House Renovation Updates

What makes it a remodel vs a renovation? I was thinking of that in the middle of drafting this post.

Well, whatever it is, we are in the middle of it! This weekend we really hit some major strides and milestones. I unpacked all the plastic sheeting in the kitchen…that has been up since we took the wall down in February! We decided that there were enough steps between now and actually demoing the backsplash and counters that we could use our stove and hood for a while. Major horray for not cooking on a hot plate for awhile!

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We are also making huge changes in the living room. Matt has the fireplace (new hearth, mantle) framed out and covered in plywood. Brick veneer has been selected and is on order. We ordered sample tile for the kitchen and are narrowing it down. The table saw from the Tool Library has been working hard in the driveway and Matt is getting lots of practice. Next up: cabinets and cubbies for the kitchen! And a new light, and, and and…the list goes on!

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Two thirds of our potatoes are harvested, garlic is curing in the laundry room, bush beans are coming in by the handful and the Spanish beans are less than a week away from first harvest. Kale is going bonkers but areas are plagued by powdery mildew (boo!), and zucchini has been rolling in for breakfast, dinner and chocolate chip zucchini bread. Raspberries are a daily treat. And we have so many sweet peas for bouquets everywhere. We are in harvest time and it feels amazing.

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While the rest of the country is facing a massive heat wave, the temps this year have been much lower and wetter. It is a welcome break from last summer. The grass is even still green!

And we are working on a name for our little farm. A few names have come up, but we are trying really hard to make it just right.

Happy July…we are already counting down the days till fall vacations arrive! Better get moving on these house projects…or renovations whatever they are called.

Summer: Season of Zuchinni

Last year our zucchini growing efforts were unsuccessful. I am still not sure how that was possible but it was.

This year is the total opposite. We have plants that are literally almost thigh high, with leaves like platters. HUGE flowers are producing lots of zucchini and we are thrilled. Ask me again in a month if I still feel this way!

Sunday morning I took our largest friend on the kitchen counter and turned him into two beautiful loaves of scrumptious chocolate chip zucchini bread. I have never had a standard recipe so here is what I made this time.

This made two loaves.

  • 1.5  cups all purpose flour
  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup coconut oil (melted if solid)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup plain whole greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups zucchini, shredded and squeezed in a towel to dry a bit
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Method: in a bowl, mix dry ingredients. In separate bowl, mix wet ingredients and sugar. Stir together gently. Add zucchini and chocolate chips. Do not overmix!

Bake in two loaf pans lined with parchment at 350 for ~40 minutes or until golden brown and tester comes out clean.

Cashew Coconut Date Swirl Vegan “Ice Cream”

I am trying out a dairy-free diet for the month of July, and of course the #1 thing I am stressed about missing out on is ice cream. I love ice cream! During the summer we routinely whip up homemade versions: mint cookie, brown butter swirl, strawberry, peach…they are all amazing and made with our wonderfully dark egg yolks and organic cream.

So to avoid missing out on ice cream season, I decided to try out a dairy free option: coconut cashew with date swirl. I found a recipe here and modified it to make it my own. The results: really quite good! It was a tad bit sweet for my tastes, and I may have added a touch too much rum. However it was super creamy and cold and delicious (and easy!) to make. Made even better with a sprinkle of coarse salt on top.

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Cashew Coconut Date Swirl Vegan “Ice Cream”

Base:

  • 16 oz water
  • 1.5 packets powdered coconut (we used this one…higher fat content that some)
  • 1.5 cups raw cashew pieces, soaked 6 hours and drained
  • Vanilla
  • Salt
  • Dollop of dark rum
  • ½ cup coconut sugar

Date swirl:

  • 12-14 dates, soaked in hot water 10 mins and drained
  • good salt (we use coarse kosher) as this makes it taste like salted caramel!
  • 2-6 Tbs warm water as needed (we used drained water from date soaking for extra flavor)

Place a glass or metal freezer pan (we use a pyrex bread pan) in the freezer to get cold. Blend ingredients in blender until smooth (as smooth as you can make it!) and set in fridge for at least 4-6 hours (overnight it best). Make the date sauce by pulsing soaked dates, salt and water as needed in a food processor until smooth. Press through a fine sieve to get it extra creamy. Refrigerate.

