30 June 2009

some housekeeping

I have had several questions about some of my posts from the last month and its time to catch up.

First on my bean bag post, Mary asked for the list of activities that I sent. Well Mary, after way too much time, here you go: Bean Bag Activities for Ace. I have also added it to that post.

After my rhubarb revelry post I got a few questions over email. My friend Cat emailed and asked how many cups equals 2 lbs of rhubarb for the jam. For all of you jam makers without a kitchen scale, it is roughly 3-4 cups depending on how big your chunks are. Really, with jam, you can fudge a little. If its too thick, just add a bit of water and let it cook a little longer. Too thin, add a bit more fruit and again, let it cook a little longer.

My friend Carolyn and my friend Shelley both emailed me to pass along some of their favorite rhubarb recipes and I wanted to share those.

Carolyn's Fresh Rhubarb Cake
"I consider it one of the best. Very simple but very, very good. The more tart the rhubarb, the better in this case."
1 ½ c. brown sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
¼ c. white sugar
1 tsp.Soda
½ c. shortening
2 c. flour
1 egg
1 c. buttermilk or sour milk

Combine and put half batter in bottom of 9 x 13” pan. Cover with raw rhubarb (2 c.) Add remaining batter on top. Sprinkle over top: ¼ c. sugar, 1 tsp. Cinnamon.Bake 350 degrees at 350 for 60 minutes.

Shelley's Rhubarb Cake
"This cake keeps well and is very moist."

1 ½ cups rhubarb, cut fine
½ cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 cup sour milk
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 cup coconut
2/3 cup brown sugar
¼ cup milk
1 cup nuts

Combine rhubarb with ½ cup sugar and set aside. Mix flour, sugar oil, egg, sour milk, soda cinnamon and vanilla. Add the rhubarb and sugar mixture. Stir until well blended. Pour into greased and floured 9 by 12-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees F. for one hour or until done. Combine the last five ingredients and cook three minutes. Pour topping over cake while still warm.

So, a few things to catch you up on my projects of late. Look for a new garden post tomorrow!

26 June 2009

happy birthday, teeny tiny bean!

At 9:17pm, one year ago our little bean was official birthed.

It has been a wild and crazy ride and I am so glad you let me tag along!

25 June 2009

1000 gardens post

Instead of reposting, I will just direct you all to my post on the 1000 gardens blog about the successes and failures of this year's garden, so far.



Hooray, its almost the weekend!

24 June 2009

painting

Hi everyone! It has been a busy week here at the Hip Homemaker's urban homestead.

The teeny bean turns one this week!

Much party prepping has ensued, including painting the kitchen cabinets. Most people just clean the bathroom when they prep for a party. Not me, no, I try to cram in every languishing, half-finished house project. In the past two weeks, I have finished painting the living room/kitchen area, mostly finished painting the cabinets, did some work on the bedroom, and tidied up the yard. Before Saturday afternoon I would still like too mow the lawn, recover the couch, sew a new cover for our futon couch, clean out the remnants of the chicken brooder in the basement bathroom, make cute little party favors, decorate the deck a bit and bake cupcakes. Hmmmm, we'll see if it gets done.

Here is a shot of the fireplace in the living room with its pretty golden wall and a new arrangement of things...


I will have more photos once I get everything cleaned up.

20 June 2009

cocktails with the ladies

My brilliant friend Aubrey and her fabulous mom, Shelley, hosted a casual cocktail gathering at Aubs' house last night. They are both amazing cooks and entertainers, so I knew it would be fun and yummy.

Every year, Shelley and her husband design their own cocktail and serve it at various get-togethers. This year's drink of choice is the Lemon-Drop Fizz, which was one of those deliciously smooth drinks that have you downing three or four of them before you realize the damage you've done. I don't have the exact recipe, but it included vodka, triple sec, lemon juice and seven up. Very tasty indeed!


The second cocktail choice was a Caribbean champagne with rum, banana liquor and champagne. Also good, but I am not really a rum or banana flavor girl, so the lemon was by far my favorite.


They also served up an assortment of finger foods, including spinach dip; hummus; crackers with turkey, melted cheese, tomato and basil; sun-dried tomato on bread, rhubarb salsa (which i will share the recipe for soon) and strawberry shortcake cookies.

The recipe for the cookies came from Martha Stewart Living and they were a really amazing, not too sweet, perfect use of fresh summer strawberries.

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies
Martha Stewart Living

Makes about 3 dozen

12 ounces strawberries, hulled and cut into ¼ inch dice (2 cups)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon coarse salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup heavy cream
Sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine strawberries, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and remaining 7 tablespoons sugar in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter, or rub in with your fingers, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cream until dough starts to come together, then stir in strawberry mixture.

Using a 1 ½ inch ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment, spacing evenly apart. Sprinkle with sanding sugar, and bake until golden brown, 24 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool. Cookies are best served immediately, but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day.

Note from Aubrey: I don’t know what sanding sugar is. Any type of larger crystal sugar should work great. Too bad these all have to be eaten in one day!


Happy weekend everyone!

