Tibault & Toad

Posts from June 2012

porch garden 2012

Believe it or not, it was actually midday when these pictures were snapped. A storm was abrewin', and Alan managed to take a few requested pictures of this year's porch garden for me just minutes before it started coming down. Also, Honey Cafe employee photo bomb. 

It's sort of nice to just stick to flowers on the back porch this year. They're pretty, and less picky about soil nutrients, I think. I was trying for a bit of a cottage garden type look, but sticking to annuals sort of limited my options. A lot of the really wildflower-like, whimsical looking flowers seem to be perennials, and while I suppose nothing was stopping me from planting a few perennials too, I decided to save that privilege for when we own a house someday.


Just as the rain started to fall. . .


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bed makeover

I've been working on redoing our bed for a little while now. It's not 100% done, and I don't think it will be totally done until we move to a new place (I really want a white iron bed frame, and we just don't have the space for one here), and we need some new sheets, but it's getting there. It's not that I disliked our old bedspread (you can see our old bed here), but this feels better; closer to the farmy aesthetic that I resonate with. Also, sorry about the dark pictures, yet another thing I look forward to: hopefully having a bright and airy room some day, rather than The Batcave (although saying it like that, that's pretty cool too, I guess).

I had been on the hunt for a feedsack quilt for quite a while, but I'm working within a budget and that was really limiting my options. We went to the Kane County flea market several weeks ago (so awesome, by the way, if you've never been, you should check it out), I saw this quilt, went over and saw a pricetag that said $89, and just as I was turning to Alan to say "hey, this isn't a bad price" the vendor said to me "oh honey, that tag was for the antique store, it's $20." Yes, please. It had several minor tears, but I patched them up pretty easily, and I hope it is the first in a collection of many. 

We upgraded to down pillows (Ikea has a great price), I collected various embroidered pillowcases from resale/antique shops, and I made the pillow protectors with blue ticking fabric. 

Baby photo bomb! (I found the bed skirt at Tuesday Morning). 

And the baby herself, getting bored with us taking pictures of the bed (silly parents). 


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fermented lemonade

Have you walked down the beverage aisle of a grocery store recently? The beverage industry is booming. There seems to be a lot of variety; soda, juice, "vitamin" drinks; but it's essentially all the same nutritionless sugar water in varying colours. It seems people don't know that water is an option to quench thirst anymore. We stopped buying juice a long time ago, and now beverage options in our house are pretty much plain or sparkling water, raw milk, or kombucha, and we recently venture into the world of homemade fermented beverages. Fermented beverages are the perfect substitute for sugary drinks like juice or soda: they're tart, fizzy and very subtley sweet. Don't be put off by the sugar that is called for in fermentation recipes. Most of the sugar is metabolized by good bacteria during the fermentation process, and the resulting beverage packs a big probiotic punch. The addition of whey (and sometimes sea salt) discourages the development of alcohol during fermenting, so the resulting brew has little to no alcohol (similar to kombucha), making it perfect for the whole family. Even Indy loves these tart beverages, and the trick for young children is to introduce them early to familiarize them with the taste. If the taste is too tart for them (or you, for that matter), add a drizzle of raw honey to sweeten it up before serving, or mix with a little fresh squeezed juice at first, until that tart taste becomes more familiar. 

This recipe is from Nourishing Traditions under the name Punch (it is essentially a fermented lemonade, also known as Hinu Lemonade)

You will need:

  • 6 lemons
  • 1/2 cup rapadura or sucanat
  • 1/2 cup homemade whey
  • 1/2 teaspoon organic nutmeg
  • 2 quarts filtered water

Mix everything together in a glass jar (a one gallon growler is perfect for things like this, pictured above is a half gallon growler, but we transfered the lemonade from another container after we had already drank some, otherwise it wouldn't have fit). Let sit at room temperature for two days, then transfer to the fridge. You can start to drink it right away, but best flavour will develop in a week or two. It will become more tart and more fizzy as time goes on. Give it a quick shake before serving. 


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um, yum.

Thank you to our dear friend, Katie, for recommending Lemon Tree Grocer in Downer's Grove the other day. We hit it up on Friday and grabbed some specialty items, including a pint of Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream. Can I say enough good things about this artisan icecream? Pronounceable ingredient list, unique flavours (I had brambleberry crisp), and best of all. . .

