Saturday, June 30, 2007

My Frying Pan (including recipe)

After fifteen years of intensive use, the handle of the solid stainless steel frying pan my mom once bought me, broke off. And if she had to buy it to me, it means I couldn't afford it so these things must be expensive. Then not much later I found this very nice piece.

At the time, I wasn't even as much an active curb shopper as I am now. I just went on an errand in the morning and saw it. As I didn't want to go in the shop with a slightly dirty pan in my bag, I left it and went quickly on my way, hoping it would be still there when I returned. It was and after a thorough but quick cleaning job it looked as shiny as on this picture. I've had it for years now and it seems it's going to last a lifetime. I love the smooth surface of it (my old one had a grid-pattern on the bottom), and for me it cooks as great as a teflon-pan - shitty things you have to replace every two years. By the way the kettle is also a curb find. The cooker is a second-hand which I bought over fifteen years ago, when it must have been at least twenty years old already. The fun is I replaced many broken or missing parts of it with street finds (easy because it's a standard model that was mass-produced in the sixties and seventies).
Now to make this post a bit more crafty, here's one of my favourite recipes I cook in that pan. Completely in the spirit of my blog, it's a tasteful way to finish up old bread. More or less my personal variation on French toast (but with an Italian touch), but I call it a bread-omelette.

You need:
Olive oil (margerine, butter or another oil is ok, but for me the Italian taste the olive oil gives in combination with the tomato and garlic, is what makes this recipe really work for me), two eggs (three if they are very small), 1 tomato, 1 fairly large clove of garlic (or more if you like), herbs (chives, persil, pizza-mix, or whatever you think would be nice), salt and pepper and of course, two slices of stale bread (the heels are also fine).

Cut the bread in cubes of about half an inch, cut up or press the garlic, cut the tomato in very small parts (important because it has to 'integrate' in the mix - I slice the tomato in two directions as if it were an onion), and mix everything up with the eggs in a bowl. Stir firmly. The bread has to suck up all the egg and it's ok if it starts to crumb. In fact, the more the better, because then it will stick together better. (You can add milk here, as all French toast and omelette recipes prescribe, but I don't like milk and I think that's exactly what makes such egg recipes so heavy. Just try it my way one time and then decide for yourself.) Add the seasoning. Heat up the oil in your casserole or frying pan, then turn down the heat. Add your mixture and spread it out as if it were a pancake. Not really neccessary but it helps: cover the pan with a lid if you have one that fits. Now leave it for 10-15 minutes (still on the lowest heat). Then turn the omelette (for that I cut it in halves) and bake for another five minutes.

Served on one of my late grandma's large plates (1920's or 1930's). It's a complete lunch for one, but makes up to four portions if served with other food. Bon appetit!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I'm Not Alone (Am I?) - Looking For Links

Curb side shopping is no invention of mine. I started doing it because I heard other people found great stuff. When I'm out there I see people with vans just loading up anything that could be interesting, to probably sell the next day in the flee market or a second hand shop (think about it when you're in the thrift shop: they might have just picked it up from the trash). I often 'shop' for a friend who due to pysical limitation is less mobile than me and have been able to deliver him many of the exact things he'd asked for. Most people I know pick up things occasionally when they happen to pass by and no-one's ashamed of it.

I don't know a lot of people who make a cult of it like myself, but I didn't know anybody at all who writes about it! But recently I found somebody through the internet who dedicated a blog entry to her chair-finds. I was so thrilled! Read
Jenns blog here. It's funny and instructive. Also find the direct link to her beautiful website, The Thrift Shop Romantic, in my linksection.

She also wrote me that trash-to-treasure is actually (becoming) a trend in the US. I really couldn't tell after the nice and polite, but very few reactions I got after I posted my blog on an American crafters community. So I'm curious to know if there are more people, anywhere around the world, dedicating web space to it. If you do or know anybody who does I will certainly publish the link here.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Garden Plants

Strictly speaking, I have only two plants in my garden that I could actually classify as finds, but everything else that grows came to my garden for free anyway. And I'm pretty proud of that because I don't have green fingers.

I literally saved this pretty yellow rose from death, when I found it pulled roughly from the ground, but with roots still on it, in the bushes behind my apartment building. It was during the renovation period of the block, when I was living in a temporary place one street away, but I would come back to my garden daily to feed the stray cats. It was no more than a long stick with some leaves at the top, but two years on it looks like this!

