...and maybe some eggs, and them more plants! woo hoo!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Junque-ology - Cleaning Copper-bottomed pots

Cleaning Copper-Bottomed Pots

My mother-in-law knew that I coveted her ancient Revere-Ware copper bottomed pots. They were awesome for even heating and not scorching. She gave them to me when she bought herself some new cookware, and I happily took them.

At some point in time (in Happy Accident Land), tomato sauce overflowed one of these pots, and we'd noticed that the copper which was dull and dark, became clean and spiffy looking. Thinking we were geniuses, we would occasionally throw the pots in a shallow dish filled with some sort of tomato sauce. Spicy V8 was the usual fare, as we always had some around, but it never got used enough to feel bad "wasting" it to clean a pot, if you get my drift.

Anywhooooo, last week I noticed that my most beloved pot was getting reeeeeeally grimy on the bottom, and I knew that I'd have to get around to cleaning them. Since I started this blog, I thought it might might be neat to conduct a wee little experiment and see if tomato juice was truly the bestest, fastest, easiest way to clean a copper-bottom pot.

I went to my trusted old book, "Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean," by Linda Cobb. In the book, the author said to use lemon juice and salt to shine up copper. And I got to figuring, tomato juice and lemon juice...both are acids, so why not try vinegar, too? This works out well, because I have three copper pots to clean.  :)

As you can see, they are pretty dingy. Definitely time for a clean. I got out my trusty Pyrex casserole dishes, and loaded one up with each acid: V8 Juice, vinegar, and lemon juice. I dunked one pot in each for a minute, then poured salt on the bottoms, put them back into their respective acids, and swished each for a minute or so.

Here are the results, and let me say, I'm pretty surprised:

 I'm calling it a tie between the lemon juice and the vinegar.  The pot that the vinegar was in wasn't as dingy, because it doesn't get used as much as the two larger pots. However, the vinegar pot needed to be buffed as it got a a grey-ish film on it when it dried.

The lemon juice pot still has a few burn spots in the middle, that has since resisted being cleaned off no matter what. But these pots are ancient, so I'm willing to live with a few spots.

The V8 Juice just did not live up to snuff in this experiment.  I finished it off in the lemon juice, and was able to 85-90% of the black off the bottom of the pot.

There you have it! And now I have cleaned pots that I could hang on the wall, if I ever got my shaker shelf up....  :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Junque-ology - Re-Stuffing my Comforter

Yes, I wish this was my bed. Alas,it is not.  The comforter shown in this picture, however, is mine. I love the reversible fabric. I love the plaid on one side, the lighter striped pattern on the other. I bought this from Overstock.com probably about 2 years ago for just under $50.00.  I figured it would give me a few years, then give out. Well, I was right.  The batting inside has torn and bunched badly The poor thing is pretty much unusable. However, it being the only comforter I have, I've had to use it - even in it's horrendous shape. 

I really didn't want buy another cheap comforter. I REALLY REALLY REALLY want another goose down duvet. Our last duvet met its nasty end when one of our cats decided it was a much better place to pee on than in the litter box. But she was old and sick, and I forgave her.

I had thoughts of turning the fabric from the comforter into a duvet cover. It wouldn't take much, but getting a new duvet is something I cannot afford right now. Have you priced them lately??? O.M.G. it almost makes you want to raise the geese yourself just for feathers.

Anywhoo...I needed to do something quick. The comforter desperately needed to be washed, but the batting inside wasn't going to be able to handle another washing & drying. It hasn't been warm enough to line dry, either, which I was doing in nicer weather to save some wear and tear. What to do? What to do?

If you remember from my blog-post about the necklace board I made...I tend to dither. I want to do something, but I can't because something else needs to be done first. And that can't be done, because of cost or SOMETHING that always manages to bog down the process. So I dither. I let ideas swirl in my head, and nothing ever gets done. Starting this blog is helping me to stop and say, "Do What You Can Now." Just do it, and do it better later, if you need to.  So I am.

I went to the craft store, and bought out their section of poly fiber-fill. I remembered from my pillow making days, that you generally 2x what you think you do when it comes to fiber-fill. So I got lots.

