Recently I visited Grow Your Own Groceries (link on my sidebar) and read the article submitted by Nikki King called "Creatively Eating What You Normally Throw Away". I found it very interesting but I would caution others that there are some things that shouldn't be eaten, such as the leaves of tomato plants and rhubarb. Probably there are a lot of other things. Just research it before you consume it, is what I'm saying. Of course I've made Corn Cob Jam and Watermelon Rind Pickles and Preserves before, but since Hubs doesn't like sweet pickles or jam made out of unusual stuff, and I shouldn't really have all that sugar called for in both recipes, there's only so much stuff like that that I can make into jam before I have to start finding creative ways to use the jam. Which kind of defeats the purpose. Mostly, when I have jam that hasn't been very well received, I will just use it, cup for cup, in muffins or coffee cakes, instead of the sugar called for.
This article mentioned using watermelon rind in a dish called "Sabzi", but it called for ingredients I don't normally keep in my pantry, and it's probably too spicy to serve to Hubs. But I did a little dinking around on the Internet and HERE is an All-Recipes submission for Watermelon Rind Stir-Fry. Next time I have watermelon rind, I think I'll just add some to my standard stir-fry recipe and see how it goes. I should mention here that for any recipe that calls for watermelon rind, what you use is the white part. If there's any pink left on it, that's ok, but you just don't want any of the green. And the skin is, of course, tough and bitter. The white part of the rind probably should be pre-cooked before adding to the stir-fry, as it's pretty crunchy. I would also think that it could be shredded or julienne-cut and added, raw or cooked, to other fruits (for instance, in fruit cocktail, applesauce, or gelatin fruit salads). When using watermelon rind in recipes, I think the key is to cut the pieces small, maybe in little cubes, if not shredding or julienning. That picture All-Recipes has posted on the recipe shows them in long, fat pieces and I found that pretty unappetizing when I cut them like that for preserves last time I made them. I ended up putting the preserves in the food processor and chopping the pieces up finer, but then the mouth-feel was grainy, and I didn't really care for that, either.
Apparently there's a new law in England about how cookies are delivered and so there will be a banner of sorts that will appear on everybody's blog, at least the ones through Blogger, I don't know about the others, that says something about how there are tracking cookies and do you want to allow them or not. I've seen the one that shows up on my blog and if I didn't know what was going on I think I'd have a concern that the blog in question was, for some reason, not safe anymore. I don't knowingly track anybody but I imagine when you Follow they have to track you somehow so they know to send you an e-mail whenever a new post has been published. It just seems like, every time something is invented to be something good, there's always some faction that comes along and uses it for evil, and then they have to start building safeguards into it that make it inconvenient for those that were originally using it, and sometimes not even making things any better. I enjoy blogging, it's a way for me to keep up with some people that I don't normally ever see and hardly ever hear from otherwise. It's also a way for me to get my thoughts organized and to chronicle some of the things we do around here for my own information. But if it gets to the point where reading blogs gets just downright risky, I'll just start keeping a journal, like in The Good Old Days, and stop blogging altogether.
I saw on the news where people are starting to complain about Windows10. Has there ever been a Windows upgrade that wasn't released before all the "bugs" were worked out? Maybe, but I don't think so. I remember when XP was released and people hated it. I didn't convert until I bought the grandsons some of those little music thumb drives that wouldn't work on XP. I got so I really liked XP after that, but by then all the "bugs" had been dealt with and everything went pretty smooth. Now there's a commercial full of babies and they're saying how they'll grow up with Windows 10 and how much better things'll be for them. Oh, really now. Has ANY version of Windows been around long enough to watch a baby grow up? .....Let's see.... It was just plain "Windows" when my grandsons were born, and there was a whole host of new versions after that. It was XP by the time they were 15 and there have been several generations (of Windows) since then. So good luck with that, if anyone thinks Windows 10 is going to be around any longer than any of the other versions were.
