Sunday, August 31, 2008

Cookin' with Bro

Most Americans don't consider Labor Day a major holiday, but here at The Realm, we do. My brother and sister-in-law make the trek from the Fort Worth (TX) area each Labor Day weekend for the shared birthday celebration of my sister-in-law and my daughter. We enjoy each other's company, sometimes watch a little college football, and always eat really good. My brother offered to make gumbo again this year, but I suggested that he teach me a new dish. What can I say? He is such a better cook than I am.

Tonight's menu consisted of Crawfish Bisque and Shrimp Etouffee (and it only took 5 college-educated adults to figure out how to spell etouffee). The etouffee was good, but the bisque was sublime!!!

Tomorrow, they will head back to Texas (along with their 2 grandkids who came along). We will miss them. We enjoyed the food, the trip to War Eagle Mill, and tracking the Razorback game and the LSU game on the Internet. We did not enjoy worrying over Gustav, and we all hope our home state of Louisiana gets off easier this time than 3 years ago.

The good news is that Bro is taking jalapenos home with him! We plan to strip the 4 bushes tomorrow -- except for the smallest peppers -- and pack those back to Texas to share with my nephew (who contributed the crawfish bisque recipe). Here's one recipe they plan to use them for. It's a good one -- we made it a couple of years ago on one of Bro's visits.

12 fresh jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
12 slices bacon, cut in half (cheap stuff -- not too thick)

Stuff each jalapeno half with cream cheese. Completely wrap each stuffed jalapeno half with bacon. Pin in place with a toothpick. Deep fry until bacon is cooked.

Indulge responsibly!

UPDATE: I managed to place almost 2 gallons of jalapenos with Bro! The small peppers left on the bushes will take me through first frost quite nicely.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Sad Day

My brother-in-law sent me this.... I guess we'll have to pack more jars for our next La. trip.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

A whole row of surprise lilies popped up in the Cottage Garden 2 weeks ago, and then this lone one appeared last week in another part of the same garden. I personally like to be naughty and call them Naked Ladies, but I usually get strange looks when I do so, especially by the folks who favor the nickname Resurrection Lily. Skye would probably dip into the Latin and call them Lycoris squamigera, from the family Amaryllidaceae.

All of these summer bulbs were real surprises, as they are bulbs I rescued from an old farmplace nearby that was about to be bulldozed to build yet another subdivision with endless front yards perfectly mowed, fertilized, watered, and poisoned (with herbicide – we wouldn’t want any of the WRONG grasses in our lawns!). And, yes, I called and got permission first. The thing was, when I dug the bulbs, I thought they were spider lilies. Imagine my surprise when all these pretty flowers popped up the last two weeks of July and were PINK!

By the way, I've read that these are also called Spider lilies by some folks, but we differentiate between the pink summer-blooming Naked Lady and the (usually) red fall-blooming Spider Lily.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Gourd’n Arches

Skye and I made a field trip out to The Pet Lodge last week to visit the gourd vine from the seed Dee reclaimed from my mother’s 24-year-old gourd. (Mother has revised her estimate. She says the last year she grew gourds was 1983.) We came away with a bag of seeds to plant ourselves next year and to share with Mother. While we were there, I snapped this picture of the Gourd Arch made from cattle panels. I have an arch like this planned for the bench in the Kitchen Garden, but I’m thinking morning glories followed by cypress vine, at least the first year. I really want to tempt the hummingbirds into the Kitchen Garden.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Kitchen Garden Update

Wednesday, the top soil was finally delivered! Here's the dump truck unloading the first of two loads of dirt and also The Kitchen Garden with all the dirt. (That's border collie and tennis ball savant Penny in the foreground.) Next step: tear down the fence and begin building the forms to hold in place the gravel we plan to use as a transition between the pool and the beds. But it's hot, hot, hot in northwest Arkansas, so work is progressing slowly.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Pickles, Anyone?

I'm posting these 2 pickles recipes after a conversation about cucumbers and pickles at a party last night. It seems some of us (not me!) have more cucumbers than we can give away!

Pickle Recipe #1
Aunt Faye's Dill Pickles
summer 1994

per quart:
1 cup vinegar
1 cup water
mustard seed
1 tablesoon salt
1 clove garlic
dill seed
dill weed
2 hot peppers

Bring vinegar, water, and salt to boil. In bottom of quart jar, place dill seed, dill weed, mustard seed, clove garlic, hot peppers. Pack with whole cucumbers. Half fill jar with boiling liquid. Put more dill on top. Cover with liquid. Waterbathe 10 minutes. Let set 3-4 weeks before using.

Pickle Recipe #2
My nephew loves this one: Kinda Sorta Sours by Alton Brown. Find the link at the Food Network.


Morning Sounds...

The sounds I awaken to vary. Some days, it is my alarm clock, or worse yet, my daughter’s alarm clock. Other days, it’s one cat or another wanting to go outside or to come inside. Sometimes it is routine noises made by my husband or daughter as they move about the house in the early hours. On my best days, it’s rain on the roof or the gentle gurgle of the coffee pot.
When I was a kid, the noise three days a week was my mother’s churning. She used a dasher churn, one that required her to move a wooden dasher up and down in like a piston. The churn went “ka-chunk, ka-chunk, ka-chunk,” with a bit of a sloshing as the dasher struck the continually solidifying milk. It was an ordinary household noise to me, as ordinary as my daughter finds the washer, the mixer, or the bread machine. I know now that it was not ordinary to most people of my generation. When I describe the household I grew up in, which was more self-sufficient than most 1970s households, my friends marvel at my stories. (The picture isn't Mother's churn, but one of a similar style.)
I’ve shared with my mother those early morning memories and asked her what she remembers hearing in the early morning of her 1930s childhood. Her morning memory is the sound of her father grinding coffee beans in a manual coffee grinder that hung on the kitchen wall of their Louisiana farmhouse. The ordinary sounds of her childhood are as different from mine as mine are from my daughter’s. I can’t help but wonder: what noise will someday awaken my granddaughter?

Friday, August 1, 2008

August Ozark Gardening Calendar

August 1
Kitchen Garden:
Plant southern peas, summer squash (in partial shade with thick mulch), carrots, collards, lima beans, cucumbers.
Set out tomatoes, broccoli
Plant snap peas & sugar peas.
Take cuttings of perennial herbs to start new plants.
Berry Patch:
After blackberry harvest, remove spent floricanes and fertilize. Prune laterals on primocanes to 4 feet to encourage branching.
Replace thin straw on strawberries & blackberries.
Cottage Garden:
Order bulbs for fall planting.
Plant autumn crocus & colchicum.
Cut lilies to ground when stalks die back.
Cut back annuals to promote fall reblooming.
Woodlot & Orchard:
Order stock for fall planting.
Keep windfall apples picked up.

August 8
Kitchen Garden:
Transplant cabbage, cauliflower
Plant beets, cucumbers, turnips
Check elderberries for ripeness. Harvest & mark for taking cuttings in spring.

August 15
Kitchen Garden:
Plant bush beans, cucumbers, mustard, kale.

August 22
Kitchen Garden:
Plant cucumbers, lettuce, radishes
Start pinching out any newly set melons.

August 29
Kitchen Garden:
Plant spinach, lettuce, radishes
Cottage Garden:
Plant perennial and biennial seed.
Plant container-grown evergreens if weather is not too stressful.