17 June 2009

paperless post

Finally a "grown up" evite that makes me feel less guilty about not sending elaborate paper invites. Paperless Post lets you design and send fancy-shmancy invites to all your friends and track RSVPs. It works like evite, but looks a lot more classy and well thought out.

I just used it to design Avery's 1st Birthday invite, after seeing a recommendation from Erinn over at the happy living blog. Tres bon! And it even gets delivered to your friend's inbox in a fancy envelope. Here is the design I went with...


It does cost you "postage" to send them, but its totally reasonable ($5 for 60 stamps) and you get 25 free stamps just for signing up. Plus, if you get your friends to join, you can earn additional stamps too.

So, head over there, sign up and play around with the fun. You might just have to plan an event so you can use one!

16 June 2009

chickens in the coop

The girls have officially moved out to the coop. Of course we have had cold rainy days for the past two days while they have been there. They seem to be fine though. They love playing in the dirt, pecking at the grass and gobbling up bugs. They have also become pros at the ramp, even playing king of the mountain sometimes. They are much happier in their new digs, and I am so happy to have them out of the house.

15 June 2009

two

(from kwerfeldein's flickr photostream)


No, we did not get two adorable cows. I would, but I think the neighbors are just getting used to the idea of chickens.

No, this blog turned two last Wednesday. Happy Birthday Hip Homemaker!

12 June 2009

rhubarb revelry


I got a few requests for my favorite uses for my beloved rhubarb and as I searched through my archives of bookmarks and dog-eared pages, I couldn't resist trying a few.

So, here are the current, top-of-my-list, favorites (which all, incidentally include ginger in some form):

1. Ginger Rhubarb Jam

There are a lot of variations of this around the web, but this is the recipe that I prefer. I love the twist the ginger adds to a truly simple recipe.

2lbs of rhubarb, chunked into 1 inch pieces
2 cups of sugar, can be reduced depending on how tart you like it
1/2 cup of coarsely chopped crystallized ginger
zest of one lemon

combine all ingredients in a medium, saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Stir until all sugar has dissolved. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 20-40 minutes, stirring often. The goal is a thicker mixture that will mound on the spoon. When its ready, you can remove it from the heat and pour into jars. They can be stored in the fridge for a few weeks, or you can follow standard canning techniques for fruit jams and put up a stock of it to indulge in over the winter.


2. Basic Rhubarb Chutney

I love a good chutney, having made plum variations for a few years. I decided to just adapt a recipe I had to use the rhubarb. I think I would make a few adjustments, noted below, but overall, this is delish! It will be accompanying me to a party at Nici's tonight with some cream cheese slathered baguettes.

2 tablespoons of juice (apple, orange, grapefruit, whatever you have on hand)
1/3 cup of cider vinegar (I think I will use rice vinegar next time to give it a milder flavor)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger (I substituted a 1/2 tsp of ground ginger that I had on hand)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups rhubarb, in 1-inch chunks
1/2 cup golden raisins

In a medium saucepan, mix juice, vinegar, brown sugar, ginger and cinnamon. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the fruit and bring back to a simmer. Reduce heat again and cook until rhubarb is tender, about 5-10 minutes. Mash up rhubarb with a fork. Remove from heat and cool. Will keep in the fridge for about a week.


3. The final recipe that I love and made this week was the 'Big Crumb' Coffeecake with Rhubarb from Smitten Kitchen. Deb has some of the most fabulous recipes and this is one of my favorites.

Happy Friday everyone!


10 June 2009

weekend score

This is not from the past weekend, as we spent about 10 hours on Saturday hopping from one graduation party to the next. These are just a few things I picked up over the past few weeks in garage sale mania.

  • A set of vintage wooden puzzles - $1 each
  • A set of vintage cardboard puzzles - $1 each
  • a box with a few quilt pieces and some random cotton fabric - $3
  • An alligator xylophone for the bean- $1
  • A few vintage clothing pieces - $1 each (can't seem to get a decent photo of these)
  • A chest freezer for the basement -$40
  • Oh, and a vintage wind-up "radio" that J's grandparent's picked up, which she also digs...

I am really excited about the great toys for the bean. She loves the xylophone, in fact, that girl loves anything that she can make noise with (drums, rattles, etc). I like that it has keys and the mallet and she can drag it around once she gets around to walking. She also enjoys taking the puzzles apart and having you put them back together again. You can see a few more shots of the puzzles laid out on my flickr photostream.

The freezer, however, was the big, gigantic score. It is older, but in really great shape. It provides an enormous amount of new food storage, so I can really put up food for the coming winter and I don't have to can everything. I am also contemplating becoming a hunter (shhhh, don't tell J. He really wants me to, but I haven't totally committed yet). Guns freak me out, I mean really freak me out, but the idea of not having to spend $5 a pound for good meat is enticing. Plus, it seems more healthy and self-sufficient to me. If I did decide to take the plunge, I would want to really learn how to process the meat ourselves. It gets pricey to have it done and they don't always do a great job. (My dad is probably chuckling in disbelief at this point, having watched me cry through the entire process of cutting up my brother's deer in high school)

So, what do you all think about hunting? Do any of you hunt?

