Category Archives: work in progress

Photography, gardening, and a few wedding details

Look! My first semi-pretty picture with the new camera.  I’ve basically just been playing around, taking pictures of anything and everything on all sorts of bizarre and random settings, as it’s been, oh, 10 years or so since I even seriously considered using an SLR of any sort.  And as with any new toy, I have no clue what I’m doing.  I have a manual or two to read yet…  I did at least manage to figure out what RAW format Photoshop will recognize today, so that’s something.  Now for one of my earlier attempts:

Seed packets are kind of hard to photograph. Especially when it’s dark, you have to rely on the flash, and oh, shiny paper really isn’t helping matters.  But we started our seedlings!  Four kinds of tomatoes, some ground cherries (which I’m soooo excited about), peas, carrots, lettuce, some thai hot peppers, thai basil, a couple kinds of scallions (regular and purple) and some pretty flowers.  We sowed kale outside, and are starting to see signs of life from last year’s strawberry plants, so that’s pretty exciting.  We saved the melons, zucchini, and beans for direct seeding, as they were a disaster when we tried to transplant those last year.  I guess beans don’t like to be disturbed… Almost everything we got was from seed saver’s exchange, which has a pretty good selection.  We’ve tried to be a little more careful about choosing varieties this year, in terms of climate and disease hardiness (and flavor, of course), so hopefully we’ll have a good harvest this year.  Especially since we hope to use some of this stuff for the wedding dinner.

Speaking of the wedding, I figured I’d tell you guys a bit about it, as I’ve hinted at it here and there, but haven’t really explained what we’re doing.  See, when James and I got engaged, I guess neither of us had really thought about wedding stuff at all.  We’d considered the marriage part plenty. But the ceremony? Not really.  When we told our family about our engagement, we were a little surprised that suddenly they wanted to know things like dates and locations and all of that … It was slightly overwhelming, to say the least.

We wavered between just going to city hall and having a fun weekend in NYC or something to planning something our families could actually attend.  We ended up choosing the latter option, because it’d be nice for my family to meet James’s, and besides, we sort of wanted to give his family an incentive to come visit (though we still may do the legal bit in city hall… More on that when we have a plan).  We decided to organize a family picnic with a little ceremony attached, at a place nearby where we spend a lot of weekends hiking.  There’s this awesome picnic pavilion in this park overlooking a creek, with a couple of usable fireplaces, two large grills, and a bunch of wooden picnic tables.  It’s even partially enclosed, and has a decent roof, so if it rains, we’ll still be ok.  Decoration-wise, we’re keeping it simple.  Candles in jars we’ve collected over this year, some fabric flowers I’m making, some pretty cloth, and table paper.  Nothing too fancy.  And we’ll set out paper and crayons / pencils for people to draw with, which will go in a scrapbook along with pictures after the wedding.

As for the food, well, we’re doing a simple picnic lunch buffet, which we’re making ourselves.  Roast chickens, which we can reheat on the grill, a few different kinds of salads, savory vegetable tarts (sage / onion and mushroom, maybe?), some homemade bread and cheeses, fruit, and maybe jam tarts and pavlova.  For drinks, we’ll do cider (hard and soft), and coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. Serving yummy food is pretty important to us, so that’s the primary thing we’re trying to keep in mind in planning the menu.  I think we’ll start testing recipes soon, so more on that later.

Activity-wise, we’ll probably have lawn games out for people to play, set up a s’mores making stand by the fire places, and have a makeshift photobooth (backdrop + camera on tripod).  That and maybe an expedition to the castle lookout (along an easy trail) should be good. Maybe a treasure hunt? I am such a little kid when it comes to party games. Though to paraphrase a comment from a friend, kindergarten + alcohol = magic.  How could it not be?

Ok, now that I have put you all to sleep, I think I’ll leave it at that.  I suppose there will be details about dresses, wedding parties, and groom style, and that sort of thing later on, though maybe I’ll keep you in suspense about all of those details. I will say that my dress is not white, there’s a high chance we’ll both end up wearing Keens to the ceremony, and James may or may not show up in shorts.  It is, after all, just a picnic.

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Filed under gardening, wedding, work in progress

Disaster!

Come on, now. You know I would only post a disaster with promise.  This one starts with meyer lemons and ends in a sweet pudding, which would have been intriguing if only I could cook rice.

It all began with a mysterious package that arrived on Saturday. No note — just a meyer lemon, a massive shallot, and a bag full of jerusalem artichokes.  The leaf on the meyer lemon told me that this was FRESH, most likely from some warmer, more pleasant coast, and therefore might have something to do with my friend P’s attempt to coax me back to CA.  (Well, that and she told me the package was coming, but that wouldn’t make the story nearly as exciting, right?)

Anyway, I knew I had to do something special with the gift. Just the night before, I was reading The Spiteful Chef, and came across a post where she recommends adding condensed milk, cinnamon, and vanilla to some parboiled rice for a quick rice pudding.  I LOVE condensed milk, in a ridiculous, irrational, will eat an entire can if I’m left to my own devices kind of way. And I happened to have one on hand, along with some arborio rice, this meyer lemon, some raisins, and homemade vanilla extract.  With tea in place of stock, and the condensed milk to make things creamy and delicious, I figured it’d be the best way to stretch the meyer lemon out just a little bit.  After all, I could use the zest in the rice pudding and save the juice for something else.

And so I did. Here’s the final result:

You know what? It was tasty. The cream Earl Gray (Earl Gray with less bergamot and more vanilla) complemented the fragrant scent of the Meyer lemon, and the condensed milk made the lemon peel and raisins taste like candied goodness was sprinkled through each bite.  Unfortunately, it was also a little crunchy. Yup, that’s right — I undercooked the rice, thinking that cooking in the condensed milk would help soften things.  Boy, was I wrong. So file this under work in progress. I’ll post the recipe as I think it should be, with a note where I modified things. I’ll try this one again and update a final version when I get a chance.  In the meantime, thanks for making winter a little nicer, P!

Recipe after the jump.

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Filed under dessert, Meyer lemons, raisins, rice, tea, work in progress