Tuesday, July 28, 2015

P is for Peaches

It was a veritable alphabet around here over the weekend and beyond.  The Annual Blueberry Picking Day was Saturday - this time Melanie, Madison and I were joined by my DS Connie.  We actually fight over who gets Madison on their team - that girl can pick a bush clean, no stems or leaves, in minutes!  I did nab her towards the end, which pumped up my picking to an all-time best - 14.26 pounds!  Woot!

Then it was back to peaches - two full loads in the dehydrator, a peach crisp, eating peaches, and frozen sliced peaches.  In between the blueberries and peaches were the raspberries - over one gallon frozen.  I am going to be a happy camper this winter.  I continue to get zucchini from neighbors - my homegrown is up to two small squash.  Pfft.  BUT the beans are coming in hot and heavy.  I have my favorite wax beans and new to me this year, purple podded pole beans from my friend Jane in PA.  I was not prepared for the beauty of these beans!  The photograph does not do them justice.  They are the most gorgeous shade of purple!  Pity they cook green.  I have a peck in the fridge for freezing and canning when I can squeeze it in.

Lots of lovely yellow beans!
Continuing the theme with
purple jalapenos.

The most beautiful beans EVER!
This morning I steamed about a quart and a half of blueberry concentrate after freezing three gallon bags of blues.  Opening my freezer makes me almost giddy.  Almost - until I note that it needs's on the list.

I made a trip to a local farmers market on Sunday and took the Pepperoni along for the ride.  He was quite the hit.  There was another dachshund there and I thought he was going to fall over from excitement - another dog of his short stature and size!  Unfortunately, "Frank" was rather aloof and not all goofy like my boy.  Pep was very disappointed.  This disappointment was short-lived, however, when my friend who raises Randall cattle for beef 'discovered' a marrow bone.  Pepper soon forgot the snub and gnawed on that with his five teeth for an hour.

Sunday I swaddled myself in damp cloth and misted a cloud of eucalyptus water over my head and attacked the weeds in three of the raised beds.  It was a humiliating battle - my weed control this years has been abysmal.  So is the onion crop.  I will not be getting any yellow onions.  I will be getting possibly four red onions.  Out of 50 planted.  Sad.  I did, however, harvest quite a bumper crop of weeds!

Pitiful red onion crop.

Three beds-worth of weeds!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Question for my jammin' (and jellyin') friends

I am a challenged jam and jelly maker, at best.  My red currant jelly is NOT jelly.  It's jam-ish.  Can I rescue it, or am I stuck with eight half-pints of glaze?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

There was a naked pie, even more to love about zucchini and a blindingly clean refrigerator.

I am still on a high from a four-day weekend.  My youngest sister (AKA Auntie Baby) drove up for an extended stay and spent two whole days with me.  This is something of a rarity.  In thinking back, it's amazing that so much got done and I was all relaxed about it.

A Naked Pie was made and consumed (made from a recipe in this wonderful cookbook).  We discovered that zucchini noodles are FABulous tossed with a spicy peanut sauce.  Zucchini is also FABulous as the basis for a raw salad with olives, chopped lettuce, and other bits and bobs from my..... AMAZINGLY CLEAN REFRIGERATOR.

Honestly, Auntie Baby actually gets a thrill from cleaning the inside of refrigerators.  And she is thorough - every shelf, drawer and cubby got cleaned.  It is so wonderful that I just open it and admire it twice a day.  And, no, you cannot have her.

I couldn't find my potholders.
Clever Auntie Baby came up with a
temporary fix.
The dogs got lots of attention.  Scrappy, who has been shedding like a maple tree in spring, got six brushings and is sleek and shed-free (almost).  Pepperoni is still rather depressed at her leaving. 

We did lots of cooking, cleaning, weeding, and squeezed in a trip to the local Peace Pagoda.  I have been meaning to visit for more than five years.  It was beautiful and peaceful - you cannot enter the pagoda, but there is a temple where you can sit and meditate and think peaceful thoughts, while the breezes waft through.  There is even a Pagoda dog - a large, sweet black lab.

