Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Um, Yeah......

This is what I picked today......
and this is what I did with my day........
16 pints of salsa and two pints of diced tomatoes, and this was really only my first tomato harvest.  The Roma tomatoes aren't really even started yet.  It's possible that I might have over-planted tomatoes just a wee bit.  Maybe.............

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Basil-Shallot Mustard

This is so good that I had to share while basil is plentiful.  It isn't a recipe to can, so I just put all the mustard in one jar and stuck it in the refrigerator.

Basil-Shallot Mustard

Makes 5 half-pint jars

¼ cup light mustard seeds
½ cup dry mustard
2/3 cup apple juice
2/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon allspice
3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  1. Combine the seeds, dry mustard, apple juice, vinegar, and water in a glass or ceramic bowl and stir, mixing well.
  2. Let sit 4-6 hours, stirring occasionally. (Cover bowl with plastic wrap.)
  3. Process the mixture in the bowl of a food processor until the seeds are coarsely ground.
  4. Cook the mixture in a double boiler over simmering water, adding the shallots, sugar, salt, allspice, and basil. Cook 20-25 minutes. The mustard will thicken as it cools.
  5. Pour into sterile jars. Cap and seal. Allow flavors to marry 2-3 days before using. Will keep in refrigerator 2-3 months.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

It's Mutant Salsa Day!

I now believe that my garden plots every night just to come up with new and different ways to be completely weird.  

The tomatoes are finally producing,
and growing like maniacs:
and the squash/weed/volunteer produce corner is doing well.  I would ask you to forgive the weeds, but last time I weeded this area I killed off one of the squash, and I destroyed half the strawberries by weeding, so I am apparently the Weeder of Death and have mostly given up such activities.  Besides, part of these weeds are volunteer tomatoes and tomatilloes, which are at least edible,
which I'm sort of counting as a gardening "success" at this point.

The eggplant has set on,
which would REALLY be exciting if we were eggplant fans.  It's okay, but not my favorite.  I love how the plant looks, however, and can obviously be persuaded to plant anything in the spring.

The volunteer zucchini seems to be coming back from the squash bug attach and de-infestation pruning,
 though it's doing so in a very unusual manner.
Now it's growing long arms and spindly leaves.  With my luck, it will turn into a spaghetti squash or something.  The yellow zucchini that I actually planted is totally dead, of course, though the should-have-been-pattypan-but-turned-out-to-be-acorn is alive and healthy.  Squash:  3.  Toni:  0

It's been a mustard week here, with 4 1/2 cups of cranberry mustard now hopefully "blending" into something that tastes a whole lot better than it did when it went into the jars:
It looks a lot like a fruit smoothie, in all honesty.  I'm guessing it will be hard to take to potluck dinners and parties without an accompanying explanation......

Yesterday I made basil-shallot mustard:

which I hope is good as we have a lot of it, but it isn't a canned recipe so will only keep for a few months.  Interestingly, it seems that the mustard recipes which are cooked need a few days before they taste like they're supposed to, while the ones that don't cook do not.  It seems like it should be the opposite.  After enduring the aromatic horror of cooking mustard, one should at least have some reassurance that the end result will be worth all the fumes.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Today's Lesson Learned.....

When making mustard that has to be cooked, maybe one should wait a while before taking allergy medication.  I'm thinking a little congestion might not be a bad thing...............

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Random Updates

*  When a canning recipe says things like "cook until reduced by about a third," it would be a good idea for me to wash and prepare 3 extra jars to fill, as I seem completely unable to do fractions in cooked mustard.

*  "Oh, I'll be able to tell them apart once the peppers set on" is a much dumber sentence than one would think if one is trying out a few new types of peppers that one hasn't actually ever seen before.

*  Unless ALL your strawberry plants put out fruit all summer, having ONE plant do so means you're probably going to miss a lot of strawberries.

*  I am so utterly proud of myself for making and freezing batch after batch of pesto while the basil is rampant that I might be overestimating the amount of pesto two people will eat in one year.  Would 17 batches too much?

