Sunday, August 30, 2009

Larry and Bob go to Mexico

For those of you who have raised, or are raising, your children on Veggie Tales, that title will mean something. If you're not, just call it a spicy tomato and cucumber salad.

Larry and Bob go to Mexico:
Grape tomatoes

Cut enough cucumbers into bite-sized pieces to half-fill your serving bowl. Add enough grape tomatoes to fill the bowl. Add enough salsa to coat the tomatoes and cucumbers and stir. Refrigerate for at least an hour to blend the flavors. The cucumbers will release juice; stir well before serving.

This makes a great side dish on its own; it is also delicious as part of a salad. And if your garden is producing too many cucumbers and tomatoes right now (as mine is!) it's a great way to use up some of them.

And, by the way, when the salad is done, the leftover juice can be added to tomato juice to make a wonderfully spicy Bloody Mary.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

It's too darn hot

I'm staying inside today; we've had a run of a several hot days, and I've had enough. I'm hiding out. Or in, if I'm to be precise! I didn't even go out this morning to pick my veggies. Nope, today is an inside day for me.

I've been spending a lot of time outside in the garden; when I've been in, I've been in the kitchen, dealing with the produce from the garden. I've been very garden-centered lately. This morning I realized that I could no longer see the surface of my coffee table, and my desk wasn't in much better shape. Things had been stacking up in here, and the stacks were threatening to fall over.

So that's where I started; sorting through all the things I'd set aside to deal with later. A good ninety percent of the paper I'd been saving went straight out to recycling; I don't know why they hadn't gone there in the first place. I guess there is a part of me that would like to be the sort of person who reads the ads and gets the best prices; the truth is, by the time I've gotten around to reading them, the sale is over.

I guess I just like to keep that possibility open.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Stop and smell the roses

And the lavender. And, just for good measure, lemon verbena.

It's a delicious mix, and it's sitting on my desk. Two Intrigue roses, with their spicy scent, a sprig of lemon verbena, seven stems of a particularly large lavender whose name I have forgotten, and a delphinium stalk for my eyes, not my nose.

It's a perfume I'd love to bottle. I've always loved the mix of rose and lavender, but the lemon verbena adds a wonderful high note. I should make some potpourri with this combination, but my potpourri bowl is filled with beads.

I had another at one time, but I'm not sure that it made the journey to California. I gave away so many things to friends before we left; I wanted to simplify and they liked them. Of course, it may still be in a box; we still have a few boxes that didn't get unpacked from our last move.

Isn't that always the case? Who among us has not dragged boxes with unknown contents from house to house? I tried to avoid that when we moved cross-country, but a few snuck in anyway and surprised me when we got here.

It is amazing how persistent some things can be.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The traveling shed

Last summer, we bought a shed; installed it in the backyard, and then realized that it was not in a good spot. It cut off the view from the living room; it blocked the garage door, and was generally too large and ungainly for the spot it was in. But there it stayed, and it gradually filled up with the things that end up in a shed.

We talked about new places for it, but none of them were quite right. The shed stayed in its original location until I cleared the weeds from the side yard. Bingo. We moved it today, and the backyard is better for it. It does show from the window in the entry way, but I can place a trellis next to it and plant a couple of vines to mask it.

In a year or so it will be a thing of beauty.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


This isn't the post I planned to write. I've been chopping, slicing, blanching, freezing and juicing all morning. I entertained myself during all this by composing a wonderful post about my empty vegetable bin. I wanted to congratulate myself soundly for processing every last bit of produce that I've picked this week; I'd even planned to take a photo.

Nope, no photo.

Unbelievably, just as I was wiping the last dirty dish dry, I found another basket full of tomatoes on my counter that I'd picked yesterday. Not only had it not fit into the vegetable bin, but I hadn't even been able to carve out room for it in the refrigerator. I'd left it in an out of the way spot on the counter, quite sure that I'd remember to collect it when I began processing this morning.

Nope, I didn't remember.

But I did use some of those tomatoes in a cucumber salad; sliced cucumbers and cherry tomatoes are now marinating in fresh salsa that my son made at the neighbor's house. And I will have more, lots more, when I pick tonight, so it would have been a temporary victory at best. But, cofound it all, I wanted a clean slate.

Guess I'll have to write without one.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Harvest time

I thought it was time to post a photo of my veggies; these are the ones I picked today.

As you can see, the peppers are going crazy; I picked 115 of them this morning! The squash is slowing down (thank goodness!) and I've been picking 2-3 quarts of beans pretty much every day this week.

I've given up on trying to use baskets; the wheelbarrow is the only realistic way to handle the abundance.

We're keeping up with the cantaloupe, but getting behind on the tomatoes and cucumbers. This afternoon we bought a juicer; yet another way to deal with the overabundance of produce. Tomorrow, I'll start juicing and freezing veggies for winter soups. I juiced a few tomatoes today, and they made the best tomato juice I've ever had. I think I'll add some peppers and cucumbers to the next batch.

