Thursday, August 6, 2020

Midwest Gardening: What's Flowering!

Good Morning, Friends. 

I took these photos July 21 and then forgot about them. So this is a quick catch up for July! 

This Lily was just trying to open when I caught it in the lens, very striking.

July was simply HOT-HOT-HOT! Some of my plants were happier than heck, others simply bloomed and disappeared in the same day.

Liatris I started from bulbs. These are pretty versatile and will spread each year, behind it is small lilies, and beginning to bloom transplanted Giant Sedum, which goes from pale pink to dark burgundy in Fall. 

The Day Lilies seemed to have a tough time. Too hot and some shriveled before they even opened. Watering was continual...everything got watered in a cycle, and pots sometimes twice a day.
The pond was sometimes very hot. The front edge I planted with succulents. The roses quit blooming, I hope they are holding back for a fall showing.

On the stairs by the pond I had this long planter of Nasturtium seeds and 4 0'clocks, which I had never grown before. They are huge and blooming constantly.
On a ledge this poor hanging pot got attacked in the middle of night and fell, then the Potato Vine in front was chewed off as well as the red Caladiums. Here it is after a week recovering in a safe place.

This is the dryest, poorest soil on the property. I have Sweet Peas, Iris, small Day Lilies, and Sedum in here, plus weeds...always weeds. This area needs to be dug out and new dirt put in---later towards Fall. 

You can see how droopy and cooked everything seems to be despite watering. I have Sweet Peas, Iris, Del Oro Lilies and Creeping Sedum in here and a few Giant Sedum. This bed really needs total clean out and new dirt.

Sunflowers...not so much---here, three half circles of seeds, never came up at all, or were totally munched on right to the ground? 
Working toward the backyard is this stump with a basket...having a tough time, very hot here, despite afternoon shade. The lime perennial on the bottom, also stunted. 
This pot is very pretty right now...just 10 days later the Impatiens don't exist. 
Boiled in the pot.
We have lemon grass and peppermint plants around the patios and work areas. Great bug/bee repellants. Just break a frond or crush some leaves and rub them on your clothes. 
The Caladums exploded after this. I'll share next week.
The gnome garden is in complete shade, so the plants are happy long as they are watered. We have perennials and coleus in here.
The squirrels rearrange them, this is their favorite tree in the backyard.
This hanging pot---I couldn't tell what size Coleus I was putting in there, all the bulbs will be labeled in Fall according to size and color, so next year the yard shouldn't look like such a hodge-podge.

Our problem area project is coming along. The Caladiums are very happy here. The paving is constantly dirty and full of leaves. I could clean this everyday and by night it is yuggy again.
We have been working on this area...I will share later in the summer when everything is done and stained. 
I have 8 very large 10" or large pots of Caladiums and Impatiens-pooped out, here next year I want to try some hanging ferns and tall grass here also.

And I'm going to white wash these pots....since they are covered with dust anyway.
This 12" pot is in mostly shade, and surrounded by Day Lilies.
In the back of the yard, we have the trough pond. After I took this photo, I scooped out all those rose petals, apparently the birds don't appreciate them. Sometimes there are 4-5 birdies on the rim or on the rocks having a coffee klutch in their gathering place.

The front West side is always shady, I have lots of Hosta there.

A pretty white Caladium in a pot brightens up the area. Our ground cover is a creeping Sedum which is indestructible. I'm really showing you only half my pots. Different ones for next time.

Zinnias and, sunflowers which are not blooming yet, greet us from  the stair planter, also some shorter marigolds, and of course my rusty Dragonflies! 

Don't You Just Love Summer Flowers!
Please excuse the underlined sections---new blogger is uncooperative at the moment. 
And I'm too frustrated to deal with it! 

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Sandi's Rodeo Sauce

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The end of July and the garden was slow because of the heat, and yet producing a varied selection of everything. Every day I could pick tomatoes. I 'rescue' the lower ones and ripen them in the kitchen, before a critter decides to do a taste test. 


Critters are apparently picky as they will take a bite of several...if they are close to the ground.
We had three pickings this week of tomatoes...


And the peppers are starting as well as a few zucchini and the continual wonderful yellow squash. 

