Friday, July 31, 2015

Daily Doin's, Last Week Of July, 2015

I start this on Saturday, July 25.
The garden is such a mess these days.  It's been too hot and humid to get out in it except to water and pick.  Those two things take priority over weeding.






The nice thing about not keeping up with the weeding is that we get "gifted" with volunteer plants I might've dug out had I been weeding regularly.  The Internet community doesn't have a consensus as to whether weeds are bad for a garden or not.  Some say the roots give off poisons and growth inhibitors and they take up water and nutrients that you'd rather the plants you planted have them.  Others say the weeds know how to find moisture, that they send their roots 'waaaay deep into the ground, and that the roots of plants near them benefit from their micro-whatever and follow the weed roots to the water.  Hell if I know which it is.  I do know that lots of times a good old sturdy Lambsquarter plant in with a tomato plant can help shade the tomatoes.  And some people eat Lambsquarter greens, and they grind the seed into a powder and put it in their baked goods.  All I can say for certain is that you do the best you can do, let the rest fall by the wayside and don't look back.

Our volunteer plants are doing well.  If something's that dedicated in its quest for life, it seems almost sacreligious to rip it out.  Especially if I planted the seeds to begin with, but maybe in a previous year.  I'm just in awe of Mother Nature sometimes.  Other times I'm just in shock.


I think this is one of those Pink Banana squashes I have tried so hard to grow for the past two years and failed.  Now it's a volunteer growing in a cage with one of the tomato plants, apparently came up from a seed that didn't germinate last year.  Go figure.

I haven't planted watermelon seed in four years.

The bugs and worms continue to take their share first.
This is curly blue kale.  Sheesh.

The Purple Hull Pink Eye Peas are coming on now.

And the pears are coming ripe on the Asian tree.

Hubs and I bought a new bed yesterday.  I had been thinking, since we want to set up sleeping arrangements in my office, where there are fewer "accessibility barriers", that it might be a good time to get a new mattress.  I take very good care of our mattresses, I use mattress covers and mattress pads.  Our used mattresses look brand new.  But I am getting to the point where I wake up hurting every morning.  Not just my knee, but my back as well.  And I would venture to say that one of our mattress sets is probably quite a bit more than ten years old.  Since we were going to have to drag one of the beds down from upstairs and then schlep it back upstairs once I've recovered from surgery, anyway, this is the perfect time.

Mattresses are sure different these days.  This one looks like two pieces: a normal-sized box spring and a thin top mattress.  But they are connected to each other.  We did not get the box springs.  Oh, I guess they call it a "foundation" now.  Instead, we got what is called an "Adjustable Base".  It is a metal frame on legs, has a hand-held control that allows us to raise the panels under our knees and/or behind us, like hospital beds do. These are the specs:
- Pocket Coil 600 14 GA
- 4-Way Stretch Breathable Knit Fabric
- Foam Encased-100% Sleep Surface
- Quilted Comfort Layer
- 1/2” Talalay Latex
- 3” of HD Soy Based Foam Topper
- Soy Based Memory Foam Support Band
- 3/4” High Density Soy Based Bottom Support Foam
- No Flip Maintenance Free
- Environmental Friendly Wood Foundation
- 10 Year Warranty

We laid down on so may beds yesterday that I got so I couldn't tell WHICH one I liked better.  But Hubs chose this one, and it's just one down from Top Of The Line, so I think we'll be comfortable on it.  I'm so glad I just bought a new sheet set because I don't think the sheets that fit tightly on our regular mattresses will fit.  And since the mattress protector that I bought several years ago was too big, I'm thinking it'll fit this one just fine.  It's supposed to keep dust and dead skin cells from migrating into the mattress.  It's hard for me to believe, but they say by the time a mattress is ten years old, it weighs a lot more than it did when it was new because of the dust and stuff that have filtered into it.  I can't attest to that because I've never weighed any of my mattresses, nor would I have any idea how to go about doing that sort of thing.  So it could be just another lie the product marketers say in order to stimulate business and I would never know any different.  Regardless, I do feel it's important to protect your mattress from dust and so on. So I've always used a mattress pad under my fitted sheet, and when people started having trouble with bringing bedbugs home from motels, I bought those mattress protectors that WMT started carrying.  JC was living with us at the time, and he had a lot of friends whose housekeeping left a whole lot to be desired, not that he appreciated me telling him that.  I had to keep having the exterminator in for roaches and I was determined I was not going to end up getting bedbugs.  Well, God was just looking out for us, that's all I can say, because JC didn't like that mattress protector and took it off his bed.  I realize I'm tempting fate saying this, but since he moved out, we haven't seen any sign of roaches, either. 

I called JR and asked if he'd help bring it home and as it worked out, he was able to do it right away, so I hurried around and got things moved to make room.  It's real cramped down here and I'm feeling a little claustrophobic sitting here at my computer, but when I think about some of the tiny places I lived in when I was young, I think how silly that is.  I once had an apartment that was really no bigger than my office is.  The "kitchenette" was built into a recess in one wall and there were hinged louvered doors that could be pulled across to hide it.  The sink and stove were "apartment sized".  There was a Murphy bed that pulled down from what looked like a closet.  And the bathroom had no tub, just a shower.  They called it an "Efficiency Apartment".  Heh.  It was plenty for a young single girl fresh out of high school and working her first real job.  That was such a long time ago!

Oh, I just have to share this with you.  I had told Carole about us buying the bed and from my description of it, she misunderstood that we had bought a Rollaway Bed.  But it was well worth the misunderstanding because then she told me this story:

"I was working for insurance adjusters located on a busy street.  I had just told my boss that morning that I was looking for a rollaway bed.  He was perched on the side of my desk that afternoon, looking at something, when he happened to look out my window. Right in front of the office, he saw a pickup truck lose it's cargo, with guess what?  A rollaway bed.  He simply couldn't believe it.  He ran out and helped pick it up.  By that time I was out there and asked the driver if it was for sale.  He called the owner and found out they were going to sell it, so I bought it for $7.00, good mattress and all.  Now that's a true story.  Last time I talked with my old boss, he still laughed about that.  I think he must have thought I was a witch." 
The more I thought about that, and pictured it in my mind's eye, the way her boss must've looked at her like he thought she was a witch when that bed fell out of the truck, the funnier it got.

