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Monday, February 25, 2013

Quilty Pleasures: Quiltcon 2013

I just had a fun weekend in Austin, Texas at Quiltcon, sponsored by The Modern Quilt Guild.

The quilts on display were elegant, funny, thought-provoking and full of ingenuity and my class with Jacquie Gering was great because I learned a new technique I can bring home to share with others.

Today, though, I just wanted to share one quilt with you, the Best in Show quilt which I really need to wrap my head around a bit because the artist, Victoria Findlay Wolfe, did something really weird and interesting while making it.

In her blog post, she says she made an entire quilt top and then cut it up to make the pieces she needed.

I will show you some closeups of the quilting in this quilt in another post. The quilting is intricate, varied, and really drop dead amazing. The quilter was Lisa Sipes and I need to learn more about her.

Bye for now!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Snow, Cold, and the Growing Dome Report for February

This morning when we woke up it was 11 degrees F, and there was some new snow here (just a little) and more in the higher mountains.

We're talking maybe a half inch or so, which is good, but we need more snow! New Mexico needs moisture!

There's just enough snow to see bunny rabbit tracks. 

And getting all artsy fartsy taking a photo of a teeny pine cone in the yard.

Inside the Growing Dome, though, it's warm in the sun. Tom put an Adirondack chair in there for leisurely reading and basking.

These snap peas are loving winter inside the dome.

Let us remember "lettuce," my dad used to say. I give the plants a trim and they grow more leaves in a few weeks.

There's a problem with aphids, so I plucked out and threw away a kale plant teeming with the little fellers. More plants are being aphidized, so I will have to mix up a little soap bath. Let's hope after their bath they will give it up.

Recovering from the stomach crud. Lost a couple pounds, so that's good.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Skibiking: Something New to Try

When we moved to this place in Northern New Mexico, being close to ski areas really didn't make one bit of a difference to us because we are not skiers. Skiing just wasn't something either of us could do without worrying that another knee or foot surgery lurked in the shadows, waiting to strike yet again.

But this writer is the little girl who regularly escaped from her nap time through the bedroom window as a toddler, her mom answering a ringing telephone to, "She's here again." "There" was the gas station down the block on the corner, where I was fascinated by the goings on there. They had to nail my bedroom window so it would only open a little bit. Nap time was the only rest my mom had.

This is the 3 year old girl whose daddy found her on the roof. Dad: "What are you doing up there?" Bridget: "Inspecting bird shit." Dad said, "Jump!" as he raised his arms to catch me. And jump I did.

I was a parents' nightmare, ready for an adventure wherever I could find one, and if there wasn't excitement right there, well, I could always make my own.

Just ask my elementary teachers.

But those are stories for another time. This is what I did yesterday, but I had no photographer to document "my first time," so here's Paul, instead.

Actually, The Beatles made me do it: in their movie Help, there was a scene where the boys were ski bobbing, another name for riding down a mountain on a bike outfitted with skis. That kind of stuck with me.

Last year I started searching to see if this sport was still around. Europe, for sure, would have it, because Switzerland is where they filmed the skibobbing scene.

So I found Sipapu Ski Resort, just over the mountains from our place, and they offered ski-bike rentals and lessons. I couldn't take the lessons last year because I hurt my hand, but I was determined to give it a try this season.

So yesterday I went on my own (Tom: "I'm not crazy!"), rented a bike and had my first lesson.

After a few practice runs on the never-ever-skied before students' slope, teacher Mike and I hopped on the ski lift, carrying our bikes on our laps, up the mountain. I was terrified because the bike had a leash attached to my foot and Mike warned me that if I let go of the bike, I should immediately raise my arms, lean backward and hold onto the back of the ski lift chair with both arms so the bike's weight wouldn't pull me off the lift. But the ride was peaceful and I exited the lift, bike sliding in the snow and me running alongside, with no crashes. I love this small ski area, Sipapu, because the lift operator at the end could see I was a learner and his hand was ready to stop the lift if anything happened.

Throughout our run down the mountain, Mike gave me pointers, showed me ways to turn, stop and slow down the bike's progress using the skis, my feet and digging in my heels. I had some spills, but unlike Paul's bike, pictured above, my bike was kind of a lowrider, so I didn't have far to fall. We slowly made it down the run and he asked me if I wanted to go up again.  I'd learned enough for one day and felt faint and hungry, so I had some more water from the communal Igloo water cooler and a bratwurst from the snack bar and drove home.

Little did I know that the faintyhungry feeling was the beginning of a stomach virus and all that entails. Around 8 pm I knew what was coming, so a meticulous cleaning of the toilet was in order.  I prayed to the porcelein god for most of the night.

So 24 hours later I am weak but have graduated to drinking herbal teas and maybe eating a banana. Coupled with the burning thigh muscles from my ski-biking lesson, I am a hot mess. And now so is Tom, but he was smart and hasn't eaten anything today.

 I will definitely go ski-biking again. But I will bring my own water and some hand sanitizer just to be on the safe side.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Mid-Winter Hope

"Hope" is the thing with feathers

by Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Trader Joe's Brussels Sprouts, Back Again

I did this post a little over a year ago, but Pattilou asked for a brussel's sprouts recipe, so here it is again.

If you don't have brussels sprouts on the stem, that's okay, just combine your maple syrup and olive oil in a medium bowl. Then toss the brussels sprouts in there, too, and move them around until they are nicely coated. Put them on your oiled or parchmented cookie sheet and bake as instructed.

Here is is the post:

A few weeks ago I was having an adventurous time at Trader Joe's. It was the Friday before the New Years' weekend and the place was packed! We were like Trader Joe's sardines, but sardines that talked:  "Excuse me, pardon me, whoops, should have signaled! Sorry, did I just run over your foot? I mean, your fin?"

A sidebar: The Santa Fe Trader Joe's has a significant number of shoppers wearing black clothing and black berets. It must be the artsy influence.

Okay, back to the story. In the produce area a large crowd was gathered around a table, exclaiming, "I've never seen that before! So that's how they look!" They were talking about Brussels sprouts still on their stalks, like natural, man.

I bought a stalk for nostalgic purposes because once I had grown Brussels sprouts and I now had some just beginning to poke up through the dirt back home in the Growing Dome.

When I got home I planned to cut them off the stalk and roast them like I usually do, tossing them in olive oil, salt and pepper, and leaving them in the oven at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. They are lovely like that.

But  I saw something dangling from the end of the stalk and it was a recipe from Trader Joe. So I decided to give it a try.

First I rinsed the stalk of sprouts, wrapped the wet stalks in plastic wrap and microwaved them for about 3 minutes. I think that's to par cook them before roasting. Below is a photo of how I wrapped the stalk to preserve the heat and moisture from washing them.

Please excuse the old Silpat mat. I need to buy a new one.

In a small bowl I mixed 1/2 cup maple syrup (I used the real stuff) with 1/4 cup olive oil. I unwrapped the sprouts, discarded the plastic wrap and brushed the maple syrup/olive oil mixture over them. I sprinkled them with salt and pepper to taste. 

I baked them at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. They came out nicely roasted, with some of the outer leaves crispy, which I like, with a slightly sweet taste. 

Here's how they looked out of the oven: Look at how the syrup has caramelized a bit.

You can serve them like this and your diners can hack off what they want from the stalk, Henry the 8th style, or you can do the honors and serve in a dish.

I love roasting Brussels sprouts. They have a nutty, slightly sweet taste that is not at all like your Irish mother's sprouts which were boiled within an inch of their lives.