Sunday, June 30, 2013

Basil Salt

-Doesn't that sound wonderful? I actually love the taste of basil, and we use our basil pesto all the time on sandwiches and french bread, so I thought this recipe sounded like a natural.  Easy as can be, just 1/2 cup of fresh basil and 1/2 cup of salt.  I used course ground sea salt, but the recipe itself calls for Kosher salt. Difference? Not sure..I could look it up if I cared enough, but I had sea salt, so that's what I used.
 First grind with fresh basil and salt. I used my little food processor.
 After baking for 30 minutes on 225 degrees.  I used a coffee grinder for the second grind.
Ready to use!  I wonder if John would poke some holes in that lid for me....I'll ask.....

Movie Review --- The Heat

Okay, not exactly a chick flick like I thought it was going to be.  This is a basic cop buddy comedy, only this time with women as the main two characters.
I'm a big Sandra Bullock fan, so I've seen most of her movies...some are great and most are good.  There's a few truly bad movies in that group too (Speed 2, Two if by Sea...just to name two.) But most of her movies are touching and well done.  I'm also getting to be a fan of Melissa McCarthy, who's not afraid to be who she is and doesn't try to hide anything from the camera.  Very brave in this world of glossy magazine, stick-thin, surgery enhanced, Photo-shopped, sexy Hollywood actresses.
I liked the movie, it was very entertaining, although I have to say the language was rough.  Sandra plays and uptight, by the book FBI agent who using language like "the F word" and has closed herself off from other people emotionally, while Melissa plays a Boston cop who just "goes with it" using her emotions and language very colorfully (to put it mildly!)  These two bond throughout the movie in search of a bad drug lord (which really is just a side story to these two getting to know each other.)  There was a particular scene using snot that they should have just left on the cutting room floor.  I think that was a bit too much for me. But on a whole it was a cute movie.  It says something that the most likable person in the whole movie was Marlon Wayans character...what is this, bizzaro world?!!
I'll give it 3 stars.
I read this morning that they are already working on The Heat Two. Optimism!

Grandma's Society Chips

I finished putting up those sweet pickle chips on Saturday morning.  This was a long process for me, I'm much more into the instant gratification type of recipe, but I'm glad I did them.  They are definitely different.
 After packing them into the sterilized jars, I added one additional teaspoon of sugar.  It's not mentioned in this particular recipe that I followed, there were several other similar ones on-line that mentioned adding this to cut the vinegar taste in their follow up comments, so I went ahead and added this step.  After 16 cups of sugar, why stop now...ha!
 Pouring the boiling, hot syrup over the pickles.
Finished product.  This made 15 pints of pickles, I had to double the recipe of syrup since I had so many cucumbers.  This should last a good long time...we'll be breaking these out for every major holiday, including this July 4th.

Around the garden this weekend....

It's getting so hot out there...whew! Despite the heat, or maybe because of it, some of these plants are going full guns.  Some of them really LIKE the heat.  We're working hard to keep them hydrated, at least the ones we want to keep going.
This is the Delice de la Table, which is the French heirloom cantaloupe. The catalog said it tastes like "orange sherbet." Doesn't that just sound delightful?! Hope we can harvest at least one of these.
This is one of the Bidwell Casaba melons, its the biggest one out there. I know you can't really tell from a picture, but its about the size of a football, or maybe a little bigger. 
 Here's one of the younger ones, but it has the benefit of a large spider! ha! 
Here's one of the three Turban Squash that I have coming along out there. These are from saved seeds that I got from a grocery store purchase last October.  I'm going to use them for decor in the fall if they last that long.
We are bringing in lettuce every other day or so.  It is delicious! Several different types here, but they are all delicious. 
This is a young Canada Crookneck squash.  This is another from saved seeds that I got from a squash that I bought at the grocery store last year.  
A little Godiva Pumpkin.  The red colander is from The Dollar Store.  I found some melon cradles on-line that they make for this purpose (keep the melons off the dirt, bugs, dampness, etc.) but they were $10 for 6, + shipping! I thought there must be a good alternative somewhere, and these colanders were $1 at The Dollar Store. Neat! Also, re-usable, bright, and much cheaper. Done and done!

Friday, June 28, 2013

It's all about Mary!

I found a little stash of Mary Ann photos!
 December 1958
 Mary Ann's first Christmas
 December 1959
July 1960  This one says she is in Dot's shoes (I think that would have been Dorothy Eckert)
No date on this one
January 1959

What a great looking group of kids....