I dug out my old sewing kit, and hunted up my seam ripper.  The seam ripper and I used to be good friends, back in the old sewing days. Yes, together we've ripped a seam or two...hundred.  I sat down with my comforter, my seam-ripper, a large garbage bag, and whatever was playing on the History Channel (something about the Pope, but I really wasn't paying attention).

I carefully "ripped" about 2 1/2 inches of seam from the side of the comforter. I pulled out all the gnarly stuffing from inside. And I do mean GNARLY. If you have a dog, and you let that dog sleep with you on the bed, then you know GNARLY.  I carefully took out the laughable quilting stitches in the middle of the thing (seriously, there were maybe 6 one inch long quilt stitches for a king sized comforter), which is why the batting tore and bunched up in the first place.

I'm washing and drying the shell of the comforter, then I will stuff it with the new poly-fill, then I'll whip-stitch the side seam back up.  And Viola! One fixed comforter.

You might ask, why didn't buy new batting, and re-quilt the thing?  Because I *do* want to go back at a later date and make this a duvet cover - when I finally get my new goose-filled duvet. Re-stuffing the comforter now will tide it over until I get that new duvet (and oh yes, I will get it). Then I can open the foot of the comforter, take out the poly fill, throw in the duvet, and either put on buttons, snaps or Velcro, as a new closure.

See? It *can* be fixed for now...and made better for later.  :)

And the dog can't lay on it until she gets a bath...and I mean that sincerely.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


One of my local nurseries has the most amazing selection on unusual herbs in the spring time. I was wandering around last year, when I saw they had a patchouli plant. I had never before even made the connection that  patchouli was a plant!  If I even thought about how Patchouli was made, I figured it was by squeezing whacked out hippies really hard (I KID! I KID!) No, I never really thought about where patchouli oil came from, so when I saw it, I marveled at it, but didn't buy one. And then I kicked myself, hard and often, because my mother loved patchouli oil. I went back later that summer and see if they still had it in stock, but they didn't.

So this spring, I knew that I was going to get her a patchouli plant for either her birthday or Mother's day. Her birthday, which is in early March, was too early for the nursery to have their plants out yet. We were still in the grip of winter at that time. So last week, I headed back to the nursery, driving with my fingers crossed that they had what I wanted. And they did! As I was doing cartwheels down the aisles (no easy feat with a plant in my hand), I decided to see what else unusual they might have. Something that I could grow as a challenge to myself, and my poor little herb garden. 

I ended up grabbing 2 awesome challenges!  The first is a stevia plant. I'm going to see what it's like to grow, dry, and crush it as a sugar substitute. The second is a curry plant! How cool is that?? I always figured that curry was a mixture of spices, and not it's own plant. And it smells heavenly too...just like a warm golden curry sauce.

I have no idea about the care and feeding of either of my new charges, but I plan on researching and learning. And sharing with you!

BTW, Mom loved her new little patchouli plant. And it smells nice too. Much lighter than you'd expect.

No hippies were harmed in the making of this blog post.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Junque Jewelry or Junque-ology...you decide.

Necklace Organizer...round one.

I make and have a lot of necklaces. I have a jewelry box that I don't love. It doesn't organize well, and the spot to hang necklaces is down the back, so you can't see them unless you stand over the box, peering in. It's just not convenient.

I've been toying with the idea for a way to hang my necklaces so that they are all visible, and yet compact. Here's what I did.

I had an old framed cork-board & some tiny J hooks (or coffee cup hooks). Viola!

Yes, it's another crappy cell phone pic, but I'll take a better one at a later date. I promise!

I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, but I need to jazz it up a bit. I want to paint the frame and paper the cork-board with some pretty paper.  I'm waiting until after I re-paint my bedroom, though, so I can match it to the new wall color.  Then I will post an update here!

Why would I post an unfinished project here, you might ask? Well, I think I have a good reason. One, I put making this necklace board for months, even though I really needed it. My brain was swirling with the "I can't-s"  as in, "I can't do that because I haven't picked out the pretty paper," and "I can't pick out the paper until I paint the walls in the room,"  and so on. I'm a master of procrastination for this very reason.  So I stopped, did the what I needed to get the quick fix, and the pretty comes when it comes.

