Tag: kitchen

Egg Heads: A Planting Craft

The original idea for this craft came from the Our Best Bites Savoring the Seasons cookbook. If you want to see a super cute example of these little planters, then you should check out the book.

I’ve mentioned before that this is not, and never will be, a food blog. Even though I’ve posted recipes before, it’s not something I do consistently or probably even very well, for that matter. I should take the time now to also point out that this is not, and never will be, a craft blog. Crafting is just not something that really comes naturally to me.

Even so, here I am, posting a little planting craft. I almost didn’t. They didn’t turn out quite like I envisioned; a little more “rustic” and a lot less cute. But then I figured, hey, maybe someone out there is looking for something new to do with their quarantine time and their egg shells.

I know eggs can sometimes be a little harder to come by these days, but if you’ve got some and you’re using them anyway, take a little extra time to just remove the top third of the shell. You can do this by either being an expert egg cracker, or you can use a sharp knife to get it started. I found that making a sort of drilling motion with the knife point worked best for me.

I have to admit, though, that the drilling a hole into an egg shell brought back some memories of my most embarrassing mortifying experience of elementary school. I’m sure they didn’t let us use knives to make the holes in our eggs, but my memory of that part is a little fuzzy. What I do know is that we, the fourth graders, were congregated in the grassy area near the playground and were each given an egg with which we were going to make a blown-Easter egg craft. We made two small holes in the egg – one on either pole – and were told to blow the contents out into a cup and then dispose of the contents in  the restrooms. Well, I successfully blew my egg-insides into a cup and was heading to ask permission to take it to the restroom to flush away, when I tripped. Now, I adored my fourth grade teacher and would have been terribly embarrassed had the egg splashed on her. But it didn’t. Instead, it went all over the front of Mrs. Fjelsted’s skirt. Mrs. Fjelsted, the scary teacher. I wanted to die of both shame and fear. Or be swallowed by the earth. Anything but face what I thought for sure would be her wrath. I’m not sure what I thought she’d do to me – eat me maybe? – but I just knew it would be terrible. In the end, I survived. I don’t think I even got in trouble; the fact that I had drawn unwanted attention toward myself was enough.

Luckily for you, you can do this egg craft without the supervision of any scary fourth grade teachers. Unless you are one yourself. Or invite one over; but under the current pandemic situation, I don’t think that’s advised.

Ok, back to your eggs. After you’ve removed the top bit of shell, wash out the inside to remove any remaining egg bits. Then, fill it most of the way to the top with potting mix, sprinkle some seeds (we did grass, cilantro, and basil) on top of that, and then add just a bit more potting mix to cover the seeds. Give it a drink, put it in a sunny spot, and watch it grow! Couldn’t be easier. A word to the wise, though: don’t use grass seed that is 10+ years old. The germination rate goes down real quick after a couple years, which is why our egg heads are so sparsely tufted.

There you have it – an eggcelent (sorry, not sorry) pandemic quarantine life (or anytime) craft.

Houseplants: Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura)

Continuing the theme of purple and green foliaged plants, I’ve got another oldie but a goodie for you: Prayer Plant, also known by it’s Latin name Maranta. Among my first houseplants – if not the first – I’ve had this one going on twelve years. Maybe thirteen? It was gifted to me by a college friend for helping him through one of our soils classes. I figured was a pretty good trade-off: I needed to study anyway and I got a free plant out of it! Win-win.

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Houseplants: Wandering Jew (Tradescantia pallida)

It’s been a while since I last profiled one of my houseplants. Sorry ’bout that. It’s definitely not because I ran out of houseplants to talk about. It’s just that I haven’t taken any nice photos of them until recently. So today, I bring you: Wandering Jew.

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Cookie-Sheet Apple Pie

I think I’ve mentioned before how I’m not a food blogger, and I don’t really aspire to be; this space is mainly about gardening. Gardening, however, often leads me to the kitchen and cooking and baking are generally a big part of my life; a lot of my favorite family memories involve food in some way or another. So when fall rolls around the food-blogging world seems to go crazy with pumpkin-spice-everything, for me, when fall rolls around I think about apples. Apples in the form of cider and pie to be specific.

“It’s easy for any of us to claim no time for cooking; harder to look at what we’re doing instead, and why every bit of it is presumed more worthy. Some people really do work double shifts with overtime and pursue no recreational activities, ever, or they are homeless or otherwise without access to a stove and refrigerator. But most are lucky enough to do some things for fun, or for self-improvement or family entertainment. Cooking can be one of those things.” – Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Not any old apple pie will do. Sure, there is a place for the deep dish varieties, or the Dutch versions. Or the picture perfect lattice-topped classic. But the version I dream about is this apple pie. It’s not fancy, and it definitely won’t be winning any beauty contests. But it is delicious; that I can promise. Also, you don’t have to worry about any sort of fussy lattice work, or carefully transferring the crust into a pie dish since it can be rolled out directly in the pan (at least the bottom crust), which is a bonus in my world. And, best of all, it makes a superb breakfast the next day. If you have any left over, that is.

apple pie on a cookie sheet

Since there are only two of us, I usually make only a half-cookie sheet sized pie. But I make the whole crust recipe and freeze half of it until I want to make another pie.

There are all sorts of opinions about which apples make the best baking apples, and McIntosh usually don’t make that list. They are soft and cook down to basically mush, which makes them excellent for sauce, but not for something where you want the apples to remain looking like apples. That being said, McIntosh are my favorite, and I really love them in this pie; I kind of like the uniform mash of apples. So what I’m saying is, you can choose whichever kind of apple suits your fancy.

I know you’re probably not looking for another apple pie recipe, but give this one a try sometime and let me know what you think.

Cookie Sheet Apple Pie

Crust

  • 3 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 Tb sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups shortening (I use Crisco)
  • 1 egg, separated
  • milk
  • cornflakes or saltine crackers

Filling

  • 20 raw apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg

Mix the flour, sugar, and salt together. Cut in the shortening. Place the egg yolk in a measuring cup, beat slightly, then add enough milk to bring it to 2/3 cup. Add to flour mixture and stir with a fork to make dough workable. Divide dough on half and roll it out to fit your cookie sheet. I like to get it started on the counter, and then finish tolling it out on the sheet itself. Sprinkle with a couple handfuls of corn flakes or saltine crackers.

In a large bowl toss the apples with the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Place the apples evenly on the bottom crust. Roll out the remaining dough to fit the cookie sheet, and place on top of the apples. Crimp the edges, and add crust vents in the top. Beat the egg white and brush over the top.

Bake at 400 F for 1 hour, or until golden. When cooled, drizzle with a powder sugar glaze. (Powder sugar, a bit of lemon juice or vanilla extract, and enough milk to get it to the consistency you want).

Eating Local All Year Long

Each year in September is Utah Eat Local Week which is meant to highlight all the great local agricultural (and other) products and inspire people to eat locally grown and produced foods. This year, when Eat Local Week rolled around, I had just finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, which chronicles a year where her family tried to eat as local as possible. I don’t know that I’ll ever be quite that ambitious (or have enough land to grow that much food on), but I do like the idea of growing your own food.

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