Saturday, July 31, 2010

Why yes, I do have a camera

It's not often that my thoughts turn to Frigga. It seems odd that I wouldn't have much to do with Odin's wife, given that I have some skill in housekeeping--I can bake bread and mop floors and can be fairly crafty with my hands when I feel it. Though I suppose some part of me equates her with simple housewifery, which I have long objected to; my daydreams were always of wild adventure, not sedately setting out the evening meal and then darning socks until bedtime.
I suppose if anyone had a connection to her, it would be my mother. She's a bit quiet, and seems very normal, but you should see her sewing room. Swatches of colored fabric hang on the walls, and totes of cloth (organized by color of course) have taken over half the basement! Even though Dad is the master chef of the household, Mom can still whip up a batch of bars or a cake like there's nothing to it. And of course she does her share (the lion's share in some cases) when it comes to keeping things clean--the cats run before her when she wields the vacuum.

But she's a lawyer too. This quiet little person went to college, studied hard, got mostly A's and B's, and then when right on into law school.
The story goes that when grandpa (my dad's dad) met my mother, he asked what she wanted to do with her life. She told him she was going to go to law school, and he laughed right there. Now, so many years later, she's been working for the state as an administrative law judge and no one thinks anything of it.
You go, Mom.

* * * *

Some years ago, Dad made a drop spindle in his workshop. It's a sweet thing, the weight is solid cherry and the handle a dowel. A simple bent nail is what catches the fibers and induces spin, creating yarn.

I've been sticking with plain, undyed wool roving for spinning, picking up a bag every so often when money or Mom allows. The yarn is rather thick, since this is my first batch and I'd rather keep the thickness relatively uniform. If I made or acquired a smaller spindle (or ever got enough of this to make into something), I know I can spin thinner stuff and that would be my next project.
*If you want to see some nice fine yarn, Grey Catsidhe at The Ditzy Druid posted a little while ago with her first spinning! It's a nice little batch, and I'm thankful I'm not the only person interested in something so odd and old-fashioned as spinning.

Someday, I do want to dye it. I even got a book on natural dyestuffs and how to use them for Yule a couple years ago, so I'm excited to see how the recipes will turn out! If only I knew what color to choose...

Any ideas of what to make homespun yarn into? I can knit and crochet, but I'm afraid I'll never make enough to actually knit anything more than, say, one mitten. I don't spin very often either... perhaps now I'll have more time for it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

never out of style

So help me, I'm old-fashioned.

Borrowed from "Confessions of a Kitchen Witch", with permission.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

No flavor more exemplifies these days of High Summer than a fresh pesto.

I don't mean the green glop you see spooned onto limp pasta and over-cooked salmon, however. Real pesto is nothing more than a big bunch of fresh, fiercely aromatic basil leaves chopped fine with minced raw garlic and then drizzled with enough extra virgin olive oil to pull everything together. Some fresh-grated Parmesan or Romano cheese adds another intense flavor to the mix, making your plain old anything a meal to remember.

Your local farmer's market is probably the best bet for fresh basil, both for price, quantity, and quality--I got a huge bunch for a buck!

And really, you don't need a blender. I find that for many things in the kitchen, good knife skills will make up for a lack of appliances. A mortar and pestle is a good way to go as well, if you like a smoother sauce (mine is far too small for most practical cookery), and you can show off your impressive arm muscles to friends afterwards ;)

The vibrant green of the basil perfectly complements the greenery all around, soaking up these long hours of sunshine and is one way to make summer intimately yours. It's a different way to experience the season: strong flavors not only taste great, but the basil and garlic are invigorating, bringing new strength to body and spirit. I'm no great shakes at herbalism (not yet, anyway), but I've read a little on elemental correspondences and herbs: namely, hot and cold and wet and dry. From what I recall, basil is hot and wet, nourishing with water while energizing at the same time. Combined with the heat of raw garlic, this makes for a potent potion!

It's easy for me to get caught up in something new and different, but I can only stand any food for so long. An easy solution (and great way to save a flavor of summer for colder months) is to freeze the pesto in little portions for later. *Leave out the cheese before you freeze! It doesn't really freeze well and tastes better fresh anyway.* Using an ice-cube tray lined with squares of plastic wrap or tinfoil is a great way to portion it out and keeps it from getting messy.

So bring out the basil and throw some veggies on the grill; open up a bottle of white wine and enjoy these summer days while we can.