The Knitting Journeyman

Gathering Up One Thread At A Time As I Weave This Web Of Mine.....

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Domestic Bliss

            Today has been the epitome of happy happy for me.

            First, I only worked this morning.  I’ve been doing that a lot more lately.  Only working in the mornings.  The rest of the day is for the family and for my other work…like writing and knitting.
            At lunch, we went to the local farmer’s market.  It’s just a little store up the road.  I wish I could tell you the name.  It’s bigger than a fruit stand.  It’s an actual store front.  But…it’s still a small place.  There’s no name on either receipt I got today.   When I do find out the name, I will let you know.
            Anyway, we were going there merely because I had a hankering for fresh asparagus.  I really am going to have to get off my butt and do the research and find out how to grow my own.  Ever since I learned to sauté the spears, I’ve been in heaven. 
            Last time we went to Global Foods in Kirkwood (this past week-end), I bought black rice and red rice, to try them out.  I decided we were having dinner at my house, which is normal on Tuesdays when R has to leave early to bowl.  Speaking of, tonight is the last night of this season.  Next season, E and I are going w him when he bowls.  It’s so silly that we are both excited about going, even though it’s a league and we won’t be bowling. 
Again w the anyway…
            The market had all sorts of flowers and herbs and flowery bushes and hanging baskets for sale in their parking lot.  They’d set up a little tent in the side lot.  E and I, of course, went to town.  We bought 12 strawberry plants for under $4.  Can you believe it?  We also got cantaloupe plants.  Three types of basil.  (My weakness.)  Lavender.  Sage.  My experimental plant this time is stevia.  We’ll see how we get along.  A tarragon plant.  Spinach.  Now I need to go buy more pots and more dirt.  I got most of everything planted this afternoon, but not everything.
            E bought a gerbera plant.  I agreed to buy it because it’s an oddity.  You can see where two stems grew together as one.  At the head is two flowers, two full flowers, growing out of the same stem.  I’ll have to take a picture of it tomorrow.  My camera is at R’s right now…even though I had a feeling I’d need it today.
            Then we went inside the actual store.  Zucchini.  Bananas.  Tomatoes.  Raw local  honey (my allergies are killing me…I have found out that I can eat raw unpasteurized honey w no issues…I was hoping local honey would help w my allergies.  This honey says ‘raw’, but it has been pasteurized, even though it doesn’t say so.  The second it hit my tongue, my body threw its normal this is too much glucose at one time fit…so…I cook w it and I bake w it and I let E eat it by the spoonful…but I can’t eat it as it is.)  We came out of there w a ton of fresh veg.  I was so happy.
            We came home.  There was rabbit duty first.
            On a normal day, we come in.  E sweeps the floor.  I clean the cage, fill up the feeders, replenish the hay, feel up the bunnies, make sure there isn’t anything icky in their fur.  I check the water bottles, fill those that need it.  Today was the big weekly clean up.  It’s the first big cleaning I’ve done since letting them have 24/7 access to the run area.  Want to freak a rabbit out?  One that is used to roaming at least freely in his own yard?  Lock him in his cage/house.  Silly rabbits followed me from inside their cage wherever I went.  I moved the cage this way and that, to be sure I swept ever little everything out from under the cage (no small feat that).  Point of fact…bunnies are very nosy creatures.  I emptied out the internal litter boxes.  I emptied out the tray under the cage.  I cleaned everything up.  I put in new litter and shredded newspaper in the tray before shoving it back under.  Even though I know they will ignore me, every time I pull that tray out to empty it, I tell Goof 1 and Goof 2 not to poop til I get it back in…and to be sure they pee in a litter box (they don’t always).  I can just hear those bunnies laughing at me behind my back.  I swear.
            The newspaper goes into the compost pile.  We don’t have a real bin yet—but I am not letting that stop me.  I have an extra garbage can outside that I use right now.  Eventually R will catch up w me.  Or not.  The hay and poop and litter…they get spread out over the pots full of plants.  Today, since I had planted the strawberries and cantaloupes before the cleaning, (to give E time to sweep and do her thing without me wanting to strangle her for the way she does things)I put all the litter and hay and whatnot out into the swimming pool …where we are growing certain veg.
