Tuesday, June 29, 2010

You're NOT Gonna Believe This!

I popped into Rouse's today to buy coffee and passed the kitchenwares aisle. Oohhh look, serving spoons.... we were just discussing the lack of them yesterday..... and what do you suppose I see. On the Top Shelf!

Norpro Sauce Maker (tomato mill)

Of Course.

Quilts! psssst they're in the title.....

I have completed the tops for a new pattern for the shop. 2 in 1.

Bamboo and Pinwheels is the name and I used Kaffe Fassett fabrics



The idea is that as you cut the half-square triangles for the one, you end up with an unused half that you can sew up in the pinwheels......
I like the crazy fabric. It looks very gypsy.

The Questing Beasts or

In For A Penny, In For A Pound!

how hard can this be, she asked herself.....

After spending 1 1/2 hours mashing tomatoes thru a sieve, I thought a food mill would be an excellent purchase. These swift extractors take out the seeds and skins and leave behind lovely pulpy tomatoey goodness and are much easier on the wrists and forearms. (ain't gettin' any younger, she mumbles under her breath. Aging faster is more like it!)

I scoped out reviews on-line (Please, Please PLEEZZZZEEE Mr, Obama! Don't take our intertubes AWAY!!!!!) and referred to John's good judgment.

Out we went in pursuit of a grinder. Target, no. World Store, no. Local Hardware/Surplus store, yes but not what you think, Feed n Seeds (2), no. WalMart, no (really?) SimpleeGourmet, no (but you ought to go have fun in there anyway!) Groceries, no. B, B and Beyond, no. HOW HARD IS THIS GONNA BE???????? she asked herself!

How is it POSSIBLE that we live within 40 miles of everything KNOWN to mankind and yet stand here, "completely surrounded by no" food mill!!!!!????

We live in an agricultural parish. People GROW tomatoes 'round these parts like nobody's business. We read each other's minds at one point and said simultaneously, "I'll bet there are LOTS/Hundreds(!) of these things in any number/some of these houses in a 7/10 block radius gathering dust in some pantry/shed or attic!"

THAT was spooky!

Grrrr.... I grumbled as we rumbled back home. "I'm going to ******* ( a city 20 miles north of us and even more country than this) and look around" said John.

Not ME! I thought. I'm gonna let my fingers do the talking and take advantage of technology before it's too late.

But the rains came right about this time so we both hunkered down and John, in between lightning flashes, managed to connect with an outfit and ordered THIS Squeezo for us. I love that it is all metal and Made In America!!!! Finally........ and because he sees the desparation in my eyes as the tomatoes steadily pile higher, he asked for express delivery.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Veggie Math Made Simple!




The garden has surpassed all expectation and is yielding an enormous amount of produce. The squashes have out-done themselves and show no signs of letting up.

With the zucchini alone, I have made loaves and loaves of bread, sliced and fried them Italian-style, tossed in salads, whipped up tomato sauces & frozen and passed them off to friends and neighbors. I have parboiled and frozen fresh; shredded them into 2 cup bags and frozen for use in future bread making activities and offered them to chickens. And still they appear. Daily.

But I have run out of ideas and freezer space for zucs and yellow squashes. In my on-going attempt to stay ahead of the veg processing, I have enlisted the aid of a food dehydrator. It stacks 4 levels high and I have sliced up 4 squashes and they are drying as I type.

Now, add to this the number of bags of tomatoes in the freezer and no room for another thing! But of course, I had ANOTHER thing that needed to BE in the freezer. So I dragged out 3 large bags of tomatoes and thawed them. Then I thought, now what?

I began to scrape the chunks through a sieve to get pulp and after the third or so cups worth, my arm was getting sore. These, apparently, aren't muscles I use very often. (who knew?)

So I thought, hey Wally World will surely have a food mill! and off I toddled to pick one up.

No, but I got the dehydrator so it wasn't a wasted trip! I returned and continued passing the chinks through and got a goodly amount of pulp.

I made ketchup!!!! It is really good, too. This is fun!

