29 April, 2010

i did it!

i stayed up ALL NIGHT!!!

it wasn't so bad. I cleaned the bottom floor of the house, folded laundry, did the dishes... and made fresh Challah bread in preparation for V's surprise breakfast - French Toast!
Normally, i wouldn't go all out for French Toast (ok, maybe i would), but we didn't have ANY bread in the house. In fact, even if we did, it would have been super moldy. As a side note: i have discovered that store bought breads mold WAY faster than homemade. I wonder why that is??
The recipe i used was really nice and deliciously sweet, but not too sweet, if you know what i mean. I've never had Challah bread before so maybe they're all sweet.
Here it is before it went into the oven. I was concerned slightly that it wouldn't rise. Actually, that is almost always my concern when i make breads. I halved the original recipe, which still called for 6 cups of flour. After 6 cups, it was still more of a batter than a dough, so i added a 7th, rolled it out onto the counter and continued adding until it was the consistency that i thought it should be. I think i added 2 additional cups on top of the 7th... and it was still barely sticky if you smooshed it.
I decided to give it a try anyway.
And this is what i got!!! Amazingness! In fact, i could have left it in the oven for another 5-7 minutes, but i was too excited. I'm glad i greased the pan, because i needed a spatula to remove it even still! It came out tasting great and V loved his surprise.
After the Challah came out of the oven and before V actually got home from work (around 7:30am), i did what any normal person would do after staying up the whole night before...
I enjoyed the sunrise!

Okay, i'll admit it. I was more interested in being a macro junkie than anything else, but in my defense - you can't help but take in the beauty of your surroundings even/especially through a lens :)

28 April, 2010

all nighter...

V has dutifully put himself on the night shift at work... i admire this fella. Works a 9 hour shift, then comes home for a couple hours to "relax" only to go back and work all night. He's not expected home until 9:00am.

Which means i'm alone...

Which means i wont be able to sleep because... well... this place is somewhat scary at night, i wont lie. So i've charged up my iPod, i've got the wood stove blazing, and i'm going to stay up working on something for the man. ALLLL night. If i finish my project early, maybe i'll work on spinning. i found this book on Amazon and was inspired. No, i dont have it - i just want it. Wanting it was enough to inspire me to try spinning again.
Lately, i've been listening to Rhianna's "Rated R" album. I admit, i've not really been focused on the lyrics, but the melodies are definitely fun to groove to... especially all alone in a creepy little cottage in the middle of nowhere, Ireland. HA!!! Fortunately i have this cute little kitty to keep me company while he's awake :)

Off to go brew some coffee flavoured milk and pray for daylight :D

23 April, 2010

Ravioli!

Oh, did i tell you i made ravioli?! From scratch!!!

First, i rolled out the dough:
Next, i brushed on the egg wash:
Then i added the cheese. I wasn't sure how close together to make them since the dough was funny shaped...
After that, i covered the cheese with the other sheet of dough, and pressed out the air bubbles, and started to cut out around the cheese:
Then i sealed the individual raviolis with a fork (no fancy kitchen ware here! lol):
And voila!
the recipe i used made two meals worth of fresh ravioli for my husband and i... not little meals, either. The kind where you feel full and happy : )

Lessons learned:
  • one egg and 1T of water is more than enough egg wash for ravioli and beyond. i feel like i wasted most of an egg :(
  • freezing the ravioli right away (if you're not going to use it that day or the next) keeps it nice and fresh, but one must watch for the ravioli sticking together.
  • dont use more than a thumbprint worth of filling, because the ravioli gets tooooo big and is not your friend (in this recipe)
  • fancy ravioli cutters aren't necessary if you have a fork ;-)
  • sharp knives would probably cut the pasta better than butter knives

22 April, 2010

lots of excitement this week!

