Wednesday, June 30, 2010

4 o'clocks

One of my favorite flowering plants is coming into bloom. I have one row of 4 o'clocks in the veggie garden. You can see them in the center of the picture. Also in the picture are interplanted sunflowers and gourds/winter squash/pumpkins in the foreground. String beans are in the right middle part of the picture. Zukes, Cosmos, eggplants and tomatoes are in the background.

Here's a closer look at most of the row of 4 o'clocks in the evening slanting sunshine and another peek at the string bean plants.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Garden Update and Silly Pets

The garden is looking lush, except for the peas which are reaching the end of their season and beginning to dry up. In fact, I pulled out the early row today and rolled up the chicken wire support. In this picture from the east end of the garden, you mostly see winter squash and pumpkins and the last of the peas to the right. I will plant sunflowers in place of the peas and some of the squash vines will like the extra space too.

This picture shows cucumber vines in front and tomatoes to the back. Today, I finally got all the stakes in for the tomatoes and have to work on tying them up as they grow. There are 56 tomato plants this year, not as many as I've done some years, but if they are healthy I should be able to freeze a lot of sauce.

I will not miss the peas as I am picking zukes and yellow squash at least every other day, though I get the best tasting small ones if I pick every day. Most get grated and frozen, but we are really enjoying them with fresh pasta too. I can't believe how good homemade pasta is and have already made a second batch since my last post about it.

I believe we are on the cusp of picking buckets of cukes and we're planning to can pickles.

I'll confess I am not very good at caring for fruit trees. I planted 7 dwarf trees which I love for the blossoms in the spring. It would be nice to maximize their fruit yields, but I never seem to get out to do the successive spraying of anti-bug wax stuff. Therefore, the fruits are enjoyed by the dogs for the most part. This one looks like it's on the way to being one for me!

The Coneflowers are beginning to bloom, this one is right next to the apple.

And this is some Butterfly Weed.

We provide Bandit with a variety of cardboard boxes that he sleeps in before they go in the recycle bin. Even in the height of summer, he curls in a ball to sleep, often completely inside the box with his head curled around to his chest. It must be 120 degrees in there!!!

Today, I got a big box of supplies from King Arthur Flour (following a free shipping promotion) and I made the box into a playhouse for Bandit. He likes to go in there and then swat at the dogs through the little paw holes.

And, speaking of dogs, what is Silas doing now? Pruning trees of course! They mustn't grow too close to the lawn. He can get quite obsessed about jumping and biting at them. Can you believe how high he can jump? It's his trick!

Sometimes he bends a branch to the ground and plays tug of war with it for awhile. It's pretty funny to watch and it keeps the trees from hitting me in the face when I mow!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Really Fresh Pasta

I tried out my new pasta roller and cutters today. As I probably mentioned before, I've only made pasta once before, rolled out by hand and formed into ravioli with an improvised filling. It was good, but I really wanted the roller to make it easier. So, something like 13 years later, I finally have some rollers! I'm not sure why it took me so long, but time flies and it is kind of an investment to get the equipment, so I wanted to know I'd use it.

I used my food processor to form an egg pasta dough, kneaded it by hand for 2 minutes and set it under a bowl to rest for about 15 minutes.

I hooked up my new roller to the stand mixer that powers it.

After I had some sheets, I cut them into fettuccine. It went on the drying rack as I made it.

Then, it was boiled for three minutes. Perfectly al dente.

At the same time, I heated a small amount of cream seasoned with fresh ground black pepper. Then, I tossed the pasta with the cream and a little parm.

Jeff was my taste tester (the dogs' opinion doesn't count, but they were crazy for raw pasta scraps!). Jeff was SO impressed =)

It was a surprisingly quick and easy process. I don't know if it was beginner's luck, but I didn't have any troubles! I am planning to make up a batch of fettuccine tomorrow to serve with fresh zukes and basil from the garden! Soon, I want to try some filled pastas and veggie lasagna with the sheets of fresh pasta.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Petals and Planes

The Violas I mentioned in the previous post are blooming much more now that they are planted out. I hope they will self sow and spread!

Here are details of flowers in the butterfly garden including Bee Balm

and Ox-eye Daisies.

Here is a picture taken from in the butterfly garden, facing the veggie garden. You can see some color in the veggie garden now that the zinnias and cosmos are beginning to flower there.

This is one time of year I spend a little less time staring at the ground and plants in my yard and look up more. The air show is across the Bay, but we can see (and hear!) some of the demonstrations from our yard. Today, I snapped the following pictures of what I think are the USAF Thunderbirds. There were a couple of even tighter formations I saw before going to get the camera.

Straight up.


And straight down! Yikes! It is amazing how fast they are flying and it is hard to track them with the camera.

