Monday, June 29, 2020

The June Garden, a New Dock, & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Happy first week of summer, as odd as this one may be.  Our first beets and tromboncino squash were harvested last week.  One dinner was all homegrown, except for apples, used in an apple beet salad, and onions, used in sauteed squash and to season lima beans.  I'm also harvesting blackberries, purple pole beans, blueberries, yellow squash and zucchini, and gathering calendula and coreopsis flowers.  I made my monthly grocery run, and picked up library books.  Aldi's had avocados for .65, so I got 6.  I redeemed a $5 reward at Walgreens and bought gloves.  I also coordinated picking up my soaps from a gallery in town.  Many were beyond the 6 month date I like to sell them by, but some were not, so will be added to the shelf for possible online sales. Two bars were shared with our son.

bouquet at our rustic shed.
I picked a bouquet.  It seems to be getting harder to find sugar-free ketchup here, and when I do, it's really expensive.  So, I made my own, using this recipe.  I tweaked it, after reading the comments, using less mustard, and adding onion powder.  I was light on the spices, and added a few drops of stevia.  We both thought it was pretty good, after sitting overnight, and so much cheaper to make.  I'm working hard on using the squash that's coming in.  One day, I made a raisin zucchini bread we like, and froze one of the loaves.  I tried a new recipe for low country vegetable pie, which used both yellow and zucchini squash, and we thought it was good.  When the pups saw the holistic vet in February, he mentioned golden paste, a turmeric, coconut oil and black pepper mixture, which I'd never heard of.  My notes from the visit got lost in a pile of paperwork, and were just found again, so I made a batch this week, which the pups seem to like.

J started working on one of the projects on his to do list, and finished it in a few hours.  He's going to add an inner tube close to the shore, to stabilize it a bit more.   We now have a dock with ladder going out into the pond.  I bought floats for our GD and I, as well as a life vest for quick dips.  I hope the fish aren't too frisky around my legs.  Ha!  While J was weeding in the garden, he saved purslane for me.  Before he started mowing, I went and gathered more, then made a double batch of purslane pistachio pesto.  There have been no critters entangled in the netting around the peaches, since I added the second row of contractor's tape.  I'm so happy that it's working.  One morning, when M went to open up the chickens, he found a copperhead in with the blind rooster, which he dispatched quickly.  Life in the country!  Lambs quarter has been gathered, and some more frozen.  My friends at Whynot Pottery allowed me to come and make some of my clay pumice stones.  The stones only need a final firing, before they're finished.  We all wore masks, and Meredith and I visited while we worked.  It was nice to be somewhere other than home for a change.  I brought squash to share.

Batches of yogurt and hummingbird food were made.  We harvested our first corn.  They're pretty small ears, but we're delighted to have any at all.  I harvested dill to go in our potato salad.  I'm making a little progress with my guitar playing, now that I was lent a left handed guitar to try, which is encouraging.  The cucumbers are growing slowly.  I hope to be gathering some later this week.  The Japanese beetles have been picked and given to the chickens daily, often twice.  A jar of sprouts, and a small jar of sauerkraut were started.  The pups were given baths in the outdoor shower.  Neither of them wants a bath at first, but afterwards, they zoom around because they feel so good.  Silly boys.  Wishing you a most lovely week and Fourth of July.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Chanterelles & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  I hope you had a good week.  Besides using a coupon code for my new favorite bra, which I think I forgot to mention, I used another code for 15% off when I reordered.  Two of my wool winter throw rugs had binding come undone when I washed them, so I worked on sewing it back.  I used to be able to find quality wool rugs in places like Marshall's and TJ Maxx, but all I seem to see anymore are synthetic ones or cotton, so I want to keep the ones I have in usable shape, even if they are showing their age.  With one of the recently harvested cabbages, I made colcannon, and served our canned carrots with butter and honey.  I wrapped soaps and finished mending the rugs.  There's a pillowcase I thrifted last year.  Though it was handmade, the trim exactly matches another pillow case I had, but it's huge.  I removed the trim, shortened it, and resewed it, to make it a better size for us.  A jar of sprouts was started.