That's my new Junque-ology rule to live by.  I hope you like it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


...and a small plug! Mike the Gardener

A few weeks ago I signed up with a seed of the month club. I found the company through FaceBook, as a group that I'd "liked." 50% off the normal membership fee of $24.00 for a year. Plus if you tell them your birthday date, you'll receive some extras as a gift around that date. I figured what the heck.

I got my first envelope in the mail this weekend. WooHoo! Mike the Gardener outdid himself right out of the box! Here's a list of what I received. One seed packet of:

Sunflower (Mammoth Grey)
Peas (Lincoln)
Beets (Cylindra)
Parsley (Italian Flat Leaf)
Cabbage (Golden Acre)
Zucchini (Black Beauty)
Carrot (Chanteny Red Core)

Very Not Bad! I can't imagine that Mike the Gardner is going to be that generous every month, but wow! (actually, reading the site...it's 8 packets the first month, and 4 packets every month afterward, for a total of 52 packets a year. That's a bargain @ $12.00 for a year's membership)

Now, I know that I will be getting things that I won't plant, because I don't care for the item, or know it won't grow every well, but I've been talking with co-workers and people online about swapping seeds. I can only imagine that after my year's membership is done, I will have bunches of things to trade with.

I also figured that I'd be getting things that I would want to try, things that would take me out of my comfort zone. For example, I tried cabbage a few years ago, but it didn't go anywhere. I brought a sprout-ling with a already-set head on it, planted it, and watched it do absolutely nothing all summer long.  But as you can see of the list above, I now have a packet of seed, and I'm going to try again in a different part of the yard.

And same goes for Zucchini. I am probably the only person in the world that has had trouble growing zukes. The one time I tried it, the plants I had produced only male flowers, and therefore, wouldn't set fruit. What's up with that?

I cannot to try this different variety of carrot, too. I've been growing Danvers Half Long carrots for 2 years now, and I've been really pleased with them. Trying a new kind and seeing the differences just makes me all tingly!

Just a little bit longer, and I can start planting veggies into the garden...I can't wait!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Junque Food

By request: Broccoli / Cabbage Slaw Recipe
(or Brocco-Slaw as my family calls it)

If you prefer, you can shred your own broccoli/cabbage/carrot mix in a food processor. Cut the florets off and use them for another dish and shred the stalks.

If the stalks have an uber-tough  skin, peel it with a potato peeler first.

Using only the stalks will keep the texture of the slaw more consistent, as the buds on the florets will degrade into mush. And it's a great way to get 2 uses out of one veggie. 

(I bought a bag of pre-cut mix because it was on sale for $1.50 a bag)

Measurements are approximate, adjust for your own tastes and balance
  • One bag of shredded broccoli / cabbage OR shred your own broccoli stalks, purple cabbage and carrots in a food processor.
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive or light veggie oil
  • Spices of your choice, I used dried basil, garlic, salt and pepper. Thyme would be a good choice, too.
  • No more than 1 teaspoon of sugar, honey, or agave nectar (to cut the acidity of the vinegar)
  • Optional: If you want a creamier slaw, you can add a large scoop of sour cream or mayo, but it really doesn't need it.

Mix thoroughly, then mix again. You want to get as much vinegar coating everything as possible.  Store in the fridge overnight, stirring when you remember.  There will be lots of liquid in the bowl, so use a slotted spoon when serving.

I found that the flavor was better after sitting for 2 days, and was still awesome 4 days after making.  I was using it as a topper for tacos, and it was PHENOM(A NOM NOM).

