Thursday, July 30, 2009

Boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew

Red Earth CSA report, last week of July.

Beans, cukes, taters, peppers, onions and lettuce. Mmm, mmm, good.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Burgh's the word

I finally finished M's birthday present oh, a month late. It's a hoodie sweatshirt with the skyline of Pittsburgh (his hometown) embroidered on it. I was inspired by the sweatshirts my friend Metthea has been making lately.

Carlene at Knitsquirrel also posted an incredible embroidery post recently, very inspiring.

***Pittsburgh skyline from a different angle, from here.***

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Bramble Jam

Last weekend a few friends and I joined my parents and The Moo at my Aunt E and Uncle T's house out near Scranton. They have about 35 acres of woods and lawn, with wild berry bramble growing on the margins. My sister and I used to spend a week there each summer, so we're very familiar with the land and the berries. But last year E got the brilliant idea that she could pick the berries and make jam all summer, so this year we decided to join her for a Berry Pickin' Weekend.

***The path to The Bramble***

***The Bramble***

***Chloe in The Bramble***

E and T always had a menagerie of farm animals on their land, including (though not all at the same time) cows, horses, a goat, turkeys, a duck, chickens, dogs, and many many barn cats. Here are some of the animals we saw during Bramble Weekend.

***Teenage chickens***

***Polyphemus moth***

***The Moo***

We also partook in other activities during the weekend. I couldn't help myself and collected buckets and buckets of wildflowers for the house. And my Dad taught us how to shoot Uncle T's shotgun! We also found an incredible antique store in town that E didn't had never even been in. I'll post my findings from that another day, it was too exciting to take pictures.

***Katie with the "ladies gun"***

We ended up having enough berries for two batches of jam and one batch of jelly! We combined raspberries from The Bramble, blackberries from Bartram's Garden that I picked before we left, and blueberries that my mom brought from NJ.

***Mashing raspberries***

***Squeezing raspberries and blackberries through cheesecloth to make the jelly***


***The haul***

The weekend was ideal. The perfect mixture of friends, family, chickens, berries, shotguns and antiques.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Kitty Time!

Since we can't have pets in our house I have to get my hit of kitty goodness when we cat-sit for M's cousins in Center City.

This is Porter, he was adopted from the U Penn Vet school's feline blood donor program where he spent a year or so of his life donating blood to sick kitties. He spent that time living in a lab so when they first got him home he didn't know any of the normal kitty tricks, like hiding under the bed. When he got scared he would just run and face the wall, kind of like a "you can't see me if I can't see you" type of thing. Erg, adorable. Now he is incredibly affectionate and well adjusted, a total love-bug.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Community Garden Progress

We now have six plots in The Woodlands Community Garden and it's growing larger every day! We have a crew of student interns from the Urban Nutrition Initiative at U Penn working to shovel and build plots, make signage, and build a tool chest. Nic, one of my garden co-conspirators, works at UNI and is supplying the crews with lumber for these projects. So far the only money we've had to spend on the garden was for food for work days.

Last week we scored some free soil and tomato plants and stuck them into one of the finished beds. Soon we'll bring together the people who want these plots so we can hammer out the rules of the garden, collect yearly dues and get to gardening.

We've also decided to collaborate with a nearby elementary school that expressed interest in vegetable gardening. We're reserving some of the raised beds at the garden for them so they can walk over during the day and teach lessons during the school year. This is the part I'm really excited about, I would love to expand the garden to make space for more schools to do garden-based learning.

Meanwhile, at the Blue Line Garden . . .

. . . everything is blooming! We still don't have permission to build on this land, but Nic and the UNI crews will be weeding and mulching this lot so it will be primed and ready to build when the time comes in the fall.

This has all happened so quickly. By the end of the year we will have built two gardens. More importantly, we will have built two more community spaces where people can relax amongst green and growing things and take pride in their neighborhood.

P.S. Check out the trailer for a new documentary about community gardening - A Community of Gardeners. I may have teared up a bit while watching it . . .

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Parlor Profile: Mitchell's Ice Cream

When we were in CA a few weeks ago I dragged M to one of my favorite ice cream places in San Francisco. My friend Rho introduced me to it when we were both living in California and we shared a wonderful afternoon filled with ice cream, cherries and the beautiful view from the top of Bernal Hill.

Name: Mitchell's Ice Cream

Location: San Jose Ave., Bernal Heights, San Francisco CA

The Scoop: Mitchell's has been owned and operated by the Mitchell family since 1953 in the same spot in San Francisco and they make all of their ice cream on site. They are famous for their tropical flavors and they import fresh ingredients from the Philippines to make exotic flavors like Buko (baby coconut), Langka (jackfruit), Ube (purple yam), Lychee, Macapuno (young coconut), and Halo Halo (Buko, Langka, Ube, Pineapple, Mango and Sweet Beans).

The Flavors: We tried Halo Halo and Sweet and Salty Peanut.

The Price: One two-scoop cone ran us $4.80. Yikes!

The Verdict: I've decided to stop imposing a rating system on these ice cream parlors because honestly, would I ever give ice cream a bad rating? So needless to say, the ice cream was delicious. It was thick and creamy, melting down my hand and leaving me feeling a little uncomfortably full, the way good ice cream should. The Sweet and Salty Peanut was exactly that, who knew I would like salt in my ice cream? And if I had to choose again I would go for one of the tropical flavors by itself instead of getting Halo Halo which is all of them mashed together. I've had Ube in the past and it was earthy and bright purple, which gives it a leg up in my book. But I would be interested to taste the difference between "young coconut" and "baby coconut." Maybe next time (why must you be 3,000 miles away from me, Mitchell's?).

Thursday, July 16, 2009

You're Green with Envy

CSA box from Red Earth Farm.
July 14th, 2009: Escarole, red leaf lettuce, zucchini, green beans, cucumbers.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The black swallowtail butterfly

may i be gay

like every lark
who lifts his life

from all the dark

who wings his why

beyond because
and sings an if

of day to yes

- e. e. cummings, 73 Poems, 43 (1963)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Harvest time!

We cleared out some space in the garden, harvesting the emerald oak leaf lettuce, fordhook swiss chard, oxheart carrots, watermelon radishes, golden beets, a pound of bush pickler cucumbers and some of the 'Desiree' potatoes. Whew!

***New Desiree potatoes***

***Watermelon radish***

***Golden beet - FAIL (well at least we can eat the greens)***

***Oxheart carrot - semi fail***

I realized that since we had such a cold and rainy spring I could probably have left the above crops in the ground a bit longer. Ah well.

**Bush pickler cucumbers***

These cucumbers, though clearly not an actual bush variety (liars!) are super producers. We're going to be pickling all summer.

***Fordhook swiss chard***

***Zinnia - more of these next year for sure***

After we cleared all that space we replaced it with Italian basil, Black Beauty eggplant and Garden salsa hot pepper. I also yanked out a bunch of those marigolds. I'll remember to plant miniatures next time.

And that's how my garden grows.