The weather has turned autumnal. (Isn't autumnal a great word?) That means I'm in the mood to bake again, even though we still have quite a bit of bread in the freezer. I began a sourdough starter earlier this week, since room temperatures are now perfect for sourdough. Not long ago, Hank made me insane with jealousy over his fig "problem." This reminded me that there's a special fig-anise bread in the book Artisan Baking that I desperately want to try, but first I need this starter to be ready to leaven. I also hope to get a very large supply of sourdough English muffins made and stashed away before the real cold sets in. We don't keep our house warm enough for a sourdough starter to be too happy here over the winter. Instead of discarding the majority of the dough with each refresh of the starter-in-progress, I've been cooking it in a skillet and feeding it to the hens. They seem to like it.
Our DIY cold frame, with sprouts of beets, spinach, lettuce, carrots, Tuscan kale and even some all but invisible parsley and scallions. We'll have to thin three out of the four kale sprouts in the top center. This is my first foray into the square foot gardening method.
Seedlings are up in our first ever cold frame. This is encouraging to me at a time of year I typically find discouraging. I love sweater weather; really I do. I just think we ought to have another two or three weeks of proper summer here, especially since the spring was such a bust. We didn't get much of a tomato crop this year, and there are no second chances with the heat-loving plants in the area I live. The cold frame is helping to distract me with visions of fresh vegetables plucked from the clutches of winter. I now have a serious case of cold frame greed. I want more square footage under glass next year. I had expected the soil in our cold frame to settle more than it has by now. We may have only very short scallions and kale.
I have found a sewing mentor. She's even local, and isn't charging me anything, though I'll take her part of the sourdough starter when it's ready. So all of you who have despaired of me ever doing any damn thing about my sewing competence goal for this year may have cause for cautious optimism. I've decided to try replicating Julie's lovely cloth gift wraps, inspired by the Japanese art of furoshiki. I had a bit of a shock when it came to purchasing the fabric. There weren't any cheap $2.99-per-yard, made-in-China bolts at the Mennonite fabric store. These wraps that I had planned to deliver my holiday gifts in are probably going to price out close to what I'd like to be spending on the gifts proper. I'm trying to see the expense as part of a learning process as well as holiday gift making.
In other news, I've been feeding my hens the ripened berries of the eastern black nightshade plant. Who knew that a plant with such a minatory name could produce safe and tasty berries? But beware: the rest of the plant is toxic, and the unripened berries are toxic as well. The ripe ones? They taste an awful lot like tomatoes. But since a handful is all I can collect at one time from the volunteers around the garden, and since my new girls are so finicky about so many other things, I let them have these dark fruits they seem to love so much. Pretty, aren't they?
What's new at your place?