Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

12
Nov

Urban Farming

   Posted by: Livia

So I’ve been reading a fairly dry report of urban/community farming in Philadelphia

And reading to the end pays off with this gem:

Beyond these instances, no other community gardeners reported selling their harvest – with the notable exception of the neighbor children who garden at the Fair Hill Burial Ground, who set up an occasional vegetable stand at 9th and Indiana, a corner formerly notorious for its heroin market (though they were part of a youth program run by Friends of Fair Hill Burial Ground).

We met some gardeners who described bartering relationships in which they and fellow gardeners trade vegetables for other goods and services on a very informal basis. One gardener boasted he traded food for the affections of women, and we don’t think he was joking.

Earlier, however, was an isolated mention about the decline of community farming in the ’80s in the area where I’ve been looking to move, specifically because of the abundance of available plots of land:

The interaction of these two trends – the aging of gardeners and the decline of support programs – was sometimes as important as each of these factors individually. Some of this predated the funding cuts, as the spread of drug activity and related crime drove gardeners off the land in Mantua, Belmont, and other neighborhoods. Crack addicts stealing cabbages and collards discouraged gardeners, and street-level drug gangs intimidated them.

Mer.

12
Nov

urban farming

   Posted by: Livia

So I’ve been reading a fairly dry report of urban/community farming in Philadelphia

And reading to the end pays off with this gem:

Beyond these instances, no other community gardeners reported selling their harvest – with the notable exception of the neighbor children who garden at the Fair Hill Burial Ground, who set up an occasional vegetable stand at 9th and Indiana, a corner formerly notorious for its heroin market (though they were part of a youth program run by Friends of Fair Hill Burial Ground).

We met some gardeners who described bartering relationships in which they and fellow gardeners trade vegetables for other goods and services on a very informal basis. One gardener boasted he traded food for the affections of women, and we don’t think he was joking.

Earlier, however, was an isolated mention about the decline of community farming in the ’80s in the area where I’ve been looking to move, specifically because of the abundance of available plots of land:

The interaction of these two trends – the aging of gardeners and the decline of support programs – was sometimes as important as each of these factors individually. Some of this predated the funding cuts, as the spread of drug activity and related crime drove gardeners off the land in Mantua, Belmont, and other neighborhoods. Crack addicts stealing cabbages and collards discouraged gardeners, and street-level drug gangs intimidated them.

Mer.

15
Apr

Victory!

   Posted by: Livia

When I first went to register this domain name, I was shocked that all permutations of nocounterspace were available despite its applicability to both cooking and interior design. 12 hours later, .com was taken. Grrr! Squatters!

But I said, “La la la – let them have .com – .net is good enough for me.”

A couple weeks ago, though, the squatter had the balls to email me and ask, “So didn’t you want this domain? Look it’s all shiny.”

And I wrote him a fun email denouncing the whole squatting thing and saying that I was perfectly happy with my .net anyway. Thank you.

Only, I randomly googled a little bit later, and all of a sudden the domain was free. Hee!

So, yeah, now nocounterspace.com will redirect here. (sorry, interior designers)

17
Nov

food list

   Posted by: Livia Tags: , , , , , ,

I ended up acquiring an abundance of food over the weekend (leftovers from my mother, a tempting farmers’ market, and a delightful cheese exchange – oh, and amazing fruitcake in the mail), so roasting is postponed.

Well, at least the part where I crack open the butternut squash… I am still looking longingly at the uncaramelized garlic and onions and things. Soon.

But my larder has an abundance, so that calls for a list to make sure everything is properly savored.

Food I have
Produce
1 hachiya persimmon
2 quinces
6 large red potatoes
cherry tomatoes (from neighbor’s tomato plants)
2 red and 3 green tomatoes (from mother’s tomato plants)
mixed tomatoes (adopted from friend’s refrigerator)
1 green cauliflower
4 radishes
1 sunchoke / Jerusalem artichoke
3 carrots
carrot greens
arugula
2 small leeks
hot peppers galore
4 limes
small chinese cabbage
3 parsley roots
1 rutabega
ginger
kale

orange juice
vegetable stock
most of a can of coconut milk (full fat)

leftover cooked vegetables (from a restaurant)
creole seasoned creamy corn sauce (from a restaurant)

dairy
smoked aged local cheddar
Prima Donna
a blue cheese
store brand extra sharp cheddar
cream cheese
2% milk
plain yogurt

meat
filet mignon leftovers
chicken raft leftovers
and one of the leftover containers from my mother looked like she accidentally gave me some of her concentrated ground beef cooked down with onions and tomatoes for filling lasagna.

chicken stock

red beans made with pork

Meals to make with that
I’ll make some carolina rice and freeze up the beans in lunch-sized portions

And then I want to make a bunch of small batches of soup –

  • I bought the carrots for the carrot greens so I could see what they were like in my standard asian pork, greens, and noodles soup ETA: Done. Ummm… not as exciting as I’d hoped. It just tasted like its component parts and the greens never melted into the soup flavor. I have a leftover portion, so maybe they’ll end up better.
  • While this recipe for Jerusalem artichoke soup with lemon and saffron sounds exciting, I think I’d rather try my first introduction to this tuber more simply… I’m a little worried, though, that most recipes seem to call for 3 parts potatoes to 2 parts jerusalem artichoke. Do you think that’s because the flavor is too strong (probably not, since they can be eaten raw) or because of the expense? I’ll let you know how it goes. ETA: Oooo – or I could turn it into risotto!
  • Carrot Ginger Coconut Milk Soup (inspired by Orangette’s travels, possibly with this recipe as a starting point)

I still want to roast the cauliflower. I think that would tumble well with some of the tomatoes.