Hubs and I have been watching Big Brother on TV this season. We used to never miss it, and I enjoyed it because it was a study into human behavior. But somewhere along the way I got disgusted about something, I don't remember just what it was, and this is the first time we've watched in a long time. They always have a gay person and a black person and they used to have an old person but this time they're all in their 20's, I think. A lot of it has reminded me of some of the crap that went on amongst the highschool crowd when I was young. And truly, these kids are just not very good with strategy. This time a couple of the guys have gotten the hots for a couple of the girls and they just plain have forgotten they're playing a game for half a million dollars. Instead they are thinking below the waist, if you know what I mean. Last night, they sent Jackie home, and she didn't deserve to go. That weird-looking wrestler put a bug in the little Engineer's ear that she was trying to get rid of him and he got paranoid (moreso than usual) and panicked during one of those "extra" things where they send two people home during a show instead of one. Because of the rush, she didn't get a chance to make her case or to confront the wrestler about his out-and-out lie. I think he and his sweetie and her twin and the gal that's been causing trouble, all the way through the game so far, plan to be the last ones out of the house and if that happens, I'm losing interest because I just don't give a rat's a$$ about any of them. Maybe Jackie will be the one who gets to come back out of what they call "The Jury House" at a later time and that'd be fun to watch. But it was a blown chance for her team to get rid of the wrestler this time, or his sweetie, in which case he'd send HIMSELF out of the house right after that just so he could be with her, or the girl who's been causing so much trouble in the house and that's what I mean about most of the houseguests not knowing how to strategize. Even the wrestler getting Jackie sent home was not the best he could've done for his game, er, his sweetie's game, and she probably asked him to do that. They got the other team to send someone home off their own team and left themselves less in number than the other team. That never turns out well. If it gets down to the twin choosing between her sister and the wrestler, I wonder what she'll do.
I'm getting to the point where sometimes I enjoy the commercials on TV more than the programs. HERE's one by Beneful that I think is cute. This is proof that the folks who write commercials REALLY CAN advertise to us and do it in a way that is not boring and annoying. Wish some of those other folks would get on board. Maybe they could get a dog to say, "I used to be an addict, NOW I'm NOT." Gag.
We drove to Tulsa last week and I did my pre-op stuff at the surgeon's office and then at the hospital where the surgery will be done. My vital signs were good, at least the ones that they could get a reading on right away. At the hospital they got all their "fluid samples" for lab tests. While we were in Tulsa we stopped at Sam's and got a few things, and we ate lunch at WhattaBurger. I wanted to try their Cheese and Jalapeno Burger, and it was good, but all it amounted to was their regular WhattaBurger with mustard, onion, pickles, peppers and cheese. It only took three hours for those Jalapenos to work their way through my system. Don't ask how I know.
I don't know if I can keep on track with this surgery or not. They tell me they will cancel surgery if there's even so much as a mosquito bite on my leg. I bought some "Off" mosquito spray, I always have mosquito bites and chigger bites on my legs and ankles. I had originally planned to put off surgery till after the first frost so I could be totally done with the garden, and maybe I'll be forced to do that because of the mosquitoes and chiggers. So many people talking about something bad happening in September, that's the only reason I didn't plan it for later, anyway. I'll take all the precautions I can and leave it in God's hands. I'm really glad they're as cautious as they are, and I won't complain if they cancel my surgery, even though it'll be wasted prep and a wasted trip to Tulsa. I'd rather be on the safe side and not come home with a staph infection. I bought some of those little bottles of Ensure and I've been drinking one every day. It's a Flashback, for sure, they taste JUST LIKE I remember Metrecal tasting in 1963, except Metrecal came in a can and there was about four times more of it. In the vanilla I can really taste brewer's yeast. But mostly it's a canned milk taste. At least it's not nasty. Back then, you were supposed to drink one can for breakfast and one for lunch, and then have a light supper. My commerce teacher in high school was a large woman and she drank one for lunch WITH HER SANDWICH. We all kinda giggled about that, not sure she understood fully how they were supposed to be used.
I've developed a rash on my face along the sides of my nose and in the corner creases of my mouth. I don't know if it's enough to make them cancel my surgery or not. I tried to get in to see the dermatologist but their schedule is too far out, and they wouldn't accommodate me with an earlier appointment without a call from the surgeon's office. So I'm treating it myself, I'm going to stop the Ensure and just get a bottle of good vitamins. I might have a food allergy to soy. Or it could be nerves, I've been kind of jangled this week. I sent an email to the surgeon's office and if they don't answer me by Monday I'll call. In the meantime, I'll discontinue the Ensure and maybe the rash will be gone by Monday.