So much going on this week! I'm proud to announce that V and i are the new "parents" to a little baby kitty!!!
We're having trouble telling if it's a girl or a boy, but if it's a (very rare, orange) female, her name will be Noodles. If it's a boy, his name will be Bilbo. (S)he is so insanely cute and has been with us just a few short days. Monday marked the first day of our life with a new kitten. V found a post online (randomly) about someone in Fermoy giving up 3 kittens, first come, first serve. He rushed home on his lunch break and took me over to this place where we picked out this little guy (or gal).
The day we got the kitten, we took him/her around to the landlords and they just love him/her! I stuffed him in my hood of my sweatshirt and (s)he fell asleep right away. The landlords' kids ran to get their camera and actually even took photos saying that the kitten was "the cutest thing i've ever seen!"
(S)he has SUCH an enormous personality and just loves to hang out with me during the day. Here is a photo of him/her supervising my activities whilst perched upon my shoulder (where (s)he climbed up my shirt to get to):
Kitten cries whenever (s)he needs something (ie. hungry or has to find the litter QUICK!) and so far today has had no problems going to the litter box to potty. I've been keeping a watchful eye over his/her roamings and have been quick to mop up little messes almost as quick as (s)he made them, which is good. I'm hoping (s)he'll start using the litter all the time soon.
Today, (s)he discovered the floor window in our bedroom (you can really see how thick our walls are here!), and had some fun basking in the sun. SUCH a cutie!
The landlords' kids come to visit the kitten often for which i'm glad that (s)he is getting the extra attention. I want him/her to be used to people.

in other news, our garden is coming along nicely. We are taking the "slow and steady" approach to gardening, lol! When we have time/energy, we go out and work on it. We have three beds so far, two with dirt, and one has been planted.
(above photo) here you can see the three beds. We're taking on a "square foot" approach this year, except for the far bed which is just rows of onions and garlic... (that thing you see behind the bed is its cover, since we still get frosty nights.
Our garlic has begun to peek up from the soil! I'm so excited about growing garlic this year! I've never had a garden of my very own so this is quite an adventure. It's eye-opening to learn how much work goes into a garden.

These are our yellow onions. We will have quite the crop if they all pop up! lots of onion soup for us! win!
And these little fellas are chives that survived the winter from V's garden last year! They've come a long way and are greening up nicely :-D
Here you can see the little flowers getting ready to bloom on our Gooseberry bush! Never had a gooseberry before... kinda looking forward to it!
and we must not forget the apple trees! These belong to the estate, but they're right next to our garden. We'll see what kind of apples come off these this summer... the trees look old as dirt and are all bent over to the ground! But still pretty :)
Happy Spring!!!

19 April, 2010

Weekend Recap

Ahh! i can't believe it's been so long between posts! I keep meaning to come and update, but forget... or get distracted... sorry. lol

Here is our weekend recap.
We went into Cork City to go to the Quay Co-Op to see what they had as far as healthy foods go. Cork is pretty strange to navigate unless you know your way (in my opinion), so we had no idea where to park that was close-ish to our destination. We still ended up walking quite a ways in the end, but it was such a lovely evening that neither of us minded. Here is our walking journey:

one of Cork's streets as we were driving around looking for a place to park

yes, i know tagging is illegal, but... look how beautifully done it is! This wall is very long, and this photo begins in the middle of it... it blows my mind what people can do with spray paint.
This is the Beamish brewery from the back. SO MANY BREWERIES in Ireland... there were i think three that we passed (including this one) as we entered and exited Cork alone.
St. Finbarre's Cathedral... AMAZING!! it blows my mind to see buildings and churches that are still in use that were built literally AGES ago. This particular gem was built around the 7th century.
This has to be my favorite photo from this walk. I love this garage. No, i've never actually been there or had my car serviced there, but i LOVE this door/sign. I feel like i've seen it before... the hand-painted, down home feel to it is excellent! Not to mention, as a photographer/artist, i love the light on it... hehehe
i really enjoyed the way this scene looks. I couldn't resist snapping a photo as we passed.
And here, ladies and gentlemen is the Quay Co-Op! Operating hours 10-8pm. Arrival time 8:02pm. DANG IT!!! they were totally closed when we got there, but we were able to creepily stare into their windows as they were closing up to admire all their shelves of goodness. We will definitely have to get back here soon to have a real look around.
With some time to spare before our parking garage closed for the night (at 8:30pm, yikes!) we decided to walk the long way back to the car. I'm so glad we did.
Another photo of St. Finbarr's Cathedral. It's so interesting to see the mash up of eras in this photo reflected in the architecture...
If you're from America or know American stereotypes, you'll probably know why this is funny. Hehe!
Another cool hand-painted sign. I'm loving the graphic design of this ;-) I think more people need to take a page out of these people's books and hand paint their signs! This is so great!!