But I think I've said here before about how I believe God just loves to give us little gifts and to work little miracles, just to show us that He loves us and knows what's going on with our lives.  The first time I figured this out was when JC and JR were little boys.  We kept them every summer and I was working that particular summer, so I had them in daycare at YMCA.  I think maybe they had been in kindergarten that school year.  It was a Friday and there had been a field trip.  I had sent the sack lunches and the cans of cold pop wrapped in aluminum foil, as instructed, but no one had said anything about there being a gift shop at the laser-tag place.  So when I went to pick the boys up after work, lots of the kids had bought things and JR and JC didn't get to do that because I hadn't known they'd need any money beyond their admission costs.  JR was quite a little tattle-tale along about then, and he whispered to me that JC had a Whoopee Cushion in his backpack that some other child had bought at the gift shop.  JC and I had a quiet talk and I explained to him the nuances of Things That Aren't Yours, and I told him I was sorry I hadn't given him any money for the gift shop and that as soon as I could find out where they were sold, I'd buy him a Whoopee Cushion of his very own.  He was OK with that, returned the one in his backpack to its rightful owner, and we left for home.

The next day was Saturday and we always went garagin' on Saturday mornings.  I'd give JC and JR a little money to spend and they'd get a little lesson in economics along with some trinket they probably found at the first sale because that money would burn a hole right through their pockets.  And so I wasn't surprised when JR came and got me at the very first sale to show me something he wanted to buy.  They were supposed to show me what they were buying because I didn't want to get in the car and see they had something without knowing whether they'd paid for it or not.  When I saw what he had found, I was surprised, because....

IT WAS A WHOOPEE CUSHION AND IT WAS PRICED AT ONLY 25 CENTS.

Both JC and JR had a lot of little-boy-type fart-sounding fun with that Whoopee Cushion in the days that followed, and I hoped JC would remember the lesson that its presence at that garage sale was meant to teach.  For sure I remembered and I rejoiced in the fact that God has such a great sense of humor and used this instance as a way to show us that He loves us.   Stuff like this still happens to me to this day.  In fact, if I'm needing something for an important reason, sometimes I'll just cut to the chase and flat-out ask God if He will help me find one.  He never disappoints, though sometimes it turns out to cost too much or to be the wrong size or color.  And sometimes He has a lot of fun with it, showing me one at almost every sale I go to that day.  LOL  One time, about potty training time for the boys, there was a potty chair for sale at so many sales that we started calling it "Potty Chair Day".  Heh.  Of course, that was back before I realized it was "A God Thing", and so we considered it just a weird coincidence at the time.

Our Cabbage Roll Casserole cooked all day in the crockpot and by suppertime Friday the rice still wasn't as well-cooked as I thought it should be.  Of course I had to unplug it before we left to buy the new mattress, but that was only for a couple of hours.  It was edible and after supper I packed the rest into meal-sized bags and now there are four more meals in the freezer for later. 

Today we were home to watch "Oklahoma Gardening" on OETA.  They had an interesting segment about spiders.  Go HERE to watch any of a year's worth of their shows, although at this writing, they don't have this particular segment up yet.  But it was interesting in that there are only two spiders in Oklahoma that can put a bite on you that will require a doctor's attention, and that is the Black Widow, which may or may not have red spots on it but will always be black and will always have a body that looks like it's carrying a marble, and the Brown Recluse, whose bite may or may not affect you, depending on how sensitive you are to the venom.  I had a neighbor once who was bitten by a Brown Recluse, and boy, was she ever sensitive to it.  The bite was on her face near her eye, and she looked really bad for awhile.  But otherwise, spiders are "the good guys", they eat insects or each other.  If you have kids around, just show them where the webs are and tell them to avoid running through that area.  Teach them how to recognize the dangerous ones, but don't instill a fear of all spiders.   We humans tend to try to kill that which we are afraid of.  So we kill off the spiders and snakes because we don't know how to discern which ones will be harmful to us.  We kill bats because they freak us out, thanks to the Dracula movies we all used to watch.  We kill birds because they inconvenience us.  All of these are great little insect consumers.  So once we have been successful in eradicating them, then WE have to kill the insects that they would've eaten, and that normally is not 100% effective without chemicals, which harm us and our planet a lot worse than spiders, snakes and birds do.  Go figure.  HERE is a website that will teach you how to identify spiders native to Oklahoma.  If you're in another state, you can back up one level and filter for your state.

This spider weaves its web in front of our patio door nearly every night.

I think it's a Wolf Spider.

I did try out my Spiralizer, and my conclusion is that, when I have a zucchini, or if I ever try it with a potato, I will probably like the results better.  The Cuccuzi squash/gourd was a l'il too limber and skinny.  I had trouble with the spikes at the handle end breaking through and therefore reaming out the end of the squash instead of rotating it.  Otherwise it did a decent enough job, and reasonably quick.
There are the end pieces and the tubular center that I didn't quite know what to do with, and ended up just cutting them in little pieces and adding them to the spirals.  Four Cucuzzi, after blanching, filled three pint freezer containers. 

Wednesday.
We have been working our way through this Heat Advisory and there are chances for rain and slightly cooler weather today.  It gets into the low 70's by sunrise but the humidity is so high and there is so much dew on the ground that it feels much warmer.  I just go out to pick things and then I'm back in for the day.  The inactivity is affecting my back and so I have been going with Hubs to his workout, pretty much just to use the stationary bicycle. 

On Monday I thawed out part of a turkey breast and some broth and made noodles.  I thought I had the recipe posted somewhere but I can't find it.  Some people add things like baking powder and/or oil to their noodles and sometimes I do that, too.  But this time I just used 1/2 tsp. salt, 3 cups flour and 4 eggs.  I had to add a little water in order to get it to hold together enough to knead into a cohesive ball.  And then I cut it in slices, covered them in flour and ran them through my Marcato pasta machine.  I cut my noodles by hand because the makers of the pasta machine didn't see fit to make a noodle-cutting attachment for 1" wide noodles, just some little narrow ones that I don't really care for.  I used half the noodles I made and the other half were allowed to dry completely and they went into a jar.  I'll be using my FoodSaver to vacuum seal the jar and it'll go into the pantry for later.

