Sunday, December 21, 2014

Happy Solstice ~ Merry Winter

I wish you peace on this longest night of the year.  Our tree is up, and most of the gifts are wrapped.  So many memories of past Christmases as I unpacked things, I couldn't help but shed some tears.  A friend shared a beautiful song that brought both tears and comfort.  If you're struggling with having lost someone this Christmas, it may comfort you as well.

I've never much cared for liquor, but I love this Hot Buttered Rum recipe shared by From Scratch Magazine.  My sister and SIL have requested I bring it to our Christmas gathering, which I'm pleased to do.  I expect we can all use a little something to soothe and take the edge off this year.   If you can use a little of the same, you might want to give it a try.

I am looking forward to the return of the light.  Wishing you a Happy Solstice and a Merry Winter.  Hold your loved ones close this holiday season.

Monday, December 15, 2014

My New Favorites~ Seagrove Pottery

I hope you are enjoying this holiday season, in whatever way suits you.  I didn't intend to stay away, but I haven't had any extraordinary frugal accomplishments these recent weeks.  I'm still doing all the usual things, just nothing terribly exciting to share.  I did, however, want to share a couple of treasures I found for myself at the recent Celebration.  I'd been wanting a sponge holder, and when I saw this one of Michele's, I knew it would be the perfect one for my countertop.  Michele & her husband Jeff are both Seagrove potters.  Here's their website, which has links to both of their shops at the top of the page.  Once my workshop is built, I'd love to have one of Jeff's sinks in the bathroom.

I'm loving this mug by Matthew Kelly.  It called to me, and while purchasing it, he told me his wife claimed it for her own if it didn't sell.  The Celebration had just begun when I spied it.  It never had a chance of making it back home.  Here's his fb page.  I don't believe he has an online shop at this time.

We've just a few remaining shortening days before they begin to lengthen again.  The winter season is almost upon us, and we've begun hearing about the possibility of winter weather here.  I wouldn't mind if it held off until the first of the year, but then bring on the snow!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Late November Frugal Accomplishments

I froze trimmings of carrot and butternut squash for broth, ground wheat flour, and harvested carrots. Made a pasta dish using broccoli, onion, garlic and basil (frozen) grown here, with some vegi broth I canned.  Emptied water glasses into the teapot that "lives" on the woodstove to add moisture, dried laundry on the line. Baked some of our sweet potatoes. which we ate two nights.

Gathered a fall bouquet of magnolia leaves, winterberry, pinecones on a branch, rosemary, branches of colorful leaves, a branch of hazelnut catkins, and nandina.

I brought a butternut squash dish, an apple pie, and sesame cookies to Thanksgiving dinner at my brother's house.  The pie and cookies were made with a mix of unbleached white and the wheat flour I ground.  The squash was grown here.

McNibs napping
Made a batch of white bean dip from Bean by Bean.  I began reading this book during slow times at the Celebration last weekend, and I had quite a few pages marked after only reading a portion.  I decided to purchase my own copy, and found a very inexpensive used copy online.

I've seen a blue heron around the pond lately.  I can never seem to manage a good photo, taking it inside the house and through a screen.  With all the losses this year, I don't feel I have a lot to say these days.  These Monday posts are something I feel I can manage.  I hope to have more to say at some point, but for now, this helps me feel I'm still connected here.  Joining in with this week's Frugal Accomplishments on The Prudent Homemaker.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving and Frugal Accomplishments

I'm joining in with this week's Frugal Accomplishments on The Prudent Homemaker.  I had a great time helping out at the big annual local pottery show, Celebration of Seagrove Potters, Friday, Saturday & Sunday. I brought snacks and lunch, and my own mug and tea.  They provide hot water and coffee for the help.  I'm pretty picky about my coffee, so I brought some herb tea along, and kept filling my mug up with hot water throughout the day.  It's in an old, unheated cannery and gets mighty chilly, so I dress in as many warm layers as I dare, and sip hot drinks to ward off the cold.

