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Like most Americans, we watched a LOT of Olympics last week. But when it gets to afternoons of trap shooting and 2.5 hours of live marathoning… even we have to say no. And the weather was great on Grove St., which made it easy to step away from Beijing.

As Anna noted in her previous mini-post, there were three real highlights of the weekend: a new living room setup, a cookout with the latest fruits (err, veggies) of our labor in the garden, and our second attempt at baking our own bread.

We decided a few weeks back that our living room needed, more than anything, a new sofa and bookshelf. It was getting a little college dorm room in there, like so:

We thought to ourselves, maybe it’s time to buy some grown-up furniture and have a place we can really enjoy.  We searched Ikea, found what we wanted, and figured we’d get down there in the next few months and pick it up.  Our hearts were set on a large modern shelf the size of our wall and a nice leather corner couch with comfy cushions and plenty of seats for friends to come watch Ohio State Football.  But, you know how it goes… too little money for a couch too far away, to put into a too-little space… alas, we’d have to find something to suit our needs for function, comfort, and style elsewhere… this is where Mark comes in with his savvy Craigslist searching.

Honestly, Craigslist was reading our minds or wire-tapping our house because last Monday, he got on line and there they were. Not only did he find a seller offering both the sofa AND the bookshelf we wanted, BUT she lived 2 BLOCKS FROM OUR FRONT DOOR. Yes! So instead of renting some kind of truck and heading down to Stoughton and hauling a sofa and shelf back home, we carried them across the street. Literally. After some crafty furniture moving, here’s what we ended up with:

and…

Much more cozy, wouldn’t you say?  Gordon especially likes all of the new nooks and crannies for hiding out in during thunderstorms.

So after a Saturday of furniture rearranging, our buddy (and loyal LPE reader) Seth came over to BBQ. We raided the garden for the following:

and combined with some salad fixings from the farmer’s market, a few sweet potatoes, some beef, and a six-pack of PBR, we were ready to roll! Seth was excited to take the helm at the grill. The strangest thing was the package of Hebrew National hot dogs we bought. Actually, here’s a trivia question: How many hot dogs come in a standard package of Hebrew National hot dogs? Answer: Seven. Seven? Seven! Makes no sense, please someone explain this to us.  Well, whatever–we consumed and enjoyed all seven, and Mark used the extra bun to spread butter on his sweet corn. Riiight.

Sunday was a day of rest, bread-making (and cookie-baking), and long walks. Yes! We decided last month to take on bread as a new project. So we bought lots of flour and a massive package of yeast and have set forth to perfect this process. This week we tried a “homestyle white bread” out of a truly remarkable bread book we found at the local library — Beard on Bread. Go find it. It is truly a gem.

Mark is good at measuring things and Anna is good at kneading, so we make a good team. Here is Anna at work (Anna: “The key is to use the palms to push and the fingers to pull.”

Mark tried not to screw it up:

While the dough was rising, we made chocolate chip cookies. They made the time pass much faster. And Anna already had her super-cool apron on:

After a few more hours, we got two nice golden brown loaves:

When we had some slices for toast this morning, we found them to be a bit dense, but still buttery and tasty. We probably didn’t let the bread rise quite enough in the pans during the second rising. So begins the quest for the perfect loaf! Everyone with a kitchen and an oven should try.

We ended the day with a lovely walk through a new part of Belmont and Cambridge. Mark had been reading a new blog on eating locally in the Cambridge area and came across a brand-new community supported agriculture farm located IN Belmont. Based on the Google Map of the address, it was than a mile from our house! So we ventured to find it. And we did:

Hopefully we can sign on next year to receive weekly or bi-weekly shares of crops and yummy earth treats. Maybe even this winter!

What a walk–what a weekend!  Full yet restful.  Another week is ahead of us, but with so many fun projects on our plate, it’s worth it to work for the weekend.

I removed the octodog post because it was beginning to freak me out a little bit.  The little hot dog eyes were really getting to me, so, sadly, the post and its pictures all had to go.  If you’re super interested in all that is the octodog, go here: http://www.octodog.net/ and read all about it.  Otherwise, for your reading enjoyment we’ll have a post up soon about this weekend’s adventures in furniture-moving, bread-making, and dog-walking.

Enjoy your Monday!

