Saturday, September 16, 2017

Time for a New Post (and a Giveaway!)

Ugh, I think I may be getting moldy.  (In both mind and body.  Now there's an ishy thought.)  We've been in another stretch of very damp, humid weather and nothing of what's left in the garden seems to ever dry out.  The slugs are happy as . . . well, as happy as slugs can be, and it's a race to see if I can harvest what's left to harvest before everything shows signs of slug nibbling.

Besides the downside of the clingy, wet weather, I think I'm probably suffering from end-of-a-busy season tiredness.  Not sleeping well at night which doesn't help at all.  Grump, grump, grump.  

Autumn is my favorite season and usually invigorates me in the same way spring does for many people.  I might have to buy a bottle of Geritol (do they even make that stuff any more?) to get me revved up again.

The wet weather has given me some time inside, and I've actually been doing a little quilting (more on that next post) and sorting in my quilt room.  Which brings me to the giveaway part of this post.  

I have three soft-covered (8-1/2" x 11") quilting books I'm offering to anyone who may be interested.

They are 9 Patch Reunion, Quilts from Squier Lane and Miss Rosie's Autumn Quilts.  All are listed on Amazon if you would like more information on them.

They go as a trio, all three books to the one name drawn.  Anyone interested?  (Because of economic reasons, entries are limited to the contiguous United States.)  If you'd like your name thrown in the hat, let me know in the comments section of this post.  Entries will be closed at 9 p.m. on Tuesday night, September 19th, and I'll draw a name and post the winner on Wednesday, the 20th.  It's time to start thinking of new projects to do this winter when the snow is falling, the wind is blowing and we've all got more time for some new projects.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Escaping From The Kitchen For A Short Rest Period

At this moment, I have two big stock pots full of stewed chickens cooling on the kitchen table and waiting to be boned.  In the last week or so I've been working on using up the last of the birds in the freezer to make room for a new bunch which we'll be butchering shortly.

I have two different batches of cookies mixed up and wanting to be baked.  We've been cookie-less around here for a while now and the Cookie Monster (aka Papa Pea) has been dropping strong hints that he sure would like some to be made.

I went out first thing this morning to gather the first big harvest of green peppers.  I've already made a big pot of brown rice and defrosted enough ground beef to cook up with the other ingredients to make a whopping big double batch of Stuffed Green Peppers.  The peppers are late this year.  On August 27th last year, I put the last of our yearly quota in the freezer.

Another two quarts of kimchi are patiently sitting on the kitchen counter while the fermentation process revs up before refrigeration.  I have all the ingredients for two more quarts as soon as a couple more cucumbers size up enough to use.

Papa Pea is outside cutting the lawn for the last time this season.  It hasn't rained in nearly 24 hours now so he had to jump on the chance to cut down the (nearly) dry grass.  This continually wet weather has been a challenge lately for several outside projects.

Okay, rest period over.  Someone needs to make me go back into the kitchen and face that lovely mess which, hopefully, I can finish working through before dinner time tonight.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Planning Ahead

I'm thinking Thanksgiving.  (Too early?  Nah, never too early to be prepared for a holiday.)

Each year as I plan my Thanksgiving menu, a feeling of boredom and weariness settles over me when I contemplate preparing and serving the same old dishes, year after year.  This creates no enthusiasm for the dinner at all.  Each year I imagine creating some new offerings that will add a bit of interest and inspiration to the meal.

This year, I'm going to do it!  Of course, I realize (and have to take into account) there are those people who will be present who would balk at not having their particular "favorites" on the table.  So even if I do manage to add new dishes, I'll have to do what needs to be done to satisfy certain cranky expectations.  (Hrumpf.)

Aaaanyway, I've gone through some of my cook books that have specific Thanksgiving recipes, and made a list of those I'd like to try out before Turkey Day arrives.

I seriously doubt I'll be able to work my way through all these possibilities, but I do want to try as many of them as I can without spending six hours a day in the kitchen.  (I do have a couple [oh, ya] of end-of-the-season tasks to accomplish before late fall/winter time arrives.)

To this end, I got busy yesterday and chose a recipe for cornmeal muffins which I made and served with our large tossed salad at noon time.

Papa Pea and I have never been overly fond of cornbread or cornmeal muffins.  Myself, I think it has to do with the "dry" texture usually found when using cornmeal.  This recipe is different and we both liked it a lot.

I thought I'd share it with you as the muffins would be excellent with any meal including simple soups, stews or salads.  I found the recipe in a Taste of Home cook book and adapted it to our tastes.

Cornmeal Muffins with Corn

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup cooked and mashed pumpkin
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed

In a large bowl, combine the first six dry ingredients.

