Wednesday, August 31, 2011

 Things still are hopping around here and there just never seems to be enough time to tackle it all!  I try to get back to the house to catch up whenever I can. A bit of hope is out there as there may be a job opportunity. I'm not holding my breath, but I am crossing my fingers.

 Meanwhile, I've been trying to keep a handle on the tomatoes which means every other day I am making sauce. I'm grateful for every jar as this is one thing I use a LOT.

  The imperfect tomatoes go to the chickens and the rest gets used fresh or into various sauces. This morning I just made a plain stewed tomatoes. I love adding tomatoes to beef barley stew or I use it to smother fish (I lay out a bed of veggies sliced rather thin.. then whatever firm white fish I may have on hand over it.. top it off with crushed stewed tomatoes and bake it.) 

 The Queen Anne tomatoes are rather juicy, thin skinned, seedy.. which lends well to eating fresh, but not too great for sauces. The Goldman's Italian American ( GIA ) are much less seedy, drier, well flavored.. and a bit thicker skinned. Blanching the GIA's was fast as they easily slipped out of their skins and are rather large tomatoes too. 

 I of course could not stop myself..
  I am still awaiting the Jersey Giants. No wonder that strain is "rare" if it is almost September and still the tomatoes are green. A strain I will try again next year should I get seeds from them, and I will make sure to start them well ahead of the rest.

 The hornworms successfully nailed all of my other paste/ sauce type tomatoes. The yellow pears have been in high demand.  They are the perfect snack size and are great to toss into various dishes. I've tossed them in with carrots, potatoes, garlic, onions that were around a roasting chicken (the gravy made from that was fantastic. We brought some to DV and he came to the house the very next day to ask how I made it.)  I'll typically put a dash of olive oil in a pan (although my husband likes the bacon version better.. chop up a few lean slices and crisp up in a pan.. set bacon aside and use the drippings instead of olive oil).. thin sliced onions, sweet peppers (sometimes I'll toss in a chili pepper with the sweet), thin cut carrots, and several handfuls of the yellow pear tomatoes. At the end I'll put in minced garlic and pour this over pasta. The yellow pear tomatoes will soften and break to create a lovely sauce. I can make endless combinations (beans, corn, edamame, mushrooms.. almost anything works!)  The bacon version.. the bits go on top as a garnish usually with chopped chives and parsley.

 I haven't yet jarred up any salsa. That is on the list for next year. We can eat a lot of salsa when it is around.

 I have several good sized squash stashed away. Many winter squash are best eaten after they have had some time to cure. Fresh off the vine many seem bland and water.. their flavor improves as they dry out a bit. They will be wonderful in the middle of winter!

 This is my latest treasure..
      Pink old fashioned hollyhocks courtesy of yet another neighbor. His Grandmother planted this stand of hollyhocks before he was born. That puts it sometime before the 1940's. I have collected up enough of these seeds to plant an entire city block. Hollyhocks are biennial and in some areas will keep reseeding themselves quite happily. After drying.. these seeds will go into the freezer for 2 weeks to remove any potential weevils. 

 The honey bees have been happily visiting these flowers all day long. (Unfortunately.. so have the Japanese beetles.. munching on the foliage.) The seed pods remind me of wheels of cheese. A long sleeved shirt and gloves are helpful if you have to mess with these a bit as they have irritating hairs all along the stems and stalk. His hollyhocks are not staked up (they are planted along the wall of a free standing shed).. so in the crazy wind storms they got knocked over. They are well over 7 feet tall and still putting out blooms. 

 Today we have apple picking to tackle.  I need baskets. Those old apple baskets of woven wood slats would be incredibly helpful right now. Many of our apple trees on the bigger farm have been nailed by a blight. Flowering very well.. heavy fruit set.. and then BLAMO! A few trees didn't blow their load, but most did. (Quite a few fruit trees will probably need to be removed. Sad.. but necessary. Fruit wood is quite lovely for smoking meats..)

 The pears are still going crazy.. but they are a wild sort that nature planted. Small, heavy producing, highly russeted.. they won't be winning any beauty contest. They do however taste very good and are sweet.. even though I sampled them while they were still very unripe. 

 Black walnuts should be along soon. A few have dropped unintentionally, but they are not ready for picking yet. It should be a decent year for them, but in no way great. There are not nearly as many nuts on the trees this year.. but still more than enough to keep me busy. The husks smell lemony.. a good thing as I forgot I had stashed several of them in my backpack.

 It rained most of the day yesterday.. so gardening is not going to happen. In the next day or two I will be keeping my eyes peeled for puffballs. Mushrooms are triggered by both moisture and temperature fluctuations. It is kinda like playing a slot machine.. just with better odds of a pay out. I swear I have been dreaming about these mushrooms..  with wine, caramelized onions & garlic, and steeping in a beef broth.. and a crusty bread to dip into it. That can be made with any mushroom.. like button.. and it still is very good.  

And to my surprise.. I found that Guineas and chickens can cross.  As Roy, the Americauna rooster has displayed his vim and vigor... in the front yard...with what feels like every time a car passes... I am not concerned. Mainly because Roy... likes guinea boys.

 Back to work I go. I hope you all get a moment of more to enjoy summer while it is still here!


  1. You have a gay rooster?

    I wonder if it is a domination like thing kinda like dogs do?


  2. Surely you jest? I mean, it boggles the mind.

  3. I would never have guessed that a guinea and chicken could cross...fascinating. Wonder what across between a leghorn and guinea would look like...might be the perfect chicken for me:)

    All your talk about sauce, and fish, and tomatoes is making me hungry.

    Hollyhocks are one of my favorite flowers and we always have a few that come up around the garden. How neat that you have such an old strain.

    Enjoy those tomatoes and best of luck with the job possibility.

  4. @ PP.. wish I was kidding. I thought it was a pecking order thing.. but the "love connection" was noticed on many occasions. The 2 guinea hens are old enough that they could start laying any day now. The leader and the 2nd in command of the guineas are both roosters. The roosters will spar with each other.. but the only ones getting "special attention" are the male guineas. The female guineas just keep babbling all day long. It works out as we want the eggs primarily.

    @ Arsenius.. totally not joking. Wishing I had older birds around to help them figure a few basics out. Although the process of them getting a clue is hilarious.

    @ Mr. H.. the hybrid is sterile.. and they look to be quite large. From the link.. the naked neck x guinea... lol.. they look like the chicken version of Jethro Gibbs from that TV show (name escapes me atm.)

    I can't wait for the weather to cool a little (next few days hopefully).. I'm really wanting to bake.

  5. A chicken and a guinea...that would be one weird critter.

  6. Oh, so jealous of your mountain of tomatoes! We only had one good year so far. (and that was at the old house, perhaps the clay soil had more minerals to keep them happy) I keep thinking, next year will be better, but so far each year has been disappointing at my Mom's house. I may need to find a local source of rock flour to amend the soil.

    A guinea/chicken hybrid, now that's a weird looking bird! Well, if you get one, you get a big bird to eat!

    What a beautiful Hollyhock! I just planted one in the front garden and is starting to grow with more vigor. I hope I can see some blooms before the frost kills it back some. It's supposed to be light pink. (I snagged some seeds on a walk too)

    We just had a bit of rain last night! (odd for this time of year)

  7. Guins are odd looking.. but we wouldn't plan to let anything hatch out until next year.

    It just worked out for us this year.. and for our garden swap buddies! Everyone had majorly hit and miss luck with what we each grew.. but the swap made up for it. A mini CS.. crop swap.

    You gardens always are amazing AJK.. from an outsider's perspective.. you have a bounty many dream to accomplish!