In the last few days, some mysterious signs have shown up on our street:

These have sprouted from all of the neighborhood tree trunks (and phone poles)

These have sprouted from all of the neighborhood tree trunks (and phone poles)

These are clearly awesome. But what do they mean? It’s anybody’s guess. Perhaps…

– There is indeed a “pot” garden in the area (besides ours, which Anna prefers to call a “container” garden) and there are deals to be had

– “Weeddings” are on the cheap for brides and grooms this summer… (although it’s unclear whether the sizes refer to the number of attendees or the wedding party itself)

– A local kid is trying to start a summer business and will share more specific details (like how to sign up for such a service) when the time is right.

I just spotted a new one that is in rainbow colored marker across the street! But I’m not sure if that helps strengthen or weaken any of these hypotheses.

Any thoughts out there?

My sis and I have spent the past week back home in Granville, Ohio in the same house we grew up in. It’s a wonderful time to be here, with the farm fields green and lush, the day’s light still holding strong well past 9 p.m. We’ve kept busy between playing with the family dog (Harry, the labradoodle), walking/running/golfing, visiting family and friends, and, of course, eating.

Eating in Ohio in the summer is a special kind of eating. It fluctuates between the incredibly healthy (fresh produce from gardens and farm stands) to the absurdly unhealthy (fried everything, a la The State Fair Diet). We’ve tended to stick to the former, though a few stops leaning toward the latter have also been fun.

The past few days have been particularly fun. Friday night, Mom, Dad and I did the downtown trio of Nona (wine bar) for wine and apps, Brews (beer bar) for beer and pizza) and Whits (frozen custard… bar?) for dessert. It was the perfect combo. Downtown Granville has come a long way since my childhood.

There was no rest for the weary, though, as we continued on Saturday morning to a fantastic new breakfast place called Early Birds about 20 minutes north in St. Louisville. It’s the kind of place that gets a 25 for food in Zagat’s and a 10 decor — i.e. the food is reallllly good. The highlights were fried oatmeal (see, we fry EVERYTHING in Ohio!), grits, and cinnamon rolls. Service was fantastic, we were even greeted after our meal with a loud “we got four clean platers here” from our waitress, prompting scattered applause from the 20 or so in the spot. They also had a white board posted for customer messages. When I saw one that said “Best fried oatmeal I’ve ever had,” I, being a complete novice to this mind-blowing creation, wrote “ONLY fried oatmeal I’ve ever had!” Has anyone had this before? Here’s a pic of me leaving very satisfied:

Fried Oatmeal? Yes, please!

Fried Oatmeal? Yes, please!

After Early Birds, it was back to Granville for the weekly summer farmer’s market. What used to be a few booths 5-10 years ago has grown into a full-fledged, 20-vendor event. The sweet corn had already sold out by 11 or so when we arrived, but we found zucchini, summer squash, organic stone ground whole wheat flour, and peaches! Luscious, wonderful, locally grown peaches. In fact, these peaches were grown by the Branstool family, a well-known local clan known for farming and Democratic politics. One of the sons, David, who serves as a Licking County Judge, was boxing up the fruit. What a guy and what a place! And what peaches! This picture doesn’t do them justice (pardon the pun, Judge Branstool), but they are near-perfect:

A peck of Licking County's favorite peaches

A peck of Licking County's favorite peaches

Suffice it to say, last night’s dinner was fresh and well-enjoyed outside under the stars.

Today, after more tennis and a trip to the driving range, we took our grandmas to Gahanna (east of Columbus) for brunch. We went to Cap City Diner, a neat place that’s part of the Cameron Mitchell empire in Columbus. It was another great meal. Notice a trend here? After omlets and sandwiches, we ordered one piece of cake to share… because the cake was as big as my head:

A "piece" of cake in Columbus

A "piece" of cake in Columbus

We have a few more days here, so more posts to come about life back in the Heartland. Tonight, we dine with Darryl and Bob, who have just moved from Somerville for Darryl’s job at Kenyon. As you can guess, sweet corn is most definitely on the menu.