Combine the egg, pumpkin, buttermilk and 
butter in a small bowl.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry
ingredients just until blended.
Fold in corn.

Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups about
two-thirds full and bake in a 400 degree
oven for 12-15 minutes or until a
toothpick comes out clean.

Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to 
a wire rack.  Makes 1 dozen.

These are all that were left at the end of the day yesterday.  Chicken Mama and Gilligan gave their seal of approval also.

The addition of the pumpkin makes for a moist texture although the flavor of same doesn't come through.  (I used some home-canned pumpkin of my own, so I don't know if there would be a difference if using commercially canned pumpkin.)  Next time around, I'll add even more corn kernels as the unexpected pop and burst of flavor they added was great.

I guess planning ahead does work out sometimes.  One new possible Thanksgiving recipe tried, and one success!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Archery Fun

We took out the bows, arrows and set up a target on hay bales yesterday.  Papa Pea and I, Chicken Mama and Gilligan had a grand ol' time using muscles (and hand/eye coordination!) we hadn't used in a while.

Our skill levels are all pretty evenly matched and we had lots of fun taking turns shooting six arrows apiece.

Chicken Mama says this is a shot of my arrows, but as I say, we all had fairly tight groupings, and there were a couple of shots that we joked nearly split arrows!

Papa Pea taking aim, getting ready . . . 

A friend of Gilligan's recently was thinning out his bow collection and gave Gilligan one of his hunting bows.  More gizmos on that bow than I could ever figure out.

I'm a little surprised I don't feel any complaining from slightly stressed muscles this morning.  (However, I wouldn't be surprised if Gilligan might as a result of trying out his new bow.  A hefty thing, that is.)

I think Chicken Mama had the best form of us all.

Here's a lesson to learn.  Don't always listen to what your mother tells you to do.

I made the suggestion that she place her right foot a little farther back to improve her (already good) stance.  She did so which threw off her whole body which in turn caused her to thwack her bare arm above the protective arm guard with the bow string.

Oh, ouch!  That really hurt.  I felt so bad I had interfered with her already good form.

This was her owie a couple of hours later.  (Oh, bad mother!)  Hoping she won't hold it against me forever!

And then another shot taken this morning.  She's been using arnica gel on it and says it's not painful, although she should be able to garner much sympathy just from the way it looks.

Even though it's officially the Monday Labor Day Holiday today, Chicken Mama and Gilligan are working, and Papa Pea and I will find something to do to occupy our time.  (Haha.)

Maybe we'll sneak back to the archery area and practice so we're better than the "youngsters" next time we pull out the bows and arrows. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Back to Work Today

Yep, it was back to the usual routine of "gettin' things done" today after taking the day off yesterday for our anniversary.

On August 31st, many years ago, Papa Pea and I joined hearts and hands and embarked on this journey together.

How many years ago, you may ask?  Well, although neither of us can believe it, it is our 54th anniversary.  The time has flown by so very quickly that that many years having passed seems impossible.

As I said, we took the day off in celebration (of making it this long) and ended with a dinner out at a lodge on an inland lake.  This particular lodge and rental cabins were built in the 1920s (hey, longer than we've been married!) and although a bit of modernization has taken place in the form of running water, bathrooms and kitchens, the log lodge and cabins look much the same as they did when first built.  Back in those days, you could build structures almost right on the edge of the lake and our table at the window gave us a wonderful view of the water complete with two loons swimming and diving a stone's throw away.

It was a delightful evening, good food, good drink and, since we were the last table to leave, we had the pleasure of meeting and visiting with the young couple who became the new owners a year ago.  What enjoyable, nice people!

But back to the ol' grindstone today.

First thing this morning, we split and stacked some firewood.  The great thing is that this is wood that shouldn't be touched until the 2018-19 heating season.  What a good feeling that is.

Next I got a stock pot with two chickens starting to slowly cook.  I defrosted and cleaned our freezers a couple of weeks ago and was a bit surprised to see I still had two ducks and several chickens I hadn't used in the last year.  Here it is getting close to butchering time again when new birds will need space in the freezer.  It's not a bad problem to have, but I'll concentrate on cooking up a bird or two each week now.

I needed some veggies to put in with the stewing chickens so went out to the garden to get these.  Looks like we're going to have a great crop of both onions and carrots this year.  The onions were okay last year but all the carrots were about as big around as a pencil!  (Or nearly so.)  Looking much better this year.

What?  Didn't everyone have a semi truck in their backyard today?  No, we didn't order a semi load of poultry feed, but we did get a pallet of bags of feed which should last us well into winter.  The poultry all cheered when the truck pulled in.

