Monday, July 20, 2009

Around The House And Garden

A garden path. Whew, Look at those weeds! The battle this year has been weeds and caterpillars!
A Louisiana Sweets orange hanging heavy on the branch.
These Ponderosa Lemons are huge just as promised!
My fig tree faltered at the beginning of the summer, I believe due to the long period without rain we had. The summer squalls have returned and now it seems a little happier.
The Silver Line oriental melons are loving the rain and heat.
So are the cucumbers and eggplant.
Heirloom Thai Long purple eggplant.
Some more.
Heirloom Louisiana Long Green eggplant. We've been enjoying fried eggplant sticks, eggplant Parmesan, and stuffed eggplants.
And for dinner, Shrimp Etouffee! My father-in-law goes "down the road" to the fishermen dock and buys them straight from the boat. The shrimper gets a better price and we get the freshest most delicious wild Louisiana shrimp you can imagine.

Easy Shrimp Etouffee

1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped bell pepper
1 cup finely chopped celery (onion, bell pepper and celery are referred to as the "Holy Trinity" in New Orleans)
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
Olive oil
1 stick of butter
1 cup of flour
2 cans of Rotel tomatoes and chilies (You can use fresh tomatoes and chopped chilies for this purpose)
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Water or chicken stock (have ready to use in kettle next to stove)
2 lbs of peeled shrimp
2 cups of cooked short grain brown rice

Pour about 1/2 a cup to a cup of olive oil in the bottom of a large pot. Saute onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic in oil until transparent. Add flour and cook while stirring constantly until flour is brown. This is making a "roux", pronounced "roo". Some cook the flour separate. I just add it to the seasoning to save a step.

Add the two cans of rotel tomatoes and chilies. Stir. Add stick of butter and water until stew is of a medium consistency. Add salt and pepper. Bring to a rapid boil. I find shrimp are mushy if not dropped into rapidly boiling water. Once boiling rapidly, drop shrimp into stew. Cook until shrimp are done. Serve over rice! Super Yummy and quick.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Raising Girls

I've always been told that my girls are self sufficient. Tera has always had extreme confidence and ability. When she was just a toddler, If I wasn't careful, positions were switched and she was directing the proceedings. I had to remind her that I was Mommy and made the decisions.

The end result is that she isn't afraid to tackle any situation. She has the skills (or at least believes she does) and the confidence to take on anything she decides is worthy of her time, such as the time she ran for student council Vice President in fifth grade. She didn't win, but gave those eighth graders a good race.

This picture is of the beautiful (and delicious!) loaf of bread she made using a cookbook with minimal input from me. I did help with learning to judge what temp the water should be to activate the yeast without using a thermometer. I just love the joyful smile on her face.

Raising these girls isn't easy, and I know with the teenage years ahead I have bigger and new challenges to face. Looking at Tera I realize it won't be long until she will be venturing into a broader, busier, and more dangerous world. Each day and each accomplishment gives me confidence that she's grounded and will be ready to take on the shakey and shifty landscape that makes up our society.

Sometimes I've had to stand against naysayers who insisted I was "too hard" or "silly" or "insisting on the unnecessary". Happily I can report that those naysayers are now complimenting me on "how well" my children are turning out. It certainly surprises me as to how little it takes to make a child stand out in a society where the bar is ever lowering. I'm not saying that to take away from my children's accomplishments. It's just that the simple act of behaving responsibly tags you for accolades. It seems to me that all of our children should be raised in such a manner.

I'm trying to raise my children in a time proven manner. My children are not up for experimentation. Church attendance is a priority in our home. A Biblical moral foundation of selflessness, hard work and balance is imperative to finding contentment or happiness, and I want to be sure my children can find both no matter what circumstances they find themselves in.

A quick way to become disillusioned is to have complete faith and hope in a social agenda, political belief, money, or any man. The simple fact that they are human and are supported by humanity make them flawed and subject to failure. I teach my girls to trust in God exclusively and check their hearts daily. Because even your heart can deceive you. The only way to follow is the tried, proven and successful path. Sadly now it seems to be the road less traveled.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Mid Summer Garden Abundance-Drying

Our summer gardens in this area are reaching their end, and we have a wonderful glut of veggies from the garden. There are so many choices for preservation. You may can, freeze or dry your harvest.
With hurricane season here, I shy away from freezing. In the past I have lost a large harvest of pecans, blackberries and blue berries after the electricity has taken it's time in returning after large storms.

So I have been trying my hand at drying some things. This little plastic tub of dried tomatoes was once a large bowl of Marzano paste tomatoes. A great benefit of drying is how little space produce takes up once it is dried, and these tangy tomatoes taste delicious as well.

Seasonings are easily dried and used. I dried all of the last glut of bell peppers. This large pile of peppers filled up a quart jar. Some things I have dried that dry well are peppers, celery, parsley, onions, pears, mushrooms, chives, and other various herbs. I simply thread and hang cheyenne peppers to dry in my kitchen. They look pretty and I just pull a few off when I need them. All the dried items are stored in glass jars with lids. Because of it's ease in preparation and storage, I believe I will dry as many things as possible in the future.

Here is a great site if you want to learn more, National Center For Home Food Preservation.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Last Heirloom Tomato Taste Test

If there were a Miss Pretty Tomato contest this tomato would win. It's a hefty little mama. Certainly a case where bigger is better. When ripe it is an orangy red with yellow stripes and the top is yellow. It's also quite soft when ready to cut. I imagine this is one reason why we don't see it in any grocery store. It's doubtful it could make the rigorous journey from field to shelf. Which makes it all the more delightful to grow and share.
You must click on this picture and see up close how beautiful the inside of this tomato is. Such gorgeous colors. Now for the most important fact....How does it taste? I must say it tastes as great as it looks. It's different than most tomatoes. It has a sweeter taste. I wish I had better words to describe things....I really need to improve my tasting words.....Maybe..."This tomato had the most delightful fruity sweet taste that tantalized the taste buds...all without any acidic sting....yet you still knew that you were certainly eating the tomato equivalent of manna"....No maybe that's too gushy, but it really is one of the best tomatoes I have ever eaten.
Did I mention it's name? It's a Pineapple tomato. Maybe I enjoyed it as much as I did because I waited so long for it to ripen checking each one carefully every day for any stray caterpillars or other pesky interlopers. It was the last of the tomatoes to ripen. Out of all the tomatoes I grew or tasted from others' gardens I preferred Pineapple and Cherokee Purple tomatoes. I suggest for a different and fun change in color and flavor you add both of these to your must purchase seed list. It's on mine just in case those seeds I attempt to save don't pan out.