Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Peas and Pintos

Peas, let's eat them!
No pinto bean pods yet but the vine is strong and healthy.
The pintos have grown a bit...and check out that onion bed in the background!
Leave the house for a few days and come home to this. Pea pickin' time.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Victory Path

There's Cilantro to be harvested in the herb bed. I happen to enjoy a nice bowl of Cilantro Soup. Alas, no one else in this house agrees. I might still make some just for me.

Look at the color of these snapdragons. I dearly love them. Snapdragons are an annual flower but, I've had good luck with dead heading the flowers, allowing the spent bloom to disintegrate into the soil. and the following year the snapdragons have returned.
What lovely blooms are you growing?

Look at this kid. She's so competitive. Tonight, they lost their game. As she strolled towards me with her gear slung over her shoulder, she said " Don't even talk to me yet". She played a good game. Made a fantastic catch and threw the ball to third base for a double play. She's still learning that small individual victories are just as important as the glamor moments in life.

Look at my crooked little path. It's mossing up nicely. An area between two buildings was just a pile of rubble and grossly overgrown with ferns and piled with debris cluttered waist high. I managed to scrounge around the yard of what was our new home at the time and find enough old worn bricks to create a lovely pathway. The moss is just a lovely addition that endears the crooked path all the more to my heart. Some people prefer the straight and narrow path free of moss and ferns. I like my rickety old wobbly one.
Look more snapdragons. We watched a young baby cardinal bird struggle to fly the other day. Under the watchful eye of both Momma and Pappa Cardinal. The little bird wandered around for about 45 minutes trying to get it right. Each time he flew a little higher. As night time approached, he was last seen wandering his way around this patch of snapdragons. I hope he made it off on to his birdie journey safe and sound.

No recipes of profound nature are being doled out around this house as of late. We have two upcoming doctor appointments this week, another step towards complete healthy recovery of my Mister. For now, hot dogs, grilled cheese with tomatoes, and smoothies are about as creative that I get as a cook.

Take care all,
plant something,
you will be glad you did.
No matter what,
if you grew it
It's yours.
Find something to grow
Patience, and kindness are nice things to harvest.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Holy Cow Shit

Asparagus grown in the home garden surely must represent an optimistic attitude of futuristic plans. With a three year wait period until the first harvest, patience and a willingness to deprive yourself of instant gratification comes into play.

I recently read a quote by Abraham Lincoln that went more or less like this...I walk slow, but I never walk back.

Mister and I have talked of planting asparagus in our garden for years. One of these days. This year was finally the year. We purchased one year old plants from a local nursery. Jersey Giant variety, which turns out are all male plants. This is a good thing. I would like to tell you that I knew exactly what I was doing and planned it that way. Fact is, Mister and I found a day to escape what has become our world of madness and found ourselves buying asparagus plants.
The nice guy working at the farm told me how to plant them. I had no idea asparagus plants comes in male and female plants. Male plants produce more yield because there is no energy spent on behalf of the male plant put into flowering. I guess we just lucked out and bought the right variety. I'm thinking 5 plants are probably not enough. In three years we will know for sure, time will tell.

We had an area freshly turned over and ready for a third planting of potatoes. It's about 3 feet wide and 9 feet long. What we did.

  • Dug our holes for each plant about 1.5 feet apart and about 8 inches deep. Deep enough to set the asparagus plant slightly below soil level.
  • Mixed in manure. I bought the Holy Cow variety. Somehow I find that name hilarious for bagged cow poop.
  • Cover the plant gently with poop/soil mixture
  • Water well
  • This step may not apply to your house. We have a male, collie/lab mix big boy named Tucker who pretty much lifts his leg on anything new in our yard, so we put a short little picket fence around our tender asparagus. Dog pee not friendly... cow poop friendly.
Now we wait.

Mister has a brain tumor. There I said it. I know, just know, he is going to get through this. We have had a wild string of slaps in the face to endure the past 5 months.With the news of my Mom's dementia and coming to live with us, then Mister having a huge issue with his left kidney that has required and needs additional surgery in the past 6 weeks, to getting a phone call on our anniversary from an endocrinologist telling us the results of an MRI. Yep, a brain tumor. Pardon me when I say "fuck" really loud.

