Gardening for Dummies

It was a decision I’d made at least months before I moved – I wanted to start an herb garden. I’d bought a copy of Herb Gardening for Dummies and pored over the basics, and was pretty set on starting up my own herb garden once I moved and got settled.

Just days after I moved in with my boyfriend and one of our mutual friends, the boy and I took a trip to Home Depot to get some around-the-house necessities and tools (the previous tenants of our house left it a wreck), and while we were there I picked up some Miracle Grow seed starter soil and a handful of Burpee seed packets.

The next morning, I was out on the back patio bright and early, appropriating the boyfriend’s work gloves to use as I dug into the freshly opened bag of soil. I planted sweet basil, parsley, chives, cilantro, and a slightly-out-of-place-in-an-herb-garden jalapeño plant.

While – you can see in the photo – everything else has sprung up and is doing quite nicely (the chives are out of control!), the jalapeño has yet to even germinate. After asking around on the internet, it turns out my sunny windowsill isn’t quite warm enough to help my pepper plant germinate. So I’ve moved it to the computer room, where the heat given off by our combined computers makes the room about 5-10 degrees warmer than the rest of the house at any given time. Keeping my fingers crossed that it’ll sprout soon and it’s not just me being terrible at having a green thumb!

Not all those who wander are lost…

 …and that’s exactly what my new Tolkien-inspired tattoo says.

Everyone knows that once you get your first tattoo, you get “ink poisoning” – as they call it – the desire for more and more tattoos. Since I turned 18 (19 actually, because that was when I actually got my first one), I’d only ever adorned myself with 4 medium-to-small tats, and it’s been a solid 4 years since my last one. My goal is to eventually turn my left arm into a full sleeve, and have at least a half sleeve on my right arm. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet.

Recently, my friend Ashlee had gotten a tattoo from her cousin who works at a local Tattoo Lou’s shop. Upon showing me her new ink (a mermaid from Peter Pan featuring the quote, “we were only trying to drown her), I fell in love with the work. The lines were so crisp and thin and perfect, and the colors and blending were exquisite. I was determined to get at least one tattoo from this amazing artist before I book it for the west coast.

So I sat down, and mulled through all the ideas I currently have swirling around. The idea for this one was the most solid, and it was fairly easy (remember, 4 years since I’d been under a tattoo gun), and with a surprise tax return, I was ready.

The whole thing was done in less than half an hour. Though all she did was add some leaves on to the design apply it to my skin (I found the font I wanted it in and printed it out), she did an amazing job of it, and I would absolutely go back to her to get more work done… if I wasn’t going to be 3,000 miles away in less than a month.

And in case anyone is confused or wondering: it’s a quote from Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. The whole poem it’s from is as follows:

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

BACON!

Now that I have your attention…

This morning I decided to try the Wil Wheaton method of cooking bacon, and when I was done, I sat down and pondered for a good long minute why I’d ever cooked bacon any other way. Many of you probably remember Wil Wheaton as everyone’s least favorite Star Trek: TNG character, Wesley Crusher. He’s now (to use his own words from his personal website) a champion of geek culture, along with maintaining a social media presence on tumblr, twitter, reddit, and google+.

But all that aside, the man knows his bacon.

I’d curiously googled his cooking method last night, after reading a few tumblr posts of his that had alluded to it. With nothing better to do and a hefty hankering for bacon this morning, I decided to test drive it. The idea is to start with bacon that’s been sitting out in room temperature for up to 20 minutes, starting it in a cold pan, and then slowly cooking it on medium-low heat while turning frequently.

This does 2 things:
1. Prevents the bacon from curling up and cooking unevenly.
2. Makes the bacon hella delicious.

So I started with my room temperature bacon in a cold pan. I turned the heat on to medium-low, and watched as the fat ever-so-slowly began to render off. At one point, one of my slices started to turn translucent, but I’m pretty sure it’s because I was using “whatever was on sale at Stop & Shop” bacon instead of quality bacon, and it had been sitting in an open container in the fridge for almost a week and probably wasn’t fit for consumption. But I like to live dangerously.

So they cooked and cooked and cooked, and every couple of minutes I’d flip them over. They curled a little bit (see also: cheap, non-quality bacon), but far, far less than my bacon usually curls.

After they had finished cooking to my liking, I set the slices aside on a paper towel, poured out about half the bacon grease, and then used the remaining grease to fry up some kidney beans (I don’t have pinto beans, as per Wil’s suggestion), and added salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
(I’m also a strange human being who can eat pan fried beans plain without meat or rice or anything else to go with them.)

While the beans were frying up, I sampled the bacon. I had to sit down, and I think I cried for a little bit. Sweet baby Jesus, bacon has never been so delicious. It was crisp but also super juicy. The flavor was superb. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like if I’d used quality bacon. I probably would have laid down right there and died.

There’s a considerable amount of time and a little more effort that goes into this method than the regular way of cooking bacon, but I’ll be damned if I ever cook it any other way anymore.