Taco Tuesday!

I rarely fry food. And I’m certainly not one who is drawn to all manner of quirky fried foods that have gained popularity in recent years (read: fried oreos, pickles, etc). But I will take fried ice cream any day! Ha…yeah.

That said, last week, I stumbled upon a method for making fried tacos, and was intrigued. It just sounds right. I saw the process demonstrated in a video in the latest issue of e-magazine, Nesting Newbies (which previous to this, I had never heard of). I happened to have everything I needed to make them, so I declared it Taco Tuesday!

The recipe section is on pages 12-21, with the demo video on page 14. The chef gives some good tips, so pay attention, if you plan to make them. One thing I learned, is that corn tortillas have a grain. And to help prevent cracking, they should be gently folded against the grain.

While I followed the recipe process, I made up my own vegetarian “meat” filling to replace the beef. I didn’t intend this to be a recipe post, but I suppose I’ll share my version:

Vegetarian Fried Tacos
Inspired by a recipe by Lea Gonzalez McIntosh, published in Nesting Newbies, issue five.
Makes about 8 tacos.

FILLING:

SHELLS:

  • canola oil
  • 8 small corn tortillas
Directions:
  1. Sautée onion in olive oil in a large non-stick pan until soft and clear. Add seitan and chorizo and brown slightly. Add remaining ingredients, and stir until all liquid is absorbed.
  2. Fill a deep fry pan or wok with canola oil, about 1 inch deep. Heat to approximately 350º – 375ºF. To test if oil is hot enough, dip the edge of an extra tortilla into the oil. If the oil bubbles around the tortilla, it’s ready to go.
  3. Spread 1-2 Tbsp of meat filling down the center of the tortillas. One at a time, gently fold the ends together (against the grain), and slowly dip the bottom of the taco into the oil. Hold for 20 seconds, and then gently lay the taco on it’s side in the oil. Fry until lightly golden, and flip with tongs. Keep a close eye on them, I think I made mine a bit too dark. When done, remove with tongs, let excess oil drain, and set on a plate lined with paper towels. If you want, you can keep the plate warm in the oven until the rest are done.
  4. Gently top with shredded sharp cheddar, lettuce, salsa, and low-fat plain yogurt.
Along with the tacos, we had refried beans and a fresh garden mesclun and radish salad with orange vinaigrette.

 

For dessert, I quartered and fried a few tortillas that were left, and let them drain on paper towels. After they cooled down a bit, I tossed them in a Ziploc bag with a few tablespoons of sugar and a couple shakes of cinnamon. They were a perfect compliment to Turkey Hill’s (all-natural) Philadelphia-Style Vanilla Bean ice cream.

Did I say, “Yum”?

Basement Entry Doors

I blinked my eyes, and suddenly a month has gone by without a single post.
Oh, well. Who’s paying attention, anyway?

About the time of my last post, a not-so-fun, but desperately-needed-to-be-done project was finally completed (well, mostly, anyway… we rarely ever completely complete anything around here).

Up until last November, our exterior basement doors looked like this:

Priiiitty bad, right?

We had a contractor come out earlier in the year to give us a quote for replacement doors, but Tim was pretty confident he could make something decent for a fraction of the quoted price, so…


He built a frame, and fashioned two doors from tongue and groove board.
Then he primed, painted (Benjamin Moore Aura “Soot”)

…and suddenly the weather got too cold to paint the second coat.
So, he had to wait ’til spring to finish.

As for hardware, the original hinges (or pretty old ones, anyway) were still kickin’, so there was no need to get new ones.

And here’s the end result:

Not too shabby, eh?

However (isn’t there always a however?), you may notice that the doors appear one shade bluer/lighter than the outside edge. Well, we underestimated how much paint the job would require, and ended up needing an additional can… which, as we expected, did not quite match the first one. You know how it is — just off enough to cause a slight but persistent annoyance. :)

To end on an up-note, let’s see that always dramatic before and after:

Whoo hoo!

Now we’re on to our next project — giving our back door an overhaul.
What about you guys? Have any exterior projects in the works or in the wings?

