Monday, October 27, 2008

A Clean House

Over the weekend we decided it was time for a new bed. The old one, which is now our guest bed, is still very comfy for guests (hint, hint), but our backs were starting to feel the night after night on an old mattress ache. We spent most of the weekend organizing, getting ready for a yard sale, and finally, for the first time, having both of our bedrooms set up!

The guest room looks really nice, with maybe overly colorful covers, but we like it.



In the living room I put our oriental rug back out, which makes the room feel a little more together, instead of just a collection of furniture in an oversized hallway.



Our bedroom looks pretty much the same, but with a different colored bedspread that makes the tapestry stand out a little more.



In the dining room we set up for a steak dinner with Steve and Tasha last night, using some placemats that Gram gave me and a tablecloth that was a gift from Ben and Gina.



I even mopped the floors, which feels so nice. Chris took apart our bed frame and cut it to actually fit our mattress (using the really awesome tools that my dad got us). We also hung these little prayer flags out on the front porch. They each have something written on them by somebody at my shower. Now all the well-wishes are being sent into the breeze around our house.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pumkin Pie for Fall

It did feel like fall here last week, sort of. This week it feels like it's in the mid-nineties, which it is. It's funny that even though it's still in the nineties, it seems like a lot of people in Tucson just decide that it's fall anyway. We put away our shorts, and start wearing jeans and long-sleeved shirts. Anyway, Chris and I finally made our pumpkin pie last week, using a recipe from The Joy of Cooking. It did taste a little like fall.

Chris pureed the pumpkin, which was baked, in the food processor. Amazingly, it made four cups, exactly the amount the recipe needed for two pies. I guess that pumpkin was made for us.



I made the crust from another Joy of Cooking recipe. It was called 'pat in the pan butter crust.' It was a little like playing with play-dough. You just take a little ball of crust and press it into the pan, and then keep doing that until the pan is full. It turned more like shortbread than normal pie crust, but it tasted good to us.



Here's how it turned out:





Chris and I have been really enjoying having enough time to do some cooking and baking lately. We get some interesting greens and veggies from the CSA and we've made some yummy things. The only bad part is, when we get done our kitchen usually looks something like this:



Oh boy...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Madera Canyon Campout

We decided to get out of town for a little camping trip this weekend to test out our new sleeping bags. They are awesome, although slightly warm for desert camping when it's still as warm as it has been.


The campground up in Madera canyon was already full, and although we would prefer to be away from other people, we weren't sure where else to go on such short notice, and with only a couple of hours of daylight left. We chose a small site in the lower campground. A short walk up the road gave us some great views, but our camp site was pretty surrounded by scrubby mesquite trees.

We settled in to our camp and got our camp chairs positioned around the fire-ring before realizing that neither of us had remembered to bring matches or a lighter. Chris made a valiant effort to start one with a stick.




He probably would have succeeded after a while, but we decided that it probably wasn't worth spending the whole evening with sticks and a pretty faulty bow just hoping for a spark.

We walked up and saw the sunset, which was beautiful. Luckily we had brought pasta salad for dinner so it didn't need to be cooked (you could also think of this as unlucky, since our camp cooking utensils include a lighter, but...). We enjoyed the pasta salad and some peanut butter cookies, watched the last of the sunlight fade, and then we looked at the stars for a while. At probably around 7:30 or so, having looked at the stars for quite some time, we said, "Well, should we go to sleep?" And we did.



Monday, October 13, 2008

Baking Together

Sunday afternoon we had another cooking day. It was slightly less pleasant that other cooking days because my back has been hurting, so I was having a hard time standing in the kitchen for too long, but we still had a really good time.

I was inspired by a delicious thing that Tasha makes, Pumkin chocolate chip bread. I've been meaning to get her recipe, because I think it's the best, but I decided to use a recipe in the Joy of Cooking for now. I had a pumpkin waiting to be cooked, and I had every intention of using the pumkin in the bread.



But, at the last minute I decided that I really really wanted some pumpkin pie, and I had these pesky yams and butternut squash that were already baked and sitting in the fridge. So.... I saved the pumpkin and I made yam and butternut squash chocolate chip bread and muffins. They turned out surprisingly well, really (by the way, the cookbook did say that the recipe could be used for any summer squash or yams, so I wasn't totally out in left field on this one).

Chris made eggplant parmagiana with our eggplants from the CSA. It was really good. No offense to Chris' cooking, but how could anything smothered in that much mozzerella and parmesan, and fried, not be pretty tasty?





This was the best I could do of us in the mirror in the not-terribly-well-lit kitchen, but at least you can see how cute we looked wearing our aprons together.



Tucson Meet (a.k.a. Eat) Yourself

As I mentioned last week, this weekend was Tucson Meet Yourself, and event which many people in town call 'Tucson Eat Yourself.' This year we sampled Greek, Thai, Indian, and Israeli food. I was really excited about the fried banana dessert from the Phillipines, but the booth was having propane problems so they didn't have them! Maybe next year.





It was a chilly evening. Louisa and Chris said they remembered it being cold last year, but for me, after a Tucson summer it's a little hard to remember ever having been cold. I've been waiting and waiting and waiting to be able to wear jeans and a sweatshirt this fall. I finally put them on, thinking I might be too warm but oh well. I should have had a jacket! How can it go from nothing but a T-shirt and shorts weather to too cold for a sweatshirt and jeans in the same week?





