Welcome to May! Oh wait, is that snow?

How long has it been since I last blogged?  I don’t even know.  I’ve filled my time by wrapping up the last semester, apartment hunting, commuting back and forth between two countries, pleading with my compost bin to turn into dirt faster, making new friends, enjoying old ones, trying to soak up all of the sun in Canada, and generally not doing much cooking or blogging.  Of course, with the gorgeous weather Montreal had been having for the last week to ten days, I figured we would be due for some icky weather again.  Today I looked out the window and may or may not have seen snow.  It may just have been heavily wind-blown rain, but in my book, if it looks as snow it counts as snow.  I don’t know how I feel about anything that looks like snow in the middle of May.  I don’t think I like it.  This weekend, however, was not quite so cold.  Tomorrow, thankfully, it’s supposed to warm up.  Today I tried to make the best of, hermiting in my apartment and working on my homesteading skills.

Which is probably a good point in this post to bring up my current compost obsession, or at least get it out of the way.  Feel free to scroll down if you’re disgusted by dirt and bugs or things decomposing in general.  I’ve been composting for almost a year, and despite the fact that I’m certain it was frozen solid for a good part of the winter, my compost bin has been doing well.  On my balcony it’s pretty safe and secluded from most things that want to live in it.  I did recently find what appear to be maggots, but I’m okay with them chilling out, as long as they’re going to turn my compost into maggot poop, and if maggot poop = dirt.  I’m moving shortly, and though I’d be okay taking the compost bin itself with me, I don’t want to move half-decomposed compost.  That’s too icky, even for a girl who wants a farm.  I will move an empty bin, or even a bin full of actual dirt, but I refuse to move a bin full of crap.  This means that I’ve been checking the bin every five minutes to see if the eggshells have disappeared, or if it no longer smells like something died in there.  I’ve stirred it so frequently that I actually broke the broom handle I was using to turn the compost with in half (nothing like Canadian dollar store quality).  I added my last batch of compost last week, along with a ripped up cardboard egg carton and some shredded recycled office paper to try and balance it out.  The picture on the left is how it looked after I added my last batch, and the picture on the right is how is looked after I stirred it up a bit.

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Does anyone have any compost experience?  Any tips to help me produce faster?  I found this website, which seems helpful in general, but not necessarily specific to my questions at the moment: http://crazyaboutcompost.com/.  They also have some youtube videos that I thought were really interesting.

My composting woes are linked to my lack of potting soil for the plants I’ve acquired recently. I currently have a small menagerie of plants that includes a basil plant, Greek oregano, and two geraniums that I rescued from Provigo for $.99 each.  They are all doing really well considering what a plant-killer I usually am, to the point that I feel they need bigger pots.  Which I do not mind providing at all, except that bigger pots require more soil.  Until now, I’ve been able to fill pots with the soil from dead plants (see reference to plant killer, above).  Furthermore, it seems silly to buy topsoil when I know my compost is just on the verge of being done, especially when trying to be self-sufficient and sustainable.  Today I couldn’t take the stringy way the basil was looking any longer.  I suspect it’s due to a proper pot and room to spread its roots, but as a temporary fix to keep it from being top heavy, today I pruned it all back and decided to make basil.  Hopefully I’m not causing the plant any serious trauma.  I already took all of my plants indoors yesterday (yes, it’s that cold out), and perhaps I should have waited until it was back outdoors to cut, but I didn’t.  These pictures are my beautiful basil plant before I harvested it, the basil and garlic on the cutting board, loaded into the blender, and the final delicious product.

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I didn’t follow a specific pesto recipe.  I used as much basil as I had, a few cloves of garlic, and some olive oil.  If I had cheese that resembled anything Italian, such as parmesan or reggiano, I would have thrown it in, but all I had is a tex-mex shredded cheese and a soft goat cheese that’s been living in my fridge since at least October.  I rough chopped everything by hand before using a hand blender to finish it off.  My finished product is a little garlicky, but so delicious!  It’s making me anxious for more basil to be able to make more than the half cup or so that I made today.

After pesto, I had to make fresh bread.  It’s come to my attention that the website I usually use to find the bread recipe seems to be down, so from memory, this is the recipe I followed.  I would love to credit whoever came up with it, but I don’t know who they are.

{ 2.5 cups whole wheat flour, 1.5 cups warm water, 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp honey, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp yeast.  Dissolve yeast in water and mix with flour.  Cover and let rise 30 minutes.  Add rest of ingredients and more water if needed.  Let rise 30 minutes, covered.  Punch down and let rise 30 minutes covered.  Transfer mixture to loaf pan.  Let rise, covered, 30 minutes.  Bake at 375ºF for 40 minutes. }

I know it’s a lot of rise time.  I make my bread by hand, but the original recipe seemed to state that after you combined all of the ingredients, if you were using a bread maker you only had to let it rise once.  Lacking a bread-maker, I can neither confirm nor deny.  It’s a great, easy recipe to try for beginners.  The loaf I made looks delicious… I’m hoping it tastes as good!

This weekend also had some culinary adventures.  I made Rosemary Potatoes for the first time on Friday.  I used this recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/rosemary-roasted-potatoes-recipe/index.html.  But I also made 5 lbs of potatoes so I guesstimated accordingly.  I think they were pretty yummy.

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Yesterday I checked out a place I keep walking by and wanting to go in… Chez Boris.  It’s a homemade donut shop on Parc Ave.  I’m so glad I stopped in.  The place itself is a little dingy, and the donuts are so much smaller than I’m used to (I don’t want to admit how many I ate), but so good!  Definitely check it out… the donuts were the right texture and consistency and not at all greasy.  Also the logo on their coffee mug is just too adorable.

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I think that covers everything I’ve been wanting to post about.  I’ll add the pictures now that go with the words.

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