Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New Skills

I trust everyone is having a lovely summer.  Some newly learned skills have recently been put to work.  I've had first lessons in pipe cutting and welding.  The welding is rather intimidating, and will take a rather large learning curve to master, I believe.  I've worked in the fab shop with the guys, and cut a few pieces of pipe for them.  That same day, I got my first pottery lesson, which was on waxing.  Basically, you paint a wax mixture where you don't want the glaze to go.  Meredith tells me the next lesson will be on glazing.  Learning new things is good.  I've always said I hope to be learning until I leave this earth.  I think that's what we're here for, you know? 

This past Sunday, I joined in on having an Unplugged Sunday.  I spent time reading, doing a bit of stitchery, hanging out with J and delivering some herbs to my nieces and nephew.   I've shown them how they can eat a stevia leaf with another herb, and every time they visit here, they enjoy that.  One variation is a "girl scout cookie", mixing chocoate mint with stevia.  Another is a "lemon drop", mixing lemon balm and stevia.  So, they now have one of each of these, and  can enjoy them at their house too.   Everything is so dry here,  we're hoping the forecasted rain comes to pass. I may have to head out there and do a rain dance.  This is post number 300, which is hard to believe.  Have a great week!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mornings in the Garden

Last night brought lovely rain, and this morning found many cucumbers and squash ready to be picked.   There is also some broccoli in the bottom of my basket, and two precious red raspberries from the harvest.  I'm finding Japanese beetles on the ripe peaches and berries this year.  I don't seem to remember that from past years, but it may just be a gardener's selective memory there.  We're growing several varieties of summer squash this year- yellow crookneck, golden bush scallop, and tromboncino.  Last night, I fixed some of the scallop squash in a manner suggested by Henrietta.  She and her husband, Rick, are local organic market gardeners.  Their gardens and produce are awesome, and Henrietta knows just how to cook up their bounty.  No exact recipe here, but I don't think you can go wrong with this.

Skillet Roasted Summer Squash

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Put butter in your skillet, enough to cover the bottom (1 tbs does well for my 9 inch skillet) & put in the oven to melt.  Cut squash in rounds & make three layers of squash in skillet.  Pour a little maple syrup with some melted butter (doesn't take a lot of either) over the squash & layer more squash & maple syrup/butter until you've filled your skillet.  I added a little salt before popping it in the oven.  Cook at least 30 minutes, until tender.  You can turn the oven up to 500 degrees at the end to brown it if needed.

I'm canning the first Kosher-style dill pickles of the summer this morning.  My new etsy shop, SoulSeeds, is now open!  Happy Summer, friends!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

                    Wishing all the Dad's a very happy Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wednesday With the Boys

I haven't mentioned the pups lately, so thought I'd drop by and leave a few pics for you.  They're doing great, and growing like weeds. 

  McNibs doesn't have a lot of facial expression, but his body shows his playful side.  He's a sweetheart. 

Guinness is a silly pup, and still so full of that puppy energy.  He makes me laugh every day.  If they're awake, they're usually playing, so it's rather hard to get a good picture.  Wishing you a playful and happy Wednesday!

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Littlest Hen

First cucumbers and squash were picked from the garden this morning.  Both Asian and pickling cucumbers, and yellow and patty pan squash.  There were also lambs quarters, chard, and a precious few raspberries and blackberries in my basket.  Garlic has been harvested, and is drying.  The onions will soon follow suit.  Our last Americauna left us Friday.  No obvious cause, so we're wondering if it was just the heat that got her.  I will miss her, our littlest hen, and her blue eggs that always looked so festive among the various shades of brown. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Pretty Special Cake

Wonderful rain finally came last night.  The garden and flowers are breathing a sigh of relief.  Me too, as I have plenty to do with my day besides watering plants.  Not long ago, my Mom found a cake recipe my paternal grandmother used to make. It was in her handwriting.   Mama McHugh has been gone for 16 years now, so that was a pretty special find.  It was a common occurrence for the family to gather there for Sunday dinner.  All were welcome,and many friends and beau's got to sit around her table over the years.  I got around to making the cake this week, and that first bite was filled with sweet memories.

Mama McHugh's Banana Pineapple Cake

3 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 vegetable oil
8 oz can of crushed pineapple
2 cups mashed bananas
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Grease and flour a bundt pan, and set aside.  Sift flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together in bowl.  Add oil, undrained crushed pineapple, bananas, eggs and vanilla.  Mix until well blended, and pour batter into prepared bundt pan.  Bake for 1 hr 20 mins, or until inserted knife comes out clean.  Cake will crack slightly on top.  Cool in pan inverted on a wire rack.  Cake will remain moist for some time.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Second Generation

Last year, at about this time, we installed our first solar water panel.  I'd bought a used unit, and we quickly realized it was not large enough to meet our needs.  So last week, J & I did the final touches on a unit we fabricated, and over the weekend, got it installed.  It's about twice as large as the first unit, so between the two of them, we should have plenty of hot water.  We've also begun work on another, highly efficient unit that J designed.  We hope to be testing it before long, and if it works as well as we're hoping, I'll be sharing more about it in the weeks to come.

I love blue flowers, so I'm happy the bachelor buttons have begun blooming.  The Twelve Apostles lilies that J brought from his house have also started blooming.  Ths past month has been a dry one here.  We're hoping the chance of rain today and tomorrow turns into some good showers to water the garden.  Baby squash and cucumbers are beckoning, but seem to be in a holding pattern without rain.
In addition to taking blog pics this morning, I shot some new shaving mugs from Whynot Pottery, to list in the shop along with my shaving soap.  If you're in need of a Father's Day present, check out their gorgeous mugs.  I've got the first one listed, and will list more over the next couple of days.   

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Summer Signs

It's beginning to look like summer around here.  The fireflies are thick above the garden and orchard.  The butterfly bush blooms have monarchs and skippers visiting.  Milkweed and soapwort blooms lend sweet scent to the breeze.  Beans and squash are sending tendrils up the strings and teepees.  Little cucumbers and tomatoes are tempting us with future bounty.  The garlic and lambsquarter need harvesting.  First raspberries and mulberries are sweet with promise.
Hummingbirds dart between the feeders, challenging any newcomers.  We're seeing and hearing tree frogs, and several species of dragonflies flit around the pond.  Bumblebees are thick on the lambs ear and milkweed. Has summer arrived in your neck of the woods yet?