On Sunday, we had the best day ever. It was completely sunny and warm... i broke out my capris... it was great.
Last week, i had planned on attending a church that i found online in a first attempt to find a church that V and i both enjoy. We printed out a map and set off on our journey into Cork to find this church. LOL Ireland streets... are so interesting. I must say that i'm glad that i'm the passenger because i would definitely have trouble with navigation. It took us about half an hour of driving around (once we got to Cork) to actually find the church, which was in a school's auditorium. It. Was. JAM. PACKED! That's good! Anonymity is good (to us) when we go to a new church.
The service started, and ohh... yay! We all stood and sang songs and it was all around a feel-good experience. I love singing with a group. This particular group sang LOUD! haha! it was so awesome! there were about 100-125 people in this auditorium and it was at least as loud as our 700 people congregations at the Vineyard in Cincinnati that i'm used to attending. Songs in english and irish were sung and a good time was had.
All in all the church was super disorganized (for an organized church) and the sermon wasn't terribly enjoyable, i found the guest speaker to be slightly pretentious... but i wouldn't mind going back and trying it out again. Maybe not this week, but sooner or later.
After church, we decided to go to Kinsale and walk around. I had packed a picnic and we were really looking forward to a day together.
Check out these gas prices!
in case you can't read it (you can click on it to make it bigger, and use your "back" button on the browser to come back to the blog), it says €131.9 ... no, that's not one hundred thirty-one Euro and ninety cents... lol it's basically €1.32 per liter.
Now don't go thinkin' that's cheapsies. It takes 4.55 liters to make a gallon. This is estimated to be about $8 per gallon. That's right. EIGHT US DOLLARS!!
I dont want to hear you complaining about the price of petrol over there ;-) you and your $2.25 per gallon fuel... humph!
Here is a poorly composed shot of our entrance to Kinsale. I love all the little square and colorful buildings!
Another poorly composed, hand-out-the-window shot of Kinsale, lol!
We parked the car and enjoyed a picnic before we decided to walk from where we were to visit James' Fort, about a mile and a half away.
This (above) is part of the path we took. I'm so glad i wore my Vibram FiveFingers Classics on this day! it was so nice to feel grass underfoot!
A lovely view of Kinsale as we hiked up to the ruins...
James' Fort! It has been restored over the years, mostly to keep tourists and curious visitors out (especially vandals), but through the keyhole in the door, you can see inside a little, and you can walk around the entire perimeter, which is pretty cool.
Tourists... lol

14 April, 2010

Gluten Free...

So... Grandma was probably right.

My [biological] grandmother expounded on her fairly recent (within the last year) decision to go Gluten Free (GF) to me on my recent visit to Alaska. Also fairly recently, i called her and asked about the family history. As it turns out, Thyroid issues and Celiac Disease are in the bloodlines like a tornado - skipping over some just to devastate the next.
My biological family is relatively new to me. I was adopted as a baby and raised by wonderful and loving parents. When i was 16 i decided (and was allowed) to meet my blood-relatives. It was a great experience for me! It was great to finally see a family resemblance when i had grown up looking like (in my opinion) someone else's kid - much to the argument of several family friends, and neighbors who think i look just like my [adoptive] mom. The "newness" of my biological family still remains as i have not grown up knowing their family history, bloodlines, heritage... i can't even tell you all the names of my [biological] cousins, great grand parents, and even some of my aunt's names escape me sometimes. There are after all 7 aunts and 2 uncles. ;-) My grandmother was/is amazing.