Since what I had left only filled the one quart jar, I decided to make another batch on Tuesday.  I heard on the news there was going to be an egg shortage because of The Bird Flu and so I had bought some extra eggs on the last shopping trip.

Sometimes the things that are happening worldwide make me feel really insecure.  I have to force myself to remember that freakish weather conditions have been happening all along and that diseases seem to come and go.  I remember in the late 50's when there was a big flood where my sister lived in Ottawa, KS.  And during the 60's seeing dead cattle laying bloated on the ground from Anthrax.  And most recently there has been Mad Cow Disease.  Somehow we still seem to manage to have beef in the stores.  Maybe it will be that way with poultry and eggs, though the statements made on the news sounded pretty dire.  I wonder, though, if there will be any flu shots for us humans this fall, since apparently the serum is incubated in chicken eggs.  Last winter we had the flu because apparently the right kind of virus wasn't included in our shots.  I don't know how they can know ahead of time so I'm not hacked off about it.  It was just inconvenient and kind of hard on us, but we doctored with Elderberry tea and made it through.

I've started picking elderberries, and this will go on for awhile, as they come ripe.  Here in Oklahoma, all the berries don't ripen at the same time, I'm told because of the erratic weather.  Grapes are the same way here.  But I've hit upon a way to make this work out.  When the Elderberry umbrellas have about half berries on them that have turned black, I pick the whole umbrella.  It snaps right off the branch, like Mother Nature meant for it to do so.  I bring these in and put them all in a plastic bag and twist it closed.  While Hubs and I are watching TV, I'm picking off the black berries.  If that empties the umbrella, the "skeleton" goes into the compost bucket.  Any umbrellas that still have berries on them that are green or somewhere in between green and black are placed into another plastic bag, and when I've gone through to the bottom of the first bag, I just close the second bag up, pour my picked berries into a freezer container, and I'm done till the next evening.  This takes most of an evening and I get pretty tired of it but I'll be happy I have these this winter, I bet.  The bag keeps the umbrellas from drying out and on the next evening, there will be more berries on them that have ripened. 


Thursday:

The "cold front" (if you can call it that) came through this morning and it was a nice morning.  Hubs weed-wacked and used the push mower in the garden for me.  I spent most of the morning Wednesday watering the garden from the bullet tank, that is located at the side of the garage and collects rain water from the gutters on the front part of the house.   And today I watered from the cistern, and finished up in the garden.  While I was out there I took a better look at the Adzuki beans and found they've all made long skinny bean pods that have dried and turned brown.  I had my pockets filled with them and when Hubs got within hearing distance I asked him to bring me a container to put them in.  I had already been out and picked a few blackberries, a few tomatoes and three cucumber.

This is my first year to grow Adzuki, and they came to me in a sprouting mix with the garbanzo beans that I also planted, and am growing for the first time.  I showed the garbanzo beans I picked on the post before this one but I failed to say that I ate a couple of them, right out of the garden and they taste like a raw peanut.  So I see why people like oven-roasted garbanzo beans.  They are a good source of protein and so I'm surprised that more people don't grow them.  The only way I had ever had them before was back when it was popular for restaurants to add canned garbanzo beans to salads.  I never liked them that way.  They were mealy and I didn't think they had any flavor.  Funny how a poorly-prepared vegetable can turn a person off it like that.

Adzuki beans remind me of mung beans, the way they grow.  The difference is in how the beans are dark red, instead of dark green.  And the mung beans are all sort of crowded into the pod.  With the Adzuki, they're spaced apart from each other.

I had read that the beans are supposed to be sweet so I ate one that was in a green pod and YUK.  I will have to read more about them to find out how it is that they are so sweet that they are ground into a paste and then used in desserts, because, at this very moment, I'm not much impressed.  But, since I got them as part of a "sprouting mix", I bet they'd be best used for that. 

There is finally a gourd on the Bushel Basket gourd plant.

I grew some of these at The Ponca House and the gourds got as big as bowling balls.  I've seen them twice that big but I think they must've been grown where summers are longer than here.  There towards the end of the growing season I was cutting off baby gourds every day.  I knew they didn't have time to develop into anything that would dry properly, and I didn't want them sucking water and nutrients away from the ones that were already hanging on the vine.  Oh, and I had to make hammocks for these gourds when they got about the size of a cantaloupe, because they were very heavy. 

Last year I planted the seed I had saved, and I had plants but they didn't get very big, and never made any gourds.  This year, I started the seed inside IN JANUARY.  I used a milk jug, and when it was warm enough to transplant the plants into the garden, I just carefully cut the milk jug away from the soil that was in it, leaving the roots intact.  Dug a hole and set the rootball down into it, and except for a couple of days where it was just a little too cool, the plants never knew they'd been moved.  These have till late October to grow, maybe we'll get our first frost late, and if so, that would be helpful.  It took them a little while to start vining out but they have done so much better than last year's.  Bear in mind, this seed is now beyond five years old.  By the time the gourds dry enough that you can get the seeds out, a year has already passed.  Before they get dry, they will get moldy and look like hell.  You want to be really careful and not breathe in that mold.  Instructions that I found for drying gourds left a lot to be desired.  If you leave them on the vine in the winter weather, they will freeze and thaw, freeze and thaw.  The immature gourds will end up hanging there like a deflated balloon.  The mature ones will make it but they become thin-skinned.  I had the best results just loading 'em all onto the garden buggy and pushing it into the garage.  Still lost some, I guess that's inevitible, but at least the ones that dried out had nice thick skins.  The mold and a thin outer skin will scrub off after the gourd is dry enough to rattle.  Just wet them down in a tub of water periodically while you scrub with something abrasive.  A wadded-up plastic net bag that our Thanksgiving turkey came bundled in did the best job of anything.  I found keeping them wet kept the mold from becoming airborne, but you might also want to wear one of those masks to keep from breathing anything in.


Here's how the Canteen Gourd plants are doing.