Pour into ice cream maker and churn until thick and semi-solid. NOTE: this was super quick compared to regular ice cream. It took only ~10 minutes in our Cuisinart churn before I transferred it to the freezer dish.

Dump ½ frozen ice cream base into frozen pan, add date sauce, swirl with a knife, add remaining base and top with a little more sauce. Freeze at least 6 hours before eating.

I recommend eating with a sprinkle of extra salt on top.

 

Hummus & Bread

We are on a few culinary kicks. First off, cooking on a one burner induction hotplate. With the kitchen out of full function (and soon to be worse when we rip of countertops, backsplash and add more cabinets!) we are trying to utilize our grill and oven more. Enter: no knead bread. I have read this recipe for years now and decided to give it a try. We are hooked. My modification is using half whole wheat flour and half regular bread flour. Perfect hole-y inside, chewy outside and beautiful to look at.

No-Knead Bread

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour (I use half whole wheat, half bread flour)
  • oat bran
  • 1/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt

Bake in a cast iron pot with a lid. See method hereIMG_2835[1].

Next up: something to go on that bread, hummus. To be honest, I have never really loved hummus. It was ok, but this changed my mind. It rocked my world and is all I want to eat! With veggie stick, by the spoonful, and best of all, on fresh bread (see above!) Matt’s thrown together version of a fresh lemon pesto hummus is wonderful.

Lemon Pesto Hummus

  • 2 cans beans, drained (garbanzo, white or a combo of the two)
  • Juice of 1 lemon (or more to taste…it should have a lemony zing!)
  • 1 cup-ish of fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup good olive oil
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • Optional: sun dried tomatoes

Method: In food processor, blend all ingredients until very smooth. If too stiff, add more olive oil.

SURGE – Artist and Science for Climate Change

I am thrilled to announce that I will be featured in my first official art show with a seaglass piece from my artistic endeavor, Sun Turtle Studio!

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A local exhibit will be featuring artists partnering with scientists to explore and visualize the impacts and risks of climate change. I am working with a scientist from Western Washington University to put together a massive seaglass mosaic – as in HUGE, like 5 feet by 5 feet of hanging glass. Now, I do not have nearly enough in my own personal collection to pull this off, so I have called on the global seaglass collectors through social media to contribute! I am receiving donations from all over the world. It is amazing.

Want to see the piece I am working on? Progress will be shared on Instagram @sunturtlestudio. The show will run at the Museum of Northwest Art September 17-25 in La Conner, WA.

Westport Surf

Time is flying by, the remodel and garden are the forefront of our schedule, but at the beginning of June we took a weekend to go to the coast. Two and a half hours from home is the little oceanside town of Westport. We stayed in a yurt with my parents, surfed on our new board (loved it!) and had some much needed time away from the house.

We ate good food, collected shells and sanddollars on the beach, explored a lighthouse. It was lovely…even with the rain, feeling sick and less than perfect conditions.

Memorial Day Goals

Memorial Day snuck up on me this year. What? Three day weekend? I will gladly take one of those!

The weekend looks wet and cool, then next week promises sunshine and warmer night temperatures…perfect for my garden goal of tucking in 50+ tomato plants! This year I saved seeds from our three favorite varieties (Old German, Milano and Sun Sugar) and every single seed I planted has now grown into a beautiful strong plant. We transport them from the deck to the living room every day and they are now ready to plant outside. I plan to tear out the last of the chard and kale plants (all are bolted…perfect for chicken treats and harvesting seed!), put down a thick layer of compost and broadfork it all in.

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We also have a massive pile (if you can even call it a pile…more of a mountain) of sticks and branches that need to be chipped. If we can get the chipper started that would be a great thing to tackle this weekend. Some of the larger sticks may get repurposed thanks to this inspiring fence idea.

Matt is finishing up the hardwood floors in the expanded kitchen and then it will be on to finish coating the drywall, adding texture and building cabinets. Time to pick up the tool library table saw!

This three day weekend is going to fly.