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Monday, September 24, 2007

Apples


Well, yesterday (Sunday) we headed out to make our annual journey, well only about 30 minute drive, to pick apples. The ONLY place that I know of where you can still pick your own apples in this area. Some "say" you can pick your own, only to find out that what they mean is that they will pick them off the tree and put the apples into a huge bin and you can "pick" the apples out of the bin. NOT THE SAME!!

This place is beautiful and we have been coming back each year for about 6 years now. A lovely orchard with a huge selection of different types of apples. It is up in the mountains with a wonderful view of the area all around. You really feel like you must be at the closest point to heaven that exists on earth, surrounded by ripe, juicy, delicious apples. YUM!!

OK so back to reality, we get there and out from no where appears a sign "CLOSED". No it can't be....why are they closed. Don't they know this is one of the highlights of our year. The sign reads that most of their crop was damaged by an early frost. DARN. We were all so psyched for this, and such a bummer. So we talk about it for a while, and decide to go to one of the orchards in the valley, just another 20 minutes further up the road. Can't pick your own, can only buy pre-bagged apples, still fresher than in the store but NOT as fresh as the ones you pick yourself off the tree. We buy a couple of different varieties, and some local honey, takes a total of 5 minutes and we are off, eating apples as we go.

Because of the seriously bummed state of all vehicle occupants we decide to circle up around another 10 minutes and take a different route home that goes through a large town, and get something to eat. The restaurants were empty because it was like 3:00 in the afternoon, which is great. The waitress was wonderful and about 1/2 way through the meal she commented that we have beautiful children and that she was thrilled to see that we were letting them be just who they are. I am thinking she was looking at the long hair on my boys. LOL. Then she went on to say how she doesn't stress about little things and lets her daughter pick whatever she wants to wear etc. She was sincere and very polite. So that was kind of cool. Having a positive impact when you don't even think anyone is watching at all.

So we went home and later last night I made an apple pizza. The boys call it that because I use a pizza stone so the shape is like a pizza. I start with my homemade dough, a bit sweeter than a pizza dough, then add cut up fresh apples and top with a streusel that my German friend would be proud of. Cook for about 20 minutes and it is done, and delicious. Of course you have to let it cool for a few minutes for the apples to set up and so you don't burn your mouth. But delicious. We all enjoyed it. As you can see from the picture I took this morning it is already 1/2 gone.
So a great day after all, just not what we had planned. Sometimes that happens.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sweet Potatoes


We planted sweet potatoes this year, first time I have ever grown sweet potatoes. I think I blogged about them a while back. Well they are finally ready and so we pulled up a few today, for supper tonight. YUM!!! gotta love sweet potatoes. Growing up in Maine, I never tasted sweet potatoes until I moved away, then I fell in love with the little things. So we will have sweet potatoes for while now, delicious.


Chai Latte



I have always loved a chai latte. For the past several years I have started my day with a cup. Just so smooth and relaxing. Usually I just pick up a pre-made carton of the Oregon Chai or Tazo Chai, and mix it with vanilla soy milk. YUMMMM, although they both have different flavors they are both good.



I started thinking, that is a lot of $$ spent on chai and I bet, online, I can find a recipe that would cost me a lot less to make myself. So voila....here is the recipe. Me and my boys love it. This is is my adaptation of the original recipe I pulled off the Internet.



4-slices of fresh ginger, I cut them as thin as I can
1-cinnamon stick
4-whole cloves
1-tsp powdered cardamom
1/2-tsp vanilla extract
1-dash nutmeg
1-tbsp sugar
1/4 -C honey ( I usually triple the recipe and then use 1/2 C honey, I have found that what the recipe calls for is just too much for me. So for this recipe I would probably use less than 1/4 cup, maybe 1/8 cup honey or a tab bit more.)
3-Bigelow Darjeeling Blend tea bags
2 cups water
Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes then strain and combine with 2 cups of milk or silk. You can store this in the fridge easily and make a larger batch.

I use organic ingredients and picked up the bigelow tea because I had never made it before and didn't want to change the recipe until I had tried it. I think from now on I will pick up a nice organic black tea, and I probably already have some in my tea basket now.

Enjoy the recipe.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ant Lion


OK we have seen the ant lion pits all over the place up by our chickens. There is an area that is very sandy there and under cover so it gets very little rain. The pits are too cool and we sit and watch for long stretches of time as the ant lion builds the pit. Can't see the ant lion just the sand flying up out of the hole it is digging, very cool to watch, and mesmerizing.

Dallen has been helping me gather eggs every day now and he stops at the ant lion pits to try to catch a glimpse of the ant lion itself. They are hard things to catch. He will take a piece of straw and gently wiggle it in the pit to attract the ant lion and the other day came so close, he could see the pincher like jaws but that was it before it retreated back into it's hole.

