Wednesday, July 28, 2010

throw together easy quiche

difficulty level: do you want fries with that?
people seem to have this notion that quiche is hard or gormet. i think of it as simple country food and you can throw one together in about 5 min plus baking time using whatever is in the fridge. got eggs, a pie pastry of some kind, and some odds and ends? then you have dinner that requires no thought when you're exhausted:
1 pie pastry (i use a frozen no-name one. they come in packs of two so i often have a spare kicking around the freezer. you could make your own if you're good at that, i'm not. you could also use puff pastry or philo in layers or whatever)
6 eggs
spices like garlic, basil, oregano, rosemary, dill, pepper, or whatever else you like. i usually add at least a Tbs total
odds and ends of cheese, veggies, or cooked meats. i like thawed frozen spinach, feta cheese, olives, mushrooms, maybe some onion or tomato. cut into bits of whatever size you like.

let your pastry thaw while you mix all your fillings, spices, and eggs in a bowl and preheat the oven to 350f-ish. dump it all in the pastry, yes it really will all fit, it's very hard to over stuff it. i like to sprinkle some cheese over the top for a pretty brown "crust"
bake for 30 min or so or until set. let it cool a bit, it will finish cooking during this time. if you cut into it and get lots of liquid, you either added very watery vegetables or over-cooked the eggs. they're crying that you over-cooked them. it's fine. just pour off the liquid so it doesn't make your crust soggy.
cut into 4 or 6 and call it food. would go nicely with a simple salad and maybe some bread or soup if you feel so inclined.

there you have it! stop whining that there's nothing to eat and back away from the takeout menus. this will be done before the pizza guy would even get to your house.

Friday, July 23, 2010

gardening philosophy

i scan blogs of other gardeners now and then and my neighbor is always growing something too so i'm starting to really notice the contrast in how i garden vs. "the standard modern philosophy". mostly i don't see why on earth people screw with things so much. starting seeds inside, transplanting, hardening off, thinning, pruning, fertilizing, staking, de-bugging, and general fiddling is something i feel almost entirely unnecessary and way too time consuming. where did we humans get the idea that we needed to do any of this? plants require sun and water and healthy soil. period. love helps a lot, and by love i don't mean constant petting and interfering! i mean talking to your plants, passive energy work (i do this constantly so i don't even notice), and paying attention should anything require your care. water is good. compost is good. picking a sunny spot is good. so is planting a reasonable distance apart and in the right month (more or less). other then that i see absolutely no reason to fiddle with the great mother's, already perfect, design. plants have been thriving for a lot longer then humans have. where do we get this arrogance that without our babysitting it will all whither and die? and if modern "remedies" were remotely worthwhile, why are my plants a hell of a lot happier at a month old then anything next door that's two or three months along? the next person who tries to tell me that i should plant in straight rows or drench my green darlings in gross chemicals (yes miracle grown counts!) is going to get an earful, as well as some lovely comparison photos of my garden to theirs. those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the people who are doing it.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

vitamin B12 might just save my life

those who know me may be aware that my depression is flaring up something fierce lately. that's one of the reasons i've not been blogging much. i've also been calling in sick to work and crying for hours and hours. while i do have many valid reasons to feel like shit, i know that part of it genuinely is a chemical imbalance. not that that matters very much when you're suicidal, but it's true nonetheless.
i had picked up a fiber supplement a couple months ago to try to help my poor digestion and since it was the same price i happened to get the one with B12 added to it. i figured it can never hurt to get some extra vitamins. well my stomach doesn't like the fiber powder but i found that on days i take it my moods are a lot more stable! enter some googling and other research and we discover that not only are vegetarians much more likely to have a B12 deficiency, but it's a necessary nutrient for normal brain and hormone function. huh. also, that people who are deficient in B12 are much more likely to suffer from depression and other mental illnesses. HUH!
so i got me some B12 tablets instead of the yucky powder and on the advice of the pharmacist, am taking a whopping dose (1000mg/day). the nice part is there are no side effects, no adjustment period, and you can't OD on it since it's water soluble and you'll just pee it out. so far it's been working quite well. of course it's also much easier to be happy on days that i'm not at my soul-sucking job so we'll see how i do through the week. it would be so nice to have the energy, motivation, and positivity to find a less soul-sucking job and a more pleasant apartment. fingers crossed, it might just be the solution i've been looking for to stop wanting to kill myself every other week.