            It seemed like a really good idea to me at the time.  It still does.  The kids are too big—and E is too grouchy—to share the little plastic swimming pool.  There were a couple holes along the sides.  I punctured a few holes in the bottom for drainage, filled the pool up w dirt.  Now we have strawberries, cantaloupes, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers and if the watermelon seeds do come up—we’ll have watermelons in there too—all growing in the swimming pool…and I don’t have to till or fight weeds and grass or anything like that.
            The really good thing about rabbit poop…it keeps the squirrels out of the plants.  When we got our first round of herbs from El-Mel’s, a squirrel kept trying to dig in my chocolate mint planter.  I guess because it is lower to the ground than the others.  The second I dumped some used litter and rabbit poop in there, the squirrel decided to go elsewhere.  It’s not as if I don’t throw food for them out farther across the yard anyway.  Not that these fat things are starving, by any means.  This whole neighborhood is surrounded by pin oak trees (in case you ever wonder what I might be allergic to!  Which is sort of funny…all the years I’ve lived in and around here, these trees never really bothered me much…this year…they be kicking my butt constantly…).
            So, I got the bunnies all clean and cozy and fed, and bothered as I stroked and petted them and pulled out whatever hay or whatnot needed to come out of their pesky fur.  Then, I washed my hands before I made a salad.
            There is nothing better than a fresh salad.  I totally forgot the broccoli though.  It’ll be good for a few days.  It’s not a loss.  I drive R nuts w what I do when I get going cooking anyway.  There was more than enough food.
            First, I started the black rice in the rice cooker.  Now, the rice package came with zero instructions at all.  What I read online was somewhat misleading, since I check several sources before deciding what to do.  I decided to treat black rice (which cooks up purple, btw) the same way I do brown rice.  Now, I had the black rice soaking in water overnight…since it is always better to pre-soak rice before cooking…read ‘Nourishing Traditions’ by Sally Fallon for how and why and so forth….  I wasn’t sure how much water to add…so I normally err on the side of too much water…because too much water means rice pudding, which E loves.  I think I added too much water.  Most sources agree that black rice takes longer to cook…I think that is wrong.  I think it takes about as much time to cook as brown rice…this is my experience after cooking it once.  It needs roughly as much water as brown rice, with roughly the same cooking time as brown rice.  What I made tonight was somewhere between cooked too long and too much water.  Now, the taste is lovely.  Different sources kept going on about black rice and its ‘strong nutty flavor’.  To us, tastes like brown rice…only tonight, it tasted sticky…from the too much water. 
            Black rice, all sources agree, has more iron in it than other rice.  In a household where iron is hard to get into little bodies…this is a godsend.  E will eat rice.  It doesn’t matter what kind.  The fact that black rice is black was enough to get her to want to taste it before we cooked it, little Goth child that she is.  That it cooks out into a purple…made it so much tastier to her.  For the record, the kid ate two helpings of the icky sticky black rice…if she hadn’t eaten three pieces of chicken w it, she might have had room for more.
            I fried and baked zucchini, (two different batches) trying to find the best way to prepare it for both R and myself.  Crispy, not mushy, was his request.  I’ve never actually cooked zucchini by itself before…either it’s been in a bread…or chunked up in a stew.  I was pleasantly surprised.  I did not actually ‘fry’ the zucchini.  After I was done sautéing the asparagus, I eyed the pan for a bit and then decided I should try sautéing the zucchini, just to see.  It turned out pretty good…but I prefer the roasted/baked to the fried/sautéed version.  So did R.
            I made a terrific salad.  Even E wanted a salad tonight.  We are starting to reach her on the food level here.  She tried tomatoes, avocado, red onions, cucumber, carrots …all on a bed of various greens (I don’t eat iceberg lettuce either…it simply has no flavor…but now that bunnies can’t have it, I don’t even bother thinking about it…)  I think it’s funny.  Everyone here has a different salad dressing, although E is likely to try what R has and what I have…since her dressing she always gets on the side, so she can dip her stuff into it.  If she really likes the dressing, she tends to turn the salad into a soup…but as long as she eats it…I do not care.