I canned the last of our pears, and got another 3 half pints of pear vanilla sauce to put on the shelf.  I let the water in the canner cool down on the stove, adding some heat and moisture to the house, then used the water to wash up the dishes and to wash off sweet potatoes before baking.  I froze the last batch of lambs quarter, which I picked before the hard freeze.  Homemade laundry soap was used, and laundry hung on the line.  Homemade soap and deodorant were used, and I colored my hair at home.  Though J takes care of the majority of keeping the woodstove stoked, I added logs as needed. I chopped up the best bits of pear skins for the pups to have with their dinner, as part of their raw portion, and put the other bits in the compost. It amazes me how quickly the compost crock fills up, and needs to be emptied. I guess that's a good sign that you're eating lots of healthy, from scratch meals.  I cooked okra I had frozen this summer.  Made a simple air freshener by putting tangerine peels and a few cloves in a mason jar, then filling it with water and putting it on a clay tile on the woodstove.  It will release moisture and scent, both good things to add to dry air in a mostly closed up house. When I made a batch of soap, I finished up a bottle of rosemary essential oil.  I turned it over to catch the last few drops while I was cleaning up the soap pot and utensils, then added the rosemary oil to the mason jar to add a bit more scent.  Made yogurt and kefir.  Sunday was a cool, rainy day, and all afternoon I thought about soup, so when I got home, I put on a pot of vegetable soup, using lima beans, garlic, okra, onions and carrots grown here, with some discount store bought organic corn and crushed tomatoes, and a bit of leftover vegi sloppy joe.  Some warm bread would have been lovely with the soup, but I popped up a batch of organic popcorn in the wok.  That was pretty tasty too.

The photo is of our root cellar, with pumpkins, winter squash, sweet potatoes and apples stored there.  It's a good feeling to see all that food lined up, rather like canning jars on the shelf.  I wish you a bountiful Thanksgiving, with good food to share and good people to enjoy it with.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sheet Mulching, a Hoop House, Autumn Meals and Frugal Accomplishments

I'm joining up with Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker, with the weeks' Frugal Accomplishments. I harvested broccoli, carrots, chickweed.  Filled the 2nd gallon bag for vegi broth, simmered and canned it up, getting 6 1/2 pints to put on the shelf.  I ground up all my bread ends for bread crumbs, and froze them.

I tried the sheet mulching (aka lasagna gardening) method on a bed next to the house, with lime, newspaper, compost, cardboard, cow manure and leaves.  In the past, I've thrown fall leaves on this bed, and we've tried cardboard in the garden. Neither worked well by themselves, but I'm hoping the combination will encourage it all to break down into lovely soil.  I couldn't make it any thicker, as J said it needed to be lower than the wood siding, or we would be inviting termites. In time, I hope to add more ingredients, as it breaks down. I used this as a guide.

I worked in my compost- sifted one bin and put it on the bed above.  Made yogurt, and this pumpkin walnut raisin bread with our smallest cheese wheel pumpkin.  Yummy!  Also made a butternut squash recipe from here, using squash and garlic we grew.  I had to add a bit of water towards the end, to get it to soften up nicely, but that worked like a charm.  Also good.

At the discount grocery, I got- organic, fair trade sugar for 1.75/lb, jasmine rice for .60/lb., 7 oz. jars of kalamata olives for 1.75 ea., 26# bag of Wellness Core grain-free dogfood for 17.50 (reg. price 52.00!), organic agave nectar @ 2.00 a bottle, plus others I've forgotten.

I forgot to mention I joined Swagbucks in the last post.  I am still working on my first gift card.  I will say I was disappointed that the surveys so far all seem to want to gather as much information as possible about our household, rather than get my opinion, but I will give some of the other ways of getting points a try. If anyone has suggestions, I'd love to hear.

I made this recipe with kale that some friends gifted me with.  We liked it a lot. I left out the currants, and swapped out the pine nuts for walnuts.  I also made this quinoa recipe, using some of our last grape tomatoes, onion, garlic, fresh oregano, and frozen basil grown here.  We liked this one a lot too, though it has a lot of cheese.  I'll be trying some healthier quinoa dishes for more regular use, but will make this one again too.