I don't need any tomato juice, plain tomato sauce, or canned tomatoes. So I decided to make a Rodeo sauce with a rich taste for bbq. Sometimes our favorite bbq sauce is too flavorful/overpowering for anything but ribs or beef. So, I'm making a milder version that isn't too sweet or spicy. Perfect for chicken breasts or lean pork.

I call this original recipe 
Sandi's Rodeo Sauce. 


Temperatures were so hot outside last week and I didn't want to add any heat to the house.
So, I started cooking in my 8 quart crock pot. I chopped all my tomatoes, a couple of green peppers, some onions and clove garlic. I put that in the crockpot on high. 
As the contents cooked down a bit, I added more tomatoes. I really wanted to use up as many as possible, even the cherry tomatoes, which are so sweet this year.


I left the skins on for the added vitamins and I'm going to pulverize everything anyway. For those who can't handle seeds, plan on using a juicer or a food mill to remove seeds.
Leave your pot cooking for a whole day, first on high then on low with the lid on.


Eventually everything is soft. Turn off and cool so you can put the container in the refrigerator overnight. 


Next morning I ran the chilled entire contents through the chopper about 4 cups at a time. Grind up very fine.


Puree the entire batch and return to the crock or a kettle.

Add caption

The puree was a rich color color and pretty thick.
(I confess I didn't want to make this a four day process, so I eventually transferred this to a large kettle and simmered to cook it down. You can do this on high in the crockpot with the lid, cross-wise to reduce the sauce to the desired thickness.


I added my whole spices wrapped in cotton, and added the other ingredients. 
The apple cider vinegar will be quite pungent in the beginning...give it an hour or too before adding more brown sugar and let the ingredients meld!
I was going for a certain  flavor, but you can increase or decrease or add your favorite ingredients, just remember as you reduce the puree the flavors get stronger. I'm adding salt at the canning stage to each pint, so I leave most of that out during the simmering.
Taste, taste, taste along the way!
When you have reduced the pot down to the point where it is thick enough to make it the consistency of a bbq sauce, fill your hot clean jars. 
Add 1 tsp of lemon juice and 1/2 tsp canning salt to each jar.

From roughly 8-9 qts of chopped tomatoes we got 8 1/2 pts of sauce. Yes, I reduced my puree to almost half, that's why it is sooooo good and flavorful.


Process jars for 20 min in a hot water bath, remove and cover with towels to allow them cool slowly. Make sure all the lids seal, jars that don't seal can be used quickly and stored in the refrigerator.

Sandi's Rodeo Sauce
In Large pot or slow cooker 
Water bath canner 

Cook until totally soft (in crock pot can take 1/2 day)
10 quarts of chopped tomatoes
3-4 large green peppers chopped
6 onion s chopped fine
8-12 cloves of garlic chopped super fine
2 Tbsp of celery salt
Cool so you can puree in blender/chopper
Put puree back in large pot or crock pot

1 Tbsp of paprika
5-7 Tbsp of chili powder (start with 5 you can always add more)
4 Tbsp of ground cinnamon
3 Tbsp of yellow ground mustard
1 tsp of ground pepper
2 tsp of Szechwan seasoning or your favorite hot seasoning

make a cloth bundle with 
2 Tbsp of whole cloves
2 Tbsp of whole allspice

This section will take at least 1/2 day maybe longer in a crockpot with lid opened.
Bring to a boil and Simmer until reduced down at least 2 inches in the pot. 

Add 1 1/2 cups of lt. brown sugar or more to taste
and 2 cups of apple cider vinegar
Stir well scraping the sides of the container, let this cook and hour then 

TASTE: add more spices if you wish.  
...remove the spice bundle if you are satisfied with the spice. 

Continue reducing until the sauce is rich and thick and the flavors all full bodied, tasting as you go along.

Fill your hot pint jars with still hot sauce, add 1/2 tsp canning salt and 1 tsp of lemon juice to each jar. Clean rims and put on lids.
Process 20 min (after bring to boiling) in hot water bath, remove and cover jars with towels to slow cooling. Check seals, any unsealed sauce can be refrigerated and used soon.

This is my own compilation of scribbled recipe's from 2 people, and an old Farmers' Canning and freezing cookbook-two recipes.  I have tweaked this down to what we like, and it is delicious and not overwhelming, perfect for chicken and lean pork, also for shellfish. You can always add more salt when you open a jar if this is too mild for you, otherwise it is quite low in sodium compared to commercial recipes.


