Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Brief Visit to the Outdoor Education Center

Here are a couple of pictures of the Bog Garden at the Outdoor Education Center. It is filling in pretty well and should be show ready next spring.

Over in the Butterfly Garden a milk weed has gone to seed. Still waiting on the Monarchs.
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Monday, June 29, 2009

A Trip To Canton

Saturday, after closing the library, Kathy and I went on a trip to Canton, Texas to visit the spring. The spring is a place for Canton residents, or anybody else for that matter, to get fresh clean water. We keep a container of it in the library work room. Now I have some here at the house. The picture is Kathy filling one of her many water containers. I am jealous as I only had one.

The next stop was a little vegetable stand. That little kitty was worn out.

The next stop was Mrs. Sides' pea farm. I bought okra, lady cream peas, cantaloupe and Noonday onions. Now the story is that Noonday onions are sweeter that Wala Wala and Vidalia onions. Never having had a Wala Wala or Vidalia onion, I cannot comment. However, the Noonday onions are very sweet. An onion can only be a Noonday onion if it is grown within ten miles of the town of Noonday.

Those lady cream peas were wonderful. They are like a very very good black eyed pea.

Finally, we found the Troubadour Blackberry Farm. This farm is run by the band director of Kaufman High school with his family. I wish you could taste the blackberry cheesecake his wife made. Most excellent. They are going to send me some information on their set up so there will likely get another post.

After returning from our trip, I started cooking. I made lady cream peas, fried okra, and hot water cornbread for dinner.
Lady Cream Peas
Pound of lady cream peas
2 Sliced of Bacon
Pinch of sugar
Enough water to cover the peas.
Simmer for an hour or so and enjoy.
Hot Water Cornbread
1 cup Corn meal
Pinch or more of salt
Boiling water
Add enough boiling water to the cornmeal to create a dough thick enough to shape into patties. Fry in a little oil until golden brown.
Fried okra
Sliced okra
Egg white
Cajun spice mix to taste
Coat okra with egg white and dredge with seasoned cornmeal. Fry until golden brown. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Little Cowgirl History

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Cowboy historian Lee Powell is a patron of our little library. Each of the library ladies has a special patron and Lee is Glenda's special patron. She helps him do research on different Texas history subjects. He gives a ten minute history spot on radio station KNON Mondays at 5:00 pm. Lee has been a boxer, cowboy and stuntman. He also is a talented story teller. He generally comes in the library on Saturday mornings when we are slow and Glenda can spend a little more time on his projects. Yesterday, Glenda was off and Kathy and I were working together when Lee came in. His current project is on Elvis and Kathy hooked him up with some information. Lee hung out with us and entertained us with a story about a cowgirl stunt woman.

Lee told us that he was sitting with Roy Rogers and a little old lady one day. When the woman got up to powder her nose, Mr. Rogers told Lee that the woman was the best stuntman in Hollywood. The woman was Alice Van-Springsteen.

At another time, Lee was interviewing Dale Evans. Ms. Evans expressed that she would like to see Ms. Van-Springsteen inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame. Lee nominated her and two years later she was inducted. Lee, of course, phoned to congratulate her. During their conversation, he told her that his daughter had watched the movie The Yellow Rose of Texas as a part of her Texas history lessons at school. The kids really liked the part where the little boy almost went off a cliff on a buckboard. Just before the rig went over, Roy Rogers galloped up on Trigger and snatched the child off the doomed carriage. Ms. Van-Springsteen chuckled and said that she was the stunt double for that little boy. She also did stunts for the Annie Oakley TV show and performed for the Queen of England.

This is the kind of stuff you learn when you work at the library and pay attention to the patrons.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

1 Trip Three Blog Posts

Anybody know what kind of bird this is? It doesn't look like a cardinal.
Today was a very interesting day. We have a library patron who is a Texas Historian. He entertained us with a very interesting story about a cowgirl stunt woman and the Nation Cowgirl Hall of Fame. I will get to that tomorrow. After we closed the library we took a trip to Canton Texas and stopped at a natural spring, a pea farm, a nice vegetable stand and an awesome blackberry farm. I will get to those on Monday.
Because of the things I was able to buy on our trip we were able to have lady cream peas, fried okra and hot water cornbread for dinner. Lady cream peas are awesome. I don't think I will grow black eyed or purple hulls again until I have a bigger garden. For this garden it will be lady creams from here on out.
Have any good veggies for dinner lately?
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Friday, June 26, 2009

The Urge to Kill Has Returned.

