Friday, July 24, 2020

Sponge Sweezie Squishy Pants

And the sensor is in the shade.
It's official.  This is my least favorite summer in recent memory.  Too much heat.  Too little rain.  WAY too much humidity.  It takes all my energy to move from one sticky chair to another.  I finally threw in the soggy towel and ordered a portable air conditioner with sufficient BTUs to actually cool the living area.  I was lucky, as it was on sale and I got 18 months of zero financing.  Still, it was not on my budget list.  At least I feel I have my life back.

The "where is my blanket" look.

The garden is enjoying the weather - unfortunately, I only last about ten minutes in the 99% humidity before I cry "uncle"!  This has left the weeds, snails and slugs to run rampant.  It has also led to some amazing finds in the squash plants (baseball bat-sized zucchini, anyone?)  I think I have managed to access my photos, so hold onto your socks.
Savory Zucchini & Cheddar Scones
I have started to work through my zucchini recipes - I have amassed quite a few over the years.  So far, there have been Mediterranean Zoodles, zucchini pizza crust pizza, savory scones (my favorite, so far), lemon zucchini bread (GF), zucchini fritters and, next up to bat, savory zucchini and ricotta pie.  I am impatiently awaiting the ripening of my tomatoes so that I can try a creamy tomato bake, with hollowed out, ripe tomatoes stuffed with herbs, ricotta and parm, baked and then topped with a Mediterranean style dressing.  With even a reasonably successful garden, the possibilities are endless!

These photos were taken in the beginning of July, so multiply the green by 50.  I will get out and take pictures this weekend, if it's not too brutal.  There is so much to do outside, too.  It ain't fair, I tell ya!  I finally managed to find someone to rebuild my fence, but now am faced with material shortages and have posts being delivered, but no fencing panels - ETA unknown.

There has been an abundance of many things here - some good, some no so.  There is a bumper crop of crows, sparrows, hummers and chipmunks.  A huge grey owl has moved into the wooded area nearby.  Apparently, there's a bumper crop of red-tailed hawks and wild turkeys, too.  And, for the first time in years,we have raccoons.  Joy.  The chipmunk problem has seemed to have lessened - probably because of the hawk population.  The crows help protect the hens from the hawks, as they hate them and raise a holy ruckus when any are within range.  They are much more reliable than the rooster, who is as sharp as a marble.  I am still going through over a cup and a half of hummer nectar every day, although it seems to be slowing down slightly.  There are sparrows everywhere, much to Lovey's consternation and Slimmie's excitement.  I have heard the owl for the past month - checking its call against my bird app (I do love some aspects of technology).  If I had any doubts, they were dispelled when I trotted out to the sheep enclosure a few mornings ago to find a headless rabbit.  It was a large rabbit and, apparently, owls take the best bits (contained in the head) and leave the rest, when their prey is too big to carry.  If that doesn't put you off your breakfast, I don't know what would. 

A week ago, I had put an empty waterer on top of the chicken's feed dish to keep out the critters overnight.  When I came out the next morning, the waterer was six feet away.  Social distancing or raccoon? 
Notice the telltale sign in the
'bottom of the duck's pool
All doubt was gone when, a few days ago, I heard the duck alarm again, without crows, and went out to find a Corgi-sized raccoon climbing down the fence into the chicken yard.  It wasn't even dark!  I scared him off and then had a heck of a time getting the ducks and remaining chickens into the safety of the coop for the night.  Herding cats or pushing string, comes to mind.   Yesterday, again before dusk, the ducks set off the alarm again, and there he/she was on the roof of the coop, on its way down.  This time I went for the air rifle and managed to put a pellet in its butt.  I'm hoping it was enough of a dissuasion to have it look for another opportunity elsewhere.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Recipe reality check.

(I am still unable to access my photos after June - anyone else having trouble?)

Now that I am wading into zucchini season (oh, be still my heart!), I am constantly on the lookout for new recipes to keep the excitement going.  I ran across a humdinger recently and, after preparing it, decided that there should be a new standard of recipe-rating.

It should go thusly (based on totally random numbers)

Portions:  4 (#+ = three times that much if you are eat like a normal human)  (#- = less than 4 if you are not eating anything else)

Preparation: 30 minutes (XX = will take twice as long as you think) (XXX! = don't bother, unless you have a few days free)

Difficulty:  Easy/Intermediate/Culinary Institute Degree/Flaming Genius

Number of glasses of an adult beverage needed to make it through the recipe - 1= pleasant experience; 2 = slightly frustrating; 3 = you should have your head examined for even contemplating this recipe; 4 = you're drinking dinner tonight

Photo from How Sweet Eats
Now, when I look at this photo, I see a great and easy new way to fix zucchini.  When someone with a firmer grasp of reality looks at it, they may think, "hmm.  I would have to shave off thin, whole slices of multiple zucchini, which are never perfectly shaped, which would take special equipment to do it right, equipment that I don't have, and, even then, it would take at least an hour to achieve even some semblance of equally thin ribbons.  Then, let's think of the actual skewering.  Thousands of thin ribbons of fragile, uncooked vege, having to be painstakingly threaded onto wooden skewers (which you would have to remember to soak for an hour).  This threading process would be made quite a bit more difficult by the instructions to brush them all with the melted butter mixture first - ensuring that they slide all over the place, seldom get skewered in the center, break constantly, and a goodly amount will fall on the floor.  Where the dogs will lick off the butter, but not touch the vege.  You will then be forced to wash the floor, if you don't want a buttered surface to slide upon.  And never mind serving it as a side dish - you won't have any time or energy left to make anything else.

