Friday, June 25, 2010

TGIFF Musical Selection

So I've jumped off the regular blogging train (not that anyone's noticed), but I'm fixin to jump back on and talk about how my tomatoes have ripped my heart out.  But I'll save that for another day.  Today is a TGIFF kind of day.

This is - hands down - one of the coolest videos ever.  Directed by Spike Jonez, the entire freaking video was filmed (they learned the words backwards) and then reversed during editing.  And I think the vibe is perfect for a hot summer day.  Watch out for the Beastie Boys appearance. Happy Friday!

The Pharcyde - Drop from john E Njoki on Vimeo.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Spinach Peanut Sauce with Rice

This is a recipe, but it's also a story of adaptation.  The adaptation of one Ugandan teenager, pregnant and alone, to her new home in Philadelphia in 1975.  That young woman is Daniel's mom. While the details of the story remain fuzzy, the concept is clear.  When you are thrown into a world that is very unfamiliar and likely scary, you yearn for something from home - like food that your mom used to make when you were growing up.  But at 17, Daniel's mom hadn't yet learned to cook, so she had to teach herself.  And further, she had to recreate this Ugandan comfort food from memory and with ingredients from an American grocery store.  So with persistence and lots of trial and error, she managed to create her own version of this comfort food from home.

At Daniel's house, this would be served with matooke (a green banana stew which I'll write up the next time I make it) and perhaps some tofu and mushrooms (a recent addition to the mix - pan fried almost to the point of charring and heavily peppered).  I learned how to make these dishes after watching her cook on several occasions (no measurements, just by taste).  So it has adapted quite a bit from its original form in Uganda - to the way Daniel's mom makes it in Philly - to the way I make it in DC, which is kind of cool.

Spinach Peanut Sauce (to be served with rice and other dishes above)

2 cartons of frozen chopped spinach (comes in small boxes in frozen veggie aisle)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 tomato, diced
generic peanut butter (smooth or crunchy - to your taste)
curry powder*/salt/pepper to taste

In medium saucepan, empty the two cartons of frozen spinach (in their square frozen solid form) and add about an inch or two of water.  Heat on medium for 10-15 min until the spinach thaws out.  Meanwhile, you can chop the onion, garlic and tomato. Once the spinach is almost entirely thawed out, you can add the onion and garlic.  Cook another couple minutes, stirring.  Add more water if you need to (though this is a thicker sauce, like a stew).  Stir in a couple heaping spoonfuls (using wooden spoon) of peanut butter and the diced tomatoes.   Season with curry/salt/pepper to taste - we like to go heavy on all these to add more of a kick to the sauce.  Spoon over rice and enjoy.  

*I like to use a good hot, or muchi, curry blend.

Garden Status Update / Garden Geek Out

Y'all.  There is little in life (so far in my experience - parents might argue otherwise) as thoroughly rewarding as planting some humble little seeds and, with some regular TLC, watching them grow into plants that bear fruits/vegetables and flowers that, well, bloom.  Check out the progress:

Yellow Gooseberry Tomatoes:

Heirloom Tomatoes:

As nerdy as it is, I would be content to spend an entire day tending to these plants and flowers.  And I love the smell of the tomato plant - it reminds me of my Grandpa Ray and the tomatoes he grows every year.  Another smell that reminds me of Grandpa Ray, though one that isn't nearly as fresh and delightful, is that of fish guts. 

Another update:  after a few harvests of salad greens (and after a little neglect, I admit), I tore them up and replaced them with some sweet basil (left) and spicy Thai basil (right) which will go perfectly with my tomatoes.

Another addition to the carport garden is a new raised bed garden, hand crafted by Daniel.  I'll include that in a separate How-To post.  

And last but not least...let me introduce you to my ladies:
This is the reward I'm talking about.  When I walk outside to do some watering or let Kisa out, I get to admire these lovely ladies.  I haven't named them or anything crazy like that (yet). But I've got several more that will be blooming in coming days and weeks:

It looks like the ones I planted in the regular soil are somewhat dwarfed by the ones I planted in the raised bed.  It'll be interesting to see if they catch up to the others or if they just end up as smaller (but no less beautiful) sunflowers. 

Now the question - to cut or not to cut.  I think I'll leave them be so they can be enjoyed in their natural state.  Maybe if I had a whole garden of them (next year), I would cut a few and give them to people I adore.  Or maybe I'll just plant some more on Saturday. 

I'll tell you, though - my fingernails haven't been clean since March.  But dirty fingernails are a small price to pay for a beautiful, edible garden.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Knick Knacks n Things

Just stumbled across a great online shop, Fey Handmade Shop, and had to share.  It's like a miniature Etsy that weeds out all the shit stuff that your Grandma would buy and just has all the good stuff: affordable art prints, jewelry, housewares, etc.  I covet the following:

Four Jars Print Hanging Tray The Barn Print Whisk Necklace
But thou shalt acknowledge the reality of one's bank account before visiting this site.  It's tempting.

Friday, June 4, 2010

TGIFF Musical Selection

Friends (all, like, two of you) this is absolutely my new favorite video.  It has pained me to wait several days for Friday to come along so I could post it. 

Beyond my newfound love of The Black Keys and what is truly a great song, this video has me giggling like a school girl.  So ridiculous. So hilarious. So true. Just another case of Midwesterners keeping it real. Happy Friday!

The Black Keys - Tighten Up - Official Video from Chris Marrs Piliero on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Midwestern Slush: good news and bad news

So at this past weekend's BBQ I chose to make my Mom's slush recipe, and I learned a lesson - it takes at least 6 hours for the slush to freeze.  So, the bad news was - the slush didn't set up in time for our guests to enjoy it.  The good news is that now we have SLUSH FOR DAYS! But the bad news is I am battling a cold virus and can't taste a damn thing.  In any event, I wanted to share the recipe for this cold, boozy, Midwestern treat (if I wanted to be uppity, I'd call it a "granita"...but it is what it is and what it is is slush):

Midwestern Slush
Boil 2 c. water with 4 black tea bags, and once it gets properly steeped, set aside to cool.  Bring 7 c. water and 2 c. sugar to a boil, til the sugar dissolves. Set this aside to cool also.  Once both those have cooled, combine the tea and sugarwater with:

1 can frozen lemonade
1 can frozen orange juice
whiskey to taste (my mom said one-fifth, but I used half a $19.99 bottle of Jim Beam)

Stir til consistent, and freeze.  Once frozen, scoop slush into glasses and top with 7-up or ginger ale.  

(Sorry no photos. And yes, its a heckuva lotta sugar, BUT its delicious)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Junebug / Daydreaming

If my life were a choose-your-own-adventure book, this would definitely be one of my pursuits (you know, when I grow up):  

Because, seriously...what would be better than being your own boss, being a gardener extraordinaire, and being surrounded by the loveliest, liveliest flowers all day long? 

Happy June to you.