And LK came over to help control the black-eyed pea population and set me straight to the timing of pea-picking. Now I "get" why I have so many out there drying. Oh well.... it isn't like there aren't 4 quart bags fresh frozen in the freezer already. These will go in a jar in the pantry till winter.

Another future grocery trip averted! It's GOOD to be a farmer.....

PS I am open to suggestions as to what to do with the zucs.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Butternut Soldiers

Chicken Tetherball

I read about this idea some months back on another blog. I could not WAIT to grow corn this year because, WHO WOULDN'T want to watch chickens play tetherball?????

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mental Monologues

While I am out in the garden, I have a running conversation in my head, usually as a reminder of what else I need to be doing as I schlep around hoses and tie up tomato plants.....

So while I was picking the Cherry 100s I was thinking about words...... words mean things. Or rather certain words USED to mean things they no longer do.

I learned more of this over the weekend when I used words, believing I understood their meanings, only to be sniggered at.

I won't be revealing the words I used because I don't wish to taint anyone else towards future usage and really, I can no longer use or even think of the words without the memory/reminder that the world has once more shifted away from my grasp on reality.

Suffice it to say that once upon a time "gay" meant light-hearted and/or happy. And "queer" was a reference to anything weird or odd.

When was the last time YOU used those words as their original definition or even at all? It simply doesn't work today.

"I just overheard the queerest conversation!" and you might think I was in a gay bar and I don't mean during Happy Hour.


It Ain't Braggin' If It's True

I got a little respite from the gardening side of our lives over the past 2 1/2 days, due to

1. the flood of 2010
2. No.1's Birthday gig/Father's Day/House Warming/Harvest Thanksgiving/Summer Solstice-Paganism Party on Sunday

But I am back at it and here is this morning's haul:

I give you 2 shots.

Here you can see the quality

Here you can see the quantity! I placed a bog-standard coffee cup in the shot to give a perspective of the size of those containers.

And no, no radiation as been emitted in these parts.

PS: That is just the quick-pick of the day. Once the sun goes back down or hides behind a fat cloud, I'll head out again.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I Love My Girls

No 1 had her 25th birthday today and we ate lunch a Little Tokyo, a family favorite.
No 2 had to return to campus early this morning and just walked back in the door. As I couldn't help but notice she seemed miffed, I asked if she was okay.

"I'm annoyed you went to Little Tokyo WITHOUT me."

I explained WE had been there recently without No 1 and as it IS HER BIRTHDAY.....

"While I was being studious!"

"Okay, get out of school and we can..."

She cut me off with this: "FINE! When I get out of school you can take me over that Big Blue Wet Thing and we'll go look in the British Museums at all the things I have been studying about in books for the past few years!"

HAHAHHAAH Big Blue Wet Thing.

Jack and the Beanstalk?

I love children's stories, the illustrations, and Disney's adaptations of many. Warner Bros. cartoons vie for my attention as well, especially when Chuck Jones lead the animation team. Brilliant and hilarious.

One of my favorites has always been the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. HOWEVER. now that I have grown a few beans, I must say there is NO POSSIBLE WAY any bean grows into a stalk. And certainly none that could support the weight of an enterprising lad heavily-ladened with golden egg-laying geese, chests of gold coinage and singing harps!. I mean, c'mon! Can we get real here? Please?

Obviously what Jack climbed up was a giant sunflower!
Ever since I read the Sisterhood of the Ya-Yas, I have had the urge to grow sunflowers. I wanted to see the head turn toward the sun. So after the winter crop was harvested, I threw in sunflower seeds and whaddaya know?

Even without the sunflower face, the crown follows the sun as it moves across the sky!!!!! Above you see some greeting the sunrise.

I'll shoot more photos as the flowers emerge.

But back to Jack: this particular variety has an immense stalk supporting humongous leaves and I cannot wait to see the flowers. Clearly, THIS is what Jack used to pilfer the giant of his stash of goodies.

Give the sunflower it's due.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Here's a Thought

Prez Obama has placed a 6 month moratorium on ALL oil drilling. 6 months unemployment.

Prez Obama has forced BP to fork over an "escrow" of $20,000,000,000.00 to help compensate the damaged people of the Gulf and a further $100,000,000.00 for the now unemployed oil workers.

