Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Mimi's Summer Day Camp, Day Fourteen - South Africa Week

This week we're discovering all about South Africa!  KT painted their beautiful flag -- they have so many colors in their flag.
 Next we got started on a special craft project that is going to take a while -- batik.  KT and I pinned a design on to the front of a white t-shirt (of course, KT chose a shark.  Yes, they have plenty of sharks in the waters around South Africa.  Sigh....
 I just cut out a picture and pinned it down, then KT put a layer of Elmer's clear blue glue on the shirt around the picture.  Then we pulled up the paper, and filled in the other details, like eyes, gills, etc.
 Then after that dried (about 4 hours later) we wet the t-shirt and took it outside.  We covered the table on the pavilion with some plastic trash bags, and sprayed on the fabric dyes.  KT wanted to call this "blood in the water!" She just LOVES sharks.  It's amazing how much she knows about them.  Anyway, she chose the colors and where to spray, but Grumpy had to help some with the spray dyes since they were so hard to push down.
 Now I have to wash these to get the glue off, and then set the colors in the dryer.  They will be all done by Thursday.  I made one for Joss while KT was making hers.  I'll post a picture of both of them on Thursday!

KT's looking for South Africa on the big globe...
Our next craft was creating our own African masks! We looked at examples on the Internet.
Next we took our weekly trip to the library.  We found some great books about African animals and the rain forests.
Back home we tried our hand at a favorite South African street food for lunch, Bunny Chow.  Apparently it's a hollowed out bread filled with a beef/meat curry, but we substituted chicken stew.  KT WAS NOT interested in this -- usually I can talk her into at least trying something new, but not so much today.  Oh well, she did eat some of the bread.
After lunch we made our South African dessert called Koeksisters.  It's pronounced cooksisters.  I had to look that up.  Anyway, I had made the dough early in the morning because it had to chill.  Then I made the syrup so it could sit and thicken some.  I left the ginger out of the recipe because I didn't think KT would like it.  We rolled the dough out and I started cutting the strips to "braid" these little gems.  That didn't last too long -- I probably made about 10 of them with braids.
 Frying the Koeksisters
 Cinnamon/Lemony syrup (this smelled heavenly!)
 Grumpy and KT helping out

About here is where I decided all this braiding was just TOO MUCH! I started cutting them into triangles instead.  Who has time for all that work?!!
 I'm done with all this braiding!

Okay, these are delicious.  You take the hot fried Koeksisters out of the oil, and dump them in the syrup to soak it up for a few minutes before transferring to a bowl.  Yikes, I can't keep these here or I'll eat EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM.  We took the rest of them to the Koenigs. Joss loved them too!
Time for a swim!!  KT got a new suit with an African lion on it.  He's pretty cool -- with sunglasses!

What a fun day!  We're all tired out!

Thursday it's off to the African area of the zoo to see what animals they have there!  We're going early to try to beat some of this heat!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Summer Garden Notes, July 27, 2015

I've been exploring what to do with these Luffa gourds.  I let a couple of them dry completely, and peeled one of them on Saturday.
 After reading up on them, it seems I should have actually peeled these when they were still yellowish green, I read that they peel much easier, then set them out to dry.  Too late!
 The seeds started to fall out right away.  I then used a pair of scissors and cut up through one of the chambers and started opening the sponge up. There are three distinct chambers.  As I cut through the seeds just fell right out.
 I'll have PLENTY of seeds saved for next year!
 These are two of the gourds all opened up and flattened.
This morning I soaked them both in a solution of water and bleach, on one side for one hour, then turned them over and soaked them for another hour. I had to put a full cup on top to weigh them down.
 Then I rinsed them off and they are drying.  They came out a very nice light color.   I'm planning to make a few scrubbers with them in a couple of days.  We'll see how that goes!
Here's one that I peeled much earlier, and I have to say it did peel much easier.  I have it sitting out to dry with a second one I did the same way.
 I read that the luffa is edible, but you have to use it when its very small, gherkin size.  I can't imagine eating one, though.
Today I finally finished with the cow peas.  The Blue Goose turned out to be the most prolific with 1#9.1 oz.  The Palapye came in second with 14.7 oz., Shanty at 9.4 oz, and Holstein was 9.2 oz.
Now we're down to tomatoes, okra and peppers, but they are all still chugging away!  I ordered garlic this week, and I'm going to plant leek seeds in flats on Wednesday for the fall garden. Moving on!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Summer Garden Notes, July 24, 2015

Still pulling up everything in the garden and putting them up.  Today I froze some of the carrots -- these are those Cosmic Purple.  They have such pretty color!
 These were blanched and frozen in one cup portions.  I'll use these to add color to pasta dishes and stir fry this winter.
 Next up, all this okra.  These are the Beck's Big Buck okra that I got from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  They are so pretty when they are sliced up.  I'm freezing these for fried okra, my husbands favorite way to eat okra.  Later I'll put up a few bags plain for using in gumbo, another dish he really likes.
I'll detail how I freeze these for my girls (Colleen and Ashley, this is for you!) in case they ever want to raise okra in the future. Ha! Well, you never know!