Do your plants need a bath? Are you sure? We have had a major invasion of spider mites and squash bugs. I don't like to use anything that could poison us or harm fish and such. Very few insecticides are used here at all. The exception is soap. Soap will smother insects. In order for insecticidal soaps to work, you must get them on the bug. To avoid killing your good bugs, you must keep the soap off those bugs. I make my own soap mixture. It is pink and smells like roses.

Zote soap (laundry isle of grocery story)

Mix 2 to 3 tablespoons of chopped or shredded soap in 3 cups of water and nuke for one minute. Stir the mixture with a whisk and let cool. Poor through a fine strainer into a spray bottle.

Spray the mixture onto infested plants getting it on the bug. Do this in the evening in order to avoid burning your plants. After about five minutes rinse off the plants, again, to avoid burning the leaves. Squash bugs will die in less than a minute. It is fun to watch them fall over dead. As I cannot actually see a spider mite, killing them is not quite as much fun. A couple of days after treating a tomato plant for spider mites, it looks much better, so spider mites are obviously controlled.

soap is really cheap at less than a dollar a bar. It last forever and really helps get stains out of clothes. Trust me, the monkeys can make some stains.
Got any organic bug control tips? Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Where I Ask the Internet to Help My Sister

This is a brief message from one of my sisters. This is butterfly gardening sister(BGS) and she has a fennel problem.

BGS asks "Hey, I have a question for you and all your gardening buddies. My bronze fennel is croaking. Why? It's wilting and dying within a day, one after another. They aren't trying to go to seed or anything. In the past they have been fine with being wet or dry and never wilted. Is there something in my soil?"

Aunt Debbi here, I know that regular fennel sets seed and dies back in hot weather. I've not grown bronze fennel, but thought it was a perennial in zone 8a. Any ideas what could be going on?

Hey, I think I can just nickname my sister BUGS. Now that's fun. Bet she thinks twice about visiting this blog again, teeheee.

The hardy hibiscus have begun to bloom. This first picture is of Texas Star. Earlier this year, I discovered that these plants can grow in wet or dry conditions. In my yard they only get rain water. At the Outdoor Education Center in Kaufman, they are planted in the bog and are wet all of the time. Both sets of plants are doing just fine, but mine bloomed earlier. In defense of the Education Center plants, they were just planted last fall.

This is Moy Grande. I wish there was a kid handy to show you the size of that flower. When they say as big as a dinner plate, they are not kidding.

Finally, these are my volunteer zinnias. They come up on their own every year. I do save seeds from the yellow blooms because they don't seem to reseed as well as the others. The rest just get tossed in the compost pile and come up where ever they want.
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Another Great Cook Joins In

Silence Dogood over at Poor Richards Almanac responded to my little interview, answering my questions and giving us a lovely summer recipe. Go on over and check it out.

There is still time to join in. Here are the questions one last time.

At what age did you begin cooking?
Who taught you?
What type of food is your favorite?
Where to you get your best ingredients?
Do you know any cooking tricks?
Will you share a recipe?

Now I have to figure out what I want to ask Our Friend Ben. Do you think we should finally get to the bottom of his sock aversion?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

An Interview or Two

Remember the manicotti. Remember the questions at the bottom of that post. Well, the lovely Linda of Meadowview Thymes responded with a post for us. She has answered the questions and shared some recipes that sound really good. Go on over and check it out.

Just after I hit the publish post on this, I discovered that Miss Nola of Alamo North also responded to my interview questions with her own post. Thanks Nola.

Now here is what we had for lunch

French bread topped with butter, garlic, chopped heirloom tomatoes (Avivvvi again) and mozzarella cheese toasted.

This was Teenage Monkey approved.

If you like to cook and would like to play along with my interview game, here are the questions.

At what age did you begin cooking?
Who taught you?
What type of food is your favorite?
Where to you get your best ingredients?
Do you know any cooking tricks?
Will you share a recipe?

Got to go now, Teenage Monkey is begging for more french bread lunch toast.

Pain in the Neck

I have kept this pretty much to myself, on the Internet anyway. Those of you who twitter might know that I went to seen an acupuncturist yesterday.

I have had severe neck pain for the past five or six weeks. There was no accident. It just started out as uncomfortable, like I had slept wrong. Over time, it progressively became worse. It finally got so bad that I couldn't sleep, do laundry, or garden. For several days the monkeys had to water the garden for me.

I didn't not go to our M.D. because all they want to do is throw narcotics at it. I hate taking those types of medications. They don't really do me any good and seriously make me feel stupid.

