Late July and early August are brutal in Oklahoma. We haven't had any decent rain in quite awhile. The Bermuda grass is brown, the trees that haven't been watered are dropping their leaves, and the garden is burning up. All I have out there now that are even worth watering are the sweet potatoes, which won't be ready to dig till September, the cukes that got planted late and are just now setting on, and the squash plants that have hung in there, so far, because I have gone out and removed the eggs from the leaves every single morning, scattered Sevin at the base of the plant, and I really can't say if the Petunias I planted all amongst them have helped any, or not. They certainly don't stop eggs from appearing on the leaves every morning, is all I can say. The beans I bought that were supposed to be Lazy Housewives are not and I'm so disgusted that I'm not going to buy seed from that company anymore. They recovered from being munched on by the rabbit we had in the yard but the beans that they make are not worth the water I've poured on them or the time I've spent on them, even. We had a nice garlic harvest, plenty to share with the neighbors. A few examples here:
So life for Hubs and me has been rather boring. We do what little we need to do outside in the mornings while it's what we laughingly call "cool". Some days, we go to town and have our exercise at the workout center, stop wherever we need to buy groceries or whatever on the way home. Sometimes we go garagin' on Fridays or Saturdays, but there's really not much we need and the pickin's have been pretty slim. Sometimes the prices have been so high, even if I saw something I wanted, I'd be better off buying it new.
Here are a few things we found, the last time we went:
And then we do stuff to pass the time, looking forward to the end of hot weather and hoping for a beautiful fall and a late first freeze. I have some cabbage seedlings that have emerged in little paper pots and if some bug does not come along and devour them first, I'll plant them after the heat breaks.
I planted some of the very small potatoes in tubs a few weeks ago. Just the ones in one tub have come up.
I don't know what's going on with the other tubs. I tried to root some cuttings off the tomato plants so I might be able to have fall tomatoes, but it's true that rooting is just the replacement of one of the "o's" with an extra "t" away from rotting, and that's what my cuttings did. I've decided to do things different next year, I know, I say the same thing every year, but seriously, raised beds have no purpose out here. Drainage is already too good. The weeds always take over, and so part of my plan is to go back to the way our parents all gardened, in rows, on the flat ground. And leave enough space between rows to run the small electric tiller.
We are inundated with wasps and hornets. I've heard the wasps kill BEES! OMG!!! They are building a nest, evidently, under our wooden steps that lead from the patio door out to -- uh -- the patio.... So far they don't seem to care that we're out there, but seems like lots of people around here are having problems with them. I got a bad sting out in front of someone else's house several weeks ago on my leg and my lymphedema therapist seemed a little worried about it. I wasn't all that happy, either, it hurt like the bejeezers. I've been looking for ways to get rid of them and people are making traps with milk jugs and all kinds of formulas. One guy baits his trap with cheap cat food, seems they not only are lured in by rotten fruit smells, they love rotten meat smells, too. I was thinking that the pickle brine most of us throw out might be good wasp bait if there was sugar in it, and some liquid Dawn in it to break the surface tension. Some people were buying bait at Home Depot, applying it to a cotton ball that was fastened to a string and dropping it into a milk jug about halfway down and a few inches above water with a little Dawn in it. I was thinking, for those of us who buy tuna canned in water (or oil, for that matter...), could soak the cotton ball in that. So that's a good recycling use for that. If you don't have a cat, that is. Your cat will arm-wrestle you to the ground for that liquid that you drain off your can of tuna. Not sure if the salt in it is good for the cat, though. Hubs has been out there "macho-swatting" and I just read today that, aside from the obvious, that's not a good idea as the wasp throws out a distress signal while he's dying that draws others. An interesting thing is that, if you leave a freshly-swatted wasp on the ground, the ants will come from nowhere and literally cover the corpse up while they cut it up into pieces and carry them off. Since it seems like the wasps are addicted to sweet things they must tie right in to the ants' appetite for sugar.
Ants are climbing up the post from which we hang our hummingbird feeder and that is annoying. I tried putting Tanglefoot on the post at the bottom but somehow or other it gets it all black and dirty-looking in pretty short order, and then the ants just crawl right over the top of it. Plus Tanglefoot is hard to remove from things. I had never used my Tansy as a strewing herb but I piled some all around the base of the post. Didn't seem to do a thing. Tried Diatomaceous Earth, which does a good job out in the garden if I happen to get into an anthill. But scattered around the post, it blows away. It's about the consistency of powdered sugar. Then, in desperation, I just started giving the ants their own bowl of sugar water. But I swear, there are still those that climb up the pole, anyway, crawl all the way inside the feeder and drown in the sugar water inside. It's gotta be their sheer numbers that makes them so persistent, because they sure as hell aren't very smart.