We also went on my annual Peach Pilgrimage and picked up four pecks of Georgia peaches - some for friends and family. 

Besides lots of family visiting, I took Scrappy to the vet, as I had discovered a lump on his leg.  The decision was benign, as it was small, localized and not attached.  Thank you, Universe.  I then went through McDonald's drive-thru and bought my boy a breakfast biscuit sandwich.  He was in Heaven - riding shotgun, nibbling on his bacon cheese biscuit. 

I got things ticked off my list - the run in shed is finished, except for finishing staining the outside.  I am hoping that the weekend weather cooperates, but it's been pretty wild.  Saturday was HOT and humid.  Sunday was HOT and humid with a violent thunderstorm in the late afternoon - a bolt of lightning hit across the street, sending us all in the air and Pepper running for his Auntie Baby.

First tomatoes!

Pole beans, wax beans, potted

Sad, sad garlic.
The garden is so-so this year.  Most of it is due to the fact that I was just not on the ball this spring.  Seeds got in late, the weather was/is crappy, yadda, yadda.  My garlic is the worst that it's ever been.  I have to pull it very early this year.  I ended up sticking a couple of squash plants in a pot, instead of building up a nice hill.  I've harvested one - with gnaw-marks from the dreaded chipmunks.  But the pole beans finally took off and I have a lot of blossoms.  I've just started picking wax beans and cukes, and there have been a few tomatoes and one purple jalapeno.  Everything needs to be weeded - I'm not holding out much hope for the onions this year.  The potatoes are in fine greenery with flowers, but one never knows until you get in there and dig. 

I did not get to the herb bed this year.  It needs to be re-framed and amended, but that will be a job for next year.  Instead, I potted all my herbs and have them on the deck.  It has worked out well, so far.  At least the rabbits haven't figured out how to get on the deck and chew down my parsley!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Gimme your Zucchinis! Pleeeeze.

There is nothing worse than having in your possession a hot little gadget and nothing to use it on!  I love my SpiraLife so much that I gave one to my neighbor for her birthday.  And it had nothing to do with the fact that she has a marvelous garden that is way ahead of mine and is loaded with zucchini.  Nothing whatsoever.  Cough.  We sat under her maple tree and discussed bees, swarms, gardens, varmints, chickens, all the while I was staring meaningfully at her zucchini plants.  Sighing great, sorrowful sighs.  LOUD sorrowful sighs.  "What's wrong," she asks?  (See?  It works!)  "Oh," sigh "I was just admiring your zucchini.  Mine is sooo pitiful..." boohoo.  "Would you like some?"  SNAP went the trap!  AHA.  "Why, that would be lovely..."  I am so obvious, ain't I?

I immediately went home and made a big, lovely pile of....zucchini noodles!  OMG, I love this gadget!

A little E/V olive oil, a minced clove of garlic, little chopped sweet onion, slurp of chicken broth and I have dinner.  I love this little spiral doodad because there are no moving parts to break, it is small and easy to clean.  It comes with its own little brush.  LOVE it. 

I got out and picked two quarts of red currants.  Hours later, I was musing about how almost everything takes more than one step.  Take currants - you have to harvest them by clipping off the supporting stem with berries.  Then you have to take the berries off the stems.  Then you have to rinse them.  Then you have to semi-crush them, add a little water and simmer until they are soft.  Then you have to put them in a jelly bag and let the juice drain.  Then you have to add sugar and pectin and boil it to make jelly.  Holey cow.  Good thing I like this lifestyle.  If I didn't, it would wear me to a jelly spot just thinking about it.

I also got a really great deal on two gallons of raw, local honey.  The only catch was that it hadn't been filtered.  That was a great, sticky mess, but so worth it.

Next post is a garden update.  I actually took pix.  Don't all fall over in a faint.

Friday, July 10, 2015

I 'twas blithering in the slimey swales....

