I guess it’s been a little too long since I last updated. Sorry about that. Lots has changed, but I’ll get to all of that later.
I’m dusting this place off because I’m trying to make my way to the Bingham Cup — the international gay rugby championships. This year’s iteration will take place in Manchester (that’s England, fyi), and it should be an amazing event full of rugby and fellowship and (naturally) beer. I hope to attend, and to play rugby at my favorite position (even if it isn’t necessarily for my favorite team).
Unfortunately, because the tournament is in England, this isn’t going to be an inexpensive trip. And that’s where this blog comes in.
I’m setting up a project on Kickstarter to defray my travel expenses to and from England. If the project is successful, and I raise enough to get myself to Bingham, then this here blog will be the recipient of a slew of new content: text recaps, photos, and perhaps even audio and/or video (as time and technology permit).
Once I’ve got things squared away over there, I’ll update this blog to link to the Kickstarter project. Please keep your eyes peeled.
One of the main things that caught our attention when we first saw our current house was its backyard. Originally, at least, it would all be for Kooper: he could run to his heart’s content, playing and chasing squirrels and whatnot. Of course, nothing ever works out according to the original plan, and before long I had sketched out designs for a vegetable garden, an herb garden, an apple tree guild, and miscellaneous plantings around the front, back, and sides of the house.
Once spring started to arrive, once I built the raised bed for the vegetables, and once we cleared out some of those atrocious landscaping rocks (six inches deep, seriously) and concrete slabs (??), I was able to start planting. So here’s what I have growing. Most of these started from seed; I’ve marked the ones that didn’t with asterisks.
In the vegetable garden:
- nasturtium, planted here to deter pests
- red onions
- leaf lettuce
- marigolds, planted here to deter pests
- bell peppers
- butternut squash
In the herb garden:
- lemon balm
- holy basil
- creeping thyme*
In the apple tree guilds, which were originally going to be one big one but which worked out better as two nearby smaller ones:
- a McIntosh apple tree sapling*
- a Golden Delicious apple tree sapling*
- ornamental poppies in a box near the garage. These aren’t the opium kind, in case you were wondering, but they are similar.
- variegated vinca* in the very back of the yard. I need a good part-shade ground cover there to keep the dog from digging. So far it kinda works.
- St. John’s wort* and Lewis flax near the downspout. Both should absorb a lot of the runoff that’d otherwise sink into the ground near the foundation.
- red clover, crimson clover, California poppies, and Flanders poppies in some otherwise-unused boxes on the side of the backyard and on the side of the house. This is temporary (a “cover crop”, if you will). The clover is leguminous and will add nitrogen to the soil for future plantings, and the poppies will look pretty among the clover.
- nasturtium in some wide, shallow pots along the driveway
- holly* and sweet woodruff* next to the front porch. The holly will grow into a windbreak; during the winter the north winds were intense near the door, so an extra screen nearby will help. The woodruff will choke out weeds beneath the holly while smelling AMAZING (seriously, find some and smell it).
- dianthus* and sempervivum near the back steps
As we clear out some more of that frakking ornamental rock, we’ll be planting more. I have some creeping phlox ready to go in once there’s space, and there’s been talk of replacing the grass in the front yard with something less mower-intensive (Roman chamomile, perhaps). In the meantime, though, I have to keep plucking up maple seedlings (one neighbor has a very… fertile… tree) and making sure the dog stays out of the different plots.
Working on pics now. In the meantime, I can explain plants, plant choices, et al.; just ask.
As a refresher, please see my earlier post on this topic. Also, to reduce confusion, I will use the term “zapped” to refer to the heat that comes from chiles or horseradish or other such foods, and the term “hot” to refer to food that has a high temperature.
After soaking the peas for about two and a half to three hours, I started peeling and dicing/mincing/grating the aromatics (onion, garlic, chile, ginger) at around six-ish. Since Fred’s not much for zapped food, I only used one chile, and (contrary to the recipe!) I seeded it before dicing. While I was finishing up the dicing Fred got started melting the ghee… he cooed at how quickly the ghee melted. Once the aromatics went in, I accidentally slipped into professorial voice and explained the process by which ghee is traditionally produced (culture, churn, cook, collect); Fred is used to the professorial voice and therefore (wisely) tuned it out.
Meanwhile, the hot ghee-onion-garlic-chile-ginger combo started smelling a-m-a-z-i-n-g — and then we added the garam masala and turmeric. At this point, the dish started to look and smell much more Indian, though the garam masala blend we picked up was a little clove-ier than I was expecting; the tomatoes rounded out the flavor a bit before the (drained) peas went in for their hour and a half cook time.
I’ll skip the saga of the brown rice and naan. (You’re welcome.)
In retrospect, there was a reason the original recipe didn’t say to seed the chiles, and the overall flavor suffered a bit because of my additional caution; next time I’ll either leave the seeds intact, use two seeded serranos, or try another variety of chile. Lack of zapped-ness aside, though, the overall flavor was lovely and complex, and the texture was silky-smooth; it paired beautifully with the brown jasmine rice and naan we already had on-hand, and that nice hoppy IPA finished off the meal.
I’m definitely going to do this recipe again, so that’s another New Year’s black-eyed pea dish for the future repertoire. Hooray!
Read a great suggestion from meeegan today: when a recipe calls for grated ginger, freeze said rhizome, then peel and grate it. The frozen ginger won’t stick to the back of the grater or leave a fibrous mess on the front; instead, the resulting “ginger snow” (I love that term!) falls neatly away from the grater and melts into the dish, leaving behind the ginger flavor but not altering the dish’s consistency.
Happy new year, everyone. Make it a good one.