Monday, January 31, 2011

Next year, I'm heading to the store...

By Susan

I realized this weekend why some food is simply bought at the store and not made-from-scratch at home.

Saturday was National Corn Chip Day. No, not my favorite chip, but I forgot about this in my excitement to try to recreate the ultimate corn chip, the Frito ( Step one, google "corn chip recipe." In the results, I found what looked like a doable, solid and very Frito-like corn chip recipe. Yay!!! Got the ingredients together; couldn't believe I had them all on-hand. Was thinking, it was a sure sign of good things to come. So, here they are just before I popped them in the oven, and this is pretty much what they looked like when they came out of the oven. After one little nibble, straight into the trash. Not good.

Luckily, Sunday was National Croissant Day. No better time or recipe than chocolate croissants to try to redeem myself from the disaster of National Corn Chip Day. Perfect, I have a cook book with just the recipe. Of course, I didn't really read through the recipe before heading to the store for all the important ingredients, aka BUTTER. Really wish now that I was still ignorant to just how much butter is in a croissant but oh well. Got home at 11 a.m. and dove right into the mixing.....

Butter "massaging." Yes, that is 3 whole sticks of butter.

Folding the butter from pic 2 into the butter dough from pic 1.....

Then rolling and folding and chilling and rolling and folding and chilling the butter/dough block again and again and again.....

Hours later (6 to be exact), I was finally able to roll out the final dough layer, cut them, fill them with chocolate, and fold them up to be baked.....

Here they are. Look delicious, right?

WRONG! After all that, they were certainly edible, but seriously, for all the work, I expected amazing. End result, next time I'm going to get on the internet and buy these ( Williams-Sonoma's chocolate croissants, or run to the store and buy these ( Frito's chili cheese fritos. Sometimes it's best just to let someone else do the work for you.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Who plans gardens now?

By Michelle

People who tend to be better at gardening than me. Truly, though, with a goal of putting to shame last year's epic (seriously - 30 plants) tomato harvest I'm only competing against myself. Shouldn't be all that hard to do, especially if I get over my slovenly ways and stake the tomatoes properly.

But tomatoes are boring. Everyone grows them. I want to grow things that look cool and/or I can eat. Since I've been gardening for 3 years now, I have at least some idea of my capabilities and access to the various components that make a mildly successful garden. I've already laid in the foundation for gardening which I've built on each year. And for the first time ever I'm actually on schedule with the purchase of seeds.

There's a great little shop called Botanical Interests which has lovely organic, heirloom and conventional seeds for all varieties of vegetables, herbs, flowers and other miscellaneous growable things. For my garden this year I'm going to be experimenting with the following:

Forget-Me-Not Victoria Blue Seed
Beet Detroit Dark Red Seed
Bean Pole Blue Lake Organic Seed
Arugula Rocket Salad Seed
Bok Choy White Stem Seed
Swiss Chard Bright Lights Blend Seed

Most of these will be new to the scene. In addition I will have some returning guests that have done me good in years past:

Strawberry Popcorn (real live seeds saved by me!)
Thai Basil
Genovese Basil
Greek Oregano (will necessitate pulling out old raggedy shrub) Tomatoes of very many shapes, varieties, sizes and uses

The really great thing about all this gardening is that it is so, so low investment. Seed packets are cheap - less than $4 a pop for the most part, and at least with veggies and herbs you get a monetary return on investment by not having to buy as much of it out in the world.

This is all beside the point that a particular satisfaction is earned by working in the dirt. It's a primal exercise that is unlike other activities. Though there are worms and slugs and mud, in the end a Wii garden game would not suffice. Embarrassing to admit, but I do feel a kind of link to by forbears who probably did these things too. Though likely they would have given anything to just buy this stuff and have more time to put their feet up, playing garden Wii.