Canteen gourds were used by Native Americans as, well, canteens.  They make nice bowls, too.  It's all in how you cut them.  Native Americans used gourds for all kinds of things.  It was almost as important for them to plant gourds as it was to plant food.  Some gourds are edible, but most are not.  The cucuzzi is a gourd, and tastes like squash.  I can't think what use there would be for a cucuzzi that was left on the vine to mature.  Other nice things about gourds is that they will grow in poor soil and will tolerate heat and drought.  Most bugs will not eat them, though as you can see, they will still make bite-marks on them.  Squash bugs DO favor the plant that makes egg-shaped gourds.  The egg-shaped gourds are not edible but, once dried and painted, make good egg-decoys to encourage a hen to lay.  They're nice to keep in the sewing basket if you mend small things or darn socks.  And they're cute in a basket, painted or not.  Squash bugs manage to kill the vine in pretty short order but they still want to hang out on the shoulders of these egg-shaped gourds if they are left hanging on the vine.  Not very pretty, but a trap crop that might save your other stuff from them, if you go out a couple of times every day to squash the bugs.  Take an old rag, they're juicy.  And be prepared, they stink.  Just so ya know.

Friday and the last day of July.
Now we just have August to get through and then we can enjoy having fall.   Nothing much new today.  Did my picking, Hubs did some more weed-wacking, and then we both came in damp from sweat.  So much for "the cool front".  So much for the 60% chances of rain, which did not materialize past a few dark clouds, and further chances have pretty much evaporated from the forecast until at least Tuesday.  Supposed to be in the mid- to upper 60's in the morning.  But at this point I'm thinking "Promises, promises....", and rather darkly, I might add.

Well, it's time for me to "slip out and do something", so guess this time it'll be to pick off all those poor, sad little peaches from the ground and do something with them.  I see where Amazon has a product made by Bonide that's called "LiquiCop" and I may check and see if Lowe's has it any cheaper than $15 for a quart of concentrate.  It's gotten good reviews and is supposed to be "organic".  Not only does the peach tree need it, so do the grapevines.

Hubs bought a bucket of KFC chicken and we had that for supper last night.  I just didn't feel up to cooking.  There's enough left over for another meal and fried chicken is something that Hubs could probably eat every night for awhile without getting tired of it.  You can't take the Country out of the Boy.  So he can have that tonight and maybe I will too.  I'm thawing a beef roast for tomorrow.  I'll put it in the crockpot with the contents of a can of beer and a few onions, and cook it out on the patio.  After the roast is done, I usually pour off the broth, add a 6-oz can of mushrooms and thicken it with cornstarch, and serve with mashed potatoes.  The taste is similar to Beef Burgundy.  Add a vegetable and you're done.

I hope y'all are faring ok with your weather, whatever that is.  Seems like every post, there's always someone to send up a prayer for.  We love our Mother Nature, but Wowzers, she can be one heck of a bad old girl sometimes.  Y'all stay well and safe, in other words,

Rock on.  Hugs xoxoxo

Friday, July 24, 2015

Daily Doin's, Fourth Week of July, 2015

I got a little behind and last week's Daily Doin's slopped over into the fourth week so this one won't be for as many days.  Maybe.

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.

Wednesday:
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.

Thursday.
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.
None of them have gotten bigger than ping-pong ball size and they are just falling right off the tree and making a mess on the ground.  There are a few (verrrry few) that I might be able to cut out some bad parts and have a few bites of something that tastes like a peach, but you know what, I'm just flat-out not in the mood.  I'm tempted to cut to the chase, pick them all and just pitch them, then cut the tree down.  If it had been a Red Haven tree, like I THOUGHT I was getting, then the crop would've been in by now.  Plus these are cling and not freestone, and the peels don't come off easily, making them harder to process.  *Sniff!*  Bummer.  There will be Red Havens at all the box stores this fall, and again next spring.  Maybe I'll buy one then.  Or not.  Maybe from now on we'll just make a trip to Porter and buy a couple bushels of peaches during the Peach Festival, and I can still have my home-canned fruit.  Or not.  Porter peaches cost an arm and a leg, especially by the bushel, and then there's still all that work canning them.  (*&^&$%#$@!@~$%%*(_:><>?)(*&^^%##$!!)  Maybe I'll just buy dried peaches.  I can get 10 pounds for $64.46 and free shipping through Amazon.  Or not.  I wonder how that translates out to price per pound BEFORE the peaches were dried?  Maybe I'll go to WMT and look at those peaches they sell in glass jars.  I'm really not a fan of peaches in a can.  So much syrup, so little actual fruit.  They put more peaches in the glass jars because the consumer can see what they're getting.  I have actually opened a can of peaches and found three peach halves floating in syrup.  I am sooooo sick of being cheated deceived at the grocery store.

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.

Friday.
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

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Daily Doin's, Second Week Of July, 2015

I start this on Saturday, July 11.
We went to several estate sales today.
The McCall's #8528 Cape pattern was billed as "Faux Chenille" and it's told on the back of the package how that's done.  Now if this isn't the coolest idea, with lots of applications that I can think of just off the top of my head....  you stitch several layers of different-colored fabric together with just a regular, straight stitch, in this case it kind of follows a chevron design, but you could do circles and flower shapes or anything, and then you take your scissors and cut between the stitching, then wash to "bring out" the chenille look.  I found a tutorial in PDF format HERE.  And HERE is a Pinterest board with lots of faux chenille projects.  I know we don't have time to mess with it now, but maybe during the winter, do you think?  I wouldn't use something that would ravel pretty badly because after several washings..... well, remember how we used to "fringe" the bottoms of our cut-off jeans shorts and how the fringe would knot up in the washer?  I imagine this would be a problem in this method, too.   It's even reversable.  I'm kinda thinking Charlotte and her quilts and Lorraine and her hearts.  A person could get REALLY ambitious and make a faux chenille bedspread.  Who said that.  No, I don't think it was me.  Heh.

Just a few odds and ends.  I'm all set now for being able to potty after I'm home from having knee surgery.  The Raised Toilet Seat and Toilet Support Rail ought to outfit the office half bath just fine.  $5 each.  I'm sorry if I seem fixated on being able to potty after surgery but the alternative is inconvenient and unattractive.  Not that I worry about being unattractive, my neighbors, who have seen my "Clem Kadiddlehopper Look" know I don't.  But there's a cut-off point in there somewhere, even for me.

