AWESOME BROWNIES

Brownies are good for two reasons. 1. They are a delicious chocolate treat. 2. When you cut them out of the pan, there are always little remnants. Bits of brownie stuck in the pan. Chocolate bits on the knife. These are the bonus bits that taste just as good as the actual dessert.

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If I would have had walnuts, I would have thrown them in here. But in this case, mini chocolate chips were the lucky mix-in.

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I love the crackly tops and deep craters the brownies make when you cut them. Its like they are really eager to show you whats underneath the surface.

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I hear they are even good for breakfast, but I wouldn’t know from experience.

You can find the RECIPE here, except:

Use about 4 oz of unsweetened chocolate

Use cold coffee.

Remember to add the vanilla before adding the chocolate chips.

Use mini chocolate chips.

Be amazed at how many bowls are dirty.

Share with friends, and have a happy weekend.

SUMMER TRAINING

In the past month or so, its been the blazing hot Austin weather you associate with book bag induced back sweat from walking across campus. We knew it was coming. It comes every year.

We spent most of spring and early summer preparing our plants for it. We did our planning early. We planted the drought-tolerant native plants. We did the deep waterings to encourage the roots to seek the water. But unfortunately, a couple of plants did not take their training as seriously as others.

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But this morning, the sun took a nap, and it almost felt like a tiny bit of cool breeze could be around the corner. We know you are tired, and being thirsty and hot is hard, but hang in there- a break is coming soon. Just a few more reps and we’ll get you all a nice big protein shake.

CROCHET FLOWER POTHOLDERS

It is in the nature of hobbies that most of them start out with yelling at inanimate objects. But once you get to know each other’s eccentricities a little better, the yelling dies down, and slowly becomes the appreciation of someone’s little quirks.

I learned to crochet a little over a year ago, and while I can rock a solid granny square, I am still in the occasional yelling phase with new patterns. These flower potholders started out a little shaky, but we made friends by the third or fourth one. You don’t want to know what happened to the first couple.

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I used this pattern as a base, but changed a couple things due to my yarn size and colors. A set of three survived to be given as a gift. If you are handy with a crochet hook and give it a go, let me know so we can see!

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CHOCOLATE CREAM PIE

Nothing makes me feel more accomplished than making pie crust. When it goes wrong, it tends to go terribly wrong, but when it goes right, you feel like the most successful homemaker of all time. The pie filling ingredients march by in a tiny parade to celebrate you.

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We find that people have many different opinions about pie crust. Some have old family recipes, some swear by adding this ingredient or that. I say, the one that you can rock, that is the one you should make. A graham cracker or cookie crust would work just as nice. Chocolate pudding is very forgiving.

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In a perfect world, this pie would have a fluffy layer of whipped cream, and then a dusting of curly chocolate shavings. I was feeding a hungry pack of impatient pie consumers, so the final product photo does not exist. But like the pie, the memory will live on forever.

RECIPE

Prepare 9″ pie shell of your choice, and cool.

Pour 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 1/2 tbsp cornstarch, and 1 tbsp flour into saucepan and mix.

Stir 3 cups milk in gradually. Add 3 oz of chopped chocolate.

Cook over medium heat, stirring almost constantly, until it starts to thicken, and then bubbles and boils. Boil one minute.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, slightly beat 3 egg yolks.

Stir part of the hot mixture into the eggs to temper them. Then pour the egg mixture into the saucepan. Boil one more minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Add 1 tbsp butter and 1 1/2 tsp vanilla.

Cool mixture, then pour into cooled pie crust. Chill for several hours, and top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings if desire.

Yum.

SCENES FROM AROUND THE FARM

1. We did a transplant of the pumpkins, zucchini, and melon to make room for the tarp. We knew there was a 90% chance they might not make it, but it was a save the many situation. One of the pumpkins is doing pretty well, so not all is lost.

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2. Our tomato plants are making a final push. They have really been good sports about August. We even got a couple cute peppers to add to salads.

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3. There are so many fancy hamburgers out there. The classic burger will always be #1 to us. Our unofficial ranking of hamburgers in Austin is coming soon.

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4. We have been stealing snippets of hens and chicks from my mom, but we have a heck of a time trying to get them to grow. Its probably a bit of a climate shock. But this one started to grow a friend, and I couldn’t be more happy for them to have each other.

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5. It rained. Thank goodness we decided to trust the weatherman and not put on the sprinkler the night before. We would have looked so dumb.

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You can follow us on Instagram for more real-time scenes from around the farm.

SOIL SOLARIZATION

In soil solarization, you harness the sun’s energy to kill weeds and bad insects/fungus/bacteria, which allows the good stuff to take over. It bakes the dirt into something more palatable to growing gardens. The term is fancy talk for “putting a tarp on some dirt.”

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We have been fighting this pesky vine plant that is growing on part of our future garden plot. As diligent as we have been with pulling them up and spraying them, they just keep coming back and I hate them. So we decided to take things large scale and kill them all at once (in large square sections).

To try soil solarization for yourself, you need:

  • Big tarp (preferably clear)
  • Something to hold tarp in place
  • Lots of sun/heat

1. Ideally, rake the area and pull and discard any weeds. Next, wet the area at least 12 inches deep. We sprayed ours with a hose for a little while. Enough for it to boil the weeds.

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2. Get out your tarp.

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3. Lay out the tarp to cover area, and then anchor in place. We used some rocks and pieces of wood.

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4. Wait. Since it is still hot weather here, and will be for a while longer, the sun should work in our favor to help us out. We plan on rotating the tarp around the area, and crossing our fingers real hard.

OFFICIAL FARM SHOP

Our current goal in life is to go on a trip to Italy. Wander the streets and eat fresh pasta and gelato, and take a trip to the countryside where sauce bubbles on the stove all day and life is simple. But since I haven’t gotten around to fixing my name on my passport, they don’t want us to visit quite yet.

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So current goal B is to go fly fishing and hiking. It is a more achievable short-term goal anyway, though there is probably less fresh pasta. To raise funds for this, and all future goals, we have opened the Official Super Awesome Urban Farm Shop.

This month, we lovingly cut up a bunch of Anthropologie catalogs, and then used the pieces to make cards. They are all unique, limited edition, and hand numbered for extra authenticity. You can visit the shop to see them all.

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FARMERS MARKET TOTES

Otherwise known as bags for the grocery store. We hate it when the cashiers bag shame us at the checkout line. Its like they get on the store megaphone system and tell everyone that we are paying the 10 cents for a paper bag. We can each love the environment in our own way. But so our forgetfulness is not confused with causing global warming, we always have tote bags stashed around our house and cars. Here are some pretty ones that won’t embarrass you in any way. (1, 2, 3, 4)

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THE CONCLUSION OF THE SICK CUCUMBERS

Long weekends are a wonderful invention. In the future, we see a world that revolves around them. When only the best of the best survive, long weekends will rise victorious.

Do you want to know what will not last until the end of time? These cucumbers.

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With the case of the sick cucumbers solved, it was time to deal with the aftermath. Since there was a chance the plants could have had an infection from bug bite weakness, we decided to pull the plants up and dispose of them in a bag, instead of tilling the nutrients into the soil. We cut off the vines, pulled up the roots, and then wrestled them and some of the surrounding mulch into a lawn bag.

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After everything was cleared away, we poured a little soil activator on the dirt, to help strengthen it, and covered it with some leftover straw.

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Once our other veggies are done for the summer, we have some plans to mix up our garden configuration. Think more than just a row of garden beds, but less than a tomato plant labyrinth.