From what she told me about herself, and her benefits of going GF... it's made me really stop and think. I have many of the same "symptoms" that she had before going GF and just thought nothing of it, really. In fact, i pretty much brushed it off after our visit... except for that seed she planted in my brain! LOL!
I actually find myself noticing that gluten seems to be EVERYWHERE! It's so crazy! And perhaps i'm afraid of being GF because of all the wonderful and lovely things i eat with gluten in them every day! Pasta, breads, beer, pretzels, scones, bulgar, bullion cubes...
ok no, i dont drink beer and eat scones every day. i'm just throwing them in there because they are common foods. ;-)
Last night and on Saturday night i was kept awake by some horrendous pain in my lower abdomen. On Saturday V suggested they might be cramps - and i wanted to agree with him but the truth is, i can't because A.) i've never really had cramps that bad. EVER. and B.) i was woken up from a deep sleep by this pain and was fairly delirious through most of it. As for yesterday... I made homemade ravioli (which contains regular flour - which means gluten) and i also made Sourdough bread... stealing little globs here and there from the dough as i was cutting/rolling/kneading not to mention eating some fresh out of the oven. Plus i had lasagna for dinner, which means pasta. Gluten OVERLOAD!!!
My poor husband could only sit next to me and try to comfort me emotionally as i lay next to him nearly in tears. Poor V.

That has gotten me to SERIOUSLY thinking about researching the expenses of a GF diet and finding GF recipes. A little effort now is certainly more appealing than a lifetime of pain and possible diagnoses of something yucky.

12 April, 2010

hundreds day!

 V and i have been married for 100 days as of yesterday! We were married on 01/01/10! Lots of ones and zeros... too bad it doesn't translate into anything exciting in binary. Believe me, i know these things.
Oh! Is my nerd showing? Let me cover that right back up... lol
When i was a kiddo at Taku Elementary in Anchorage, Alaska - we used to have "Hundreds Day" with the kids in 4th grade or lower to celebrate the 100th day of the school year. It was a fun celebration including learning games, paper hats, glitter and paste, construction paper, and all sorts of gaiety. The school used to serve us ice cream with our lunches and somewhere floating around some news station is a video of me and my friends eating our ice cream with the local news caster. It was an exciting day to look forward to! 

Our first 100 days have been exciting! We are completely happy and in love still. This has been the best 100 days of my life.

Speaking of "best days"... it has been sunny and in the 60s(F) for the past 4 days, including today, here in lovely County Cork. B-E-A-U-tiful!!! I've spent the past couple days out soaking up the rays (carefully with my fair skin) and basking in the warmth. I spent a good while sitting in our garden happily planting seeds and getting a little dirty. I could feel the sun in my hair and smell it on my skin when i came in that night... it has been a perfect few days. I love to hear all the birds chirping and the cows mooing and the horses neighing in neighboring farms. *sigh* lovely. Simply lovely.
What did i ever do to deserve such a good life?

10 April, 2010

glorious sunshine and MMM! Stinging Nettles to EAT!