Our daughter shared a roasted vegetable recipe with me, which I made on a cool, rainy day.  It used our zucchini, red onion, oregano, parsley and rosemary, plus potatoes and diced tomatoes.  J thinks the dish needs sausage.  He'd love andouille, but will settle for vegi Italian sausage :).   It may be September before it's made again, as it requires 1 1/2+ hours in a 400 degree oven, something I'm not likely to make over the summer.  While it was roasting, I put in a pan of our last asparagus of the year.  I'm sorry to see them go, but I remind myself that summer is beginning, so it's time.  I sold one item on ebay.  Eggs were boiled for the pups, and a batch of yogurt was made.  I made popcorn for a snack.  I found the first tomato hornworms, and tossed them to the chickens, as well as the daily Japanese beetle collection.

On a morning walk, I saw a wild turkey.  She saw us heading her way, but didn't move. I greeted her and clapped my hands, as the dogs had seen her at this point.  She flew up into a tree, along with two little ones.  If I'd realized she had babies, I would have turned around and cut our walk short, but it thankfully all ended well.  A few blackberries have been harvested daily.  Chanterelle mushroom season has begun here.  There are many patches in the woods.  The first day I gathered them, I made mushroom gravy to serve over rice with the majority of them.  I prepared a jar of our green beans to go with them.  The next day, I sauteed and froze the mushrooms.  J had harvested two red cabbages, which I made into sauerkraut.  For this batch, I added garlic and carrots, to mix it up.  The first batch of sauerkraut is getting tasty.

I shared a dozen eggs and a tomato plant each with a couple of friends.  Perhaps this is the last of the volunteer tomato plants that have come up in the garden and compost.  I feel we have enough plants for our use this year.  Our son asked J if he could give him any work, so he had him dig a trench for a new wire to the chicken coop.  This job has been on the to do list for some time.  We're happy it's done, and it's a larger wire that will easily handle the coop remodel that's also on the to do list.  Win win.  A load of laundry was hung on the line, and when it was almost dry, it started raining, so they were finished out in the dryer.  One of our red onions was used in broccoli salad.  I pulled homemade black bean burgers from the freezer to go with it.

Can you tell I'm excited about the chanterelles?  This year especially, an abundance of them feels like a gift.  I used an iron on patch to mend something.  While the iron was hot, I ironed the few pieces that needed ironing.  Calendula flowers and more chanterelle mushrooms were gathered.  A friend and I did a virtual visit, our first since the virus. The first coreopsis flowers for dyeing were gathered.  Some weeks ago, a Carolina wren built a nest in a box on the porch.  We didn't realize it, and scared her away after doing some things on the porch.  There's now a new nest, and we're staying away from this one.  We're blessed to have orders continuing to come into my online shop.  Over the weekend, we worked on them.  Zucchini and a few green beans were harvested.  Pasta sauce using our zucchini, basil, rosemary, onion and canned tomatoes from last year was made.  I chopped a few of the chanterelles, and added them too.  The gardenias are blooming, which smell so sweet as you walk by.  Wishing you a lovely week with some sweetness. 

Monday, June 15, 2020

Small Creatures & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, J's cousin gifted us her Berkey water filter, as she wasn't using it.  It was a size up from ours, so we're keeping it, and sending ours to our daughter.  She also gifted us a pet waterer, which I'm going to try for the cat.  She rarely drinks water, which I understand is common for cats, but she said her cats loved it, so we'll give it a try.  I mostly feed the cat kibble, so I expect she could use some water.  I needed to make yogurt, but only had half the amount of milk needed.  For the remainder, I mixed up some powdered milk.  After my morning walk, I go to the garden each day, check the squash plants, often do a little weeding, and train the tomatoes.  On Monday, I saw the first tiny tomatoes.  Yay!  Every so often, we find points that previous inhabitants left here.  J found one while working in the pond garden, and gifted it to me.  I love to wonder about what their lives must have been like.