McKinney Falls, June 26, 1983
Colleen sure looks like KT there, doesn't she?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

And even more Black-Eyed Peas.....

This morning I shelled all of those Mississippi Silver cow peas, John came in and helped me get finished.  What a job!  I wonder how our ancestors did it...although they didn't have much else to distract them from the job.  At least I get to sit inside in air conditioning while doing it!
Now I'll let them completely dry out and pack them in jars with a desiccant pack.

....and today we harvested all of the Red Ripper Cow Peas.  

I'll probably shell them tomorrow....sigh.....
We gave the deer that entire pile of pea plants...they were gone in no time!
Tomorrow all of the Jack-be-Little pumpkins are getting pulled up and I'll put them in a cool dry place to harden.  They may last until October, who knows...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Black-Eyed Peas

The garden is starting to show the stress of this intense heat we're having right now, and despite our best efforts to keep the back garden watered, the plants are suffering.  We've decided to pick and choose which ones we're going to continue to baby along.  Some are reaching the end of their natural cycle anyway, so I'm concentrating on picking and processing those first.  

These are the entire crop of Mississippi Silver Cow Peas.  They've been drying on the plants, so John's not going to water them anymore and I'm picking them.  Some are completely dry and the others will dry out fast.

Here's one pod's worth of peas from one that was completely dry.  I know, I can probably buy a pound of black-eyed peas at the store for less than a dollar, but you don't get to pick a cool variety like this!

Very, Very, Very Sweet Chips

I've embarked on a 9 day recipe to make some sweet pickles, the old fashioned way.  These are called "Grandma's Society Chips".  The first 4 days are a process of soaking the cucumbers, then boiling the liquid and pouring it over them again. I'm on day 5 now, so they are being soaked in a ridiculously sweet syrup.
 Bad photo, but these are the chips after being soaked a couple of days in the water.  They are beginning to be "see-thru" at this point.
Here they are soaking in the syrup yesterday.  There's a big glass dish weighing them down in this photo to keep the chips down in the syrup.  Bright green because the recipe calls for green food coloring.
Only 4 more days to go!

Mimi's Summer Day Camp - Day Five

We're only having camp one day this week because KT is off on vacation later this week.  Out theme this week is "Monsters!" so we went to see the movie Monsters University.

 KT eating chips and queso during the movie.  These were John's, but she wanted some so he gave them up (Grumpy is a push-over).
 This was KT's popcorn and drink, they had a cute tie in with the movie, so of course we had to get it for her.
 A little art project KT initiated herself.  She asked me to cut out a dress, then she decorated it.  Wonder if this is something they did at school?
"Too small for me!"

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Monday I froze okra for Southern Style Fried Okra.  I had almost three pounds of okra from the garden that I needed to put up.
Don't let the word okra put you off, fried okra is delicious!! It's not slimy like boiled okra can be, so try it some time.
 Part of the okra -- John was out picking some fresh to add to this pile.  Some of the largest ones I am saving for seeds, so I'll let them dry out on the window sill.
 Burmese Okra
 Texas Hill Country Red Heirloom Okra
 Cut up and ready to dredge in egg, then seasoned cornmeal and flour. 
I froze them flat on a couple of cookie sheets before putting in freezer bags this morning.  Ready to fry up! Yummm!!  Next big batch of okra will be pickled. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Some more old photos...

 I may have put this one up before, but I hadn't marked it as scanned, so I scanned it again.  Mike and I in 1952, if you can believe the car license!
This one is from January, 1959.  Mike, me, Grandma Vahalik with Mary on her lap, Danny, and Grandpa Vahalik.  Danny was laughing about something there, look at that face! ha!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Saturday night....

We got to enjoy the pavilion on Saturday night when the Hoyt's came out with their two precious granddaughters.

Poor Jeff and Colleen had a horrible water leak at their home and had to rip up a whole lot of the flooring that they just put in a year ago or so, and their home was full of huge air fans and dehumidifiers, so they came out too!

The girls all enjoyed visiting together, despite their year difference, they get along real well! And that little Addie is growing like a weed.  She has a great "chill" attitude!

We had a great time!

 Time for some play-doh fun!
Movie time!  They were watching Monsters vs. Aliens.

They also got to dig in the dirt, feed the deer, run around, pick eggs, round around some more, look at spiders on the porch and scream (whoo boy can they scream!), check out the garden, look for worms in the dirt, ride the "donkey" and generally just have a blast.  Good times!