My coworkers at the library suggested their acupuncture lady. They raved about their results of this treatment for hip pain, neck pain, even big toe issues. When we returned from vacation I made an appointment. This is the same group of ladies that fixed my eye twitch with aroma therapy and a head rub. I sort of trust them.

Little Jan, the acupuncture lady was a joy. She was sweet and gentle and really took her time finding out what was going on with my neck and shoulder. She thinks it has something to do with a fall I took about three years ago. Gardening, library lady duties and monkey wrangling probably exacerbated this old injury.

The treatment took about 90 minutes and about a million needles. She even hooked me up to an electric stimulation thingy. I did feel better immediately after the treatment, but the difference today is spectacular. I slept last night. I woke up feeling good and was able to get some housework, including laundry done. I can move my neck. It still has a sore spot, so I don't claim that this was a miracle or anything, but it certainly helped and I am not drugged.

She left four acupuncture staples in my neck and says that I should continue to improve over time. As for accupuncture, I approve it.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Mock Manicotti

I am getting really tired of the blogger mess. I wrote a post in Word to try to deal with the spacing issue and now blogger will not let me copy and paste. I am sure the spacing will be messed up on this post too.

That picture is of mock manicotti. I parboiled collard leave to wrap around a mixture of ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, and egg. Placed them in the casserole dish, add mushrooms, cover with marinara sauce and a little more mozzarella. Bake for 30 minutes at 350.

Now, remember when I said I wanted to interview some of you. Well, here we go. This is to all the cooks. If you make a blog post from this, I will link it. If you email the answers to me instead, I will make create a post from your response on this blog.

Here are the questions.

At what age did you begin cooking?
Who taught you?
What type of food is your favorite?
Where to you get your best ingredients?
Do you know any cooking tricks?
Will you share a recipe?

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

First Bowl of Tomatoes

Here is my first bowl of tomatoes along with a few peppers. The peppers were supposed to be Serrano. The nursery put the wrong tags on plants again. They look exactly like Cayenne peppers to me.
The tomato plants are having a really hard time this year. First there was a fungus. Michael of Tomato Casual helped me solve that problem. We communicated by tweets. Don't let anyone tell you twitter is useless.
Anyway, after that we had too much wet weather, followed by too much dry weather, followed by a flood. The tomatoes gave up and quit growing. Yesterday, I discovered spider mites. I gave them a bath with dissolved Zote soap and rinsed them well. Tonight, I will fertilize and add compost and mulch. Hopefully, they will snap back. As insurance, I am already getting my fall plants started. I took cuttings of yellow pear and Celebrity. I also started some Avivvi from seeds. Monica shared this wonderful tomato with me during her progressive seed exchange. Avivvi is my new favorite tomato. There are two of them in the bowl. They are not quite ripe, but you can see that they are a little stripey.
How are your tomatoes doing? Posted by Picasa

Friday, June 19, 2009

Another Lizard

First picture is Mr. Lizard who would not move out of the pathway. Mexican version of a troll. I am just not sure what he wanted.
Next is Manly in the jungle.
There I am looking out over the ocean.
The plants were amazing. There were hedges of ruella, lantana taller than I am and crotons the size of small trees.
Now I am off to take care of my own overgrown garden. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dill and a Grass Hut

The dill seed was dry and ready to come in this morning. I will make pickles with some of it and use some of it, give some away, make a steak rub out of some and save some seeds for next year.

Here is where Baby Sister was married last week. Isn't is beautiful?
Steak Rub
1 teaspoon each dill seed, sea salt, black pepper corn, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika. Crush these herbs and spices together with a mortar and pestle. Rub on your steaks or ribs and grill.
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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Lizard #1

There are tons of lizards in Mexico. This was a very interesting lizard. I spent most days spotting lizards so they would not run over my feet or dare me to go to my room. So, does anyone know what kind of Mexican lizard this one might be? Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I Have Returned.

We had a great trip. I missed GBBD, but I will show you more Mexican flowers and stuff than you ever wanted to see over the next few days. Thanks for all of your sweet comments and drinking encouragment.

