Sunday, June 29, 2008

New Potatoes

I learned something new the other day via my CSA newsletter. Potatoes can wilt! I got a bag full each of fingerling potatoes and red potatoes - and the newsletter said these were "new potatoes" - or young ones. They were more tender and their skin was thinner than the ones you usually buy in the store. Those in stores usually stay in the ground longer for their skins to thicken up to make shipping safer for them. However, when the potato is just coming to me from the farm down the road - it doesn't need a thick skin. Anyway. The newsletter informed me that these potatoes can wilt and should be kept in the fridge.

(Here is where I take a side note to give a shout out to Tupperware's Fridge Smart series (pictured). They are great storage things for fruits and veggies (and potatoes!). I put all of my produce in them now and they stay fresh for weeks. Amazing. Really!)

I used some of the potatoes to try a recipe from my America's Test Kitchen book and they turned out wonderfully as always.

The recipe is pretty simple:

Preheat oven to 400

Wash potatoes, cut into bite-size wedges

Toss potato wedges in olive oil, salt, and pepper

Put potatoes on a rimmed cookie sheet with one of the cut sides down. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake 20 minutes.

Remove foil. Bake 15 minutes

Turn potatoes to the other cut side. Sprinkle with oregano Bake 8 more minutes

Remove from pan and toss with 1/2 cup feta cheese, minced garlic clove, salt, 1 tsp lemon juice, and some olives. Yum!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Dishwasing Detergent and Old Jars

I have grown rather tired of the overly chemical-smell coming from my dishwasher so I looked online for a more eco-friendly alternative. I discovered you could make a very simple and inexpensive detergent using 1 part Borax and 1 part Baking Soda. 2 Tbs into the dishwasher detergent slot. Some comments online suggested putting vinegar in the "Jet Dry" spot to avoid spots from the baking soda. So, I loaded my dishwasher up (complete with a casserole dish with baked on cheese) and ran it through a cycle. Everything came out so well! Clean sparkling clear glass casserole dish and all. I've run the dishwasher a few more times with this "detergent" and I do notice that sometimes glasses on the top rack don't get perfectly clean - so I'm going to try another suggestion I saw online when researching - to add just a bit of normal store-bought detergent. Still cheaper and less chemicals - so I'll see how that works.

When trying to find something to put my concoction in I found an old fruit canning jar that had been my grandmother's I believe that works perfectly. (see picture) I love antiques - and there's just something about homemade detergent in an old glass jar that I find appealing. I did a little google searching and found that my jar is from the 1930s. So, I went ebaying to find some more. I just won one that is actually dated 1908. It's a bit taller than this one - but still with the wire closure. I'm excited. I don't know what I'm going to put in it yet - but it's a cool looking jar. I'm bidding on another one as well - so none of you are allowed to go Ball jar hunting on ebay until after the end of the day Thursday!

And then I remembered that my mother used to collect jars when I was a child and I had a "I'm becoming my mother!" moment. But I guess that's not all bad. The jars are pretty.
As you probably noticed - I'm also in the process of changing my blog format. I like the colors. I'm trying to standardize my photo usage so it's not so sporadic looking. I also need a header graphic - I'll get to it eventually I suppose.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Favorite Things: Jewelry as Decor

I have never been a big fan of jewelry boxes. They just don't seem to serve their purpose very well for anything other than rings and perhaps bracelets. Necklaces get tangled on the hooks. Earrings get lost and jumbled around. Plus, there never seems to be enough space - especially when bulky and large jewelry is the rage. A few years ago I started hanging my necklaces on an old accordion-style hat rack I picked up at a yard sale for 25 cents. I've hung the hat rack both vertically and horizontally (as it is now) - and it works great both ways. I really need another one as my necklaces are getting a bit crowded - but it works for now. This is in my closet so the only person who really sees it is me and the guest who goes snooping where they ought not to be.

I've been keep my earrings in a small clear case designed to store eyelets for the scrapbook enthusiast. This has worked well except for my larger earrings - and I was running out of space in the box as well. Taking a cue from my necklace rack I decided to make use of some blank wall space next to my bathroom mirror and put in some nails in a lattice pattern on the wall and hung my earrings from there. I just had six nails at first - but I liked it so much I wanted to turn some of my other pretty earrings into artwork and just kept going.

In general, I like how it turned out. I'm considering finding some simple fabric that coordinates with my bathroom and putting that on the wall behind the earrings and framing it all out with some simple molding from the hardware store - just to set off the display - but that may be a bit much for the space. I'll mull it over and if I give it a re-design I'll be sure to post pictures.

Those are headbands on a towel bar as well. i went through a headband phase for about a month before I stopped wearing them - - but I liked the headband there so they've stayed.

Anybody else have interesting jewelry and/or accessory storage ideas? Hats? Purses? Scarves? Pins? Do share!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Green and not so leafy

I feel quite proud that I can now open a box of miscellaneous leafy green things and confidently identify the leaves within. Kale! Arugula! Mizuno! Chard! However, after weeks and weeks of mostly leaves - I was quite excited this week to feel the weight of my CSA box and know that there were other vegetables inside.

I had potatoes, squash, zucchini, onions, cabbage, and lettuce.

With the onions I made an onion pie - which I must admit I was not all that excited about but since I had an abundance of onions I figured I should experiment. It turned out fabulously! I think I'll make another one day.

Here's what you need:

1/2 tube ritz crackers, crushed
1/2 stick butter, melted

Mix together and press into a 9" pie plate

Saute 1 cup vidalia onions thinly sliced in 2 tbs butter until onions are translucent. Place in pie crust.

Whisk together 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup milk, salt, pepper, and 2 eggs. Pour over onions.

Top with 1 cup grated cheddar cheese, sprinkle with paprika.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

I had some broccolli left over from earlier CSAs - so I decided to make a potato broccoli quiche. This turned out ok. I like things a little more spicy. Since it wasn't all that great I'll skip the recipe. You can find it on if it sounds interesting though.

With the zucchini and squash I made fried patties that were DELICIOUS and very very simple.

I made a batch for each - but I'm sure you could mix them together if you'd like.

For one batch:

Grate one squash or zucchini. Mix in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup cornmeal, 1 egg, sage, ginger, cloves, basil, cinnamon, salt, and pepper.

Drop batter by spoon fulls into an olive-oil greased skillet and fry until brown and crispy on both sides.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Entertainment Center

This is my idea for an entertainment center for my living room that I sketched out:

What do you think? (yes, my TV is that small) The funny looking ones with the box in the center is an open cube. The back panel will be painted brown and the insides blue.

I"m painting it to match my curtains/other accents in the room -

It'll probably be the table runner that will be taken to the paint store for a color match.

I found some pre-assembled unfinished cubes that are open/with a door/with drawers that I could buy. It'll be a bit pricey to get all of them - but I'm thinking that may be the easiest route. If I try to nail cubes together they won't be pretty. I'd like for it to be my summer project but I don't think I'm going to have the money/time to get it finished that quickly.

What do you think?