Thursday, December 22, 2011

This is OUR Kind of Christmas Season

It occured to me today, that there are all kinds of ways to celebrate any holiday, and while ours may not be what most would consider great, we love it.

This epiphony hit me as we were driving home from town with our two grandkids in the car, to watch them for the day while both parents worked. The 7 year old granddaughter was singing in the back seat, her own version of Jingle Bells, with goofy words. Something about "Batman smells, Robin lays an egg!", while next to her, her little brother, with all his 2 year old lightheartedness, joined in with "Dingle Dah, Dingle Dah," my husband, with his own warped memories of Christmases past, warbled the old Pogo song that my Father used to sing, to the tune of Deck the Halls. The chorus goes, "Swaller Dollar Cauliflower, Alla-Go-Roo!" Not to be left out, I chimed in with the only song that seemed appropriate and belted out, "Grandma Got Run Over By A Raindeer!"

We all finished with a happy flourish at roughly the same time and looked around at each other, proud of our joint cacophony and spirit and I thought, "I gotta remember this. It's one of those Golden Moments."

It seems as though, if we're lucky, and we are very lucky these days, our lives have a lot of those happy loving moments that just crop up when we are living right and paying attention to what's important. We just have to watch for them, and celebrate them when they happen.

Once we got home, we took the kids out in the yard to play, spent time climbing a tree, brought in and stacked some firewood, planted some little trees, (can you believe we can still do that on December 22nd?), played a few thousand games of go fish, and ended up building a fire in the wood stove and toasting some marshmallows. Now that's a happy holiday time.

I feel so grateful for the family I'm a part of, and my wonderful husband, Jim, who compliments my life in so many ways, and even abets and furthers the nutty madness that is our life.

We hope for everyone, a comfortable, loving family, and a bit of nuttiness to make it all sparkle and glow. I did get a good picture of the tree planting, and one of the little guy at the tree.

In closing, just in case you were curious, here are the full lyrics to the song:

The lyrics to "Deck The Halls" as done by Pogo Possum
Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla Walla, Wash., an' Kalamazoo!
Nora's freezin' on the trolley,
Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!

Don't we know archaic barrel
Lullaby Lilla Boy, Louisville Lou?
Trolley Molly don't love Harold,
Boola boola Pensacoola hullabaloo!

Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Polly wolly cracker 'n' too-da-loo!
Donkey Bonny brays a carol,
Antelope Cantaloupe, 'lope with you!

Hunky Dory's pop is lolly gaggin' on the wagon,
Willy, folly go through!
Chollie's collie barks at Barrow,
Harum scarum five alarm bung-a-loo!

Dunk us all in bowls of barley,
Hinky dinky dink an' polly voo!
Chilly Filly's name is Chollie,
Chollie Filly's jolly chilly view halloo!

Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Double-bubble, toyland trouble! Woof, woof, woof!
Tizzy seas on melon collie!
Dibble-dabble, scribble-scrabble! Goof, goof, goof!

Monday, November 14, 2011

I did it! I did it! I made a souffle’!

Way back in the 60’s, I used to love to watch Julia Child cook up those yummy looking masterpieces of hers. Her warbly voice and confident manner was just fun to watch, and entertaining too. What a sense of humor and obvious love of good food. I loved the way she explained things so clearly. The cheese soufflé always delicate, tall and fluffy, seemed to be the epitome of French cooking, and way beyond my meager talents.

That movie that came out last year renewed my interest and I vowed to make one someday. We went out and bought her cookbook and I’ve been enjoying dipping into it for ideas ever since. Last weekend we got a dozen big beautiful brown eggs from a local Farmer’s Market and I thought that this was the time-and the perfect eggs for the task.

So last night I did it! Made a classic cheese soufflé, from Julia Child’s cookbook. I don’t have the perfect pan, so used two smaller ones, so it didn’t raise properly, way above the edges of the dish like it’s supposed to. And I think I dirtied 20 dishes or cooking utensils on the way, but the result was delicious—if I do say so myself. And Jim agreed! In the end, it wasn't that hard, just sort of complicated. Light and delicate, with a soft cheesy, eggy taste, it was just yummy.
We still have a few cold tolerant things growing slowly in the garden, so the soufflé was teamed up with a dish of stewed turnips and potatoes from our garden, simmered in chicken broth. We had a salad of freshly harvested red lettuce and wild garlic tops, dressed with a dressing made from the walnut balsamic vinegar we recently got in a South Haven Michigan store, and sparked with mushrooms and onions sautéed in just a tiny amount of butter. Chardonnay completed the meal.

Dessert was locally picked SunCrisp apples, simmered in just a tiny amount of butter and cider, and topped with a little Captain Morgan’s spiced rum. Wow! The best meal we’ve had in a while, bar none.

Next, we’re going to try a dark chocolate soufflé for dessert some night soon. I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Harvest Time

The amaranth came up all volunteer from last year's planting, and it was time to harvest, before it all fell off and replanted for next year. I got a lot this year, just have to figure out how to use it now.

The sunflowers were ready too. Time to stack them in the greenhouse to dry.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

It's a BIG ONE!

