Wednesday, June 24, 2009

feast and famine

Because I try to only eat local foods I spend most of the year without fresh strawberries. With the convenience of local grocery stores most people don't realize that in this area the strawberry season is actually really short. If I buy early and late strawberries (that are very expensive and not very good) I could probably stretch the season out for maybe a month and a half. Unfortunately I'm too cheap for that so I only buy strawberries in the peak of their season which means I'm lucky if I have fresh strawberries for 3 weeks. Yes, that means that I only eat fresh strawberries for 3 weeks out of the year and no, I'm not crazy.

One of the things I value about eating locally is that it forces me to feast and fast. I really think creation was designed to force us to feast on delicious food when it's in season and then have what I would call a time of "fasting" when that food is out of season. Instead of following this pattern it often seems that Americans feast every day which causes us to appreciate the goodness of our food less. A feast doesn't seem quite as special when you spend every day feasting.

My husband and I have been anticipating strawberry season for months now. Last year was the first year that we ate only local strawberries and so we hadn't been ready for the short season. I honestly expected local strawberry season to go along with the amount of time strawberries are super cheap at the grocery store (which is practically all summer). We didn't feast as we should have during our two weeks of fresh strawberries to hold us off for an entire year without them.

So this year we feasted properly! The first day I came back with strawberries from the farmer's market we each had a bag with lunch and then I made strawberry shortcake for after dinner. The next day I had strawberries and yogurt for breakfast, plain strawberries with my lunch and leftover strawberry shortcake after dinner. In two days we ate 3 quarts of strawberries! Since then I've made all my favorite things to have with strawberries: ribbon of chocolate pie (pie crust with chocolate chips on the bottom, then a custard filling and strawberries on top), chocolate fondu, ect. And let me tell you it is good!! Eating strawberries non-stop for two weeks really forces me to focus on them and appreciate just how delicious they are. So even though its no fun to be salivating over grocery store strawberries in mid-December the time of feasting that I await makes it all worthwhile!

Strawberry Shortcake:

Ribbon of Chocolate Pie:

You may have noticed I threw in the word "fresh" a lot. I do cheat a little - I freeze strawberries every summer so that we can have some for the long winter months. I assure you though - it is not the same as eating them fresh! It does help when you're really craving them though. Here's some strawberries all vacuum sealed and ready to go in the freezer.

Friday, June 19, 2009

the quest for the perfect fair isle pattern

I've been working on this fair isle hat for over a month now and just couldn't put together a pattern I liked. I'm making the hat to test out the fair isle pattern I'll be using for a sweater I'm making (that's taken a lot of time and money) so I wanted to get it just perfect. I finished the hat tonight with a pattern I really like (YAY!) so I figured in celebration I would share some photos of the process:

This was the beginning of the first pattern I tried. It started out OK, but as I got into the section after this part I realized that it was going to be way too big of a pattern for the front of a sweater.

This is the second pattern I tried - I think I just wasn't paying attention when I designed it because I made the first and third fair isle rows basically the same thing and the second one was extremely similar to them so it was a little boring.

And the winner is....

I guess the third time really is the charm!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

the beginnings of jalapeno peppers

I tried planting a container garden for the first time this year (see photo below) and so far its been going really well. I planted some tomato plants at a friends house last year so I knew what to expect with them, but for the first time I planted a jalapeño pepper plant and a pickling cucumber plant. Since I haven't planted them before I was a little concerned about them surviving especially since I'm trying out the whole container garden thing.

So the other day I go to check on my plants and the blooms on my jalapeño plant are dying! I was so upset and certain that something was wrong until I realized...the blooms were dying to make way for some beautiful peppers! Next time I'll have to examine the cause of the dead flower more extensively before freaking out! I thought I would share some pictures of the blooms and the peppers poking through since its bringing me such excitement!

my container garden:
my jalapeño plant:

a close up of a healthy bloom:

a close up of an emerging pepper:
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