...if you have a backyard and a kitchen, this blog might be for you!

a chronicle of tips and recipes on everything from gardening to canning and baking your produce, even if you're planted in suburbia...in fact, especially if you are planted in suburbia.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Kicking It Up a Notch

As I begin anew with this blog, I find myself wanting to approach it with some sort of underlying theme, beyond what it took for a theme before now, that is.
 Part of why I look for a new theme--in fact, part of why I took that "fallow year" at all--is that I'd run out of new ideas to share.
In a garden, the first season is always exciting.
On the canning shelf, the look is more decorative than functional that first season.  But give the venture a few years of production, and that same storage area is three jars deep, two jars high and spread over multiple shelves.  Back jars rotate to the front or years could pass before a jar's seal gets popped!

In the garden blog's early days, my youngest son was small enough to enjoy playing "walk the plank" around the garden.  Now, he's almost taller than me and much too suave for those games! But, while some things change--the size of this particular garden has doubled between its first season and now--some things nonetheless stay redundantly the same.  How many times should I describe my escapades making salsa?

 It is simply the nature of gardening, that it should be repetitive.  Late winter with its little seed pots of starter mix on a chilly windowsill. Spring and the smell of soil again; the first plantings going into the ground, the extra protection against hungry rodents.  Early summer, with fresh salads, each day offering yet another "salad ingredient" to come through the back door, and the braiding of onions and garlic, the broccoli and cabbage offering their yield.  Deep summer with hours spent at the canner and the tang of vinegar and the steam and the bowls of scraps on their way to the compost bin. And then autumn, with the planting of the last round of cool things--spinach and radishes and snow peas; a few more salads, the apples and the pumpkins an the winter squash, the spices and the chilly morning waterings.
For me, the return of each season is like the first reaching for the old favorite t-shirt in the spring or first slipping into that favorite sweat shirt come autumn. For anyone who might come alongside me in the blogosphere, however, the redundancy is probably less nostalgic. "Too repetitive" would be a kinder review.
So I let it rest.

Now, as I consider sharing this side of my life again, I find an idea sprouting--if you'll pardon the pun.  I realize that much of this blog's previous focus has been on basic creating--in preserving, in herb-work and such.  Maybe it is time to start another chapter. Maybe it is time to look at the consuming side of things for a while.  Maybe it is time to "advance" a bit. Work with more challenging techniques; even layer the creative aspects, using something already "made" to make something more. And maybe it's time to look at the things that simply don't work like they should and reveal the results.  Highly fruitful adaptation often springs from an initial failure.

For instance, almost exactly two years ago, I spent a day making herb vinegars.
 I know because I blogged about it: 

Earlier this summer, I made herb oils instead of vinegars, using lavender and rosemary.  Now those oils sit in little jars, waiting to go into the bath tub or to be dribbled over a dish of fresh potpourri. But in the spirit of the "new theme" I'm going to take some of that oil and make something more of it. I am going to try the scented oil candles I found here:

 Here you see the results.  All is well, as long as only look at this one captured moment in time.
 I got all my supplies together--including baking soda in case things didn't go so well--and tried to duplicate the instructions in her post.  But while the rosemary cinnamon oil put off a great aroma, I had some trouble getting the wick to stay wrapped on the paper clip.  No.  I had a LOT of trouble getting the wick to stay wrapped on the paper clip. What's more, the paper clip didn't quite fit, either falling into the jar or snapping with a ping off it. When I finally did get the wick burning, I still had trouble, for I couldn't figuring out how to raise the wick without knocking it all into the oil again, which gave me shuddering visions of the start of a wonderful smelling flash fire. 
Yes, maybe a focus on the results of failed attempts at novel ideas wasn't such a bad theme to address, too.

So the rosemary cinnamon oil went back into a storage jar until some other soaking-bath night, and I'll start over again with this blog post.
Let's pretend I just started to make this zucchini basil quiche with the plan to discuss consuming without waste.  Rarely does a zucchini grow to the "exact" size you need when shredding it for a recipe like zucchini cake or zucchini bread. I had a half cup of leftover shredded zucchini when I made my last round of zucchini bread.  And, I have basil galore right now.  So rather than making a classic spinach quiche, I adapted a standard quiche recipe to include this shredded zucchini.

At least I have past experience to assure me: this makes for a yummy quiche to consume! I'd say one failed attempt at something new per day will probably suffice...

Happy trial and error!

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