Sunday, September 30, 2018

Recipes From the Porch: DIY Sunflower Seeds

Ok, this is going to be more of a Do What I Say and Not What I Do post; I'm sure you mothers out there can relate.

So, as we all know, I planted a few sunflowers in my garden this year, and, they grew, produced seeds, and drooped, at which point, I cut the heads from the stalks and hung them up to dry before harvesting the seeds for roasting.

I'm relatively confident that drying the heads as long as I did prior to harvesting the seeds was my main mistake. By the time I tried to pry the seeds loose from the dried heads, the husks that surround the seeds in the head also came loose, which meant that I had a lot of dried debris mixed in with the seeds. The debris proved impossible to separate from the seeds, so, now that the seeds have been roasted, we are having to pick through them to avoid accidentally eating the husks.

That's sort of a pain in the ass.

If I had it to do again (and, I do!), I would pull the seeds from the heads while they were still somewhat green. I did this with an early batch, and, there is no husky nonsense going on with those seeds (I'm saving them for a dill pickle flavored recipe that Queen B has requested; we'll see how that works out).

Anyway, do yourself a favor and don't let your sunflowers get too dry before you harvest the seeds. Also, please pretend that I followed my own advice (Chelle: Making culinary mistakes so YOU don't have to!).

Step One: Loosen seeds from sunflower heads and collect in a bowl.

Step Two: Rinse seeds, thoroughly.

Step Three: Soak seeds in saltwater; I used approximately a cup of salt for three quarts of water, divided between two pots, because one pot wasn't big enough for all my seeds. The seeds should soak at least 12 hours, and, up to 24.

Step Four: Place seeds on ungreased cookie sheets and roast at 400 degrees for twenty minutes or so, checking the seeds and shaking the pan occasionally to prevent burning. This step may take more or less time, depending on the moisture content of your seeds; mine proved especially stubborn and it took almost thirty minutes for them to become toasty and to snap when bitten into.

Step Five: Cool on cookie sheets and then transfer to a pretty bowl, or, to a cool graphic bag, if you happen to have one that you purchased a decade ago and that has been gathering dust as a display piece on top of your kitchen cabinets. Just me? Oooo-kay, then.

That's it. Homegrown sunflower seeds to tide you over for the winter, assuming you are either a pioneer from the 1800's or a Doomsday Prepper.

Wait, are you a Doomsday Prepper? Because I find that shit fascinating! We should talk.

Friday, September 28, 2018

This Friday Favorites Brought to You by the Color Red

I mentioned yesterday that I got a new car, and, that it is red. I did not set out to get a red car, but, I required the second row of seats to be a bench-style (to corral Boomer in the cargo area), and, the only new Tahoes that we could find in the state that met that requirement were all red, so, red it was.

Have you ever noticed that, once you get a car of a certain color, you start to notice that every other car on the road is that same color? Yeah...that actually hasn't happened yet. Color me surprised. What has happened, however, is that I have started to notice all the other things in my life that are red, and, when I started to keep track of them, it became apparent that, despite my indifference to owning a red car, I actually kind of like things that are red.

Who knew?

So, there's Lola, of course...

...and, my new thermal coffee tumbler (Pioneer Woman collection at the Hellmouth, in case you, too, like pretty things that keep your coffee hot)...

...and the new pillow that I recently purchased for the porch...

...and the noodle bowls that I painted at the ceramics studio during our Fun Club activity at Day Job...

...and, one of my favorite nail polishes by OPI...

Clearly, I am a lover of all things red; the only real question is: why did it take me so long to get a red car?

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Her Name is Lola...She Was a Showcar

Hugh's superior negotiating skills netted me a new car yesterday, and, despite the value of the car roughly equaling one of my kidneys and a good-sized hunk of Hugh's liver; we managed to leave the dealership with our organs intact. Oh, we offered them up, but, the dealership declined; something about standard financing through GMC being preferable to the harvesting of human organs or some such nonsense.

Anyhoodle, I am now the proud owner of a car far flashier than that which a middle-aged mother of two should be allowed to drive....and I like it.

