January 14, 2015

diy toy crates

2015.01_toy crates
My homemade shelves found a new purpose! The shelves were originally built to showcase canned and fermented foods in our dining area. A year or two later we moved to a house with a smaller dining area so we stowed the shelves away in the second bedroom. Next we had a kid and the second bedroom became a kid's bedroom. Toys began to multiply so my dad helped me build wood crates to contain said toys. See? Lovely!

December 14, 2014


Glögg is a Nordic mulled wine that is optionally spiked with stronger alcohol. A friend of mine's grandparents basically do a glögg bar crawl to Swedish bars in Chicago each Christmas season. I partook once. Good times! Now when I am feeling festive for the holidays, I make glögg at home and share it with others.

750 ml bottle of red wine
250 ml inexpensive brandy
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. dried currants
1/4 c. blanched almonds
10 cardamom pods
5 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 orange zested
1 T. minced ginger

Combine red wine, brandy, sugar, currants, and almonds in a pot.  Place spices in a jelly or tea bag and submerge in the pot.  Heat on medium low for 45 minutes.  Remove spice bag and serve.

December 12, 2014

vegan nacatamal pie

2014.12_vegan nacatamal pie
A friend of ours recently left Colorado to travel the world and teach English. Her first destination will be Nicaragua. In the process of lightening her load, she left us with her crock pot. I thought it would be nice to expand my own horizons and make a Nicaraguan dish for our first crock pot meal. I honestly had no idea what Nicaraguan food was like until I looked it up. It's interesting how we seem to be satisfied with a certain number of ethnic foods (Chinese, Thai, Indian, Italian, Mexican) and ignore inspiration from other parts of the world.  Anyway, I made Nicaraguan nacatamal pie - a crock pot version of nacatamales which are fairly similar to Mexican tamales. Instead of using pork butt I made these vegetarian and added anasazi beans though small red beans would have been more authentic to Central American cuisine. Speaking of food diversity, wouldn't it be interesting to have more bean options on our grocery store shelves?

Filling Ingredients:
anasazi beans, cooked
rice, cooked
potatoes, sliced
bell peppers, sliced
tomatoes, sliced
onions, chopped
green olives, minced
achiote paste
black pepper

Topping Ingredients (adapted from The Cooking Bride):
2 c. instant Masa Harina
1 t. baking powder
¼ t. salt
2 c. veggie broth
½ c. olive oil

Mix the filling ingredients in a 6 qt. crock pot.  Mix the topping ingredients and glop it on top of the filling.  Cover and cook on low for 5 hours or until potatoes and masa dough are cooked.

December 10, 2014

paracord macrame plant holder

2014.12_paracord macrame plant holder
Just in case we ever need a survivalist stash of paracord, there is some wrapped around our hanging plant... But really, this was a fun craft project. I melded instructions from henhouse and whimseybox. I had to do and undo the project three times until I was satisfied. Luckily it was an easy process. Apparently not all paracord has the same breaking strength so pay attention to what you buy. I bought 550 pound cord which is the most common and what the survivalists go on and on about. Next I plan on making a paracord dog collar for Francois which might actually prove useful someday while backpacking.

November 12, 2014

vegetarian bigos

2014.11_vegetarian bigos
Bigos is an Eastern European stew made of cabbage and various meats.  Its alternate name is hunter's stew.  Shall we call the vegetarian version forager's stew?  Houby (mushroom) hunter's stew?

1 lb. tempeh, diced
3 medium russet potatoes
1/2 head red cabbage, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
3/4 oz. dried porcini mushrooms, rehydrated in warm water for 20 minutes
3 1/2 oz. gourmet mushroom mix
8 oz. white mushrooms, sliced
10-15 prunes, diced
2 c. sauerkraut, drained
2 c. water + 2 cubes Not-Beef bouillon
1 c. red wine
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 T. tomato paste
2 T. molasses
1 T. marjoram (or oregano)
2 t. black pepper, ground
2 t. caraway, ground
1 t. dijon mustard
1/2 t. paprika
1/8 t. nutmeg
2 cloves garlic, minced
dash of liquid smoke

Saute the tempeh until browned.  Bake or boil the potato and then dice. Saute the cabbage, onion, and carrots and set aside.  Saute the mushrooms until they begin to release liquid.  Put everything in a large pot and cook on medium for 20 minutes or more.

November 3, 2014

back porch

We finished redoing our back porch!  It was quite an eyesore and a safety hazard when we bought our house 2 years ago.  Some of the columns were pieced together 2x4's that did not run the full height of the structure and most were minimally anchored to the floor slab if at all.  We replaced all of the columns with red wood posts that our neighbor salvaged from a construction site and we securely anchored them all.  For a clean and simple outdoor space, we removed all of the screens and fencing.  There aren't many mosquitoes in Denver so a screen porch is not very useful.  I can only guess that a previous owner used the space for dogs.  To maintain our enclosed backyard, we built a new horizontal wood slat fence along the driveway side of the porch.  The ceiling and rafters all got a fresh coat of white paint.  I am very happy with how this project turned out! (thanks Mom and Dad for all of the help!)

2014.11_back porch 1 2014 after

2014.11_back porch 2 2014 after

2014.11_back porch 3 2014 after

2014.11_back porch 1 2012 before

2014.11_back porch 2 2012 before

2014.11_back porch 3 2012 before

October 9, 2014

rhubarb coffee cake

2014.10_rhubarb coffee cake
Everybody likes to talk about rhubarb when it first makes its debut in the spring. Our winter appetites long for something fresh so we accept this tart vegetable as placeholder in our pies until the real fruits ripen. Then it is forgotten until next spring. But seriously folks, you can sparingly harvest rhubarb through fall as long as you keep enough leaves on the plant so it can come back next year! Spread out the tart vegetable love and enjoy the benefits of continuous harvesting and lazy gardening!

(recipe from Smitten Kitchen)

October 8, 2014


Feeling thankful for the thicket of arugula growing along the side of our new patio!

October 5, 2014

galactagogue oatmeal milk stout

2014.10_galactagogue oatmeal milk stout
Way back on Father's Day in June, Eric brewed this oatmeal milk stout and infused it with herbs that promote lactation - fennel, anise, coriander, fenugreek. Honestly, there are hardly enough herbs in it to counteract the anti-lactation properties of the alcohol. Wah-wah sorry mamas! It makes for a good beer name though, right? Plus it's super tasty!

October 4, 2014

plum wine

A few weeks ago we picked up 30 pounds of plums from a friend with a plum tree. The plum tree was still weighed down with plums when we left. We hardly made a dent! We used a handful of plums in a plum upside down cake. We dehydrated about 10 pounds of plums into prunes. AND with 20 pounds of plums we made a 5 gallon batch of plum wine using this basic plum wine recipe. We will let you know how the plum wine tastes in about a year!