Friday, June 25, 2010

Simple Summer Day

The hot days of summer are here in south Louisiana. We are not many miles from the oil spill activity...a fact I try daily to push from my mind. If there were something I could do I might dwell on it. Just the thought of it makes me feel nauseated...and the the actions of our bureaucratic government make no sense in the least...since there is nothing I can do about that until the next election, I guess I'll have to push that out of my mind as well.

Instead I'll look at the bright blue sky, deep green grass and trees, and vibrant sun and pretend that just miles down the road an epic oil spill doesn't exist. The things I can do something about are right here at home. During the summer my attention turns to keeping the garden productive and tidy while keeping our cool.

Talia my 10 year old made these delicious blueberry muffins from frozen blueberries Byron's uncle brought us from Mississippi a few weeks ago. She did a wonderful job and the muffins were meltingly, eye rollingly delicious. Perfect way to start a bright summer day.
Keeping the house cool in the summer is pretty simple...keep the heat out! I like to put something in the solar oven on sunny days. It's a double blessing...the heat stays outside and I'm not using natural gas to cook, just the nice free sunshine. Free sunshine energy is abundant this time of year!
Getting the garden chores done early is a must. By mid-day it is simply too hot to safely work hard outside unless you are in the shade. I pulled the popcorn stalks and prepared this bed for planting. Sunflowers or striped cushaws are going to fill this bed.
Summer days are also perfect for installing flocks of recycled metal flamingos in the front garden. My sister Monique bought these for me for Christmas! Thanks NeeKee (even if it is six months late, hee hee) for bringing your sophisticated Maryland style down to us bayou babes. There's this great little town near my Sister's home called Luckett's. I think, anyway look it up if you're near D.C. That's where she bought my pink flock.
Summer days are also great for watching butterflies on the butterfly bush....
...and watching Killdeers hatch in the rocks on the driveway. This little puffball was up and running on toothpick legs in no time at all.
It's also a perfect time for drying laundry outside....again, the heat stays outside and I'm not cranking up the energy bill.
...and that also leaves time to notice Talia introducing Flossie to our dog Camira...Talia!!! Close the window your letting the AC out!!!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Around The House And Gardens

Okay, so I went a little overboard on the electric pink crape myrtle pictures....
but it is soooo beautiful this year.

There are so many blossoms the branches are drooping...
...and the bees love it.
The Natchez crape myrtle is blooming too, and it's equally stunning in a more subdued elegant fashion. Camira our very old, fat and adorable dog loves to lounge in its droopy shade.
When it's petals fall it looks like a sprinkle of snow on the ground. I love the way the Natchez crape myrtle's branches sweep downward with long bunches of bright white blossoms. In the fall and winter when the bark peels it reveals velvety mahogany red wood underneath. When it's pruned carefully, the trunk is a work of art.
A close-up of my crinum. I adore this old fashioned bulb.
The peppers are bearing wonderfully. I have Anaheim Chili's just about ready to pick.
The tomatoes have been a battle as always. I've picked God knows how many caterpillars off of them. There's not much to show for all that work! Sigh....Gardening win some you lose some. I'm still hoping in the end this will be a win....that's me, eternally optimistic.
The melon vines and the egg plants are growing wild and setting small fruits. They're both loving this hot weather.
Oh yes, the Dakota Black popcorn is just about ready to pick. There should be a huge crop once it is all gathered.
Don't you just love the purple black color of this corn....beautiful.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Canning Peaches and Space

The cold must have been good for my Mother-in-law's peach tree. It's dripping with sweet juicy white fleshed peaches. When peaches ripen you either gobble them all up or can them quickly. Usually after we gobble as many fresh ones as we can there isn't much left to can....but this year...I don't think we can put up, share or eat them many of them are lying on the ground already.
Here are the ones I well as the last of the beets. I plan to can a few beets as well.
Some very special people are going to get a jar of this jam...but is getting to be an issue now that I have started canning.
It's such a pleasure to reach and get a can of produce when you know what is in it and how it has been grown. It's also nice to know that the inside of the jar has not been coated with a chemical...or the produce processed with chemicals...nope....just plain fruit or veggies just like God made them....
Here are the peaches cooking down. I don't add pectin to my jam and I use less sugar than the recipes call for. I do add lemon juice to all my jams. I just like the way it tastes.
Fruit gels when it reaches a temperature of 8 degrees above water's boiling point. Here at below sea level that is 212 degrees. So the jam is ready when it reaches a temp of 220 degrees. I sterilize the jars, fill them to about 3/4 an inch from the top, top them with a fresh seal, band them, and then place them in a large pot of boiling water and process at boiling point for 15 minutes.
It's important to know if you're new to canning that a water bath type canning process can only be used with high acid foods such as some tomatoes, pickles, and fruits.
Other produce must be processed at higher temperatures, therefore you will need a pressure canner. I bought an All American pressure canner model number 915. It will process 7 quarts and 10 pints at a time. I think the model 930 would be nice to have as well. It processes 14 quarts and 19 pints....but it would be waaay too tall for my hood so...I'll wait for now.
You have to save some peaches chunks for fresh peach cobbler....a little piece of summer heaven. The unbelievably easy recipe is here.
...but storage has become an issue. The top of my china cabinet was sufficing... but now the cans are slowly leaching downward...filling one shelf and then creeping down to the one underneath. As I learn to can more and more items, my gardening skills improve and my trees mature, home produce will take the place of bought items...and since there will be larger batches at one time I will need more storage. Storage is already at a premium in my we'll have to be creative.
Louisiana is below sea level. If you dig a foot you run into water. Basements are not a possibility...But nooks and crannies can be purposed or re purposed in this case. I would like Byron to create a enclosed built in can pantry in this corner by the back door and laundry room. he can add it to this project! He's building a sewing craft room in the little nursery that's attached to our bedroom. Oh yes, I can't wait to get my sewing machines out of the kitchen. Does anyone else have this problem?!...too many interests and I can't bear to give any up...they're all too wonderful!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Rainbow Reminder

Yesterday, after a bad thunderstorm, Seleste and I saw this....
it was light at first, but as we neared home it grew brighter and reached from one side of the horizon to the other...
and as we got closer we noticed another lighter rainbow right above the bright one...Everyone!!! hurry!!! come out and see the rainbow!!! Oh wow....we all stood there gazing at the rainbow as long as we could ....then when we turned our backs it wasn't there anymore....that's what I love about frightens and delights all in one day....
...rainbow birdhouse....
....rainbow garden.... reminds us we are at it's mercy and are no match for the ferocity and beauty that God has reminds me to be content....Thank you God for your creations!