Monday, August 26, 2019

New Recipes & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I foraged some lovely chanterelles.  We've been getting some nice rain, which is helping the mushrooms come out.  After work on Tuesday, I picked up a few groceries, including .99 avocados and bags of dog food on sale for $4 less than usual.  I also stopped to get a few lettuce and parsley plants.  I was focused, and didn't even check out the mark down section :o).  The goji berries finally began blooming last week.  Hopefully, there is time to get some fruit before first frost.  I canned squash, and made Pasta Norma, which used our eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, basil, oregano and chives.  A double batch of hummer food was made twice.  The hummingbird numbers have increased dramatically, so I'm thinking they must be close to migrating.  They're going through lots of food.  J noticed storm clouds gathering, so grabbed the laundry on the line.  Three pairs of his work pants were still slightly damp.  I threw them over chairs instead of using the dryer.

morning pond
A batch of tomatoes was canned.  One of my nieces came for a visit.  She went on the morning hike with the pups.  I fixed breakfast when we returned, and introduced her to pawpaw, which she liked. I gathered seeds of carrot and kale, and found that kale had reseeded in our old cold frame.   A neighbor gifted us a large bag of corn.  Six ears were boiled, and the remainder were used in a corn zucchini chowder, which was delicious.  The chowder also used a tromboncino squash, as well as our potatoes, garlic and thyme.  It was as pretty as it was yummy.  Several figs were harvested, and enjoyed fresh.  The loofahs have begun blooming.  I'm pretty sure it's too late to get any viable loofahs, but the pollinators seem to be enjoying the flowers.  Another new recipe was tried, Lentil Salad with Cucumbers and Olives.  It's a keeper too.  I'm so enjoying the cooler temperatures, and having the windows open again.

On Saturday, we planted a good part of our fall garden... collards, cabbage, broccoli, kale and lettuce plants.  There are also collards that have come up from seed, though they're small yet.  I also planted the moonflowers.  In planting the mystery yellow flowers, I found that there are indeed spirea in with them.  So, I got two for one in those pots.  After making and painting 5 orders on Sunday, J & I worked on our solar hot water system.  Conduit was laid in a trench, and the lines fished.  A few things were hooked up, but I can't remember the names at the moment.  Last week, he was given a heat exchanger that was no longer in use from a job he was working at.  It will work perfectly in our system.  Lemon balm and lemon verbena were harvested and dried for tea.  I know I'm forgetting some things, but it's been a bit of a whirlwind lately.  Wishing you a lovely week ahead.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Old Man of the Woods & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  After an appointment last week, I went by Trader Joe's and a local natural foods market.  On Tuesday, I met a friend for dinner and free live music to celebrate her birthday.  I'd seen one of the musicians earlier this summer, and thought she'd like him too.  Two of her gifts were made or altered by me.  There were daily walks with the pups.  While harvesting parsley one day, I noticed several swallowtail caterpillars feeding on it.  I recently saw a friend had put a large laundry bag over her plants with caterpillars to protect them.   I only had small bags, so I covered them them the best I could for one day, then found some large ones at Dollar Tree, and changed them out.  These are busy days in the garden, with cucumbers, green beans, yellow squash, zucchini, tromboncino, tomatoes, peppers and hazelnuts being harvested.  There were even a few of the peach runner beans, which I cooked up in a recipe with tomatoes, onion and garlic.  We enjoyed them, though the hot, dry days have made all the beans a little tough. Good fiber!

One day, I got a call from J, asking if I'd be willing to bring the guys their suitcase welder, as the large portable one had broke down.  They were working at the place where he and his business partner had first worked together as employees.  The plant has gone through numerous changes since then.  At one time, a good bit of food was planted there.  These days much of it goes to waste.  I gathered 10 asian pears, and around 3 dozen figs while there.  A few figs were eaten fresh, and the rest were dehydrated.  I'm thinking of making a tart with the pears, but haven't decided. I also gathered a few flower heads of zinnias and dianthus.  Free organic food and seeds was a nice bonus for doing a good deed.  J worked there again the next day, and brought home another 12 asian pears.  I stopped by a nearby feed & seed for chick food on the way home, and saw their plants were all 75% off.  I came home with a lemongrass, 2 moonflower vines, and 2 plants labeled as spirea tomentosa, but learned they are something else entirely, with yellow flowers.  Oh well, it will be a surprise, unless you can enlighten me.  The plants were all $1 or $1.25 each.