Mixed in to this strange brew came some sorta well meaning siblings of my Mom's freaking out that I enlisted the help of a respite care facility while we address serious matters here at our home. Oh yes. Pulled out all of the stops and now Mom doesn't live here anymore. Holy Cow.

So I am going to walk slow, but I will not walk back.

Mister and I are gonna spread that cow shit on our asparagus every year and in 3 years from now we are going to sit back and smile. Because damn it we will have earned it!

I've read asparagus plants like a nice compost tea. Maybe I will brew up a little next year and see what happens.

Since we are on the subject of crap. When the bird crap on your car has that lovely shade of purple mixed in....the berries are ripe on the vine.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Growing Peas

Plant your peas in the early spring. The cooler weather is their friend and I have never had snow hurt my pea plants. Ohio has certainly given the local home gardener plenty of cooler weather this spring. My peas should be happy. I plant my peas 1" deep, about 3" apart in nice tidy little rows. Use a trellis to support the viney tendrils that grow. You will have a harvest in about 55 days.

After harvesting, I wash the peas and give them a quick blanch before zipping them up into a freezer bag. Label your bags with a date as you will most likely never harvest enough peas in one day to fill more than a bag or two. Unless you've planted a ton of plants. Each day as you harvest and freeze you'll want to document what day your vegies were frozen. Obviously the point is to use up the oldest bags first. Frozen peas don't retain the same amount of wonderful crunch as the fresh harvested pea.

Grocery store peas fuhgetaboutit. The sugars turns to starch so quickly after being harvested that there really is no comparison to strolling to the outback and harvesting your own. Trust me when the snow is flying, busting out a bag of your garden fresh peas from the freezer will make you smile. Freezing them immediately after harvesting does help with retaining a better tasting pea.

To harvest the pea, go gently. The peas do not have a sturdy root structure and yanking or aggressively picking them will disturb the plant. Just hold the plant in one hand and use your other hand to gently pluck the vegetable from the vine.

 This year my peas were late getting into the ground. The daily average temperatures should not be above 75 degrees or so during the day for the best crop. I have yet to see flowers on my peas so I am probably going to have a less sweet crop this year. We'll see. Maybe they will be just fine.

Growing peas in the home garden is almost like having a flower garden. The foliage in itself has such a dainty lacey look. Then the flowers are equally pretty. I love legumes. I really need to branch out and plant a few exotic varities next year. I might shoot for an autumn/winter harvest and plant something new this fall.

A new recipe has caught my eye. Dilled Chicken Salad with Peas and Asparagus sounds refreshing. Piled high on some Bibb lettuce...this sounds like a plate of heaven right now.
Look the chives (looking scrawny) have a new home once again. I have moved this batch at least 3 times to different homes, and around from garden to garden at each house. These are well traveled.

On a completely different note. Anna got ink. She's a Harry Potter fan. Her unique one of a kind tattoo reflects so many different aspects of who she is as a person. The Womping Willow. The Castles. Dreamer and Realist rolled into one. My second born daughter has become my right hand woman.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Pinto Beans

Look what's popped up!

Pinto Beans have bolted from their seed coat. The thin outer layer shreds off the bean as it sprouts. I can see the coats laying on top of the soil in our pinto bean bed.

We've had some hard pounding rains the last few days. The rains have washed out some of the beans. There they lay all swollen and looking as if a sprout might form. I'm going to leave those beans laying on the surface of the soil to see what happens. I'd like to know if the root structure will be visible when/if the bean should decide to sprout above ground. Don't worry I planted three short rows of beans and the harvest will be plentiful even if a few of the beans are sacrificed due to my evil gardener experiments muwahaha...

Most of the beans, once harvested will be dried and left in the pantry for winter use. In a few short months I should have around 5 lb's of pintos drying and in storage.

My favorite way to prepare pinto beans is a good old fashioned bean soup with ham hocks and carrots (carrots growing in the garden too). A pot of bean soup would never be complete without a cast iron skillet full of cornbread. Yes, that's my favorite way to consume these lovely legumes.

Our second favorite use of pintos is just plain ole' simple refried beans. It's not too late. Pick up a handful of pinto beans and get them growing. The seed for this crop is a second generation from our last batch of beans grown in 2011. You can read about that harvest here. I cannot believe that 3 years have passed since our last planting of these delicious morsels. It's about time I got back out in the dirt.