homemade yogurt

difficulty level: Rrrrgh . . . . Burns . . . .
my biological mother once said she used to make this in college when she was really poor. it certainly is cheep but i wanted to try it just for the experience and the fact that most homemade food is way better then store bought. i also have a thing for living food that keeps replenishing itself but have never gotten the hang of sourdough. i'll try that again at another time. i found a recipe on zaar for it that came highly recommended and was really easy so off we go. basically you just heat up milk, add a little bit of yogurt to start it off, and keep it warm for a few hours. THAT'S IT. the healthy bacteria grows and thickens and flavors and then you let it chill overnight and you have breakfast! i used one liter of whole milk, heated to just below boiling, let it cool down till i could touch it without burning myself, then added 1/4 cup of yogurt, wrapped it in a towel and put it in the (turned off) oven for some 6 hours. the recipe called for 3-4 hours but lots of reviews said longer=thicker so i went with it. i probably should have put it into it's final container when i mixed instead of putting in a plastic bowl to warm (thicken? cure? grow? whatever.) and then transferring to a smaller container with a lid to put it in the fridge. i've heard jostling it too much makes it form curds and i did get a bit of that but they stir back in just fine. paradoxically, i've heard adding LESS yogurt makes for a thicker result. maybe because the bacteria are more active when they have more room to grow? i'll try with two Tbs next time and see how it goes. overall though i have to agree that this does make a much better yogurt then store bought. it's thicker, creamier, and more mellow (less "sourness"). and best of all, i now don't have to buy any more. i can just use a spoonful or two of this batch to make the next one! i had some with blueberries, granola, and honey for breakfast yesterday and it was GREAT. i even used some in my henna hair dye and i'm going to look into making frozen yogurt treats :)

henna hair dye, take two

difficulty level: boy scout dropout
so i've been wanting to move away from using chemical hair dye for a long time but when i was going black it wasn't really an option. i've since found out that if you do red henna, followed by indigo you can get a really good pure black but i'm tired of black anyway and slowly growing it out. since i've been going for an auburn lately i decided this would be a good time to try henna again. my only previous experience was disastrous, making a huge mess, not dying my hair at all and being next to impossible to wash out. that was with lush "indigo" and it's the only lush product i've ever really hated. it was hard to mix, hard to apply, hard to get rid of, and did nothing for my hair at all. in take two i'm using body art quality henna powder and mixing up my own brew. i've done lots of research and thought we'd give this another go. so. i started with about 4" of roots that were medium brownish red and the rest dyed black with chemicals. my hair is hip-length and somewhat thick. i mixed:
3 cups henna (i thought this was an enormous amount but it turned out to be JUST enough, word to the wise, make way more then you think you need)
1 cup water
1 cup lemon juice (acid helps release the dye)
1/4 cup ground cloves (smells nice and supposed to intensify the red)
and let it sit on the top of the fridge for 24 hours.
the next day i added:
1/3 cup plain yogurt (conditioner)
3/4 cup water (could have added another 1/2 maybe for an easier texture to work with)
1/4 tsp lavender oil (smells nice)
2 tsp tea tree oil (terp oil, intensifies pigment with body art so it can't hurt)
2 Tbs olive oil (conditioner)
put the whole mess in a carrot bag, and slathered on generously with the help of a friend. we tried putting it in an old mustard bottle ala regular hair dye but the mix was too thick and it wasn't working very well. this is not at all like working with chemical dye. it's more like working with mud. feels rather primordial and ancient. kinda makes me want to do ritual henna body art by finger painting, ala tribal warrior paint.
i'd heard piling long henna-covered hair on top of your head will lead to a sore neck after a few hours and feeling how heavy it was i believe it, so i wrapped the ponytail in a plastic bag, then attacked with lots of saran wrap (looks like aunt jemima) and covered in a towel. if i was going anywhere i might have tried to find a nice dark coloured scarf to make a prettier turban but this is a good excuse to hang out at home and relax.
i'm glad i took a few min to cover my hairline and ears with some vaseline as it made wiping up drips much easier. i'm also glad we worked outside where there was plenty of room and we didn't care much if we made a mess. in hindsight it would have been easier if i'd worn a long-sleeved shirt as i kept getting drips on my arms. at least two or three changes of gloves per person are mandatory. so are at least three damp washcloths for mess management. only real staining that happened was when elena's glove apparently sprung a leak. she'll have a blotch for a while.
it's been on my head for about two hours now and i'm doing just fine. i expect my head will feel oddly light when i take all this crap off but it's not burning or itching or otherwise annoying me and the wrappings seem to be containing it pretty well. i'm going to leave it on as long as i can stand it and check back later.

