Monday, September 26, 2022

A Coastal Getaway

Our view

Hello, friends.  Last week, J & I took our long awaited trip to the NC coast.  Before we left, I froze figs, green beans, eggplant and tomatoes, and J planted the beets I started from seed.  Hopefully, they're large enough to not get eaten, unlike the ones I started in the ground.  I've begun saving seeds from the purple podded pole beans.  We brought food from home with us, and I made hummus to take for my lunches, to have with our sweet peppers and cucumbers.  I requested several books from the library, and took two with me on vacation.  Dinners brought from home included rice and butter beans with sauteed tromboncino, fried potatoes, peppers and onions with salad, and pesto and pasta with salad.

Though I love our little room and kitchenette at the beach, the kitchen has just the bare basics.  Being a vegan, gardener, and homesteader, I spend a lot of my life chopping vegetables, and a knife that isn't much better than a butter knife makes me a little crazy.  I laughed, thinking we are "those people", who bring our knives with us on vacation.  We brought a 5 gallon bucket of lima beans, and another of field peas with us to the beach.  We shelled the lima beans the evening we arrived, and enjoyed some for dinner that night, with rice and squash.  I got another laugh wondering what our housekeeper would think of our trash can filled with bean shellings.  Bet they don't see that too often!  We both did a lot of reading, on the beach and the balcony.

We shelled the peas another evening, and occasionally lost one down between the balcony floorboard cracks.  There were men sitting outside on the floor below, and we wondered if they even noticed.  Their talking never seemed to skip a beat, so hopefully not.  We did our usual thrifting one day.  J found lots of work clothes, which he sorely needed... pants, warm vests, and thick flannel shirts.  We took a day trip to New Bern, the original NC capitol, and enjoyed touring Tryon Palace and gardens, the original governor's home.  There are things we weren't able to see that day, and would love to go back.  I didn't think to take photos in the palace, and all of these are in the Kitchen building.  I have an affinity for old historic sites, and really enjoyed touring it.  We also thrifted there, and I had better luck, finding some canisters to turn into compost crocks, a lovely set of handmade cards, and a large zippered bag of cross stitch fabrics for $5.99.  I purchased a pattern for a gift some months ago, and needed fabric for it, so I should be covered, and may end up selling some fabric to recoup my cost.

We had planned to eat dinner out three nights, but with the meals being disappointing, not to mention much more expensive this year, we decided to skip the third night.  There was enough left to make another meal of potatoes, peppers and onions, and salad.  After we got home, I did a cursory pick of the garden, and found quite a few Black Swallowtail caterpillars on the parsley.  J did a last picking of the peas, and disced them in over the weekend.  He also began tilling in the sweet potato vines, and came up with a great idea for the winter.  I've been using sweet potato leaves in my morning smoothie, as they're such a mild green.  He suggested I try potting one to overwinter in the house, and harvest from it.  While I won't have the quantity I have now, I'll be glad to have some fresh, mild greens to harvest over the winter, and will definitely try it.    

After getting home on Friday, I made an easy pasta meal, using our herbs and veggies.  On Saturday, I made lentil soup, which used some of the carrots I canned this summer.  A new eggplant recipe was tried on Sunday, which included tomatoes and chickpeas, and we liked.  While we were gone, I won a T shirt from an Instagram giveaway, and may use it as a gift.  With night time temps dipping into the 40's, I switched out the summer & winter linens.  The bed was stripped, and the mattress cover and pillow covers were washed along with the sheets, and all was dried on the line.  The winter quilt was aired on the line before replacing the summer one.  Though it's washed in the spring, it gets a bit musty smelling while being stored over the summer.  The mattress cover was coming apart in places, and was mended.  It's organic cotton filled with wool, and was rather pricy, so I want to keep it going as long as I can.  That's all I'm remembering at the moment.  Happy Fall, everyone!

Monday, September 19, 2022

Making Use of Our Homegrown Produce

Hello, friends.  Though there's still plenty to do, the garden is showing signs of slowing down.  Last week, I prepped and froze pawpaws, and froze tomatoes.  I made onion powder from dehydrated onions, and dried another round in the dehydrator.  Early one morning, there was a box turtle hanging out in front of J's shop.  They had the prettiest shell markings.  I'm always cheered to see them visit us.  I harvested squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, apples, butter beans, cowpeas, eggplant, peppers, pawpaws, and green beans.  

