atwitter: september

mr. t's portrait of a group of mamas

A blogging mama meet-up. A while back I wrote about meeting some blogging friends in person for the first time. Well, we did it again, but this time there were seven of us. The photo above is what Mr. T came up with when I asked him to use my camera to take a picture of us lined-up mamas. That’s the back of my head–guess the boy likes close-ups. Tara.mama.wendy’s Finn got a much better one. Maya of Urban Organica did a fun write-up of the day. And Amy of Diary of a Domestic Animal wrote a musing that made me teary. I’m still amazed at how you can find kindred souls via computers. And I’m still feeling the magic of the day.

not quite all fifteen homegrown tomatoes, homemade mozzarella

making mozzarella. Ever since reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I’ve wanted to try making my own fresh mozzarella. I finally got a cheesemaking kit, and have made two batches. I’m still learning and tweaking, but it’s been fun! Good, local organic milk seems to be key. I’ve used full-fat milk in both batches, but I’m going to try lowfat for my next batch; the locally-made mozzarella that I like tastes like it’s from part-skim milk. And while our tomatoes haven’t gone gangbusters this year–note to self: plant favas and amend soil–we’ve had a steady stream. Perfect with homemade mozz.

spunk & bite

new books. Spunk and Bite: A Writer’s Guide to Bold, Contemporary Style, by Arthur Plotnik is very naughtily tempting me away from my essayist for this month, M.F.K Fisher. The book was recommended by my writing friend Carolyn, after reading my E.B. White post, and the comments on Strunk and White’s Elements of Style. Spunk and Bite is the antidote to all the confining rules of Strunk and White. Here’s a quote, showing Plotnik’s response to a quote by White: “Stick to the standard, White decreed, because ‘by the time this paragraph sees print, uptight, ripoff, rap, dude, vibe, copout, and funky will be the words of yesteryear’. That was some thirty years ago–and, dude, those words are still very much around.” Funny. The whole book is written with that kind of wit. Good writing advice that takes its own advice.

prettiest kombucha cover ever

making kombucha. Now I’m really going to be accused of going off the deep end of the earth mama pool. But I’ve developed a craving for the stuff. I’ve always been a vinegar fiend, and kombucha is vinegary, fizzy and thirst-quenching. Plus there are lots of purported health benefits, which you can read about online, or in books like Nourishing Traditions. But at $3 and up per bottle, I thought I’d try to make my own. You need a kombucha “mother” to start a batch, which means you need a friend with a working batch, or you can buy one (fairly expensively) online. I’m trying to start my own mother, using a store-bought bottle and this recipe from Paprika. I started mine on 8/25, and it’s just about ready for brewing a first batch. Of course, I think it’s developed especially well over the last few days, because my jar got a new cover. Isn’t it exquisite? It was crocheted by Molly, using thread from her husband’s grandmother. Looking at every tiny stitch in its pattern, I’m awed by the artistry and the fact that it’s been gifted to me. It’s really far too beautiful to be on a jar of kombucha; look at how pretty it looks on Molly’s pitcher. Then again, I kinda like having it over my pet project. Like I told Molly, it’s sorta perfect, resting over something that’s alive and growing and changing–like friendship.

jane meets a lacy skirt with bows

knitting progress. This one’s coming along much faster than my sweater coat. One sleeve almost finished, one more to go. It’s in linen and cotton–perfect for the Indian summer weather we’re having, and I want to wear it now! My version is a bastardization of two patterns. Details here for you Ravelers.

So tell me, what has you all atwitter?

14 comments… add one
  • Dawn Sep 28, 2009 @ 8:55

    Oh, I loved AVM and we officially changed Friday night to pizza night after I was so inspired by all the d’lish pies she was making and eating!

    I have yet to try Kombucha, though many friends keep offering scobys. Perhaps I shouldn’t have googled scoby to show the hubs…reaction was classic but not so much intrest after that!

    Peace, Dawn 🙂

    • patricia Sep 28, 2009 @ 22:17

      Oh no, internet photos of scobies sound like a bad idea! They look pretty, well, slimy. Just the name, scoby, doesn’t sound like something you’d want to consume, does it? Somehow referring to it as a kombucha mother or baby sounds better.

      I don’t know if my husband will drink it–but my kids like it!

  • molly Sep 28, 2009 @ 20:58

    your sweater jacket is beautiful! and one of these days i want to read that book. i adore elements of style. i’m curious, would “chap” be a more appropriate word to use than “dude”?

    • patricia Sep 28, 2009 @ 22:28

      But look, dude was one of White’s own examples of words that would go out of style! Isn’t that funny? All of his examples of words that would quickly fall out of style are ones that are still quite prevalent and popular today. (It’s probably a little confusing the way I’ve taken it out of context.)

