Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful for Corn, Crocosmia, and Family (#ctww)

Corn stalks, bound with
fiberous stalks from
flowers (Crocosmia)
What new thing am I thankful for this year?
Decorating for Thanksgiving this year, I used the corn stalks planted by Mother-In-Law toward the end of the summer. Their ears didn't have time to ripen, but they gave a Happy Harvest Festival look to our Narnia Lamp, just in time for Thanksgiving!
I bound the stalks to the lamp with a couple of stalks from the Crocosmia in the side yard. This is a very pretty perennial that naturally dies back, leaving brown stalks and leaves that are rich in long and strong fibers.I'm sure that an overachiever could process the fibers and spin them into twine or a fabric, but for rough outdoor work, it sufficed to treat the stalks, which had been softened by rainy weather, as a thick twine or narrow yarn.
This decoration is 100% local, biodegradable and free. When it's time to replace it with the next holiday's decor, I'll send it onto the compost heap. What a win in every way!
I didn't think of this idea until too late for last week's Change the World Wednesday challenge, (eco-friendly holiday decor) but I'll pass it on to CTWW anyway, along with my response to this weeks's challenge:
"This week make  a conscious effort to waste no food."
This will be a challenge this week especially, because we made a whole lot of food for Thanksgiving and didn't succeed in giving away all the leftovers.We had an excellent time with much of my family: my mother, sister Sue, her daughter Caillie, brothers David and Eric, sister-in-law Jie and of course Kris and the three cats. Unfortunately Steve and Sherri were unable to make it, due to the power outage in Everett, but the food situation was bountiful - which is sort of the point of Thanksgiving. If we are systematic, I think we can ensure that the leftover all get eaten in the normal course of meals over the next week.
In some sense, we're already ahead in the "waste no food" effort since I used some "tired fruit" in making a pie. "Tired fruit" isn't a scientific term, but it's what you get when fruit or berries have sat around for a little too long - they aren't rotten but are making their displeasure at being ignored known by adopting a drawn, wan, possibly dry appearance. We used to habitually toss out such fruit, either in the trash or composting. However, this is wasteful and unnecessary. I've learned to give such sullen food the freeze-out, usually by tossing them into the freezer. Then, when it's time to make a pie, pull out the tired fruit and mix with a little fresh; the baking process seems to forgiven the problem and we get to enjoy the fruit anew. There may be some slight loss in nutrition, as compared to fresh fruit, but it's still better than many other foods.
This Thanksgiving, I was pondering what kind of cheesecake to make when I remembered some huckleberries, still in the freezer from last year. I added them to the mix and they provided a wonderful extra flavor that made it the most memorial desert of the day. The procedure for the pie can hardly be called a recipe, but it went like this:
Get a graham cracker crust (I used a pre-made one because we were busy this holiday, but making a crust isn't that hard.) Soften an 8 ounce block of cream cheese by bringing it up to room temperature and squeezing it while still in the package. In a sturdy bowl, whip the cream cheese and some sugar (I like brown sugar but I suppose any kind will do), then add a little moisture (I used soy milk but any dairy product will do - the exception is fat-free milk which is a fail not because it wouldn't work but because it is an Abomination!). Now add the berries and some cocoa (I'm not specifying how much because you should make your own choice there; look at the mix and see if you want more). Add a little bit of almond extra and spices such as cinnamon. When you're ready to back, add two eggs and mix well. Pour mix into pie shell and sprinkle the top with more cinnamon (...if I had mint leaves, I would have put those on top). Bake at something like 350 F until done; you can tell it's done when you poke something into the middle of the pie and it doesn't get all sticky.
This was a very successful dessert, judging by the number of people who wen t for a second piece - and making it was literally easy as pie!


Small Footprints said...

Your decorations are just lovely! And how perfect that they are composted when they no longer adorn your lamp. :-) I was talking to a chef not long ago who shared that his mother always bought "tired" produce from the market, usually at a discount, and made the best soups, stews, etc. While I try to buy the freshest items possible & use them quickly, it's not always possible and so many dishes are forgiving. Thank you for a wonderful reminder!

All Natural Katie said...

I never knew that you could use corn fibers for decoration! It would be lovely to use them as a tie for gifts (instead of ribbon)!