I made a small batch of cowboy candy with the gifted hot peppers, using a Jackie Clay recipe.  There were quite a few ghost peppers in the bunch, which got both J & I coughing.  Hopefully, they didn't make the cowboy candy unbearably hot.  I guess it depends on who's eating it.  Though I've shared it here before, I thought it was worth mentioning Disappearing Zucchini Orzo again, in case any of you still have plenty of squash to use up, as we do.  I use at least 2# of squash per recipe, use GF orzo, leave out the cheese, use homegrown herbs, and substitute tromboncino for zucchini.  It is tastier with the cheese, but we do what we must, and it's still pretty good.  Sweet potato slices were dehydrated for the pups, which finally used up all of last year's potatoes.

I harvested the first of the mature tromboncino, as their vines had died, and plan to use them grated for dog and chicken food.  Two of the mature cucuzza squash were harvested, and I've begun feeding the dogs and chickens with one of them.  Still having plenty of jars of canned green beans, I froze some this time, and also froze more figs and tomatoes.  I shared squash with J's two coworkers twice.  Honeydew and watermelon were enjoyed as late summer treats.  Some were shared as well.  We'll be enjoying these last precious days of summer, until the Fall equinox this coming Thursday.  There are 40's in the forecast the following day, to bring in cozy Fall days.  I hope you're well, friends.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Plenty of Pollinators


Hello, friends.  Last week, we were given a small bag of hot peppers, which I hope to make into cowboy candy.  I need to review the recipe, to see if there are enough.  Otherwise, I plan to dry them.  At least one of the recipients last year really liked the cowboy candy.  I prepped pawpaws, and got close to 4 more lbs of pulp.  J gave me a dehydrator for my birthday, and I've dried cherry tomatoes so far.  I mentioned last post that I had bought another GF bread to try.  Darn it if it's not another fail, because I didn't read the label at the store.  Though it's GF, it has vinegar, canola oil and corn in it, none of which I can have.  The good news is someone nearby wanted it, as well as the Pamela's pancake & baking mix I got after a recommendation, but then realized it has buttermilk in it, and had already put it in jars and cut up the bag.  I'm very glad these will be used.  They were both quite expensive, with the bread at $7.99 and the baking mix somewhere in the mid $20's.  The stores where they were purchased are 45 minutes away, so passing them on is preferable.  

A line from Emma's A simple living journey, "To disagree respectfully seems to be a diminishing art form" brought to mind what I noticed during the pandemic.  It helped give clarity that those I want in my tribe are the ones who are kind and respectful to all, regardless of differing beliefs. I understand that it's likely fear which made people behave the way they did, but I believe our actions are always a choice.  I'm very blessed to know many kind and loving individuals.  It's the kind, loving acts that will change the planet.  Shine your light, dear friends.  It's needed now more than ever.

I used our potatoes mashed with mushroom gravy, and made fried sweet potato rounds another night.  Stewed tomatoes were canned.  Tomato sauce was canned for the first time another day.  To use up some of the onions, I made maple onion jam, said to be good on burgers and other meats, grilled cheese, and on charcuterie boards.  This was put in my gift cupboard.  I blanched and froze lambs quarter and cowpeas.  Squash with onions, garlic and tomatoes was made for dinner.  J dug the sweet potatoes.  We harvested more large ones than we ever have, with one weighing over 9# 11 oz.  They'll be good for pies, which J loves.  I tried Stacy's tomato tip  with three of our tomatoes, all different varieties.  It will be interesting to see how it turns out.  

J found a carboy for winemaking on FB Market, which was near my sister, so I was able to visit, and brought her more garden produce.  The carboy has a carrying handle, and was less than half the price of a new one.  Afterwards, I stopped for some groceries.  I held off getting cat food at one store for $19.99, and was happy to find it here for $17.69.  I was hoping to find vegetable shortening for less, but it was $7.99!, so I'll keep looking.  Aldi used to carry it as it got close to the holidays, but who knows if they will this year.  Though I should have checked the receipt before I left the store, I didn't until after I arrived home, and found several errors.  Amazingly, it ended up in my favor.  The last few I've found were not, so I suppose it all evens out.  A $5 reward went towards the purchase, and I earned another $3 reward.  Swagbucks points were redeemed for a $25 gift card.