It's made with grass-fed milk and cream from Snowville Creamery! This is the only grass-fed ice cream that I am aware of. The price is a little steep (10 bucks for a pint at Lemon Tree), but it is totally worth it! If you live in the area, I second Katie's recommendation to check out Lemon Tree, and if not, see if you can at least find a store that sells Jeni's near you, because someone's gotta try the salty caramel and tell me how it is!


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garden update take 2

Ah, dirt! I haven't had this much dirt under my fingernails or had my hair get this blond from the sun since I was a child. I'm sure I'll be able to count the days of summer in new freckles, come fall. But it feels good. And have you read this post by Garden Betty? Apparently a bacterium in the soil called Mycobacterium vaccae works like an antidepressant by releasing serotonin in the brain.  I'm constantly fascinated by the complexity and importance of our relationship with the rest of creation. What an impeccable and beautiful design, and one where we only ever seem to be able to scrape the surface of understanding. I think the loss of connection with the earth as a result of modernity has likely brought great consequences for humanity, if not at the very least the loss of a sense of wonder. 

We got one good salad and a small batch of soup out of our spinach patch before we had some 90 degree weather a couple of weeks ago and it all bolted. We tasted it, and while it was too bitter for a raw salad, it should be fine in a lasagna. So we harvested the rest (a whole sink-full!) and wilted it down and froze it for later use. 

Can you believe all that spinach reduced to this!

Everything that is still growing is doing great. Beet greens are tall and awesome. . .

And so are the carrots. . .

And we harvested a nice bunch of radishes. They're super spicy! Not sure what to do with the remainder of them. . .hmmm. . .This picture reminds me of a post over at Ngo Family Farm. "Is there dirt on your food? There should be."

The rest of the seeds (sweet corn, beans, sugar pumpkins and cucumbers) are in the ground, and we spent the other day getting all the seedlings (when do they stop getting called seedlings? Already I guess. . . It's the same as the propensity to call children "the baby" far into toddlerhood). 

Two types of tomatoes were buried nice and deep. . .

Bell and jalapeno peppers (or peps, as we like to call them). . .

Broccoli raab (you guessed it. . . brocs). . .

And a few basil seedlings. Meanwhile, while we were hard at work, Indy was meeting the neighbor boy who had come over to say hi. . .

and promptly tackled him. 



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homemade peanut butter

I love peanut butter. Oh my gosh do I love peanut butter. It's got this whole salty savoury sweet thing going on. When we were kids we used to just eat it by the spoonful. Making it yourself is awesome, because it gives you control over how you prepare the peanuts (or other nuts), and exactly what other ingredients go into it, making for a more delicious and nutritious snack. The flavour of this butter is different than the store bought stuff, but once you try it you'll be hooked.

First step, make Crispy Peanuts (recipe adapted from Nourishing Traditions). You will need:

raw, shelled organic peanuts (preferably skinless for easier digestion, but that's up to you, we used skin-on because that's what was readily available to us this time around.)

unrefined sea salt (1 tablespoon for every 4 cups of peanuts)

filtered water to cover

Mix peanuts with salt and water and leave in a warm place at least 7 hours or overnight. Strain, spread on cookie sheet and put in a 150 degree oven for 12-24 hours, turning occasionally, until crisp. Store in an airtight container. You can make a big batch of these, and it will make you multiple batches of peanut butter. 

*What's the point of this step? Nuts, seeds, grains and legumes contain anti-nutrients (like phytic acid) and enzyme inhibitors which make them difficult to digest and can block the absorption of important minerals (like iron and calcium). Traditional, proper preparation through means such as soaking or sprouting helps to neutralize anti-nutrients and enzyme inhibitors, making them easier to digest and more nutritious. 

Now on to the peanut butter! (recipe adapted from Nourishing Traditions)

2 cups crispy peanuts

1/4 - 3/4 cup organic virgin coconut oil (depending on how thick you like your peanut butter)

2 tablespoons raw honey

1 teaspoon sea salt

Grind the nuts and salt in the food processor until it starts to form a paste. Add honey and coconut oil and process until your reach your desired consistency. Store in an airtight container in the fridge to prevent rancidity (it will harden in the fridge, so you can scoop out small amounts to be stored at room temperature, and used up quickly). 


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