Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Tale of Two Cucumbers

Okay, so I'm not talking about two cucumbers exactly, but rather two varieties of cucumbers.

The old heirloom Lemon Cucumbers are very slow to grow and mature compared to nearly any variety of long, green, slicing cucumbers.  Most years I grow the two varieties, because my daughter and I are both crazy about the lemon cucumbers and tend to munch them as if they were apples.  With a little salt sprinkled on them?  Mmmm, good!  Refreshing and with their own special crunch.

Last year I neglected to put in any of the lemon cucs because by the time they mature, we're up to our gills in slicing cucs, and I thought we just didn't need both varieties.

Dear daughter was disappointed when she found out there were to be no lemon cucs last season (and frankly, I missed them, too) so I planted my usual bed of slicing cucs and another bed of lemon cucs this year.  

I always plant my cucs in a raised bed so I can put a cold frame over the top of them.  Otherwise, they might not mature until who-knows-when because of the coolness of the first part of our summers up here.  Warm weather loving crops need all the help they can get.

So the seeds sprouted and the cucs in both beds started to grow.  But the bed that I thought was slicing cucs was way behind the bed I thought was the lemon cucs.  Hrumpf.  I decided that some dummy (that would be me) had somehow switched the labeling of the beds in my garden book.

But now, strange as it seems, the way ahead bed, which I thought had to be the slicing cucs IS lemon cucs!  The little round, yellow fruits have started to form and are, indeed, way ahead of the slicing cucs.

Lemon cucs going crazy in their bed.

Slicing cucs looking like they might need a shot of steroids or at least a pep pill.

This is the first year I've ever experienced lemon cucs being so far ahead of the slicing cucs, and I'm wondering why it's happened.  As usual, both varieties were planted on  the same day, under a cold frame, both cold frames were opened and closed (or not) each day at the same time.

Oh, well.  I'm not knocking my rocketing along lemon cucumbers.  Perhaps some things just need to be taken at face value, appreciated and not over-analyzed.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Urge to Make Some Aprons

I've said over and over that I need to start wearing an apron when I'm in the kitchen 'cause I inevitably get ingredients splattered, splashed or smooshed on my clothing.  I'm not sure I have an "at home" top that doesn't have some sort of little (or large) stain on it from my mishaps while cooking.

But have I gotten into the habit of wearing an apron yet?  Nooooo.  (Yes, as mentioned previously, I really am a slow learner.)

However, a couple of days ago I was given two boxes of fabric to sort through and take any pieces that appealed to me.  I have been so good (SO good, do you hear me?) for the past couple of years in buying very little new fabric, because I have so much in my stash right now that I'll never use it all before I kick the bucket.  (Have you heard the expression among those who quilt and sew, "Whoever dies with the most fabric wins?")

But these boxes were full of really good quality material and since it was FREE . . . well, what's a girl to do?

Aprons.  Oh, yeah.  I was talking about aprons.  Where was I?

I found several pieces of fabric that would be perfect made up into aprons.

I want some aprons that look something like the above.  (I also want a waist that size.)  Ones that provide coverage for my front . . . neck (almost) to knee.  A style that is old-fashioned in a homey, cozy kitchen sort of way.

Here's a sampling of the fabrics I took that said, "Make me into an apron."

This has such an old-timey look to it.

This one, too.  Neither of these two would look soiled right away.  Dark prints.  Good, camouflaging, dark prints.

This one is a chirky little print I really like.

Same for this one.

I like this more subtle print, too.

Yep.  I'm putting "Make Aprons" on my list for this winter.  It would be fun if maybe one of them appeared as a giveaway here on my blog.  Ya never know.  Could happen!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Can You Guess What I'm Fermenting?

I filled this quart jar with something from the garden and set it on the counter to ferment yesterday.

We have to wait at least two weeks before we can sample the contents to see if they are to our liking.  The recipe I'm following reminds that fermentation is never an exact science, and it could take even twice the two week time period before the flavor is perfect to tickle our taste buds.

What do you think is in the jar?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Do We Know How to Have Fun or What?!

The roofing project has started.  We're doing it in stages . . . primarily because the weather this summer has not provided many consecutive days of dry weather.  Seems we have a small window of good weather this week so we're taking advantage of it.

Today the shingles were torn off the part of the roof we're starting on.  Different areas need to be done, but not all will be attacked this year.  Think of it as working on the installment plan.

Long ago, hubby built this box that can be put on the flat bed trailer for hauling gravel.  Now it's proving to be handy for containing the old shingles and associated debris that we'll haul to the dump.  And have to unload by hand.  Ooof. 

Heavy, dirty work ripping off the old stuff right down to the plywood.

Invaluable, professional builder and good friend, B, is on this job with us.  She complained today that the only reason we hired her was so she could do all the hard work!  (Please don't tell her I captured this shot of her . . . she'll kill me.)

Tomorrow the underlayment of Ice and Water (a waterproof barrier used instead of felt paper) will go on, and then we'll wait for another stretch of dry weather to do the shingling.

Progress.  It's all progress!

Monday, July 21, 2014

In The Garden . . .