I was thinking about how I'd run the store if I owned a commercial greenhouse as I put on my garden gloves this morning. One of the things I'd do would be to break open the packages of gardening gloves and sell them singly. So if you were right-handed, you could buy two right-hand gloves and one left one. And vice-versa for you lefties out there. It just makes sense. It's not likely I'll ever own a commercial greenhouse so I just have to be content with breaking open a new package of gloves, storing away the right-hand glove for next time, then turning the new left-hand glove wrong-side-out, and wearing it with the left glove from my old pair. Not very pretty, not workable for some styles, but good enough for the type I wear. I haven't been very good about wearing gloves in the past but I like those with Nitrile-coated palms and fingertips, they don't get in your way and they last longer than cotton or the brown jersey ones do. I used to favor those brown ones, I liked how they felt on. For heavier jobs, I get those that have leather palms and fingertips. They're good for when you have to handle rock, or something with thorns. But I don't like the fit very well. Some of the fingers are too long and tend to fill with dirt. Every now and then I have to poke something in the fingertips to get the dirt out. And there's no turning these wrong-side-out. The only thing you can do is cut off the fingers of the old left glove that aren't worn through and they can be saved, then sewn on to replace the fingers on the NEXT right glove that you wear out. That's a winter project, I guess, if you can keep your worn gloves out of the trash that long.
Something else I'd do if I owned a commercial greenhouse is I'd pay attention to the odd-ball things people ask for and then I'd research it and do an in-store class on it after I'd put in a supply. Customers could learn how to use something and then buy. What would I start with here in Bartlesville? Bee-Keeping equipment and supplies. Diatomaceous Earth. Worm Castings. Tanglefoot in a container like caulk comes in. Milky Spore to kill Japanese Beetle larvae. Hummingbird feeders that don't swing in the wind. Copper spray for when the rains come and won't go away. Heat and moisture equals fungus in Oklahoma. I'd have a big herb department with plants (or at least seeds) of a large variety of medicinal plants as well as the standard culinary plants. And I'd have a section of plants or seeds people could grow that would help feed their chickens. I'd have a large area where people could bring their leaves, wood chips and grass clippings and I'd sell compost for only what it cost to make. Bartlesville merchants wonder why people who live here go somewhere else to spend their money. It's because no one carries what they want, that's why, and because no one thinks outside of the box. Shouldn't be that hard to figure out.
While I'm on the subject of compost, I'd like you to see mine.
Some of the coarser stuff, I used in my Thanksgiving Potato totes.
HERE is the post when I first dug them with some links that gave me the idea to plant potatoes for Thanksgiving in totes.
Last spring, I changed how I managed my compost bins. I began burying my kitchen waste directly into the garden so as to attract and feed more earthworms. I burn Bermuda grass and woody garden waste (twigs, branches, etc.) in the burn barrel. Wood ash increases soil alkalinity so you want to be careful about putting it in the garden. But you can spread it where you don't want things to grow, like in pathways or along fences or in the spaces between rock or brick pathways. Remember that it may leech out into nearby borders, so be mindful of that. What I put in my compost bins are just weeds. I've said before, "It's a shame you can't eat weeds", but you can, in a way. You can make some really nice compost out of them, and eat the stuff that grows in it. Is that close enough? Granted, it probably has a lot of weed seeds and insect eggs in it, but I plan to use this for my seed-starting this coming spring, and I always bake the soil that I use in the mix. My mix is equal parts compost, peat, and vermiculite. I don't put Bermuda grass in the bins. It starts growing roots and doesn't contribute much in the way of compostable material. So I just throw it in the burn barrel, or Hubs takes it out on our land where it's bare, runs the mower over it a few times, and before you know it, that spot's not bare anymore. For all it's obvious faults, Bermuda is great at erosion control.
My compost bins are just made of wooden pallets. But I think I will construct an extra-wide round wire fence "tomato cage" and set it further out in the garden and start filling it instead. We have a neighbor that uses wooden pallets as firewood. Our other neighbors kinds of giggle about that, but really, what's wrong with it? It's oak, which is good firewood. He sifts the nails out of the ashes and disposes of them. It's especially a really good use for pallets that are broken or old. Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, Or Do Without. If we don't burn our compost bins in our fireplace insert, we'll give them to Bob. Oh, my gosh, I just thought, since we got our new neighbors on the corner, we now have three men out here whose names are Bob. And two men named Charles. From just thirteeen households. Go figure.
That "squash" that came up amongst the tomatoes, that I thought might be a dormant seed from the Pink Banana squash I planted last year, is a GOURD.
Since I have never planted this variety, and the seeds, though teardrop shaped, are too big for a bird to "plant", I'm thinking the seed came over in some of those leaves we collected last year. The vine wilted and collapsed and I cut into the largest of the fruits that hung from the vine. I'll be disposing of this in the burn barrel as I don't want to grow these. The fruit in this picture was about the size of a mature cucumber, though shorter.
The pears are ripening on the Oriental pear tree now.
If you have limited space and can only grow a few plants for fruit, I recommend pear trees for sheer tolerance of neglect.