Deer are grazing on the thornless blackberries we planted this spring, and are jumping the garden fence to graze on the sweet potato leaves.  The sweet potato leaves are fine, now that J has dug them.  Though I've been using them in smoothies, I'll share.  The blackberries, however, have had all the leaves stripped from them, which can impact their developing root systems.  He's threatening to harvest one or more deer, if this keeps up.   They've also walked in our fall plantings, which is less than ideal.  I made a batch of golden paste for the pups.  The latest planting of chard, carrots and winter greens are coming up.  The carrots are thin, but I'll take whatever we get.  The late planting of potatoes are finally showing some progress, with two of them growing leaves.  It has been an interesting gardening year, and I won't mind when it's behind us, so I can give my attention to some other things that have been neglected as of late.  I requested several books from the library that have been on my list.  Wishing you a most lovely week.

Monday, September 5, 2022

Late Summer Days

Hello friends, and happy September.  Last week, I planted lettuce and beets.  I had used pieces of roofing tin to cover the most recent round of carrots I planted, but found it got too hot, and dried the soil out, so I replaced it with cardboard.  I've seen just a few germinate, but every time I check, there are dozens of pill bugs and ants on the bed, so I don't have very high hopes that this round will go any better than the previous two plantings.  The beets are coming up nicely, as I started them in a pot.  Less than ideal, but this is round three for them too.  I started a batch of cat's claw glycerite.  Pawpaws, squash, cucumbers, watermelon, green beans and figs were shared with neighbors and others.  I  dehydrated more onions and cherry tomatoes.  At this point, many of the tomatoes are cracked, pecked, or partially eaten, so I started freezing them, to keep our kitchen less of a science experiment than it already is.  It may affect the flavor, but that's the best I can do this year, until I have a chance to preserve them.  

Medical Medium plant based caprese salad

For one dinner, I made apple beet salad, potato and green bean salad, and sliced tomatoes, all homegrown except for the apple.  I made an online food purchase using a 15% off coupon, and went through Swagbucks for an additional 4% cash back.  I prepped and froze 6+ lbs of pawpaw pulp.  We're looking into using it to make wine.  I gave the dogs baths in our outdoor shower with homemade soap.  Laundry was dried on the line.  We harvested cucumbers, cucuzza and tromboncino squash, tomatoes, cowpeas, green beans, sweet potato and buckwheat leaves for smoothies, apples, pears, some volunteer ground cherries, melons, figs, eggplant, lambs quarter and purslane.  For the first time ever, I gave up on harvesting something that's still producing.  The cucuzza have been very generous, and I typically harvest 2 or 3 a day.  One or less is enough for most recipes.  We've shared around 20 with others at this point, and some in the fridge have started going bad.  I had the realization that I really prefer tromboncino, so I will continue to harvest those as we need them.  The mature cucuzza may end up as winter feed for the chickens.  J got the fall seedlings planted, some store bought and others I started.  There are collards, cabbage, broccoli and kale. He also seeded some mixed winter greens.

I explored our library website, and found out we now have the Libby app and Hoopla, which should greatly expand our e-book possibilities.  Eggplant was canned, and a triple batch of pesto was made.  The potatoes I planted for a late harvest were all a fail.  I only saw one that appeared to be making a stem, and there were a multitude of ants around it, so it never did anything.  There was a big oops moment for me this week, when I realized the bread I'd been using recently, the one I said was the only GF bread that didn't feel like I was eating a sponge, turns out not to be GF.  I know the first time I bought it, it had a GF shelf label, and amazingly, I never checked the ingredient list, which is unlike me.  No wonder it was so much better, lol.  When we were out for the day, I picked up an actual GF bread from the same brand, so we'll see how it is this week.  While I was harvesting the garden one morning, keeping me company was a hummingbird sipping nectar from the morning glories.  It was my birthday, and felt like a lovely thing, after finding that the Wordle word of the day was "inter", lol.  We had a little day trip, visiting Museum of the Cape Fear, which included a tour of the Victorian era house on site, which was free, though we made a donation.  We were a bit early for our restaurant, and stopped at two antique stores, but didn't find a thing we needed.  It was nice to get a little break, as we'll both be hard at work again on Labor Day.  I hope you've managed some down time, or will on Monday.  Blessings to you, friends.