September 8, 2011
One of my favorite easy cake recipes. Rich, not too sweet, and full of chocolate.
First was to butter, flour, and paper the baking tins. I learned the hard way not to skimp on this step. The cake comes right out of the pan, no problem, if you do this!
Next I melted the chocolate pieces. (I used 8oz semi-sweet baking chocolate from the store. ) I melted the chocolate in an improvised double boiler, and set it aside to cool.
I mixed the dry ingredients (flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda), and added the slightly cooled chocolate, and then all the liquid ingredients (water, sunflower oil, vanilla, and vinegar).
The vinegar and baking soda worked to raise the cake (it was eggless). The mixture looked a little funny at first, but with a bit of mixing everything worked together well.
I poured the batter into three 8″ cake pans. (According to my mom, three 8″ cake pans are the equivalent of two 9″ cake pans.) The smaller pans make a cute round and tall cake with more layers.
The cakes baked for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, I made the frosting, which I somehow messed up and it wasn’t very smooth and creamy. I think that I might have melted the butter by mistake…
I made a mixture of preserved peaches and rose petal jam and put this in the layers along with chocolate frosting.
August 25, 2011
My brother found this little beauty for me a few days ago. It is a Singer 306W, and works for sewing denim, canvas and leather. Seriously exciting.
This particular machine was made in the 50s, and comes with a motor and light, and a nice little cabinet in good condition. Plus, it seems to be built like a tank.
I have been testing it out on one of my denim scraps (I have a collection now, and am planning some sort of project with them all..)
The motor is in good shape, and once I am able to tune it up (with help from my friend Pat) should run easily. The stitch length/backstitch lever was frozen and we had to do a little tinkering with oil and wd40, but we got it working.
The underside is pretty cool. The belt (far right) is in good shape, and all the parts are built to last! No plastic down here.
The cabinet is in good shape. There are three drawers on the right hand side, and the machine folds down into the cabinet.
The top has burn marks, and the machine and cabinet smell like cigarettes. I can imagine the former owner sewing late, getting tired, and letting the cigarette fall from his/her hands onto the cabinet top…
August 20, 2011
August 20, 2011
Last year I planted a huge patch of pumpkins and not much else. So when I went out to the field and found that the majority of the pumpkins and squash had been invaded by vine borers I was devastated…
This year, I diversified. I planted lots of different things, and have had pretty good luck with many of them. The pumpkins though…vine borers again! My plan of defense this year was by default. It was so wet for so long that I was unable to work the ground in the pumpkin patch until the beginning of July. By the time that the pumpkin and squash seeds were in the ground, it was after the middle of July.
I had understood that the vine borers would no longer be laying eggs by this time. But no…most of this year’s crop was invaded. I went out yesterday morning with my handy pocket knife and carefully slit the stems to kill the borers and try to save the plants. Some might live, but I wont hold my breath.
I planted a patch of pumpkins (Ronde de Nice from Seed Savers) in one of our raised beds, and they were fine. These I planted in June, and I don’t know if the Ronde de Nice is resistant to VBs, or if that patch didn’t have any of the vermin.
(Note: the above photo is of the Ronde de Nice flower. There are quite a few cucumber beetles and one bee in the flower. I don’t know if the beetles are counter productive to the pollination process, but the bee is definitely welcome!)
This particular pumpkin can be harvested as summer and winter squash. I have been eating them tiny and they are delicious. The squash below is a few inches across and perfect when stewed with onions and tomatoes.
We missed a few (including the one below) and they are going on to be pumpkins! They remain green, but should harden and last for a while!
I have been talking to many people about vine borers, and have gotten a good amount of advice.
Remedies include wrapping the young stems with tinfoil, washing stems with insecticidal soap, and covering the entire plot with row cover. I am actually quite excited to try some (or all) of these measures next year, as well as continuing to try the staggered planting. I will report for sure!!
P.S. any further advice/experience with vine borers is greatly appreciated. Please leave comments. Thanks!
August 18, 2011
Today was beautiful. Misty, and almost rainy in the morning, then breezy, cool, and sunny all day. I was working at home, and wearing this dress, which I made a few months ago, but haven’t been able to wear.
This dress makes me feel like baking bread, or picking apples. Or roasting pumpkins. Things to look forward to!
The pattern came from a garage sale, and was a little bit too small. So I added a bit of fabric to different spots, experimenting to increase the size.
