Sunday, August 8, 2010

Outdoor kitchen

I used to work on a farm, and make pickles, jam, and relish most of the day. It was probably the best job ever. So, every year I make a couple of batches of pickles & jam or jelly. Our garden was pretty bountiful this week, so pickles it was. I hunted down a recipe for something - anything! - that used zucchini and summer squash, and I did a batch of these zucchini dills (they're not bad - kind of sweet & sour - and used all of the zucchini and summer squash we had!). Dilly beans and big batches of cucumber dill pickles with my trusty old recipes were a must-do. Had to go to the farmer's market to get all the pickling cukes - we didn't happen to grow 15 pounds of them!

Canning has been a bit of a challenge - our glass-top range isn't recommended for it. But - we have one of those big propane-powered burners that we can set up outside (usually for lobster), so we made a temporary outdoor kitchen for me today. The furniture was all about function (no form!) and was 2 sawhorses with a piece of plywood on top next to the 'stove'.

It worked great! We got about 40 jars of the different pickles, and cleaned out the garden a bit. No more creative zucchini dinners for a couple of days, at least!

While we were outside, our neighbor gave us a few extra tomatoes. Ours are just about to turn red, but she had loads already. We had already pawned off zucchini on her last week, so it was our turn to take the surplus. No complaints here!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Amazing non-bungalow

This week I was in Woodstock, Vermont for work, and got a chance to tour the Mansion at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park. Also got to do some hiking, which was equally fantastic. Here are a couple of photos from outside the house (no cameras allowed inside):

Detail at the top of the porch - I love this Aesthetic style, even though it can be a bit much. It looks so great on summer 'cottages'.

View from the back/side of the house. The house originally had a mansard roof, but on the other side, it was remodeled (By the Billings family, if I'm remembering the tour properly) to have a peaked roof. They left the mansard on this wing, and I love the pleasing visual of the vine leading up to the chimney on this side.

And from the front. Pretty awesome, and they had a huge Dutchman's Pipe vine that I'm totally jealous of creeping all across the side of the porch.

Totally worth the trip up to VT if you're in New England, and the tour was a great value - something like $8 and it was about 90 minutes! I'm told they also have some tours focusing on the great art collection in the house (a Thomas Cole and some Bierstadts, among others), and the architecture. I'll have to go back for those...