      Or maybe you got that, and you’re just wondering what word White would find better? I have no idea. Young man? But, doesn’t that sound a little funky? It just doesn’t have the same vibe. 😉

  • stefaneener Sep 29, 2009 @ 9:30

    It looks like a magical get-together. When I get my act together and call for garden bloggers to party, you’ll come, right?

    I will join you in lock-stepping over any edge — there are two jars of kefir water brewing on my kitchen counter as we speak. I have plans for yogurt next week and vinegar this winter. Can prairie dresses and cached firearms be far behind?

    My older girl might enjoy that book. ..

    • patricia Sep 29, 2009 @ 22:43

      I don’t deserve to come to a party for garden bloggers, but if you invite me, I promise to come and be inspired.

      Yes, prairie dresses and cached firearms–Chris keeps asking me when we’re all going to start forging buckles for our shoes.

      I’ll bet your older girl would. At the workshop last week, when we were sharing favorite words and stumbling on the meaning of one, I looked at S for help just as someone else shouted out that she would know the definition…

  • Andrew Sep 29, 2009 @ 9:45

    Beautiful doily, but it won’t keep out the fruit flies, mold spores, etc. I’d suggest covering the jar with a coffee filter and then place the doily on top of that. 🙂

    • patricia Sep 29, 2009 @ 10:34

      Thanks for stopping by, Andrew. I took it off for the photo, but I’ve been keeping a few layers of cheesecloth under the jug cover. But I like your idea of a coffee filter better. It would be more streamlined under my fancy cover…

  • Tara Reese Sep 29, 2009 @ 11:41

    i’m still all abuzz, too~ meeting up with everyone was so wonderful! (i am still feeling like i talked WAY too much, i want to hear everyone’s stories! i want to live next door to everyone!)
    i can’t believe how gorgeous the doily is… and talk to alex about kombucha, he can’t get enough.
    i’ve bought a cheese making book, but i haven’t tried it yet. and that, in a nutshell, describes me. i’ve bought the book, but i haven’t… built a terrarium, learned italian or how to track animals, kept bees, made marionettes…

    and also, the sweater! it’s incredible and so much farther along than when i saw it. i’m so glad i know you. for a myriad of reasons.

    • patricia Sep 30, 2009 @ 22:40

      “I’ve bought the book but I haven’t…”

      Oh, how I can relate. Let’s call it I’ve-bought-the-book-but-haven’t syndrome! It’s not such a bad trait, though, to be someone who aspires to learn. ‘Cause it’s not like you’re doing nothing, you pickle-making, cake-baking, tomato-growing, scarf-knitting, nature-table-building, aperture dork!

  • Carrie Oct 1, 2009 @ 22:19

    The fresh mozzarella looks yummy. Then I saw this recipe for Pesto and Mozzarella Aebleskivers at one of my favorite cooking blogs and knew I needed to send it to you:

    What was I a twitter with in September… hmm … my first homemade pesto ( I know, where was I)… making edible cell models and researching whether an ostrich egg is truly considered one single cell- and it is! … Sierra City … camping and watching my two boys really enjoy each other… campfire cannolis ( marshmallows wrapped in crescent roll dough and roasted until melted- yum) … playing one of my favorite Bach Minuets as a two violin duet with my 7 year old … reading a book of !essays! called Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness … and most of all falling in love with my husband again who was home from work for three blissful weeks.

    • patricia Oct 6, 2009 @ 7:42

      Oh my gosh, those aebleskivers look divine. Did you try them? Do you have one of those fancy pans?

      I loved reading about all your September thrills. Are you sure you don’t want to start a blog? It sure would be fun to read more about edible cell models, and campfire cannolis, and Crow Planet….

  • Rosanna Oct 3, 2009 @ 19:50

    That sweater is glorious! One of these days I’ll learn how to knit. In the meantime, I’ve bought the book…. Hope your kombucha mother’s doing well!

    • patricia Oct 6, 2009 @ 8:15

      Hey, thanks for coming by, Rosanna! I think lots of my friends have followed my link to your recipe. It’s like you’re virtually sharing your kombucha mother all over the place!

      It’s been a little over a month since I started my mother, and it’s looking beautiful–if you think slimy white masses can be beautiful! It’s sitting on the top of my first batch, getting thicker by the day. The only change I made to your recipe is that leaving the tea in while the final batch cooled made it steep for several hours, which seemed too strong. So I tried it again, steeping it in half the water required for fifteen minutes, removing it, and then adding the remaining half of water, which cooled the mixture faster.

      I can’t wait to taste it! Thanks so much for showing us how.

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