Five yards of HEAVY brown denim, $2.50.  Another rectangular metal box for protecting drawer contents in the garage, 25 cents.

Two more Tupperware stackable pie trays, 25 cents each.  I use these in so many ways.  I started out buying them when I was doing a lot of pie-baking.  I could put several pies together, ready to bake, and then stack them in the freezer.  It was very convenient.  I don't bake pie very often anymore.  I use the pie trays for seed drying, or for herb drying if I have just a small amount.  And they are nice for stacking things in the freezer that are pie-shaped, such as bread-dough rounds for pizza, or Bisquik quiche, and yes, now and then, pie.

A Dirt-Devil vacuum, looked like it had never been used, for $8, with attachments.  I could've got it for half price if I'd come back a couple hours later but I wasn't in the mood.  This will replace the DustBuster that I'm sick and tired of having run out of "charge" when I'm right in the middle of something.   Plus I don't have to keep it plugged in when I'm not using it.  This house has eighty gazillion electrical outlets, I just don't see myself having trouble finding a place to plug in near whatever mess I've made.  I'll tell you a secret about that DustBuster and that is that I laid it down somewhere and haven't been able to find it in so long that the battery is probably so dead that it won't charge up anymore.  Good Riddance To Bad Rubbish, that's what we used to say.  When I'm gone and they come to clear things out they'll wonder why in the world I was "storing" the DustBuster wherever THAT is.

Hubs paid $3 for a can of lubricant spray for his workshop, I don't know if it was a good deal, he said it was.

A full bottle of Vitamin E Moisturizing lotion for 75 cents.

I think I'll make a plant stand or a bird bath out of this cheap old ashtray.  It was fifty cents.  Three dozen regular-mouth quart canning jars were $1 a box.  There were a lot of old mayo jars that I didn't want, so they let me pick out the good ones for the same price.  Such a deal.  Mayonnaise jars are ok in a pinch, and Lord knows I've used them often since I first began canning, many years ago.  But the glass is a lot thinner and they break easily.  I don't like to use them for pressure canning, but I feel like they're ok for water bath if I'm careful.  Temperature differences, like putting a "cold pack" jar into boiling water (which I wouldn't recommend regardless), will cause a crack all the way around the bottom of the jar and is a disaster waiting to happen.  And they're ok for vacuum sealing with the FoodSaver.  Just before the factories that make mayonnaise started using plastic jars, they changed the design of the last few years of their glass jars so they'd take a flatter, plastic lid.  Canning jar rings will not screw down tightly on those jars, so those are completely unusable for anything but FoodSaver vacuum packing.  I don't even let those stay in my house because I'm forever grabbing one and filling it and then finding out the canning ring won't tighten.  It sure hacks me off to have to go rustle up another jar when I'm in the middle of canning.  The glass mayo jars that do take the canning ring, I do keep around for use in a pinch, but I won't buy more of them.  You can feel the difference in the weight of the jar.  Some blank jars are made that are similar in weight to the ones bearing the words "Ball", or "Kerr" and I feel like those are acceptable.  The people running the sale had some of those that had "Atwoods' Honey" labels on them.  They took my phone number and said there were lots more in the attic that they thought were the ones I'd be interested in. 

I buy embroidered "samplers" whenever I see them.  It harkens to my childhood.  We girls always had an embroidery project going during the summer when there was not much else to do.  Nowadays kids don't spend much time at home in the summer.  But we girls were not allowed to learn how to drive and so of course the issue of ever driving the family car --or-- (yikes) wanting our own car, never came up.  This was marked $14 and it was the second day and therefore half-price day for this particular estate sale.  I particularly love the message, "He who loves most his fellow man, is loving God the best he can".  Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone understood that.

A good, sturdy hand trowel for fifty cents.  Some hair bands for twenty-five cents each.  More foil pans that I buy every time I see them because I have trouble getting my good Pyrex pie pans back when I give away a pie, and NO ONE stocks foil pie pans in ALL of this Dang One-Horse Town, Wanna-Be Metropolis....  Sheesh.

I picked these off a tree as I passed it.  Aren't they interesting?  The tree looked like a pine except that the needles were all feathery.  I researched it and found that it is a Bald Cypress.  The "cones" smell very "piney".    

We didn't stay out long, it was already getting hot and Hubs was getting antsy. The rest of the day we didn't do much.  I washed a load of jeans, hung them out and brought them in when they were dry.  Hubs folded them and put them away.  There were left-overs in the refrigerator so I didn't have to cook.

Sunday.
Went out this morning and picked blackberries, tomatoes, tomatillos, a few onions, a few green beans, and wild plums.  I'm seeing little bean pods on the Garbanzo beans.  They look like pea pods but are only big enough to hold one bean.  I read that it's one or two in the pod, I haven't opened any yet.  I've never grown these before so I had no clue what they'd be like.

Washed a load of colors and a load of bedding.  I had given some of the rolls I made last time to Joe and Cathy across the street, so I was down to only two rolls by today.  I made two more batches.  With one batch, I made the usual rolls, and then Runzas with most of the other.  I still have some shredded cabbage in the freezer from last year, so this used up two quarts of that, four 'Tater Onions from the garden, four big (grocery store) carrots from the crisper, a two pound roll of J.C. Potter pork sausage that we had bought at Sam's.  I didn't really get much cleaned out of the freezer today, because in the end I put two quarts of Runza Filling back in.  But, there were eight Runzas that I baked, and that was supper, plus leftovers for another meal or two.  I used to make Runzas ahead and freeze them, but they take up so much room in the freezer, and, heated up from being frozen, they are never quite as good as freshly baked.  It's just better to freeze the filling in quart containers for use on a future bread-baking day.

The lettuce seed is finally ripening.  I never thought of saving seed for lettuce until I had a plant bolt to seed before I got around to pulling it out of the ground.  But it's just mostly a waiting game when it comes to lettuce seed.  If you have a variety that you like, but that you have to send away for, it's not a bad idea to collect your own seed.  I have certain favorites and invariably, they aren't all sold by the same vendor, so I end up making more than one seed order, and you know what that means:  shipping costs.  This was the first year for me to grow Merveille de Quatre Saisons and Year Round Lettuce.  I didn't find them to be any slower to bolt than any other lettuce or romaine than I've grown, but the taste was wonderful while it lasted.  One of my old posts that shows what lettuce gone-to-seed looks like and how to save the seed is HERE, if you're interested. 

