9.30.2007

shucks. first frost.

We had a frost last night. I don't think I have ever not lost a thing in the first frost. I always think about harvesting everything and then don't and then regret it. I knew I should have picked everything yesterday. It wasn't a horrible frost...My tomatoes and peppers are OK. But oodles of brown, wilted basil sit in my plot. A bit can still be salvaged.

I did already make two gallons of pesto but still, I hate wasting all those fragrant green leaves.

9.29.2007

apples and a very pretty scale

My friends, Bobbie and Shirley from down the Bitterroot, gave me bags of perfect, delectable Macintosh apples. Turns out this year was a great apple year.

Today I made pureed apples for bug.

I decided it was time to purchase a kitchen scale as I have been guestimating all these years. I took my glossy, linens-n-things (what a dumb name) coupon and off I went. Madonna's Holiday was playing as I entered the fluorescent store. I really find l-n-t to be extraordinarily depressing. They had scales that were plastic and fragile and $30-$40. I know I am hard on my kitchen equipment and that if I bought one of these scales, I'd be buying a new one in less than a year.

With the coupon burning in my jean's pocket, I strolled to Ross Dress for Less thinking just maybe...and there it was all lonely on an end cap. There was only one. It was a beautiful blue stainless steel scale for $11.99. I could hardly breathe it was so pretty and such a great buy.

So I happily cored my apples with my super apple corer (that I scored at a garage sale for $1) and placed the perfect, sweet coils in my shiny new scale. I felt so complete at that moment that it was hard to move on to the canning.

Pureed apple recipe:
5 lbs. apples
2 cups water

yield: 5-6 pints

Peel, pit, core apples and then measure out the 5 pounds. Put fruit in large sauce pot and add water. Cook over medium heat, stirring until apples are soft. Puree in food processor or with my third favorite kitchen item (I got to use them all today), the *immersion blender*. Then cook until boil. Keep stirring. Add sugar if you desire. Ladle puree into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust two piece caps. Process for 15 minutes in boiling water canner.

9.23.2007

no fair. whah.

I planted gigantor sunflowers in my garden on May 30. They claim 110 days to maturity and that is pretty much right on as they are just now bursting at 116 days as the days cool and frost threatens. So it is my fault--I always think they will move more quickly for me.

I am bummed I won't get to enjoy them too long. But I will enjoy them. Next year, I'll start the seeds indoors in March.

9.21.2007

hungry squirrels

A ravenous creature with small teeth nibbled on my zucchini. I have never experienced this before. The bastards also took down my tallest sunflower. This makes me feel all icky inside because I always stick up for squirrels because their movements remind me of my cat, Olive and also because they are mammals and I feel like people think of them as flies and would probably swat them if they had a big enough swatter.

I feel like I am being punished for running over that squirrel on Spruce Street a few years back. His little tail was flailing in my rear view mirror. It was horrible and had I not been in tons of traffic that forbade me from flipping a bitch and putting the guy out of his misery I would have and now I think the squirrel goddess is punishing me for not having quicker reflexes. But, seriously, they are very twitchy creatures.

9.17.2007

two years. well, ten, really.

Today my man and I celebrate our two year anniversary. But we've been together for ten. I always have to get that in especially when people see me pregnant and say things like, "wow, you sure are in a hurry!" And then I say, "look sister, there ain't nothin' hurried go'n on here." Anyway, here we are, two years wed and knocked up. An aside: I have had a headache for 31 hours.

Andy quickly threw on clothes after work and didn't realize he was wearing green shorts and a green t shirt and then he grabbed his coat and it too is green. I wore the super hot getup of maternity jeans, a black t shirt and a huge, knee-length, wool, bright blue hooded sweater. smokin'. So, Kermit and Mrs. Doubtfire got take out from our fave thai restaurant, came home and ate with our animals.

I haven't posted in a while because my computer screen goes black for no reason and I am taking advantage of the dimming vision I have for a moment. It could be fleeting. I'll be quick. I am typing through the headache haze for the sake of The Blog.

We decided (or I decided and then told Andy how fantastic it'd be) that it would be great fun to purchase gifts based on the traditional anniversary thing. So, year one was paper. I bought him a book of the permanent collection from Dia: Beacon, where we got engaged. He bought me an ink drawing by our friend, Dustin.

This year is cotton. I bought him some ski tickets for this winter because everyone keeps telling him that when the kid comes he won't get to go and that just isn't true. I absolutely want him to go skiing. What does that have to do with cotton? Well, you aren't supposed to wear cotton while skiing. duh.

Andy thought this year was leather and he bought me a gorgeous green purse! It is Parisian! My man has bought me many things in the last ten years but nary an accessory of this sort. I am stunned. I love it.

