Monday, September 16, 2019

Thoughtful Moment #2

We moved here in 1984...

Spliced photo(s) of the neighbor's American Elm Tree
and this isn't all of it, add another 20 feet or so. 

Only one foot from our lot line, this neighbor's 100 foot+ Elm has been a source of great beauty and fear. There were quite a few giant Elms in the area, apparently immune to the Dutch Elm Disease that was so rampant decades ago. We've watched most of them crack, get hit by lightening, die dropping in pieces upon anyone or thing underneath them, or were cut down.

Over fifteen years ago we offered our neighbor to split the cost of taking it down (3-4K at that time). His answer was, "That's what insurance is for." Problem is, this tree is on the west edge of the property. If it falls it hits the main power lines (south), takes out our garage and both cars, (east) or takes out our house and the back of the garage (northeast and north).

Every time there is a storm...I watch and worry. It gets so bad, I sleep in a back bedroom some nights. The squirrels haven't nested in the higher limbs for over ten years. 

What does that tell you? 

Maybe, squirrels are smarter than neighbors and insurance agents.




















Saturday, September 14, 2019

Lo Carb Chicken and Vegetables

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Good Morning bloggers and friends!




The beginning of the this week was very busy. We are trying to finish up outdoor projects. I only have 6 weeks before my knee replacement, and there is a lot to accomplish before then.


We pretty much picked the garden bare on Monday because the critters were eating everything faster than the veggies could ripen. After a few days in the house, the tomatoes were all ripe. Zucchini is still and issue---a good one but still an issue. 

Midwest gardening has been pretty good despite crazy weather, and our small garden has had some great yields.


I made a jug of Danish pickles with some more cucumbers I had waiting in the fridge without the dill, recipe Danish Dill Pickles.

I also made Eight 3-cup containers of spaghetti sauce for the freezer, without the meat. Then it can be used with any type of meat or cheese. I simmered  that for about 4 hours and it was really nummy. (I pulled 2 bags of tomatoes out of the freezer to help do the sauce. I chop my tomatoes, skin and all, to make sauce. This gives you a rich deep red sauce and it thickens well).

We farm GREEN organically, so I don't have to worry about harmful things on our veggies. 

That evening we had roasted chicken and vegetables. We are eating low carb for health reasons, and also because it is good for you.






We have our own fresh herbs growing, so I cut up zucchini, onions, tomatoes, basil, cilantro, oregano, thyme, parsley and garlic. This is very low carb and delicious. You could easily add smaller potatoes to this also.


A delicious way to celebrate the end of summer.

Lo Carb Fresh Herbal Chicken and Veggies. 4 servings 

I used a rectangle glass pan or baking dish

Place all in 
1 1/2-2 pounds of your favorite chicken parts cut into portions.
4 medium tomatoes quartered
2 medium onions quartered 
1-2 garden peppers
1 medium to large zucchini cut in half rounds of 1-2"
(If you use a very large zucchini- scrape the seeds out if you wish)

Drizzle all with 2-3 Tbsp. of olive oil
Sprinkle over the dish, the following:
4-6 cloves of garlic chopped fine

A large handful of mixed fresh herbs: basil, parsley, cilantro, oregano, thyme (pull off the stems and chop larger pieces)

Salt and pepper to taste (you could certainly add hotter peppers here, also)

Toss all this with your hands until all the herbs and oil are distributed and re-arrange everything evenly for baking.

Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 1 to 1 1/2 hours on middle rack. 

To add richness, you could sprinkle with your favorited Italian cheese 30 minutes before finishing. I've also done this with Asian eggplant-the long skinny ones, split and cut in pieces

 (I leave the skin on the chicken to keep it moist, and remove before serving-you can also use 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts split down the middle into 4 pieces.

We had a fresh salad with the garden cucumbers and lettuce...a complete meal and only one dish to clean up! 

(PS this is my own recipe and way of cooking fresh and without preservatives)

Enjoy!











Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Thoughtful Moments

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A Wednesday Morning a little after 6 AM.


It's not often I'm up before a sunrise. But the days are growing shorter and the sun rises almost straight east now, over our neighbor's house. 


The tiniest sliver of a moon, soaked in a pink wisp of a cloud. 
It's so quiet early in the morning, no traffic noise, no television, 
no drone of the air conditioner. Birds slept. 



I watched the clouds, spin and unfurl, rolling in their pink glory.
They changed and morphed, excited to begin a new day.



Pink is supposed to mean Sailor's Warning, 
but as the day wakened, 
the sun rose yellowing, 
 the birds sang, a car door slammed, 
and traffic hummed in the distance.

My day began with this thoughtful moment; 
I couldn't paint a prettier sunrise?

I'm thankful for each and every comment, and will try and answer every question.






Canning Garden Pickle Relish

Hi, All!

One thing about having a GREEN GARDEN, sooner or later it REALLY PRODUCES! This past weekend We made my family's favorite-LAST OF THE GARDEN RELISH.




All the zucchini and pickles are from our GREEN GARDEN. Three of the red pepper are from the store, but the rest are from our garden. 




