Hey, Cop Car! I think I may have found the perfect blog for you!
I was surfing this morning and found "Cooking for Engineers"!
Hey, Cop Car! I think I may have found the perfect blog for you!
I was surfing this morning and found "Cooking for Engineers"!
We've finished canning the plum jam. It's amazing how you can take a dark blue fruit with green pulp and end up with a beautiful plum colored jam!
The chopped plums, sugar and lemon juice sat for two hours while the juice flowed from the pulp. We put it on the stove top and brought it to a rolling boil. Elegante Mother skimmed the foam from the top, and I worked on getting the jars ready for the canning.
I spent the morning cutting up 2.2 pounds of tiny Italian plums. We're making jam today. The fruit is so tiny that it took me easily two hours to complete the job. Part of that time was devoted to occasional diversions to give my hands a chance to relax.
I happened to find Orangette's blog entry on preserving, and decided to follow her instructions for making jam. To the chopped up plums, I've added a pound of sugar and the juice from half a lemon. The mixture is to sit for two hours at room temperature to "macerate."
I stumbled across the most wonderful blog yesterday! It's called "Orangette."
The author, Molly, has created a wonderful pastiche of recipes and life that is absolute eye candy. Even if you are not into cooking you'll enjoy this blog.
I was searching for a recipe for Italian Plum Jam. Her August entry on making blackberry jam gives me not only the recipe, but all the side notes that should make it a successful experience. She started with the picking of the blackberries and carried the story all the way through to the canning of the jam. I wished I had been there. It sounded like a glorious day.
I have FINALLY finished "Pride and Prejudice!" The group of readers from my exercise group decided that we needed to read one of the classics, and this is the one we settled on.
I really enjoyed "Emma," the production with Gwyneth Paltrow, and "Sense and Sensibility," with Emma Thompson. Both of those productions helped me to set a sense of cadence in the language, and the form of interaction that was acceptable early in the 1800s. I thought I'd be able to breeze through "Pride and Prejudice," but it was slow going.
I SO wished I had a camera today! I need to get going on shopping for a digital camera.
I've been talking off and on about a recipe called "Farmers Tomato Pie." My youngest sister shared the recipe with me several years ago, and I love it. I make it once or twice a year, but only when tomatoes are at their very ripest.
The recipe has a mixture of Italian cheeses, garlic and tomatoes, baked into a pie crust. Just after you pull it from the oven you sprinkle fresh basil leaves over the top. The house smells heavenly as you bake it.
This morning on the radio (WGN720 in Chicago) I heard that bird feeding in the United States is a TWO BILLION DOLLAR industry! That's a LOT of seed!
We most likely feed the birds to a greater degree than most of our neighbors. Elegante Mother considers it to be her entertainment. We put out feed all year round, and I add a feeder during difficult winters. Usually we fill one almost raccoon-proof feeder with about a 12-cup capacity, and a silo feeder that holds medium chipped sunflower hearts, every one to two days. All the birds like the silo feeder, but it's meant to feed the smaller birds. That doesn't stop the bigger birds from trying to muscle the little ones out.
It's been a delight to see the goldfinches and other small birds use my herb garden for dinner. The purple coneflower is very well received but none of the birds will bother with the seeds from the garlic chives. I can't say that I blame them. Bees were visiting the garlic chive flowers and I thought that would make interesting honey!
This is a picture of a custom made raccoon door. It's also a picture of our roof.
Please meet JB....my physical therapist.....the man who lives for NO MERCY FRIDAYS!
I have to do some work on my raised veggie beds, so I'm not growing full sized tomatoes this year, but I have a cherrry tomato plant, and two miniature pear tomato plants growing in the herb beds. They've been producing regularly, and this is one day's harvest.
In the middle of winter, I long for the scent of summer tomatoes. I love the warm, ripe texture of a summer tomato. There is no taste quite like it. The next best thing is the taste of a cherry tomato....that burst of flavor that pops in your mouth as you bite into them.
These cherry tomatoes are Sweet 100, but next year I'm going to look for a variety that has more acid, and is marginally larger. Yum! I can hardly wait!
And so is the chili sauce!
I've been making chili sauce with Elegante Mother for the last 15 years, and it usually took us all day to cook it down to the point where it could be canned. Today we were done at 2:20!
