Friday, May 31, 2013

Fried day

Not only do I feel fried by the end of the week, I have found this month of May to be long and arduous. Between traveling and coughing and gardening and working, I am DONE. So I am going to curl up with some homemade ice cream and try out "Motive", the summer replacement for "Grey's Anatomy". Can I get a witness?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I scream

A co-worker told me about a book of ice cream recipes, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home, and I am hooked. I had been cobbling together my own versions of the recipes that came with my ice cream machine, but those were nothing compared to what I can do now. So far I have made the Roasted Pistachio and the Buckeye State ice creams; tonight it is Baked Rhubarb frozen yogurt.

One thing I had discovered on my own was that ice cream turns out better if the sweetener is heated with the milk, and that is what Jeni does, and then some: the milk and cream and sweetener (usually sugar and a bit of light corn syrup) are boiled together for four minutes. Since my milk comes "raw", I like that I can feed this homemade ice cream to guests without disclaimers.

The recipes in this book come with all kinds of crazy flavor combos, like Sweet Corn and Black Raspberry ice cream and Cucumber, Honeydew, and Cayenne frozen yogurt. They are sorted by season and share a common base, so it is easy to be creative. There are also recipes for sorbets, sauces, cones, cookies, even marshmallows made from scratch.

I don't know why, but I get a lot of satisfaction from making food from scratch. If I can use produce from my garden (I planted corn and cucumbers today), that is even better. This book will keep me busy for a while.

Gotta go now - the frozen yogurt is ready!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Square foot gardening in action. Or not.

My raised beds are built, if not all filled, and the plants are laid out in grids, for the most part. Tonight I transplanted the Roma tomatoes and marigolds, and planted bush beans and sunflowers. Tomorrow I hope to get the zukes and cukes and sweet corn into the ground, and maybe some root crops. We had a good rain yesterday, with more promised for the weekend, so gotta move.

These three tomato plants are not actually planted in wood chips but in bags of Miracle-Gro. This is one of the beds that is not filled yet, so I layered some grass clippings on the bottom, situated the M-G on top of that, then disguised the plastic with wood chips. Once the tomatoes are done for the season, the M-G will get dumped into the bed.

Here are sixteen potato plants that, since this photo was snapped, have grown a lot. I dug out half the soil mixture, planted the potatoes as deep as I could, then as they grew, filled the bed back in. Since the pic was taken, I have been mulching the plants with the straw. Hope that does not attract voles like it did one year.

There are actually twelve pepper plants and four marigolds in this photo, but the marigolds and three of the pepper plants were grown by me and are far behind their Burpee bred brethren. (Maybe growing them in the garage was not such a good idea.)

The onions continue to thrive, but one of the four varieties of garlic I planted last fall failed to make an appearance this spring. Even though I mulched the bed heavily, it must not have been enough to keep the bulbs alive.

I intended to plant two Brussels sprouts plants and fill the rest of the bed with broccoli, but the latter did not survive my business trip and apparently you cannot buy just two Brussels sprouts plants as they come in a four-pack. I added marigolds to this bed today.

The snap peas are blooming, but the English peas are not what I expected. I think I inadvertently planted another short version of the latter. The pea beds are where I planted sunflowers, bush beans, and marigolds today.

Notice the poultry netting? Despite Finn's efforts, there are still baby bunnies in the yard. All the vegetable beds are wrapped, which makes gardening a bit awkward. I hope the neighbors don't mind staring at my fanny this summer, as there is no way to work in a crouch. My SO and I are contemplating more attractive fencing alternatives, but so far, the chicken wire is doing the job.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Weekend interrupted

I thought the weather forecast was for clear skies today, but I awoke to the sound of rain. I'm not going to complain about it because I'd rather mow than water - and I'm glad I mowed last Friday, as I was AWOL Saturday and Sunday. I meant to accomplish a lot of inside things today, but meh. The laundry is done, my bathroom is clean, I cooked some rhubarb compote for a frozen yogurt recipe I hope to make in a day or two, and I watched "Hope Springs" (I liked it). And I napped.

I recently finished reading 52 Loaves, by William Alexander. (He also wrote The $64 Tomato.) For me, it was a cautionary tale, as I am one step behind the author re doing things the hard way. I can't just make ice cream, I have to make the cream cheese used in the ice cream recipe; Alexander not only baked bread but grew his own wheat AND ground some of it by hand. He also brought the tradition of baking bread back to a monastery in Europe, gaining enlightenment in the process. His altered sense of being lasted about a week, as reality rudely intruded. (I think that is why many religions have the tradition of isolating their monks from the real world.) I don't plan on creating my own levain from the yeast on apple skins, but someday I hope to maintain sourdough starter.

Last week a neighbor one street over told me of finding a nest of bunnies in her yard. A heavy rain drowned most of the litter, but she rescued the surviving three and drove them to an animal sanctuary about 30 miles away. And I thought I was bad.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Busy, busy, busy

It has been a while, although not quite as long as I thought. There has been knitting and coughing and gardening and coughing and traveling and coughing and birthdays and finally the coughing stopped. I did go to the doctor at one point, and for some inexplicable reason she gave me a prescription for an antibiotic (I really need to become a more assertive patient), which gave me diarrhea, and there was no way I was getting on a plane with THAT going on, so I stopped the antibiotic (first time I have ever not finished a prescription), but there was no time to contact her again before I took off for the East Coast. Dr. Internet said bronchitis lasts for three weeks, and almost three weeks to the day, the coughing went away.

My trip was uneventful if a bit grueling. I flew into Westchester on a Friday, rented a car, and drove to Boston. Where my dad used to live was a three-hour drive, now it is four, and with traffic, almost five going there. Coming back Sunday was closer to four. Then three days of training (I scored 100% on the test - yay me!) and interfacing before heading home again.

While I was gone, my SO dogsat Betsy, checked on the house and Finn, and brought in the newspapers which were supposed to have been on hold, and my neighbor mowed the front yard. The backyard was a dandelion jungle. Since then I have been yardening almost every spare minute, and everything is still not in the ground. Soon.

And somewhere in there was rhubarb pie.

And a new pink flamingo.

Unfortunately, it is a cheap piece of crap, so the lights don't work.

Monday, May 6, 2013

You know...

...if this wasn't going on in the front yard...

... I wouldn't have these in the backyard.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

If it weren't so windy, there would be photos

Yesterday I drove through town to my daughter's house, to pick up the granddaughter for the weekend, and was just *amazed* at all the trees and shrubs in bloom. It was like magic... until I realized I had not left the house for almost a week. The little cough I was working on at the fiber festival turned into a hacking mess before the weekend was over. Wednesday was hump day in more ways than one, and I have been on the mend ever since. Still a lot of coughing, plus some wheezing (I think I now know what asthma and emphysema feel like), but generally better. If I am still wheezy come Monday, I will call my internist, but according to Dr. Internet, I probably have bronchitis, which is treated with ibuprofen and rest.

The daffodils are done, but the dandelions are making up for their absence. Because of my chest cold plus grandma duty, the yard looks like a jungle. I have puttered a bit, planting 'Angelina' sedum in the bed by the front walk, transplanting tomatoes and other vegetables (but not to the garden proper yet), picking (and eating) arugula and spinach and asparagus. I haven't been able to dig in like I want, though.

And now that the weather is just absolutely perfect and the garden and yard are in so much need of attention, I have to go on a business trip. *sigh*