I did stick with it and am glad that I did, as it was delish.  However, the next time - giving myself enough time to forget how finicky it is - I will hire house elves and have them use the ribbon-maker part of my zoodler.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Like molasses in January

Only, it's hot as hell in July.  However, there's been a hitch in my giddyap.  There's been no giddyap at all, frankly.  After much pressure from the Mothership, I took last week as vacation (now in a permanent state of staycation).  I am very frugal with my personal days (or PTO, in firmspeak), so I was rather smug with getting an entire week for only three and two-thirds days out of my PTO bank.  Ha!  The good news is that it rained almost every day of my vacation.  This means that I could take a break from daily watering of the garden and get to all the indoor things on my list.  I achieved one out of two and I bet you can guess which one.

The garden is going gangbusters, thanks to my having more time to tend to it.  I spent Saturday and Sunday weeding, as those were the only two days with no rain forecast.  However, the temperatures have been climbing steadily, along with the humidity, and, as we all know by now, the higher those numbers, the lower my energy.  There was a lot of napping and as much showering as is prudent with my well.

I finished a stack of muslin produce bags for my friend, Marianne's, new business venture - a general store that carries only local, regional and US-made goods, along with their organic vege, mushrooms and eggs.  While I am often the supplier of good ideas, that fact does not always go hand-in-hand with my being the producer of the outcome of those ideas.  I am not a seamstress, by any stretch of the imagination.  And my sewing machine(s) often let me down.  Such was the case.  I have a middle-aged Husqvarna machine that should have worked fine, as it was just serviced at the end of last year.  And these bags only require straight stitching.  Did I mention that I decided to go with French seams?  And that I had no real idea of what that was, other than a) French, therefore fancy, and b) the thing to use when you don't have a serger.  This required a LOT of thread and much bobbin-winding.  Which would have just been slightly annoying had it not been for the fact that I could no loosen that knob thingy on the big wheel thingy that powers the foot mechanism.  It would not loosen, no matter how hard I tried and what tools I plied to it.  I ended up pulling out my mother's elderly 1946 Singer Featherlight to finish the job.  That required much consultation on YouTube.  But the job was done and product delivered.  Heaven help me.

Given the weather, not much knitting has gone onto or come off of the needles.  I did whip up a very cute bunny doll for Marianne's granddaughter - and since, as usual, it wasn't finished until a half hour before I was going to leave to deliver it, no photos were taken.  I am currently working on a bear version of the doll.  I am, apparently, in my "Stuffie Phase".  I will be sure to take a pic of this one.  Which I will take up again when the temperatures drop below 90 with 99 percent humidity.  Sometime in September.

Other than that?  Not much.  I did manage to find homes for a carload of items I had winnowed out before the pandemic.  That was a bonus.  Thrift stores are slowly coming back to life, but with so many caveats that it's almost not worth the effort.  The Goodwill I frequent holds all donations for a period of 5 days before processing them - in large cardboard boxes...outside...  I have pared down my grocery shopping to once every three weeks.  Now that the garden is in second gear, I am able to provide all my salad greens, with zucchinis coming in soon.  Of the eight squash plants I planted - four zucchini and four yellow squash - all are zucchini with one lone yellow squash plant.  I really do have to work on my labeling for next year.  I have a pint jar of half sour pickles in the fridge and enjoyed a stir fry last night with one tiny zucchini, three kinds of kale, rat tail radish pods, and red onion.  Once my photos show up on Blogger (why, oh, why am I still only able to access May pics???) I will show you the fruits of my labors.

I'm back in the saddle this week, with its usual parade of endless Zoom meetings, conference calls and other techie delights.  Speaking of Zoom, I will introduce you to my Zoom persona once I can access the photos I've been amassing.  My sisters, mom and nephew in NC did a Zoom meeting to celebrate Father's Day - the first one without dad.  My mother, bless her, peered over my sister's shoulder and cried, "oh, look at all your little faces!"  She's 96 and a pip.

I hope you are all staying safe - not surprisingly, a lifting of lockdown has created the illusion that all is the same as it was before Covid.  It is not.  I know that I am much better suited (both by personality and lifestyle) to ride out extended isolation, but I also have no intention of spreading this killer to anyone in my family or elsewhere.  Let's hope consideration and empathy win out.