We have four different kinds of cucumbers this year---and lots of rain so they get big, really fast!


I used a package of celery and two bags of store bought onions. 

Here is our setup, now to wait for help! My Mom's ancient Rival Grinder is set up for coarse ground into my biggest enamel pan. (You can use a food chopper, just pulse though until chopped.) Everything is washed and cleaned. (I do cut the tips off of the cukes and seed them, when the seeds are large.)




My son remembers helping at my parents' cottage, and my d-in-law wants to learn how to make his favorites. Here the Grand is watching but wanting to help. I'm on the right chopping onions and peppers. The following recipe is for a much smaller amount. But, you can double, triple, quadruple this easily.



Have to get your hair out  of the way!



We quarter the long way all the large vegetables, and grind them into the big bowl.



I'm keeping the celery and onions separate to keep some proportions close to the recipe.



Despite the noise of the grinder, the Grand had to get into it!
 She learned what muscles are! PUSH it down!
I measured the pickles/zuchinni and green tomatoes, and then made the proportions of peppers and onions to follow the recipe. I just used an entire whole celery. Everything was  measured out--and then mixed together.  The chopped vegetables seemed like a mountain. It's important that you salt the veggies in an enamel or glass bowl, due to discoloration.
I added the salt for curing the veggies and mixed it all very well with my hands. The bowl was then covered in plastic wrap and left on the counter overnight.


Next morning to get the salt washed out---I dumped 1/2 the veggies into a towel stretched out on my clean drainer on my sink. Towels are oblong and so is the strainer, perfect!


Then you rinse completely while stirring through all the veggies. 



Pulling up the towel, and literally wedging it like bread dough, I pushed all the liquid out, then opened it up again in the drainer and rinsed again, making sure every corner was rinsed and then squeezed it all out again. (TO REMOVE THE EXTRA SALT)



Here's what 1/2 of the veggies looked like after rinsing and squeezing out the juice.



Here's the 'sauce' with the bouquet garni---simmering on the stove at medium temperature. 
The Tumeric gives it a yellowish color and the mustard seed.



This is the readied kettle for the waterbath. I use one of my pressure canners with a regular lid from another pan on top. The raised floor keeps the jars from getting too much heat on the bottom. Meanwhile, my clean jars are on trays in the oven at a little over 200 degrees.

Honestly, isn't this just gorgeous--all those healthy veggies, swimming in vinegars, spices and sugar! Smells, divine!






Here's why I use the colored peppers---it makes it just so pretty!



WE use this relish on sausages, hamburgers, to make Thousand Island Dressing, and in tartar sauce. We all love it, I hope you try it with your end of the garden produce! 

RECIPE
Garden Pickle Relish makes 8 pints or so.

10 cups Total of Ground or chopped in processor mixture of: cored green tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and/or cabbage. 
2 cups of chopped/ground celery (for crunch)
4 cups of chopped green, red, or mixed sweet peppers
4 cups of chopped/ground onions (I've used red/white/yellow)
(don't be afraid to increase or decrease any of the above just try and keep the total cups about the same or increase the sauce.)

Thoroughly mix all together in enamel or glass bowl with 1/2 cup of CANNING SALT. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit over night on the counter.

Next day,  place in colander or draining container covered with cotton (thin) towel. Stir and rinse thoroughly. Tighten towel up---twist and work the water out until nothing more drains. REPEAT. 

Meanwhile, prepare the pickling sauce:
Prepare a fabric pouch for Bouquet Garni (Spice Bag), add 2 TBSP of pickling Spice. 1/2 stick of stick/crushed cinnamon, and 1 tsp of whole cloves (if it isn't in the pickling spice). Tie up with cotton string so none of the spices slip out. (Make sure pickling spice doesn't have HOT PEPPERS), unless you want the burn.

Mix in large kettle:
3 cups of Apple Cider Vinegar
1 cup of White Vinegar
2 cups of water
4-6 cups of sugar (I try and use as little as possible)
1 Tbspoon of Celery Seed
2 Tbspoons of Mustard Seed
1 1/2 tsp. of Tumeric 

Add the spice bag..and bring everything to a slow simmer and stirring to make sure sugar is dissolved. (Taste test---it should taste sweet, followed by the vinegar going up your nose.) Add more sugar or water if it is too strong (burns your nose) then add a little at a time. 

ADD the veggies, and bring to a bubbling simmer on medium heat, stirring to distribute all the seasonings through the vegetables. (Leave the spice bag in) and Simmer for 15 minutes.

Ladle hot relish into hot sterilized jars, wipe rims and put on boiled lids/caps. Place jars in boiling hot water bath(fill kettle 1/2 full if you have a full load of bottles, with extra hot water on the side). Make sure jars are covered by at least 1/2" of water. Bring back to full boil, boil 15 minutes remove to hot pads, cork, or cloth covered boards, and quickly cover with towels to slow cooling. 

The lids should all be indented down after cooling, any jars not sealed, you can leave in the refrigerator for immediate use. This keeps very well in the refrigerator.