mystery plants (see long, narrow leaves below lemongrass leaf)
I had intended to can squash, and had just put the canning rings in a pot to boil when J called about the welder.  So, plans changed, and I canned squash the next day.  While keeping an eye on the canner, I shelled the dry lima beans.  When I was done canning, I blanched and froze fresh limas, and made a batch of yogurt.  For my upcoming birthday, I'd been thinking of asking for headphones, which I sometimes use to listen to things on the computer, or watch a movie J isn't interested in.  The right side of the headphones hasn't worked right for some time, and takes a lot of fiddling to get it to work.  It occurred to me that I may be able to fix it by replacing the jack, so ordered one for less than $5, which J will solder for me.  I've had them for years, and replaced the ear foam within the past year.  The headphones are good quality, so if the jack works, they should last a good while longer.

While canning, I kept enough yellow squash out to make this dish.  For another meal, I pulled sloppy joe sauce from the freezer, and J pulled a chicken from the freezer another day.  The ice maker broke a few weeks ago.  It took several tries, and a bit of sleuthing, but J managed to fix it for not much OOP.  Another day, I canned tomatoes, then dehydrated the skins for bird suet.  I'd been wanting to try a plant version of mozzarella, and did when I made a caprese salad.  It was surprisingly good. Even J said he would eat it.  This will help me better keep to my Dr's recommendations during tomato season.  I'm not perfect, but I'm trying.  It's been a few weeks since there were any figs to harvest.  I checked on them, and found 4 big, perfectly ripe figs to harvest.  They were so good.  J bought a new TV, which came with Roku.  I think that means I'll be able to watch more of the This is Us show for free, which makes me happy.

On Sunday morning's walk, I harvested a couple of chanterelles and an old man of the woods, which were both taught during the mushroom class.  Old man of the woods is a new edible for me, so I cooked up a small piece with the chantrelles, eggs, tomatoes and garlic to try.  The instructor said the taste benefited from drying and rehydrating, so I dried the remainder.  It's always a good idea to eat a small amount when trying a new mushroom, to make sure it agrees with you.  We traveled several hours east on Saturday, for a family reunion.  I brought cucumber couscous salad to share, and brought a large bowl of lima beans to shell on the drive.  After we got home, a friend and her husband delivered several bottles of their honey, brought wine and crackers to share, and a few rose of sharon seedlings.  It's so hot and dry again, I'm going to keep all the plants watered for now, and plant them when they have a better chance.  I hope your week has been a good one.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Mushrooms, Computer Woes & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I saw a lovely living luna moth on a branch, while on my walk.  I thought it was pretty special, as I usually only find a wing or two now and then.  I learned that this one is a male, due to it's feathery antennae, and the adults only live a few days to a week.  I harvested elderberries, and started a batch of tincture.  I plan to leave the remaining elderberries for the birds.  I recently found a bag of dates I had purchased a while back fermenting.  The bag looked like it was about to explode.  I've never seen this before, but returned it to the store where I purchased it, and received store credit.  They had a best buy date some time in 2021, so it was somewhat surprising.  I gathered shiso, and have a pan of it drying.  I typically use this when the pups eat something that will upset their stomach, per my herbalist friends recommendation.  I cleaned and did some decluttering in my sewing area, and mended a rug.  All laundry was hung on the line.

morning light
I got some back to school sales, notebooks and glue sticks for .50/package, and significantly discounted packing tape.  Thankfully, my PC was able to be repaired.  It required a new hard drive, but my files were all saved.  My laptop appeared to have died while the other was in the shop.  J got it up and working again, but it was tired, with multiple issues, so we decided to take advantage of back to school sales, and purchase a new one.  I used $8 in rewards toward the cost, which was already discounted $150.  It will be so nice to have one where the keys all work, and hopefully is faster.  I requested books from the library, and picked them up.  An ebay order did not arrive when "guaranteed".  I reported it, and received a $5 voucher.  It arrived four days later.  I foraged chanterelle mushrooms several times, and blanched and froze 4 more meals of lima beans.

The horticulture crew at our zoo does a fantastic job.  I couldn't help but notice this beautiful plant in the aviary.  Doesn't it look painted?  My husband had an evening out, enjoying a concert with cousins, so I had a rare evening to myself.  I enjoyed it by painting my toe nails, and reading library books.  I had thought I may cook some things he doesn't eat, but decided not to cook at all, and enjoyed a homegrown tomato sandwich instead.  Earlier in the day, I took a class on edible mushrooms.  Though the class and book I bought were not frugal, I hope it will allow me to forage more varieties of mushrooms. A pan of eggshells was crushed, and added to the compost bin.  A pan of bread ends was turned into bread crumbs and frozen.