Yesterday was honestly the first day i've felt it was SPRING here in Ireland. It was SO beautiful. The sun was out and it was warm, the cool breezes were gentle... it was a perfect day. I grabbed my iPod and listened to some wonderful Christian tunage by Phillips, Craig, and Dean on low. The birds were good back up to the music and all in all, it did my soul some good :)
I hung laundry outside...
I planted our chilies...
I picked some debris off our strawberries and checked the progress of the new leaves on the Gooseberry bush...
I sat and let the sun warm my skin from across the field (where our garden is)...
It was seriously the best day we've had so far! I thoroughly enjoyed the Vitamin D, maybe even a little too much as i came inside last night to find that i had been sunburned. I wasn't burned badly, but i tell ya... i'm probably the first/only person in Ireland to get a sunburn yesterday despite wearing long sleeves and jeans. LOL! At least my freckles are coming out. That's one of my favorite parts of spring!
   As i walked through the field, i was reminded that we have horseradish growing wild out there. Note to self: make something involving horseradish this year! I bought a gigantic horseradish root before Easter but unfortunately it molded before i could do anything with it... and i bought it not knowing we had horseradish in the field already! Also, i've heard that horseradish is a decent treatment for a UTI... just in case you ever wanted to know. hahaha!
Anyway... earlier, as i was planting the chilies, i leaned back a little to stretch my back, and a few minutes later had an itchy and painful spot on my lower back and a hive had formed. Great. What did i touch?! oh... a Stinging NETTLE!!! AHH!!!  
Not this variety:
We used to have these in Utah pop up occasionally in our yard and believe me- they are NO FUN to step on with bare feet while playing in the sprinklers. No, i was not stabbed in the back by the above plant- but THIS ONE:
And after a brief conversation i had with my husband the other day (when we planted our berries in the above pot) about how Stinging Nettles are great in tea... i decided to take my revenge on this nasty plant. "Nettles... you will become SOUP!!!!" i cried triumphantly as i scratched the spot on my back.
You wouldn't think that such an awful pain would come from such a little plant... then i remembered that it is spring... they'll get bigger. *sigh*
But look! it looks so harmless!
As it turns out, Spring is the best time to harvest Stinging Nettles for Stinging Nettle Soup. So that's  what i did. I broke out the colander and some leather gloves, and started plucking away.
While enjoying the lovely weather, and singing along to my favorite songs, i was payed a visit by Garden Cat!
She is a sweet cat and definitely a kitty who is needy of attention. I've been told that she is owned by the neighbors at the end of the drive (not our landlords who live directly behind us and have a zoo of their own) but she's a strictly outdoor cat. She literally can't get enough attention from V and i whenever we're outside lately! It's kinda funny to know that not long after you're out in the garden, you'll definitely be greeted by Garden Cat. She purrs and mews in conversation and loves to be petted. She'll follow us back and forth through the field to the house and back to the garden. But she's also content to just watch over the activities from nearby: 
Actually, once she came to visit and demanded her daily intake of love, it was hard to pick nettles without her following my extended hand as i reached for a handful of plants! Finally i had to just ignore her for a couple minutes to fill my colander.
Done! ok. now i will pet you... 
As for the Nettles... there's definitely something to be said for the feeling of hunting down your enemy and knowing that later you're going to be eating it in glorious revenge for all the times it has hurt you... mwa hahaha
ok. yeah that was a little violent even from me. lol!
---------------------------------------------------------
V came home from work early (yay!!) because it was Friday and we decided where our blueberry bushes were going to go, then i set to work making dinner!
Stinging Nettle Soup!!!

I had never made Stinging Nettle Soup before, and did a little research before i just dove into something and ended up with stingers in my tongue! lol! I looked over about a dozen different sites and it all boiled down to different variations of the same thing, more or less. So i decided to just wing it and see how it would go. 
First, i boiled a pot of water. Once it was boiling well, i placed all the nettles into the pot to cook for a few minutes. This would soften the little hairs on the nettles that are the cause of the "sting". 
While they bubbled away. V diced an onion for me, which i placed in about 3 Tbs of melted butter in a pan on medium heat. 
Once the Nettles had boiled for a few minutes, i drained them, rinsed them in cool water, and started picking out all the "ugly ones" and plucking off the tough parts, after which i chopped the nettles. By this time, the onions had begun to become soft and translucent, and i just dumped the nettles into the pot followed by 3½ Cups of chicken broth, and literally a handful of rice. I added the rice because i was a little concerned about how thin the soup would be... I had originally planned to leave out the rice, but it turned out i would need it after all. I brought it all to a rolling boil, then covered and let it simmer for about 25 minutes so the rice would cook.
After it was all cooked, i stuck in my immersion blender and liquefied it all! 
After i blended it, i had planned to strain it... but straining it would remove all the "pulp" which i assumed was vitamin rich and full of good nutrients, not to mention would thin out the soup more than it was already... actually it was a perfect consistency at this point... sooo 
i plopped in a dollop of sour cream (whenever i hear "dollop" in regards to sour cream, i am reminded of that commercial for Daisy Sour Cream...), sprinkled it with freshly ground black pepper, and served it up with some of our homemade Sourdough Bread!
All i can say is WOW! This soup was soooo delicious!! It is filled with vitamins A, C, D, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium. Yum!!! Revenge never tasted so good... ;-)




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