Internet Explorer has started putting a news feed on new tabs that are opened. At first I felt like this was just another case of sticking content in my face that I hadn't asked for, and I kind of resented the intrusion. But it's growing on me. I don't have to go up and watch the news with Hubs, where they sprinkle in news items that we saw DAYS ago. That truly annoys me, and it makes me feel like they're cutting corners. Surely there are enough things that happen in the world -- even in this country ALONE, that would fill a news program. So I got on this morning and just looked around. I found a tip about how to make corn on the cob even more delicious, which is to add a cup of milk and a stick of butter to the water it's cooked in. According to the article, you don't even have to butter the corn because it's received a coating of it as it's taken out of the water. And if you're like me and you don't like wasting food, you can refrigerate the water and lift off the butter from the top after it hardens in the cold. Then you can save it for use next time, or stir in some herbs and maybe some lemon zest and have some herbal butter spread, or just cook your morning egg in it. The water with the milk in it can be poured out onto the garden. Mother Earth News has an article about using milk as a fertilizer and bug deterrent here:
And I learned about how I can clean my tub and shower with a cup of Dawn dish liquid and a cup of warm (not hot) vinegar in a spray bottle, following out a link on this interesting website:
Coffee is good, no, it's bad, no, it's good, in fact, have more than one cup, you'll live longer. I like my coffee, but I still don't know whether I should drink it or not, for sure, because I suspect nobody really knows. And who's paying for all these studies, anyway? I guess they're not getting their money's worth, since the next one that follows is in conflict with it, and, unfortunately, with the one after that. *Sigh*.
I heard about a good book and will buy it if I can find it reasonably priced somewhere. Amazon has it but it's -- Yipe -- $24.95, USED, and not available, at least when I looked, new. The book is "Be Your Own Doctor" by Rachel Weaver. It got lots of wonderful reviews on Amazon.
I made a good low calorie Ranch-style salad dressing -- I like to dip cucumber or broccoli in it and I can get all my quota of veggies a day that way. But making it from the Hidden Valley powder that you just stir into half mayo and half milk makes it pretty high in calories and salt. Plus food additives. So this way I can avoid some of all that and still get the taste I like. Of course if I wasn't the inhabitant of The Survival Body Type, I'd do 1 part mayo and 1 part real buttermilk. But since I have to be more careful than that, my version is 1 part mayo, 4 parts real buttermilk, onion powder to taste and chopped chives and parsley, to taste. It's still thick enough that it stays on whatever I dip it in and no, it's not the real thing, but it's so much less calories, no salt, no sugar and lots less artificial stuff, none, if you make your own mayo. And yes, I might make my own mayo for this too. But homemade things like this don't keep very long in the refrigerator, because they don't have all those "shelf life chemicals" in them, so I wouldn't make very much at a time. And yes, I know that since I used Kraft mayo there was salt in that. Not sure if this dressing could be frozen. It might be worth a try. Hubs and I freeze milk sometimes and that works out OK. I don't drink very much milk and so Hubs doesn't drink a gallon of milk, by himself, soon enough to keep about the last quart from getting blinky. Yes, I know we could just buy half-gallons but it's quite a bit more expensive per ounce that way. During freezing, the milkfat separates and floats to the top and dries out a little and cracks, so it looks really ugly, but it will stir back in after thawing and then the taste and consistency is about the same as it is before freezing.
If you are trying to use up milk, you can always make pudding, and sometimes I do that. Hubs loves chocolate pudding. I use the same recipe that I use for chocolate cream pie filling, just half as much sugar. And if you also have canned milk that's about to go past it's Used By date, you can make these Fudgsickles. We've been testing and approving these since my kids were in grade school, that's about 40 years now.
1 3-oz pkg chocolate pudding mix (not instant), prepared as directed on package
OR one recipe pudding that calls for 3 cups milk
1 C. canned condensed milk (not sweetened condensed milk) (I guess you could substitute Half and Half for the evaporated milk, if you wanted to.)
After the pudding has been prepared, stir in the canned milk until well blended. Pour into ice-cube trays, paper cups or popsickle / push-up forms (now is the time to buy these. I just saw some at the grocery store. Look in Party Supplies at the Dollar Store. They're impossible to find in the winter, though.) Freeze.