Planting The Beans
I always soak my beans in water for a few days before planting them. Loosen your soil, make a small impression with your finger about an inch deep and drop the bean down. Cover loosely with soil and wait patiently for about 8 or 9 days and then you'll return to find something of beauty.
This humble little crop will keep me entertained for months.

Grow some beans, it will be great for your soul.
Musical Fruit...

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Schlepping with Love

I wonder what super women do when the shit hits the fan at their house? When I think of a super woman...

the vision of the professional woman (not a schlepper like myself)*
with the perfect nails, hair
clean car (schlepper just stuffs it under the seat)
clean house
perfect children
fabulous wife on a schedule...
prepares meals in a flash with entire healthy ingredients
okay, you get my point

*schlepper=self employed earning a decent income but not required to dress nice or comb my hair

Well let me tell you what a schlepper does when the shit hits the fan at her house.

  • I obsess on the carpet needing to be clean. No joke, the spot bot was busted out today and I found myself crawling around on the floor looking for any odors and or troublesome traffic areas.
  • Lunches are not packed, I search frantically for cash (who has cash on hand these days) to cover the cost of a bought lunch at school. Our school charges $3.00 for lunch. Aimee dreads using change like it's the plague. Graham crackers, watermelon, and a Little Debbie cake is probably not a well balanced meal to pack in my child's lunch box.
  • Grocery shopping...really why the hell doesn't anyone just deliver groceries? I need milk, eggs, bread, both wheat and white please. One pound of butter, potatoes, fresh fruit, and yogurt. Please grocery fairy hear my needs. I can't drag myself out to fetch the basic for an omelet these days.
  •  stuffing bowls of suspicious looking items deeper into the refrigerator to avoid actually having to lift the foil and determine what's lerking underneath.
I did manage to do a few loads of laundry today, work, clean the high road of the kitchen, dust, and mop the downstairs. The upstairs is another thing.

Mind you I am not normally a slob. I have lovely piles of cookbooks and small piles of this and that on a regular basis but, in general when the world isn't lopsided I'm fairly tidy.

Yes, my husband is sick. Mister is more important than anything the super woman might have on her list of things to do. She can have her stepford wife world of perfection and I will schleppe along with the best part of my everyday. My Mister.

I wonder if a super women still arrives with a perfectly pressed blouse and maintains a certain amount of dignity in these situations or does the shit hit the fan at her house too?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

So are the days of our lives...

You`re looking at one happy dog. It's useless to plant anything in this corner of my new ( still forming) bed. He has claimed this corner under the lilac bush. Squatters rights ya know.

In other news, after reading what seemed like a nice lemon loaf cake recipe, I baked last night. Epic fail. Was it me or the recipe? Who knows for certain. I have been a bit impaired these days due to, well life. No whining because...I have a happy dog who has a shady lilac bush to lay under.

ISO a fantastic lemon loaf cake recipe.

 The bookshelves are a better source for reliable baking success. A mutiny will form at my house if I don't find something good among the pages of my many cookbooks. Redemption is in order. My family smelled the lemon cake baking and woke up to a lovely iced loaf on the cake plate and were met with a custard like UN-enjoyable mess.

My mom gave me a recipe for a breakfast bundt cake that is just simply divine. It calls for a boxed cake mix (eww shudder in horror) and a box of instant pudding ( I can hear the nay saying from here) Listen here you food purists.. sometimes real people have to make use of convenience items. Anyhow, the failed lemon loaf cake recipe reminded me of my Mom's cinnamon and nut cake. The ingredients were similar. I think it was that damned cheap box of cake mix I used.

Let me shock you with this bit of news.  I never rarely bake cupcakes from scratch. Cupcakes are a pain in my behind to start with. It's a fair estimate that I have baked and frosted 5,000 cupcakes in the course of raising 4 kids. I would rather buy them any day then stand there and scoop batter into little paper cups. So, the last thing I want to do is measure ingredients. I buy a cake mix and then shoot for a good homemade frosting. I detest canned frosting. So, there is no pretentious confusion. A good store bought cake mix is of no shame. Unless, it's carrot cake. Come on, use real carrots and make a good one.

