Summer 2013

It started out so cold, that the plants had a slow start, but eventually it warmed up and there was a week in July, where we had the AC on for a week continuously.  Then the plants really took off!  We didn’t end up with THAT many tomatoes, but there are enough for us.   The coneflowers and the cosmos were blooming like crazy.  One of our begonia plants took all summer to make new buds, but it’s blooming like crazy now.  My hydrangeas had a good summer and only now are looking a bit bedraggled.  I love where we planted them, because I can see them from my kitchen window.  August was mostly comfortable, with a few hot days thrown in.

Now, I’m ready for fall.  We changed the decorations in the living room today, to the fall stuff and Sarah and I were swooning over the pumpkin-scented candles!  I want to see pumpkins and I want to buy apples, but I don’t know if I’m quite ready to see the leaves change!  LOL!  Some trees have already started, though.  I’m not as happy that the days are getting shorter.  It always becomes more obvious as you get into late August, and that will just keep happening faster and faster and faster.

We went to the county fair today.  Sarah got a 2nd place on her blueberry muffins

blueberry muffins

and a 4th place for her chocolate zucchini bread!

zucchini bread

She was happy and is already planning what baked goods she’ll make next year.

Emily got a 1st prize on her knitted turkey dishcloth (it’s hung sideways!),

knitted turkey dishcloth

a 3rd for her child’s hat,

red child's hat with white flower

a 4th on her baby sweater,

blue striped baby sweater

and a 4th for her pear tomatoes.

tomatoes-sm

The pigs were asleep, as usual.

sleeping pigs

Sarah and I got to have chocolate cookie dough ice cream cones and Gary had a butter pecan ice cream cone.  It was warm enough, out at the fair, but I know it could have been a lot worse!  We also watched the western drill teams do their routines to music, on horseback.  Their routines looks so complicated and they make it look easy!  Sarah and I loved going through the barns to see which horses we could pet!

Mid-June and I still need socks!

We have a day or two, where it is nice, where I think the air conditioning would be nice, but then the sun starts going down and it cools off nicely, so the AC stays off, the furnace doesn’t run, but yet my feet are still cold! I’m much happier with socks on, except that it’s nearly officially summer and I can’t stand to have bare feet. I don’t know if we are ever going to really warm up.  Last summer, we got up to 100 and this summer, it drops into the low 50s at night.

I wouldn’t be so concerned, but my daughter, who is studying horticulture, said that our tomatoes need the temp to be 55 or higher, at night, to form tomatoes!  So, I keep worrying about us not actually getting any tomatoes from our 2 tomato plants (Wisconsin 55 and Yellow Pear Tomatoes) It would really be a bummer not to have home-grown tomatoes.

Our basil doesn’t necessarily look happy, either.  I think it likes more heat, too.  We are only in the mid-60s today, which is good for humans, but maybe not so good for the plants that want it warmer.

Also, not that I would be swimming that much, but it has barely been warm enough to go swimming, too.  If I was a kid, I’d really be bummed.  Some friends of ours did put up their pool and did swim in it already, but one of the kids looked really cold in the picture.

My lupines and wave petunias are happy, though!

06.08.13 Lupines Petunias

If I was redoing my kitchen…

If I was redoing my kitchen, I’d like an island, although, I’m not sure it would fit. It would be nice to have more counter space. My major appliances are all less than 10 years old and all work fine, so really no dreams there. My sink and faucet work fine, too. If I could pick a KitchenAid mixers, though, ice blue would be a top choice! I’ve had my current KitchenAid mixer, since Christmas 1984 and it’s beige. They have such fun colors now.

I hope I win a no-fatigue mat, from A Spicy Perspective!

Jane Brody’s Chicken Stock

From Jane Brody’s Good Food Book:

Jane Brody’s Chicken Stock

2 pounds (approximately) chicken scraps
Cold water to cover (at least 2 quarts)
1 large onion, peeled and stuck with 3-4 cloves
1 large clove garlic, peeled
1 to 2 ribs celery, halved crosswise
1 to 2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 bay leaf
2 or more sprigs parsley OR 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 tsp tarragon
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp dillweed
Salt to taste (optional)
12 peppercorns OR 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Place all the ingredients in a large pot. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat, partially cover the pot, and simmer the stock for at least 1 hour. The longer the stock cooks, the richer it will become; but don’t cook it so long that that broth boils away.

If time permits, let the stock cool before pouring it through a fine strainer or sieve into a fat-skimming measuring cup, a bowl, or other suitable container. Press on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. ( I always use cheesecloth to strain the soup, too!)

If using the fat skimmer, decant the fat-free broth into containers for storage; otherwise refrigerate the broth until the fat hardens on the broth’s surface for easy removal. (Depending on the amount of gelatinous protein in the chicken scraps, the broth may gel at refrigerator temperatures.)

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I usually refrigerate the stock overnight and remove the fat the next day. Then I add the veggies (carrots, celery and onion usually), and add a teaspoon or two of many different spices: oregano, basil, dillweed, marjoram, sage, thyme, and lots of pepper. I try to watch my salt, when I do cook at home, so I really don’t add very much, if at all. If I get enough other herbs in there, I really don’t miss it! I know I made this once for my church’s Lenten soup suppers and it disappeared quickly.

Anyways, I cook the veggies until tender, throw in 2 cups of cooked chicken, make a cup or so of noodles (dry) and then add those, too. I usually cook the noodles separately.

We sometimes have a whole chicken for supper. Immediately after supper, I cut the chicken from the bones and put all the scraps in my stock pot. I strain the soup and put it in the fridge before I go to bed. If I don’t make the stock right away, it just doesn’t happen!

Oh man, I have chicken scraps in the freezer, too.  I’m getting hungry for chicken soup, too.  Plus it’s nice to have broth in the freezer, too. The weather is cooling off a bit, now that it’s September, so I’m getting hungry for soup!

Reprocessing the peach butter

 

peach butter simmering on the stove

We made some peach butter the other day with honey and vanilla, but realized after we had sealed the jars, that it was too runny, so we opened up the jars, dumped the contents into a Dutch oven, washed the jars, got new lids and the peach butter is cooking down some more. I haven’t made fruit butters as an adult and barely remember my dad making apple butter once, when I was a kid. We did have some that we didn’t process in jars and Sarah cooked that down some more and after chilling in the fridge seems to be the proper consistency. So, now we wait. Once we put the peach butter in jars again, and the water is boiling, they only have to process for 5 minutes, so that part won’t take long. I should go toast an English muffin and try the stuff that’s in the fridge!

Hot in the Twin Cities

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Spent all day in air-conditioned comfort talking about church webpages. We discussed thinking from the point of view of the user, more than the designer and things like that. It was fascinating and the day flew by! Had breakfast and lunch in the cafeteria and both were delicious! Eggs and toast for breakfast and stuffed chicken with risotto and veggies for lunch. For supper we went to Chipotle Grill in downtown Minneapolis, plus we also visited the Stone Arch Bridge. Now, we are in the un-air-conditioned discomfort of a dorm room after a hot summer day! It’s way cheaper than a hotel room, though. We also got to see the TCF Bank Field where the University of Minnesota Gopher’s play football the Humphrey MetroDome, where the Vikings play!

Soon time for bed. Too hot to stay up! Could rain tonight. We saw clouds gathering in the evening and we are under a thunderstorm watch! I think I just heard it thunder.