Hm....well, maybe not gas.....but with a lot of fun in the kitchen.
My niece will be here to join us for dinner tonight. It's just the ladies, as Dear Husband is off boating tonight. I've found several recipies that I'd like to try on her, so this is what I'm planning:
Wow......now that I have it down on paper I can see that I'm going to have to cut something out. Maybe I can talk her into the Farmer's Tomato Pie for lunch tomorrow. I can slip in a small side salad that would be much lighter.
20 pounds of tomatoes
6 plum tomatoes
miniature patty pan squash
tiny red new potatoes
6 pickle cucumbers
4 green bell peppers
3 red peppers
1 pound crimini mushrooms (baby portabello)
1 portabello mushroom
6 ears bi-color corn
yellow wax beans
This weekend I am gaining an apprentice!
We have an old family recipe for something called "Chili Sauce." I've posted the recipe on the June 30, 2003 blog entry. Hopefully, the link will take you there.
Except for last year, Elegante Mother and I have been making this sauce once a year for the past sixteen years we have lived together. I'm not sure why we didn't get to it, but I must have decided that we could coast on all the reserves we had stored up.
The rain has come! Wednesday night there was a hard shower for about 30 minutes, and then the cloud cover rolled in, and we have had lovely, gentle showers off and on for the past two days. I understand we may continue this way for a couple more days with a chance of storms during the day today and tomorrow, and thunderstorms this evening. (Wouldn't you know that Dear Husband is planning on staying overnight on the Arr!!?)
The ground is absorbing every little drop! The plants are saying "AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!" Everything looks green and clean again.
I was sitting at my desk in the office, facing the window, and an unusual movement in the leaves of the magnolia caught my attention. Individual leaves were fluttering here and there. A plink to the left, and a twitter higher up on the right. Another in the center, followed by another on the lower left. I thought at first there might be little birds on the branches behind the leaves, until I realized I was seeing the start of the rain. Bring it on! I'm ready for more. As a matter of fact, we could have gentle rain like this all week long and I'd love it.
I made a stop at Costco on Friday. When I went into the store the rain had stopped, so of course I left the umbrella in the car. As I neared the exit, there were a number of women standing with their carts, looking out at the renewed storm. I paused for a minute, and decided I wasn't going to melt and sallied forth saying to the women I passed "We might as well enjoy it while it's here." You know....there was a parade of women out in that rain, enjoying getting soaked!
I was thinking about popcorn yesterday. Actually, popcorn and age.
When I was a kid we'd get out an old dutch oven and pour some oil into the bottom, heat it up, then pour a scoop of popcorn into it. One of us would have to shake the pot regularly to keep the kernels from burning on the bottom, and another had to melt some butter in a pan on the stove top. We made huge bowls of popcorn, because everyone in the family would have a generous helping. You could buy corn right from the farms where it was grown, grow your own, or just buy it at the grocery store.
There's no point in worrying, what will be, will be. But due to drought, Illinois is likely to loose the majority of it's crops this year. Iowa and Illinois reign in the growing of corn and soybeans. If I remember correctly, Iowa is first in corn and second in soybeans and Illinois is the reverse. This year the north and west central portions of the state are in extreme drought, and the remainder of the state is in severe drought. The desperate need for precipitation flows from roughly Milwaukee to central Missouri with echos of severe, moderate and abnormally dry ringing the area hardest hit. Some analysts are predicting a twenty percent decline in production for the year.
As I said in an earlier post today, I was surfing the Net and found ClimateZone.com. I wanted some basic information on the annual precipitation in the Chicago area, and this site provided some great charts.
If you don't happen to live in the Chicago area, but do live in the US, go see it. They offer information by area and by major cities. There were five other large cities in Illinois, in addition to Chicago.
I learned that July is the hottest month (on average), but August is the wettest month of the year! That's astounding given that we think of August as being the dog days......hot, humid, sunny days where the sun just blazes away. Either it rains a lot at night, or when it rains it REALLY comes down.
Go see what you can learn about your area!
I've been listening to the weather reports each night as we've been suffering heat in the upper nineties. The weathermen rejoice when they can say a COOL FRONT has come in, and we've dipped into the upper eighties!