Monday.
Hubs went into town for his workout at the fitness center.  I stayed home and worked in the garden.  I'm having a lot more trouble with my knee since I started going to the fitness center, and I just wasn't up to doing both that and garden work, so I encouraged Hubs to go without me during the morning so he could visit with his buddies that aren't there when we go in the afternoons.  He intended to cut the grass today but it was already too hot for him to be out in it by the time he got home.  We're retired, what the hell.  He can do it tomorrow morning.  I had planned to make some jam during the early morning, but instead I spent that time picking, pulling a few weeds, and doing some mulching.  What the hell.  I can do it tomorrow morning.  I just dinked around the rest of the day, and we had leftovers for supper.

I've been enjoying Sue and Myrna's blog quite a bit lately (Iowa Housewife, on my sidebar).  Sue posted instructions for how to can chicken breast and I've tried canning chicken broth without very good results but I've discussed it with them and they've given me the courage to try again.  Myrna says she cans cooked ground beef and I've watched a few people do that on YouTube.  They always say they're going to post an update after they open the jar and they never do, which makes me worry that they don't like what's in the jar.  But both Sue and Myrna tell me they can ground beef and Sue says she's going to do a post on it soon.  So I'm looking forward to that.

Carole shared with me a website about making "Turmeric Milk".  It is said Turmeric is anti-inflammatory and is good for people who have arthritis and joint pain.  That link is HERE.  If you scroll down, there is a video on how to make a paste of the Turmeric by cooking it in water, then how to mix it with milk. Apparently the milk, honey and oil help the body to metabolize the Turmeric better.  ****additional information, added later, is that the performance of Turmeric can be enhanced by adding black pepper, AND, HERE is what WebMD has to say about Turmeric, pay special attention to what it says on the "Side Effects" and "Interactions" tabs as Turmeric can slow blood clotting.  I'm really glad I found this as I would have likely used this Turmeric right up to surgery day and probably wouldn't have even mentioned it to the surgeon, being as it's not typically what one would consider a "drug".  So please do not make the same mistake I almost made.****

I've also resumed drinking a glass of water every morning with a tablespoon of cider vinegar in it.  I used to do this all the time, but got away from it for some reason.  Then Carole sent me something the other day that jogged my memory.  We'd been having a discussion about diluted vinegar applied to the skin for heat rashes and bacterial overgrowths, and yes, it did help a rather uncomfortable rash that I had developed "under The Girls", if you know what I mean.  It's 1/4 cup cider vinegar to a quart of water.  Just sponge it on.  Her vet said once a day for a rash her little doggie had, but really I found it soothing to put some on three or four times a day, especially at first.

Some of my long-time readers will remember when I posted about a little book I'd bought called "A Vermont Doctor's Guide To Good Health".  Cider vinegar is good for your "gut", and you are not healthy if your "gut" isn't.  HERE's what Reader's Digest has to say about cider vinegar.  If you do a search you'll find Dr. Oz has jumped on the bandwagon but I just feel like Dr. Oz has crossed the line so I won't link him.  What he has to say about cider vinegar is easy to find if you want to know what that is.  This time I've refined my morning "vinegar tonic" a little by adding a scant tablespoon of REAL honey, which is also good for you, as long as you don't buy your honey at the grocery store.  It is mostly corn syrup.  I buy my honey at the downtown Bartlesville Farmer's Market, from TuckerBees.  They are out of Kansas, and we are so close to the Kansas state line here that, yes, it's local honey.  I know a few people who are keeping bees now and I'm so glad to see it, but none of them are producing enough that they can sell it yet.  We must do everything we can to protect the bees.  One important thing is not what we do but what we DON'T do, and that is using chemical insecticides.  Another thing to DO is to grow things the bees love.  What they seem to be drawn to the most, here, is Crimson Clover when it's in bloom.  I'm growing a small amount of Buckwheat (I intended to grow more but it didn't work out that way), and it is a bee magnet as well.  They seem to love my Red Bergamot, too.  It makes me feel good to know I'm doing my part in providing food and habitat for bees, butterflies and birds, and I hope it's not that I'm luring them too close to some of my neighbors who spray poisons indiscriminately because the "bugs" inconvenience them.  Those neighbors would probably have a cow if I started keeping bees.

I might mention here that this year I've seen an increase in the number and variety of beneficial insects.  Yesterday when I brought in lettuce that had gone to seed, there were dozens of larval Lady Bugs and some really tiny Praying Mantis that came in with it.  Awwwww....  Gone-to-seed lettuce must be habitat for them.  Who knew?  I'm seeing dragonflies often, too.

Tuesday.

Hubs cut the grass.  I had thawed a gallon of cut-up strawberries and three pints of Hansen's black bush cherries.  The cherries have a bitter taste if eaten fresh.  I even tried cooking them with a little sugar this time and it still didn't help.  I was kind of concerned about going ahead and making jam out of them, but I did it last year and the jam was wonderful.  In fact, I ate all of it, a teaspoon or two at a time in my plain lowfat yogurt, that's how good it was.  Hubs didn't complain about me hogging it, he was doing the same thing to the blackberry jam.  Heh. 

So I made 4 and 1/2 pint jars of cherry jam and 3 and 1/2 pint-and-a-half jars of strawberry.  The half jars just went into the fridge, they were the last in the pot, not enough left to fill the jar up.  I knew we'd be wanting to be into it pretty quickly, anyway.  They both turned out well and are yummy.

I wish the Hansen's bushes had done better this year.  They would have if we hadn't gotten too much rain right at the crucial time, and the bushes stood in water for awhile.  *Sigh*.

While I was watching the jam out in the garage, the House Finches continued building their little nest, talking sweetly to each other.  He stands on the diagonal brace and guards her while she adds the latest gathering to the nest and pats it down.  We just can't seem to be vigilant enough to keep them from building there.   He's looking at me as if to say, "WHUT do YEW want??"