Although I was sad to part with good old Tahoe James, the neutral-colored, dependable, mom-appropriate workhorse; I have fully embraced my new candy-apple red ride. I've named her Lola, in recognition of her showcar appearance, and I am slowly learning how to operate all of her ridiculously advanced features. Keyless entry has proven to be a bit of a learning experience, I will admit, and, I live in near-constant fear of misplacing my key fob.

First World problems, I know.

I also live in fear of getting her dirty, which, is ridiculous, I know. Here is a picture of her currently spotless interior; soak it in, because she will never be this clean again (damn you, dirt roads!).

She will probably be the last Tahoe I ever purchase, which means that she better plan on lasting for as long as James did. For the record, that would be approximately twelve years. Which, coincidentally, should be about the time she's paid off.

Huh. I wonder if we should have looked deeper into that black market for human organs...

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

What's Up Wednesday

Again this month, I am participating in a fun link up with Sheaffer, Mel, and Shay to answer that age-old question "What's up?"

What We're Eating

This is the time of year when I usually start to crave soups and casseroles and heartier dishes than I do during the hotter summer months. This year, however, the unseasonably warm temperatures have more or less killed any desire I have for those autumn comfort foods, instead, we are grazing on lighter pasta dishes and salads, although, I did make chili and cornbread once last week, when the weather abruptly changed to "normal" temperatures for a day.

What I'm Reminiscing About

It's football season here in Petticoat Junction (and, everywhere else, truth be told), and I am missing the Fearsome Foursome and their gridiron antics. I can't believe I'm already in my second football season without them. I'm also missing my time on the field with BCPE (Booster Club President Extraordinaire), cameras in hand, shooting the boys and flashing our "Mammarazzi" badges. Those were some good times.

What I'm Loving

I recently discovered the portrait feature on my iPhone camera and now I am somewhat obsessed with it. I have no idea why it's taken me this long to adapt to the new technology (Wow, I sound old. You damn kids get off my lawn!).

What I've Been Up To

The past week, Hugh and I have been car shopping. Well, mostly, Hugh has been car shopping; I just gave him my wish list and watched him go. I'm still not happy about putting James the Tahoe out to pasture, nor am I overly fond of the idea of a car payment that rivals that of my mortgage, but, some things just cannot be helped.

In happier news, I recently got to spend some quality time with Queen B and Katie, checking item #1 off my Fall Bucket List: taking a bicycle tour of the wineries in Neighboring City! It was so much fun! It was also impossible to visit every single winery on the tour in the amount of time that we allowed ourselves, so, we will be repeating the effort again, soon.

What I'm Dreading

Umm, the above-mentioned car payment? That's about it.

What I'm Working On

The gardening season is slowly but surely coming to an end and I have been harvesting the last of the tomatoes, peppers, yellow zucchini (about damn time!), and sunflower seeds (which I roasted! Poorly! But, that's a cautionary tale for another day); I still have Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes to harvest, however, that won't happen until right after the first frost, which should be less than a month away, if Mother Nature gets with the program (finally).

What I'm Excited About

Concerns and complaints aside, I am really rather excited about the prospect of a new car. There, Hugh, I said it;. I hope you're happy.

What I'm Watching/Reading

After a momentary pause, I caught back up on Big Brother and have now seen all of the episodes leading up to today's finale. I'm rooting for Tyler, but I have a wicked fondness for JC, because;  Tiny Dancer may be batshit crazy, but, well...that's it; he's batshit crazy (I can appreciate crazy).

I also tuned in for Manifest, which is a new show on NBC. It's about a plane that takes off in Jamaica and lands in New York...after being missing for five and a half years. I'm really looking forward to seeing where this is headed, and, it stars Josh Dallas, who I loved from Once Upon a Time; Prince Charming, indeed.

I've been doing quite a bit of reading lately as well. I started with Crazy Rich Asians and, once I finished it, I immediately downloaded both sequels to it; I found the books humorous and entertaining; I also really appreciated that it featured numerous footnotes, explaining various Asian foods, customs, historical events, etc.

I also read Kristin Hannah's The Great Alone. It was, perhaps, my favorite book so far this year. Seriously, it's just that good.