May I ask a question?

{ahem} when California, (in an effort to both lower personal consumption and raise revenue), raised taxes on oil at the pump, drivers responded by driving less and in turn buying less. So the smart guys got what they wanted and then not!

Fewer gallons purchased, even WITH a tax hike led to less tax revenue. The same thing has happened as a result of adding a fee for plastic bags at the grocers. Fine! You want to be a polluter! BUY the bag. Well, People are saving the planet with the recyclable bags in place of the plastic ones and now the fees are not being collected at the rate the smart guys were expecting.

So all of those unintended consequences pop up.

Which brings me to the question...... If the oil industry is put on hold for 6 months and the trickle down effect (shipping/ oil rig support, longshoremen, commissary) will follow: think, think think of all the income tax AND SALES TAX revenue that's going to be lost as a consequence!


Government NEVER does with less. GOVERNMENT NEVER NEVER tightens its belt.

Friday, June 18, 2010

NOW I wish I Tweeted!!!!

My baby is laying her first egg!!!!


How CUTE is this?????? It's so tiny!

When I showed it to her, she tried to peck at it! Silly Girl

Baby Chick's, Little Bit's, Frick's (or Frack's...) and Ginger's

Good Example vs Terrible Warning

I tend to accumulate clutter. Don't we all? But you want to know when it's bad?

When you have 420 photographs on your camera chip and want to drop a few pictures on your blog. It takes me 25 minutes to weed thru the entire lot every time I take shots of the garden and DL the ones I want to the computer. I KNOW I really MUST stop this madness and download them all, delete the files from the camera and cull my way thru the ones on the computer.

I was tempted to just buy a new cheap camera in an effort to bypass this necessity but that would only mean that I have yet another camera taking up valuable real estate in a drawer or closet which is, again, more clutter.

(I have 538 message in my email Inbox. I'm not bragging here! This is more of the clutter of which I speak.) (You should see the fabric room)(maybe not)

Clutter clutter clutter. "Clutter is nothing more than postponed decisions" and ain't THAT the truth. Even the WORD clutter takes up space!

I have so much to do, I can hardly think of it and yet... I must stop spinning out of control and take the camera in hand to DEclutter the beast.

I am doing this because the insurance adjuster is here and I just heard that the wood floors may have to be entirely replaced and I am trying not to swoon.

I find I have this overwhelming need to control something that is "out of control": ah yes the camera. I didn't think the battery would hold out long enough to download and remove all the photos and movies I have stowed away on that massive data chip. But it did!

And now it is empty save for the photo I just took of John eating the first plum from our tree. (happiness!)

And I am going thru all the photos, one by one and either placing them in the appropriate folder on the C drive or tossing it out in the Bin. Really.

Control what you can and try to stay in control. It's the second half that is my constant downfall.

Now, about that INBOX.......

I Keep Saying, "It Could Be Worse!"

and then it is.

Servpro is back and finding more baseboards that hide water seepage. Out they go. And the fun continues.

Yea me

Like It Never Even Happened

Have you seen the animated ads where disaster strikes in a house, be it a fire or flood, and these two characters jump out of a green van or parachute in, get to work hoovering up the mess and slam the van-door shut when they leave?

Yesterday morning, crack of way before dawn, I am out in the kitchen slicing cherry tomatoes for drying in the oven and boiling the vinegar mix to can all the jalapenos I had sliced up the night before. We are in full-swing with harvest/canning/freezing around here. I pause to wonder why the water pressure seemed a little low..... hmmmm.. what's up with that?

Around 6 am I hear John screaming from the bedroom and go racing in find the foyer, hallway, bedroom and bathroom with over an inch of water and what sounds like the shower blasting away! There is water POURING out of the ceiling above the loo and John racing out the door to shut off the water supply.

I am in shock. What the heck happened?

We are sucking up the water as fast as we can with our ShopVac, THANK GOD we had one and I am thinking all the while, "Like it never even happened. I wonder how early I can call Servpro."

