Author Archives: Fail Better Farm Girl

Vegan dinner. It did not suck.

I made this tonight. I loved it! The Mr… not so much. I’m not sure what about it he didn’t like, and he can’t seem to determine it either. Oh well, leftovers for me tomorrow for lunch!

I flirt off-and-on with this vegetarian/vegan thing. On one hand… I really do love bacon. And a chicken straight off a charcoal grill. Or a meatloaf made with ground venison. On the other hand, we can’t raise our own animals here and I really dislike not knowing where my food comes from outside of just a rack at the store. And – while I like to think that I’d be okay with it – I know deep down that the very first time we go to harvest a chicken for dinner, or have to process a pig, that I’m going to bawl my eyes out. And maybe that’ll be the traumatizing moment of my life that causes me to go vegetarian/vegan permanently, or maybe I’ll come to terms with the facts of where my food comes from.

In the meantime, I play both sides.

I hate this time of year

I think I’ve been neglecting this place because life has just been so busy with the holidays and all. Also, gardening in Ohio in the colder weather/winter is pretty much not happening. We’re city dwellers in a town that doesn’t allow even a chicken in your back yard, so there’s really nothing to do around here. No animals to feed or clean up after, no gardens to tend, no wood to chop and ready for the fireplace. There’s really absolutely nothing to do around here except hunker down and wait out the winter and plan for next spring.

This time of year makes me stir-crazy. I can’t handle being cooped up indoors all the time. Sure, I have knitting and such I can do. But it’s not the same as being able to dig into the dirt. Or smell that scent the tomatoes leave on my hands. Its gotten to the point where we’ve been hitting the stores a lot more often – not to buy, but to just get out of the house. You know what I’ve learned? There are an assload of people out buying a bunch of cheap crap for holiday gifts (which I don’t even understand, but I’m a big proponent of handmade and/or quality over quantity), and that there is NO GARDENING stuff in the middle of December. Did you know that? Shocking, right?! I mean, who would have thought that no one would be gardening in the middle of December in Ohio?

Anyway.

I feel like – blogging here – I’m trying to make something interesting that just… isn’t interesting. At least not at this point in time. We’re just kind of holed up here. There’s just not anything going on. Trellises need built but have to wait until spring. Veggies can’t be started under the grow light yet. There’s literally nothing to do. It feels so… lame.

Things I have not sucked at

Other than blogging. And cooking. And keeping up with things in general.

  • I made some kick-ass candied orange peels.
  • I also made some kick-ass pork tacos. Pork tenderloin in the crock pot with a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Corn tortillas.   Corn, peppers, tomatoes, some cheese, and a dash of Frank’s Red Hot (I put that shit on everything!)
  • I have managed to keep my fig alive. I brought it indoors when the cold weather started setting in, and while it is currently missing its leaves the branches are still nice and its obviously still alive.
  • I have also managed to keep alive a pepper plant. My dad mentioned that you can bring them in during the winter and, with enough light, they’ll survive through the winter though they won’t produce much, if at all. So far this experiment is deemed a success. But we’re only into December – there’s still the harsh January and February to get through, but if it can make it a little while longer I’ll stick it under the grow lamp with my seedlings when I get ready to start those.

Chili for a week

It’s that time of year again – the time of year where we can fix a pot of chili and eat it for a week!

Chili is one of those things that everyone makes differently. Some like it thick, some like it soup-like. Some like chunks of peppers and onions, some don’t like any at all.