I was using Chris' little point and shoot Nikon camera, since it conveniently fit into my little purse for all of these photos. I liked how there was enough light to get a photo without the flash, and you can see some of the movement in the crowds. I think maybe the chilly weather kept the crowd smaller, which we really appreciated.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Happy (Late) Birthday to Mom

I meant to write this earlier in the week, but I was feeling overwhelmed, and I knew that my mom was having a lovely time somewhere in the beautiful parts of southern Utah, so... I'm finally getting to it today. Sorry Mom :)

Anyway, Mom's birthday was on the 8th, so here is a happy birthday blog post just for her.
























My mom's mother used to make these cards with dried leaves and flowers, with watercolor painted backgrounds and other artistic touches, and send them to me for every birthday. I didn't make anything like this this year, but I thought a couple of the ones that Nana made would be a nice addition to this post.

This photo is from my mom's wedding about five years ago now, and it's one of my favorite photos of us together.























One of the things that always make me think of my mom is the ocean. Not the tropical beach type ocean, but the Santa Cruz Cliffs kind of ocean. She grew up there, and we used to spend just about every Christmas and summer there. Even when we would groan that we were tired of walks of the beach, she would excitedly convince us that it was such a beautiful day, and how could we possibly be so close and miss a day of walking along the ocean!?

Something my mom is really good at, and I aspire to be more like, is always seeing the good and exciting things about whatever is going on in life. She gets so excited about a beautiful day, or a little camping trip, or whatever is growing in her garden, and it's really fun to spend time with her.

I hope the camping birthday trip to Utah was great, and that the hurricane rains didn't reach you (or if they did, that they seemed like something fun and exciting :).

Happy Birthday Mom, I love you!


Friday, October 10, 2008

Not-so-productive-week

This week has been a little bit slower, and instead of making really interesting home-made dinners and things, here's what we did.





Yep, even after the old lady at Whole Foods congratulated us for never needing to eat out...

I've been wanting to do more blogging, but just haven't taken any pictures, or had any very interesting thoughts this week. I'm really looking forward to Tucson Meet Yourself this weekend though, which many people also call "Tucson Eat Yourself" - the main part of the event is lots and lots of food booths from all different countries. One of my favorite things is the deep fried bananas in egg roll wrappers (I think they're from the Philippines... shoot, did I miss the point?).

Anyway, I had a little bit of a crappy week at work, but I promise to take some pictures this weekend and write something interesting :)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Cienega Creek Picnic

Chris and I had planned to go camping, but were scared by the big dark clouds gathering yesterday afternoon, and decided to stay home. We were sad (even though it actually did rain) because we both were really needing a little outdoor getaway.

This morning we woke up feeling like we needed to see something pretty, like a creek or some trees or something. Chris knew of a place just outside of town where he'd taken students, Cienega Creek. I'd never heard of it, but will definitely go back. It's a rare place near Tucson that actually has running water year round (a little bit of water, but still).

From the top, it looked like this.



Typical pretty Tucson desert, but I was really craving the sound of rustling leaves, something to remind me of what fall feels like. Within just a few minutes, we dropped into a little canyon with a creek, and cottonwood trees! Lots of them. They even had some leaves that were turning yellow, and there were yellow leaves on the ground to make that crunching sound of fall!!









This really cool looking grasshopper had no idea he would be participating in a photo shoot today.



One of my favorite parts of the day was putting my feet into the chilly water, and wandering up the creek enjoying the feel of running water on my toes.



We enjoyed our picnic under the cottonwoods, listening to the gurgling of the creek and the sounds of rustling leaves. Chris told me he'd never really noticed the sound of cottonwood trees until I mentioned to him that it was one of my favorite sounds. I love the sound. I remember sometimes on backpacking trips, or hiking trips through cottonwood or aspen trees, I kept thinking I must be getting close to a rushing river. That was the sound of the leaves. I always think of a sort of river of wind rushing through the treetops.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Annetta's Bagel Recipe

This is the recipe we used for bagels last week at Annetta's (which I promised to post last week...)

4 cups bread flour
1 tbls sugar
1 1/2 tsps salt
1 tbls vegetable oil
2 tsps instant yeast
1-1/4-1-1/2 cups of warm water

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. You don't have to worry about soaking the yeast when you use instant yeast (most yeast sold these days is instant yeast). The dough should feel stiff, but add the extra water if it's really stiff, or you can't get all the dry flour incorporated.

Plop the dough down onto the counter, and knead for about ten minutes, or until the dough is uniform and smooth.

Cut the dough into 8 equal sized balls, and let rest for 10-20 minutes.

Pre heat your oven to 425

Now, take each of the dough balls and using two hands, roll it into a little snake on the counter. When the snake is longer than the width of your two hands, wrap it around your dominant rolling hand. The dough rope should be wrapped so the overlapping ends are together at your palm, near the start of your fingers. Now take the two over lapping ends, and use your palm to squish /roll these two ends together. Once the dough is fused, you should have a perfectly circular bagel-to-be! This is the only part of the process that can take a little practice before your bagels will look really professional. Don't get discouraged if they don't look perfect, it just takes practice!

Let your bagels rest on the counter for about 20 minutes, and meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil, and grease a large baking tray lightly. You can just rub a splash of vegetable oil and rub it around.

After the 20 minute wait, your bagels will start to look puffy, and it's time to get them boiling! Add them as many at a time as you can to your boiling water without crowding them. Boil for about a minute, turn them over, and boil for another minute. Take them out and let dry for a minute and then place them on your oiled baking tray. Repeat until all the bagels are boiled.

Add the tray to the oven, and after 10 minutes, flip the bagels over, bake for another ten minutes; and they're done!

Let them cool for at least 20 minutes