Abby is happy to see us. She almost wagged her tail off, but the Manx are pisssed. Maybe it is because they don't have tails to express themselves.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Hi Y all from Mexico

hi, we have internet access at the desk in our hotel. I wish y all could see the plants and flowers. Fabulous. I cant work this mexican keyboard very well and cant post picture, but will have them up next week. There are a lot of lizards here. Have a great weekend. Ill drink a cervesa in your honor.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

See You Later Alligators

Leaving for Mexico early early in the morning. Be back next week. Brother is house sitting and caring for the pets.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Frustration of Butterfly Photography

I spent part of my morning chasing two butterflies around my garden. The first is the one I actually managed to photograph. It is a Gulf Fritillary and it was laying eggs on my passion vine. That mama needs to get after it and leave me some caterpillars. That passion vine is out of control and needs to be cut back. How much fun it is to let the caterpillars do it for me. The bottom picture shows that the passion vine has eaten a bicycle.
The other butterfly was a black swallowtail. Very beautiful, but she just wouldn't pose for a photo. Must be shy or something. Or maybe she's a snotty diva who is too good for my camera.
I finally succeeded in braiding garlic. I found excellent instructions on the interweb. Turns out you start with three, braid, add one, braid, add two braid, rinse repeat. Worked great. Looks like we are vampire proof for another year.
Two days to Mexico. WooHoo. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Mistaken Tomato Identity

The tomato I said was Mr. Stripey yesterday is not Mr. Stripey at all. It is Avivvi. Monica from Garden Faeries Musings was generous enough to share these seeds among others with me in a progressive seed exchange earlier this year. The other tomato seeds I took from the exchange were Ladino di Panacchio which is producing lots of flattened ribbed fruit. They are still little, but the plant is loaded.

Thanks again Monica. You're the best.

I'm back. I just ate that tomato and it was awesomely delicious. There is nothing in this world as good as the first homegrown tomato of the summer sprinkled with a little sea salt and eaten all by itself. Avivvi had a nice acid real tomato flavor. I will definitely grow it again and again. I like it even better than green zebra.

Finished Dead Until Dark.

Just finished "Dead Until Dark" by Charlaine Harris. Much fun with vampires, but the humans are still the bad guys. There is even an Elvis sighting. Looking forward to the rest of the series.

Read any good vampire stories lately other than the Twilight series?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Hello Mr. Stripey

The honor of first ripe tomato goes to Mr. Stripey. He beat out early girl by a long shot. Of course, the little cherry tomatoes are ripening a few at at time and will make produce fruit longer than the rest during the heat. That pepper is supposed to be a Serrano, but it doesn't look like any Serrano I've ever seen before. Stupid plant labels.
Tomorrow I will eat this Mr. Stripey and not share. I wills save the seeds to grow it again next year. Now I am off to try to figure out how to braid that garlic. Posted by Picasa

Friday, June 5, 2009

Taco Casserole

I am taking this casserole to my sister's bachelorette party. Yes, we pot luck events like this. Bow to our awesomeness and lack of nekid men.

2 pounds browned ground beef
2 packets taco seasoning
2 cans of crescent rolls
2 cups shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese

Prepare the taco meat. Line a casserole dish with one can of crescent rolls. Spoon the meat over the crescent rolls and top with the cheese. Place the second can of crescent rolls over the top of the casserole and bake at 375 until the crescent roll crust is golden brown.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Bad Garden Blogger, Very Very Bad

So a couple of weeks ago I promised some of you who commented seeds. Then I got all excited and decided to make you a hand made present. Then I thought it would be nice if you had one more set of seeds that was not quite ready yet. Anyway, I finished the craft and organized all the seeds. They will all be in the mail tomorrow. Sorry for the delay my lovely garden blogger buddies. I hope the wait will be worth it.

To those of you who volunteered to be interviewed and help me learn to put together a newsletter; I am going to Mexico next week and will be blowing you off until I get back get back to you when I return.

You are all excellent.

Sorry I suck.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Three Sisters

If you want a child to eat squash, have them plant some. Here is Baby Monkey planting the three sisters bed tonight. He planted squash, beans, and corn. Do you see the problem in picture #2? I wonder how much corn actually got planted. Apparently seed corn is a snack for my youngest.
The three sisters planting style is beans, corn, and squash or pumpkins planted in hills together. I planted in this way for the first time last year. I usually have problems with squash bugs. Last year, I saw a couple, but they seemed confused and didn't cause any damage.
The garden is officially "in" now. I won't be planting anything else until the fall when I will replace any dead tomato plants.
We are growing cucumbers, peppers, herbs, black eyed peas, yard long beans, red noodle beans, mixed summer squash, twelve types of tomatoes, okra, and sweet potatoes.
What are you growing? Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Yet Another Snake

I found the cardoon flower in my side yard this evening. I found the fake snake on my desk a few minutes later. It is going to be an interesting summer my friends. Somebody help me. Please help me. Posted by Picasa