Digging out plants in the wild is a great way to bring variety and color to your garden without cost. They disappear in winter, but most of them grow back the next year, spreading out and getting bigger year after year. They attract all sorts of insects and often nice ones like butterflies or bumblebees. But I never take a lonely plant. I only dig out plants that I see in abundancy so I can single out a small specimen without doing any damage to nature.

Though I took this one from the 'wild zone' in our local park, I've seen it in many people's yards and front-window gardens. Don't know if shops sell it, nor what it's called. Anybody?

PS: What's a front-window garden? If your house fronts directly to the street (about everywhere in the old city) you're allowed to take away a line of tiles from the pavement under your front window and turn it into a mini-garden.

I don't know if this really is a 'wild rose' (or if such a thing actually exists), but we found it growing spontaneously in the nomansland between the city edge and the industrial zone. It was enormous and growing against a tree. It was easy to separate a few shoots and cut off a ca 10 cm piece of the root stick without damaging the mother plant. To me it looks like a tea rose, at least it has the exact same color and form als Jenns tea rose, but the leaves are smaller. By the way, later on I found out you can just cut off a branch, put it in water and it will grow roots. If you live in Amsterdam and want to try it, contact me.

You can find ferns in any forest or area with lots of trees and are a great way to fill up the darker corners of your garden.

I hated the temporary apartment, but the garden was quite nice. I was literally filled with this yellow flowered bush, that I also cannot name, and when we left I just dug out one little shoot and replanted it at home. This is two years old now and in full flower for the first time (this part of the garden was totally ruined by the renovation, so I had to start from scratch).

This one too came from the temporary place, by accident really. I made a bouquet once of the yellow flowers, and decided to fill it up with some branches of this bush. But lazy as I am, I left the dried out bouquet in the vase for weeks, but then the green branches started to grow roots. Also this one is just two years old. So you know now, if you know someone with a bush like this or find them even in a bouquet, it's easy to grow a new plant from it.

That's it for now. I still have the other 'find' to show, phloxes my boyfriend picked up in the trash of the garden shop, but they're not flowering yet. Later!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Garden Table

Patience is a good thing when you refuse to shop for goods that aren't really of vital importance. Until recently I never owned a proper garden table. The thing is, plastic staple chairs are available in abundance (I have six of them), but the matching tables are always broken when I see them on the curb. The legs always break off. I think people just go out to buy a new set every two years or so. Now I like stuff that lasts. So knowing from my street experiences how shitty these plastic tables are I would certainly never ever spend money on them (and they're ugly at that). So I improvised with all sorts of found tables, end tables, mini tables, old office tables, that after a year in rain and cold would really be good for the trash, and I had to find something new again. Up until a couple of weaks ago. After delivering a found side table to a friend that he'd asked for, we took an unusual turn and my eye spotted this:

The frame's all iron and the top's a mosaic inlay, so it weighs a ton. It stood two blocks more far away than we usually go and my boyfriend said that's too heavy, but I had my mind set on it. After two streets I was totally out of breath, but then we were close enough to home for me to go for our trolley, while he guarded our trophy of the evening. This was really worth the effort and it even matches the green plastic chairs you see stapled up in the picture. By the way, when I found those they still had the bar code sticker of the shop on them. Totally unused.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Crafting Materials

Picks of a few days ago. On the left a knitted vest in an interesting thick, very stretchy synthetic yarn. There's a hole in the sleeve, so it's only destination is to be unravelled. Can't wait for the ideas that will come up in my head when I start that (otherwise) tedious job. Besides the devidable zipper is in very good condition and I'm sure it will end up in some project sooner or later. And I love that color.
On the right laid out the pile of linoleum samples I found. Most of them are hard 'marmoleum', but the two (fully shown) on the top left are the softer and thicker 'cork linoleum', which is the very exact stuff that you need to make linoleum cuts. It may seem not to be a lot to work on, but it's been since my kid's years I've last made lino-cuts, so it's good to have some free stuff to experiment on. If I get the hang of it, I can alway decide to purchase more. No idea yet what I could use the other samples for, but something will come up.
Not pictured, but also found the same night: a big pile of glossies, from fashion and art/design to lifestyle and home decorating (all no older than 2006). Good to enjoy myself a couple of evenings and then to throw in the waste paper container (not back in the trash!!!!!) or, if I find good pictures, to use for decorating home made gift or jewelry boxes. Just stick the cut out paper on an empty matchbox or fold your own from food packaging. Anyone can do that, loved it ever since I was a kid.