11–20 of 21 entries from the month of: September 2012

Treat Yo Self!

September 17th

Have you seen this episode of Parks and Rec?

Treat Yo Self

I was out shopping with my mom this weekend — who told me, “the key to sticking to a budget or a diet is learning to tell yourself NO!” —  and when she’d pick something up and put it down, all I could think was “Treat yourself!”

Folks, she might be on to something here. I’m currently treating myself to a handful of writing courses, a confusing book club read, and as much time outdoors with this little dude as possible:

Yeah. He's awesome

xo,

K

 

Posted in
Colorado, Happy Hippie
Comments (2)

Mr. President

September 14th

A few shots from President Obama’s recent visit to Golden:

Obama goes Golden

Helicopters, metal detectors and a 3 hour line to get into the park.

Obama goes Golden

Secretary of the Interior and former Colorado Senator Ken Salazar kicks off the event.

Obama goes Golden

It rained for 20 hours the day before. Most of us stood in mud or puddles. The park will likely need all new grass after 10,000 folks tromped through it. Of course, I worried about the long-term impact on the plants.

Obama goes Golden

There is the man of the hour! Also! This is my best shot!

Obama goes Golden

Damn you, teleprompter.

Obama goes Golden

On board.

Obama goes Golden

This dude was approximately 35 feet tall and directly in front of me. Half of my photos are focused on the back of his head instead of the President. I bet his photos are A+.

Obama goes Golden

Cheers, chants and screams from the large, varied crowd. It was hard not to feel like this was one of those moments I’d be telling my kids about one day.

Obama goes Golden

Obama goes Golden

4 more years!

Obama goes Golden

Even the houses got in the spirit. Mr President, thanks for coming to Jefferson County — the first to do so since Ulysses S. Grant.

You are a charismatic speaker and were so worth the ridiculous wait, working late hours to make up for the time away, the wet feet and the claustrophobia that struck when that massive crowd began to shift. I wish you all the best and you, Sir, have my vote.

Come back soon,

Kelli

Posted in
Colorado, Politico
Comments (12)

For the love of plants

September 13th

Garden Help

Those cute little seeds came from those even cuter plums, which came from Wyoming. Meaning they should grow here, right? 

One thing I miss dearly about Arizona is the 4 full gardening seasons available. Sure August is a pain, but the rosemary loves the heat. So do sunflowers. And cotton.

By contrast, within a few weeks, I’m fairly certain my garden will be dead and I will be without one of my favorite hobbies for months. I was charmed by this house for its tiny greenhouse out back; I’m just unsure of how to get started. And if there is one area where I’ve thrown away money on poorly researched hobbies — it’s gardening.

Garden Help

How do I make these succeed? Any tips?

So, Interwebs: what say you? Am I crazy for trying to grow in the winter in Golden? Do you have any resources for what I could be doing in that little greenhouse? Is there a gardening club you belong to in the Denver area? Am I to trust this guide? Halp. HALP!

Thank you,

Mangement

Posted in
Colorado, Flora and Fauna
Comments (2)

Recipes: Roasted Apple and Pork Loin

September 12th

The crab apple trees in Golden are ripe for harvesting, and that’s just what several friends and I did the other day. I came home with more than 50 pounds of fruit and an idea. What if I put together a meal with apples in each course?

Apples!

As my friend Juliann says — the best parties are themed.

And so began the Apple Extravaganza! Green salad with apples, stuffed pork loin roasted on a bed of apples and apple crisp for dessert. If I’d really been on my game, I would have come up with some signature brandy drink, but alas — I love grapes too much in that department to stray. And of course in the middle of whipping up this ridiculous meal, I didn’t take any photos of the completed project. You’ll have to take my word for it: it was good.

Apple party

Apple crisp

Roasted Apple and Pork Loin*

Ingredients:

12 small crab apples, or 6 larger apples — cored

1 pork loin

A bit of butter, or olive oil

1/2 cup goat cheese

1 cup porcini mushrooms, diced

1 yellow onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, diced

dash of rosemary, salt, pepper

1/4 cup white wine

Apple roasters

Directions:

Place cored apples in roasting pan. Butterfly pork loin. In a cast iron skillet, cook onions, garlic and mushrooms in butter over medium heat until onions are translucent — about 10 minutes. Place butterflied pork loin on top of apples.

