Friday, July 19, 2019

Garden victories, garden woes

I'll begin on a positive note:  We had BLT's yesterday with tomatoes from our own garden.  If bacon wasn't so bad for us, we'd have them again for the next three days.  The bad news on this score is that it won't last.  Every day I pull off more blighty leaves and branches.

As you can see in this picture, there are some big tomatoes that are almost ripe, and I have more ripening on a table outside.  However, every plant has evidence of blight.
See the brown, dried-up leaves?  Every day I pull off more of them.

So I'm not really expecting to have tomatoes for long, but I will enjoy them while they're available.  Next year, if I even have the inclination to try again, I may try using fungicide.  I used it long ago with some success, then later on I tried it without much success.  We'll see.

On the other hand, cucumbers are doing well, happily climbing the garden fence.  Just so you know, all that tall grass is not in our yard, it's part of the pasture.  For years I had problems with squash bugs killing all my viney plants.  Last year I never even saw a squash bug when I let the cucumbers climb; if that turns out to be the case this year, I might consider doing the same thing with a squash plant or two.  If I have to give up on tomatoes, I'll need to plant something else in their place (as if anything could take the place of a good garden tomato).

Wednesday Cliff got a call from the radiology doctor where he went for radiation, reminding him of his appointment yesterday:  We didn't even know he HAD an appointment!  On his last visit to the urologist, he was told he might get to stop taking the female hormone shots next time, and that wish of Cliff's came true!  So eventually he will lose the hot flashes and other side effects of the drug.  He always complains that the doctors just make him come in so they'll make more money, and that he's wasting his time.  Yesterday, for instance, he said, "That doctor could have told me everything on the phone.  All he did was ask how I was doing and answer a few questions."

I told him before he complains about doctors, he should remember they've saved his life at least twice.  I'm sure he was heading for a heart attack before his bypass surgery; and the doctor who operated on him after his gall bladder exploded told me after surgery, "He could have died!"

Since we were sort of in the vicinity, we stopped at Costco after the doctor visit.  Among other things, I wanted one of those big, Costo rotisserie chickens.  We got home around noon.  I baked a couple of potatoes in the microwave and heated up and seasoned a can of green beans to go with our chicken.  I always grab a leg and thigh; Cliff prefers breast meat.  Today I'll use two cups of the chicken to make our low-fat chicken jambalaya.  We'll get at least two more meals out of the chicken, possibly three more, after today.  

This morning I was praying for a situation;  actually, I was praying for a person (no blood kin) who caused the situation because, you know, we're supposed to pray for those we'd rather smack in the face.  But then I found myself doing such a ridiculous thing I couldn't believe it:  I was telling God how He should fix the whole situation!  I hope I'm not the only person who's ever done that.  I did apologize to Him, and even had a little laugh at myself because, really... who do I think I am?  

Honestly, I've learned that the main thing prayer changes is the person doing the praying.  When I have a conversation with God about things, it gives me a different perspective.  Let's face it, the only person I even have a remote chance of changing is myself, anyhow.  

I finished the great book I was reading yesterday and am now reading a delightful book by Robert Hillman, "The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted".  It's supposed to be a three-hour-and-12-minute read, so I'll likely have it done by this evening.  It reminds me of "A Man Called Ove", which Cliff and I both loved.  Speaking of Cliff, I finally got him to start a Chet and Bernie book, and after reading awhile, he said, "I think I'm gonna like this book."

OK, it's time to head to the kitchen and start the jambalaya.  

God bless all my readers.  You are the cream of the crop!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Cooking for a crowd

Years ago, I cooked lots of big meals.  We had some Thanksgiving dinners with twenty or thirty people here, and I did most of the cooking back then because I loved to do it.  I knew how much food I needed to cook, and I prepared ahead of time to have all the proper ingredients on hand.  I made light rolls from scratch and somehow managed to let them rise twice and get the timing right so they'd come out of the oven when the turkey (or roast) was done to a turn and the noodles were ready for the table.  

Not so, these days.  We don't have many meals for the masses these days, and that's a problem each summer when our son comes to visit.  Oh, we don't have huge numbers of folks when he's here, but it's more than I'm used to, and I'm cooking things I don't often cook for the two of us.  Things get a little "iffy" at mealtime... will there be enough for everybody?  Will I have all the needed ingredients?

This year, the grandson took vacation for the week his dad came, as did his wife.  Our son-in-law who lives a couple of miles away had knee replacements this year, had been back to work for a week afterward, and then took that week as vacation.  This crew doesn't make up a huge crowd, but when you mostly cook for two, it's still a challenge.  The first morning I made biscuits and gravy and managed to screw up the biscuits (I know, right?) and make an insufficient amount of gravy.  I redeemed myself on another morning, though, with a double batch of perfect biscuits and over a gallon of gravy.

I will say I did better this year on buying the ingredients I would need:  Ten pounds of flour, ten pounds of sugar, plenty of rice, a fresh bag of raisins.  Oh, and three dozen eggs.  The one thing I didn't consider was milk; up until two years ago, I milked a cow and never lacked for milk and cream.  But now our milk comes from the grocery store, and I forgot how much of it is consumed, both by cooking, and by people who love to drink milk.  So there were three separate runs for milk during the week.  Planning a meal is harder than it used to be!

Overall, it's a nice problem to have, because we get to see our son for a few days each year, and that's what it's all about.  It was nice making the "cookie of the day" each day, and rediscovering desserts I never bother to make for me and Cliff (brownie pudding, yes!  With ice cream on top while it's still warm).  Once, while digging around in the deep freeze, I found apple pie filling for one pie in the depths of the thing.  I had prepared apples by peeling and slicing them, mixing them in the sugar and cinnamon necessary, and putting them in a pie plate to freeze; then I took the frozen product out of the pie pan and placed it in a gallon baggie.  

All I had to do was make the crust, put the prepared-and-frozen filling in it, and bake it for a half-hour longer than I normally would.  It was delicious!  I hope I get myself off the computer and into the kitchen this fall when apples are ready at the orchard, because I wouldn't mind having enough saved, ready-made fillings for half-a-dozen pies.  

Awhile back I bought a device that was supposed to teach Gabe not to bark at people; a reader wanted to know more about it so she could try it on her dog.  There are several kinds, but if you want to see one similar to mine, click HERE.  Now let me give you the bad news:  After a month or so, Gabe figured out it didn't hurt his ears all that much and began barking again.  The thing still works, but it no longer works on him; push the button all you like, but there's no result any more.  I do think it helped him learn to mind me better and obey my commands, though.  When you read reviews on the thing, you'll see it doesn't work for all dogs.

Until next time,
Donna