Here is a hoophouse we built over the coldframe recently.  We drove rebar into the ground and used PVC pipe for the structure.  We covered it with 6 ml plastic, and held down the edges with bricks and rocks.  It's not perfect, but we hope it will work better in rain and snow.  I'll get a picture of the inside and post that another time.  Like much of the country, we've gotten cold weather the past few days, with nights in the low 20's.  In a few days, that low is supposed to drop into the teens.  Stay warm and cozy, friends.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The View

the view from the window
I'm joining in with Frugal Accomplishments on The Prudent Homemaker.  Made potato soup with our potatoes & parsley; made pumpkin soup with our pumpkin.  Picked all the tomatoes, basil, some spearmint and chickweed before frost, froze some basil in olive oil and spearmint in water- both in ice cube trays.  Made pesto with our basil and garlic, juiced our passionfruit and froze the juice, until I decide what I want to do with it.

Bought some sale items, new reading glasses and Thanksgiving cards at a 20% off day at Walgreens.  At the discount store, bought organic garbanzo beans for .40/can, organic agave nectar for $2/ bottle, organic whole tomatoes .60 for 28 oz. (even though we grow our own tomatoes, after not having enough to can in 2013, I buy them whenever I find especially good sales), a bottle of Nature's Way elderberry syrup for 1.50 (I also grow these, & make my own syrup, but thought this was an excellent buy, and you never know what next year will bring)

The usual drying laundry on the line, washing out plastic bags, bringing my own bags to the grocery store (saves .05 per bag, though I'd do it anyway), composting, harvesting rainwater, running all my errands while I'm in town.

Bought 4 apple trees locally, all cedar rust and fire blight resistant, which is a huge problem here.  I hope we have better results with these trees.   I also bought a fig I'd never heard of, an Italian Golden Honey Fig.  All seem to be settling in nicely.

I took down the hummingbird feeders, and made my first batch of suet for the season.  I've not always been able to afford the black oil sunflower seeds, but I've always managed to make suet for the birds.  The recipe is forgiving, and you'll see some of my variations in the link.

A friend of my Mom's sent me this quote after her passing.  I came across it again recently, after losing my Dad, and it gave me comfort.

Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner. All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!                        -Henry Scott Holland

Monday, November 3, 2014

Local Flora and Frugal Accomplishments

As I write this on Sunday evening, there is a freeze warning for tonight.  I expect the bouquet to be the last of the year cut from the garden, which includes butterfly bush, orlaya, black & blue salvia, soapwort, zinnias and hyssop.  I've not done a very good job keeping up with my frugal accomplishments recently, and am combining the weeks since the last time I joined in with The Prudent Homemaker. 

Though it wasn't frugal, I bought pansies and violas to cheer me, and planted them next to the walkway from the drive to the house.
Borrowed books and movies from the library.  I enjoyed reading The Orchard and Farm City. While we were at the beach in September, I made one purchase from a thrift shop that supported animal rescues, the book it happened on the way to war: a Marine's Path to Peace...good story.
Gathered eggs, persimmons, basil, purslane, carrots, lima beans, lambs quarter.  Added carrot tops, lima pods, tomato & onion bits, lambs quarter and parsley stems to the freezer bag for vegi broth.  Weeded chard, dehydrated cayenne peppers.

The usual harvesting rainwater, washing plastic bags for reuse, composting, hanging laundry on the line.

Made Black bean burgers using Brandy's recipe; we ate them for 2 meals and froze the rest for a third. Made waldorf salad using celery from the cold frame.  Prepared a spaghetti squash and spinach dish, using vegis in the freezer.  Need to be eating from the freezer, as there is no more room.  Used tromboncino squash from the freezer in a pasta dish, with basil, rosemary & tomato from the garden. Baked sweet potatoes from the garden.

Searched for and found a coupon code giving me 18% off of some needed Massage Therapy continuing ed classes.  I took water, snacks and lunch to the hospital/hospice almost every day, during the week my dad was there.

Saved seed from a Cheese Wheel pumpkin.  Juiced a bag of limes I got a few weeks ago for 1.00 on the marked down rack, and began a batch of lime cleaning vinegar with the skins.