From Amazon: In Kristin Hannah’s The Great Alone, a desperate family seeks a new beginning in the near-isolated wilderness of Alaska only to find that their unpredictable environment is less threatening than the erratic behavior found in human nature.

What I'm Listening To

Right now, I am listening to The Greatest Showman, because it is playing on HBO and I am a sucker for Hugh Jackman, and won't turn the channel on any show that he happens to be starring in, whether it be as a dancing PT Barnum, a furry-faced Wolverine, a sexy cattle Drover (mmmrowwr, Australia),  or a washed-up ex boxer who spars with robots.

How you doing?

What I'm Wearing

I'm about over my current wardrobe; I'm ready for fall sweaters, scarves, boots, booties, and jackets, but, as I said earlier, the weather has not gotten the memo about it being fall, and, I'm not a fan of sweating through my antiperspirant, so, for now, I'm wearing my summer uniform of casual tops, dark washed skinny jeans, skirts, and light cardigans, with a side of natty old sweats and t-shirts on the weekend. Someone call the fashion police, because I'm sure I'm guilty of every fashion crime imaginable (now, ask me if I care :) Nope!)

What I'm Doing This Weekend

I have no plans for this weekend, except for catching up on some housework and decorating for Halloween (yes, already). I do have a brunch date with a couple of old co-workers on Sunday, but, other than that, it's going to be a pretty low-key couple of days. Hugh will be in Denver for the fall buyers market for the hardware store, so I won't even be cooking. There may, however, be wine.

What I'm Looking Forward To Next Month

If you know me in real life, I don't even need to elaborate on this one: HALLOWEEN! However, since you probably don't know me in real life, I'll elaborate just a titch; I LOVE Halloween. Every year, I bust out allll the decorations, often going so far as to set up a haunted porch experience for the neighborhood kids. I also dress in costume, and, this year, my co-workers and I have a group costume theme that we are certain will delight our fellow working stiffs at Day Job. I'll also kick off the month with 30 days of Halloween television and movie watching, including Halloween Wars on Food Network, then, armed with that inspiration; Hugh and I will carve Jack-o-Lanterns despite the fact that we no longer have tiny Trick-or-Treaters with whom to enjoy the experience (I'll reminisce about that next month). In short, Halloween is my jam and I actually look forward to it all year.

2016...the Year of the Flying Witches

Bonus Question: What Is Your Favorite Way to Eat or Drink Pumpkin?

Ok, I said this last month and I'll say it again; I am not a fan of all things pumpkin spice. I would rather swallow bile than down a PSL, not even kidding. Well, maybe a little.

I do, however, love pumpkin bread. And, pumpkin muffins. And, pumpkin donuts. So, pretty much any baked good featuring pumpkin, now that I think about it. Just don't expect me to chase it down with a latte, that's all I'm saying.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Girls Day Out

Saturday was an awesome day! I hit Neighboring City early, picking up Queen B and Katie for the first of several stops-a barn sale that I had been hearing about for a while and was curious to check out.

We got a little bit lost along the way-the suggested route was detoured due to a local parade-but, fortified with Starbucks, we soldiered on, and, in no time we arrived at the sale, where we spent the better part of an hour exploring the various vendor booths.


My purchase for the day was a large piece of art that I plan to use on the mantel for Christmas. Yes, Christmas. Look who's rushing the season, now.

After the sale, we made our way back to Neighboring City, stopping at yard sales along the way. Lunch was a gluttonous affair at The Olive Garden before we settled into a salon for pedicures, after which we rushed to the airport to pick up Mikey, who had been in California.

Then, it was on to the best part of the day; cycling around the best wineries in Colorado!

Our first stop was actually a meadery, but that is beside the point. Neither Katie nor Queen B had ever tried mead, so, it was an educational experience for sure.

The rest of the day flew by far too quickly, but, we got in quite a bit of sampling, some shopping, and some noshing on charcuterie before spending time in the orchards and vineyards, posing for goofy pictures.

It was a really fun and relaxing day and I am looking forward to doing it again since we didn't come close to seeing every winery on the tour.

Today, my butt is sore from the ride, but, that's a small price to pay for a day spent with two of my favorite girls.