While I was powder coating orders one day, a five lined skink dropped down from the tree above, and kept me company for a bit.  It was a juvenile, with a blue tail.  Warm up shower water was used for flushing.   For a while now, I've been searching for a comfortable bra, ever since my favorite was discontinued.  The first two I tried were awful, but I believe I've found it in the third one.  It's created by Hara, is made from organic bamboo, dyed with plant dyes in gorgeous colors, and they donate a portion of profits to the Environmental Justice Foundation.  A tad more support would have been nice, but I believe comfort wins out.  Now that I'm starting to harvest summer squash, I made quinoa with summer squash, along with our chard, and a roasted radish recipe from Doug & Stacy.  I generally don't like radishes, but wanted to try them this way.  We both thought they were OK, but not great.

I strained all the jars of thieves vinegar, and put three quarts in my cleaning closet.  I had a hard time putting the 26 cinnamon sticks, which still smelled like cinnamon, in the compost, so put them in a pan to dry, and will reuse them for future cleaning vinegar.  All the overflow tomatoes, the ones that we had to stake because we ran out of cages, were tied.  A watermelon rind was shared with the chickens.  I ground wheat, so I could try a recipe for a new cake.  It's made with honey instead of sugar, and used my homemade yogurt and applesauce, so even though it breaks the no caffeine recommendation, I wanted to try it.  Neither of us likes super sweet things, and enjoyed it.  I would recommend the additional choc. chips on top.  I'm thinking it was via Medical Medium, but there are no identifiers on the recipe I printed.

Healthier Chocolate Zucchini Cake

1 c flour ( I used half whole wheat/ half unbleached white)
1/4 c cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 c runny honey
1/4 c applesauce
1/4 c oil
1 egg
3 tbs yogurt/sour cream/vegan substitute
1 1/2 c grated zucchini (I drained and squeezed mine some, to decrease moisture, & it was perfect)
1/3 c chocolate chips or chunks, optional (& more for on top)

Preheat oven to 325F degrees.  Prepare an 8 x 8 pan with parchment, or lightly oil it.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together honey, applesauce, oil, egg and yogurt.  Using a spatula or wooden spoon, mix the dry ingredients into the wet, just until combined.  Add the zucchini and chocolate chips, if using, and mix until just combined.  Put in pan and smooth out top of cake.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, and the cake no longer jiggles when lightly shaken.

If you'd like to add chocolate chips to the top of the cake, sprinkle the cake with them as soon as it's removed from the oven.  Let sit a few minutes, and then spread evenly over the cake with a spatula (mine didn't melt very much, but it still turned out fine).  Allow cake to cool on a wire rack, and store at room temp in a covered container.

A melon bed was created by J.  He dug the garlic Friday evening, and we hung it under the carport to dry.  The Japanese beetles have arrived.  I began hand picking them, and gave several rounds to the chickens.  J harvested the remainder of our cabbage.  My only excursion this week was taking the recyclables to the dump.  Earlier in the week, I tried a recipe for Pasta with Smashed Zucchini Cream.  It uses 2# of zucchini, which is a plus when the zucchini is coming in.  It was decent as is, but I'm going to try various additions in the future, to up the taste.  There was one bird caught in the netting last week, which we got free.  After that, I added more rows of bright contractors tape, and so far so good.  There have been several small creature sightings this week.  One day, I came across a tortoise that couldn't have been more than 2" long.  She was a cutie.  Another day, I saw a tiny frog on it's back on the service road.  I thought it was probably dead, but when I reached down and turned it over, it sat there looking at me.  It didn't appear hurt.  I don't believe frogs can get stuck on their backs, like some beetles do, but perhaps it got washed down the road during heavy rains the night before, and had not recovered.  Here's hoping it soon after carried on with it's day.  A garter snake kept me company for a few minutes while I was picking Japanese beetles, and my GD and I spotted an anole in the garden.  The first blackberries, thornless and wild, have been picked this week, and there are a few raspberries forming.