This is what the morning harvest provides these days:
This is now Friday and I will try to post today. I've been pretty busy today. I took the last of the apple slices out of the freezer and juiced them. This freed up space to store the flour that I milled from the last of the wheat berries. Since I started using from this latest acquisition of wheat berries, I am getting a better rise and either this fact, or the facts that I shared with Hubs about how little actual whole grain is in "Wheat Bread", or both, has convinced Hubs to quit buying bread and eat what I bake, instead. That "Wheat Bread" at the store is not a good value, being as how it's just so many empty calories and caramel color. But this means I'm baking more often. I'll be running out of whole wheat flour soon but the timing is good because the wheat berries can only be bought in the fall.
I also decided to follow Sue's lead over on her blog and can up some Hamburger Mix and some chicken breasts. I'm thinking ahead to winter, and winter storms sometimes leave us without electricity. So having something on the pantry shelves that can just be opened up and eaten would come in pretty handy during those times. Plus, on somebody's blog, a Commenter mentioned that they had bought a Camp Chef butane camp stove and said that they keep it for when the power goes out. I looked it up on Amazon and it is quite reasonable in price. People say they use theirs inside their house and I don't know if I would be that brave. I might be ok with using it out in the garage, though. With no electricity, we can't even make coffee here.
But anyway, today I got my Hamburger Mix made and it's sitting in The Maslin Pan in the refrigerator now, as are some partially-thawed chicken breasts. It was all just more than I could do today. I'll do the canning tomorrow morning.
Tonight we're having pork chops, fried okra, and baked sweet potato fries for supper. And then I'm done being Little Suzy Housewife for the day.
This is now Saturday morning and I will try to get posted today. The pressure canner AND the pressure cooker are hissing softly out in the garage and I'm in the cool house, not far from the door, with my timer fastened to my shirt.
This is the first time I've used my three-piece rocker gauge that I bought on Amazon awhile ago. Totally assembled, it keeps the canner at 15 pounds pressure. Take off a ring for 10. And another for 5. Gotta tell ya, we are all never too old or too smart to learn something new. Did you know that I never even KNEW there was such a thing as a rocker pressure regulator? Mom's canner had a dial, and so did the canner that my little old lady friends used. They had gas cookstoves, so they spent the entire time they were canning in their kitchens, watching the gauge, turning the heat up and down, what a PAIN! One of my Little Old Lady Friends had a husband that didn't live with them, but he'd come over on canning day, put a chair in front of the stove, and watch the pressure while the women prepared the next batch to go in the canner.
When we moved here, I was perplexed about how I would can, and I was thinking along the lines of getting a stove that was calibrated for propane and put it out in the garage. I never did act on it, as, at that point, I was mostly freezing things or doing water bath, and I could do that fine with what equipment I had. And then I went to a garage sale and found a canner there that had a rocker gauge. "What in the WORLD is this thing, and WHERE's THE GAUGE?" I asked. And then I was educated. I paid for the canner and OMG, I can't believe that I didn't know about this. It makes canning sooooooo easy.
It took me a little while to get the hang of how to know when the pressure was where it was supposed to be. All over the Internet, they say the rocker is supposed to "clink", and it's, like, so many seconds between clinks. Well, my rocker never clinked. It hissed to beat the band. But no clinking. So whenever I'd see somebody's blog where they posted about the clinking I'd comment about how I couldn't get my rocker to clink and nine times out of ten they just wouldn't even respond to me, like they thought I was one of those rude people who surfs the internet trying to find people they can pick a fight with. I wasn't trying to call them a liar, I was seeking information and help. And then, all by myself, I caught on to the fact that you can use a rocker gauge instead of the petcock on a canner that has the gauge, and you can satisfy yourself that the pressure stays where you want it by looking at the gauge every now and then. So I did that. And my rocker pressure regulator DOES just hiss and otherwise quietly rocks from side to side. Crazily, if the heat is on too high. They say you want to turn the heat down so as to not waste fuel, and I think this is just fine, and I do turn the heat down to about the first notch lower from Medium. But I don't want to risk going too low and mess up whatever's in the canner, so I stick with that. What little fuel I waste, if any, is worth avoiding a bad case of botulism.
But this little rocker, the one that has rings on it that will come off so you can pressure can at pressures less than 15 pounds, which is what the standard rocker gauge is, is one of the best things since sliced bread in my book. Then it's just a waiting game, and I can do other things in other rooms if I want. When I think about how I spent soooooo much time in front of my canner's pressure gauge, during most of my adult life, fiddling with the level of the flame till I found "the sweet spot", I am just appalled.