(My apologies to Lewis Carroll.)  Besides the slimey swales that are my garden and grounds, my job has been rather like working in Dantes Inferno.  (Lots of literary references this post - gratis.)

Due to all kinds of factors, my job has turned into a perfect storm of stress.  I am lucky if I sleep past 3 in the AM - and awake to my mind roiling with worries about missed filings and other drivel that doesn't matter a whit in the Big Picture.  After a particularly stressfullsome day, I came home last night and contemplated my options.  Red or white?  Seriously, I was past the glass-of-wine-will-heal-all-things stage.  So I did what I always have done.  I did something mind-numbing.  I stained a rickety plant stand (one of those 11-shelves-of-crappy-USA-made-so-called-workmanship-slatted things).  Within five minutes of starting, I had reached that Zen stage where my fevered brain slows down and starts a nice, gentle hum.

The original illustration - way
better than mine.  I wanted to be Alice.
I thought she was a grand girl - look at
that stance!
I used to do something similar, but more creative, back when I was a college freshman and stressed to the tippy-top of maxium-ness, I brought a 3x5-foot piece of rice paper back to the dorm and spent seven hours drawing my version of the Jabberwocky on it - filling the sheet from top-to-bottom, side-to-side, with tiny, spidery lines.  Worked like a charm.  My roommate took it (without my permission) and entered it in the art department student show.  I won an award but - BUT - they kept my drawing.  I flailed ineffectively against the system - this was before I realized I had rights - and briefly staged a one-woman sit-in.  While I drew favorable attention from the campus radicals, the art department staff were not impressed.  Pfft.

Yes, yes.  I've had quite a colorful life.  You'll have to wait to read the book.  It will be published posthumously, to 

I am hoping to get some pix of the garden (such as it is) this weekend, and to completely erase from my mind any evidence that I have such a job.  It usually works right up until Sunday night, when the darkness begins creeping back in - bwahahaha.

Monday, July 6, 2015

My spot in the Universe.

When I drive most places, I always take the back roads.  I abhor highways, main roads and all things with too many vehicles on them.  This is on the back road to Vermont - right at the border.  I love this view - any season.  Rolling hills, low mountains, green, verdant farms.  I took these on Friday, with low, grey clouds lurking overhead.  It did turn out to be a fairly decent day - I had blissfully ignored the forecast for the Fourth, thinking that, oh, it didn't mind that I was spending most of my day off driving, as there was ALWAYS tomorrow for catching up on the list that never ends.  Ha.  It poured all day long.  I did my laundry (figuring it had to stop raining sometime), cleaned both bathrooms, vacuumed, sorted, vacuumed some more.  I baked GF brownies.  I made Quinoa Patties (they were and are to die for), I made two batches of broccoli salad.  I sorted through the Nuggets to put together the order for my friend Patty who, at the last minute could not pick them up.  I spent a great deal of time and creative smooshing to get them in my freezer.  I mitched and boaned.  I brushed the dogs.  It finally stopped raining around 4, so I squelshed outside and hung up my laundry, did chores and drove up the mountain to a Fourth of July party at a camp on a little lake.  I left before the fireworks so that I could get home and minister to any shaking dogs, but everyone was pretty mellow.  I think Scrappy's hearing is getting worse as he gets older.  Either that, or he has very selective deafness.

Sunday morning, bright and early, I trotted out to do chores, load trash and recycling in my car, and managed to squeeze in some weeding before heading back to VT for my BIL's retirement cookout.  By the time I got home, I had just enough energy to finish weeding the lettuce bed, plant another batch, plant two of my five perennials, take laundry off the line, walk the dogs, feed same, do chores, and collapse.  I decided not to torture myself by looking at everything I did not get done on my list.  There's always tomorrow, right?  But...wait.  There's that pesky job....

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Ode to a Marrow Bone

Though odious you are to some
Little bone you make my heart thrum 
You sacrifice your creamy innerds 
So I may enjoy my dinner(erds).
Composed last night while
I finally got to
enjoy my evening
repast in peace.
crunch, crunch, crunch.