Here's the recipe I use for my cream pie fillings. Remember, just half as much sugar for pudding:
Cream Pie Filling
For banana, slice a layer of bananas onto the baked pie shell, then fill half full with hot filling, add more bananas then rest of filling. For chocolate, add 3 T. cocoa powder to hot milk mixture and an additional 1/4 C sugar. For coconut, add 1/2 c. shredded coconut along with butter and vanilla.
3 C. milk
1 T butter
3 egg yolks, beaten
1 C. sugar
1/3 C cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
In a saucepan, combine milk, sugar, cornstarch and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, till thick. Remove from heat. Slowly whisk half the hot milk mixture into the beaten egg yolk. Gradually whisk egg mixture back to remaining milk mixture. Simmer, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and butter. Pour into baked pie shell. Top with meringue made from the whites of the eggs used in the filling, and brown in the oven.
We used to eat a lot of homemade Popsickles, too. They are just a package of Jell-O, any flavor, made with twice as much water. Something about the gelatin and sugar in them makes them less drippy and they don't freeze as hard. Not sure how the sugar-free kind would work. The original recipe called for an extra cup of sugar and a package of Kool-Aid, just so you know.
Isn't it funny how much things have changed? I wouldn't feed anybody that much sugar, artificial color and flavor, these days. But back then, I didn't think anything of feeding it to my kids and consuming it myself, and neither did anyone else. The pendulum swings. But wait. If you buy Jell-O, or Popsickles for your kids / grandkids, that's all they're getting: little bombs full of artificial color, artificial flavor, sugar, and water. No actual food. You knew that, right?
There was a piece on the news the other day about plastics and how the chemicals leach out when they are heated. For this reason, you should never microwave anything in plastic. Hubs and I have been kind of lax about this, even though this is old, old news to me. It takes the news media so very long to catch on and report this kind of thing, it seems. So we finally threw away our old favorite insulated plastic coffee cups and are drinking out of glass and porcelain. I guess that's what those breakable cups are made of.... I don't know if the plastic leaches without heat being involved or not. If so, I'm in trouble, as I use plastic containers in the freezer. I don't know what options there are, otherwise. I remember when I was little, some 65 years ago, my mother got her first freezer. She had little cardboard freezer containers that had wax coating on the inside, and the cutest little fitted lids. They had to be expensive, and for sure they weren't very reusable. Paper and cardboard do not hold liquids very well and surely they have a chemical component we're not aware of at this time. Even those soft drink cups that used to be wax-covered paper have almost all been converted to either plastic or Styrofoam. I'm kinda scared of that Styrofoam, too, when it comes to food storage. I have tapered glass canning jars, a few in 3/4 quart size, many in pints, but I've tried using them and they tend to crack during thawing. I've had less of a problem with starting the thawing process in the refrigerator, but that takes an incredibly long time to get to the point where you can get the food out of the jar. I suppose liquids could be frozen in metal baking pans, then taken out of the pans and stored in a bag ---- oooops, there's that plastic again. Europeans are so much smarter about stuff like that than we Americans seem to be. They ban a lot of the food additives that we use, more to their credit. I wonder if they use plastic freezer containers and if not, what they use instead.
Also in the news was a piece about Samsung and how they're getting into pharmaceuticals now. They've developed an arthritis drug that sells for quite a bit less than the currently available version. We all know the drug industry is screwing us over where price is concerned, do we not? Factored into the "costs of development" are things that have nothing to do with development at all. Things like free catered lunches brought into doctor's offices, that's including all the staff. Things like trips and paid vacations for the doctors. And that's just two examples. There's a lesson to be learned here and we'll see if the pharmaceutical industry (or anyone else whose business preys on old or sick people and/or the "deep pockets" of their Medicare, Medicaid, or other insurance) learns it. It is that, when you find something that is profitable beyond decency, it does not go un-noticed. Pretty soon, some other corporation is going to say, "Hey, I believe I want a little piece of that pie", and, what with the price being set so high, they can afford to offer the same thing for less money and still make a fair profit. It's done all the time in the non-pharmaceutical arena. Just as Nature loves a vacuum, so does profit-taking. So, hey, gouge the people who can least afford to be gouged. Then take your comeuppance when somebody comes along and stiffs YOU. Gotta love Karma.
Well, I think that's about all I have for this time. There'll be an update post on Lymphedema and Weight Loss Progress in a week or so. Till then, I hope you stay well and safe, Hubs and I will try to do the same. Hugs xoxoxo