The past week, I've harvested carrots, lambs quarter, chickweed, purslane, tomatoes, swiss chard & parsley.  Saved seeds from basil, shiso and garlic chives.
Cooked with onion, tomatoes, garlic, parsley and potatoes grown here

There is a nice patch of swiss chard in the garden, but it will die back with cold weather, and begin growing again in the spring.  We also got our garlic planted.  The planting, harvested in June, usually supplies us for the year.
I've gotten better about using the dregs from the yogurt jar, cans of beans, etc, mixing in a little water if needed, and pouring over the pups meals.  They're enjoying a little extra zip from what are healthy foods, mostly organic, and nothing is wasted.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Another Loss

Well, 2014 has certainly been a year.  Since I was here last, I lost my Dad.  As it's only been a little over 3 months since my Mom passed, the blow was especially hard.  He had a massive stroke, and in a week's time, faded away.  I'm so thankful to have memories of our trip to see his old battleship last year.  I'm aware I have so many blessings.  It's just going to take some time to get through these losses.  I won't say over, because I suspect one never really gets over the loss of parents.  But, I do believe there will be a time when it's not quite so raw.

I'm really enjoying the blooms while they last.  So far, we've made it a bit longer than our average frost date of October 15th.

The grounds of the hospice my Dad was at were just beautiful.  Each room had a patio and birdfeeder, and there were paths with a waterfall, a windchime,  a multitude of blooming things, and many areas to sit.  This sweet fountain was outside my Dad's room.  I loved watching the birds splash about in it.  

Joseph and I washed the car on Sunday.  He worked on the outside, while I worked on the inside.  Neither of us is prone to do this often.  Both of us are thankful to have vehicles to take us where we need to go, but don't feel they are extensions of us, and certainly don't pamper them.  Though I'm sure the same attention to detail was lacking, I believe my Dad was smiling on us.  

I hope to be joining in with The Prudent Homemaker and Frugal Accomplishments again next week.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Frugal Accomplishments

I'm joining in with Brandy for last week's frugal accomplishments.  I harvested passion fruit, raspberries, pears, tomatoes, okra, & persimmons; decanted pineapple vinegar & started another batch; juiced some grapes we were given, and froze them for future use; made pumpkin pie using homegrown pumpkin and eggs from our chickens; made a quinoa dish, using yellow squash, onion & parsley from the garden.

At the discount grocery store, favorite finds were jasmine rice @ .60/# (best by 3/16; compared to sale price 1.50/# this wk at Lowes) bought 15#, OG raisins 1.25/#, Annie's Organic mac & cheese .50 ea, kalamata olives 1.25 a jar,  Seventh Generation dishwashing liquid @ .70, and maple syrup 4.00/ 8 oz (sale price this wk 4.99 @ Lowes). I see more maple lattes in my future!

I froze yogurt and made a batch of yogurt.  A few times a year, I buy a small cup of plain yogurt, to start fresh with.  After a few months, I know that stray bacteria gets in a batch, so I like to begin with new yogurt again.  I usually forget to freeze the remainder of storebought yogurt, but remembered this time.  It seems in years past, the frozen yogurt did not perform well, but reading about all the other people that do it made me want to give it another try.  I made batches of kefir.

I made tomato rice loaf using the above jasmine rice, and tomatoes, basil, onion, garlic, kefir and breadcrumbs from here; froze sweet red peppers & dehydrated hot peppers, dill and basil from the garden; made balsamic vinaigrette - the recipe is here. The lettuce in the coldframe is growing nicely.  Looking forward to having some homegrown salads in the not too distant future.

I cut up a Cheese Wheel pumpkin & Hopi Gray squash that the borers had gotten to.  The pumpkin was in great shape, with only exterior damage.  The Hopi Gray was in bad shape, so the chickens got it, along with our last 2 watermelons.  Pumpkin soup was made with the pumpkin.