Movie Review --- World War Z

You KNEW I had to go see this one the very day that it came out.  John and I, along with our niece Adrienne, went to see it Friday at a noon showing.  I really liked it, although I didn't recognize it from the book at all.  The book is more like a journal of several people's stories after the zombies arrive. I listened to the book from Audiobook, probably over 6 years ago, and really liked it. John even listened to it and liked it a lot, and he's not a real zombie fan.
The audio program uses several peoples voices, not just one narrator, which I enjoyed.  This could be one groups' story from the book, but I need to go back now and re-read it.  The movie starts with the action right away, and these zombies are FAST! Not your Walking Dead type zombies for sure.  Another little important fact from this movie is that you turn after being bitten in only 10 seconds...that's fast!  Most movies make you die first, then reanimate, taking much longer.

There are some close ups of a few of the zombs and the makeup, etc. is excellent.  Watch for the zombie in the lab where they store the extreme infectious diseases...he was excellent...right down to the chattering teeth!
It's a real action ride, and I highly recommend it...4 Stars!!

Movie Review --- Man of Steel

We saw Man of Steel last week, but I just haven't had time to blog about it....KT's kept us hopping!  I'm a bit tired of the whole Superman thing, they've remade this movie so many times just in my lifetime, I don't know how else they can tell it.  This is a fairly good version, with a handsome guy as the main character. In fact, the casting of the whole movie was well done.
I admire Kevin Costner for knowing how to deal well with his age...he plays Superman's earth dad in this movie and does a good job.  He's embracing the whole "character actor" part of his career, which is a smart move.
If I had one criticism, it would be that many of the fighting (battle?) scenes go on and on for way too long....I found myself thinking, "come on, get it over with"... several times. But in total, I think I'd give it 3 interesting way to fill a couple of hours.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Sweet Pickle Relish

So so so many cucumbers....
I made sweet pickle relish on Friday afternoon.  This is my first attempt at this particular pickle project, so I'm anxious to see how it turns out.  First they tell you to "grind" you cucumbers....well, I'm not exactly sure how that's done, but I settled on my food processor.  It's not exactly a grind, but it does chop them up pretty good.

The recipe I followed was so simple.  The only thing I wasn't sure of is that they seem a little too liquidy, but maybe they thicken up as they sit and marinade and cool, so we'll see.  There was 6 cups of sugar in this recipe, so perhaps it will thicken up.  I'm going to let them sit for a few weeks before I try it.  Here's hoping!!

Tromboncino Squash and Tomatoes

I went ahead and picked some of these squash....when reading up on them online it was recommended that if you want to eat them like summer squash, you should pick them from 1 to 2 foot, so I'm doing that.  Evidently they will continue to produce through fall if you keep them picked, so we'll see.  I'm going to let one of them go just to see how long they can get, and to save the seeds.
I also am putting a "Tums" at the base of each of my tomato plants.  This week I trimmed all of the plants to get rid of new suckers at the base and open the plants up to get good ventilation through them.  I added new soil to the buckets and fertilized them.  The Tums are supposed to give them calcium which keeps them from getting that black bottom that some of them are prone to.  So far I haven't seen any of that this year, so hopefully this will help.  I buried it near the roots when I added the new soil.

Mimi's Summer Day Camp - Day Four

We had a VERY busy day on Thursday.  We started early in the garden while it was still cool enough to stand it.  KT checked out the bean tee-pee and still thinks it okay.  She's an easy to please critic....that's all I have to say.
She and Grumpy checked out some soil in one of the raised bed to see if there were any worms....there were...and KT fed some to the chickens! She's pretty good about icky things.
We pulled all her beans and four of her little pumpkins for her mom.  KT's crops are looking good!!
Next we took our weekly trip to the library.  She knows every letter in this puzzle, and words that start with them.  That's Clifford's muzzle there in the background.  He comes to sit at her table every time we go.
Here's she's checking out a book on giants....animals, that is.  She really likes books about real things, in the non-fiction area.
Then we came home and glued her leaves to paper and then pressed them between waxed paper (Mimi had to do that with the iron.)  Then we made a little book with all of her leaves.

After lunch it was swim time!  KT got a new swim ring with Minnie and Daisy Duck!
She had a lot of fun playing with all of her swim things and the hose.  It was pretty hot today!

Goofy girl!
Then Grumps took us in to town and we had ice cream (well, it was frozen yogurt, but who can tell the difference?!) It's good for us!
What a great week!