After the jam was in the jars I cleaned up my mess and then went out to give the Doyle blackberries some water and then mulch with wood chips from the pile.  There is much to be said for Doyle blackberries.  The canes have no thorns.  They are verrrrry productive.  And the berries are big and juicy.  BUT.  They ripen late.  And if they don't get adequate water while the berries are ripening, the berries just dry right up, hard as little wrinkled rocks.  They can do it overnight.  It might have something to do with intense heat, which is a problem considering that they ripen during July.

Hubs loves blackberries.  They are "soul food" to him as he grew up in a big family and they were poor, so they lived off the land as much as they could.  That meant the boys all had bb-guns and they hunted squirrel and rabbit.  They fished and caught frogs.  And their mom put all that on the table, along with vegetables she grew and biscuits that she made for nearly every meal.  So blackberries, being native to Oklahoma, were picked by the children and she made them into cobblers, which was a dish they always requested from their Mom into their adult years as long as she was alive.  Now, the seeds get under Hubs teeth and they're troublesome for him to eat.  So when I make the jam, I remove the seeds.  Frankly, I think the seeds make the jam bitter.  I don't think Hubs' mom knew how to make jam and he says she never baked bread -- just biscuits and cornbread.  She got a waffle iron from somewhere and made tons of waffles during her lifetime.  She made "Milk Syrup" and "Chocolate Syrup" to put on the waffles because they didn't buy bottled syrup.  Hubs still just LOOOOOVES waffles.

Gaylie Jones’ Milk Syrup

Every family has it's "comfort food" -- and Gaylie's children are no exception. Gaylie made millions of waffles and pans of biscuits and cornbread and blackberry cobbler in her life. This is her recipe for the waffle syrup she made, and that her daughters all made for their families. For chocolate syrup, just add 2 T. powdered cocoa.



2 cups sugar

1 cup milk

pinch salt



Combine ingredients in a saucepan on medium heat. Cook until thick.  Stir frequently while cooking. Add a pat of butter and stir in before serving.



Easy Waffle Batter

Doesn’t require beating egg whites separately and folding in, as most yeast-risen waffles do. Makes a nice crisp waffle.



2 1/2 C flour

2 T sugar

1 pkg.yeast

1/2 t. salt

2 C milk

1 large egg, beaten

1/3 C oil



Mix ingredients. Ladle about 1/4 C batter onto each section of a hot waffle iron. Bake according to manufacturer’s directions. If too thick, add more milk.



Belgian Waffles

This recipe came with the waffle iron. Belgian Waffles are thicker than ordinary waffles, with deeper depressions.  Crisp on the outside, tender inside. This rises in the waffle iron so be careful not to fill too full. Makes 4 (12-inch) or 16 (6-inch) square waffles.



1 package (2 tsp.) dry yeast

2 C. lukewarm milk

4 eggs, separated

1 tsp. vanilla

2 ½ C. sifted flour

1/8 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. sugar

¼ C. melted butter



Sprinkle yeast over warm milk; stir to dissolve. Beat egg yolks and add to yeast mixture with vanilla. Sift together flour, salt and sugar; add to liquid ingredients. Stir in melted butter and combine thoroughly. Beat the egg whites till stiff; carefully fold into batter. Let mixture stand in a warm place about 45 minutes or till mixture doubles in bulk. 

There are not many tomatoes left on the plants now.  I guess one night of coolish weather wasn't enough to let them set new fruit.  If the plants can live through the heat of July and August, they may be able to put on another crop for fall.  But if we get an early frost, we'll just have a lot of green tomatoes.  We will enjoy some Fried Green Tomatoes, of which I am very fond.  Some of them will ripen after being brought in, some will not, and I will not be in a position to do much with them anyway because I will have knee surgery in late August.   One thing that is still producing well is the Brown Berry Cherry tomatoes.  Pretty soon they will be the only fresh tomato we'll have. 

I'm hoping the Provider bush and Fortex pole beans will start going full swing soon, so far they have not.  And I saw what I think is Japanese Beetles today.  Purple hull southern peas love hot, dry weather.  Last year they endured the onslaught of Japanese Beetles and produced in the dryest part of the garden with hardly any intervention from me except to pick.  Gotta love purple hull peas.

I think, if I had to live off my garden, I would still grow potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, squash, kale and other greens, and onions.  I'd grow more dry beans and some popcorn.  Popcorn can be ground into corn meal and we all know beans and corn bread together is a complete protein.

Wednesday.
Still under a heat advisory so Hubs and I got out as soon as it was light.  I cut the chicken wire panels and together we got them in place along the bottom 18" of the new fence.  While he fastened them to the fence, I cut the last of the wires that fastened the old chain link to the posts running between the yard and the garden and Hubs came and helped me pull the fence material out from between plants, bushes and trees.  He rolled it up and then when it was all down, loaded it onto the wagon that is pulled by his lawn mower and placed it at the side of the driveway.  Jeff had agreed to pick it up when we had it ready and dispose of it for us.  (Later Note: I called Jeff on Friday and he said he was almost right at our turn-off and would swing by and get it, and he did.)

It is now a much shorter walk into the garden and so convenient for me, and the cat is trying hard to wrap her brain around why she ends up in the garden without having to wait to walk through the gate with Mama.

When it's hot, Hubs and I cannot be out in it for very long.  But I will slip outside about every hour and do something for about fifteen minutes.  I have slipped out and picked blackberries and Brown Berry cherry tomatoes.  Then another time I slipped out and planted the small 'Tater onions, emptied two bags of leaves between tomato plants and pulled weeds that were growing between the pepper plants for a little while.  Later on, I slipped out and picked wild plums.  After that, I slipped out on the back patio and sorted through the onions that are curing in flats.  About half of them had dried off enough to be cleaned up to bring into the house.  And one of the seed heads made by the Walla Walla onions that wintered over from last year had seed ready.


Each time I go out, I think of, or see, something else that needs to be done.  There is always so much to do.  This sort of thing would put me at risk for getting side-tracked and staying out there in the heat much longer than I should.  So I just decide I'll do that on the next trip out and hope I won't forget.  If forgetting gets to be too big of a problem, I might try to dig out my little battery-operated tape recorder and take it with me when I go out.  Then I can record notes and reminders. 

