Flower Power

I’ve been neglecting the flowers in my yard lately.  The vegetable gardens have had me too busy: weeding, slug hunting, watering, etc.  The other day, I strolled around the lot with my camera taking pictures of my veggies, and all of a sudden, I remembered the flowers!

 

 These red azaleas don’t look real to me. 

 I planted pink carnations in my veggie garden because I couldn’t decide where to put them, and now I rather like them there.

The blue star shaped ground cover is everywhere on the lot and we have more rhodendruns than I’ve counted. 

 

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Angelnina’s Panini Recipe

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ABOVE: The famous “Mole Salami” made by Mario Batali’s own father at “Salumi’s”

Paninis! 

 I love my Breadman Panini Grill!  I bought mine at Target a few years ago, and I’ve never regretted it.  
I finally scored some Mole Salumi Salami last week, so I decided to invent a panini using this unbelievable salami!

Armandino Batali, better known as Mario Batalli’s father,  owns a very popular little meat and sandwich shop in Seattle.   Salumi Artisan Cured Meats  is quite famous , which means long lines and waits.  I bought my Mole Salami from Dish D’Lish because I don’t want to wait in lines downtown in the rain. 

I’ve never tasted anything like this stuff!  The mole salami is made from pork, ancho and chipotle peppers, cinnamon, cloves and Guittard cocoa!   I can’t begin to describe how great these paninis were, and the mole salami made them!

 I brushed olive oil on both sides of the bread, layered, ham, cappicola, mole salami, fresh mozzarella, basil, tomato, salt, pepper, and balsamico (the syrup like sweet balsamico!), and WOW, these were fantastic.

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I used firm Italian bread.

These are great by themselves or with some Italian soup and salad too!

 

All in the Family (Square Foot Patio Gardening)

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ABOVE: Garlic, romaine, lettuce and more to come.

Every year, while my son was growing up, he’d go through a sort of “spring fever” and want to get out and shovel up the dirt and weeds to prepare beds where I planted flowers and tomatoes on the side of our little cottage rental.  I can still remember him out there, shovel in hand, with one of his stereo speakers blasting Louie Armstrong out his bedroom window.  

He seemed to need it.  I didn’t have to ask for his help.  He would ask me if he could do it. 

Of course, as a healthy youth, he would finish, call his friends over and they would attack one another with super soakers in the backyard.  I loved to watch them create shields out of garbage can lids or umbrellas as they attacked one another.  In the end, somebody always ended up grabbing the water hose and completely soaking the person who hadn’t seen the other creep up behind, and let him have it.  I used to watch from the kitchen out the back porch screen door, smiling quietly to myself.

I suppose now that he is a man, with his own place, it was inevitable that he would desire digging in the dirt again.  He’s progressed into patio vegetable and herb gardening.  We went to the nursery last week together.  

 It has been a pleasure for me to assist him in whatever way I can but he seems to have it all under control.

I took the top photo about a week or so ago.  His garden is up now.  I’m told the beets, kale,bush beans, broccoli,and carrots have all made a showing since then.

He also has two huge pots for tomatoes, a tomatillo, and herbs.  I took the photo while he planted some cilantro.

I suppose the apple really doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

Life is a Beach. Kinda Sorta

 

 I like to go to Brackett’s Landing on Puget Sound and watch the water.   Friday, we headed over to the water to take a break.  We usually call a trip to the beach a “break”.  It doesn’t seem to matter what kind of mood I’m in when I arrive, it always feels like a spiritual sigh of relief as we turn off the engine and stare out over the water.

 The sounds are familiar here.  This particular day was cool and cloudy. 

 I hear the little waves lapping on the shore.  All at once I hear the ferry horn blow and I jump in my seat.  I have many memories here. Some of the memories are secrets that only Mark and I know of.  I am connected to this beach, and this beach is connected to me.

Chickens and Chicken Coops (Chick Stuff)

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The “chicks” are in their awkward stage now.   They are 6 weeks old.  
Mark and I decided to let them play out in the grass for a while this past weekend.  They need to get aquainted with their environment.  This is the first time they’ve touched the grass.  They peeped and squeaked for a bit before they settled down and realized they were going to be okay.  

