Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Pickling Day, Again....

It rained again all morning, and part of the afternoon -- and by rain I mean it POURED!! Winds and storms.  I don't think we've ever seen so many days in a row of rainy weather.

So I tried to stay busy taking care of some more of the produce that was piling up in the fridge.  Today I started by making a quart of pickled spice beets with those beautiful golden beets.  So pretty.  This was such a simple recipe, too.

 Cover beets in water and boil until cooked, cool off and peel (the skins come off so easily, you can basically just rub them off), then slice.
 This recipe called for cinnamon and allspice, along with the usual pickling spice.  These are added to the water, sugar and cider vinegar and boiled.  Then pour over the beets, put the top on and put in the fridge for a couple of weeks.  All done!

Next up I still had a huge pile of cucumbers, so decided to make some Bread and Butter chunks with them.  I cut them up, sprinkled on the canning salt, and covered with ice for a couple of hours.
 One of my cucumbers was square!
 I had enough to make 8 pints of these pickles. 
Good eats in a couple of weeks!

It's supposed to rain again tomorrow, all day.  Sigh....

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Pink Sharks Season is over!

KT had her last two soccer games for this year on Friday (a makeup game missed because of bad weather) and Saturday morning.  We went on Friday to cheer her on!  They won, too!

We didn't get to the game on Saturday, but Colleen sent me this photo of their end of the season party -- looks like they had some very special cookies!  Proud of KT for trying and finishing her season.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Movie Review ---- X-Men Apocalypse

It was an okay movie, great for whiling away a couple of hours in an air-conditioned theater with some popcorn and a big gulp on a hot day in summer.  Entertaining enough, although I have to say I think I'm about done with this series.  That says more about me then about the movie, so if you are a fan of fantasy movies, I'd say go.
It was action packed with nothing really different or memorable about it.  I love McAvoy a lot, and he gamely did his best.  Sigh.... sorry, I may just be in a mood.  3 Stars

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Sweet Pickle Relish

I'm still dealing with a huge pile of cucumbers in the fridge, and even more coming in from the garden every day.  Today I made a batch of Sweet Pickle Relish, which we use quite often on hot dogs, in my tuna salads, and in deviled eggs.

This is a good way to use up the really big cucumbers or those that are misshapen, because you grind them up.  I use my food processor, and it does a really good job.  The recipe calls for removing the seeds from the cucumbers first, but I just leave them in.  I wouldn't bother unless your cucumbers are older and have hard seeds, but these are all very soft.
 Ground up about 4 pounds of cucumber and they filled up my processor container. Then put in a colander and drain as much water and juice as you can.
 I heated the vinegar and spice mixture and then put the drained ground cucumbers and chopped sweet onion in to cook for about 10 minutes.  Then fill your sterilized jars and process for another 10 minutes in a water bath.
 All done! I added my label and will store them for a few weeks before using.  This made 5 half pint, and 3 pint jars, so we're set for a while!
Ready for those summer hot dogs on the grill!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Spring Garden Notes - May 25, 2016

We've had a couple of days of high humidity, but thankfully no rain, although I hear that tomorrow we're returning to a rain cycle for several days.  It's too late for most of our squash plants - they're done for.  A few are continuing to try to bloom, but....
The exception is the Alexandria squash.  It seems the only one that has resisted the mush.  I'll remember to add that variety to my "keeper" list!

The tomato plants are full of green tomatoes in various stages -- I'm ready for them to start turning red because I have lots of jalapenos already, and we need SALSA! I don't think its been hot enough so far to help these guys start to ripen.
 10 Fingers of Naples (Determinate)
 Rapunzel (Indeterminate)
 Florida F1 (Determinate tomato)

We've been picking beans every three days to keep them growing.  So far we've had over 15 pounds of beans! That's lots of bending over to pick them, trimming and freezing, but we're trying to keep up.  Come November, we'll be so happy to have these around Thanksgiving time, but next year, I think I'll be kind to my 65 year old back and try some pole beans!
 Pension Italian flat beans, and Gold Mine wax beans

I've brought in all 4 of the cabbage heads, and I have to say - these are the best I've ever grown.  I think I'm finally learning how to control those cabbage worms.  Next year I'm going to add some row covers, too, hopefully they will be even better.
 We have cucumbers coming out of our ears - over 12 pounds so far.  We really do love these just fresh and crunchy, straight out of the fridge, but I have way too many.

