Another ‘nother rag rug

I just finished another requested rag rug from sibling C. The first request was finished around this time last year, and a non-requested rug + instructions a few years ago.

This rug is meant to replace a solid-color rug that shows hair and dirt too easily 🙂 The rug uses a new-to-me construction method.

You lay out strips side to side as a warp — I initially had this on a makeshift cardboard loom. The length should be the length you want your rug. Then you take strips of fabric and twine them around each other while doing plain weave. The warp ends up completely hidden.
Used part of a sheet, several pairs of underwear (the elastic was worn out), 3+ tshirts (including one I pulled out of the trash when I realized I was running out of white), and one button-up (stained).

The final rug looks nice but it was sloooow to make and pretty difficult to keep the tension even.

Central Park and warmer weather

We’ve braved going out more now. Especially with the warmer, sunnier weather, others are venturing out too.

That field in the back was so full. I thought at first that picnickers came for a special event, but I think everyone just had the idea in tandem.
In the deeper recesses of the park, you can almost not see any buildings.

Spring bulbs

Early on in the season we saw crocuses and snowdrops, and some grape hyacinths, but the majority of the bulbs in New York seem to be daffodils and tulips.

They seemed to come up quite late despite early warm spells.

Some extravagant varieties.

Trying to buy small-farm beans

After my smashing success buying cornmeal and flour from Castle Valley Mill, a local mill, I want to try getting beans! In the past, I’ve bought some from Rancho Gordo, a California-based company selling heirloom and rare bean varieties. Now that we’re in New York, however, I’d love to find some East Coast suppliers!

The small grain farm and mill map I’ve shared previously has some overlap with beans. I also found a list focusing on bean growers, and an organization and map focusing on small farms near Boston. Some bean suppliers I found mostly in the eastern half of the US:

  • Anson Mills (SC) – heirloom sesame seeds, red field peas, purple cape beans. They also have larger quantities and a wider selection of products available “wholesale” (not sure if you actually need a wholesale license).
  • Meadowlark Organics (WI) – black beans, cranberry beans
  • Mulberry Lane Farm (IL) – various common types of beans, lentils, and peas from the US and Canada. Also sell other dry goods.
  • Ramona Farms (AZ) – tepary beans, chickpeas
  • Rio Del Rey Beans (CA) – tepary beans, anazape beans, rio zape beans
  • Westwind Farm (MI) – kidney beans, cannellini beans
  • Shadyside Farm (MI) – variety of heirloom/rarer beans, sourced from other farmers in area
  • Aurora Mills and Farm (ME) – yellow split peas (can’t buy from directly?)
  • Zürsun Idaho Heirloom (ID) – not-so-small operation, but has a wide variety of beans, peas, and lentils. Works with several hundred farmers in the area (can’t buy from directly?)
  • Baer’s Best Bean (MA, some items sourced from other farms in ME, NY, and the Midwest) – wide variety of heirloom and common beans, and lentils and split peas!! Good East Coast replacement for Rancho Gordo. They also have an Instagram page showing bean-processing steps!

Honorable Mentions!

  • Quality Organics (IL): buckwheat hulls as an agricultural byproduct! Anyone need to make a pillow?
  • Flourist (British Columbia, Canada): wide variety of traceable Canadian beans. Farmers are in Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan

I’m looking into Baer’s at the moment. I sent a message to ask where the lentils and peas are grown – from a 2007 interview with the owner, lentils and chickpeas don’t do well in New England due to the relatively wet weather.

Brewing project

We use alcohol a lot in cooking, mostly for deglazing things and marinating things. The last batch (not shown, but here’s a prior experiment we tried) is close to running out, and buying alcohol through grocery delivery services is a bit complicated (I’m not sure if they just ask you if you’re 21, or if you have to slide the delivery person your driver’s license under the door and hope they don’t run off with it).

So I’m starting a new batch! I’m vaguely following these instructions.

