Wednesday, August 28, 2013

So much and so little

On the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's speech on the Mall, my friend RA Friedman posted this image.

More of RA's brilliant photography can be seen on his blog:

Friday, August 16, 2013

Unconventional Dog Days of Summer

Porch Done!
 Yes, really done. All of it  - well - the floor boards anyway. But it's been inspected and approved by (ahem) The Inspector up there - so we're calling it done.
 As you can see the railing still need substantial painting. But that will have to wait for the moment. It needs a bit of a scrub to get the months of dust off and that's a quick job.
 But finally, I can cross that off the list!

This summer has been very strange indeed. Currently it is 66°F.  !!! This is unheard of! And don't get me wrong - I am NOT complaining. We had our heat wave a while ago, and since then, the weather has been spectacular. We've had a few rainy deluges, but it has been very mild, in the low 80's. Really lovely.  My dad called last night and said it was 105°F in California yesterday, so I'm going to start bracing myself now... that is headed our way soon.
In the meantime, I'm enjoying my garden. It's very buggy but everything is growing and blooming. 

The sunflowers are doing well. The Chinese Lanterns are turning orange and look so pretty peeping through the greenery.    

I checked on the "mammoth" sunflowers last week and googled how and when to harvest the seeds. I was looking forward to handfuls of beautiful seeds.

But this little thief beat me to them.  
Cheeky little bugger. Walked right over all the telephone wires, hopped onto the flower, and then hung there, munching away on MY sunflower seeds. Oh well. At least he isn't stealing my green tomatoes anymore. That is what really makes me unhappy. 
The the warden of the yard?
He's snoozing inside in my bin of wrapping paper and ribbon. I was looking for my grommet punch in here and had taken some of the larger stuff out. Apparently that was cat language for "come on in!" Because he didn't waste a second making himself comfortable.

My garden and the farm share are incredibly abundant and I am loving it. I've been experimenting with many new recipes. I found a recipe for marinated eggplant. It's kind of like baba ghanoush but without the roasting part which is most welcome when it's hot. 
I also modified a Spaghetti squash recipe last night and it was amazing! My fruit share has been incredible too.  I've had two ripe, flavorful cantaloupes, a beautiful yellow water melon, canary melon, ground cherries, blueberries like there is no tomorrow, big fat blackberries, and peaches for days.
Here's some of the abundance. Those are actually blue berries from my little bush. A whole hand full! I beat the raccoons to them this year. The cherry tomatoes are mine as well, the melons and the yellow tomatoes are from my farm share.  

Last year we got the biggest watermelons that I had to shlep home. I was talking with Ron our resident chef at work. I asked him about making watermelon pickles. He told the story of his great-grandmother's watermelon pickles. Since there was someone who could do the real taste test, I decided to experiment. This little watermelon would be perfect, not too much in case the experiment was a flop. 
 So I removed (and ate) all of the yummy fruity part.

 Peeled and cut the melon into small pieces.

And followed the epicurious recipe that had the best reviews and the least sugar. The other best reviewed one called for 8 cups. yikes! This one for two.  It is a three day process, boiling the vinegar syrup and pouring it over the rinds every 24 hours. To see if I was on the right track I took a couple of pieces to Ron for the first taste test - because what do I know, I've never had watermelon pickles before.
The first thing he said was, why did you peel them?!
Ugh! Because the recipe said so! Sure could have saved myself a lot of time and energy by not peeling them.
But the verdict was good. The right spices, not sweet enough, but yeah, they should be okay by December "'cuz, these are winter spices you put in here anyway." Which is true - cinnamon, whole cloves, whole allspice, cardamom, and a bay leaf.
I did think a lot about what Ron said about the sweetness and decided to add one more cup of sugar the next time I boiled the syrup. I think that's done the trick. Before they were very tart. Now, I think they are pretty good. I've got one more boiling to go, then I'll can them, and then watch out! might get a jar for Christmas for your own taste testing.  ;)