Froze celery for the first time.  My Mom had been freezing hers, and I've been meaning to do it for months, as I only use celery in small quantities, for waldorf salad, and a couple of cooked dishes, and end up throwing most of it into the compost.  While this won't work for the waldorf salad, it will for the cooked dishes.  And when I need raw celery, I have some in the coldframe, from planted celery bottoms.  I have planted celery bottoms several times, and have gotten some nice celery from it, but it has always rotted after a time. In looking at the link again for this post, I realized I was not totally covering it with soil, which allows rain to settle in the bottom, making it more likely to rot.  After I took this photo, I covered my celery bottoms with soil, to see if I can keep these going all winter.  If you use celery, try this... it works amazingly well!  If you use Pinterest, there are tutorials on regrowing all sorts of vegi's from scraps.  Celery is the only one I've tried.  Well, except for an avocado pit, but I don't expect to get actual avocadoes here in NC.  I also started lemons from seeds last winter, which are doing well.  This was another Pinterest idea.  It would be lovely to eventually get lemons.  I remember a neighbor girl who used to come to my door, when I lived in Los Angeles, selling lemons and avocadoes from their trees for a dime each.  I, of course, always bought some from her.  Have a good week, friends!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Funny, It Doesn't Feel Like Fall

Today, I was shop sitting for one of the local potteries.  I wandered a bit, noticing the signs of fall all around me.

It does not feel like fall, however, with the days in the 80's.

After work today, I joined my sister on the outdoor patio of a local establishment, where we enjoyed glasses of seasonal pumpkin brew.

I hope this photo is not terribly offensive.  I was beyond delighted when I was able to coax that splinter from my finger yesterday, after a week had gone by.  I had gone through all the packing and unpacking of the car and show, and made it through 10 massage appointments with it in my left index finger.  I happen to be left handed, so it made for some rather uncomfortable days, and just would not budge, no matter how I coaxed, until yesterday.  Now I know why... it was 5/16 of an inch long! Can you feel my glee?  Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Pears, Pasta & Frugal Accomplishments

There was beautiful fall weather for the Fall Festival over the weekend.  A little gusty at times, but clear blue skies and lots of sun.  I was set up very close to one of the stages, and was able to hear lots of music, a book reading, and see some young dance groups.  There was even a harpist on Sunday.  I so enjoyed sitting in the sun, listening to that lovely music.

I'm still enjoying maple lattes.  The mug above holding one was purchased from Blue Hen Pottery.

pear vanilla sauce
Joining in with Brandy for this week's:

Frugal Accomplishments

canned 10 half-pints of pear vanilla sauce

made "zucchini" soup, using tromboncino squash, tomatoes, garlic & basil from the garden

harvested rainwater

borrowed books from the library- finished this, which I enjoyed

purchased a number of sale items at Aldi's, including 6 lbs of organic quinoa @ $3.99/lb.  The best price we are usually able to find is $4.99/lb.  Purchased cans of organic black beans for .40 ea. at the local discount grocery store.

used homemade soap, laundry soap & deodorant

washed plastic bags for reuse

made Pasta Norma using eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, basil, oregano & chives from the garden.

brought lunch, water and snacks both days to the Fall Festival, & cut a bouquet from the homestead for my booth

That was the last of the eggplant, used in the pasta dish.  As temperatures were dropping into the 30's this weekend,  I brought in all the orchid plants, plus a couple others, and covered the remainder with plastic.  Joseph did preparations for and started our first fire of the season on Saturday.  Nights have been in the 50's and 60's, so that was a bit of a surprise, but they are rising again. I think we have a bit more time until our first frost.  I expect there won't be much else harvested from the summer garden, save a few okra and tomatoes if we're lucky, and chard.  But, we'll be harvesting greens, carrots, and the hardier herbs.  Onward to the next season.  I'm looking forward to making the first batch of pumpkin soup.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Coastal Encounter & Frugal Accomplishments

Joining in with Brandy with this week's Frugal Accomplishments:

I harvested okra, tomatoes, chard, lima beans, pears, parsley from our garden (J also harvested potatoes, peppers, the last pumpkins, & onions)

dried laundry on the line

gave pups baths with homemade dog soap

As you can see from the photos, we took a few days vacation at the coast last week.  Though there were a couple of lovely dinner's out, we also had some frugal moments.  On our drive to the coast, I spied a discount grocery store, which we stopped at on our way home.  I found several good deals, including Maranatha organic peanut butter for 2.29 (reg. 7.29 - I bought 8),  a 14# bag of Evolve grain-free dogfood (reg. 24.99) for 6.99, and Annie's organic mac & cheese for .69 (reg. 3.50).  All of the above expired sometime in 2015, so nothing out of date.  Too bad they're several hours from us.  We do have a couple of new discount grocery stores in Asheboro.  I've been to one a few times, and plan to visit the other soon.

