Early Start

Today I'm writing early because I have to be on my way fairly soon. Remember that ill-fated (literally) trip we took out to Hood River for the quilt show a few weeks ago? And then, the very next day we both got sick? We were sick for about five days, so it was no small matter. And it totally killed my walking mojo until just recently. Hmph.

Well, on the ride home that day, a car ahead of us threw a rock that hit our windshield. We didn't see anything at the time, but the next time I drove the car, I noticed a crack in the windshield. It started small but grew fairly quickly. Oy. I'm not sorry we went out to Hood River that day, but we certainly paid a steep price for a short outing.

Yeah, that's not my car, but there must be pictures, right? So all of that to say that I'm getting my windshield replaced today, and then I'm going grocery shopping.

Yesterday was a CSA pick-up day, and our share had my TWO FAVORITE VEGETABLES. Actually, I'm just kidding. They're my two most challenging vegetables. Last year, I went on quite a diatribe about these two, kohrabi and fava beans, even insulting a certain breed of dog along the way. Well. When I saw the favas yesterday, I heaved a sigh of resignation. Along with the favas was a sign that said they are best enjoyed grilled. And as I drove home looking through my cracked windshield I was thinking there's more than one way to skin a cat, er, fava bean (never a cat). Right then and there, I decided to pull out the old grill pan and make short work of them. At least then they won't be sitting around mocking me all week.

So, I Googled "grilled fava beans" and, as it turns out, it's pretty darned easy. I just threw those puppies into a bowl with a few glugs of extra-virgin olive oil, sprinkled them with salt and pepper, and then tossed them onto the grill pan for five minutes per side. One recipe suggested covering the grill pan with a baking sheet to help keep the heat in, and that was a good solution. (I've always used tin foil, but using the baking sheet made it less likely that I would burn my fingers in the process.) So ten minutes later, voila!

They were so tasty...like eating a perfectly healthy French fry. I de-stringed them like a green bean before cooking them, but it quickly became apparent that both "seams" need de-stringing. It isn't easy to do, but when you bite into one, you'll be able to get hold of the string and pull it off. And then...mmm, mmm, mmm. I'll never disparage fava beans again.

Now about that kohrabi....I have plans for you, ugliest vegetable on the planet. 

 The lavender is in full bloom now, and that means it's time to start drinking our favorite summer cocktail, the Bee's Knees. You can find the recipe right here.

As I was looking for the recipe, I found an interesting historical reference about the origin of the drink during the prohibition era. Here's a quote from the larger story by Tori Avery.

"This concoction was born during the years of Prohibition, when most liquor was low-quality bathtub gin that needed plenty of masking with other flavors. The cocktail is called “The Bee’s Knees,” a cute name and a popular phrase during the 1920s. To call something the “bee’s knees” is to say that it’s top notch and grand. The etymology of the phrase is unclear; it may be in reference to bees carrying pollen near the middle of their legs, or it could just be an idiom for “business,” since calling something “the business” was a similar compliment during that time period. Either way, the name represents this cocktail well, since it relies on the sweet flavor of honey to overpower the gin."

If you're interested in reading more about prohibition and the cocktail, you can check out Tori Avery's blog post right here.

The first step in making a Bee's Knees cocktail is to make a lavender tea from dried lavender blossoms. You take a teaspoon of lavender blossoms and pour a quarter cup of boiling water over it, let it steep for five minutes, then strain out the lavender blossoms and add a quarter cup of honey to make a simple lavender syrup. Lavender blossoms are widely available, and I purchased a tin at the Portland Farmer's market a few years back. After several summers, my supply is beginning to run low.

Enter the beautiful blooming lavender in the herb garden. Feast your eyes and your nose, because lavender is practically my favorite scent on God's green earth.

So yesterday, I hacked off a couple of handfuls of lavender, tied the stems with a string, put them in a paper bag, and then hung them in my pantry, right there with the Smucker's jam. In a couple of weeks, a fresh supply of dried lavender blossoms should be ready. Although I've talked about doing this many times, this is my first time actually trying it. I'll let you know how it goes.

Also yesterday, I followed through with my threat to trace out the last of the nine Gingerbread Square blocks. This one is called "Main Street Shops".

Smitty thought he would die of boredom. He wanted to go outside so badly. I'm kind of sorry to be finishing this one up, although it's going to be fun to sew it all together. This will tag along when we go to the beach this weekend.

In the mailbox yesterday was the fabric for the Wine Country quilt just started. I'm not sure exactly how to set the blocks, but with fabric in hand my imagination can run wild.