Our carrots are planted in one of the raised vegetable beds. Economically speaking this isn't a crop to plant in the home garden purely to save money on your grocery bill. The taste however of home grown carrots is far superior to store bought. Few crops give me as much pleasure as digging up the root vegetables.

Tucker (the dog) has claimed his corner of my flower bed, which I can accept. My carrot bed is another thing. If I find paw prints in my carrot bed he is gonna have some splainin' to do. Right after he stops liking the lemon loaf cake off his chops.

I hope your world held a little sunshine this weekend.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Just in case!

When my kids were little and we left the house for the day we would pack a day bag. We always used the expression "Let's pack this because of our old buddy Justin... Justin Case" We would pack a few things just in case we needed them.

Today, I needed to be reminded of the proverb of walking away if you don't like what people are saying. So in honor of my old buddy Justin Case, I'm posting this reminder to myself.
I have had weeks and weeks of dealing with people whom it has been hard for me to determine if they are friend or foe. In personal relationships and professional.

I have met a few good doctors and have come across a few who have just incited panic into my world. Mister has been sick. My Mom is aging. This brings a lot of opinions.
Tomorrow I will listen with my feet!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Throw Back Thursday

As we all know I'm not a trendy gal. TBT was just explained to me yesterday by my 12 year old daughter. So here you are. My version of a throw back.

A quilt with history.
Look closely at the white squares in the center.

Handwritten recipes which once belonged to Mister's grandmother. The recipes were scanned and copied onto white fabric with special ink that will not smudge or wash away. My 12 year old daughter is the proud owner of this quilt. One day when she has her own family/home this will travel with her. The handwritten recipes of her great grandmother.

As my own mother ages, anything with her handwriting takes on more importance. Part of her therapy is keeping a journal. It's a struggle for her some days to put her day into written words but, with every pen stroke, I feel proud of her work.

We sort through her belongings (which she moved here to our home) and there are a few hand written things that turn up here and there. Mostly cursive writing. The art of cursive writing and the joy of developing this individual artist style of communication will surely become a thing of the past. I reminisce with melancholy over the loss of Mom's ability to write eloquently and clearly as she once did. I also feel nostalgic for the children moving through our school systems who will never embrace this art form. But, here we are. Progress?

I text recipes to my girls. I post recipes on the pages here. I wonder if someday my girls will wax sentimental over my handwritten recipes. This makes me want to take the weekend and sit dilligently with some 9x5 index cards and with my best penmanship (we use to be graded on this when doing reports in school) and crank out some actual cherished recipes. This could be a work in progress.

I am thankful for the hands of Mister's cousin who made this quilt. A bidding war took place at a family reunion auction but, Miss Aimee was the lucky winner. I've forgotten how much money we spent to make sure she won but, it was worthy every penny.

I love how so many generations of women are wrapped into this version of TBT.
 It's highly unlikely this subject will become a consistent feature here.
 I have peas to tell you about and potatoes popping up in the garden. Oh, and a cake to bake!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Love is all we need....

Shocked to hear antisemitism being expressed during an Easter sermon today. Yep, you guessed it, I found it appalling. Let me tell you people something, this type of thinking is demented. I just shake my head in disgust to sit in a room full of people listening to this type of nonsense being spewed in the name of God. I should have just stood up and walked out. I stewed on this all day.

Sure, there will be a reader who will take offense to the fact that I am offended. I don't care! I stand up for what I believe. Antisemitism is a crime.

Briefly, I debated if sharing this to the entire world was a mistake. You know people take strong stands on issues like this, and in small town America, I could find myself ostracized fairly quick.
I celebrate Easter. I practice Christianity as my faith system. I appreciate Science and find much comfort in knowing the orderly theories and mysteries of life. Do I care if you are Atheist? No. Are you Buddhist, Jewish, Rastafarian? Do I care and take offense to your choices? No. Do I find black holes fascinating and entertain the notions of intelligent people who have studied ancient scrolls and the ever evolving information gained from both scientists and archeologists? Yes.

Is there at least one other human being out there who is just comfortable in their skin? Does anyone besides me find themselves appalled by this?

Please stop bashing other peoples belief systems, in the name of God. If you are going to go around spreading hate towards other people and their cultures leave God out of it.

Our brains, science, neurology, these are things that are interesting. Psychological twisting of ancient texts, is diabolical, not the work of God.