Stuffed pork roast

Pour onion/garlic/mushroom mixture down center of the loin. (It’s okay if some falls out. It will all still be yummy.) Add goat cheese on top of mixture, with a dash of rosemary, salt and pepper. Close pork loin flap/sandwich and contain with a handful of toothpicks. Sprinkle another dash of salt and pepper on top of closed roast.  Roast at 360 for 1 hour or so, until a meat thermometer reads at least 160. Apples should be warm and mushy.

Place apples and pork loin on a serving dish. Add a 1/4 cup of white wine to the roasting pan and place back in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove, scraping at bits left in the pan. Pour au jus into a separate serving dish.

Voila!

Great game

Apples to Apples afterward, over dessert? Divine.

~K

* An improved take on this recipe.

 

Posted in
Heirloom Homestead, June Cleaver, Kitchen Talk
Comments (2)

Animal, Vegetable, Sermon?

September 11th

Garden fare

Have you read “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle?” I’ve long considered Barbara Kingsolver one of the best American authors. I adore her work, have written fan letters, stumbled all over myself with inappropriate fan-girl questions the one time we met, and did I mention adore her? A little bit.

I’ve had two of her books on my shelf for some time collecting dust. “Animal Vegetable Miracle” is the year-long memoir Kingsolver wrote chronicling what she, her husband and two children were able to raise on their small farm in Virginia, or buy locally. The mission was to eat only what they could produce or find in their community. While there are a few exceptions to their rule, they work tirelessly to raise small animals, harvest a huge garden and keep their menus varied and healthy.

A friend mentioned to me years ago that she found this book excessively preachy. And to some degree, I get it. There are parts that read like a political textbook, lecturing the reader about energy conservation, obesity, mindless consumption, etc. Such social issues are what inspired Kingsolver and kin to take on this project. Considering I beat myself up for just about everything and had already given a self-lashing on these topics — when it got to sanctimonious, I turned the page.

Where I found inspiration was in the family’s pantry preparation. The woman can plan, plant, harvest, cook and can a garden. She also wasn’t squeamish to raise chickens and birds for meat. She and her family killed and prepared the meat — some for the dinner table that night, others for the chest freezer. While I can grow a mean tomato, I am not sure I could ever kill my own meat. Let’s be honest, the three chickens that I never even had a chance to bring home already had names. They were cherished members of this little homestead’s family. And so, the weight of this inability weighs on my shoulders to be a better consumer of locally raised, ethically “grown” meat.

My biggest take-away is a renewed spirit to be a better consumer of all products. While I may not be able to actually run a proper homestead, my little home’s garden is valuable. Eating what’s in season is critical. Hanging my clothes on the line to dry, riding my bike to complete errands, being frugal and resourceful with purchases — reusing rather than falling into the culture of buy-buy-throw-away-buy-some-more! These small acts are not going to stop global warming, but they are steps to make my life a bit more environmentally friendly. So, thanks Barbara. Did I mention I’m kinda your #1 biggest fan?

4 out of 5 bananas

~K

Posted in
Flora and Fauna, Happy Hippie, Heirloom Homestead
Comments (2)

Recipe: Bill’s Baba Ganoush

September 10th

Baba ganoush

Baba ganoush

My friend Bill mentioned a couple weeks ago that he makes his baba ganoush by starting at the BBQ. With a hot grill and a bit of olive oil, the smoky flavor of charred eggplant comes through beautifully. When I ran across eggplant at the market a few days later I thought I’d give it a try. If you like baba ganoush, this recipe couldn’t be easier. Just give yourself enough time to let the plants cool before trying to open/scrape them into the food processor.

Ingredients:

1 eggplant per person served, brushed with olive oil

4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup tahini

1 lemon, juiced

1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Smoky paprika for garnish

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Baba ganoush

Directions:

Grill eggplant until charred. Let cool. Slice, scoop out inside of eggplant into food processor — adding as much or as little of the charred exterior as desired. (I added very little and this was sufficiently smoky.) Add other ingredients and pulse. Top with paprika, enjoy with pita, vegetables or grilled meat. Easy, delicious and the presentation is fabulous for a dinner party.

