Morning biscuits

Morning biscuits, originally uploaded by Vimos.

While I sat and read in the comfy chair, boy got up and made the tallest, fluffiest biscuits ever.A nice breakfast with our strawberry jam on this warm, sunny morning.


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We really should get cable…

The Woodgas StoveIn September, Samuel made a woodgas can stove based on a Make magazine article.  It’s on instructables, too.  From the description:

“It is a two-wall design, which preheats air in between the walls to ignite the smoke. Well-tended, this produces a bright, smokeless flame which produces little soot and leaves little to no scorching on the ground below.”

After he tested it in the driveway a lot of times, (Yes, it was bright and smokeless) we took it up to the mountains and confirmed that you can use it to boil water for cup-o-noodles for you and a friend.  Good thing he had his helmet on, huh?

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Dill Pickles

Dill Pickles, originally uploaded by Vimos.

We made pickles again!

 Last year’s pickles were so good, but some of us didn’t like the pickling spices too much.  I decided to try some w/ and some w/o pickling spices this year.  We’ll see.   This is how I did it this year:

Wash pickling cucumbers in water only.  Scrub well, especially the blossom end.  Sterilize quart jars. Sterilize quart jars.

Make brine:  6 quarts water, ¾ cup salt dissolved in 1 quart boiling water, add 5 quarts more

Pack cukes into jars, tight so they won’t float up.  I made three different versions this year.

Batch 1 (4 jars)

First add 1 tsp pickling spice,  1-2 cloves garlic, 1 big sprig dill. Pack with cukes all tight so they can’t float up and add more dill, and more garlic.  Cover w/ brine to point where only surface tension is keeping water from spilling, put lid on but do not tighten  band (or even don’t put band on.)

Batch 2:  (2 jars)

Added about 10 pepper corns, big sprigs dill and garlic cloves.  Packed in fatter cukes cut in half.  Added more dill and garlic.  Topped w/ brine as w/ batch 1.

Batch(let) 3:  (square container)

Just spears of cukes on their sides packed w/ garlic and dill covered w/ brine and lid.

They will start fermenting in a couple of days for spears, a few more days for others.  Keep cukes covered w/ brine.  All the instructions say skim off any mold that forms, but I’ve never had any.  Cap and refrigerate when they are sufficiently pickled.  I like them at the NY Deli “half-sour” stage.  Refrigeration will slow down, but not stop the fermentation, so the pickles will slowly get more “pickly.”

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Tea? It’s sweet.

iced tea

I just had a glass of iced tea, sweet, just like at Bill Miller’s. Oh my that’s good stuff. Told Samuel this kind of tea is better because when people offer you a glass they say “sweet tea” as they hand it to you instead of “tea” and that brings a smile.

 Stacy, the lady I bought my blue Volvo station wagon from, on the day I went out to look at the car offered me a glass. “Would you like some tea?” she asked, adding “it’s sweet.” (Not in an apologetic,”I’m not sure if you want it, seeing as it’s sweet” sort of way, but in an “If you’re not sure whether to have any, you should know, it’s sweet, so  really good, and in case you don’t know whether I really mean for you to have some tea, my telling you that it’s sweet so you will want it should make it clear.” sort of way.)

Drank the tea.  Bought the car.

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Lovely and Versatile Dessert

The seasons are really changing now, the stone fruits and tomatoes about gone. It’s pomegranate time, and, in what in southern california passes for seasonal change, it’s about time to switch from Valencia oranges to navels. Our blackberries are in the freezer, waiting for fall and winter desserts. Soon it will be time to go mushrooming.

All this talk about foraging for food, gardens and forest foods has me thinking about one of the best ways to use about any fruit. It’s a recipe from my friend “A” (you know who you are) from her time in France, I think. Ooh, how cool. I have a mysterious friend named “A” who once spent time in France.

The recipe is a version of the clafoutis dessert, but not all custardy like some, and is perfect for summer, winter, spring, and fall. Because we are Texan folk, we call it “that cobbler.” It tastes like candy on the edges, and is a great thing to do with tons of fruit. It is best with plums and/or apricots. No wait, it is best with apples and berries. No wait….just blackberries. No wait….

Anyway, here’s the recipe just the way “A” gave it to me:



Set oven to 350 degrees.

Melt 1 stick of butter (or less if you’re on a diet) in a baking dish while you preheat the oven. By the time you finish preparing the other ingredients, the oven will be preheated. It’s okay if the butter browns slightly.

Mix and beat well together, then pour into melted butter:
1 c. flour
1 c. sugar
3/4 c. milk (buttermilk is good; if you use it, add 1/4 tsp. baking soda)
2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt (Me: I only add the pinch of salt when I use unsalted butter, b/c our salted butter is quite, well, salty.)

Pour 3 or 4 cups of fruit over the batter. (When I use plums, I cut them in half and arrange them on top instead of pouring because it looks more beautiful. When I use apples, I mix a tablespoon or so of lemon juice in with them before putting them on the batter.) (If you think the fruit is not very sweet, you could sprinkle sugar on top before baking.)

Bake 45 minutes until browned and puffy. Especially good warm with ice cream.

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Bullet, resting

Bullet, resting, originally uploaded by Vimos.

We adpoted Bullet from the local poodle rescue organization. He’s 14 months old and still very much a puppy, so he gives our other dog, Dizzy, a real workout. He is a clown and a bit sillier than our Dizzy ever was. He gives us and Dizzy quite a workout.

We got him at the start of the big rainstorms last week, so he has been muddy and rinsed more often than you can imagine, and we have washed many muddy towels. We are tired, but having a lot of fun.

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Hey guys! Ya viene Hanukkah. (It’s getting on toward Hanukkah.)

Traditionally, “papel picado” the mexican folk art cut paper is displayed on Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and other major holidays (Christmas and Easter.)  It also decorates Mexican restaurants and those cute shops that sell oilcloth and wrestling masks.  Samuel and I made some papel picado to use as Hanukkah decorations.  “Hanukkah papel picado”–did we invent this new fusion craft?  We didn’t have tissue paper, so we just used some drawing paper and some origami sheets we had around.

Menorah Papel Picado:

hanukkah papel picado

Fish/Flame Papel Picado:

papel picado we made for hanukkah decorations

Here’s how we made it:

1.  First, I folded a square of paper in half left to right and drew half a menorah (or some other symmetrical Hanukkah-themed object) in the center.
Papel Picado 1

2.  Cut out the shape.
Papel picado 2

3.  For the menorah, i cut the flames separately:


Papel picado 3

I just made tiny folds (about where I’ve drawn in the dotted lines) to help me cut out the flames.

4.  Now you have the central image.
Papel picado 4

5.  If you unfolded it to see how pretty it’s turning out, refold it left to right and fold again top to bottom.

Papel Picado 56.  Fold the 1/4 sheet sized square in half again so that you can see where the central shape is as you make cuts along the folds. Be careful to avoid the shape.

Papel Picado 6

7.  When you’ve cut out as many slices, swirls, diamonds and rays as you think you should, unfold it so you have just the quarter sheet again. There will probably be some chunk that looks like it needs more cutting. See the upper right-hand corner of this one? Papel Picado 7
8.  There, that’s better.Papel Picado 8
9.  Open it up and say ooohh, ahhh. Papel Picado 9-TaDa!


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