And I have a hankering for pasta. Possibly tossed with blue cheese and toasted pine nuts. But that’s not an efficient use of ingredients. I might have to use some of the blue cheese with the roasted cauliflower to make sure I get to it while it’s still tasty… hmmm.. or the cheese and cauliflower could add to the list of soups.

These Poached Quines will finally give me a use for my vanilla sugar.

I’ll probably make a colcannon type think with the parsley root and the kale. Or maybe the rutabega.

And as soon as I finish gobbling up the rocket with nibbles of the local smoked cheddar cheese, I’ll start making kale, tomato, and poached egg breakfasts.

So there are ideas maximizing the combinations, but now I have to figure out a schedule and get to it in time.

Which means I need to head home and make myself some dinner.

So it all started when I was hosting a bridge night at my house, and I thought that a nice low-work thing to serve would be various frozen dumplings steamed and fried. Turns out – this was an amazing plan!

And I made several dipping sauces to go with:

From The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook by Gloria Bley Miller

Mustard Dressing (p.717)

1 Tablespoon powdered chinese mustard
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
a few drops of sesame oil

1. combine in a jar, cap tightly, and shake well to blend
2. refrigerate 3-4 hours to develop the flavor.

**verdict: nasty! Despite vigorous shaking, the mustard rose to the top and the whole thing tasted mostly of vinegar. This one got one taste and then wasn’t served that night.**

From Real Thai by Nancie McDermott

Nahm Jeem Gratiem
Sweet-Hot Garlic Sauce
(p.189)

official proportions:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 Tablespoons finely minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon chili-garlic sauce (tuong or toi sauce) or coarsely ground dried red chili

how I made it –
Brought to a boil:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar

And then added:

  • 2 Tablespoons finely minced garlic
  • 2 generous pinches of salt

Once it hit a rolling boil, reduced the heat and simmered until it thickened to a thin syrup (longer than the 20 minutes the recipe called for, but I didn’t make it too thick because it still had too cool and be dip-able).

Then I poured it into a jar already containing:

  • and the tail end of a bottle of sambal olek (I guessed there was about 2 teaspoons there, but I could have been off)

And stirred. Then I tasted it and said, “Oh, god that’s good, but hella spicy!”

So I mixed up another batch of syrup:

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon finely minced garlic
  • 2 generous pinches of salt

and added that to the jar and stirred.

**Verdict: This sauce is amazingly tasty! It was also amazingly hot served the day I made it. Oddly, two days later, when I went to steam up some leftover dumplings, it no longer seemed so hot. So either the sauce mellows, or I just like spicy food and don’t have to notice how odd that is when no one is looking… la la la! Still, even the people who didn’t like spicy agreed that it was an awesome sauce**

From Classic Chinese Cuisine by Nina Simonds

Dumpling Dipping Sauce II (p.112)

1/2 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons Chinese black vinegar
1 Tablespoon chili oil
(plus a pinch of sugar)

**Verdict: I thought it tasted amazing and made a double recipe, but I was promptly informed that while it was tasty, it was too hot. So I sliced some scallions in this one to differentiate it and went on to make…**

Dumpling Dipping Sauce I (p.112)

1/2 cup soy sauce
3 Tablespoons Chinese black vinegar
(plus a pinch of sugar)

**Verdict: So this was judged not to be the dipping sauce found in every chinese restaurant, but it was still found to be quite acceptable and very tasty.**

But even after eating up all of the tasty dumplings we hadn’t gotten through at bridge and after giving away about a third of the sweet-hot spicy sauce, I still had a ton of these dipping sauces left over.

So I thawed a pork loin roast.

After one evening in the fridge, it was thawed enough that I could take it out of the plastic back and score it with cross-hatched knife cuts. I put it back in the back and added some marinade:

  • a couple ginger slices
  • some 5 spice powder
  • and about half a cup of the two dipping sauces combined (I just dumped the two containers together after people left, since I didn’t mind the heat)

And I left it for another night.

It still wasn’t completely thawed, but I went ahead and roasted it anyway – with three cloves stuck in the crosshatching cut into the fatty side, a light dusting of powdered thyme, and salt over the fat (because it’s tasty!).

I cooked it according to the directions in my Joy of Cooking. Pre-heat oven to 450F; insert roast and turn down to 350F; cook 30-35 minutes/pound. I was generous in my time estimate because it was still a bit frozen in the middle, but I ended up with thoroughly a cooked roast I would not have wanted to have in the oven all that much longer.

