Friday, August 01, 2014

Summer Garden Photos

It has been an odd gardening year at the Tiny Bungalow. I haven't had much time to devote to keeping things up but luckily, the weather has cooperated and things have been both cool and wet. That has kept the flowers in nice shape for most of the season. I am hoping I can do some more work on expanding the front beds and also clean up and expand the plantings in the back. I guess time will tell. Until then, I am just going to enjoy the blooms.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

This Year's Garden

After a long and hard winter, the fist of the spring blooms are starting to show their colors. The winter took its toll on the foxgloves. Many are dead or stunted. Hopefully they will eventually bounce back. Two pleasant surprises are the lupines and the wisteria. Both look and smell great. 

I planted the lupines two years ago and though I got part of a flower last year, this is the first year I've gotten multiple blooms. They really look great. I am very happy with the wisteria I planted last year too. I chose an amethyst falls variety and it weathered the winter well and has more than tripled in size.  

I have much work to do to get the yard in order. Not winterizing last year does not help at all. Hopefully there will be more to come as the summer approaches.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Makin' Gnocchi

When you are going to take on a dinner party for more than four and you promise home-made gnocchi, it is good to have a lot of hands on deck. Gnocchi is relatively easy to make but the process is a little long.

I begin by baking potatoes. Roughly a half of a large russet potato per person should work. I did six large ones. You then rice them and then sift in, lightly tossing after each cup, three cups of unbleached all purpose flour. After it is tossed, it should start to come together to form a dough.

The dough then gets formed into a small ball and then rolled out, like a snake, about 1/2" in diameter (even thinner, if you like). The snake is then cut into 3/4" sections and then rolled down the gnocchi board to give it grooves. You can also do this with a fork.  

We had a full assembly line going and lots of hands on the groove-making. I think that everyone enjoyed it, for the first half-hour, at least.

Because we had so many hands at work on them, the result looked like a collection of sea shells. It was very cool.

After my minions relieved themselves of their duties, I made another batch of ricotta gnocchi on my own. For this batch, I used 1 1/2 cups of ricotta, four egg yolks and just over a cup of flour. I also put a dash of nutmeg in them. These came out a little more uniform in shape and size.

Gnocchi get boiled until they float to the top of the water and then sauteed in the sauce of your choice. I made three sauces tonight. One was a pesto cream, another was a pink sauce made with cream added to a red sauce base with pork and fennel. For the ricotta gnocchi, I made an Alfredo with a little nutmeg.

The gnocchi were very tasty. I liked the ricotta the best but the favorite for everyone else was the potato gnocchi in the pink sauce.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Mural Progress - Second Week of Painting

Only the second week into it and I am wondering what I've gotten myself into. I like how things are coming but am starting to realize how long it is going to take to fully realize this project. I guess it gives me something to post about; which is more than I could say for the past six months.  
The setup and paint mixing is the most daunting part for me. I am color-blind so I have to be careful and I have my daughter help me match colors from week to week. It also means I need to be more rigorous with cleaning and switching out brushes so that the paints don't start to meld together.
I finished the first coat on the east wall and have started to add a little more detail. I don't want to get to far along before starting the other waslls because I don't want the walls to look too different from one another.
My portable scaffolding is coming in handy again but I think I may need to do something about the lighting and figure out a better way to hold the photos I am painting from. It is a little aggravating at the moment.
All in all, I am happy with the progress and wish I could do more than just paint on the weekends but the set up and clean up take so long that it precludes me from painting during the week. I guess I'll just have to be patient.