            Then there was fried chicken.  I know.  I know.  I don’t like to drive.  I had a panic attack the other evening, while R was driving.  The traffic was too heavy and it took a bit after we got out of it for me to calm down.  That residue is still w me.  I am strong enough to drive to Pearl Café to have lunch w R and his work friends, but not strong enough to want to drive very much farther than that.  The farmer’s market store is a straight shot there and back…and I don’t have to turn around to come back…I can drive in a big circle…up one road, across, stop at the store…out onto that same road, down one more road, turn to go home…I can deal w that.  It’s only a mile or so from the house.  That I can do.  The chicken was all I had in the house…except for fish...and we were not in the mood for fish at all.  I could not go back out again…and one store was more than enough for me today.
            R left for bowling.  I got to clean up the kitchen.  I am also still in the process of making forbidden rice pudding.
            Black rice is also known as Forbidden rice … as only Emperors and their chosen few were permitted to eat it. 
            I checked out several rice pudding recipes, just to see what I could find.  I do a mean off the cuff rice pudding for the kids…but I wanted to make sure I did it right w this rice this time.
            In my cast iron pot, I dumped roughly two cups of over-saturated black rice.  I added two cups of milk.  Next time, I want to use half and half, or even heavy cream.  With a bit of coconut milk.  I set that up on a medium heat.  I added a hefty tablespoon or two of vanilla (we make our own).  A hefty tablespoon or two of maple syrup (no—we buy this).  Ground cardamon, about a teaspoon (must be a genetic thing that I like to add this to darn near everything that I bake or cook).  Roughly two teaspoons of ground ginger.  Roughly two teaspoons of Chinese five spice powder.  I added three beaten eggs.  I started w a half cup of the raw honey I can’t eat…but I know my kids, so I added another half cup about ten minutes later after tasting it, to get the sweetness just right.  Stirred everything in and combined it really well.  Put the lid on it.
            Now, I let it simmer, stirring frequently, for roughly (I know—everything is done roughly tonight) a half an hour.  Next time…if my rice is this saturated before hand, I will cut down on the milk.  I also think a heavier substance, like the half and half or the heavy cream, will really do wonders w this dish. 
            My rice pudding did not turn thick and creamy.  When I use oversaturated rice, it doesn’t always…if I use too much milk or whatever (I’ve been known to use apple juice upon occasion).  Next time, I may try some jaggery…or at least brown sugar, instead of honey.  I was trying to get some of the local honey into my system.  That’s why I went for the honey.  My kids like things sweet, but not too sweet.  That first half cup of honey darn near got lost in the taste of everything else.  I let it cook on medium heat…and I stirred it.  I cooked it w the lid on, for about twenty minutes.  There was no thickening going on.  I took the lid off…and it started to thicken somewhat.  I turned the heat off at about thirty minutes or so…and I let it cool…that’s when it began to thicken up somewhat.  It looks like a decent porridge at the moment…it’s still cooling.  It is actually very tasty. 
            I simply need to learn how to work w this rice.  Instead of treating it like some strange object and handling it delicately…I need to just work it the same way I work brown rice.
            After this experiment, I see no reason to eat white rice again.  E has been moved over to eating brown rice, thanks to R’s eating brown rice every time we go out.  She’s gotten over quite a few I won’t eat that issues w him.  I’m very proud.  Now maybe we can work on getting more meat on those little tiny bird bones of hers.
            We’ll have the red rice later this week…since I have it soaking in the fridge right now.  I won’t go out of my way w the red rice.  I will treat it like normal brown rice and be done w it. 
            This is me, in all my domestic bliss.  What could be better than working in the garden?  Then creating a meal w fresh vegetables…a hearty meal at that.  Cooking the rice pudding was just like…gravy on the goose, my friend.  Watching crazy bunnies binkie and run all over the place like maniacs.  Sitting and eating w the love of my life, talking about his day and mine.  Cleaning the kitchen up.  Looking forward to sitting back in a few and working on my diotima sweater.  I’ll be finishing that soon…and then I will start on M’s poncho…
            Tonight I will curl up in the arms of the man I love and sleep the sleep…of the damned, I guess.  Lol.  According to those who know me…my friends and I, it seems we are all going to burn one of these days…at least we are all going down together.  It’s going to be a party.  Lol….