This Dragon's Egg cucumber is my pride and joy this year.  It's one of the crazy new things I like to try every year (that drives my husband crazy. He doesn't understand my obsession with trying new seeds.) There weren't many seeds in the packet, I think only about 10, and only one of them actually germinated.  The taste was really good - a nice crunchy cucumber, and I got a little faint bit of a lemon taste when I bit in.  I just think they're pretty!
 I froze all of the cabbage in quarters.  This is the first time I've ever frozen cabbage, and I decided to blanch it first.  There is conflicting advice on this on the Internet, so I went with what felt right for me.  My mom always blanched everything before freezing, so that's what I did.
 Yesterday I made dill pickles with most of the cucumbers.  I used a pretty basic recipe, and added a grape leaf to each jar, which is supposed to help keep them crunchy.  I hope that helps!  Here's the cucumbers as I cut them into spears.
 I covered them with ice and water for a few hours, and sterilized the jars, then added the dill seeds and a few dill weed from the garden.  These dill seeds were saved from last years plants.
 A clove of garlic, and a few red pepper flakes.  The recipe called for peppercorns, but I didn't have any of those, so I substituted the red pepper flakes.
 I packed in the spears and put the grape leaf on top.
 Pretty grape leaves from the orchard.
Then covered with the vinegar, water and canning salt and processed.  I plastered on my label and now we have 10 pints of dill pickle spears!  I'm going to make pickle relish with the next batch of cucumbers in a few days.
We picked about half of the golden beets today - they are truly beautiful.  This pictures doesn't do them justice - they are a neon, glowing orange.  Just beautiful. Once I get the entire crop in, I'm planning pickled beets with these.
 I'm noticing something strange with some of the elderberry blossoms - some are not developing berries.  I wonder if they are not being pollinated well. although I see bees all over these flowers.  I have both Adams and York plants, which are supposed to be the correct two to cross pollinate, and they've been fine before, so this has me rather worried.  I'll be watching them closely.

It's a busy time in the garden right now - we do a sweep through twice a day to keep track of the veggies.  The heat is coming, though, and we won't want to be out there as much once Texas gets into full blown summer.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Spring Garden Notes - May 18, 2016

We've been harvesting veggies almost every day, and now that the beans are coming in, I'm having to start freezing them every other day.  They pile up pretty fast!
 The purple beans are ready to pick, too!
 Here's our haul from this morning.  I put these all in the freezer today. I'm keeping the jalapenos for a few more days until I have enough to can.  Wish the tomatoes were ready because we could use some salsa!
 Here's an example of each of the beans that I'm growing this year. From the top down there's Calima, Purple Bush, Gold Mine Wax, Pension, and Carson beans.  They are all bush beans.
 The cabbage is heading nicely - I'm fighting those cabbage worms every single day.  I think they'll be okay but the outside leaves don't look too pretty.
 I think these golden beets are the prettiest beets we've ever grown, they're about the size of a golf ball right now. I won't get a lot, but enough to make a jar or two of pickled beets.
All the rain has helped the basil plants to grow very large and leafy. 
 I made some stuffed Bruchetta Chicken with this bunch the other night.  Delicious!
John's strawberries are actually still living and growing! There's a couple of fruit on them and some are sending out these long runners and rooting some new plants.  I hope we can keep them alive!
 The blackberries are starting to turn pink and this plant is really putting out the berries this year! It's spread out and put on some new plants too.  Really like this thorn-less plant.
 We're seeing flowers all over the property right now.  I just love this time of year!

Those elderberry plants are really full of blooms this year. So pretty!
We've been getting so much rain recently, its at the point of finishing off most of my squash plants - they are rotting from the bottom up.  I'm afraid we won't be getting much from them - I'll have to start some of them over. We had 3 inches of rain again last night, and more is forecast for tonight.  When it rains, it pours!

On my way....

Yesterday I had an injection in my right knee, which has been giving me "heck" for the past few months.  It escalated to bad enough to go to the emergency room on our recent trip to Graham.  I was really hobbling the last day of that trip.

We'll see how this does, the doc said it might take a few days to see any relief and improvement, and I already am able to walk without much discomfort.  

I was really nervous about this injection, but it was a piece of cake! They sprayed some kind of freezing stuff on my skin before the shot, and that stuff was really more painful (burned!) then the actual injection.

Still not able to climb the stairs without a double step, but hoping that gets better soon.
We deserved a frozen yogurt afterward, right?

Friday, May 13, 2016

Just because...

Colleen sent this photo to us the other morning - she said Joss asked her to take a picture for "Mimi and Grumpy." That just made our day, I can tell you!
Good morning, precious child!

Clutch of turkey eggs

Turk has been sitting on this little clutch of eggs for about three days straight now.  John doesn't think that they are fertile, but I'm going to let her sit if she wants to.  She seems content and probably enjoys Gray going off during the day and leaving her alone.
 In the morning when I let him out, Turk comes out to have some food and a stretch. Gray goes out to spend the day in the vineyard.
He's such a show off!

Spring Garden Notes - May 13, 2016

Things are progressing. This week we started picking beans, and we're seeing tomatoes on all of the plants. 
 The first of the Florida F1 tomatoes
 Rapunzel tomatoes
Those Rapunzel tomato plants are just covered in blooms!
 10 Fingers of Naples paste tomatoes just getting started.
Picking wax beans (Gold Mine) and green beans (Carson) already. I'm liking these Carson, they're nice and straight and beautiful.
Thursday I had to freeze some of these veggies.
Lest you think everything is just going great in the garden, I submit this photo of the Red Kuri squash. Every single one of them looks like this. ??? I have no idea why. Time to pull them up and start over.
Bagging the grapes to keep the birds away (we hope!)
 Out of 4 peach trees, this is all we're getting this year. Such disappointment!
More and more of the huckleberries are turning dark. Still very firm though, so I'm leaving them be.