I probably have more onions now than will keep till they can be used, so I decided to dehydrate some.  I dehydrate many things in my attic and onions lend themselves well to this method.  There's too much heat in the attic for cabbage and herbs.  One reason the attic is a good choice for onion (and garlic) dehydration is that it's vented to the outside, and the door that closes the attic off from the rest of the house is a good, tight, insulated door.  If you've never dehydrated onions or garlic before, take my advice and DON'T DO IT INSIDE!!!!!!  (You'll thank me later.)

Just a few little tricks to preparing onions for dehydration.  1) Refrigerate the onions before peeling and slicing; 2) Wear safety glasses while peeling and slicing.  Those clear ones that you can get at any home improvement store are just fine.  Make sure there's good coverage.  This is not to protect you from stabbing yourself in the eye, although, if you're afraid you might accidentally do this type of thing, ok then.  Mostly it keeps the onion fumes and airborne juices from entering your eyes.  That's all those "Onion Goggles" are, really, is just safety glasses with a higher price.  3) Onions lose a lot of volume during the dehydration process.  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.   4) Prepare your trays outside, if you can.  If you can't, or if it's stinkin' hot outside and you want to be inside where it's cool, just work in small amounts.  I might only do two trays at a time, take them upstairs, and then go do something else for awhile.  This keeps the house from becoming too onion-ey.  5) Once dry, pack them in jars as they are.  I like to vacuum seal mine with my FoodSaver.  I have a lot of half-pint canning jars that I never use, and a lot of used canning flats that will still hold a seal.  So these are what I store dried onions in.  Its fun to make onion powder, but it's harder to keep from drawing moisture and turning into an onion cake in the jar.  Just powder it as you need it.  Mostly I use my dehydrated onions in soups and casseroles, I might break them up in smaller pieces when I take them out of the jar.  Or not.

I've seen, on other websites, where they say that when something is dehydrated, it is JUST LIKE FRESH when it's been reconstituted in warm water.  This is absolutely not true.

I was really glad I started the process, because I discovered some of my onions had started to GO BAD ALREADY!  What's up with THAT????  Maybe it's just too hot out there on the covered patio to cure onions.  Maybe it's the fact that it's just the "Sweet White", as WMT's label proclaimed, and therefore they aren't very good keepers, anyway.  These trays came with my dehydrator.  I don't use it much anymore because the attic is just too darn convenient, doesn't cost anything to operate, and can dehydrate larger batches at a time.
I put those slices with the brown layer in there so you can see what was happening, but I removed those layers and discarded them.  They won't turn into anything good in the attic. It's convenient but it ain't magic.
I bought these window screens at a garage sale.  The screens are plastic but I'm hesitant to put food directly on them.  If I run out of dehydrator trays, I'll use cheesecloth between the food and the screen.
Here's how the onions looked after a couple of days.  They'll need a couple more and then they'll be ready to put away.

This has been an educational summer for me where onions are concerned.  I had success with starting onion from seed this spring.  I posted about that on May 24.  Last year Lowe's kept promising me that they had a late shipment of Candy onion plant bundles, but it never came and by planting time, all that was left was some Walla Walla bundles.  So I planted those.  There were a few that I missed pulling, and those wintered over and made seed, and was kind of amazed at how they ended up dividing the bulb, providing three tear-drop-shaped edible bulbs around the one that supported the stalk and grew woody.  The one I pulled today just had two bulbs.



Just today I pulled the onions that grew from the cut-off bottoms of grocery store onions.
I'm thinking these will be ones that will keep longer than the others I've grown, as varieties grown for market are selected for their keeping qualities.  Hubs told me, "If I hadn't seen you do it with my own eyes, I never would've believed you could grow a new onion from the bottom of a grocery store onion".  I told him, "Me, too..." 

This is now Friday.  My gosh, WHERE has the week gone?
I got up 'way early this morning, even for me.  I had things I wanted to get done in the cool of the morning and I knew I was going to need a LONG cool morning.

The tomatoes have gotten ahead of Hubs and so it was time to process some more.  And I decided, since the wild Chickasaw plum trees are done ripening fruit, I'd go ahead and make a batch of jam on the other burner while I canned the tomatoes.  I made four quarts of thick tomato puree, three quarts of tomato juice and five pints plus about three-quarters of a sixth pint, of Chickasaw Plum Jam.



It is such a luxury for me to have a "canning kitchen" in the garage.  It's not very pretty but it has paid for itself many times over in lower air-conditioning costs.

We had a 20% chance of rain today but none materialized, though I heard some thunder rolling off to the northwest while I was out watering the beans in the garden.  I watered out the bullet tank and finished off with a little out of the cistern.  Hubs mowed the walkways in the garden that are still grass, and ran the weed-wacker. 

After I was done watering, I picked blackberries and wild Sand Plums, found some beets that were ready to pull and a Walla Walla onion gone to seed I'd missed before.  Then I came in and mixed up a batch of whole wheat bread.  I decided, since I'm going to have the oven on, anyway, to go ahead and roast today's picking of beets.  

After lunch I slipped out to the garden and took a paper bag with me that had held 50 pounds of potatoes.  My mission:  to cut off dill heads, thus sparing myself weeding out a gazillion dill seedlings.  I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing.  I guess at least the Bindweed and the Bermuda grass couldn't grow where they were.  I didn't mind having some, since they're habitat for butterfly larvae and beneficial insects, but the plants were so thick it got a little ridiculous.  There's no danger of getting all the seed heads and thus having NO dill.  Many of the umbels have already scattered their seed.  Looks like the Cilantro / Coriander is getting ready to make umbels.
I think I'll like that better, and as I think about it, that's kind of nice having Coriander growing, because it doesn't make umbels till the weather gets hot.  By then the Dill is done, so Coriander picks up the torch and goes forward.

I almost left the bread rising for too long.

I made individual pan pizzas for supper tonight.  I just use some of my bread dough for the crust.  Spaghetti sauce first.  Then grated mozzerella cheese.  Then whatever toppings.  Hubs likes sausage, peppers, onion and mushroom.  I like mine with just cheese, but I decided to have a li'l onion and mushroom on mine tonight.   

I have just one thing left on the "To Do List" for today, and that's a task I do every day: take what's in the compost bucket to the garden and bury it.

Have I prattled on long enough?  I think so.  So, till next time,

Rock on.  Hugs xoxoxo