Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lots and lots of cucumbers

We've had a great harvest of cucumbers from the garden. 

I have never made pickles before, but the reason we grew cucumbers is so we could have pickles!

I read up on a few recipes, bought a 12 pack of quart sized jars, some dill, some garlic, a large box of salt, and a lot of vinegar.

With my husband's help, it took us four pots, three burners, and several hours to do the job.  Most of the cucumbers were cut into spears, but there are some that were sliced.  You can see in the picture below the jar in the middle was sliced.  On Father's Day, we made 12 quarts and 3 pints of pickles. 

Yesterday I made 10 more quarts of pickles and another 2 quarts of dilly beans (pickeled green beans.)  We've got A LOT of canned pickles.  The recipe said to wait three weeks to try them.  I'm thinking on the 4th of July we'll bust out a jar of pickles and see how they taste. 

I hope they are good because we've got 24 quarts of the stuff!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A little bit crazy

This week got a little crazy.  Hopefully, all returns to normal next week....  we shall see.

I took pictures of my pickles that I made last Sunday, but I haven't uploaded them to the computer yet.

The kids are having a good summer.  They've played a lot on the trampoline, lots of Wii and computer games, watched movies and all those good things.  This coming week starts the several weeks of camps that various kids are involved in.

My improv group is going very well.  I'm actually doing two.  One is for a group of teenagers.  They are funny, loud, and very creative.  The other group is for kids ages 7-12.  I've got three or four kids coming to that along with my four kids.  It's been a lot of fun.

My house has been neglected for the last three days.  The kids have done a pretty good job of cleaning and working, but there is still some serious cleaning that I need to do.  Off to do that....

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Fruits of our Garden

Over the weekend, we harvested some of our garden.  There is more still growing!

This weekend's harvest included:  more peas, green beans, 6 small potatoes, 4 rhubarb stalks, lemon mint, borage flowers and leaves, and a bunch of cucumbers.

I wanted to make rhubarb jelly.  I've never done that before!  I had a hard time finding a simple rhubarb only recipe, but finally managed to come up with one and I got started.  It wasn't difficult at all and I ended up with one jar of naturally beautiful red jelly.

The stalks, already a beautiful red.

After boiling the chopped stalks, pectin and lots of sugar, I hung the mixture in cheese cloth and let it drip into the jelly jar.  In this picture, it had already filled up the jelly jar, but was still dripping some jelly, so I filled up a little Tupperware and we've been eating that.

The jelly jar got canned properly and here it is:

Don't you just love the color??  The mixture in the cheese cloth, we took out and kept.  It's the consistency of chutney and so yummy on crackers.  Who knew rhubarb could be so good.  (Of course, with two cups of sugar mixed in, how could it not be good?)

Coming next:  Pickles, lots and lots of pickles!

Friday, June 15, 2012

When the kids get hold of the camera

Photos taken by my kids.  This first one is one of the boys holding a balloon.  Thanks to the joys of a paint program, they enhanced the picture.

A science fair project:  What would happen to your nose if you didn't have snot?  Balloon #1 got a daily application of "snot", balloon #2 got snot every other day and balloon #3 received snot only once. 

Do you want to know what happens to those balloons?  Here you see balloon #1 after 10 days or so of daily snot application:

Day 10 of balloon #3 after getting only one snot application.  It isn't pretty:

This is what we get when Peanut gets a hold of the camera.  A picture of birthday decorations and her pre-school workbook.

There you go.  Random photos from my camera.  Kids are so entertaining!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

My Great-Grandmother

I've written about my great-grandmother before.  Her name was Peggy, but we called her Mamu.  She was born in Glasgow, Scotland.  While I'm always aware of my Scottish heritage, I don't often think about it much, but over the last year and especially the last few months, Scotland has been thrown into my mind over and over again.

I'm trying to re-connect with the family there.  I've met some of the cousins, back in 1992 when I got to travel to Scotland. (Seriously, I can't believe it's been 20 years.)  When it comes to my family history from my Scottish line, I don't know much, so one of the cousins and I are trying to share.  Technology is amazing.