As I was looking at this, I noticed there are words. The phrases were disjointed and made no sense, but you can see that the word "quilts" is there. Kind of interesting. I think this is some passage relating to picnicking with blankets and quilts on the ground.

Also, I won 48 blocks in last month's Block Lotto. I've been participating in the Block Lotto since March of 2012. I don't make a block every month, but certainly most months. It's a fun little "gamble" to see if you'll win, but I always make just one block. It's a way to practice making something new and a way to use scraps, but one has always been my limit. Not surprisingly, this is only just the first time I've won. So, the blocks have started arriving, and there were ten in my mailbox yesterday.

I already have a plan in mind for these that will require some strategizing. I'll let you in on my plans once I have them nailed down.

Progress continues slowly on the catio. It's been a process figuring out the architectural challenges and getting the supplies pulled together, but I think we're off and running now. Yesterday, Construction Man attached the support beams to the side of the house. The vertical beams needed to stand out from the house just a little more than the plans specified in order to clear the door and window frames. He put a 1 x 2 below the main beam and screwed them to the side of the house with a four-inch screw.

There is still one more problem to solve. Let's see if I can explain it. On the left side of that image, there is a downspout from the gutter along the edge of the roof. The downspot is located where the horizontal roof beam needs to go. Mike thinks he can just reshape the downspout to clear the catio roof, but it might mean remaking that gutter and moving the downspot to the left a little bit. We'll see. In any case, it's good to have a handyman around.

So that's about all the prattle I have for you today. In a bit I'll be heading out for the day. Smitty is going to be bored with nobody to take him outside.

12 comments from clever and witty friends:

Chris said...

Love your prattle, Barbara. Congratulations on the block win. My Brad has been a builder since '68 so I'm watching your catio build with interest. Wondered if that gutter would come into play....lol. Curious wants to know how old your lavender patch is. Mine is in my herb garden which consists of troughs cause the back gets cranky from continual bending these days. It might just be worth crawling around to get a good stand of lavender.

Chris said...

Love your prattle, Barbara. Congratulations on the block win. My Brad has been a builder since '68 so I'm watching your catio build with interest. Wondered if that gutter would come into play....lol. Curious wants to know how old your lavender patch is. Mine is in my herb garden which consists of troughs cause the back gets cranky from continual bending these days. It might just be worth crawling around to get a good stand of lavender.

Vroomans' Quilts said...

I love your rambles - whether in verbage or walkage or photo'age - No cracked windshield but my car had to go back as lights and bells ringing again. They think they have narrowed it down to a rear brake sensor that is shorting (confirmed the brakes are good). So that is another trip back once the part is in.

Lisa Marie said...

Your kohlrabi rant (and picture!) cracked me up! My dad used to grow them when I was a kid. My mom would peel off that outer rind (?) and slice what was left. We would eat them raw, like you would eat raw sliced cucumbers. I loved them, so crunchy! Haven't had kohlrabi in years. You might have a future as a vegetable artist.

Quilting Babcia said...

Ah, yes, the joys of driving in Oregon! Can't tell you how many times we replaced the windshield on the pickup. Tell Smitty to be patoent, his very own catio is about to become his favorite domain. I'm looking forward to seeing how your vineyard quiltroject progresses.

quiltzyx said...

Love the veggie art! I could be talked into eating grilled Fava beans I think.
Your lavender looks beautiful. And now you'll have fresh dried lavender for your Bee's Knees!

Dana Gaffney said...

Ah lavender, it's only available for a short time here and I missed it, lovely to see yours. The catio has taken on a life of it's own and it started out looking like it would be a weekend project. LOL.

Auntiepatch said...

Poor Smitty...it's hard to be a cat!

Lyndsey said...

Oh please keep prattling on as it's such fun and I learn interesting facts along the way. DIY jobs always take longer than anticipated but the catio will be well worth the effort when complete and should make Mr Smitty happy.

Tami C said...

Good luck with the Catio!!

Kate said...

Looking forward to seeing how you deal with your block lotto winnings. Poor Smitty, I'm sure he will appreciate all of Mike's efforts.

Lillian Jenkins said...

Have to say I share your pain of your damaged windshield. It has happened to us a few times and we were always told the sooner you have it looked at and sorted the better. Because even if it looks like a relatively small crack, it can build over time. After the first time it happened to our car I never knew the importance of keeping it clean either. That was a lesson learned the hard way.