Hummus

While you have the food processor and the tahini out, might as well whip up some hummus too.

Eats

Both go well with chips and a summer appetizer board on the patio.

~K

 

Posted in
Heirloom Homestead, Kitchen Talk, Recipes
Comments (2)

State of the Homestead

September 8th

The leaves are transforming golden. Blackbirds gather in their Hitchcock gangs along the fence, in the yard, perched on the beds — all too close to the precious few remaining tomatoes.  The squash vines are starting to die, the leaves an ashen gray. Forest green and harvest orange pumpkins scatter across the grass, their umbilical cords to the garden slowly retreating.

Canning in gem tone

Screaming children off to school fill the neighborhood and the down comforter has returned to the foot of the bed. We haven’t yet committed to placing it for the season under the quilt; this will all happen too soon.

Canning in gem tone

These are the days for skirts and sandals — tank tops and long walks in the middle of the day to sit by the creek with the warmth of the afternoon sun upon our shoulders. BBQs with friends include scrambling for sweatshirts as the sun drops behind the Rockies, and dusting off board games to be enjoyed under a canopy of stars. Long runs in the forest come with a sprinkle of gold and amber. We are in transition.

With Nelson at my feet, I’ve been cooking, enjoying the oven’s heat. The canning pot rattles, holding the last remains of the summer’s bounty. More than 100 pounds of apples from neighborhood trees now tucked away in various forms on the pantry shelves — sauce, jelly, pie filling, chutneys. These jars, still wet from their boiling bath, sparkle in the kitchen sunlight — my new favorite gem tones.

Canning in gem tone

In the next month, the tomatoes and squash will be pulled; onions and garlic will be nestled in rows for a early summer harvest. The compost will be turned; the outdoor pots of flowers rotated to adjust for the sun’s autumnal position. Basil harvested in handfuls, frozen in cubes of pesto for winter dinners. I will clean off the shelves of the tiny greenhouse this month and attempt to grow kale, chard and broccoli.

Closets have been cleared of clothing gone unworn; books to read stacked by a basket full of knitting projects also calling for attention.

Thank you, Summer. Now, we gladly welcome Fall.

~K

 

Posted in
Colorado, Happy Hippie, Heirloom Homestead
Comments (3)

We Built This

September 5th

Community Mural

In Prescott last weekend, I stopped at booth at an art fair to buy a decorative metal yard stake for a friend. I walked up to the checkout, handed the female vendor the stake and chatted her up, as I would just about anyone.

“Hey, thanks for this. Did you make them?” I pointed to the racks of metal stakes, most in the shapes of animals, starting to take a beautiful copper patina only a native Arizonan could truly appreciate. They were reasonably priced and kinda pretty in their own lawn-junk way.

“Yes,” she said. “Well, my husband and I do. We are from Casa Grande.”

“Oh, that’s great. Well, thanks again!” I was ready to leave when she then looked me right in the eye with a toothy grin and said, “Yeah. We built this company. No one else. It was just us.” She cackled after, which I’d guess is just how I remember it to make her seem even more ridiculous.

I stood there for a moment in silence, my brow furrowed. Was this woman seriously starting a political conversation with me in her art booth on this otherwise gorgeous day? Giant, white Ansel Adams clouds filled the blue heavens. Birds chirped. Dogs of all sizes and shapes dragged their owners along the nearby sidewalk. A folk band thumped a homemade cello on a nearby patch of emerald green lawn.

They built this company. No one else.

“Did you mean that politically?” I was still in doubt I’d heard her correctly.

She looked up, now with a bit of hesitation in her voice, said, “Yes.” She’d misjudged. While I’d guess this stance had helped with sales in Prescott, it struck me as unfriendly.

I’m cursed with a huge mouth and the nerve of the Cowardly Lion. I talk a huge game … the next day. Telling this woman exactly what I thought of her devisive additive to our otherwise pleasant interaction didn’t happen. Instead, I stomped off and told my friends, “Can you believe she said that to me? I mean, can you believe her?” I was full of unproductive indignation — the best sort.