Bloody Mary, anyone?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Working things out

I've just had too much on my mind lately; too many things I'm trying to sort out. I'm getting there, though; it just takes time and effort. I wish it could be done more quickly and, yes, painlessly; but it can't, so I'm doing my best to deal with it one hour at a time.

In between periods of rumination, I've been working in the garden, harvesting and weeding; and working in the kitchen, preparing and freezing the excess produce. Today I made up a couple hundred appetizers which are now packed into the freezer; I have to admit that I am getting quite a lot of satisfaction in filling up that freezer.

No matter what else happens, we'll eat well this winter.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


That's been me lately. I've been starting projects and setting them aside with wild abandon. I've got bits of beading on every available surface in my cupboard under the stairs; both bead boards are in service, as well as every tray I own.

Some of them will not be finished; I'll take them to bits when I have nothing better to do. Some of them require more time than I want to give them just now; they'll wait. And, hopefully, at least one or two will actually be picked up again and finished before I spin off and start something else . . .

But then again, how likely is that?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Going solar update

Our raised solar array is going up!  They've been working hard, priming all the wood, and construction has begun.  This photo shows them putting up the outside beam on the posts.  It's going to change the look of the house quite a lot; I can't wait to see how far they get today!!!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Well, that was interesting

Yesterday, Google thought that one of our home computers was doing something it shouldn't have been doing, and we were locked out. We ran all the diagnostic software, but we never did find the culprit; eventually, we were let back in and all was (apparently) taken care of and forgiven.

Whew. I really didn't want to go away; Google made me do it.

So; today is the last day that my daughter will be 16. Of course, we went shopping. We hit all our favorite stores, including thrift stores. I found a yummy linen pantsuit for $7.95, and a set of seven huge red wine glasses for $7.25. They are gorgeous glasses that look like great big soap bubbles. They reminded me instantly of my grandmother's champagne glasses which I have loves since childhood and now own; I had to buy them.

They make me feel good.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Yup, that was today's harvest. I picked six; two nice-sized ones, two smallish ones, and two downright tiny ones. They were all ready to be picked, but not all were primary buds. I cooked them up and made my favorite artichoke dip with them; it's purely artichoke, butter, garlic and cream cheese.

Fat on a cracker.

But the taste . . . ah, the taste. A little bit of heaven.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

More squash stories

The squash is still producing madly; as are the hot peppers. This morning I prepared and froze a gallon bag full of Hungarian peppers, as well as three more gallon bags filled with sliced squash. I am slowly, but surely, filling up the new freezer.

It's funny; I'm not exactly a Martha, but putting up vegetables for the winter makes me happy, and gives me a very real sense of satisfaction. I like seeing those bags of yellow and green veggies in there; I like adding to them, and I'm sure I will enjoy pulling them out and using them to feed my family this winter.

The tomatoes and beans are just beginning to ripen; they'll be the next to deal with. Then the melons, and lastly, the carrots and pumpkins. I plan to puree a lot of the pumpkin; I love pumpkin pie, and curried pumpkin soup is a wonderful winter meal.

It's August, but I'm imagining sitting in front of the fire this winter, snug and warm, with a tummy full of summer produce.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Going Solar

Our solar installation broke ground today! We are putting a raised solar array in our backyard; it is supposed to make enough energy to meet our needs, and perhaps even a little bit more. We went slightly higher than our current usage, because we want to add a hot tub in the back yard, and, eventually, an electric car.

This photo shows the holes for the footings that will hold the array up; on the other side, it will be anchored to the house. In addition to making electricity, the array should provide some passive cooling for the house by shading the windows on the south side.

One thing we have in abundance out here is sunshine. Our backyard faces dead south, and the array will have direct sun pretty much all day. I can't wait to see how much electricity we generate; it's going to be very cool to watch the meter go backwards!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Meet me at the fair

Yesterday we went to the fair; it was so much fun. We looked at all the fabulous entries from so many talented people; we admired the animals, and went to the rodeo. Those cowboys sure can ride and rope. We were very proud of our local contestants; they did very well.

We ate our way from one end of the fair to the other; fresh-squeezed lemonade, iced tea, garlic fries, corn dogs, turkey legs, nachos, and funnel cakes. A perfectly balanced junk food diet! We also admired all the new gadgets and handmade items for sale; according to the pitchmen we missed out on quite a lot of fabulous deals.

We finished the day at the pig races; you haven't lived until you've seen a pig race. It's hilarious. I hooted and hollered and cheered for "my pigs" but they didn't really seem to get it. I think every one of mine came in dead last. But it was loads of fun, anyway.

Sometimes you just have to let go, eat badly, and root for your favorite pig.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Christmas in August

I know, I know, it's just too weird.

But I got an idea for a beaded Christmas ornament, and even the fact that my local crafts shop hasn't stocked the Christmas balls yet didn't deter me. This morning, after much resisting and swearing that I wouldn't, I went out to the garage and had a rummage through my Christmas boxes.

One red glass ball in hand, I returned back to my beading board and began.

I'm certifiable.