Kitchen Runner (on the Cheap)

For the longest time, I had been casually looking for a runner for our kitchen. You know, just a simple cotton rug, about 2′ x 9’? You wouldn’t think it would be that hard to find. But it had been over four years, for goodness’ sake! I pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I would have to bite the bullet and pay $99 (plus shipping) to Pottery Barn for a rag rug runner (say that 15 times, fast!). But I kept pushing it off (I’m really good at that), and now it turns out that PB doesn’t even stock cotton runners anymore! Oh well, no matter, I’ve found an alternative solution — and a budget-friendly one, at that!

Enter the reliable, hard-working (and only $3.99!) SIGNE rug from IKEA (we have four others in our house, so we are well acquainted). Because IKEA’s stock of these little rugs is constantly changing, we find a different selection of colors and stripe patterns upon each visit to the store. On a recent trip, I spied a rug with kelly green, olive, and black stripes on the typical SIGNE-cream background. I quickly grabbed it, thinking, “this just might work in our kitchen!”. At that point, I was so excited to see a rug that potentially matched the kitchen, I didn’t even think of the runner idea. But a week or so later, it hit me, and we returned to IKEA, fingers crossed. Luckily, there were exactly three rugs left in that color combo!

I don’t have a sewing machine, so during a recent visit to my parents house, my sister Amy and I retreated to the basement and put the thing together. Here’s how we did it:


1. We cut the fringe off one side of two of the rugs, and both sides of one rug.


2. Then we ran the cut edges through a serger three or four times using black thread (we were trying to approximate the width of the black stripes on the rug).


3. The three pieces were pinned together so the serged edges aligned with an existing stripe on the rug.


4. Finally, we sewed the pieces together using a heavy-duty needle and a zig zag stitch. We used black thread for the top, and either cream or olive in the bobbin, depending on where the back of the stitch lined up. We did that so the rug would be reversible.

Lest anyone think this was a flawless process, here’s evidence otherwise.

In this case, we had black thread in the bobbin, but the bottom stripe was olive (not to mention the stitching was misaligned). Ugh, ripping out stitches…

Oh, well, it’s not perfect, but it looks good from here…and it cost a total of $12.69 including tax!!!

You Mean the Stuff Inside Fig Newtons?

Growing figs is a tradition in my family. My parents have close to a dozen edit: half-dozen re-edit: dozen(!) trees of various varieties, originally obtained from “the fig man” on Long Island. All of their trees are planted in large pots so they can be brought into a protected, but cool, place (aka the garage) to go dormant for the winter. So, when Tim and I got our first fig tree (as a honeymoon souvenir from Jefferson’s Monticello), we continued in the same tradition of bringing it in every winter. I probably shouldn’t mention that it died in our apartment kitchen one winter when we were living in our apartment.


a few tiny figs we were able to pick last summer before the squirrels got them…

However, over the years, we’ve seen several examples of figs thriving outdoors year-round — especially in more urban areas. So we decided to try it with the two trees we now have (both splits from my parents’ trees). We were fairly confident that our trees would survive the winter, but took several steps to make that success even more certain.

First, we planted them in the sunniest spot in the yard, which because of the fence, is also fairly sheltered from winds…



Then we rigged up a big cage out of two tomato cages, inside which we hung burlap. Said burlap was attached with twist ties and held down at the bottom by bricks…


Next, we filled the cavity with oh… about a kajillion leaves…


and lastly, we covered the top with more burlap. Fancy, right?


Then this guy came by to wish us good luck with his last dying breath.
Well, not really, but it makes for a more dramatic story, doesn’t it?

And then winter happened.

And happened some more.

And happened even more,

until we could hardly stand it anymore!!!

Finally spring arrived (sigh), and we decided it was safe to open up the cage and let the little figgies out…


aaaand we have buds, people!

We may have to prune a bit off the top of one of the trees, but overall, it seems to have been a successful over-wintering!
Now, if we could just keep the squirrels away…

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STAY TUNED FOR MY NEXT POST:
Kitchen Runner (on the Cheap)!
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Starts of Spring

It was a long, hard winter here, but now there’s no denying it — it’s finally spring (finally!).