I want to try this slaw again, but with an oriental flair to it. I will probably use rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and a drop (no more than) of sesame seed oil.  Maybe some lemongrass? I don't know. My attempts in the past have not been very successful in getting a light and flavorful taste, so I'll keep playing with it.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Junque Food

This past Sunday, I went through my fridge to salvage leftovers before they went south, then cooked up a bunch of meals or parts of meals to be used this week. I’m pretty proud of what I managed to accomplish with the odd assortment of what I had on hand:
  • A tub of cooked plain elbow macaroni – leftover extras from Mac-n-Cheese,
  • A bowl of leftover homemade pizza sauce,
  • Half of a large pot of bean soup, made by Da Hubster, that needed to be portioned and frozen as well,
  • A bag of shredded broccoli & cabbage for slaw making that was nearing it’s expiration date
  • 3 lbs. of green bell peppers that I got on sale (have you seen the how the price of peppers has risen lately??)
    What would you do? Here’s what I did:
  • The elbows were re-incarnated into a tuna casserole, and portioned for take-to-work lunches and dinners.
  • The leftover pizza sauce got portioned into individual baggies and frozen.
  • Portioned and froze the bean soup.
  • The brocco-slaw was made.
  • The bell peppers were washed, diced, and frozen to be used in recipes later.
For extra credit (or because I love to make ahead for the week):
  • Another loaf of bread was made
  • 2 lbs of taco meat cooked up and ready for tacos, nachos, enchiladas, etc…
I have to tell you, I had a hard time choosing what to have for dinner Sunday night.  I settled on tacos topped with the brocco-slaw. OMG. NOM!
I do this on Sundays often because it’s a great way to use up what I’ve got, and because I really don’t like cooking a full meal when I get home from work. If most of the meal is already made, then I don’t mind throwing dinner together. It keeps us from ordering out, or running through a drive-thru.  And let’s be honest, it tastes better.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Junque Jewelry

I wear a lot of necklaces during the week, most of which I’ve made over the years. There’s one necklace that I didn’t make, but has a great homemade flair to it. I'm sure that's why I like it. It is a silver wire-wrapped heart, suspended diagonally on a snake chain. You can tell the artist shaped the heart over some sort of form, probably something water soluble so it could be melted out by soaking. Or possibly using something flammable like cork clay, because the silver wire has been heat treated to become inflexible. This necklace was my grandmother’s, she and I shared the same passion for hand crafted wearable art.
I wear it fairly often and as a result, it’s become quite tarnished. 

it's hard to see the tarnish on the heart, but it's there, trust me!

Now, over the years, I’ve been giving various sorts of jewelry cleaners to try, and I hate messing with them. I don’t know the chemicals they have, and they usually still take a certainly amount of buffing or scrubbing to get clean anyway. I don’t know about you, but I hate spending money on a product that claims to be a breeze to use, and you still have to put your elbow grease into it anyway.  I’d rather pay next to nothing, use a more natural product that I know the ingredients of, especially if I’m going to have to use my elbows to clean it anyway.
So, I’d heard rumors about toothpaste, but never tried it before. but I thought it might be worth a try. Being cautious, though, I decided to check the interwebs to see if there were any warnings, and there were several. Toothpastes can have an abrasive reaction to fine silver, or silver-plated items, causing them to get scratched. While this might not be a problem for some things, it's better to be safe than sorry. So I decided to take a gander at other "natural" ways to take the tarnish off of silver, and I cam across  What I found was AWESOME! A quick, easy, safe, and CHEAP way to do what I wanted.

I spot-checked the method from a couple of different sites, and I'll list them at the end for you, if you want them, oh gentle readers.

How to Make a Silver Polishing Dip
  • a disposable pie tin OR a glass baking dish with a sheet of aluminum foil
  • 1 tablespoon of baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • at least one cup of steaming hot (but not boiling) water

  1. Line the glass dish with aluminum foil (or if you are using the disposable pie tin, skip)
  2. add the hot water, baking soda, and salt. 
  3. Still until dissolved (it will fizz...no worries)
  4. Drop your item(s) into the water
  5. Check after a couple of minutes. Leave in longer of there's still more tarnishing to be taken away.
  6. Remove, dry, and polish. Viola!
glass bowl & tin foil

heart pendant, getting dipped

all bright & shiny!

**Please be aware that this method of cleaning may not be appropriate for jewelry with precious or semi-precious stones in it. **


Making a Silver Polishing Dip from About.com

Rena's Klingenberg's How to Clean Tarnished Silver Jewelry