Juliann shrugged. “Well? Did you say anything? Did you cancel the transaction?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Um…”

Community Mural

Look, I sincerely don’t care where you — or the vendors of decorative metal yard stakes — land politically. But if we can’t agree that political sound bites taken out of context are nothing short of a waste of our time, we’re up a creek. And if we can’t agree that it takes a giant networked community to see the worst of students out of high school, and much more for those who go on to, say, start their own small business — we are in even bigger trouble. Up a ocean of indignant, unproductive rhetoric, perhaps.

You may not believe in higher tax rates to help the welfare of those less fortunate, or in healthcare as a right not privilege. But I’m going to venture a guess and say you didn’t teach yourself to read. Give yourself those immunizations that ended polio. Or, say, milk the cow to produce the dairy in your fridge right this very second.

It did take a community to get us here; we work best with cooperation and team work. And civility.

So, Mrs. Small Business Owner — I’m sorry I didn’t have the guts to say it in the moment, but no. You did not build all of this yourself. None of us did. Not even Martha Stewart, who I promise is way more skilled than either of us. Also, thank you for the yard stake. My friend loved it. Vote Obama, 2012. xo.

~K

Posted in
Journal
Comments (16)

Taste

September 4th

I got away with some friends for a long holiday weekend; while the home we rented was spacious, clean and more than met our needs — a few of the decorations were so strange, they were worthy of reporting.

Questionable decorations

Questionable decorations

Questionable decorations

Cowgirl Kili

Okay. Fine. The dog cowboy hat might have been my addition to the odd mix. {Think Willie Nelson and Halloween. I know. It’s going to be amazing.} The fact Juliann let me dress up her dog is a testament to our friendship — one that has long since accepted and sometimes even appreciated my quirks.

Prescott Trip

Honestly, it doesn’t take much to have fun with this group. Board games, movies, hours upon hours of chatter over cocktails on the patio, cooking together, wandering the nearby town square, etc. Another handful of hilarious inside jokes. Another weekend of great photos, memories and feeling like I long ago hit the friend jackpot.

It was good to be home.

~K

Posted in
Arizona, Celebrate!
Comments (2)

I Gunna Fix You Up!

September 2nd

My friend David recently took a nasty tumble while on rollerskates, causing a spiral fracture of his tibia. He’s been on the couch recovering from surgery for a bit, and needed a pick-me-up. I was on my way out the door for a long weekend with friends and didn’t want to buy a ton of groceries before leaving. So, I pulled a Karel — meaning I used my mother’s pantry alchemy to put something together from what I had on hand.

Or as she calls it, “Fixing you up.”

As in, “Oh, you are hungry? Well, just sit there. I gunna fix you up.”

Don’t be fooled. My mother — who does refer to herself as Big Mama — is neither uneducated nor Southern. But she is hilarious. And Big Mama regularly speaks with idioms only we in our family understand. It’s a secret language of hilarity I imagine most families develop.

Twenty minutes later, she’d return with a plate of green chile chicken, or shepherd’s pie, or her pretzel crust jello salad that my brother and I can eat by the Pyrex dish-full. The magic in this is that none of those items appeared to be in the fridge when you were hungry 30 minutes prior. She waved her mysterious “fixin'” wand and voila — a delicious meal that only Big Mama can make just right.

Hmmm… pantry alchemy. What was I to do? The garden helped greatly. Scratching my head, I went digging through the freezer to find the remains of a rotisserie chicken ready for the stock pot. With tomatoes and zucchini in abundance, I chopped and diced, while roasting a butternut squash and garlic to add some additional umph.

A few hours later: Garden Soup ready for delivery.

Garden soup

Garden soup

Garden soup

{As it goes with just about any soup, I thought this was much tastier with a dollop of sour cream and a heavy drizzle of Siracha.}

Care Package

David opened the jars of peach and apple preserves with a spoon and took large mouthfuls, oohing and ahhing for my ego. (Some friends know my fragilities better than others.)

“Honey,” I said with a big, smug smile, “I done fixed you up.”

Three states away, my mother, most likely listening to Prince in house slippers, looked to the heavens and said a quiet, “Booyah.”

~K

Posted in
CAOK, Heirloom Homestead, June Cleaver
Comments (4)