Speaking of poultry, a group of Canadian geese landed on the pond again this morning.  This afternoon when I looked up from my continuing work on the strawberry patch (didn't quite finish yet), I found the wild geese contently intermingled with our poultry.  I went in to get my camera to capture the scene and, of course, as soon as I got close enough to the fence to snap a picture, the wild geese waddled quickly away down toward the pond.  If you look closely, you can see them in the upper back of the picture.

Papa Pea and I made another picking of our blueberries.  The grand total for the season so far is just under six gallons.  There are a few more to ripen on the bushes but the season is definitely winding down.

Hooray, hooray, my mini-sunflowers finally started blooming about a week ago.  I just adore them and keep vases of them all around the house.  Such vibrantly cheerful faces they have.  Makes me feel happy just to look at them.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Quick Trip Through the Garden

I've mentioned before that we mow down our strawberry plants near the end of the summer so that they have a bit of strong, new growth, but not the old, large mound of leaves, to go into the hibernation season over winter.

Papa Pea mowed them for me one day last week.  And, oh my gosh, did that reveal a whole lot of runners and weeds that had been hiding under the big ol' bunch of leaves.

This is a shot of the whole mowed planting.  I managed to get the two rows on the left of the picture cleaned up to my satisfaction this afternoon before I got a nasty cramp in the back of my right thigh muscle!  Well, maybe it wasn't awful-terrible-bad, but I used it as an excuse to stop for the day.

That leaves me with this last (and worst) row to finish up yet before the job is done.

I have to show you the gladioli planted from corms that my friend Karen in Wisconsin sent me last fall.  Is this double stalk of pinks gorgeous or what?

And this is the first white one to open.  There are more of both colors to come.

Thought it wasn't going to happen this year, but some of my cherry tomatoes are finally ripening.  I've always staked these up in a wire cage before, but this year let them crawl on the ground as the seed catalog suggests.  They are so late I don't know whether to blame our wonky weather this gardening season . . . or the fact that maybe they don't like to crawl and would rather be staked.

This is my biggest pie pumpkin growing on the arbor trellis.  It's gigantic compared to others I've grown (about the size of a volleyball, I'd say) and like the others on the trellis, doesn't seem to be requiring any support to keep from ripping off the vine.  (Yeah, I'm surprised at that, too, Glenda.)  Not showing much orange color yet, is it?

Lastly, this is one of the mangels I'm growing as experimental supplemental feed for our poultry this winter.  And this isn't even a big one.  Can you believe some of them can grow to be 15-20 pounds?

Friday, August 25, 2017

Bummer Summer

It's been a bum summer for the garden anyway.  Long, very cold spring/early summer followed immediately with hot, hot weather and then another cold spell again.  The poor plants and seeds didn't know what was going on.  (Neither did the gardener.)

This morning we woke to find an overnight temp of 42 degrees.  Ugh.  If that isn't a signal that the end is near for the garden, I don't know what is.

Between the weather, the flea beetles and larvae from fruit flies, it's not been an easy gardening year.

Basically, the root crops seem to have done well.  Haven't dug potatoes nor pulled carrots yet and won't do so for a while.  The mangels and turnips I grew as experimental supplemental food for the poultry this winter are huge.  I've still not harvested and processed beets for us, but they look big and healthy waiting patiently in the ground for me to get to them.  Root crops almost always do well in our climate so no surprise there.

The sweet peppers for stuffed green peppers are late but doing okay in their cold frames.  I checked my records yesterday and at this time last year, I had the freezer chock full of stuffed green pepper meals.  This year I've harvested only three matured peppers.

None of my flowers bloomed as well as usual, and my Sweet Peas were a complete dud.

The cabbage moths got into the broccoli so the worm-free harvest of heads was minimal.  Happy to say though, we have more cauliflower in the freezer for winter consumption than ever before.

The flea beetles have hit the cabbages hard.  Both the red and green varieties are just now starting to form heads.  They are late, late, late.

Tomatoes . . . ha!  Some cherry tomatoes are finally starting to make their way toward red ripeness.  Although they may decide to turn back to green after experiencing our morning temperature.

I picked and processed the last of the yellow and green beans day before yesterday.  Good ol' beans.  We'll have plenty (and then some) for the year.

Although our pumpkin vines are long and lush, the green, green fruits haven't yet reached full size.  Don't know how they'll have enough warm weather now to mature this year.

Blueberries are still coming on strong.  We just spent $90 to purchase a large, good quality netting that will cover all three rows of the bushes next year.  That will save so much time and hassle covering the three rows separately as we've been doing this year.

I think I've given an update on most everything else in the garden previously so that's all for the record for now.

This not being a stellar gardening year is not sending me into a tailspin though.  I'm ready for a change of season and a change of my daily routine.  What's on my fire (besides good, dry firewood -- haha!) for this winter?  Quilting, reading and plenty of sleep!