Apr 15, 2011

Rotary cutters, baking, and the beach

What happens when you have some hoarded gift cards from Christmas and your birthday, and there's a sale at Jo-Ann of something you've been thinking about getting for years, that you've suddenly had new ideas about how to use?

Well, I end up buying rotary cutters and a cutting mat, is what happens to me. I even got the mat in one of my favorite colors; I was walking away from the scissors section and turned around for one last glance, and saw this one hanging on the display on the side of the aisle:

Rotary cutters and mat

It's even recyclable. :D Not that I intend on getting rid of it any time soon, but if I have to have plastic objects in the house, it's nice when they're recyclable. Then I have the option of trying to upcycle them myself or of sending them off so someone else can turn them into something. Options are good. ;D

And look, the other side of the mat has cute birdies on it!

Cutting mat, birdie side

In other news, I baked my first loquat pie yesterday — I failed to take a photo of the loquats while they were still on the branch, but they came from a tree that's been growing in my parents' yard for I think longer than I've been alive. When I was a kid I contrived to only eat the fruits when they were in the tangy not-ripe stage, so I've been laboring under the misconception for most of my life that the fruits are not sweet at all. Yeah, I was so wrong. These were sweet enough that I barely put any sugar into the pie.


Loquat pie

But I burned the crust a bit because yesterday was a Day of Incompetence. (Good thing I didn't try to make loquat jam, which was what I was thinking of doing when I clipped the loquats off the tree. Incompetence plus first-time jam-making would probably have equaled suck.) Maybe also because I've never used white whole wheat flour before, at least not that I can remember, and it doesn't seem to be exactly like all-purpose flour (why would it be? Since it's, like ... a different thing and all ;)). I was even a good girl and used up the leftover cinnamon sugar topping from some French breakfast puffs I baked earlier this week, by throwing it in with the loquats.

French breakfast puffs
The aforementioned French breakfast puffs.

By the way, with the above photo, I now have photographic evidence that my baking technique has indeed changed. Generally it seems to have improved (though not consistently, as I have more Days of Incompetence now than I used to). In this case, the change appears to have made these come out out lumpy, like the ones I've seen on other blogs, but unlike the ones I used to make years ago:

French breakfast puffs
See? Smooth as a baby's butt, but, I dare say, sweeter. And crunchier.

...but this is one of those cases where I actually like the way I used to make them better. I wonder what I did differently — did I over-stir the batter?

It's also moderately hilarious that that photo from like 4,000 years ago, taken with my old point-and-shoot, is better than the one taken recently with my DSLR. The lighting in the place I lived in Wisconsin was ridiculously perfect for food photography. Now, if I ever get far enough into cleaning and reorganizing around here, there's a possibly equivalently-perfect location in my current living space. But you know, there's that "getting far enough into cleaning and reorganizing" thing.

While I'm on food photography, would you like to see the fresh local yummy eggs we got while we were doing our last CSA veggie pickup?

Local eggs, yay ;D

Local eggs, yay ;D

I love that they're all different colors. ;D The lady who sold them to us says that the green ones (er, not that any of them look very green in those photos, but I promise some of them are vaguely vaguely green, kind of like if powder blue secretly wanted to be mint green) are supposed to have less cholesterol. Weird, huh?

Oh, and did you know that — supposedly, also according to the egg lady — if you store your eggs in the carton with the pointier side down, it will help keep them fresher? I have no idea whether that's actually true, and we'll probably never find out, since eggs never survive our kitchen longer than about a week and a half (we seriously need our own chickens; if I had a yard it would be done already), but maybe you can test the theory and report back. ;)

To cap off this week, we also made our first spring pilgrimage to the beach. (There, I dumped a knitting book and a Folkwear ethnic clothing book right into the sand just before we left. DOH. I told you incompetence abounds lately. But this photo is not of that.)

Sandals at Dunedin Causeway

Last year we utterly failed to go to the beach at all during the summer. It isn't summer yet, but I have hopes that if we train ourselves to go to the beach regularly this spring (I mean, we have a beach right there not ten minutes away, albeit a small and rather rocky one), we'll get stuck in the habit and mindlessly continue into the summer. Then the first mate will be more brown than pale blue ... though I imagine his face will still be pink. Oh, and I need re-confirmation that his hair is capable of instantaneously turning gold, with, like, one full day in the sun. I swear I saw it do that one day, but it was a few years ago, and I need more evidence to make sure I wasn't hallucinating.

Also, if we go to the beach more, I will again have motivation and reason to build myself a little charkha. It's hard to spin with a drop spindle on the beach (wind and a drop spindle are not great bedfellows), but a charkha seems like it'd be more manageable. That's a good excuse for having a charkha, right? So I can spin cotton yarn on the beach that I can then turn into warm-weather clothes to wear on the beach? ;)
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