The Good, the Bad, the Chocolate

Since I’m using you all as a lifesaving device during this tight spot, I carry you with me throughout my day. It’s true. Sad, perhaps. Modern, for certain. The little virtual angels on my shoulder, encouraging me to take heart, go forth and do good things. Or lock myself in the bathroom and ball my eyes out, depending on the situation.

I kept my camera at hand yesterday, and thought I’d share with you some high points and low.

We had breakfast with a friend (thank you!) and then rode over to the community garden to water. It’s officially summer here. Hot. Time to water every other day. And the harvests are rolling in. More chard. Even with the trickiest muffin recipe ever, I still didn’t manage to use up all the stalks from the last bunch. Into the compost. Enter the new beauties.

The carrots are sizing up, just in the nick of time. I do so adore garden carrots– for taste, and even just for looking at. Gorgeous.

My garlic on the other hand is meeting the same sad fate my onions met last month. I don’t understand this. I planted both last fall, they grew fantastically all winter, thick as leeks some of them. I was counting my chickens, certain I would be getting huge bulbs. Then the onions started to die off. Sweet! I thought at first, the bulbs must be about ready. But no, nothing down there. I kept waiting, thinking maybe this was a normal part of the process. My local garden guru doesn’t do onions, so had no advice for me.

Soon they just flat out were rotting. I pulled what was left, peeled off the rotten layers and got some decent green onions at least. When the formerly verdant green garlic started to lose it’s luster, I didn’t wait so long. I gave them a little time, with a kernal of hope. Then I started pulling them. Same deal, dying and starting to rot from the outside in, but no bulbs.

Boo hoo! I am crushed! This time, I’m eatin’ those suckers before the rot really sets in.

Last week we were gone, so I didn’t get a chance to harvest salad greens, and of course this week it was just out of control.

Am I the only one who can’t get the salad greens thing figured out? It’s always feast or famine. Especially the lettuces. This mix has precious little lettuce in it, and hey, I like me some spice, but pure chicory and arugula makes for a burly salad. Especially when you’ve let the leaves get so big.

Here’s my tactic for large quantities of greens. Wash, drain, dump into a pillow case. Drain more into the tub, then go out in the yard and wing that MF like a helicopter. Then just store in the fridge as is. This lets some of that extra moisture wick out into the fridge’s dry air. When the pillow case starts to feel dry, in a day or two, put the lot into a garbage bag. Don’t forget that part, it won’t last long in the cloth before it starts to dry out too much.

I had to clean out my fridge to accommodate the new batch of garden lovelies. Time to get cookin! I made stir fried rice with carrots, garlic greens and chard stems for dinner. (That’s some beet and cabbage sauerkraut on the left there from last month’s big cabbage harvest. Gotta love that color, right?)

Of course, my day wasn’t all playing with vegetables. In fact, the 1YO who fell perfectly asleep in the bike trailer on the way home from the garden, didn’t transfer. He woke up when I tried to put him in his crib, and once he’s gotten more that 2 minutes of sleep he thinks he’s done napping.

It was a rough afternoon.

There were some sweetnesses–

Some mama guilt (yes, that’s an iPad, and yes, I’m embarrassed)–

And plenty of messes, on every available surface–

Including (no picture here, you lucky devils) the 3YO peeing in a box of unpacked clothes, and subsequent cussing by yours truly. I tried to at least keep the F word out of it.

Fortunately, I made up a batch of mama treats last week. It’s good to have a few tricks up your sleeve. This easier-than-pie recipe stretches that expensive fair trade chocolate nicely. And doesn’t require a hot oven.

Gotta keep these in the fridge in this climate. I prefer a camo container, such as this Nancy’s yogurt tub. Keep your secret secret.

Chocolate: Cures What Ails Ya

As you know, I have been mourning the loss of my oven. Or rather, the loss of my ability to turn it on, what with the 24/7 too fucking hot.

I’ve been dreaming up these chocolate-tooth cures for awhile, and finally got down to business. It’s not like it was hard. Little could be easier, once you’ve secured your fair-trade chocolate and organic nuts.

This “recipe” is much, much easier than pie which really, who are we kidding, is not that easy.  It involves 1. melting chocolate and 2. pouring it over nuts. Can ya dig it? Waiting until cool and cutting into candy sized chunks is optional. As you will see.

Of course this only works for people who love chocolate cut with large quantities of nuts. Like me. If you too search every chocolate box for the chocolate covered nut clusters, this “recipe” is for you.

Some more ascetic, less culinarily obsessed people might point out that you could just sit down with a bag of chocolate chips in one hand, and nuts in the other. And I would answer, who are you? Go away.

see how they're wet on top. that's cuz i cooled them in the fridge, then left them out at room temp. no-no. cool and keep at the same temp.

Chocolate Nut Snake Oil*

[Anyone not familiar with the American tradition of snake oil? It’s the infamous, bunk folk “remedy” pedaled for any and every complaint, by the predecessors to Merck. As far as placebos go, these chocolates taste good and cost a lot less.]

  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts, almonds, pecans or whatever’s in yer cupboard

My silicone bread pan worked perfect for this. Short of that, line a bread pan or small baking dish with aluminum foil or plastic wrap, depending whether you prefer cancer or Alzheimers.

Melt chocolate chips and butter in the microwave, or a double boiler. Whisk in cocoa till satiny. Stir nuts into chocolate, then pour into mold. Cool (and store) at room temperature if you live in a reasonable climate. Or the fridge if not.

That is, if you can hold yourself back from eating the whole lot of warm chocolate swimming with nuts first.