I dial at 6:30. This is after we have sucked out and poured away at least 6 vacs full of water and the carpet is making that splishsplish sound as I mince my way to and from the bathroom.

"I wonder if the wood floors will survive this.... I wonder if I should cancel the Sunday BBQ. I wonder what happened......... I wonder if the water heater is going to come crashing thru the ceiling any minute now. I wonder if I can get Linda Kay to cover my shift. I wonder if I should stop a minute and let the chickens out. I wonder if I turned the vinegar off the boil."

"I wonder if that nice plumber from Metairie is willing to hightail it up to the boonies... I trust him."

"I wonder if my insurance agent gets to work by 8:00am. I call. 8:30 is the opening bell so I call the 800 number and file a claim. I tell him I have contacted both a plumber and the Servpro people and am told I have done everything right. Well can I tell you how calming that statement can be? I am this close to panic.

I empty the rooms of anything I can lift out and the living room is looking like it did a year ago when we moved in! This is BEFORE I realize the closet is saturated as well.

My portfolios of artworks going back 30 years are soaking up the water and I pull all the papers out and litter the flat surfaces around the house with them. Great great great. This is so wonderful to see........ wow remember that one? Oh look, pastels from Alaska and Sweden.

"I wonder if the water has gone as far as the back wall...... yes. Of course it has....... I wonder if I can pick up the filing cabinet without emptying it first. Don't be a ninny.. you don't need a trip to the hospital now......."

The Servpro crew is here by 8:15am and get busy. Amazing equipment they have. Once they get the water we missed sucking out the door, they begin tearing out the baseboards and drilling 2" holes to get the moisture from the walls. The sheetrock has wicked some water way down low thru the presswood baseboards so good thing they did that. Meanwhile I am shaking my head. I know there is no earthly way ANY equipment is going to get the water out from the concrete slab beneath the padding beneath the carpet. This is a mess and I think the carpet is going to come out. So I start unloading the bookshelves and wonder where I am going to drag the dresser and the bed and the list goes on.........

Meanwhile John and Mitchell (Servpro tech) have located the source of the problem. We had already determined the waterheater was NOT the source. It's pan is bonedry so what in the world did this? A 1/2" pipe leading to the bathroom is severed and did the damage but why? Why did it break?

The plumber extraordinaire arrives and solves the mystery and here is where I begin to lose composure.

We have a well. We live in a high acidic water table. The lower pH causes a chemical reaction with the brass in the fittings of the plastic PEX pipes and over time causes them to erode. The pressure from the water severed the corroded fittings and BAM. The fittings gave way. The water pump should have a filter that raises the pH...... but we don't have this filter apparently. (really?)

"I wonder why NOBODY EVER TOLD US ABOUT THIS!!!!!!!!!!!" I am beginning to panic. I feel the pressure rising in my heart

So off he went to buy supplies up the road and John went off with a sample of our water for testing and sure enough 5.5 when it should be 6.8. (that company will be here today to install the filter)

While he is gone the plumber returns and repairs the fittings after warning me that this is not the end of the problem. IF what he suspects is the case, the whole HOUSE may have to be replumbed. (yea me!!!!)

His assistant turns on the water and I hear screaming coming from the bathroom! Another pipe has burst!!!!! This one leading to the toilet itself from the wall and that water is flowing thru the bathroom into the bedroom.

Now can I panic? No. It does no good to lose composure in the face of crisis so I tear out of the house to turn off the water source and go back to see the look on the faces of the Servpro guys looking back at me in wonder. "What happened?" They start hoovering again.

John calls and I tell him what has occurred.

You know what I did? I went back to slicing tomatoes, boiling and peeling tomatoes. Canning jalapenos. Cleaning the eating area. I went back to working on stuff I could "control". Mail, bills.

I looked in now and then and found baseboards lied up outside, the Servpro owner arrived and asked if the adjuster had been there. No , no call from him yet. What did we want to do about the saturated carpet. Tear it out please. Regardless what the insurance does for us, out it goes. I know from experience there is no way to dry concrete with the carpet down.

They haul the carpet and pad out the door and I see that was the right decision. Now there are more holes around the foot of the floor. HUGE dehumidifiers and fans everywhere. NOISE like I wish my hearing was still gone.

