I start this on Tuesday, July 21. My neighbors all woke up to rain. I'm an early riser so I got to watch it come in. There's just something about watching the rain come in. Especially when it's bringing a break in the heat and when the moisture is needed. It's almost profound. "I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed...."
The bullet tank is filled again. That translates to at least an inch we received. Hubs said the rain gauge had 1.25".
Mesonet says it's 78º but it feels hotter than that to me. We have a 70% chance for more rain tonight and 50% chance for Wednesday. Bear in mind, this could mean anything. We might very well get rain but it might be sprinkles and last only 5 minutes. Been there, done that.
Since I couldn't work outside today I spent most of the day working in the kitchen. This doesn't happen very often, but I had the forethought to thaw out a ten-pound bag of chicken leg quarters yesterday. By time to make supper last night, I had the drumsticks separated out and seasoned with the seasoning I made last Thanksgiving when I was trying to figure out how to make chicken taste like those rotisserie chickens. I did a post on it then, and the recipe's there for the spice/herb rub, if you're interested in looking it up. There were twelve drums so after the rub was on I just lined them up on a baking sheet and put foil over it till about the last fifteen minutes. Hubs had that and a baked potato and fresh garden green beans for supper. And then I packed the rest of the drums three to a ziplock sandwich bag and stuck them in the freezer. The leg quarters minus the drumsticks went into the 6-quart pressure cooker with a little water at the same time the drums went into the oven. I used the stove out in the garage since it was so dang hot. All the neighborhood dogs stood at the end of my driveway, trying to look charming. When it was finished I drained off all the broth and by bedtime everything had cooled enough that I could stuff it all in the refrigerator. Sorry doggies, feeding you is not my job
So today, I removed the meat from the bones and there was maybe five cups of meat. I had some bones in the freezer from Meals Past, so I put them with the bones I'd just removed the meat from, added water, and pressured a little under an hour to make just straight broth. The bones, by then spent and soft, were buried in the garden with the compost.
What I put back into the freezer was a one-gallon plastic ice-cream tub containing four zip-lock bags holding about four cups each of chicken and rice casserole. Four cups of casserole is a bit much for just Hubs and me, but I like to have enough so that he can go back for seconds if he wants to. If he doesn't, then I have it for lunch the next day or two, depending on how much is left. I go a little heavy on the meat since our appetites aren't usually very big. Old people need their protein. There were also two quarts of broth and three small flat bags holding three "rotisserie" drumsticks each.
What I took OUT of the freezer was
A 10# bag of chicken leg quarters;
A gallon-sized ziplock bag, about half full of bones;
Two one-pint containers of homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup;
Two one-pint containers of squash from last year's garden;
About a cup of liquid saved from canned mushrooms;
About two (maybe three) cups of chopped Winter onions from last spring.
I also used, from the pantry, a pint of brown rice, about 3/4 cup of wild rice, two 5-oz cans of mushroom ends and pieces, plus liquid, and maybe two cups of celery from the head of celery in the crisper.
Well, it was several hours' work, and a mess to clean in the kitchen, but there's four times I won't have to cook a meal, clean the kitchen, and wash pots and pans. Plus there are three bags of rotisserie drumsticks meaning three more meals for Hubs with just the microwaving of a potato and the heating up of a vegetable or the making of a salad. I don't like the dark-meat part of a chicken unless it's mixed IN something. So when Hubs eats his drums, I'll eat something simple, like just salad, or some yogurt, or leftovers from another meal, or maybe even bread and cheese or bread and peanut butter and a glass of milk. I don't mind meals of little snacks like that, but Hubs, well, he thinks he has to have a meal. (These dang old-fashioned men are a pain in the butt sometimes.) So, seven meals, as far as Hubs is concerned.
I don't think the end-products take up as much space as the ingredients, but maybe they do. For sure they'll be handy. You GO, Me!
Sue posted a recipe for canned ground beef and I'm thinking about doing that and the canned chicken breast. Her blog's on my sidebar, Iowa Housewife.
And other than picking blackberries, and a very few tomatoes, that's about all I've done on this day.
I sent Hubs off to his workout alone this morning and planned to get all the little Hansen's cherry bush seedlings (Prunus besseyi) planted along the west fence. Anyway I'm pretty sure that's what they are. Either that or Pearl Bush and either way, I'm happy. But he had no sooner left than I ran into a rock that I just could not get out, wouldn't you know it, and with only two seedlings left to plant. Sheesh. I came in from the garden on Sunday with a bloody spot in the white of my left eye, probably from a little blood vessel that ruptured, but it scared me a little. It's just about gone now. I don't want to strain too much for awhile. Even though the temperature is only 71º and overcast, the humidity is 100% and so are the mosquitoes. I kid you not. So there was all the motivation I needed for saving that rock for Hubs, and when he got home, we worked on it together and got it out in pretty short order. I had to go get some wood grindings to fill in the empty space left by the rock, and then I finished my seedling planting while he did some mowing. I personally think it's too wet to mow.