The Mr makes an AWESOME chili that I absolutely love, though I do make a teeny modification to my own bowl. We make so much of it that we end up eating it for nearly a week straight.  Best of all, it’s a one-pot dish! Here’s what we do:

  • 2lbs ground meat of choice (we have deer/venison in the freezer currently so we use that, but we’ve also used hamburger, pork, and turkey)
  • 2 cans tomato juice
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 3-5 small-to-medium onions, chopped
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • Chili pepper, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper to taste (this is really a personal preference thing – you don’t want the chili to taste too tomato-y, but I also prefer mine to not be so spicy that I can barely eat it.)
Brown up the meat in your big pot. If you need to drain it then do so (our venison had very little grease to it so we skip this step a lot). Add in the peppers and onions to cook just slightly – you don’t want them raw, but you don’t want them so cooked that they’re mushy. Add in the beans and tomato juice, and then season to taste. Cook, covered, for a few hours on medium low – the flavor/heat of ours tends to increase as we cook it, so if you add your spices but aren’t sure if you should add more or not, give it an hour or so and then come back and taste-test and see.
We make ours up on a Saturday or Sunday around lunch time and let it cook until we’re ready to eat it for dinner.  If you’ve got a lot of ‘filler’ left as you eat it (the meat and veggies), you can add a 3rd can of juice and more spices to stretch the meal further. We do this about 50% of the time – depending on if we’re getting sick of chili yet.
The only thing I do differently with my own bowl is that I add some brown sugar. I find that brown sugar tames some of the spiciness if we accidentally make it too hot, and it just adds a nice flavor IMO.

Ways I fail, early November edition

– I ate out last night. I take pride in the fact that I made it 6 days into the month before I completely blew my own goal.

– I’m probably eating out more this week than not. Thanks, life, for throwing a lot of unplanned crap my way!

– I threw a bag of frozen tomatoes in the fridge to thaw so I could make salsa now that its not so hot in the kitchen, but then life got busy and now they’re not any good.

– I still need to make a Goodwill run to drop crap off, but I keep procrastinating. Now we’re shortly away from Thanksgiving and I’m running out of time to make the house presentable.

– I haven’t even had time to re-pot my fig plant that is sitting in the kitchen sink.

Friendly Pinterest PSA

I’m so fed up with searching for knitting things only to find someone tagged something that was crocheted as knitting. LEARN THE DIFFERENCE, people.

Baked Beans & Irish Coffee

Once again proving the reason why I call this little place “Fail Better Farm” – I completely effed up some baked beans last night. Of all the things to screw up, baked beans isn’t something I’ve had trouble with before.

I was on it last night. I was feeling so productive. I had a plan. I had a recipe. And I was on a mission.  And to top it all of, I even came up with a plan to make dinner at the same time. I was going to be SuperCook, queen of the kitchen!

But… it failed. I did everything right in the beginning. I fried the bacon. I measured and mixed the BBQ sauce and mustard and sugar and vinegar. The smell wafting through the house as the mix baked was ahhhhhmazing. Drool-worthy, even. But that’s where the deliciousness stopped. I baked the beans as I was directed. But what should have been the best beans to hit my taste buds ended up a dry disaster. I don’t know if it was the oven temperature (our oven is finicky and sometimes runs too hot, and sometimes runs too cool, and we could really use a new one. Santa, consider this my request for this year’s Christmas gift!) or if I just baked them too long, or a combination of both. But they were… bad. I don’t mind them being a little dry on the sauce. But the beans themselves had dried out, too, and were just… weird.

So… yeah. I’ll fail better next time I guess.  Onto something I haven’t failed on: knitting!

I actually gauge swatched for my Irish Coffee sweater.  (Oh, I’m sorry, did you think I’d be talking about something to drink? Yeah… sorry. Kinda.) And, further proving why I keep blowing off gauge swatches, I got near perfect gauge. But I know the second I decide to forego the swatch process on anything where fit actually matters I’ll be totally screwed. So I’ll swatch and swatch and swatch some more. This may be Fail Better Farm, but its certainly not Fail Better Knitting.

The picture is pretty crappy (damn phone cameras… no matter how hard they try they still just don’t match up to a regular camera), but the yarn is Valley Yarns Northampton in the color Fawn. It knit up nicely for the swatch. The yarn has a nice quality about it. And its a pretty, neutral color. I’m a little worried it’ll look awful against my skin tone (certain light colored neutrals make me look pale and sickly), but it’s not that bad. And worst case I can find a friend to dye it a darker shade of brown, or even maybe a wine color, once knit.