Let me say that today wasn’t one of Gordon’s best days.  No, indeed it was not.  I’m not sure if it’s a full moon tonight, or a dog-ette was in heat or the weather was changing–but Gordon the Dog was a little shit today.  It started this morning.  I woke up and took him outside, which is the normal routine (Mark will argue here that me taking Gordon for the morning walk is _not_ a normal routine, but he’s on vacation, so whilst he’s away, this routine is normal) and went around the block–as we turned the corner, a nice man walking a little brown dog came around on the other side of the street.  Well it was still 7:00 am and I wasn’t quite awake at that point, and didn’t have my full day’s strength yet–Gordon pulled me into the street, me shouting “NO GORDON!!” looking left only to see a car coming our way about 100 yards off.  The car was far enough off that I think it saw us and slowed down, although I was so pissed at that point my adrenaline kicked in and I yanked the little beast back to the safety of the sidewalk and sat him down for a talking-to.  Which seemed to last all but about an hour while I did some gardening, and then he proceeded to sit under my desk and chew on one of my hb pencils.

Gordon looking out for wild vegetable-eating beasts while Mom gardens.

The garden is doing really well.  I’m very proud of it so far.  It got a little overgrown and wild, but I took care of most of that craziness this week.  Took one of our cherry tomatoes out and put it into its own pot which seemed to help a lot.   I also created a little string fence for the beans to grow up.  I hope that works, because the first of the beans were really good, and the more beans the better.  We have two full cucumbers and a couple little ones growing too–I check the garden about twice a day, and didn’t notice these until this morning.  They just kind of appeared out of nowhere.

And I’m the most proud of our little yellow-neck squash that popped up this week.  We grew these squash plants from the seed (all of our other plants came from seedlings we bought at the store) so it’s quite special.  Isn’t it beautiful?

I noticed today too we have a few zucchinis, a couple more peppers, and way too many tomatoes of three varieties (romas, patios, grape) that will be ready to eat soon.  Our flowers are doing well too, and the lavender is finally taking some shape, and looks to be growing some flowers which we’ll use in our soaps this winter.  I’ve really loved gardening this summer.  It’s our first garden together.

We’ve had many many plants, but not any that gave fruit, so this is exciting and fulfilling.  I appreciate more and more the work farmers do when I’m out there–and I’m doing it on such a microscopic level comparatively.  Someday I would like my sheep farm with a big big garden to grow enough produce to sell or trade for other things.  But for now I am heartily content.

A pepper and some tomatoes that I picked fresh today.

I went to the grocery store and to the PetSmart because Gordon was running out of food.  Is it just me or are all big-name pet stores crazy and completely under-staffed?  I see the commercials and think, oh, those dogs and cats look so happy, and the people there are friendly and nice! And then I go to pick up dog food that I would gladly purchase anywhere else if I could, but PetSmart & PetCo etc. are the only ones who carry it.  And I feel like I always wait with 15 other customers in the only line of a flustered employee, while someone waits on the side getting pissed and demands a manager.   But where else do you go to buy 45 pounds of ground up flour, oil by-products and other unmentionable meats?  Where!?  Anyhow, despite Gordon’s bad morning behavior, I did decide that perhaps instead of pencils he needed some rawhides to chew on.  YAY! Gordon loves rawhides.  He loved this one so much he ate the whole thing in one sitting.  Sometimes he hides the ends, but not today.

Look at how he grips it with his paws and holds on for dear life.  I keep telling him “Gordon, I don’t chew bones.  I don’t want it!” but any time I walked by him with even the slightest look his way, he took the bone and ran to another part of the house.

What a Gordon!

I also made cookies today–Lemon Drop Cookies which are the easiest and most delightful cookies of the summer.  My mother used to make them when I was little, and she’d make bags and bags of them and stick them in the freezer, because they are best that way.  The Lemon Drop Cookies are made with frozen lemonade and they’re so sweet and tart and lemony!  You take a cup of butter, a cup of sugar, cream them together and add two eggs.  Add to that a mixture of 3 cups of flour, a tsp of baking soda, and a .5 tsp salt.  As you’re mixing in the flour, add half of a can of melted frozen lemonade (you can use pink lemonade too, if you can find it at your store–that’s my favorite!) and then turn out teaspoon sized balls on to a cookie sheet and cook in a 375 degree oven for 12-15 minutes, until the bottoms are light brown.  Then brush the other half of the lemonade on them, and sprinkle with sugar, then pop them into the freezer.  Makes 3 dozen or so.

Gordon really wanted me to drop him one, but since he’d already had a bone and just eaten his dinner, I said no.  No, Gordon, no cookies for you.

He didn’t like that much, so he licked a raw one right off the sheet when I wasn’t looking.

Hopefully he’ll be on better behavior tomorrow, eh?

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