Got a little harvest, the first Cucuzzi squash/gourds, the first cucumber, the first tomatoes from vines that are supposed to be Striped German but these look more like some kind of paste tomato, enough beans for a "mess" but still not enough to can. A few Black Berry Cherry tomatoes and some tomatillos. I'm beginning to wonder WHEN I will EVER be done picking blackberries. The birds have discovered them now, which means I have to get out right after sunrise, just as soon as I can see to pick. I almost have a gallon of them in the freezer, and that's mostly just off one mature bush. I get a few off a couple of smaller, younger ones.
I didn't think I was going to have cucumbers this year, as only one plant came up from the seed I planted. Next summer I'll probably have volunteer cuke plants from the seeds that didn't germinate this year. It seems odd to me how that happens. Maybe the seeds were planted too deep.
I had a plant in the row of tomatillos that I noticed didn't quite look like the others. Today it bloomed.
Hmmmm. I have no clue, unless it's a runaway Dahlia seed?? I'm glad I didn't yank it out.
I saw honey bees in the squash flowers today. More Monarch larvae on the dill. There are several watermelons on the volunteer watermelon vines and several squash on the volunteer squash. I think the one that's growing in with the tomatoes is a Pink Banana squash seed that was planted last summer and didn't come up. I didn't have anything growing there last summer that actually made any fruit. I don't want to say that so far I've not seen squash bugs because if I do, then tomorrow they'll be ALL OVER EVERYTHING. I have recently read that if you have dill planted near your squash it will deter the squash bugs. I certainly have no shortage of dill plants. They have all gone to seed now, and I've been out there cutting the heads off before they scatter. Some of the plants have beat me to it, so there'll be no shortage of dill in the garden again next year. If they work against the squash bugs, I will not mind having to thin them out. The Japanese Beetles are here. Not in great swarms, but enough to be annoying. They drill holes in the bean pods and eat the bean part.
I woke up to rain. We didn't get the rain we were supposed to get during the day yesterday. We don't really need this rain today, but I won't complain about it, since it's supposed to get stinkin' hot next week and if the wind blows at all, it'll be like a dehydrator out there.
I brought the last of the sweet potatoes up from the pantry this morning. They were all sprouted and growing like a bunch of houseplants. I don't know if people still grow sweet potato vine as a houseplant (Mom used to buy a sweet potato at the grocery store, toothpick it so it's bottom half was in water, and then keep it on top of the refrigerator where it can trail its vines down the sides. She had to change the water frequently or it would start smelling bad.) but I don't really need another plant to take care of INSIDE the house. It was a good thing I decided to deal with them today as one of the potatoes had gone bad and had started to ooze, and, of course, smell bad.
For most of my life, I have never thought of sweet potatoes as something to be eaten any way other than your typical Thanksgiving casserole, and, from time to time, baked, split open, drenched in butter, salt and pepper and eaten like a baked potato. I never considered that sweet potatoes can be eaten in all the same ways as a regular potato is. Then, at a restaurant, I had Sweet Potato Fries. Yum. Hubs is not a fan of sweet potatoes, but he will eat sweet potato fries, and last week on some cooking show he had on TV, they were making "hash" by cubing the sweet potatoes and frying them in a skillet with onion and hot peppers. Hubs will not eat hot peppers or anything that contains them but I said that I bet they'd be good just cooked with onion and he said he thought so, too. So I made some that day and we both thought it was good. Of course we all know that anything red or orange is better for us than something white.
Today, since I had to do something with these sweet potatoes, and we cannot possibly eat them all at one meal, I decided to peel them and cut them into fries. I was on THIS website and THIS one, seeing if freezing would be doable and picked up a few tips from each site. I cut them into fries, tossed them in oil and salt, spread them on cookie sheets and baked at 350º for 20 minutes, cooled and froze.
Tomorrow I'll bag them. I can take out enough for a meal as we are in the mood for them. And if I want to make "hash", I can just cut the fries into cubes. My daughter used to order "veggie chips" from some health-food store, though there's not much healthy about them, they are as calorie- and salt-laden as potato chips. And what is a potato if not a veggie? Aldi's sells them now, where the potato chips are. Veggie chips can contain sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips, zucchini, taro, green beans, kale, probably some other things. Oh, I love 'em, but I love anything salty and crunchy. I close my eyes and walk on by. One year I tried dehydrating sweet potato slices and I guess they have to be cut a lot thinner than I did it because I could actually break a tooth on the end product. I also tried dehydrating zucchini and they were about the consistency and flavor of those little wafers you get during Communion at church. Maybe I should've oiled and seasoned them first. Someday I'll try it again, if I'm ever able to have a bumper crop of zucchini.