At around 4:20 we head over to the carpet store to take home some samples. Still no sign of the adjuster but at this point I don't really care. I just keep telling myself, "like it never even happened..... like it never even happened."

At 6 John says, "What the he....?" and I look over at Shasta.

She found the pastels.
So how was YOUR day?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Black-Eyed Peas

are delicious and I don't need to tell any southerner that. I don't know why they aren't more popular up north but nevermind..... more for me.

I used to see them fresh every year around New Years but I haven't for the past few. I wonder what is up with that.....

I have never grown them before but thought I'd give it a go and I am so impressed! First, we managed to stagger the plantings successfully (for once) and the first row is coming ripe now. I have been watching them with eagle-eyes and as the long pods are starting to go yellow, I decided to pick a large handful this morning and shell them.

I have learned this much about black-eyed peas.

1. You can pick them too soon. Even if the pods are long and thick (like your little finger) they are not quite ready to harvest.
2. Shelled too soon and the eyes are pinkish. You want them black.
Unready Ready

3. The yellower the pod, the easier to shell.
Unready Ready

At some point in ripeness, the outer skin becomes rather thin. I was able to pull them apart and reveal the peas within in a long row. Cute.

4. Fresh black-eyed peas are a good source of calcium. But nevermind that. They're delish!

More musings: If I leave them on the vine to dry, I can shell them and store for winter but they freeze nicely when fresh. But, what is the point of drying something I can buy fairly cheaply anytime at the grocer? Like a pound of dried peas for >$1.25

Fresh black-eyed peas, on the other hand, sell for $4 a cup! (that's gotta be California prices, right?) But again, I haven't seen FRESH black-eyes for a long time. (So imagine what they would cost.) Til now that is, Now I see LOTS of them.


Those Were The Days

"Boy, the way Glen Miller played.
Songs that made the Hit Parade.
Guys like us, we had it made.
Those were the days!

Didn't need no welfare state.
Everybody pulled his weight
Gee, our old LaSalle (a car) ran great.
Those were the days!

And you knew where you were then!
Girls were girls and men were men.
Mister, we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again.

People seemed to be content.
Fifty dollars paid the rent.'
Freaks were in a circus tent.
Those were the days!

Take a little Sunday spin, go to watch the Dodgers win.
Have yourself a dandy day that cost you under a fin (five dollar bill).

Hair was short and skirts were long.
Kate Smith really sold a song.
I don't know just what went wrong!
Those Were the Days!"

From "All in the Family" I get it now.

Two-thirds of British women 'completely bored with their lives'

I don't even know what this means.

I saw this on the Daily Mail frontpage and, intrigued, I read the article. What a load of rubbish.
First, it is from a survey of 3000 women in England. Is that the BEST you can do, DM? Presumably the questioners sat in one location........


1. Routine (yeah it's a real grind, that)

2. Lack of social life (would YOU want to hang out with these women?)

3. Job

4. Lack of holidays (what!?)

5. Housework

6. Appearance

7. Depressing news (really? so now you're depressed AND bored. "Hey Suzie, you're boring and depressed. Let's go out!")

8. Eating the same things all the time (WHAT!!!???? Who is in charge of your mouth!?)

9. The house

10. Responsibilities (again.... it sucks to be a grown-up)


1. Go to an airport and get the next available flight to anywhere (do it!)

2. Emigrate (go!)

3. Tell people what they really think (you just did. how's that working out?)

4. Hand in their notice without another job to go to (and head back to the house you hate and all those chores!)

5. Have a dramatic hair cut (cut it!)

6. Put the house up for sale and buy a new one (not without a job! shoulda thought that one thru a little farther)

7. Try something new in the bedroom (with the new dramatic haircut?)

8. Go back to school (good idea!)

9. Book in for a boob job (Before or after the dramatic haircut?)

10. Sing in public (AFTER. Definitely after the boob job and haircut)

But 34 per cent of women don't have the confidence to make the necessary changes to their life to make them happy, while 29 per cent claim not to have the time.