Homemade almond milk has been on my to do list for a while.  I finally determined to do it over the weekend.  The hardest part will be remembering to soak the almonds the day before.  I probably need to change how I'm straining it too, as it's really slow through cheesecloth.  Next time, I'll try one of my jelly straining bags, and see if that doesn't pick up the pace.  I'm used to the unsweetened, so for this first batch, I added only a pinch of salt.  Now I have pure almond milk, without all the questionable ingredients, and am saving money too.  Orders continue coming in to our little shop.  J finished up three this weekend, I powder coated them, and we worked together to get them packed to ship.  After that, there was a little time to relax.  I hope you had some too!  Have a wonderful week!

Monday, August 5, 2019

Mushrooms, NC Zoo & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I spotted the first cinnabar chanterelles along our creek bank.  They're pretty small, so I'm going to leave them alone.  I've signed up for a mushroom class in a couple of weeks, and hope to learn a few more to harvest safely.   I got the toaster oven out, and have used it several times in place of the oven, to cut down on heat in the house.  J went to help a neighbor with a piece of farm equipment, and came home with freshly dug red potatoes, and 13 ears of corn.  I used 6 ears for dinner, and froze the other 7 as whole kernels.  I blanched the gallon bag of lima beans, and froze them.

It's something I often forget, but I remembered to log in my walks and weight for balance rewards at Walgreens, which increased my rewards by $2.  Waldorf salad was made with our apples.  The last of the sweet potatoes were boiled.  Leftover corn and lima beans, with cucumbers and tomatoes, made this meal homegrown and local (corn) except for a few minor things.  I harvested thyme, and am drying it for winter use.   The lima bean shells for dye experiment was a fail.  They imparted almost no color to the water, after boiling an hour or more.  They'll make fine compost though.  Pasta sauce was made with our tomatoes and tromboncino, rosemary and basil, and cucumbers and tomatoes went in a salad.

So, I've now tried cleaning the dishwasher both with lemon kool aid, and without.  I can see no benefit to using the kool aid.  It looks exactly the same after it's been run through, and wipes down just the same without it.  I expect results may vary based on your water.  A dinner of our eggplant, green beans, leftover sweet potatoes, tomatoes and cucumbers was enjoyed.  Elderberries were harvested, and a quart of tincture started.  I had a slow day shop sitting at a pottery shop, and was able to wrap three batches of soap, and do a little reading.  Our fall greens were doing well, until flea beetles started attacking them.  They were started in a large metal container on concrete blocks, a long way from the ground, so we were rather surprised to have flea beetles there.  Go figure.

kale seedlings, before the flea beetle attack
After work on Friday, we picked up our GD, Miss S.  We stopped at one restaurant, and after 20 minutes without any acknowledgement, we left.  At another restaurant, after a long wait, we had dinner.  I thought I might take her to hear live music, with possibly another stop or two on Saturday, but she was adamant that she wanted to stay home and sew.  Who could argue with that?  She made her Mom a heart stuffy from scratch while I mended some items.  She wanted to fix her own breakfast of eggs and cheese, and made a batch of hummus with minimal help. We did a garden harvest, picked a bouquet, and visited the chickens a couple of times.  She enjoyed strewing the cherry tomatoes to them, seeing the young chicks, and collecting eggs.  She helped cut cucumbers for asian cucumbers, and fed the pups.  J worked some more on our solar hot water, and she and I took turns assisting him.

Miss S and I joined another grandmother and GD at the zoo.  She has a membership, which allowed us entry for free.  While the girls had fun in the kid zone, my friend and I were able to catch up a bit while keeping an eye on them.  We all enjoyed a picnic with foods brought from home after visiting a couple of animal exhibits and a carousel ride.  Harvests from the garden include cucumbers, tomatoes, tromboncino squash, green beans, lima beans, a few apples and hazelnuts, a pear, and herbs.  My PC crashed and burned Sunday morning without warning.  I'm looking at refurbished ones to replace it with.  J thinks running the videos on swagbucks probably contributed, so I'm thinking I will stop doing those.  The hardest thing about a new computer will probably be redoing my soap labels.  I did save the earlier ones on a disc, but all the new ones will have to be redone.  Ah well, it could be worse.  Wishing you a beautiful and bountiful week!