I went to the attic and checked the onions. And I made a mistake in the directions on the last post, which I went back and corrected. If the onions are smallish, they don't separate themselves very well and will take forever to dry. Large onions, where the layers aren't connected together (as at the base of the onion) will separate themselves. Most of mine were small onions and I did have to go up there and separate them. However, there is something to be said for waiting for them to dry a little bit before separating them.
When I went out to the garden to bury my compost, I checked the Garbanzo beans and some of the pods felt full.
This is not a foolproof method, however. I have been reading that these beans are cool-weather plants, so it will be interesting to see how they do in the heat of the next few weeks. According to the information I've seen, they can make it through hot weather but will need extra water. I've been led astray on this type of thing before, when I planted lentils "like peas". Well, no, they really struggled in the cold and if I ever plant them again I'm going to try treating them "like beans" because I think they'll do better in warm weather. It looks like the Japanese Beetles have found them. I think the bean pods are supposed to stay on the plant till they get dry but I just waited till the pod started to turn yellow because I wanted to stimulate the plant to make more. As it was, the Japanese Beetles beat me to quite a few of them.
The volunteer watermelon plants have made watermelons about as big as a softball now. They are Crimson Red melons and will get about as big and heavy as a bowling ball. Last year we enjoyed two and gave a third to Joe and Cathy. Joe reported that it was sweet and delicious. Our first one was, too. The second one hadn't gotten quite ripe enough. It's hard to know when to pick. Yeah, I watched the "yella belly" and for drying out of the stem, but whether there's been enough water and whether someone's accidentally stepped on the vine somewhere has something to do with perfect ripeness, too.
The peaches are rotting right on the tree and falling off. They have what I think is Bacterial Spot or Peach Scab, or both.
Hubs did some more mowing, I picked blackberries, elderberries, and sand plums. The rain knocked a lot of the sand plums to the ground and I think the tree will be all cleaned off within the next week. After that I'll take my loppers out and remove the bottom branches from the tree so that next year I'll be able to pick easier. Sand plums are hard to pick because they are attached so delicately to the tree. It you are bent over under the tree and you straighten up under a loaded branch, every plum on that branch, whether ripe or not, will fall off. I have just been making juice for jam out of them and I have a little more than a gallon saved in the freezer now. It's gotten really hard to get a good deal on fruit anywhere lately. Aldi's has not even stocked the oranges we like to buy for about three weeks now. And all fruit is $1.79 a pound and up. Except for maybe bananas and watermelon.
They're making a big deal about staying hydrated on our local news and now they've gone into how fruit is so good for helping you stay hydrated. They point to the juicy items like melons, cucumbers, tomatoes. To that I say, "Well, Duhhhhh". I don't suppose our newscasters are any different than anybody elses' but it appalls me that they have partaken in The Dumbing Down Of America. They can't spell. They don't use the proper english. They don't know the difference between there, their, and they're. And when anything ends in "s" they put an apostrophe before it whether it's supposed to be there or not. Yes, I know I use run-on (and on and on and on) sentences, I start some sentences with And or Or or So, and I use slang and non-words. And that's the thing. I know. Somehow I don't think they have a clue. The news is just so filled with sad and terrible stuff, I guess it's a blessing to get distracted by their poor language and spelling.
I will post this today, it's not even 7am yet and already it's so hot and humid outside I came in dripping in sweat. I had just been out long enough to pick blackberries and a few elderberries, a couple of tomatoes that are close enough to ripe, two more cucuzzi, and some oregano and spearmint for drying. I will probably make a few more verrrrry short forays out during the rest of the day and Hubs is going into town to the workout center this morning. I need to get the chocolate peppermint, lemon balm, and pineapple mint picked. After that, we will probably just "hole in" like we do during winter weather extremes. At least I don't need to water, which is a real blessing.
We had tacos for supper last night and I think today I'll put some "Cabbage Roll Casserole" in the crockpot and set the crockpot outside. This will use up some cabbage and onions from the garden, and a quart of whole tomatoes that I canned last year. I'll make enough that I can store some away in the freezer like I did the Chicken With Rice And Mushrooms. We'll probably have some of that for supper. If you want the recipe, it's on an old blogpost called "Cheap Eats For Big Eaters". I don't have the hamburger thawed out yet but I can put the rice, cabbage, tomatoes and onion all together and get the crockpot started, add the hamburger in later in the day after it's thawed and cooked.
I have laundry to do today and some clutter to put away. Maybe Hubs will run the vacuum, the floors are needing it. That's one thing about hard floors. There's no hiding that you need to vacuum. Heh.
I might try my Spiralizer on those cucuzzi. I haven't had anything to "Spiralize" since I bought it last fall, but I think the cucuzzi might be a good candidate. I'll take pics and report on it next time.
Till next time, Rock On.... Hugs xoxoxo