I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to see the actual survey. I believe the questions were written in a manner slanted to coax these results. Ridiculous.

I don't know why I just wasted 8 minutes on this. But one thing is for certain. I wasn't bored at all. I found it entertaining.

I wish the geniuses at Aardman would do an animation of this. Ok, you've sat through this drivel: now here is your reward and believe me, it's a better spent 8 minutes of YOUR life.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Tomato Knowledge in Hindsight* - Up-dated!

*Things I Would've Done Differently

In years past I lived under pine trees too big to adequately describe and grew cherry 100's as best I could. I was happy with my lot but didn't learn a great deal about tomato cultivation.

Last year we moved to a house that had 27 tomato plants in full swing and merely reaped the harvest of someone else's hard work. I learned to stagger the plantings so they didn't all ripen at the same time. ("So, how's that working out for you there, C?" Not so great due to the transplanting fiasco, remember?.......yeah ......thanks for mentioning that!)

This year everything that started out so very fine has hit a downward spiral and largely due to my incompetence. Let's revisit.

1. The transplant fiasco I have already posted about.
2. I mixed up a solution of soap and oil to rid the plants of aphids with a disastrous result..
3. I staked with poles but not securely enough to keep the plants from sagging once the tomatoes grew in size, BIG MISTAKE there.
4. I attempted a mostly organic pest control and have lost a great number of fruit due to the plant sag to earth.
5. Early Blight is rampant out there and most of the green leaves are gone which:
6. has cost me the shade needed to keep the tomatoes from bleaching out before they ripened.

So, next year I shall do the following:

1. Stagger plantings BETTER
2 Cage every plant and support the cage with the stake.
3. Plant fewer Cherokee Purples which, while they taste fantastic, are heirlooms, fussy and not the best for sauce. Great fresh though
5. Spray every 10 days for pests. I DON'T CARE if it isn't organic.... I don't do this to feed to bugs of Louisiana, darnit
6. Wrap a piece of aluminum foil around the stem near the ground. Wives tale? perhaps.
7. And this one is really going to test me...... remove half the fruit that sets.

So, while I can't complain that I haven't been harvesting a lot of tomatoes, I confess to having lost probably a third of what was out there due to the issues I listed above. I am leaving you now to release the chickens, set out the hoses in the lower garden and return to continue peeling and freezing tomatoes. I have close to 40lbs in the freezer now and lots more to come.

Once I harvested them all I shall begin to make sauces and can chopped tomatoes for the pantry.

And since Heinz catsup is >$2.00 a bottle, I may NOT make my own. (well.... maybe a tiny amount to see what it's like!)

Morning Up-date: I just returned from watering all the Lower Tomatoes and am so pleased to report that the new green growth above the Blight appears to be gaining in strength. There may be hope yet for half of the plants yet.

I harvested yet another gallon of romas and these have friends out there beginning to turn so it's going to be a big harvest. The cherry 100s show no sign so slowing up and the razzleberry tomatoes are so pretty. We haven't eaten one yet but will at lunch. Check back for a report!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Who's A** to Kick?

I have purposefully stayed away from mentioning the BP Oil Spilling. No one paying attention needs more opinions.

HOWEVER!!!!!! This morning I read several pages in reference to booms stored in a warehouse in Maine that has been REPEATEDLY offered to help contain some of the devastating spread.

Govenor Bobby Jindal has repeatedly asked for millions of feet of boom. For assistance from the Federal Government. For them to just get out of the way and ALLOW a STATE to do it's job and has been repeatedly ignored or rebuffed by this Administration.

President Barack Obama has chastised "Big Oil" and BP specifically, has had talks and talks while saying he doesn't want to talk; rather he wants to see some action. He has demanded that BP be charged and fined and excoriated for this while saying he isn't going to rest until the job is done. He might take a few vacation days or planned State dinners and nights at the opera and rounds of golf but he isn't going to rest!

The Gov. of Maine and both Senators and the owner of the company have ALL reached out to make this available and so far, NOTHING from the White House, which we all know is spending every waking hour wringing their hands trying to stop the spill and contain the mess.