Here is one picture I have of my great-grandmother that I love.  It is her and her older brother, Jimmy, taken in 1901. 
Mamu is 4 in this picture, the same age as my youngest daughter. Peanut actually has the exact same shape of face as Mamu and by this picture, I would even guess their hair color is similar.   Family!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

The herb garden

I'm growing the neatest little herb garden.  I'm very pleased with the way it is working out.  One new plant that I've got growing, I had never seen before, but after some reading, I was quite intrigued.  It's called borage.  I've planted a bunch, but one has grown much larger than any of the rest.  It' comes up to my thigh, so it's tall.  Two days ago it produced it's first flower!

The borage has a lot of herbal medicine qualities.  It's good for coughs and stress.  Next time my kids get a cough, I'm going to try making a tincture with the borage leaves.  I've been reading about the borage and it has been used as a medicinal plant for centuries. 

 This is the beautiful flower of the borage.  It's blue about about the size of a penny.  The flowers are edible and can be used as a salad topper, dessert topper or frozen in ice cubes for drinks.  They sure are pretty little flowers.

I ate this one today.  I felt very silly pulling a flower of a plant and sticking the flower into my mouth, but I was given quite the little surprise.  The center of the flower is sweet! 
How does the garden grow?  Very, very well.  I've got peppermint, mint, lemon mint (bee balm), candy mint, borage, angelica, dill, lavender, chamomile, chives, basil and parsley.  The lemon mint is doing extremely well and has gotten very tall.  It was starting to take sunshine away from my basil, so I pulled a hand full of the lemon mint.

It has a mild lemon flavor to it.  Yes, I stuck one of the leaves from the lemon mint right into my mouth after pulling it from the ground.  If you know me, you will understand how odd this is.  I don't eat green things that grow in the ground.  Anyway, the leaf tasted a little like pine-sol.  I boiled some water, and dropped a few leaves into the water, creating an infusion.  I drank it.  Not bad.  A bit like pine-sol.  I've been reading about what to do with this lemon mint.  It can be used in poultry recipes.  Rosemary and lemon mint chicken.  Mmm.  Sounds pretty tasty.  I've got this batch hanging in my kitchen, drying. 

Well, that's a little about what is growing in my garden. It's very exciting!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Peas and Beans

Our garden has produced peas and beans!

This past weekend, we picked all the peas and some of the beans.  The two large bowls in the front are peas, the small one in the back is green beans.

It took four of us a hour and a half to shell all the peas.
We filled up a huge bowl.  It's hard to tell, in this picture, how much peas there are, but there was a lot.

These are the beans.  My husband wanted me to make picked green beans.  His mom makes them every year and it is one of his most favorite treats. 

So, today I spent several hours figuring out how to pickle the green beans and can the peas.

Success!  Seven jars of peas, and five picked green beans.
One of the green beans didn't seal completely.  My canning instructions tell me to stick it in the fridge for 3 days and then it can be eaten.  Hopefully Hubby can wait that long.

Next canning adventure will be rhubarb jelly!

Monday, June 04, 2012

Talking with the four year old

My four year old has a lot to say... about everything.  She is quite jealous if two people are holding a conversation and she is not involved.  When my older daughter was four, she had an imaginary friend, Jenny Jenna, who was the center of all of her stories and the authority on all subjects.  Peanut will tell you, "last night at my friend's house, we ...." and the story goes on from there.  She makes sure she has her say in everything.

Peanut is also smart.  A little too smart sometimes. :)  Language is so difficult and it takes years to master.  It's something I'm still trying to master, but for a four year old, it is an amazing accomplishment.  Peanut surprises me constantly with her thoughts, her vocabulary, and her ways of expressing those thoughts.

This morning I asked her, do you want cereal for breakfast?  She starts to sound out the word, holding out the 'sss' sound at the beginning of cereal.  Then she announces, cereal starts with c.  Whoa!  Did she just figure that one out?  She saw the bananas on the counter and started sounding the word out, so I asked her, what does banana start with?  She got it, B!  I know it seems like a little thing, but for a four year old, it's pretty impressive.

Something that has amazed me is her memory. She can be asking for something, fall asleep, take a nap (or even sleep all night), wake up and continue asking for whatever it was she wanted.  She has done this many, many times.  She wants me to read her a story, but she is crying and tired.  Instead of the story, I get her to fall asleep.  She can nap for an hour, wake up and start to ask about the story again.  Yesterday before church, she asked Hubby for something.  He told her after church she could have whatever it was.  As soon as church was over, she was asking again.

I can't remember what I was thinking about two minutes ago!