09 June 2009

its growing...

Here are a few shots of the little plants coming to life or growing big and strong in my garden this week...

(broccoli, from the free, frost bitten starts I got at the nursery )

(cauliflower, which is also from the free starts and was only chosen because it was free)

(I did not properly record this planting on my map, I think it is a turnip, but may be a beet. Anyone know for sure?)


(cucumbers for pickling from the free starts)

(the first little bean to pop through)

(peas)

(big spinach leaves, which I actually picked and ate in a salad for dinner last night)

(one of my 8 tomato plants, 7 heirloom and this cherry)

(nasturtiums in pots around the chicken coop. I also planted peas in here, although kind of late. we'll see what happens)

(sunflowers in a small garden between the fence and coop. i've never done sunflowers before, but now I get why everyone loves them. they are growing soooooo fast and are so easy)

BTW: I will be posting weekly about my garden over at 1000 New Gardens (its a project to get new gardeners started throughout Missoula). My first post was just a recap of some of the fun I have been sharing here.

06 June 2009

sprouts

Here is a quick shot of my upcoming peas and lavendar moth...

05 June 2009

five

Today my marriage turned 5, only a few hours ago in fact. It is crazy it has gone so fast, but so much has changed since then: jobs, houses, babies, pets.

Here are some of the sweet things about that day, followed by a few shots.

We had been talking about getting married for awhile, but then our friend Brad got his orders to ship out for Iraq. We wanted him there, so we planned our wedding in just a few days over four weeks. Yes people, four weeks to plan the event of a lifetime.

My friend Carolyn made the amazing cakes. An assortment of bundt cakes including her famous lemon cake (which I think some people may actually kill for), a spice cake and a chocolate. They were to die for.

Our friend Tim did the ceremony, despite being so nervous I though he was going to faint.

Our photos were taken by my friend Thais.

My friend Julie sang a song. J's friend Bruce got his band to play for free.

My dress was made by a woman in the Bitterroot in record time out of ivory silk I picked up on a trip to Vietnam for the thrifty amount of $15.

I wore my friend Jessica's fresh water pearls.

It had rained for some crazy number like 24 of the past 30 days before our wedding. It rained right up until 4 pm on Friday night and started right back up at 10pm Saturday night, just as the last of the tables and chairs were loaded in the trailer. Which was great because we had no plan "b" and no tent.

The iris garden burst into bloom the morning of the wedding because it was the first day of sunshine it had seen in quite awhile.

Aubrey put all of the flowers together, but accidentally froze some of them and had to remake a few things right before the wedding, with the help of Jessica and without me knowing a thing.

My husband had my ring made from an example I gave him, using sapphires from his great grandpa's collection of uncut gems.

My husband wore an $8 ring because he was afraid he would lose it right away.

His grandpa was his best man.

Brad, one of the groomsmen held his 2 month old son Jacob throughout the ceremony.

We danced and danced and danced...








03 June 2009

big chickens

Look at these ladies... they are huge!


We have officially had them for one month this week. They have been nameless almost the entire time, but I have finally decided upon names for all of them. I was reminiscing the other night about some of my favorite old movies and was inspired to name the girls after some of my favorite movie characters. So, meet
  • Dolly (Levi) - the red head, who seems to be the bravest and most curious, named for Barbara Streisand in Hello Dolly!, one of my all time favorites. It was actually a toss up between Dolly and Fanny for her character in Funny Girl.
  • Holly (Golightly) - the quieter black one, named for Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's
  • Cleopatra - the bossy, dominearing black one with a personality to match the famed queen, named for Liz Taylor in the title role
  • Maria - the blonde, named for Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music
What are some of your favorite old movies? I would love some recommendations.

01 June 2009

bean bags

My nephew Ace turned 3 on Friday. I love that his name is Ace... He lives in New Orleans. He is the only child of my only sibling. My giant, little brother and I have an interesting relationship. We get along just fine, but we never, ever talk. He called me on my birthday this year, which is the first time he has called me in a few years. I never call him either. We get updates through our parents. He and his family came to visit right after Ace was born. We got along great. I really like his girlfriend. It was great to see him and to see who he has become, but still we never talk.

Now that I have a kid of my own, I am finding it more pressing to have a relationship, to keep in touch, for our kids to know each other and us. But how do you restart a relationship that should be close to begin with? How do you begin to get to know someone you saw everyday for 16 years, who you shared a room with, played make believe with, fought with over stupid things?

I started by making a gift for his 3 year old son. One that would give them a new game to play together, that would maybe start a conversation about aunt Amy who lives near grandpa and nana in Montana, with uncle J and baby Avery. I was hoping it would also be the start of an apology for never calling, for not trying harder.

I struggled to find a good gift for a 3 year old boy, especially one I don't know much about. I do know that he likes being outside, playing with sticks and cars and he likes his dad and mom. I decided to make a little set of bean bags and included a page of fun games and activities to play. I also put in a wooden giraffe that used to sit on Leo's dresser. I found it in a box of toys that my parents brought over a few months ago and thought he should have it.


So this is my start.

ETA: Here is the list of activities.