Papa Pea loves the little chipmunks.  I would love the little chipmunks if they weren't so darn prolific.  And didn't eat so many expensive sunflower seeds.  And other things.

I harvested strawberries this morning and found several beautiful berries snapped off the plants, lying in the wood shavings between the rows with telltale teeth markings on each berry where one of those cute little chipmunks had helped himself to an early morning snack.

I went into the house and posed a question to my dear husband.  "Okay," I said, 'which do you like more?  The cute little chipmunks or your fresh strawberries?"

A few minutes later, these two traps appeared in the strawberry patch.  'Nuf said.

I planted three rows of shell peas, peas planted on either side of the 16' long cattle panels used for trellises.  Two of them are pictured above.  (Do you see the half eaten strawberry in between the rows?  Gr-r-r-r!)  With our up until now cool, moist weather, you would think the peas would have grown like crazy giving me peas galore earlier than usual.  They didn't, and are just now finally flowering.

There may be hope for a bunch of fresh frozen peas stashed in the freezer yet.

I have one whole bed (yes, I do) devoted to purple poppies.  They are from seeds Sue (of Sue's Garden Journal) was kind enough to send me a couple years ago after I admired a picture of the poppies in her garden.

I am just crazy about them (I think it's the color) and captured a picture of the very first one to bloom this year.  It greeted me in all its splendor when I took my morning garden tour today.  Thanks, Sue!

We're getting some real summer weather today.  Way up in the 80s.  (Which probably sounds downright cool to some of you, but it's hot to us!)  My wash on the outside lines dried lickety-split, but doing anything that causes any kind of exertion out there brings the sweat pouring forth.  (The humidity definitely contributes to the situation.)

We didn't want anything but watermelon for lunch, and it was enjoyed in our cool kitchen.  Thankfully, our house does stay lover-ly if we close up the doors and windows early on during weather like this.

Papa Pea just came in for a drink of water and said he was now going out into the bee yard to get organized for the replacement bees we hope will be arriving sometime this week.  He also said he might indulge in a root beer float (a weakness of his) when he was finished.  I told him there's probably no better weather for it, and to go for it.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Hello, My Name is Mama Pea and I'm a Slow Learner

Well, a-PPARENT-ly.

I've always grown parsley in the garden and used it a lot during the summer months as a fresh herb added to my cooking.  Since I've never had any luck keeping a pot of parsley alive in the kitchen over winter, I have regularly purchased dried parsley from our local co-op to use when I didn't have fresh.  Until last year, I hadn't dehydrated any of our homegrown parsley.  How silly was that?  And why didn't I?  Just one of those (should be) logical, super-easy things to do that slipped by my mushy gray matter.

The amount I dried for last winter's use wasn't nearly enough, and I was a bit grumpy when I had to go back to using store bought.  Homegrown dehydrated parsley is soooo much more flavorful and . . . well, GREEN.

Today I finally had a big enough "stand" of it in the garden to warrant harvesting a bunch and getting it into the dehydrator.  (I'm betting cutting it will also encourage more lush growth.)

(A little glitch, I made a mistake by not mulching around the plants.  With all our rain, the parsley got fairly splattered with mud and required repeated washings to get it clean.)

Once thoroughly washed, spun in my salad spinner and rolled in a clean bath towel to take as much moisture out of it as possible, I filled four dehydrator trays with small clumps of parsley leaves.  Wanna take a guess as to how much dried parsley I'll end up with?  A cup?  A quart?  Somewhere in between?

A dehydrator temperature of 110° and three and a half hours later:

Right in between a cup and a quart . . . two cups on the nose.  With lots more to come.  I may be a slow learner, but I'm socking away as much homegrown, dried parsley as I can this year!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

No, I Ain't Dade!

Just a quick post to let you know all is well, and we've been busy as bees.  (Speaking of bees, did I mention that we lost every single one of our hives this past winter?  Yep, 'twas a hard, harsh one [in more ways than one] and none of our bees survived.  The sad thing is this summer would have been very difficult for them also, because our spring was so long in coming and then the too cool summer arrived along with fewer than usual blossoming plants . . . and we had a rainy spring which has continued into a rainy summer.  Not good environmental conditions for honey bees.)

But I digress.  We've just ended our third lovely day in a row (we hardly know how to handle it), and we've been hitting outside tasks with both hammers.  And chainsaws.  And wood splitters.  And hoes.  And other things needing to be done in the garden.  In short, we've been busting our bustles getting lots of great things done.  (Poor hubby had such a cramp in his hand at lunch today, from gripping the chainsaw, that he couldn't hold his fork!)

The strawberries are coming on in full force and we're having a terrible time figuring out what to do with them.  Such a hardship!  (I made the above pictured Strawberry Cream Pie around 7 this morning.  We did have a little help whittling it down to what's left.)

I need to go do dishes and then take a badly needed shower.  (TMI?)  I hope to spend an hour or so on the couch before bedtime snip, snip, snipping on my quilted frayed-edge project.

Another good weather day forecast for tomorrow.  Hip-hip-hooray!