*  I hate to say this, but so many people have sent me wonderful recipes for zucchini that I'm really hoping the uninvited zucchini recovers and becomes prolific again

*  So far, my fears of overcrowding for the 4-per-foot potato planting have been unfounded.  When you don't get even a single potato, it's not so crowded

*  People telling me that zinnias do not reseed themselves is fine, but they probably need to explain it to the zinnias that have cropped up in the front lawn.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

I'm Only Four Behind!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, we all know that for the last 3 years, one of my goals is always to read 100 books during the year.  This year, for good or bad, has a little thing that is allowing me to track my progress, and the obnoxious helpful little thing keeps telling me how far behind I am.  I have no idea if it would tell me if I were ahead or not, as that hasn't actually happened this year.  Last night at about 10:30 I finished an audio book, and am now only 4 books behind schedule.  Whee!!!!!!!!!!!

I realize that reading is a hobby and some most people would view it as an enjoyable--potentially even relaxing--thing to do, so the fact that my little Type-A self can take it and turn it into a challenge with deadlines and progress reports has probably led a few people to think I'm playing with a few tiles short of a Scrabble board.  BUT 1.) challenges are a fun (usually) thing for me, and 2.)  reading 100 books a year instead of 5 or 6 makes me a lot more open-minded about reading choices.  One of my recent books was a biography of Johnny Carson that I found at a used bookstore for $1.  Since I am not much for celebrities and biographies of anyone who didn't do something big in history, this was a stretch for me, but it was interesting.  I certainly got my $1's worth of entertainment out of it, and there was a lot about the history of television in America that I didn't know or had never thought of even.  That's worth a buck.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Dear Tea Party

This is a 5 year graph of the Dow Jones Industrial Average as of today.  If President Obama is doing such a bad job, why is the market almost to where it was when the bottom fell out of the mortgage industry, WHICH HAPPENED DURING BUSH'S PRESIDENCY???????????????  

Guess that whole stimulus, cut-taxes-for-the-MIDDLE-CLASS thing must have worked.  And if you'll also notice, the market didn't start to stumble until the Tea Party lunatics in Congress started holding America's debt payments hostage. exactly would THAT be Obama's fault?????  Oh, yeah--IT ISN'T!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Not that the DJIA is the best index to measure the stock market by, but since Fox and the Tea Party keep citing it to bash the President, it makes the actual performance of this particular index highly relevant.) 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Today's Lesson Learned.......

Just because tripling a recipe by tripling the amounts of all ingredients works mathematically, that doesn't mean it's actually going to work in the kitchen...............

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Things I Have Learned This Week

*  One can indeed make and can homemade chicken soup with a pressure canner.  Doing so, however, explains why Campbell's soup was SUCH a big hit as soon as it came out. 

*  I may demand to see proof of actual illness before agreeing to open my 9 precious pint jars of chicken soup.  It's not a lot to show for a day-long project, so I think this would be fair.

*  The squash you didn't plant will always have a greater will to live than the ones you did plant.

*  Be flexible.  If one has plans almost every night all summer long, it might be time to put the "new weekly free event" plan on hold until fall.....or one learns to live without sleep.

*  There is no show that television has or will ever produce that is even half as much fun as forming a musical club with friends and spending regular evenings singing and/or playing instruments.

*  Having Goodreads continually reminding me that I am behind on my book reading becomes slightly motivating once I start moving from 10 books behind to 5 books behind

*  If one is reading 100 books a year, one can lighten up and read "mildly enjoyable" books.  When just reading 10 a year, books have a lot more to live up to.

*  I am a much happier gardener once tomatoes start ripening

*  It's not as difficult as one might think to accidentally change one's Facebook page to start speaking Portuguese. 

*  I have lots of friends, but I really gravitate toward those who are pretty much up for anything over the ones who dislike or "won't do" long lists of stuff.  Life is too short for negativity.

*  One CAN save a squash plant after it has been attacked by squash bugs by cutting off all infected parts of the plant and hoping for the best, but only if the squash plant has a tremendous desire to live.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I Must Be Doing It Wrong

Every--and I mean every--gardening book says you must weed around your plants.  So, last night I diligently weeded and trimmed around the winter squash, and................
I think I lost one of the squash.  Either there is a right way to weed and I am just unaware of it, or the poor thing died from shock (which is highly probably given my almost total general lack of weeding)  Maybe I should warn the houseplants now that I might feed them in the near future.......?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Random Updates

*  We had a wonderful weekend camping with friends (me managing to not take a single picture all weekend).  I do have to show you this, however:
 Our tent has a pet door!  Complete with mosquito netting, so a pet could presumably have a window to the outside world without letting bugs in.  I love it.