well i lasted 7 hours with it on my head. it took almost an hour to wash it all out and i'm still finding the occasional piece of grit (feels like coffee grounds). using an entire bottle of dollar-store conditioner to dilute the mud helped a lot. it was a little scary how little it felt like hair at first. felt like dread locks or felt covered in mud. after three dousings with conditioner it felt like hair again, albi still very gritty hair. one wash and final condition with lush stuff and my hair feels normal again. and very conditioned. it certainly is red! i can see that even while it's still wet. it didn't stick to my scalp as much as i'd feared and seems to blend with the black better then chemical dye. it's supposed to darken over the next few days so maybe we'll go from ginger to cherry. that would be nice. i'm going to see if i can get some pictures going, especially since i have craft projects and decorating to show you too.

in conclusion: it's been a fun experiment. i think i'll do it again sometime. but definitely with proper henna powder and not the pre-packaged lush stuff.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

the veggie garden!

this is the cucumbers (that i really should thin, along with the zucchini), the red pepper (look, it has three tiny peppers already!), and the mini herb garden (big healthy basil and rosemary, healthy dill seedlings, very tiny oregano and chive seedlings that i'm not convinced will make it)

big beefsteak tomatoes, if you look closely you can see the little cherry ones coming up on the sides. the other pot of seedlings is spinach and lettuce. not sure why the lettuce decided to only come up along the sides. maybe i dislodged the seeds while watering in the early stages?

zucchini and nastursiums!

got a bit of a start (albi late) on some veggies and herbs in a little container garden today. i can't find seed for anything but i'll try to make a pilgrimage to rona asap or see if superstore has anything. for now i have some tomatoes, red peppers, cucumber, basil, and rosemary. with any luck i'll find spinach and lettuce and zucchini seeds and an oregano and dill plant. not sure what i'll do with these in the winter, hopefully the perennial herbs will survive. i think it will be too warm for them inside. next year i'll want to do an early planting as well as a later one but we should still be able to harvest before the first frost. hoping like hell the evil neighbors will keep their greedy little mitts off *my* harvest and don't do something stupid like kick over the pots or randomly decide to move them around. i decided to do pots only, in the front yard because the soil here has been raped for so many years with no one giving anything back that it has nothing left. there is also nonsense in the back yard of everyone deciding that only *they* know best where things should grow and that they have the right to take anything on the property regardless of who put in the time and effort to plant and care for it. it's not uncommon here to have all your harvest stolen just before you decided it was ripe or to have things coming along nicely only to have someone tear out your plants when you're not home because they don't like them or want to put something else there. i put a sign up telling people to keep their fucking hands off my plants and they're far away from everyone else's in a place they'll actually get light so we'll see what happens. oh how i want to live on the drive where everyone gardens and understands that you don't touch other people's plants! or trample them, or spray them with god knows what, or other wise interfere with other people's land!