ENJOY! This is our family favorite! And SON no.2's absolute hot dog/hamburger accompaniment.

This Should make around 8-10 pints give or take! Great for hostess gifts or for a BBQ'r!

What's your favorite BBQ necessity?
Please share!









Sunday, September 1, 2019

Midwest Gardening -Late August 2019 Part 2

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August 29, 2019. 

We scurried around battening down the hatches. Supposedly a storm brewed for later in the day. I took some photos, without pristine cleaned up flower beds. I've been deadheading heavy, because that's easy for me to do from a chair, or from cement/decking.


I hope I've captured some new views. Look at this sweet mini sunflower. I had planted four packets of different sunflower seeds.  The tall one was a red, but the wind today stripped it of petals. My crazy marigolds are a hardy bunch, from seedlings we grew ourselves.


We really didn't use the porch much---it was so hot! I quick moved the table planter back in the shade after the photo. Next week, we will morph into early Fall, here. 


I have sat at the table under the umbrella...I love being perched up there and watching the bird feeder.


This is my one SUNFLOWER success....it's not over 6 feet like usual, but it's blooming. There are 5 buds getting ready to open, on this one monstrously thick stalk. The leaves are huge!



Down the front walk...the trellis's are bare, (missing sunflowers) but the potato vines are still going strong. The Petunias are pooping out, Lobelia is long gone, and the marigolds are carrying the load. I bought some mums to go into the pots and fill in the holes.


Here's the backside of the mailbox planter...still going strong. 



Our front has quite a bit of shade...and my focal pots are still doing well. Look at the size of those Hosta flowers, and all the holes in the green/white Hosta---bugs. Giant Sedums are just beginning their flowering. 



Planters in the shade did well---I really have to watch that one on the right that gets a half day of sun, and keep it watered.


We haven't taken down the birdhouse branches yet...the burn pit is so full we have to wait for no wind to burn. Windy City applies to the burbs here do--as the wind crosses the plains with not much to stop it.



On the right side of the porch is the pond area...the planters there are carrying the whole show. Phlox finally did bloom.


On both sides. Phew, I thought the Phlox on this side was dying. No rose bloom either yet, think it's been too hot.



I pulled some weeds, missed the clover...and added some clarifier to the pond. Our bitty frog, he has grown and made a friend with the resin turtle. He has a few different places he sits, and he must have chased the second one ---off. I haven't seen him/her.


The East fence is full of pickles, dill, squash, marigolds (for the bees), and Day Lilies which are done blooming. Sigh. It was so hot, the blooms lasted only a few hours, but they were gorgeous and we had continuous blooming with all our rain.



Across the way along the house is a mess of Sweet Peas which are mostly 'peaing' now and not doing sweet blooms. The large leaves are some MUTANT Morning Glories that show up everywhere!


This little watering can is lost in the first year Hollyhocks and squash plants.


The last Hollyhock bloom. Small and white! I hope the new ones have some color. I will be dispersing the seed pods, once they are full dried. I might try some at the back pond. I love the pod shapes like bottom up Hazelnuts.


To the left is an area of sun and shade. Cosmos in the pot, drooped and bent low and are finally blooming.


This long 3 foot planter is simply gushing blooms, they have swallowed my fairy statue. 




On the porch stairs the Rex Begonia is battling the bugs, something is happily chewing on it. It needs to be sprayed with soap, and I will move it to the front porch, when it's debugged. The fountain grass was housed over winter, I will cut it back and try that again.



I've decided to use these Coleus from seeds in my planters in front with red mums...I'll do this on Monday. Holidays are for working, RIGHT?




There's some  beans I picked, the Impatiens are still happy everywhere. I didn't clean everything up with rain and wind on the way.



These are more Coleus we grew from seed. They are huge, and I will try and move them to the front in pots and planters. The little pots are Iceland Poppies from seed---that aren't doing anything???


The birdbath in the garden has peppers in pots around it,  and our only Black-eyed Susan.



The last of the Day Lilies!



This watering can has a new type of Coleus that is thick stemmed and very hardy.
It's copper-leafed...I love it.




I'm grouping plants next to the grill for protection from the supposed bad weather.



Left is our Lemon grass our natural mosquito repellent. 
This planter of Caladium (planted in April-finally is doing well. 



Same bag of Caladium corms, same dirt and this one is not! I use half composted dirt  and half name-brand potting soil for all the big pots. I'll have to see if the drain hole was plugged. 
There's more, but I will spare you! 
Another post in two weeks-Fall is around the corner.
PS, it's 9:30 pm and no storm...so we will water like crazy tomorrow!

Check List for next year-please tell me what you will be doing.
How did your perennials do? 
(Lost too many to talk about-again!)

How did your annuals do?
 (Plants did well, seeds did not due to very cold wet Spring.)

What won't you be planting again?
(I'm not doing Geraniums anymore.) 

What will you plant more of?
(I'll be planting more Sedum plants and more Hostas, they seem to survive everything-cold, wet, dry and heat)

I love all your comments, 
and I will be happy to try and answer questions!