I still have one question that has yet to be answered, and that is, what do you do when you're pressure canning on an electric burner, and your time's up? Do you just turn off the burner, and let everything cool down naturally, even though an electric burner stays hotter longer than a gas burner does when the fire's just been turned off? Or do you cut back the pressuring time by, say, five minutes or so, to allow for the slow cooling of the electric burner and the bottom of the canner that's on it, and leave it in place? If anyone can physically pick up their canner and set it on a cool burner, I'd like to know how THAT's done, because I tried that once and I had terrible siphoning from the movement while the jars were still under pressure. Plus it seems like a real impressive accident waiting to happen to me. So if anyone knows the answer to that one, I'd sure appreciate it if you'd say so in the comments. Today, while I was canning chicken, I just eased the canner off the hot spot (it's a glass top range), slowly and carefully, but the gauge showed me falling of pressure immediately and a lot faster than I was comfortable with. I'll be opening the canner when the pressure's all the way down, and after I wait ten minutes more, and all that. I sure hope I don't hate what I see.
OK, this is later, the chicken is out of the canner and it looks pretty good.
I didn't have any siphoning that I can tell, the water in the canner was not sullied. The liquid in the jars was still bubbling so I left them sitting in the canner with the lid off for about ten MORE minutes before I lifted them off onto newspaper, and as you can see, there's no telltale ring on the paper around the jars to indicate siphoning. I always wait 10 minutes after there's no steam coming out when I lift off the pressure rocker, then I take my canning lid off the canner but if I see lots of bubbling inside the jars I just leave the jars undisturbed for ten minutes more, with the canner lid off. When I was canning in an air-conditioned kitchen I seemed to have a lot more problems with siphoning than I do now, and I think temperature differences can contribute to siphoning. There are lots of reasons for siphoning. Not leaving enough head space, not letting out all the air pockets before putting on the lid, having the band screwed down too tight, not letting off steam for the full ten minutes before building pressure, fluctuations in pressure, not letting pressure come down naturally..... all these things contribute. Maybe even if they don't like the look on your face. So smile purty.
I had my hamburger mix bubbling in the Maslin pan and I got eight pints into the canner with five pints left over, that I packed into freezer containers. Mmmm, it is yummy. I could eat it right out of the jar with a spoon. But I have had enough canning fun for today.
Sue's recipe for Canning Hamburger Mix is HERE. And the recipe I used for the chicken breasts is a simple one that I saw in the Comment section of Sue's post on canned chicken breast HERE. The woman's name who gave the recipe for raw pack is Lenoria. I didn't have but three packages of chicken breast on hand, and that wasn't enough for a canner load. So I thawed out a big package of thighs, skinned and deboned them, and filled some of the jars with those. I see myself using those for casseroles. I used wide-mouth pints for both projects. I had scraps and bones and two thighs left after I packed the jars, so I just cooked them in my 6-qt pressure cooker and we will have chicken and noodles tonight for supper.
Hubs talked to the pharmacist at Walgreens and asked for a recommendation for a good once-daily vitamin that might be helpful in preparing for, and healing up after, surgery, and came home with Centrum Silver. It was about $12 for 125 capsules. I went looking on the Internet and there is a good alternative in the Kirkland Signature Adult 50+ Mature Multi. If that ain't a mouthful, I don't know what is. It got really high ratings and some people say Consumer's Report has a favorable opinion about it. It's 400 tablets for $14.50 and free shipping. Just so ya know. It has Lutein in it, and zinc, and all the same stuff Centrum Silver has.
We've had a couple of really nice low-humidity days, such that Hubs and I have sat out on the patio in the early mornings and watched the sun come up. We saw a meteor shower one morning. A hoot-owl has been serenading us. And our little Wolf spider greets us every morning with a new web right in front of the sliding door. But the low humidity has been hard on the garden.
We've been seeing lots of butterflies: black ones with blue markings, the yellow ones I think are called Sulphurs? Some orange ones that look like the Gulf Fritillary. We have them every year, Maypop grows out here and it is their host plant. Now and then I see something I think is a Monarch, but I don't see it up close enough to know for sure. The Milkweed that grows in the herb garden is starting to bloom. Funny, it seems like the Monarch prefers her larvae to be on Dillweed and doesn't bother the Milkweed. What's up with that? We still just have the three hummingbirds. One is acting strangely: falling backwards or forwards and hanging onto the perch of the feeder by its feet. I wonder if it's sick. We've never seen any of them act like that before.
It's now or never for Elderberries. At least here in zone 6a.
Not much else is going on. Just putting one foot in front of the other. I hope all is well with all of you. Rock on.... Hugs xoxoxo