Monday, August 3, 2015

Everything in it's Place...

Summer harvests are in full swing.  It's such a delight to eat fresh from the garden, and have enough to put some by for winter.
Beans and corn and peas and pickles, all of it tucked neatly away in the pantry.
There is nothing prettier than rows of shiny jars, filled with delicious things.  Of course, it's a challenge keeping things organized, so you can actually find what you're looking for.
It's amazing what you relocate after a little tidy-up.  I found several quart jars of homemade grape juice, plus some goodies like nutella, peanut butter and chocolate chips that I had squirreled away.
It always impresses me how much can be stored in one teeny closet.  Hopefully, I can get creative and make a little more space--tomato season is upon us!





Sunday, August 2, 2015

August Blooms


One of my favorite flowers of late summer has arrived!  After growing to be a good 6 to 7 feet tall, they have opened up into beautiful bright blooms...I just love sunflowers.  Each year I grow different varieties.  This year, I planted two Russian varieties, Rostov and Mongolian Giant, in the front flower beds.  I keep them pretty close together, so they don't grow to be super tall, but they help support each other and don't fall over in the wind as much if they are planted closer together and stay shorter.  I figure seven feet is plenty tall enough!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Onions and Garlic, too.


My onions had started to become prey to voracious slugs, so I pulled them the other day.  They'll dry happily for a couple of weeks (more or less) in my rigged up rack on the porch.  It smells very pungent out there right now--not a bad smell, but quite onion-y!
The garlic finally dried down the majority of the way, and now just needs storage in a cool, dark space.  My pantry closet will be perfect, and the garlic should keep for a long time.  I plan to use some of it for next year's crop, but it can wait in the pantry until October.  That will give me plenty of time to decide which cloves look the best for seed stock.  Right now, they all look pretty good!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Tomatoes!


It always seems to take forever, but finally the day arrives: the first of the homegrown tomatoes are ripe!  This variety is called Julia Child, a nice medium sized round fruit that smell heavenly.  Based on the state of the plants, it looks like Gardeners Delight and Orange Banana may not be far behind.  I am so happy, because that means putting up jars of bruchetta topping and salsa may not be far behind.  Ooh, and let's not forget dried tomatoes.  Those are my favorite for pizzas and pasta...gosh.  I sure hope those tomatoes don't take long to ripen, I can hardly wait!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Homemade Chili Starter

Some evenings, after a long day of work, it's so nice to have canned soups waiting in the pantry.  Homemade ones, of course, with far less sugar and no weird additives like the store-bought stuff.  Part of my less busy days of summer I spend restocking the pantry for the rest of the year, and making soups to can is a change from making jams and jellies.

Typically I use the recipes in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (as I did to make this batch of chili starter), but I also like the basic recipes in So Easy to Preserve, a publication of the Extension Service in Georgia.  One of my favorite recipes is beef with peppers and onions, a simple mixture of lightly seasoned beef with peppers and onions canned in beef stock.  Using the formulas in So Easy to Preserve, it's a simple matter of calculating the appropriate pressure and time to process.  I don't add any thickeners, those come later when I reheat the stew for dinner.

There are hosts of recipes on the internet for homemade soups that can be processed and canned for later meals, but be sure to cross check them.  Be cautious of any that claim you can add flour, or pasta, or simply water bath them.  The flour and pasta will become straight mush, and you can't water bath a soup because it isn't acidic enough to be processed that way safely.  If you can't pressure can, then freezing is an excellent option.  But, speaking from experience, nothing beats a good home-canned soup, stew or chili!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Knitting Projects

 I've been working away on some knitting projects this summer, to get a head start on holiday gifting.  So far, I've made a version of this:
photo by beth whipkey, www.ravelry.com
The Rosie Cowl, by Beth Whipkey, is sweet and simple and a relatively quick knit.  It reminds me of something Little Red Riding Hood might wear to visit Grandma...

I've also made a version of the Wren Wolf Cowl by Heidi May, also findable on ravelry.com.  It's super simple, and really fun.  Here's me, modeling it:
Fun, right?  Here's the cat's reaction:
"uh..I think you need to back off those pain pills."
Next up, this sweet little hat called Black Forest, by Caitlin ffrench:
perfect for adventures, photo from www.ravelry.com
Not only is it a cute pattern, but I'm making it with one of my favorite yarns, a blend of mohair and silk.  Ooh, it is nice to work with!

After that, well, I've got a good half-dozen more projects lined up, including some illusion knitting.  I am fascinated with this process.  Rows of knitting and you wind up with a fools the eye, 3D "picture" at the end.  I'm planning to tackle the Green Man and a couple of Celtic knots...but all in good time.  Anyway, check out this video below and maybe you'll be inspired to give illusion knitting a try, too.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Outside Digs

It's been four days since the teenage meat chicks moved outside, and they are loving life in the Little Coop.  They've weathered two storms in fine style, and are having a great time frolicking about in their new space.  They are growing like weeds--somehow, I think I got sent Cornish Cross chicks in my frying pan special, instead of the slower growing White Rocks or Leghorns that were advertised.  I don't mind too much, really, but I may need to move my butcher date up a bit sooner!