The chicks love Mark.   I suppose he is like their mother now because he feeds them and checks on them up to three or four times a day.  

The coop foundation is set, and now we’re starting to build.   They’re going to love having more fresh air and room to raom.

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Sean Junior enjoys perching.  I’m told by several online chicken sources that he is definitely a rooster.  Seeing he is the smallest and the most hen pecked, I’m still wondering if there is a possibility he is a she.  I’m hoping.  Does it look like a rooster to you?

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The Rhode Island Red, Lucille, seems to be their leader.  I hope Lucille isn’t a Louie.  I’ll be so disappointed.

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I think we should have a chicken coop raising party!  Sounds like a good excuse to cook something fun.  I don’t think fried chicken would be politically correct, so I’m thinking a slow roasted Cuban pork shoulder!

Pink Slippers and Chicken Coops

We’re in the construction business, which means every now and then there is a lull, which means Mark has down time and is home with me.  It’s lovely for the first day or two and then something shifts.   I call it “Vagina versus Penis” time.

I’m sure Eckhart Tolle would say it’s simply our egos–our false selves– and pain bodies, but I have to admit, I often wonder if a penis and vagina actually take on lives of their own.

It started innocently enough.  Mark decided he would go out and start building the foundation for the chicken coop while I showered.  I love how skilled Mark is in his line of work and I appreciate how physically strong the man is too.  I know he knows more than I do about construction, and I know he knows I know more than he does about cooking and baking.  I also know neither one of us knows much about building a chicken coop.

As I exited my shower, dried my hair, applied some makeup and sunscreen, something hit me!  I remembered during my research of chicken coop building  that many people had set their foundation with cinder blocks.   Realizing Mark hadn’t picked up concrete blocks I raced out to tell him we needed to stop and run to the shop for concrete blocks.   As I started to exit the back door I stopped myself and remembered how Mark had reacted when I made a suggestion about the raised garden bed–let’s just say it was a four hour event.  You see, I know Mark doesn’t “appreciate” my input in construction projects and I knew I had to tread carefully on this one.  I walked out with a big smile and complimented the work he had done so far.  It really was quite impressive…I guess.

Me:  Hey Mark, you know, I just remembered that many of the material lists I’ve read online include placing the foundation on blocks.

Mark: Well, I’m using treated wood, so I don’t need the  blocks.

Me:  Oh, well, why do you suppose the lists I read call for the blocks?

Mark: I don’t know, but we don’t need them.

Me:  Oh well, I am just wondering, why do you suppose they use them?

Mark:  Because they’re farmers and probably have them lying around.

Me:  Hmmm.  I wonder if it has something to do with lifting it off the ground so water damage from rain can’t leak in?

Mark:  Water won’t leak in this coop.

Me: (starting to get a little tired of this now) Oh, really?   How do you know that?

Mark:  It just won’t.

Me: (starting to lose it)  What about rats?  You don’t even know why they use the blocks and I’m thinking there might be a good reason for it and you won’t even research it.

Mark: (Starting to lose it now) What do you want me to do , Anita?  How do you want the coop built?

Me: (pretty pissed off) I want it with cinder blocks on the bottom.  At least I would like to find out if we need them or don’t need them.

Mark:  Fine, we need to stop everything and go buy cinder blocks.

Me:  (completely in ego now)  Why stop everything?  Just go on and build it the way you want to and ignore me and the 200 other chicken farmers I’ve read about who DO use cinder blocks because you know everything and I don’t have a penis, so I’m a complete idiot!

At this point, I stomp off in my pink slippers and go back inside the house to stew.

When I’m trying to center myself I do things like cook or bake.  I immediately threw a chicken in the oven to roast and started a quick soak on a pot of pinto beans.  When I was centered again, I went back outside to tell Mark that I have no idea  why people use the cinder blocks and that I’ll just let him decide what to do with the coop himself.  He said he had thought about it and decided it was a good idea for a few reasons and that he would go get the blocks.

We hugged, and I turned to go check my beans, but as I turned, I noticed the markers I set posting 30 feet from property lines (legally our coop has to be 30 feet from all property lines) had been moved.   I asked Mark if the coop was actually 30 feet from the fence?