We love watermelons--but who doesn't? This year we added two raised beds at the end of our garden space, just so we could let the melons sprawl to their heart's content, and hopefully have all the melons we could possibly want.In this year of too much heat and blooms just not setting, we had lots of blooms out there in those two beds, but not much set on and fruited, and that's why we've been watching the few with such anticipation. One in particular, a moon and stars watermelon, we've been calling the "sleeping giant" since it just kept getting bigger, and Bigger and BIGGER out there in the vines. Yesterday was the big day to harvest it. The little squiggly vine at the end turned brown and dropped off, and the white spot on the bottom turned yellow, and the happy melon herder brought it into the house. On the way inside he had to stop to show it to our Grandson, who thought it was just too cool. Much bigger than he was, he still needed to try it in his own little wheelbarrow for a push. It quickly flipped over, so we brought it into the house to cut it open and see if it was as good as it looked. We tried to count the spots, but it was like counting the stars in the sky, just too many to be sure of. It weighed 29 pounds and 2 ounces, and 15 inches long. It measured 33" in diameter the short way, and 42" the long way. That's a lot of melon. And just delicious. Pink and juicy and everything a melon should be. We ate all we could hold, put more in the frig, and sent some home with the grandson for their family. I think he gets a gold star for his melon this day. What a wonderful treat. There are more to come, but none as big and beautiful as this one was.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Happy Hummers

We have had so much hummingbird activity this year that it's been a joy to watch their acrobatics.The feeders hang right outside our back porch and we can watch them as we eat dinner and relax afterward. I filled all the feeders yesterday and they emptied them in one day, that's 4 cups of sugarwater!
Of course they're lousy photo subjects, not holding still to pose at all, but I did get these pictures as they moved in and out.
At times we've seen 3 at once, pausing to feed at the biggest feeder, while two more hovered neaby to take their turns. Of course, I couldn't get a shot of that action, just one at a time. Still, they're just amazing. We feel very lucky that they share their lives with us.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Harvest

Such good eats are available this time of year. This morning in the garden I planted some peas for fall harvesting, and brought back into the house about 10 pounds of goodies.
There were lots of tiny red, sungold and yellow pear tomatoes, as well as red, purple and yellow larger tomatoes. Also several ears of corn, three small onions, three lonely scarlet runner bean pods, one zucchini, two cucumbers and enough basil to make a big batch of pesto. Good stuff. The corn went into the freezer along with a lot of tomatoes and the pesto.

So I've discovered this year that it's a bad idea to plant small gold colored tomatoes among a batch of gold cosmos flowers--makes it really hard to find the tomatoes.
I had to tie the cosmos, tomatoes and beans back on the arbor again. They all keep trying to fill in the walkway under the arbor. It was fun to reach up and harvest the beans from over my head today. I don't care where they grow, I'll enjoy the beans as they come in. We sure do eat good this time of year.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Aaaaahhhh! Cooler Air.

What a relief. Our weather is finally cooling off a bit and life is much better. It got actually cool last night and we were able to sleep without a fan for the first time in a month. This morning it was about 70 out and I spent a delightful two hours tidying up in the garden, pulling spent plants and planting some fall crops in the raised beds.
I've always wanted to have a garden that welcomed people in, and this year, we finally have it. Our gateway leads to the arbor, now entwined with tomatoes, scarlet runner beans, and bowered with cosmos, adding their bright energetic sparkle. It makes a nice pathway into the garden shed, so handy to hold all of our tools.
The tomatoes are still coming on slowly, just a few at a time, but with the three kinds of squash coming on now, cucumbers, new potatoes and onions, we're eating mostly out of the garden. It's wonderful to have these healthy foods coming on, and we're enjoying them a lot.
Corn should be ready soon, hopefully we can keep it from the raccoons this year. They usually raid it just before we're ready to pull it for our meal. Fingers crossed this year.

The melons are looking good in their beds. Two big cantelopes are in one bed, with other tiny ones, and the other bed nestles the sleeping giant, the moon and stars watermelon. It's already about 15 pounds, and we're told they can get up to 40. We watch it each day and can hardly wait to cut into that crisp red flesh. The yellow spots grow not just on the dark green skin of the watermelon, but on the leaves as well, giving it a really festive look.

The sunflowers are up to about 11 feet tall now, each stalk holding at least 6 or 7 yellow fringed blooms. I planted basil in everywhere, especially at the feet of the tomatoes, hoping to have plenty to indulge in our passion for it this year. I've made and frozen two batches of pesto so far, and we've had basil in so many delicious ways. I've also started harvesting and hanging some of the herbs on my rack to dry for winter use. It sure is handy having them there.

The Sungold tomatoes have been just so very good. They're coming on in handfuls, so far just a few at a time in different bunches, but there are more each day. Delicious, and so pretty chopped in with cucumbers for a salad.
Here's today's harvest of one Armenian Cuke, and one short fat pickle, one yellow summer squash and several yellow tomatoes. I had the seedbook out to pull seeds to plant. I'm soaking beet and turnip seeds to plant tomorrow, and today put lettuce, radishes and bok choy we'll grow under a shade along with cabbage, kale and Collards. I planted peapods too, and would still like to plant some regular peas for fall harvest.
It sure is a joy to work out there in the cooler breezy air.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Oh, the Beauty!

It's still ugly hot here, and we're mostly huddling inside in front of fans, but occasionally, we just have to venture outside, just to see what's going on out there. I discovered a large zucchini, hiding under the leaves, a beautiful little patty pan squash, and a riot of colorful flowers. What beauty! I'll just shut up now and let the flowers speak for themselves. Such eloquence.

Anyone know what that last flower is? We don't usually see it flowering, but it sure is pretty. It's an onion, a regular old green onion, planted as a set and allowed to grow past the time I should have pulled it. I think I'll let it go to seed and try to replant next year from my own seeds.