He gives billions of dollars to every bank, lobby, politician and country he thinks is worthy but nothing to purchase boom that HIS COUNTRYMEN have been begging for while it sits languishing in a warehouse in Maine and the Gulf of Mexico is turning into a sea of sludge. The fishermen losing their jobs and soon their lives. The oil field workers will be left jobless. The boat companies will go under. The entire industry is being compromised and to say the least, the sealife and birds dying. Heck of a job, Barry!

But he won't state that this oil spill is a disaster and offer anything beyond photo-ops and words.

And he wants to know who's a** he needs to kick.

May I suggest: Your own would make a great start.

And oh by the way, May I ask where is the Sierra Club and WWF? Where are all the outraged environmentalists HOWLING for the head of the President!!!!!! Oh right.... they wouldn't want to waste their gas on this one.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Creature of Discomfort

We had a terrific storm blow through here yesterday, the second in as many days and I was curious to see what damage it did to the gardens. So, dressed in my jimjams (velour long pants and a tunic top) and with a cup of coffee in my hand, I sashayed out for a quick recon. That was my first mistake.

Picture, if you will, Louisiana. In June. 82 degrees, overcast skies and 94% humidity. Me: long hair loosely tied yet cascading down my back. Dressed for a winter night in Boulder, CO. Hot cup of coffee to add the final insult and before me: nothing but panic, chaos and disorder.

2 hours later: I may have finally lost a pound or two of weight. I've propped up all the tomato cages that keeled over and picked perhaps 45lbs of veggies. I have stretched before me a sea of slightly ripened tomatoes and our first eggplant, all glossy and black. I am wet, sticky, dirty, peevish and tired.

It's not even 8:00 am.

Mango Chutney

Because I just don't have enough to do, right? I must be some kind of a nut!*

We stopped off at the grocery yesterday and saw they had crates of mangos on sale, 10 for $3.99 and where I live, that is one heck of a good price. I love mangos but I relish (Bah!) chutney. I made Butter Chicken last week and opened my jar of store-bought Major Grey's only to discover it had that slightly moldy scent to it so boo...... out that went and I ate curry straight. (now that I think about it, I should've opened a jar of pepper jelly.. dern)

How coincidental to stumble across another (yet another!) canning project. It's really too bad I didn't look far enough into the future and grab some gingerroot at the time I hefted the box to the checkout counter. It was right there! Now it's 4 miles away and I have to make a return trip to the store before I proceed. I intend to try Alton Brown's recipe because it sounds delish and I like his show.

I intended to pickle more jalapenos yesterday but two things transpired that threw me off my rails. First, I forgot about our annual Home Owner's meeting and we raced over (late) and got there right when the juicy stuff was being discussed. I won't bore you the details because it isn't interesting to anyone except those who live here. The skies have been threatening for days here and we have had quite a few good drenchings for two days. We had planned to go pick berries and had to postpone that for a time. Then I remembered we needed to go pick up some plants to plant sit for their owners til they can retrieve them in the future and that took an hour.

So even though I did process a goodly amount of vegetables, my dance card is going to be fuller today than I anticipated.

* My next-door neighbor at the old place use to use this word a lot. Let me first say her stories about people she has known or met or had interactions with are hilarious to say the least and we used to sit on our porches for HOURS talking. Without fail, anytime she used this particular word it was in reference to some individual who went well beyond rationality or simple human common sense or sheer insanity. She said it, in her delightful New Orleanian accent, in such a manner as to mean everything it could possibly imply. "....... I mean, he was a nut!" And I'd fall over laughing. Her use of it was like it's own punctuation mark.

Kitty Machine Gun

I don't know whether to laugh or cry!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Work Ethic

I wanted to plant blueberry bushes last year and went to a source of information for all things Blue. I am fortunate, again, to live within 20 miles of a local legend and spent a good portion of an afternoon learning the requirements of blueberry shrubs for maximum results.

We live in an exceptionally acidic earth where blueberries thrive. But they still are alittle fussy with their tender feet. The fellow explained the process of ploughing deeply and adding what they want and raising the hills etc. We talked about all he had planted over the years and how he had large peach orchard out back as well but they were alot of work. (that warning won't stop me) This was in early September and I wanted get busy immediately but even at that time, we were constructing the coop and raised bed areas and fencing. Blueberries would have to wait til we finished what we had started there.