We used some arborio-style rice we got for cheap from our food rescue grocery delivery service
Add the koji, a culinarily important mold used in making many different Asian fermented food products (miso, sake and other rice alcohols, rice vinegar, soy sauce).
After about 3 weeks.

After a week or so of fermenting, the koji sank, indicating (I hope) reduced density of the liquid due to increased alcohol content! Apparently rice takes longer for the yeast to ferment compared to simple carbohydrates, like sugar, so you’re supposed to let it go for several weeks in total.

Hydroponic garden is going slowly

J received a hydroponic garden system from his parents as a Christmas gift. Gardening is not so much his interest as mine, so I’m glad to play with it.

The promise!
The setup. The light is soooooo bright; this photo was taken in a well-lit room.
So we normally wrap it in foil to keep it from being blinding. Another J family member blocked theirs with construction paper.
The first plants to sprout (7 days in) are the Italian basil and the Thai basil. I hear the other herbs (thyme, parsley, mint, and dill) can struggle.

We’ll see how much output we get from this kit. If these particular seeds don’t do well, I’ll stick my own into the growing medium. It’s some sort of dirt-foam material.

Christmas food!

Coleslaw
Chickpea salad
Left to right, front row: chickpea salad, coleslaw, deviled eggs, hummus; second row: roasted cauliflower with raisins, walnuts, and capers, plate of bell pepper, avocado, goat cheese, mozzarella, plate of brie and romano (?), cream cheese, peppadews; back cluster: bacon bits, baba ganoush, artichoke hearts, marinated sun dried tomatoes, olives, zucchini salad, lox.

We also had focaccia and homemade bread. Friend J, the one who does robotics, pointed out that this is a very Greek/Mediterranean meal.

Christmas Eve food!

Cinnamon rolls and hot cross buns before baking.
A bit over-done. The corners were hard. Sibling A tells me that she has a new recipe that stays soft, even around the edges!
A huge amount of lasagna – this is a 13″ pan.
Lechón and rice. We didn’t make this, we bought it from a local Filipino restaurant.
Apple “galette”. It was supposed to be thinner, but turned out very pie-like. Maybe I used too many apples. The spice seasoning for the filling (included Chinese five spice) also wasn’t super strong.

Both the lasagna and the cauliflower soup (not shown) were good, but quite rich. Not a good combo since we didn’t have any plain dishes. Next time, I’d decrease the amount of cream in the soup by half or three-quarters.

Holiday menus

We’re also staying in New York for Christmas and New Year’s…

Christmas buffet

Christmas Eve menu

The Christmas day menu is a bit sparse – I used up all my interesting food ideas on Thanksgiving.

Pudding

These recipes combine a Betty Crocker recipe and one from my grandma. It is surprisingly fast to make!

Chocolate pudding

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch (or other refined starch) or 4 Tbsp flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Mix sugar, starch, and cocoa powder in pan, being sure to remove lumps – sift if needed. Combine milk and egg yolks. Gradually add to pan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Let boil for 1 min, then remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Chill.

Vanilla pudding

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch (or other refined starch) or 4 Tbsp flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla

As above, stirring in butter with vanilla. Chill.

Delicious but not photogenic

Tips

  • If you are having trouble with lumps forming during the cooking process, use a whisk to stir vigorously and make sure the heat is on low. As a last resort, strain the pudding after cooking. Do it fast before the pudding cools and thickens.
  • I’ve only used the starch for this recipe. Flour has approximately half the thickening power of pure starch, so the flour amount provided should be about right, but you might need to adjust a bit.
  • For thicker, richer pudding, replace some of the milk with cream and/or boil for longer than 1 min to reduce the water content.
  • Butterscotch variation: substitute 2/3 cup brown sugar for sugar in vanilla pudding recipe.
  • I find this pudding to have a gelled consistency rather than a gloopy consistency. If you want more gloopiness, try decreasing the amount of starch/flour.