Monthly Archives: March 2012

this could get dangerous.

Yesterday, I made a grocery list. Then I went out into the world to get acupuncture for the first time ever (figured it was my duty, as I’m starting massage school in about a week). Then after that I sat down in my car and looked at my list and saw “nut butter” scrawled at the bottom. And I was feeling all creative and open and shit after the acupuncturist pulled tiny needles out of my feet and I thought, “I could just make my own.”

So I went to Bob’s Red Mill and hit the bulk section and picked up roasted Oregon hazelnuts and whole raw almonds and dry roasted cashews with salt and some flax seeds. I didn’t measure the quantities. I was feeling too free. I already threw away the receipt, but I remember looking at the total and feeling clever that the cost of ingredients was about the same as a jar of the stuff at the store, but would make a larger quantity. Here’s a before picture:

So I plugged in my VitaMix (I could have used my food processor, I think, but I feel like using the VitaMix gives me more crunchy hippie cred) and whirred the flax seeds around on high for 30 seconds. I don’t know this for sure, but it seems like somehow busting open the seeds would make their healthy goodness easier to absorb. People eat flax seed meal for the omega 3s and fiber, right?

Anyway, then I poured the rest of the nuts in there, turned the machine on, turned the speed up to 10, and then flipped the switch on the far left to HIGH and pushed the mixed nutty goodness around with the tamper to make sure they all made friends with the blades at the bottom. And then the machine made the sound of a jet engine backfiring and the cats jumped off the couch and ran upstairs and I was afraid I was destroying this lovely and expensive Christmas present from my man and then all of a sudden it looked like nut butter. I turned everything off and tasted a spoonful. It was warm from the friction of the blades and the power of the VitaMix. Thicker than store-bought natural nut butters, and not as oily. Not as salty, either, but that’s actually OK. The cashews lend a mild creaminess to the mix, and the hazelnuts add a lovely roasty sweet flavor. It’s truly almond butter, though, which is good because that means I won’t eat it all in one sitting.

I used to buy peanut butter. I don’t believe in completely eliminating certain foods from my diet (BWAHAHA except gluten)–I think that can be a slippery slope towards disordered eating in this culture. But I really can’t keep peanut butter in the house anymore. I used to buy the Whole Foods brand natural creamy peanut butter. I would kill a jar in, like, three days. This started to get to a ridiculous place. I remember walking to Whole Foods from the Veggie Co-op when the roads were too nasty to drive my little Chevy Metro there. I just checked: that was a mile. I would walk a mile in the snow/ice/wintry mix to get my damn peanut butter. It was probably below freezing, too. And then I would walk back. The Co-op bought giant 5-gallon tubs of some other (often crunchy) peanut butter, but it wasn’t the same.

And now I have the power to make my own. At home. As long as I can refrain from buying peanuts next time, we’re safe.

I can still write a blog post if I have no idea what I’m doing.

The title says it all. Or, at least, quite a bit.

what the hell is this?

Since moving into our lovely lovely home, I’ve had to work a bit to change my mindset on my living space. In the past, it’s been apartments or stepping stones–you move in, you think “I better get this shit up on the walls and enjoy it before I move out in 6 (8, 11, 12, 20) months.”  And, significantly, you often don’t have any of your own dirt.

Dirt in the ground, I mean. Containers be damned. I kill things in containers.

We moved in November and have a smattering of things up on the walls. Every few weekends Jesse will get a burst of ambition and hang things or reconnoiter the office (or the closet, or the garage–bless him). Every few weekends I’ll get a burst of inspiration–or is it indignation?–and say EFF IT and paint the living room purple (“plum swirl”, actually) or the half bath a crazy mango and Caribbean blue. Or start a garden.

Woah there. Like I said, I’ve never had my own dirt. Like, in the ground. I remember the MULCH garden back at Mac, where I never helped out or had time or interest in learning anything from my green-thumbed neighbors. I succumbed to my  (false) perception of futility of growing things in Minnesota. Whatever. I’d like to think I’d have changed and would be doing the same thing if we’d stayed in Minneapolis, despite the relatively infinitesimal growing season.

That said, the Northwest has its own set of challenges too. We had sun and 50 degree weather a week and a half ago–couldn’t imagine another frost–and on Tuesday it snowed a few inches. It’s been raining for the last couple days, and turning over our clay soil while it’s this wet would make for a raised bed full of bricks. I learned this stuff from the good people at Portland Nursery on Division, who don’t care that I know nothing and was in fact a garden cynic a few years ago. I did my own research, too, and picked up Square Foot Gardening and Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades at the Powell’s Books for Home and Garden store on Hawthorne.

The Portland Nursery people seemed pleased that I’d picked those two to be my main guides after a brief and caffeinated Internet search for help. I like these books–if you can get past both authors’ “my way is better than any other way and let me tell you why a million times before I tell you how to fucking do it” tones, you actually will encounter a wealth of valuable instruction. I’m relying on it.

Well. So far, I’ve:

  • pulled back the leaf cover over the raised beds we have against our south-facing fence in the back yard
  • transplanted a giant fern because I own this place and put my ferns wherever I damn well please
  • lay down 1 bale of Black Forest Soil Amending Compost to help break up the clay and improve the soil’s nutrients
  • bought and assembled a compost bin (that Enviro World guy–perfect for our smaller space, my lack of motivation for turning the pile, and because we don’t need 15 cubic feet of amazing compost every 2 weeks)
  • bought seeds and started planning my little square foot plots (I plan on picking up tomato, pepper, and lavender plants at the OC Farmer’s Market when it comes time)

To do, still:

  • lay another bale of compost when the rain lets up enough for me to go outside without melting
  • turn the compost under when it’s been dry enough
  • pick up large garden labels and nylon cord or string to keep myself honest about how big a square foot really is
  • …and, according to the Almanac‘s projected date of last frost, start planting in about a week!

Apparently, keeping soil healthy is a year-round task. We’re jumping into the cycle now, but not entirely from scratch–it’s clear that the previous owners cared about their dirt, at least a bit. The Portland Nursery info chick started waxing poetic about overwinter crops and I went cross-eyed. One step at a damn time. I’m under no illusions that I’m, like, a new hipster homesteader or anything.

But I do have some bitchin’ Carhartt overalls in my dresser.