I whined and relented. And plotted. I envisioned around 15 bushes. Or maybe 25. I don't remember exactly. I only knew you need to plant enough for you and the birds. I wondered how much they could consume. I KNEW how much we would.

Then for my 50th birthday I received my first 5 bushes from my very good friends and fellow berry pickers. Ah ha! well at least we'd have 5 in the ground!

But Christmas came and went and still they sat in the pots. And I'd stew and wonder when we'd get busy planting them. We talked a lot about where. We argued about how many. And we discussed HOW. Should we rent a digger or buy a tractor? Which tractor? So more research.

You know what it is like to want to buy a car? Try deciding on a tractor. Seriously. Because unlike a car, chances are you aren't going to trading it in anytime in the next 2 decades so you better choose wisely the first time!

Two Words: John Deere

And John got busy with it; he tackled the project one day when I was at work with his new tractor and cultivator and I returned home later that to find 5 beautiful beds. We plunked them in that evening and watered well. It was very early spring and the flowers were just starting to appear so talk about nick of time.

They were doing very well and popping out blueberry buds everywhere and watched with pride until one day I thought I noticed them looking a little empty. But that had to be my imagination. The berries were tiny and green. But a few days later I noticed it again mentioned it to John who said he thought the same thing and darn if the birds weren't eating tiny green berries! And a caterpillar was going to town on the leaves! What the heck!

So we caged and covered and sprayed. And they continued to grow. We planted thornless blackberries and found a Dorman red raspberry as well and stuck them in the ground. Raspberries in Louisiana? Well, yes these were promoted as able to grow here so why not?

Here's why you would:

Fresh picked this morning for breakfast with yoghurt. Why WOULDN'T we want to try and try and try alittle more?

Back to the idea of "it's a lot of work!" Yes, gardening is work but it's work with rewards. Rather immediate rewards as well. You do weeding and you see immediate results. Plant a squash plant and you have veg in 3 months. You plant potatoes and in 4 months you have secret location filled with spuds. Plant asparagus this year and next year you can eat a few. The year after that, they return and you eat lots. You spray peach trees a few times a year and if the birds don't get 'em first, you'll have fresh peaches in 2 years after planting.

I'd rather be doing this than buying them all every week at the grocery. Talk about work!

Do I have to say the 5 gift blue berries are the only ones out there? So far, that is.......

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Harvest Spring?

We have been so fortunate to have exceptional weather these past four weeks..... the garden has exploded with growth and veg and I have begun in earnest the picking and pickling and canning.

All the tomato plants are heavy with fruit and I really anticipate a terrific return on the Romas... so much so that I am researching ketchup recipes online. The Cherokee Purples are weird beyond description but so sweet and meaty, it is a bite of heaven. Nothing makes me think of youthful summers like tomato sandwiches, unless I think of sand sandwiches which are a WHOLE other memory, and we have been snarfign them everyday . True confession: ok, I have been snarfing them daily.

I have picked the last of the spring beets and pickled them. The batch before this I pressure cooked and so much of the color leached out I don't think I want to repeat that at all. Next year, I will freeze simple beets for borscht. I mean, c'mon! Who wants to look at an anemic borscht?

Potatoes are all in now and I hazard a guess that we hauled in in excess of 175lbs. No kidding. We have given alot to friends and neighbors and stowed the rest in a secret undisclosed temperature regulated location. I like the Adirondack Blues roasted but not boiled. They had a slightly bitter taste, to my way of thinking. Not everyone agrees with me and that's cool. The yukons grew enormous and that last day I dug potatoes, I realized that ants had moved in to feast. Who can blame them? So I lost around 4 to predators and two to a miss-placed fork in the soil.

Tomatillos have begun to ripen and we have four jars of salsa sitting on the shelf. It is delicious and I found this recipe online: Tomatillo Salsa

I will look into adding a sidebar tally...... I'm gonna need it!