What have I been up to?

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I am still trying to get this directory for MOPS out.  We have around 45 members, and I can identify about 35 of them.  I am about half done, maybe more.  I find it amazing that my computer is smart enough to sort the pages so it makes a booklet.  I need to stick in advertising and about 15 members with their info yet.  I am going to a friend’s so she can help me proof read it tomorrow.

I have a garden full of tomatoes that I need to put by.  I dread going out there, but I didn’t get any put up last year and I really missed them last winter.  When you go to the store to buy tomatoes, they offer maybe 15 or 30 choices, sliced, diced, whole peeled, with onions, garlic, basil, RoTel, and on and on.  When I go to the pantry to get tomatoes, I have one choice, pint or quart. (My pet peeve: if there is only one option it is not a choice, by definition you must have at least two options to have a choice.)  I am not a huge fan of my salsa, so I don’t mess with that.

Not much else is going on here, just rain, and mud. 

Drive by Tomatoes

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I had to take the van in for something and I drove past the dealer’s camper lot. I found my dream camper, so I made the guy give me a tour. Oh, it is just what I would want.

  • two sets of bunk beds
  • very small
  • front part folded out like a tent with queen bed
  • it would be an awesome way to visit my MIL (or anyone else for that matter) without imposing

It is pretty hard to justify something like that when we don’t go anywhere. That and the fact that we don’t have the money in the first place. But a girl can dream. I took pictures, and if I had fast internet, you’d be looking at ’em. GD pointed out that maybe it won’t sell this year and they will knock a lot off the price. Yeah right. But if we don’t go anywhere, why get it? They wanted $11,500, and it is an 02.

On the way home I did something I’ll bet most of you haven’t. The little community just north of us (on a US highway) has a couple of road side melon/produce stands. This time of the year not much is ripe yet, so they don’t man the stands. They chain a tool box with a slit cut into it to a table and post a price list. I got 12 ears of corn (mmmmm) half a dozen ugly tomatoes, two zucchini and four huge bell peppers for $10.50. I wrote my check and slid it into the slot. In two weeks things will really take off and I could buy pretty tomatoes from real people. Some people from Washington stopped as I left. I wonder what they thought!

I made a zucchini cake today and as I cracked my homemade eggs, I found little specks of blood. This is very typical of homegrown eggs, and it is perfectly safe. I guess they breed the anomalies and the color out of eggs at the factories. Some people candle their eggs, I don’t know what that is really, but I guess you can see things that customers may not want (like specks of blood). GD killed the rooster earlier this month (after he attacked me), cooked him and fed him to the dog, so we definitely won’t have any eggs with chickies in them. All he was doing was harassing the hens, maybe they will re-grow their back feathers now.

It is embarrassing to admit I bought zucchini, but our garden is a complete train wreck. In my defense it was under water three separate times, and it had standing water for a few days too. I planned to get out there and weed it tonight after Paul went to bed, but he didn’t zonk out until after 10. GD would rototill if I just found the things he was supposed to miss! I planted zucchini and a few other things, but they got planted late, so they will be producing late. I have my fingers crossed. The atrazine from the corn field across the road wiped out our raspberry bushes. They looked beautiful too. Somehow the tomatoes survived.

My friend OBL wrote about her disappointing experiences with farmer’s markets where she lives. I don’t know what planet Barbara Kingsolver lives on, but I have never seen a market like what she describes. Nobody sells lettuce or anything early, they don’t even set up until after July 4! The informal one has maybe four vendors, the honey guy, the two roadside stand folks from the next town and maybe another guy who just sells corn. On a side note, I used to drive by a sign that read “Corn on the Curb.” How clever is that? The more organized market is now defunct. They had several more vendors, a meat guy, the honey guy, an herb woman, homeschoolers selling homemade cookies, and someone who made goat milk soaps. I don’t think the farmers from up the road even had a spot there, probably because they had to pay for it. There might have even been some crafts too. You certainly couldn’t count on getting much in the way of groceries there. I guess the more farmer’s markets get patronized the better they will be. I hope so.

This Year’s Garden Chapter 1

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My husband grew up in a house with not enough. For a growing boy, there was never enough food. He tells about fighting with his brothers for potato peelings in the sink. I think also there was not enough of a lot of other important things as well. This upbringing has affected how he reacts when he has the opportunity for free food.

Last year when our neighbor told us her raspberries were ripe, he drove over to pick some. He brought home several batches and I cooked them and froze them for making jelly later, which was what he wanted. This week I spent all day and half of a night preserving what ended up being 9 half gallon containers of raspberries. That made me 24 half pints of black raspberry jelly and 30 half pints of red raspberry jelly. This is probably three times what I put up last time I made jelly. The good news is that I have lots of freezer space now, although the jelly shelf is stuffed full, and my husband found another half gallon in the shop freezer. As Scarlet says, “Tomorrow is another day.”

Now raspberry season is upon us again and he has been tempted to pick more. Keep in mind that we have five half pints of jelly left over from 2005, when I last made it. I am hoping we can enjoy some fresh raspberries and forget preserving them this year. I hate to say this, but we really don’t eat jelly very often, although it makes a good gift. Fortunately a late frost kinda put a kink in the fruit production around here, and the crop was slim pickings indeed.

He is like that with our garden as well. I love fresh vegetables as much as the next person, but I don’t see eating tomatoes for every meal July 15th through October 10th. I also don’t see the need to preserve every single tomato and bean the garden produces. Enough is enough, I am not feeding 11 children like his mother was. Unfortunately he doesn’t see it that way. I have six cucumbers staring at me from across the room right now. I actually cut up three others for the chickens. We will probably get another six in the next two days. What does he expect me to do with them? There are only so many ways to eat cucumbers.

My kids don’t eat them on purpose, so I have to be sneaky. I found I can make tuna salad and add them for crunch. I probably need to look up a gazpacho recipe, but other than a salad here and there, what is a person to do? Ah, pickles. I make lousy homemade pickles. Apparently my mother-in-law makes wonderful refrigerator pickles. Great, now I have to live up to that. I imagine that is what my husband has in mind, although we eat pickles about as often as we eat jelly and refrigerator pickles probably don’t make great gifts, as they need to be refrigerated.

It has been a couple of weeks since anyone has ventured into the garden, so maybe the cukes bit the dust. I just hope the tomatoes are in good shape for canning, since I am about down to my last quart. My husband was kinda hoping I would grate some zucchini and freeze it for cakes and such. God planned well when he made the bugs that get into zucchini plants, they are great while they last, but they only last so long.

I wrote this about six weeks ago, but it leads up to the next one, so it is here now.