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Newest Addition to the Family

This big beast, Tunabee Hufflepig AKA “Tuna”, is one of the many reasons blog posting was put on hiatus. We got her in January and she’s consumed virtually every spare minute since then. We are so completely and utterly obsessed with her.

Tuna is a 3’ish year old American Staffordshire Terrier rescued from Oakland Animal Services. She used to live near an apartment complex in Oakland and beg for scraps. The tenants tried to call the cops for someone to pick her up but they failed to catch her. One day she showed up at the apartment complex all beat up and bleeding with a few dog bite wounds on her legs and face. Animal Services picked her up, fixed her up, and put her up for adoption.

Jason and I showed up two days after she was spayed and instantly fell in love. She has the sweetest demeanor and really just wants to cuddle and get rubs. She loves treats, walks, protecting her home, stalking the neighborhood cat, and rough housing outside with our neighbor’s dog. I love her so much and I can’t imagine life before she entered our hearts.

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Garden Cauliflower Soup

The cauliflower in the garden is doing pretty well considering it usually only flourishes in consistently cool weather. We had about four small/medium sized heads that we could harvest this weekend which was incredible. I wanted to use them as soon as possible to capitalize on the freshness so I made some soup with the florets.

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We also had an entire head of butter lettuce — slightly covered in slugs, but delicious nonetheless.

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Garden Cauliflower Soup
4 links of hot chicken sausage
1 small vidalia onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 32 oz box of chicken broth
4 small heads of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 1/2 cups of heavy cream
1 teaspoon chili flakes
Salt and pepper
Cheddar cheese and parsley for serving

1. Remove the skins from the sausages or pulse in a food processor until they’re in bite size pieces. In a large soup pot brown the sausage. Set aside.

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2. Add cornstarch to the pot and whisk in a little bit of olive oil if more fat is needed. Gradually whisk in the chicken broth. Add the cauliflower and bring to a boil.

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3. While the stock and cauliflower are coming to a boil, sauté onions in a separate pan with a dash of olive oil, salt and pepper. Then them sweat and caramelize.

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4. Add the onions to the cauliflower and reduce to low heat to simmer for 25 minutes.

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3. When the cauliflower is tender, stir in the sausage, cream, chili flakes, and a touch more salt and pepper. Cook for another 5-10 minutes so the sausage can heat up again.

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4. Serve with cheese and parsley.

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First Harvest in California

Our garden is coming along very nicely! Our beets are looking good, just waiting for the greens to get a little bigger before we pluck those out.

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The herbs are doing great too — basil and dill look delicious!

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The only trouble we’ve had so far is a mushroom eating away at our swiss chard, so we’re going to try spinach in that spot this time around. We just had our first harvest this weekend;  butter lettuce, kale, and arugula. We decided to slowly take leaves off each so that they can continue to grow. The other way to do it is to wait for full heads to form and chop the entire thing off. I’d rather have greens for a few more months to come! Here’s some before/after pics from the yield.

Butter Lettuce

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Kale

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Arugula 

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Cleaning Up Cast Iron Mistakes

We have to be creative with kitchen space here. There are a lot of stacked pots and Tetris-like cabinets in this household. About a month ago I emptied our dishwasher (this is the first time we’ve had one… not sure what I did in life before it.) and placed a pot on top of the only cast iron pan we have. When I went to use it a couple weeks later, I found it in this state…
IMG_5146 Whoops! The pan I placed on top of it must have been wet on the bottom. Here’s a step by step guide on how you can clean up any cast iron mistakes you’ve made in the past.

1. Use fine steel wool to remove rust from affected areas.
IMG_51492. Scrub the skillet until you can see the raw cast iron.IMG_5168 3. Wash the skillet with warm water and mild dish soap. Use a sponge if needed.
IMG_51694. Thoroughly dry the cast iron immediately with paper towels and then apply a small amount of cooking oil to the entire piece including handle and bottom.
IMG_51745. Place pan upside down in preheated oven (350 degrees). Put aluminum foil on the bottom to catch any drips.

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6. Heat the pan for one hour. Let the pan cool if you intend to use same day.

(I taught myself how to do this thanks to thekitchn.com!)

Here we go…

I like taking pictures. Ever since middle school I can remember having a digital camera with me everywhere I went. I enjoy cataloguing my life. It is nice to be transported through pictures back to the moments they were taken. Sometimes my memories blur between events I actually remember and the images I’ve looked at over the years. I constantly find myself going through old pictures and recalling when and where certain things took place. It gives me the ability to piece together a timeline, and refresh my memory.
IMG_4763 Facebook ends up being the home to many of the pictures I take. It’s comforting to offer them to the people I’ve shared experiences with, so we can all reminisce together. Especially now that my husband and I live across the country from our family, they’re able to keep tabs on us. Since 2010, I have posted over 120 albums on Facebook. That’s an average of 24 per year with the number of pictures per album ranging from 20-200. That’s a lot. What can I say? I like taking pictures.
IMG_4770 (1) I also like baking and cooking. For some, they only like baking OR cooking. That’s probably because they’re very distinct disciplines. Baking is a true science. Too much baking powder, salt, or butter will give you a completely different outcome than you had anticipated. Cooking offers more give and take. You can add more garlic here or cayenne there. Different parts of my brain have a great appreciation for both art forms. I find the kitchen cathartic. Not everything comes out perfectly, but I enjoy the process and sometimes, the frustration.
IMG_4771 Those are my “Stills and Spills”. The still images that represent my life’s ups and downs. The spills in the kitchen that have been successes and failures.

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