Monday, August 30, 2010

First Tomato

Julian holding the first tomato of the season. He got to eat it, too-- he said it was tasty!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Decadent Peach Crisp

Health nuts have given the Crisp a reputation that is anything but decadent. Recipes abound for Crisps that are low-fat, low-carb, gluten-free, etc. If you're looking for one of those recipes, look elsewhere.

This crisp has all of the richness one deserves when indulging in dessert. This is the kind of crisp that is served up in fancy restaurants in mini cocettes garnished with raspberry sauce and mint. Actually, that sounds kind of good... but this recipe is a lot less fussy. Feel free to fuss if you wish, but it isn't required.

For the filling:

Slice about 10 fresh peaches into a 9x13" pyrex baking pan, or similar. The peaches should fill the pan, but leave at least .5 inches at the top of the pan for the filling.

Toss the peaches with:
--the zest and juice of 1 lemon
--1 tbsp vanilla
--4 tbsp flour
--1/2 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
--4 tbsp sugar (or, to taste-- less if the peaches are sweet!)
--pinch of salt

To make the toping, combine in a food processor (or, in large bowl)
--1 cup of unsalted butter (2 sticks)
--3/4 cup of brown sugar (lightly packed)
--3/4 cup of white sugar
--2 tbsp water

Process or mix until light and fluffy. Add
--2 cups flour
--1 cup rolled oats
--pinch of salt

Pulse with the food processor (or crumble together with your fingers) until just combined... should be chunky.

Sprinkle topping onto the peaches.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly and the topping is lightly browned.

Enjoy in small quantities with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Bending Wood

One of the distinctive features of our house are the stucco arches on the porches. When we decided to screen in part of the lower porch, these arches became a challenge. After considering several options, David decided to bend the wood with steam.
Here is David with the straight piece of wood, cut to length with both ends angled to fit.
The straight wood entering the steam machine.

One hour later, the steamed wood is taken out...

Quickly, the wood is pressed into a rough arch shape.

Here's another view of the wood bending.

The wood is wrangled into place and pre-cut supports are hammered into place.

We did three arches, and as might be expected, the last is the most beautiful curve!

Here is another picture admiring the near perfect curve.

This is the first arch that David steamed, with the decorative rays in place.

So pretty!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Steam Machine

For our current project of screening in a porch to be my temporary studio space, David built a machine to steam wood.

Here's the machine! The body of it is a piece of (6 inch?) PVC pipe.

The steam is produced by a kettle on a Coleman camp stove. (The second kettle is just backup, which we ended up not needing and is being used as a prop for the steam pipe).

Here's the joint where the steam enters the pipe. The original version had a smaller pipe, but the larger diameter pipe made a huge difference in the effectiveness of the machine.

Here's the connection to the kettle. The piece that enters the kettle was shaved to fit.

This is the end where the wood fits into the pipe. The screw cap controls how much steam can escape. The whole cap comes off for quick access.

The machine worked flawlessly-- except when we let the kettle run dry and the plastic handle on the lid of the kettle melted. It now has a wooden handle.