Mark: Yeah, it’s about 30 feet.

Me:  About 30 feet?  Is it 30 feet or not?

Mark:  I don’t know, I don’t really think the neighbors will care.

Me:  I think the law cares, and you don’t know if the neighbors will care.

Mark:  It’s 30 feet.

Me:  Let’s measure it.

Mark angrily and grabs a tape measure and starts to measure the distance while stomping his feet, kicking lumber,  and snapping his tape measure like a mad man,  and the whole scene escalates again.

Me:  See? It’s not 30 feet!

Mark:  The neighbor won’t care.

Me:  Mark, they can make us tear down the coop and get rid of the chickens if it isn’t 30 feet.

Mark:  Nobody will know, and I don’t give a shit what the neighbors do.

Me:  (completely beyond ego with full blown pain body rising up like a demon and changing my voice to that of the girl from the Exorcist)  You are such a damned know-it-all!  I’ve had it!  Just because I don’t have a penis doesn’t make me an idiot!   I don’t want the chickens anymore–this is too much stress.  I have to spend more time kid gloving your ego than it would take to build the fucking coop by myself!

Mark:  God, you don’t have to freak out.

Me:  I quit!  I give up!  Do whatever you want.  I hate the chickens!

I went back into the house, placed the beans in the crock pot.  Centered myself again, and after about 30 minutes went out to invite Mark in for some lunch.

I passed him the platter.

Me:  Would you like some more?

Mark: Yes, thank you.  Oh, I went ahead and measured the 30 feet from both sides and I staked them.  Sorry I was being such a jerk.  You’re right, we don’t need to go through all this work again or draw trouble from the neighbors.  At least this way it’s all legal.

Me:  Would you like a cookie?

Mark:  Yes, thank you.   Uhm, do you still hate the chickens?

Me:  No, I love the chickens.

Mark: Do you hate me?

Me: Just a little bit.

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UPDATED! Pinto Beans and Ham Hocks (Crockpot Cooking) and Cornbread

UPDATE: It has been brought to my attention that some people aren’t quite sure how to do pinto beans in a crockpot, so I’m updating the post with an actual recipe:

I love great comfort food and nothing brings back comfort food memories from my childhood faster than a pot of pinto beans with pork.  Mom usually used bacon, but I like to throw in a ham hock.   It’s so simple, and you can leave the house all day (or work in the gardens) and come home to a nice crock pot of beans and ham! 

Of course, I can’t have the frijoles and ham without the cornbread and corn chips–preferably Fritos!

I soak my beans overnight in a bowl of water, then rinse, throw them in the crock pot and cover with lots of water (or broth), ham hock or two, some chiles, onion and pepper.  Simply turn on the crock to high and off I go.  When I return, I bake a round of cornbread and get to ettin’!

 

Crockpot Pinto Beans and Ham Hock

1 lb bag pinto beans, sorted and rinsed

Use quick soak method to prepare beans.  Place cleaned and sorted beans in a dutch oven, cover them with 6-8 cups HOT water (I use my tea kettle), boil the beans for 2 minutes,place the lid to the dutch oven on the pot, remove from heat and let sit covered for 1 hour.

After one hour, drain and rinse the beans in a colander.

Throw your drained and rinsed beans into the crockpot and cover them with fresh water.  Approx. 3 quarts.  I simply cover them about 2 inches over the bean level.

Add 2 smashed garlic cloves to the beans and water

Add 1/2 to 1 tsp dried crushed red peppers (less OR eliminate, if you don’t like spicy)

Add one small ham hock (it’s for flavor not meat for me)

About a teaspoon of Kosher salt.  Check at 6 hours and see if they need more salt–mine always do.

Place lid on crock pot and cook on high for about 6-8 hours.  Do not open the lid to check or stir for at least 3 hours and if you do, cover them back up quickly.  If you need more water, add it.  The beans should have a soup consistency.

In 6 hours, test beans and if they are cooked, you are done.  Still hard?  Add some time.

 For the cornbread, use your favorite recipe or try one of these:

Cornbread Recipes