This will be our second year growing garlic. In the fall of 2009, we started by planting several heads of organic garlic we got from a grocery store. From that planting, we got a harvest of about thirty full heads (enough to get us through the year without purchasing any garlic from a store). We also had enough surplus, that last fall we were able to propagate the next crop with it. Isn’t that cool??? Okay, I realize there are very few people who will find that even remotely “cool”…


We selected the largest heads, divided them into separate cloves, and planted them approximately 2″ deep and 6″ apart (experts suggest planting between 4″ and 8″ apart — Each clove will grow into a complete head of  garlic, so a smaller space will limit the size of each new head).

As for other veggies we’re growing this year… So far, in our raised beds, Tim has direct-seeded spinach, broccoli rabe, carrots, radishes, and mesclun (with kale, and arugula to come). I don’t have any images of them — just picture cute, tiny little sprouts. :)

Garlic (left) & Brassica Starts (right)

We also have a plot in a community garden (located in an otherwise unused corner of a nearby cemetery), which we hope to have access to soon. For that, Tim has started several brassicas: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts (one of my favorites!), as well as cucumbers. I think he’s also trying to do watermelon and butternut squash, but the old seeds don’t seem to be germinating (yet). Once the community plot is plowed, we’ll put in string beans, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, basil, and other various herbs, most of which we’ll get as starts from Greesnsgrow.

Broccoli (left) & Brussels Sprouts (right)Cucumber Sprouts

Our goal is to be able to be able to get through most of the year without having to buy much produce from the grocery store. I’m pretty sure we’re gonna need a chest freezer…

* * * * * *

Bigger & Better


Random image, totally unrelated to this post: We’ve had this Hellebore planted in our front yard for several years, but it bloomed for the very first time this month!

Just a quick note to roll out my brand, spankin’ new, bigger and better blog layout. Exciting, right??? I was happy with my previous template, but was often wishing I could post larger images. Well, I finally found a suitable template with a wider main column. Images will now be over 25% larger than before! The text is also a bit bigger, so it should be quite reader-friendly. Not surprisingly, I’d like to tweak a few elements of the template, but WordPress charges a fee to users who want to edit their CSS code. So, I guess I’ll just have to deal.

What you think? Do you like the change?

Welcome Home, Ida.

I’d like to introduce the latest addition to our family:

(Getting the typical inspection from Moxie…)

Her birth name is PAC-1 (sounds like a Droid, doesn’t it?). Actually, it was just Herman Miller’s abbreviation of Pivot Armchair with Cast aluminum (or Contract) base and 1-piece upholstery.

But I’ve decided to call her Ida… as in Ms. Ida Blankenship. Let’s pause here for a moment. If you do not know who Ms. Blankenship is, please do not Google her. Rather, I implore you to go and watch Mad Men (starting with season one — no skipping!!!). Like, now. I mean it.

For those of you still with me, based on a little research at the Eames Office, my guess is she’s from the early 70s. So she’s a little rough around the edges, but she’s still got plenty of spunk.

This is a bunch of iPhone shots I took of Moxie and Moo trying her out (okay, so I pretty much forced them to sit on the chair in attempts to get cute pictures… Doesn’t everyone do that???). Well, Moxie wasn’t really feeling it. But Moo has really taken to her. Unfortunately, for him, I’m pretty sure Ms. Ida will be taking her rightful station at the desk. I just hope she can catch on to all that advanced technology…

Missing In Action

I haven’t posted anything in quite a while. And by quite awhile, I mean
over five months
. I am so bad at this.

The last time I posted, I was wearing flip flops…

the Phillies still had a month left in their season…

and the roses in our back alley were more than just a memory.

Tonight it’s going down to 14ºF. Sigh.

Anyway, I actually have a few potential post ideas up my sleeves, so hopefully they’ll come to fruition soon. I’m also thinking about shaking things up by changing my page theme/layout.

Stay tuned, folks. Exciting things to come. Exciting things, indeed.