I did a little surfing, and on average, the 62 days of July and August have TEN days that are 90 or warmer. So far, in the 41 days of July and August this year, we've had THIRTY days that were 90 or warmer, with many of them in the upper nineties!
The forecast for the next week is the "possibility" of rain.....30-40% chance through Saturday and occasional showers on into next week. I'm going to put my rain gauge out and keep track of what we get. I'll bet you anything that the storms go around us.
In past years, I've left the watering to God and Mother Nature. I don't like to schlep hoses around. But this year I've had to start a watering campaign or loose everything. As it is, five of the gardens haven't been watered at all. I go out before dawn to start the sprinklers every other day. If I forget, they run in the evening, and I hand water what I missed. The gardens that are being watered look lovely; the rest look like crispy critters.
My prayer for the month....."Dear Lord, please give us gentle, restoring rain."
I had a lovely visit with my youngest sister this past weekend. She came up, and we drove into Chicago for a show that was canceled at the last moment. It gave us a little more time to chat that night.
The next morning, she worked with me in the herb garden. As I weeded, she cut back the oregano to the crowns. That's the first time that chore has been done. While I normally prune, I've never given it the close haircut it needed. She also helped me plant several plants, and we filled the bird feed bins. It was nice to have the time with her in the gardens.
We seem to have a new critter in line for a home at Chez Buffy. About two weeks ago we were bird and bunny and chipmunk and squirrel watching out the kitchen window, when my step-son pointed out the visitor you see above. S/he is banded. There's a small blue band around her leg. Nice of them to color co-ordinate it to her feathers, don't you think?
Someone has lost a pigeon. Or this pigeon has decided that she likes what we have to offer in food and companionship better than what she had at home. I assume that she can deal with the cold when winter comes, right? City pigeons don't go south for the winter, do they?
Just what we need....one more critter.
I've been pondering for some time the amount of time it takes to maintain all the gardens at Chez Buffy. In particular, the herb garden has been on my mind. I've worried that I should consider closing it down because it's a good sized drain on my summer hours.
My youngest sister came to visit for two days and joined me in the gardens on Friday morning. I had several chores that needed my attention and the purpose of her visit, in part, was to give me a hand. It was also a chance for us to chat and catch up before the school year claims all her time.
My youngest sister drove up to spend a couple of days with us. She had a fairly long drive and arrived at mid-afternoon yesterday. She settled in, we had a light supper, and then the two of us hopped in the car for a trip into Chicago.
It makes her sound like a glutton for punishment, right?? Traffic was bearable until we got to where the Tri-State Tollway crosses I88. I88 becomes the Eisenhower Expressway, the first Expressway built in the U.S. From that point to Harlem Avenue, the pavement looked like a parking lot. Youngest Sister did a fine job driving in, and soon we were on Lake Shore Drive.
We were driving to the Lincoln Park area of Chicago to see "Menopause: The Musical." We were both looking forward to a fun night out. As we drove into the parking area, a valet walked up to the car and said, "The show has been closed for the night. The air conditioning is broken."
Talk about dismayed! They gave me a refund for the tickets, and a coupon for 30% off our entire bill at a restaurant down the street. We found the restaurant and had an appetizer and a glass of wine, before heading home.
Perhaps this is a good thing. We hope to lure another of our sisters to see the production with us. This gives us more time to wage our campaign. And, it gave us some uninterrupted time to enjoy each other's company.
All's well that ends well!
Actually, I'm really TICKED!! ( And that's putting it politely!)
I've been away from my blog for some time, caring for my mother, who has developed shingles. For those of you who don't know much about this problem, it's related to chicken pox. If you had chicken pox as a child, your body sequestered the virus in your spine. As you age, if your immune system weakens, some of that virus may seep out, and the result is patches that look like hives, followed by blisters. While you have the blisters you are contagious. The other symptom that identifies shingles is severe pain, which can run from one to six months.
I'm delighted to announce that my youngest sis is blogging. We set up her blog tonight and she's posted her first message to the world.
YS is a teacher and she hopes to have her student use blogs to journal. Obviously she needs to have a little experience with a blog before she attempts to work with the kids in the classroom. I hope you'll go visit her blog. It's called Just My Opinon.
As she toddled off to bed, I heard her comment that she needs to get her daughters started blogging. Doesn't that have the sound of "Guinea pig" to you???