So that first night, I just cut off bites and ate it slathered in the sweet-hot garlic sauce to finish that off – they went together perfectly.

~*~

But now I have the rest of the (cooked) roast in my fridge. So I took a few slices of pork, cut them into strips and made wraps/quesadillas/soft tacos with them.

In a bit of olive oil, I grilled down

  • half an onion, cut into short strips
  • 2 jalepeno peppers with just the flesh (no seeds or white part) diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • a little less that a tablespoon of pickled ginger, ripped into smaller pieces
  • a fistful of baby carrots cut into matchsticks
  • pork strips
  • shredded napa cabbage
  • and sprinkled over with black vinegar and some of the dipping sauce

Then I warmed a tortilla, piled on some lettuce from an oriental mix that had been on sale at my supermarket, and then put the pork/veggie mixture on top – and ate it. With a bit of homemade chinese mustard. Yum yum yum.

~*~

So last night, I not only still had leftover pork in my fridge (which I’ll get to next week), but also I had leftover wrap filling. So I put it on a salad.

Pretty much just more of that same salad mix, the rest of the filling popped into the microwave for a bit, and a salad dressing (made from a quarter of a teaspoon of chinese mustard, some plum sauce, some black vinegar, some more of the dipping sauce, and a dollop of honey).

The only thing I could have done to make it any better was slice up some more napa cabbage to refresh the cooked-down cabbage in the filling.

~*~

Now I have to figure out what to do with the rest of the roast (though sandwiches, with mayonnaise on white bread, are high up on the list).

ETA: There was also random fried rice (made from French red rice because I had acquired it randomly, and I thought its nuttiness would be kinda like brown rice and all that – it ended up being tasty food). It took a lot more work that brown rice to make the flavors play nice with the strong ricey ones.

9
Apr

I want a trash can

   Posted by: Livia

It’s a pretty small studio apartment, and there have been things I’ve been doing without besides counter space.

I think it’s time I bought a trashcan. I have been living these past 4 years or so by just dangling those plastic grocery bags off the back of a chair, but I think it might be time to have a real trashcan.

What’s more, I finally figured out where in my tiny apartment one would fit.

So I’ve decided I want one just like this: tall, slim, and secretly holding a smaller bag (so I can still use the grocery bags instead of buying plastic bags – since that’s even stupider for the environment than the grocery jobbies). And then if I want something tall that still hold a little bag, there’s no reason not to have a recycle compartment underneath.

But – when did trash cans from target start costing $100? Right, so this one only costs $50 (50!), but that’s because it’s crap and three of four reviewers received the thing damaged. I would like one in metal. For $30. Where can I find that?

ETA: Oooo! This! I want this. For $30 – bitches. /ETA

Speaking of my tiny apartment, I am stuffing it to capacity (or over) this weekend. I have successfully managed 8 people with 2 tables for bridge before. I have even managed 8 people with one spectator before. I might have 10 bridge players and up to 2 spectators this Sunday. Yikes! Hopefully the weather will be nice enough that we can spill out into the back yard.

And I haven’t stocked up on snacks or drinks at all.

28
Mar

Public Service Announcement

   Posted by: Livia

People!

Stop with the Bank of America already!

They are tricky and evil and they will fuck your shit up.

~.~

While we are at it – I am also boycotting the South Street Bridge and Northwest Airlines (ask me about my horror story).

And a few other businesses, but for more petty and less life-threatening reasons.

14
Mar

3.14…

   Posted by: Livia

Feeling a strange urge for pi today.

After staying up until dawn reading Harry Potter fanfiction a few nights last week, by Friday everyone who talked to me was noticing that I was starting to come down with a cold – man, did I sound raspy and sexy.

Sadly, that meant canceling my lovely plans in New York because while I might not have yet been sick, I was pretty sure that a 2.5 hour bus ride, partying until late, and then a 2.5 hour bus ride back, might have put me over the edge.

Instead, I spent some time socializing with the cats I have been sitting on while their owner has been at Pennsic.

And then around 3:30ish on Saturday, I got a call from my mother that one of the department stores at a local mall was closing one of its two locations there – and things were on clearance. So we met up at the mall for some looting and pillaging before dinner.

I found two lovely large bowls, and I went for the one with a pretty color and a slightly sturdier feel. Turns out it’s designed by Calvin Klein – not sure that would have been a factor in its favor, if I had noticed before I bought it. Anyway, here is the lovely thing. $12 My mother has custody of it for now because I’m not sure where to store it. I’ve started thinking that I should start putting together a dowry for myself when I marry a larger house.

And then there were some small dishes that go perfectly with my black bowls from Target. I grabbed 9 little ingredient/dipping sauce and 5 of the little square plates you see in the bottom left of the picture here. The little bowls nestle nicely in the corner of the square plates, and I am having a craving to have people over for small plates… especially now that I have steamer baskets and a hankering for massive quantities of dim sum (I blame Vancouver).

Right – so who wants to enable me some time by coming over for a dinner made out of appetizers?

21
Jul

HP

   Posted by: Livia

Done!