9.12.2007

tomatoes and peppers galore

This is an unabashedly bragadocious post about my tomatoes and peppers. My friend and gardener extraordinaire, Linda, gave me some of her tomato starts last spring and they are brilliant and perfect. The rest of the tomatoes were miracle volunteers and they are all cherry tomatoes, as suspected.

My favorites are Gold Nugget and one Linda had marked as "Brandywine?" But it isn't a Brandywine....cause it doesn't look like this. The mater does, however, have Brandywinesque leaves. They seem to be a bit prone to blossom end rot. Perhaps a calcium deficiency...Anyway, it is pictured in the very bottom image. Anyone? It is delicious, meaty, not seedy and slightly sweet.

All that heat paid off (kinda. it still sucked really bad).
Click here to see my not-very-up-to-date garden map. The tomatoes and peppers are all correctly listed.

9.09.2007

zucchini bread

I am grateful for all of the ideas tossed my way for the mountain of zucchini I have in my garden. This morning, I made loaves of zucchini bread to freeze, to eat, to give. I wore my new old apron that I scored for $1 at a garage sale.

I found this recipe on my favorite foodie blog, smitten kitchen. I opted out of the nuts and berries because I am allergic to nuts and my man hates dried fruit in bread or, really, dried fruit in anything. He will only imbibe in the dried fruit by when it stands alone.

A few additional tips not mentioned on smitten kitchen:
- If you spill vanilla all over the floor, grab a dog to clean it up promptly and thoroughly.
- My zucc bread always falls in the center and my friend, Laura, suggested letting it sit in a colander while preparing everything else. duh. So easy and so much liquid dripped out.
- When quadrupling the recipe, make it in a plastic bowl so you can lift the mo fo to pour into the pans.

I still have a lot more zucchini. I will next try this recipe that was suggested by a reader.

THE BREAD :: Yield / two loaves

3 eggs
1 cup olive or vegetable oil
1¾ cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1 cup dried cranberries, raisins or chocolate chips or a combination thereof (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour two 8×4 inch loaf pans.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Mix in oil and sugar, then zucchini and vanilla. Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt, as well as nuts, chocolate chips and/or dried fruit, if using.
Stir this into the egg mixture. Divide the batter into prepared pans.
Bake loaves for 60 minutes, plus or minus ten, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

9.08.2007

a run. a beautiful day. a random guy saw me half-naked.

We had a family recreational outing this am. We even got to wear long sleeved shirts. Alice and I ran/hiked while Andy biked.

I am still able to run just fine. In fact, now that my belly is firm like a cantaloupe, it doesn't jiggle like it did in a few months ago. The hot issue while running at 6 1/2 mos. prego? I constantly feel like I have to urinate. And I don't. Have to urinate. Not even a smidgen. It just feels like I am going spring a leak at any moment and yet, when I try to alleviate the situation, sure enough. Nada.

It is unbelievably unsatisfying.

At one such moment when I was certain I had to go really bad and because I had seen nary a recreationalist on the trail I squatted just off the trail. And while I was hovering there in awe of the beautiful place that I live and how I did not indeed have any liquid in my bladder, I saw my first and only human being.

A biker was fast approaching and my instinct was to stand up immediately and attempt to pull up my spandex in record time. Had I stayed low, he would have just flown by but instead I drew attention to my half-exposed self and he just gasped, wide-eyed, "whoa. sorry." And then I just laughed really loudly because, really, what else can you do?

Only two blooms in Montana wilderness right now: aster and spotted knapweed.

9.05.2007

vaca in the land of fog, rainbows and curbed tires

Andy and I made a quick jaunt to San Francisco over Labor Day weekend. Flying while knocked up sucks more than flying while not knocked up. It was exciting to get out of the smoke and get near the ocean.

We had 2 1/2 days and we checked out museums, oohed and ahhed at the fog, freaked out (well, I did while Andy and Lindsay shrugged) about all of the vegetation that just grows like weeds that we have to pamper in Montana and they still don't grow all that well ( nasturtium fields, rhododendron trees, dahlia plantations, etc.), ate well, saw our pal Arann play music with his band, walked with bare feet on the beach, visited a farmers market that makes Missoula's seem like a children's play market, shopped a bit and noodled around with old, dear pals.

It is always nice when not much has changed between friends in nearly 20 years except now we talk about our career paths, the onset of wrinkles and having families instead of going to second base, Boone's Strawberry Hill and our senior class song.

9.04.2007

my mom's 2007 bounty

Just have to brag about my mom's food preservation so far this year. She just sent me this photo. Damn. Her pickles are worth about $1 million per jar. That is just an estimate.

Top Row: Dill Pickles.
Second row: Dill Pickles, Bread & Butter Pickles, Dilly Onion Pickles, Sweet Pickled Beets.
Third Row: Rainer & Bing Cherries, Spicey Dilly Beans, Salsa, Beet Syrup.
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