Well today was just a treat. He really wanted to see what the ant lion looked like, in person, so he showed me how to giggle the straw just right to get the ant lion to come out of it's hole a bit. So we were up there for a few minutes going from hole to hole, trying to see one. I giggled the straw in one particularly large hole and the side collapsed a bit, and right there was the ant lion just sitting waiting for it's prey. We took it out for a minute to get a good look at it, then gently placed it back into it's pit so it could go on about it business of catching dinner.

Very cool, and I am so glad I was there to experience it with my son.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Cold Frames




It rained all day yesterday, what a blessing. But we are still low on water. Jackson helped me fashion a couple of cold frames today, I have never used cold frames so this will be our experiment. It was totally made out of recycled things from around our house so I guess if it doesn't work well the only thing wasted was our time, and not much of that. We also took the time to pull up our tomato cages and tomatoes while we were up in the garden. The day is just perfect for working outside, nice and sunny but with a nice cool breeze. Felt really nice. I always enjoyed spending time in our garden. We have been talking about next year. The weeds got the best of us again this year. It is just so so so HOT here mid summer that it makes it dangerous to be outside. Great weather for using the solar oven but for gardening it is miserable. Next year we are going to try mulching better to try to keep the weeds down some. Also my youngest may be at a point where it is OK if I go outside to garden in the morning while he is still asleep. Right now he does not like that. He likes me to be in the house when he wakes up. Which has been fine with me because, believe me, there is plenty to do inside the house to keep me busy.
Come Spring we will see how he is feeling about it all. And maybe revamp our morning routine a bit.

Friday, September 14, 2007

RAIN



Oh yes, it is raining. We have needed rain for so long and it looks and feels great. It is 9:00 in the morning here and I just ran outside to just be in the rain and also grab a couple of pictures, just like gold falling from the sky. Warm, refreshing, replenishing, renewing....rain. Now my seeds can germinate, hopefully. I have been holding off on watering the garden because the water levels here are really low, and at the same time been just praying for some rain. We are looking forward to a wonderful day FILLED with R.A.I.N. Does it get any better than this?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Last of the Goodness


In the last picture I posted on the 11th you could see my son Dallen in our freshly tilled garden. What you can't see in that picture is the very last of our quickly fading tomato and pepper plants. They are so dry, but not enough tomatoes or peppers to warrant watering them right now. We are trying to be really tight with our water.

Today after Dallen went out to the chickens with me we stopped in at the garden. We have one cucumber left from our garden and I was hoping to have just a last few tomatoes and maybe a pepper to make some bruschetta tonight.

Well as you can see in the picture this is the very last of our garden goodness for this season. We do have a few watermelon we are enjoying in our other garden but that is it. What a lovely year.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Fall Planting

OK Jackson tilled up my garden last night. I wanted to be able to pull up the plants so as not to stir up the ground but just didn't have time this year. Will try again next year. I know it is late in the season but we will give it a go and see how it works. As you can see from the picture the ground is so dry and dusty. It is a HOT day today but just turned dark and overcast so my thought is that it "might" rain. We will see. But I wanted to get the seeds in the ground just in case. If not I will go out and water tonight a bit. We are on a water restriction here and I hate to waste water so I will only water a bit. It is supposed to rain toward the end of the week too.
Hopefully we can make those cold frames this weekend and see if I can get any greens to grow. It is usually trial and error with me. I have tried following the advice of books and web sites but I seem to work better just winging it and seeing what happens. So that is how we work it here.

Seems to be working fine for us.
Oh and here is a picture of the beautiful purple basil we grew this year. Great flavor and adds great color to the garden and anything I cook.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Back from Live and Learn

We are back from the Live and Learn Conference...renewed spiritually. A great conference. Great people. I gave out some of my Okra seeds there but missed a couple of people I promised seeds to, so will have to snail mail them.

Didn't get my fall seeds planted or my cold frames built. Jackson said he will till up my garden when he gets home, so hopefully I can get my seeds in the ground tomorrow, then it is supposed to rain. A welcome relief from the lack of rain we have been having. I know it is late in the season but these are extra seeds I have on hand so I figure if it works, great, if not that is fine and I will have the cold frames all built for next year and maybe can get an earlier start on them.

We will see how it goes.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Live and Learn

Off to the Live and Learn Conference today. Will be there most of a week. Hoping to get to share some thoughts on gardening, and living green with some other people at the conference but we will see if there is time. I am bringing some of my Okra seeds to share, see if these grow as well for others in other parts of the country as they did for me.
:-)