Saturday, March 28, 2015

Sprouts!

This may not seem as super exciting to you as it is to me, but I wanted to share that the heart seeds I received for my birthday from My Beloved's daughters and their families..... drum roll.... are sprouting!  

Ever since I covered them up and watered them gently, there has been no action in the pots. I checked them almost daily, practically willing them to come up, but to no avail. I was afraid they were duds, and was already practicing what I would say to soften the disappointment to My Beloved's family. 

Then, we had a downpour, a real gully washer that lasted only about half an hour but that filled our rain gauge with about half an inch of water - and, magically, the next day there were tiny green sprouts in all the pots!  I guess they were just waiting for the rain to get their tiny butts in gear.

I can't wait to see what kinds of flowers I get, once they are up and blooming; it's clear already that there is more than one sort. Stand by for a full report once they reveal their identities.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Full (Ramen) Monty

Having tried instant noodles a few weeks ago and liked them, when I came across the real deal of instant ramen, Top Ramen chicken flavor, I couldn't resist trying it. Top Ramen is downright famous, or infamous, depending on one's point of view. My Beloved was game for this experiment, so we boiled some water this noon, et voilĂ !, we had lunch.

Being the inveterate tinkerer that I am, I couldn't resist a few changes to the basic "recipe." I chopped some fresh green onion and cilantro, cubed some leftover chicken, and added them to the bowls before pouring in the noodles and broth. A quick stir, and Bob's your uncle!

Easy to see why this is a staple for college students and starving artists. It takes no time at all, it's warming in that wonderful chicken soupy way, and it tastes good. The noodles are fun and curly, easy to pick up but impossible to get into the mouth gracefully - and that's half the fun. The broth is salty and deeply chickenish, even when you know it came out as powder from that funny foil pack.

I do think my embellishments helped make it special but I wouldn't turn my nose up on a plain bowl of this, either, especially when My Beloved is away and I'm not feeling up to serious cooking.

Comparing the two I've tried, I really think I enjoyed the Top Ramen more than the Annie Chun's, but either makes a quick and warming meal. 


Friday, March 20, 2015

Tradition Vs. Innovation

There is something fun about tradition - the passing along of ideas, recipes, or experiences that make up family memories - but I can also get pretty jazzed about shaking it up a bit. Take our St. Patrick's Day dinner; corned beef, potatoes, and cabbage is about as traditional as it gets for St. Paddy's Day here in America but, this year, I did a couple of new-to-me things.

First, I used my crockpot to cook the dinner. I'm sure you've been doing it this way for years and you are sitting there in front of your screen shaking your head me.  You are thinking, "Where has she been all these years? BFD!"  Well, it is a big deal to me when I can figure out something that makes a tedious meal easier.

You see, boiling the corned beef has always been a bit of a trial for me.  Oh, I get it going fine, then reduce to a simmer, but I always had to check it to make sure it was still simmering and I'm the kind of gal who forgets stuff like that when I have my nose buried in a good book (like, for example, Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood - just sayin'), or when Cora is lobbying for a walk, or I feel a nap coming on. Either it was boiling too fast and all the water boiled away, or it was going too slowly and dinner wasn't ready for hours after we got hungry, or it simmered so long that the meat was nearly mush. Ugh.

So, when I read on the interwebs that I could just peel the carrots, throw in the potatoes, wedge the onions, add the meat, and cover the whole shebang with water before plugging in the crockpot, well, sister, now you're talking!

Six hours later on low, I had traditional dinner ready to roll. I'm not fond of boiled cabbage, even when it is steeped in the cooking liquid with the meat, so the second non-traditional thing I did was I braised it instead, and assembled a lovely plate for our St. Paddy's Day dinner. 

The perfect combination of traditional culture and modern day innovation. Huzzah!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day

My Dad was Irish. He loved limericks and happy music. He was more of a martini than a green beer drinker, but he did love to raise a glass. And, every St. Patrick's Day, he followed the tradition of the wearing of the green. He had the most ridiculous shiny green plastic derby that he donned while singing "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" at the top of his lungs.

So I wear green each St. Patrick's Day in his memory - and because I'm at least half Irish! - and I always sing "Irish Eyes" in honor of him. He has been in Heaven nearly 20 years now, but I still miss that sweet man.

This year, if you are in the mood, sing a chorus or two with me:

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, sure 'tis like a morn in spring.
In the lilt of Irish laughter, you can hear the angels sing.
When Irish hearts are happy, all the world seems bright and gay,
And When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, sure, they steal your heart away.


He certainly had smiling eyes!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Burying Hearts

One of the best things I received for my birthday was a little packet of seeds embedded in paper hearts dyed pink, red, and white. My birthday falls on Valentine's Day, so I often get heart-shaped goodies. It's a good birthday to have; one gets lots of positive attention.

These are flower seeds of some mysterious kind - the packet didn't even give me a hint of what to expect. I keep pots in the corner of my deck and need to refresh them every year or so, so I thought to do it this year with my new Valentine seeds.


I yanked out the old, dried stalks of last year's annuals and troweled the earth, adding some more potting soil and mixing it in with the old. As I dug around in my yellow pot, I found a bulb of some kind - possibly dahlia - and reburied that, hoping for another nice surprise.

I sprinkled the hearts over the soil and added more dirt on top, firming the soil gently and sticking in the low-flow waterer. After sweeping the spot, I arranged them into the corner and flanked them with my Buddha face and my little spirit house where I like to think my garden sprite lives. 

I flooded the pots for this first watering - after this, they will have to make it with minimal water as we are still in a drought.


The packet gave me no information about how long germination would take so I'll be going out daily to look for sprouts. And, really, isn't that the perfect thing to be doing as spring approaches? First, you bury your heart deep in that soil, filled with hope and fertilizer. Then, you check eagerly for sprouts.