Thursday, April 24, 2008

Wind Energy

The Mighty Wind of the Outer Banks

One of our local brewpubs, The Outer Banks Brewing Station, had an Earth Day celebration and dedication of their new wind turbine. According to the Brew Station they are the only brewpub or restaurant in the U.S. to use wind power. (I did a quick search and found that at least a few other small breweries, including Brooklyn Brewery, use wind power for their brewing equipment. Here here to conscientious brewers!) To celebrate they had a pig-pickin' and served up $1 drafts of their beer, brewed right here in Kill Devil Hills, NC. The wind turbine is very good-looking, not at all the eyesore some nay-sayers might have expected. Get your own here. I hope this will only be the beginning of wind turbines here on the Outer Banks, where we are blessed and cursed with persistent wind. 

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Surprise! It's a lizard

Check out this guy:

I think he's a Green Anole lizard. I saw him when I was leaving the house the other day, and I almost didn't stop to take a picture. But I ran back in to grab my camera because I saw him do this: 

This morning I planted my sunflower seeds. Now it's raining, which is good. But it's supposed to rain for the next few days so I hope the seeds don't wash away. 

If you need a laugh check out this SNL skit. It's a hoot. Especially to someone who wants to throw a surprise party for her boyfriend every year.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bread Baking and other Disasters

James Beard would not be proud of the Brioche Bread I made this weekend. The dough rose nicely the first time, but then something went awry. I don't know if I let them rise too long after I shaped them into loaves, or if I used the wrong size pan (well, I know I used the wrong size pan, I just didn't think it would make a huge difference). 
Everything was going well at this stage:

and at this one:

But here I can see that maybe I've let it rise a little too long. There were some pockets of air on top of each loaf. They deflated a little when I brushed the tops with egg wash. 

So the bread browned up nicely, but you can see the loaves are a little stumpy. 

But they tasted great. So maybe "disaster" is too strong a word. Overall, this is a fun recipe. There is no kneading required. The dough is soft and after you mix the ingredients together it's ready to rise. It's very hands-off, which I like. You can get all kinds of things done while simultaneously making bread. 

Next time I make a Brioche loaf I'm going to use less butter (this bread is so buttery that when I make toast I worry the toaster is going to catch fire).  I'll also let the dough rise longer on the first rising, but keep my eye on the clock for the second rising. I'll use smaller pans, too. Turns out an extra inch or so does make a difference. Sorry, James.

You can find James Beard's recipe for Brioche Bread from Beard on Bread here.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

After the Rain

The lavender is blooming in the front yard. All of the rain has made everything beautiful. 

There is a lavender farm in Currituck County called Harbinger Lavender Farm
I used some lavender to decorate the bathroom like this:

Today I finally got around to planting my sugar snap pea seeds. I've never grown these before so I experimented with all manner of planting them. I started some in these peat pots (5 inches in diameter), a few in a recycled yogurt container, and several in a large pot so they won't need to be transplanted. I still have seeds left over, so if I think of a new way to plant them I'll try it. The seeds are so big I didn't think they would do well in a peat pellet, so I skipped that option. 

A reminder of the kids' visit, on my coffee table. 

The table was made for me by Carl McCoy. He uses salvaged materials to build amazing furniture. He and his wife Kim own Spring Tide Studios in Nags Head. Their shop is on the Beach Road right across from the Nags Head Pier. You can read a little more about Spring Tide Studios here.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


My niece and nephew came for a visit. It rained the entire time (we're going on five days in a row now) and they didn't mind a bit. We had all kinds of fun. They planted some seeds themselves. 

I was telling them about the different seeds I had, and I described one packet this way: "these are a mix of white, pink, and red flowers." To which T replied, "hmm, sounds like cosmos." He planted cosmos (clearly he is a fan) and daisies. Ry planted sunflowers, cosmos, and Shasta daisies. We recycled a take-out sushi container for their seeds. Eight large peat pellets fit just fine, but the lid was a close fit. T wanted to turn the seed growing into a competition, and he wrote out some rules on the back of their seed labels. 

Our favorite produce stand Tarheel Too is now open! I bought some local asparagus and it was amazing. I couldn't get over the purple tips. 

I added a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and did a quick broil. Which means I put it in the oven on broil, checked it, decided it needed just another minute, forgot about it, remembered it, then ran to the oven to pull it out. And they were cooked perfectly! Works every time. 

I also cooked shad roe and lemon rice. This is supposed to be a quintessential spring meal. I found the recipe here

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Water and Wait

Starting from Seed
I started these seeds on March 23 (Easter and Chris's Birthday). This year Chris and I expanded both the number and variety of seeds we planted. I had good luck with these last year: Jubilee (yellow), Brandywine (pink-ish), and red cherry tomatoes, and asian eggplants (millionaire hybrid), so I planted them again. Plus I added two new tomatoes: a Jelly Bean hybrid (grape tomatoes) and a yellow pear tomato. Then I also planted leeks, cilantro, sweet basil, and a mesclun lettuce mix. For flowers I planted cosmos and Shasta daisies. The beautiful flowers in the vase on the table are from Blooms to your Door (, located in Point Harbor, NC just across the bridge from the Outer Banks. 

I'm keeping track of what's what with these labels:

Here is everything as of April 3. 
The lettuce sprouted first, within a day or two! 
The Shasta daisies took the longest;
they only came up a few days ago.