My list will probably be a little short this coming week as well, as I will be getting ready for a show.  I have 6 dozen bars of soap to wrap, along with other preparations.  I saw mention of a maple latte online, and have been enjoying them this weekend, homemade of course.  It seems just right for the early days of fall.... yum!

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Okra Experiment & Frugal Acomplishments

Hearts a bustin' (Euonymus Americanus)

Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

mended two items (sewed button on shorts & clasp on pants)

canned pear sauce

saved vegi trimmings and some large okra for broth

while cleaning edges of soap for an order for a local B&B, I saved the tiny slivers in a mason jar, to be made into liquid soap or soap paste for home laundry use

made yogurt & kefir

canned applesauce, froze corn and dehydrated a red onion

harvested tomatoes, okra, basil and pears from the garden

morning glory

My experiment with trimming back the tall okra looks to be a success.  All the plants look happy, with lots of side shoots and some flower buds sprouting forth.  Next year, I plan to trim them sooner, and do it in waves, to minimize down time.  Happy autumnal equinox, friends!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

The sofa table is our most recent custom order from my etsy SoulSeeds shop.  This one shipped today, and is on its way to Wisconsin.  I have been inspired by The Prudent Homemaker blog, and the comments that are written.  So, this week I'm joining in with her usual Monday post.  Her blog is one of those I always find a treat to visit.  I hope it inspires you too!

Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

Doing laundry with homemade detergent and hanging it on the line

Freezing corn & peppers from the garden, patty pan squash from a neighbor, and lambs quarter, which grows wild here

Making a pie with pumpkin from the garden, using eggs from our chickens

Buying a new "second" T-shirt for J for $1 at a thrift shop, much needed as a work shirt

Bathing the dog with homemade dog soap

Planting a free parsley plant from my Mom's

Planting kale and winter salad seeds in the cold frame for our winter garden

Harvesting and eating squash, tomato, potatoes, basil, rosemary and garlic from the garden

Harvesting pears and apples, which I plan to sauce

Harvesting red raspberries, eggplant and chard from the garden

Borrowing books and movies from the library

Canning a large batch of  broth from vegetable trimmings, which I save in the freezer

Harvesting sweet potatoes and sunflowers from the garden

Tried signing up for Pinecone Research, though they were not accepting my demographics at present

Had the A/C off most days and nights

Harvesting rainwater, and watering plants with the dehumidifier condensation

Monday, September 8, 2014

Grilled Peaches, Patty Pans and Pumpkin Chai Soap

Hello, friends!  There have been a lot of gardening related activities going on around the homestead.  Sweet potatoes have been dug, and are drying.  We got several football-sized ones in this year's batch.  The ants had found some of them, so it's good we dug them when we did.  I cooked up some that had gotten cut up during harvesting, and the dogs enjoyed them last night.  It takes a month or so for the sugars to change, and make them nice and sweet, so we'll wait a bit to enjoy them.

The sunflowers on my table were a birthday surprise.  Sunflowers are one of the most cheerful flowers, don't you think?  J harvested sunflowers in our garden, and the heads are drying for winter use for us and the birds.  Some of the heads that had fallen over and were being eaten by the wildlife went to the chickens.  They didn't seem terribly interested, until I began removing the seeds from the heads, then you can bet they were pretty excited.

I tried something new with the okra this year. We're growing both red and green varieties.  The green okra grows so tall that I can no longer reach it.  For the past 2 or 3 weeks, I was bending over the stalks to get to the okra, but they were getting too tall for even this, plus it was really making my neck sore, straining upward for many minutes each day.  I decided I'd try pruning them this weekend.  Quite a few plants had side shoots with buds already, so I'm sure they'll be fine.  We'll see how the others fare.  We are getting some much needed rain today, which ought to encourage them to grow.