J and I set up a trellis for the cucumbers in the main garden.  On Sunday, our son and GD came for a visit.  We grilled our yellow and zucchini squash and okra, along with corn and chicken.  She and I gathered eggs, we took a walk, she helped me with dinner, and afterwards, while I used the seam ripper on a pillowcase I'm shortening, she created some things with pipe cleaners.  She also helped me dig holes to plant seedlings of swiss chard, basil and parsley in the ground.  Laundry was hung on the line.  J moved the large house plants off the porch to their summer spots.   He also planted several varieties of melons, and made beds for and planted black eyed peas and crowder peas.  Books have been requested from the library, including some mentioned in the last post.  I'm enjoying getting up early, and being in the garden in the cool morning hours.  There are some cooler than average temperatures coming, including a high in the low to mid 60's on Monday.  These cooler long days energize me, and allow me to accomplish quite a bit.  I'm really enjoying them while they last.  Wishing you energy to accomplish all you desire this week.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Spring Harvest & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Monday was a gloriously cool day, with low humidity.  I took advantage, and spent time in the gardens, weeded a number of things, squished squash bugs, and harvested lambs quarter and a couple of asparagus.  I will probably leave all the remaining asparagus, to put energy back into the plants.  The pea plants were pulled, as they were nearing their end, and added to the compost after the peas were pulled off.  J stuck a few more potatoes in those containers.  Quite a few of the potatoes in the ground have been looking poorly, with so much recent rain.  A batch of yogurt was made, and a load of laundry was hung on the line.  I'm picking some pretty small lambs quarter, but I'm happy to have some to harvest this year.  Enough for two meals was blanched and frozen.  With the likely last cool day for a while, I roasted our asparagus, made autumn succotash with our squash, and a salad.  Several mornings, I've enjoyed homemade yogurt and granola, topped with fruit.

Many of our cabbages were ready, so J harvested those that were.  I made asian slaw with part of the first one.  J recently bought netting to put over our peach trees, which was said to be bird-friendly.  As it happens, not so much.  Within the first 24 hours, a dove and what I believe was a Great Crested Flycatcher became stuck in it.  Happily, we were able to get them free.  The next day, a squirrel got stuck in it, so I decided to try a couple of things, to see if they would help.  I first put bright contractors tape around the netting, to make it more visible to flying birds.  Next, I gathered in all the excess netting at the bottom, and folded it up under to the inside, and any place that had a bunch together, I gathered and twist tied together.  I'm hoping that will cut down on the possibility of anyone being caught in it.  Time will tell.  We're just hoping to get some peaches this year, for a change.  As I'm finishing this post, it's been either 4 or 5 days since I worked on the netting, and nothing else has been caught in it.  Hooray!

Not pretty, but it's working

There have still been more than the usual critter sightings.  On a walk one morning, a fox came running across the road by the creek on the service road.  I'm guessing they were drinking or hunting, or both.  The dogs took off in pursuit, but came back in short order with their tongues hanging.  I also saw a small snake on that walk.  It occurred to me that a piece of land adjoining that of the back field is being timbered, so this is likely why I'm seeing so many animals.  It's always sad to think of habitat destroyed.  You know how pleased I was that I'd finally got around to washing the windows of the storm doors around the chicken coop?  Well, while doing my chicken chores Friday evening, I found a wood thrush on the ground underneath a storm door.  I guess they can be too clean....sigh.  I love the songs of the wood thrush, which seems to be one of the first I hear in the early mornings.  Seeing this bird and the flycatcher brought home to me the diversity that is here that is never seen at the feeders.