I'll be keeping an eye on the sky all weekend, for sure!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Garden Bounty

One of the flower varieties I started from seed this spring, Viola Heartsease 'Bowles Black', has begun to bloom. I purchased the seeds from Select Seeds. I love the tiny, dark, velvety flowers! I am a little embarrassed to admit that it is still in a flat...I guess I'd better plant it in the ground really soon! I'm going to put it by the back door where the little plants will get seen.

Yesterday, while watching episodes 3 and 4 of The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard (which I have just gotten hooked on and want to see the rest of), we shelled 20+ more cups of peas and froze them in 10 bags.

I am picking a lot of zucchini, the first yellow summer squash and the first small cucumbers too! Tonight for dinner, we had grilled teriyaki chicken, sauteed green and yellow squash and sliced cucumbers tossed in a little salt, pepper and red wine vinegar.

I have frozen nine bags of grated zucchini, so far.

And baked/frozen more loaves of zuke bread. Well, most of it gets frozen...of course some has to be sampled!

It is a fun time of year with so much to harvest from the garden. I don't manage to keep up with everything, but I share some over the fence with the neighbors, the dogs eat some and I can throw some into the compost bin too, so nothing really goes to waste.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Longest Day

Happy Solstice! We celebrated by going for a late evening walk with the dogs. We started from our yard and headed for the distant pond you can just barely see in the center of the picture below, via a more roundabout route than straight across the field.

Here are some pretty meadow views along the way.

The boys. Our place is across the field, but the buildings don't show through the trees.

Saffy knows where we are going and leads the way. What is she so eager to get to?

Oh, a muddy bit of pond to wade in! A special treat for a Labrador!

The pond is really quite pretty and peaceful. There were deer tracks, but we didn't see any actual deer, probably not likely with two dogs.

After everyone was wearing some pond water/muck, we headed for home.

Saffy started walking right behind me as she got tired.

I waited for the sun to set over "Zucchini Henge", but was not visited by the Great Zucchini or anything special!

The sunset as seen from our back property line.

For a cold treat, we had fresh sorbet I'd made earlier in the day. What flavors do you think they are? Do you guess green and yellow summer squash?

No, just kidding! The yellow is peach-mango and the green is kiwi. Both delicious, if I do say so myself ;)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

First Big Freezing of the Season

Today, I filled the green colander and larger red bowl in the picture, twice.

Jeff and I sat in the living room, shelling peas and listening to music.

Then, we set up an assembly line to blanch, ice bath, bag and freeze. Total for today: 27 cups in 10 bags. Some have generous 3 cup amounts and others are generous 2 cup amounts.

While I picked, Jeff weed whacked a lot. He was working at the end of the peas when I snapped this picture to show you scale. That's a pretty wild crop of pea vines! You'll have to take my word for it that they are in rows on chicken wire fencing and it is easy to walk between them for picking.

The dogs ate a whole bunch of pea pods and zukes. I cut a big zuke up into chunks so Saffy and Silas would get equal amounts. Here's Saffy working on some. Despite the wrinkled nosed expression, I know she was loving it.

In the morning, I'm going to start grating the zukes for freezing. And, I may need to pick more peas too, though I'm hoping just 'dinner' amounts for a day or two!

Father's Day

Having created a little collage for mother's day, I thought I would do the same for father's day. While the relating factor in the mother's day pictures was 'similar age', I'd say this one is 'summer vacation'.

(Clockwise from top left: maternal grandfather, paternal grandfather, father, me.)

Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Newport VS Scotland

This afternoon, we packed up our picnic cooler and a bag and took along our folding camp chairs to the polo match. We had a lovely bottle of wine, fresh strawberries, pita crisps and hummus. That might sound like plenty, but you should see some of the spreads people put out: huge blocks of cheese for cheese and cracker platters and many set up charcoal grills to make entire meals.

The weather was great today. At first it was full sun, clear blue sky and very hot. There were enough breezes to make it hard to wear my very wide brimmed hat. I didn't want it blowing off and spooking a pony! Then, toward the end of the match, the clouds rolled in and cool, almost cold, stronger breezes picked up. I'm sure the ponies and players appreciated that!

It is great fun to take pictures as the horses are such beautiful creatures.

I especially like to catch the action of a rearing pony.

I find it surprisingly hard to get shots with the ball included.

This pony is in a dramatic pose and has striking face and body markings too, compared with the more usual ones.

Wheeee! All four hooves off the ground!

I love this muscle shot, even though it was an accidental/too zoomed in one, it really shows you how fit and powerful these ponies are. They are so well trained and conditioned.

Scotland won by an embarrassing margin (10-5), scoring repeatedly in the last chukka!