The fabric is cheap flannel. There is something satisfying about making a dress for $12, plus time. I am hoping that the flannel will hold up to a little bit of wear though…you pay for what you get!
The front of the dress is gathered, and I added some fabric there to increase the size. I also changed the placket a little, and had to adjust it quite a bit more when I realized that the lines of the pattern weren’t matching up well…something more to worry about with plaids!
The sleeves are long, but need to be worn pushed up past the elbows. Otherwise there is just too much green going on! I never put buttons on the cuffs, and if I push them past my elbows and then pull some extra fabric down they seem to hold up well enough.
The pockets are awfully handy. They are conveniently located on the front of the dress, and can hold quite a number of things. The only problem is that the fabric isn’t too strong, and I am worried about the corners of the pockets tearing. I suppose I should have put some interfacing on the underside of the dress for reinforcement, but I didn’t think of that while I was making the dress.
The back is simple, with a bit of shaping at the neck. I was hesitant about putting that in, but I did anyways, and it seemed to work out all right. Again, I was having a little trouble adjusting the fabric so that the lines matched. I am going to need to be a little more vigilant about that!
August 17, 2011
Sometimes I am completely surprised by a piece of fabric. When I received the package of kanga fabric from my sister and her mother, there was one piece that I was pretty sure I wouldn’t make something out of…it wasn’t my style, etc, etc. The funny thing is, as I kept on looking at it, and adjusting how it was folded, and washing and drying and ironing it, I was inspired to make a dress that might be one of my favorites. Funny how that works.
When I started thinking about this one, I had an image in my head, with strong borders at both the top and bottom. A loose fit for warm weather, an open neck, and maybe pockets. Simple and comfortable.
I messed up and made the neck to wide, and had to insert strips of fabric to shorten it. The plus side was that the added strips made the neckline more sturdy.
My favorite part might be the border at the bottom. I sewed on an extra layer of fabric, so that it would keep with the heavy feeling of the thick mango border. One of my favorite things to do is hand stitch the hem. It creates a nice finish, and the length of the dress is exactly as it should be!
The sleeves were cuffed by folding back the border and making a little stitch into the layers of fabric to hold them in place. It was a bit makeshift and messy, but in keeping with the simplicity of the dress.
August 5, 2011
We (my mom) pulled a tomato horn worm off of a pepper plant. It worked its way around the first plant and was just setting in on the second when we spotted it…
There has been an infestation of little yellow beetles, that love to eat the heck out of pumpkin and eggplant leaves.
And some lovely cabbage worms have been keeping me busy. I look for fresh droppings, and usually find a cabbage green worm that needs to be plucked off and disposed of…
My mom and I picked a crop of lima beans. They are quite a bit of work to pick and shell, but it is pleasant work, sitting in the garden in the morning with a breeze.
The okra are looking good, creating a little tunnel for the tasty morsels to grow up in. I planted a burgundy variety and they are quite beautiful and tender. I haven’t gotten past eating them raw so far, but hopefully will get around to pickling some at some point..
The marigold fence along the north border of the garden seems to be doing well. I haven’t had too much trouble with larger scale vermin, and am hoping that the marigolds are helping with this. Also, I just love how they look and smell.
The pumpkin patch got in super late. We had so much rain that I wasn’t able to get anything in for about a month! By the time everything was ready it was mid July. But I stuck some pumpkin, corn and bean seeds in some hills of soil and horse manure and covered them with straw. Hopefully they will produce by the first frost. At least they were planted too late for the vine boarers to attack!
Beans are in a holding pattern. When it got too hot, they stopped producing, and I am hoping that they will start again as the temperature cools off (relatively speaking).
The sunflowers are doing their duty, greeting the sun every morning, and following it across the sky. I love to see how their heads have moved throughout the day!
Last but not least is my compost pile. The soil out here isn’t the greatest, and so it is really important to add organic material. I started this compost pile a few weeks ago, layering straw, fresh hay, weeds, garden clippings, leaves, and kitchen scraps. I also add a bit of soil here and there. The pile is on top of a bed of branches to allow for adequate drainage, and I have been watering it as I do the garden, to keep it moist and happy. It is situated under an oak tree, as directed by Jon Jeavons. I am guessing that the microbial live present in the roots helps with the composting process. I like to think of it as a moist compost layer cake with straw frosting…tasty!