Sunday, August 2, 2020

Jacquie and "Hair Stories"

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For any of my readers that have been wondering what my doll families are is my latest post at Barbie:OldNewGreenRedo

Jacquie is a small business owner in Chicago, owner of Salon Jacquie located in the 'remodeled Grand Hotel' which is now the GrandView. The salon was scheduled to open the week Illinois shut down..and is now open under strained circumstances. My doll families' stories are always PG and suitable for all viewers. I try to have stories that are 'in real time', pertaining to real situations as well as being fiction. I avoid nastiness and drama...and try to have my doll friends solve problems and resolve issues in a civilized way, almost always with a bit of humor or a message. 

Jacquie and Craig's (married 15 years and have a blended family) early morning breakfast together. Vanessa is their 20 year old daughter.

Jacquie: I'm so worried, we will have to shut down again, if the cases keep rising. Our customers are afraid, too. We've had some cancellations. Vanessa's 
online customer data has helped us fill those cancellations, but for how long?                     

Craig: Honey, I know this is hard. I feel lucky, I know I'll have work through December, at this point. This disease can't go on forever. 

Jacquie: I sure hope not. 


Vanessa: Look what I picked up at our youth circle meeting last night.

Jacquie: I heard you come in, but I was dead tired and already in bed. How many people were there?

Vanessa: Only three, I ran the lighting and the computer postings. We only had a mini-meeting and kept 6 feet apart, but our third person was the, speaker, Ms. Joanna McGee Bradford, who was wonderful.

Craig: I hope you wore your mask, and what's in that box?

Jacquie: And, set yourself down girl and have some breakfast.


Vanessa: Ms. Bradford was so uplifting for the group last night, and we Zoomed with another 9 people. These little books are about, "Hair Stories." I have a whole box of them to sell in the shop. 


Jacquie: A whole box...?


Vanessa: Yes, I sat up reading most of these short devotional stories. You know how somedays, your hair just wants to teach you a lesson? Well, some are funny, sad, and all are thoughtful. Every story shows us how we view ourselves and others through our hair. And, how our experiences with hair can be teaching moments. 

I laughed and even cried at a few, but I saw myself on every page, Momma.  Each story has an interpretation and scripture to help us make ourselves better, perfect for now when everyone is so down.
Jacquie: But, Vanessa, we are barely breaking even at the Salon. How much are these and how are we going to pay for them?


Vanessa: It's the perfect thing for your customers. Uplifting and wonderful for gifts.
No cost to you, Momma, this is my project. I believe in this book, and it will do good for your customers. Just sell them for $9.99. "Hair Stories" is also sold on Amazon, it's a real book with a real message.

Jacquie: Well, I will have to read some of this first. 


Vanessa: Of, course, how about I just put a few in the car for you, okay?

Jacquie:I like the cover, let me read the back.

Jacquie: Vanessa, I'll take three, one for each of my stylists, they have been working so hard. And, we will see if they like it and we will try them in the Salon.

Vanessa: Okay, I will put ten in the car for you? Love you Momma, you too, Dad.
(Vanessa leaves)

Jacquie paging through the book: Oh my, I think we have seen quite a few of these situations in the shop, and myself...OH, MY....this is me, right here. 

Craig smiles: Vanny, wouldn't steer you wrong. She sure is your daughter. All that energy and wisdom.  

Jacquie: OUR daughter, you raised her since she was five. I'm losing track of time...I have to go. I'll be late tonight, we have appointments this evening, so I'll be home after 8PM.


Craig: Tres and I will make supper. How's chops on the grill sound? 

Jacquie: Almost as good as this breakfast, I'm off, and you have a great day!

Dear Reader, 

I always say Ad-Free Blog.  But, let's call this a book review.
I am no way compensated for content of any of my posts.

If you are interested in a wonderful book with a positive and helpful 
outlook in these trying times, 
check out, "Hair Stories," by Joanna McGee Bradford on Amazon.
You will see bits of yourself on every page, regardless of the color of your skin,   condition of your hair, the place you worship or don't. 
You will find little lessons for life.
You may catch yourself smiling in the mirror afterward.

Hugs, Sandi

**Book cover and content was used with permission 
of the author, Joanna McGee Bradford. **

Thank you for visiting, I will try and respond to every question and comment. I will be doing further posts on tutorials for the Hotel and contents.

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