The little hats on the leeks make me smile
While shelling the last of our peas, I enjoyed watching the first episode of HomeMade.  With the peas, I made soup, and snipped dill and chives to top it.  A year with fresh pea soup twice is a banner year in my book.  I saved enough peas for seed for next year.  Besides the soup, I sauteed our first two zucchinis with onions, and made salads.  I gathered more lambs quarter, in between checking the squash for pests. One of our cabbages was used to start a batch of sauerkraut, and one was given to a friend.  I made a cauliflower salad for our dinner, and a broccoli salad and herb tea to bring when visiting J's family on Sunday, the first we've seen them this year.  A friend shared a slug bait recipe (1/4 tsp yeast, 1 tsp sugar, 2 c warm water), which have been pretty rampant this wet spring, eating a number of my seedlings and the cabbage.  I made some on Saturday.

I've typed different things here, and deleted them.  What I will say is I plan to further educate myself.  On my book list at the local library are A Testament of Hope, Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House, Dreams from My Father, and The Cooking Gene.  Alicia from Posie Gets Cozy shared a document she received.  Much of the information is specifically related to Portland, but pg. 3 has a list of things to read, watch and listen to, if you are so inclined.  My greatest hope is that these times bring about change, and that on the other side, the world will be a kinder and more peaceful place, where all people feel safe and valued.  Wishing you kindness and peace this week, friends.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Words For These Times & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I found two more volunteer tomato plants, which J transplanted.  We trained beans up the strings several times.  On a rainy day, I caught up on ironing and mending.  I mended 3 sweaters, a carry bag for a camp chair, and three pairs of J's work pants.  Yogurt was made.  For a business purchase, I combined going through swagbucks for 2% back, $25 off a $75 order, and 25% back through rewards.  J was able to get our a/c running with supplies we had on hand.  Hallelujah!  I listed an item on ebay.  Our library has reopened for curbside pick up, and I requested three books.  A celery end was planted in the garden.  It's been so wet, all the previous ones have rotted.  Several items were added to the thrift store donation box.  I harvested a grocery bag of mint for my niece.

The library called, and said books were ready for pick up, so I went to town, and got groceries while I was there.  There were some good produce prices at Aldi's, such as a seedless watermelon for $1.89.  Food Lion had avocados for .89.  Dog food has stayed on sale $3 off the usual.  I mostly shopped from my list, but also picked up produce that had decent prices.  I ran into the garden center at Lowe's, and got marigolds on the clearance rack for $1.  It was an 8 pack, and only 5 were good.  Still better than $1.98 ea. on the regular racks.  Just couldn't seem to start any this year.  I had hoped to find an oregon grape, which it appeared online they might have, but no luck there.  I put gas in my car for the first time since April 10.  A jar of our canned crowder peas was opened for dinner.

I finished weeding the carrot bed.  The chard, basil and parsley seedlings were transplanted into larger pots, where they'll hopefully grow further before planting.  We got tomato cages on the tomatoes.  A neighbor recently brought us a pile of tobacco sticks, which we used for a few tomatoes that we ran out of cages for.  There are quite a few with blooms.  I found several squash lady beetles on the summer squash, and shortly after, we saw our first squash bugs.  So, we're picking and squishing.  Hummus and taco soup was made for lunches.  We tasted our first service berries, as a few had ripened.  It's rained so much, they were a bit watery, but still had a nice flavor.

Another amaryllis
There have been a bounty of critters this week.  In my daily wanderings, I've come across skinks, lizards, wild turkeys, snakes and a tortoise.  I'm thankful to share the land with them.  I added some of our service berries to a fruit salad on Sunday.  Orders were created and packed over the weekend.  We enjoyed a relaxing dinner at a table near the pond on Sunday.  Many birds, butterflies, a skink and a lizard accompanied us.  We all have different ways of dealing with the current days.  One of the things that has uplifted me is poetry, as it speaks so beautifully to this time we are living in.  Here are two recent findings I'm very much enjoying:  First Sip and A Hundred Falling Veils.  Wishing you peace this week, my friends.