Friday, April 02, 2010

Gardening on the cheap: Save those seeds!

At the end of the growing season last year, we let a number of plants, including radishes, snap peas, dill and cilantro, grow like crazy without harvesting them. We wanted them to go to seed so we could collect them to grow this year. I had only done this once before — with a mallow plant from my mom — and it worked out really well. We also saved the seeds from our jalapenos. Now, a year later, it's time to plant the harvested seeds. I'm really interested to see how they do compared to the store-bought seeds. We had some left over from those we bought last year, so I've planted those, too and plan to take notes and compare their progress!

I had read online that radish seeds were really hard to gather — not so. They put out huge stalks if you let them keep growing and then pods form on the ends. We just pulled out the stalks, plopped them in the vase you see above and admired them all winter. They sat on a bookcase next to a vase filled with corn tassels the boy saved, too. Two nights ago I cracked open the pods, picked out the perfectly preserved seeds and planted them. They are already sprouting — yay!

Are you growing anything this year? Why not save some of the seeds for next year or to share with a friend?

P.S. Thanks to everyone who commented over at Bloesem Kids yesterday — I'm so happy to have been awarded second place for my design. Yippee!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Bloesem Kids Banner redesign: Part II

Yay! My design is one of the finalists for the Bloesem kids banner redesign I mentioned on Friday. Won't you go have a look (and perhaps cast your vote with a comment, hint, hint. I'm entry #2. ) at the entries and let Irene know what you think?! She's got a tough choice in front of her. I am loving the design below by Homemade Happiness. Isn't it sweet?!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lemon Ginger Scones

Lemon Ginger SconesOne of the first recipes I learned to bake as an adult — after the chocolate chip cookies and Duncan Hines brownies of my youth — was Orange-Cranberry Scones. Scones came on strong in the early nineties — probably with the rise of the coffeehouse. I caught on quickly and was eating one too many scones in my frantic New York City way. I would escape the city on the weekend and head to my parents who were living in a quiet somewhat rural area — without any cafes to serve me my fix of butter. My weekend scone-jonesing was so severe that eventually I made my own. It was pure love — and a heck of a lot of butter.

Lemon Ginger SconesLemon Ginger Scones
This Lemon Ginger variation was inspired by the ones they serve here in Ann Arbor at Comet Coffee in Nickels Arcade. If you haven't been there, I can't say enough about it. Their coffee — they're part of the new wave of pour-over coffee spreading throughout town — is my favorite in town and the emo, tattooed-covered staff is always shockingly happy-go-lucky and friendly. And, of course, their lemon-ginger scones are addictive. So here's my take:

Lemon Ginger Scones
Adapted from Joy of Baking

Makes 6 - 8 scones.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and kept chilled
1/2 cup crystallized ginger, chopped into small to medium pieces
Zest of 1 large lemon (about 1 TB)
2/3 cup buttermilk

1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 TB milk

Raw sugar for sprinkling, optional

Lemon Ginger Scones

Preheat oven to 400ยบ F and place rack in middle of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the chilled butter pieces and blend into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Stir in the chopped crystallized ginger and lemon zest. Add the buttermilk to the flour mixture and stir just until the dough comes together. Do not over mix the dough.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead dough gently four or five times to bring it together and then pat into a circle that is about 7 inches round and about 1 1/2 inches thick. Cut this circle in half, then cut each half into 3 or 4 pie-shaped wedges (triangles). Place the scones on the baking sheet. Beat the egg well and combine with with 1 TB milk. Brush the tops of the scones with this mixture. Sprinkle with raw sugar if using.

Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Lemon Ginger Scones

Some crystallized ginger is more sweet than others — or perhaps I should say less sweet. The batch I used today was extra gingery, so I kicked up the sugar just a tad. Take a nibble of yours and adjust accordingly.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Road trips on my mind

Road trip poster by Delicious Design League

I'm a sucker for a road trip. Open maps flapping in the wind, sunglasses on, hair flying, bare legs sticking to vinyl, radio blaring. Bear with me while I cling to my outdated vision. Sigh. But boy oh boy, do I have road trips on the brain right now.

"I Just May" by gingerlovesart on Etsy
Ginger's lovely description: One summer road trip that involved a lot of driving, a lot of stopping, a lot of photo-taking and a lot of smooching.

The boy and I took a drive down to South Bend, Indiana on Saturday. We took the scenic route passing through wonderfully old-timey towns filled with crumbling old theaters, more brick than I expected and tons of junk stores that I was dying to root through. But we were on a mission. We didn't make any stops. We were on this trip for a particular purpose - a very certain purpose. Since moving to Ann Arbor a good year and a half ago, a bicycle and my little feets have been my main modes of transportation. But on Saturday, this fateful Saturday, we drove to South Bend to look at a lovely new car. For me. To drive. Yay. We're headed back this weekend to pick it up. And the whole way there and back I will do nothing but dream of road trips.