A neighbor gifted us with a large amount of patty pan squashes.  Unfortunately, many were wormy, and many were picked too large, having big, tough seeds.  Not being one to waste food, I did manage to cut nice rounds out of the top portions, which have no seeds, for freezing.  The sides were cut away and put in the vegetable broth bag I keep in my freezer, adding to it until there's enough to make a nice batch of broth.  The middle pieces with all the big seeds went to the chickens, and other bits went to the compost.

Try as I might, I could not get a clear photo of the Pumpkin Chai soap this morning.  I'm going to chalk it up to very dim light, rather than stinky photographic skills :o).  Once I finish this post, I'll be moving the Pumpkin Chai soap to the drying rack, and starting a batch of Kitchen Thyme soap.

We tried the second grilled peach recipe I had been wanting to try this weekend.  I bought big, beautiful, organic peaches, but unfortunately they didn't have much taste.  I'd like to try the recipe again with some really good peaches, and see what that's like.  We thought they were decent, but not wonderful.  Here's what I did:

Grilled Peaches with Honey, Balsamic and Cambozola

Cut peaches in halves, remove the pit, and place on foil cut side up

Add several bits of Cambozola cheese in the indentation where the pit was

Drizzle with honey, then balsamic vinegar

Grill until soft (5-10 minutes or so)

The original recipe is on Pinterest.  If you'll click on my Pinterest link in the sidebar, and go to my Yummy Eats board, you'll find it there.  The two things I did differently were using Cambozola rather than Gorgonzola, because it needed to be used.  And, the recipe called for grilling the peaches cut side down, then turning over and filling with cheese and drizzling while on the grill.  J felt this was pretty much guaranteed to be an ugly mess, and I had to agree, so our peaches stayed upright the entire time, were put on foil, and I added all the ingredients before grilling.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Hum Along, so you Don't Get Bored

I trust everyone had a nice Labor Day weekend.  On Sunday, my sister had the family for dinner, and it was lovely. She gifted me with the handpainted hummingbird feeder above.  I did try to get a better photo, but either the hummers didn't come around, or they drank from the opposite side of the feeder, so this one taken through the window will have to do.  Can you see the hummer just to the right of the feeder?

I canned pumpkin and winter squash yesterday.  Quite a few were picked early due to dying vines or borers. The squash with borers wouldn't keep, so had to be canned.  We'll have to do a better job next year, covering them with row cover to keep the moth away from our squash.  They seem to be more of a problem every year, bothering our cucumbers, summer squash and now winter squash and canteloupes.  The chickens are getting all the worms and ruined melons, and the compost gets all the cut away bits and skin, so nothing is wasted.  Dog baths and soapmaking are on my to do list.  What's on your to do list this week?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Late Summer Days

The late summer bounty is upon us.  Several of the winter squash vines were dying, so we harvested the squash from them yesterday.  We're going to have plenty of winter squash and pumpkin to eat, that's for sure.  It also reminded me that it's time to make a batch of Pumpkin Chai soap.  The house always smells so good when it's curing.  I think it's the perfect warm and cozy Autumn soap.

While canning tomatoes today, I noticed this heart-shaped one.  I didn't notice until I had already blanched it, or I would have set it aside, and surprised J with it for dinner tonight.  After canning, several meals of okra were frozen, and a couple of bags of pawpaw pulp.  For lunch, I had a smoothie using a couple of our peaches, the last of our blueberries, pawpaw, and homemade yogurt.  Only two peaches are left.  J grilled some last night, but he talked me into doing a sweet version, rather than the savory version I really wanted to try using Gorgonzola, honey and balsamic vinegar.  I hope to try that recipe before the summer is over.  Neither of us was impressed with the version I did make, using butter and brown sugar.

The weather has been beautiful.  J & I went to the zoo yesterday, which we hadn't done in several years.   We wandered all over the Africa side, which he had never seen.

ring-tailed lemurs

 I hung a couple loads of laundry on the line today, and have enjoyed having the windows open since last night.  I am loving these days!

autumn clematis