I don't blanch these, just cut them in slices then dredge with an egg/milk wash.  I use a pasta utensil to stir these around and then drain a bit, then transfer to the cornmeal.  Works like a charm!  This was 3 eggs, about 1/2 cup milk, some salt, pepper and garlic powder.
 Meanwhile, put about 2 cups of corn meal in a bowl, salt, pepper and about a tablespoon of Tony Chachere's seasoning.  Gives the fried okra a little kick! Spoon the wet okra on top of the cornmeal mix and stir around until they are all coated.  Then into a bag to freeze.
I'll just pull these out when we're ready to eat and fry them up.  These are a favorite in our house!
I did finish pulling up all of the cow peas today, finally.  They are all in the house and waiting for me to shell them.  Almost done with this project.
 Blue Goose Cow peas

I'm still finding sunflowers breaking through -- I just love these cheerful flowers.
 And here is another of the basket gourds -- different shape then the others.  This one looks more like a vase, doesn't it?
There are a couple of things I'm leaving in the ground to continue through the fall garden -- a couple of tomato plants and all of the peppers.  I'll be cutting them back in a few weeks.

Meanwhile, I'm in the planning stages for the fall garden.  Fun, fun, fun!

I’m having a problem with commenting on Blogger…so please excuse me for not replying to your comments.  I am reading them!!  Hopefully I can get this solved as soon as I can get some professional help (family members who are more tech-savy then I.)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

They're back!!!

JR and Ashley arrived back on Sunday!! They are busy moving into their new home in South Town and getting ready for new jobs.  They stopped in for a family celebration on their way!

Colleen put together this nifty welcome back bucket -- Texas theme cookies, Shiner beer and some coffee and tea.  
Yesterday we drove by to see how they were settling in, there are boxes EVERYWHERE! They are having lots of (fun?) settling in to the house.

We're all so happy to have them back.  All is right with my world now.

Mimi's Summer Day Camp, Day Thirteen - Italy Week

We're having a very short trip to Italy this week -- only one day.  KT and her family are off on a family vacation for the rest of the week.  We started with the Italian flag....
... and then were off to see a totally unrelated movie, Minions (although I do think they threw in a few Italian words in that movie!)
 After the movie we went to an Italian restaurant in Boerne, Fredo's.  We had some great Italian food!

 Back home, we made a replica of Mount Vesuvius and KT mixed up some kitchen chemicals to create a volcano!

And here's a little video of what happened next!

We finished the day by adding her travel stickers and stamping her passport.

Next week we're going to Africa!  Should be fun!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Summer Garden Notes, July 18, 2015

The lettuce is all gone, but I'm in the middle of bringing in the last of the kale.  The heat is just too much for it, although for now it still tastes great.  I especially love this Scarlet Kale.  It's very tasty and is beautiful to look at too!  This made a fantastic salad last week!
The tomatoes have started to stack up again, so these made four bags of stewed tomatoes in the freezer this week, too.  After the trimming I gave the tomatoes a while back, they've all roared back to life and have started pumping out the fruit.  And tomorrow we're making a batch of fresh pico de gallo tomorrow with a few of these beauties that I set aside.
Ditto with the jalapenos.  Four more pints of pickled jalapeno rings...we use these on everything, including eggs!
And, the same with the okra! I'm picking every other day just to keep up.  This past week we cut up everything we had in the fridge, dredged in egg/milk wash, and dusted with seasoned cornmeal, then froze in bags for future fried okra.  It's our favorite way to eat this southern vegetable. I think okra gets a bad rap, since most people I talk to about it wrinkle up their nose and made an "ewww" face -- it just needs to be fixed properly.
Stewart's Zeebest, Silver Queen, Beck's Big Buck Okra

Speaking of a great way to fix it, tonight I made gumbo.  We buy a bottled gumbo base since I have no idea how to make an actual rue properly (there's an art to it and I've never mastered it) and I add onion, green and red peppers, okra and shrimp.