*  One of my new "whirligig" zinnias bloomed while we were gone:
which is now my current favorite flower, followed closely by this:
 which is (I believe) a candy-stripe zinnia.  Now that it has actually successfully grown, I'll check the package.  I try not to get too emotionally invested in anything in the garden until I actually see it growing. 

*  While we were gone, my zucchini overabundance problem was taken care of:
by squash bugs.  Part of this may live, but I'm not working too hard at it.  I have removed a bunch of eggs from the zucchini plant that I actually planted, so we should still have MORE than enough zucchini.  I have sprayed the cucumbers and remaining squash-related plants, so hopefully the problem has been contained.  With any luck, I killed some slugs as well.  

*  Still no sign of any ripe tomatoes except for those on the Sweet 100 cherry tomato.  Sigh.................

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Note To Self:

When one is going camping to "get away from it all," that also means one is getting away from air conditioning and indoor plumbing. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Okay, Guess What This Is......

I can't find my notes from last year, but as I actually have 4 of these odd little round things, I'm going to go out on a limb and say they are the elephant garlic I planted from the ONE head of elephant garlic I got last year and diligently saved so I could plant it this year and have FOUR heads of elephant garlic.  The pencil is there to give you an accurate picture of the insultingly small size of these blasted things.  We haven't tried them yet as I just harvested the garlic a couple days ago, but these are a bit of a mystery.  They are completely smooth and round to look at, and all of them are.  I wonder if we're just not the right climate? 

I ended up with far less garlic than the last two years, so I have already set aside the biggest heads to be planted this year, and probably won't be sharing with anyone this year.  I'm actually going to try to pay attention to how many garlic cloves I plant this year, so I can get an idea of how much we actually use.  This is the latest I have ever harvested garlic, so my usual drying area is a bit too hot for it this late in the year, so the garlic harvest is currently in my closet smelling up my clothes.  At least my closet is going to be free from vampires.  I wonder how it works on moths...............................

Fox "News" Versus Actual Headlines

"Fair and balanced" in the same way that Fruit Loops are "part of a nutritious breakfast.........."

Random Thought For the Day

So in this morning's email spam, I received an offer to increase my length by 4 inches and my girth by 25%.  Seriously, if you actually need to increase a penis by 4 inches, THAT'S BECAUSE YOU'RE A GIRL!!!!  

Who falls for this stuff?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Attack of the Zucchini

ELEVEN zucchini--and not small ones either.  The zucchini have been setting for just over a week now, and I'm already behind.  But I will admit that having a plague bumper crop of zucchini does make one willing to experiment wildly.  This week:
8 half-pint jars of zucchini barbecue relish.  Next week..................?

August Begins................

Courtesy of my friend, Lori, who always finds the best stuff....................

Monday, August 1, 2011

From a Republican: Wake Up GOP: Smashing System Doesn't Fix It

Finally, the non-lunatic Republicans may be taking a stand against the radicals as well:

The Debt Ceiling Deal Is Bad For Our Growth Crisis and Our Debt Crisis - The Atlantic

The Debt Ceiling Deal Is Bad For Our Growth Crisis and Our Debt Crisis - The Atlantic

I Can Almost Hear!!!!

After several days of suffering through home remedies for water in the ear (and drops in the ear are every bit as bad as I remember them being), we have discovered

I do NOT have water in my ear

REALLY wish we would have figured that out before doing the vinegar/alcohol drops every few hours.  Nope, I have allergies.  We've actually known that for a while--in fact, the garden gives my arms a rash almost daily, and I've been controlling my sneezing with an antihistamine.  But the medication isn't doing anything about my ears.  So yesterday I tried sitting under a sheet with our steam vaporizer (on a 97-degree day, nonetheless) breathing in steam and eucalyptus oil, then holding my nose and trying to push air through my ears to unblock the Eustachian tubes.  The good news is that one ear is finally unblocked, and the second one can at least unblock once in a while.  I'll have to experiment with allergy medications to find one that will stop my sneezing AND unblock the ears, but ANYTHING is better than eardrops all the time!

Show This To Your Fiscally Conservative Friends And Family

Who really is responsible for this country's debt?

Show This To Your Fiscally Conservative Friends And Family

Debt expanded most under Ronald Reagan, second most under George W. Bush. Tax cuts for the rich REALLY stimulating the economy, aren't they?????

Fall! Finally!

Even without extremely hot summers, I've always loved fall.  A little coolness in the air, leaves starting to turn, sweaters coming out-...