Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mater Update

Remember those tomatoes from last month? They were all green and rock-like. They looked...sad.

Well now they are NOT sad, and the remaining tomatoes are rapidly becoming tasty red balls of matery goodness!

I have been using them up, but that is a lot of maters. As you can see, I still have some stragglers that are taking their sweet time ripening--but that is good, since it gives me time to use the ripe ones before they go bad.

I also have bad news. It froze hard here this last week, and most of the things I planted in my winter garden did not make it through. I know that the leeks will survive, but the rest is gone thanks to a few nights of 5 degree weather and only in the mid 20's for daytime.  Se la vie (pardon my non-existent French)

Along with that colder weather came snow--lots of it. To the tune of 10.5" on the flat out in front of my house. That is a ton of snow for the middle of the desert--especially since it all fell in one day! Three days out, the roads are still rather slick, but the snow is rapidly melting due to the unrelenting sun.

I did get another lamb this year--a big boy just shy of 90 pounds. He made a tasty dinner of lamb shoulder last night. Recipe: add lamb shoulder to crock pot. Cover with Penzey's Lamb Seasoning. Cook on high 6 hours. Add scrubbed sweet taters and carrots to the top of the pot. Cook two more hours. Devour. No pictures, but man was he tasty.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Gathering In

I took a look at the forecast for the next few nights and realized that the freezes are here to stay. That means that the tomatoes needed to be stripped of anything that could possibly ripen inside (which is pretty much anything shiny dark green instead of dull colored green).

I went out to my now-frostbitten plants and found over 30 pounds of maters, all the way from deep red to green. I have them spread out in produce boxes left over from Costco nectarines and peaches so that the green ones have time to ripen and they all can not mold before I get around to using them.

 I separated the very green tomatoes from the ones that were trying to ripen already and made sure to only have the ripening maters in a fairly thin layer to minimize squishage.
Here you see all but the red tomatoes, which I am using for dinner, and thus, have no photo. Please forgive the booze bottles--my husband was bottling beer last night and those are the remaining empties (now if only either of us could drink more than a glass a week we might get rid of some of the bottles!).

Eventually, once the maters are more or less ripe, they will be turned into sauce and frozen...or just chopped up and frozen depending on how industrious I want to be. Heck, I may even can some and break in that pressure cooker again!

I also picked a half-bag of raspberry leaves (minus any spiny bits on the leaf stem) and a large handful of mint for tea. The leaves are all drying in the dehydrator right now (95 degrees for my records) and we will have tasty tea during the winter--free of pesticides, shipping costs, and well...any costs other than the electricity to dry the leaves.

I think that covers it for now. (and so far, no sprouting in the new bed)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

I AM Accountable--A Note to Me

I am accountable for my actions.

I put the food in my mouth.

I decide to exercise or not.

I am my own worst enemy. Not prednisone. Not RA. Not genetics. Me.

With positivity surrounding me, I am the only one who can choose whether or not to be healthy, whether or not to achieve what my body needs, what my husband craves, and what I want. The hardest part of this whole weight loss strategy is convincing myself that I am worth it. I am worth it. I want to be healthy.

I have told myself for so many years that I saw 140lbs as it flew by, and 135 would never happen. Well. Now I plan--No--WILL get down to 145. Depending on how I feel there, I will go on. But I am convincing myself that I WILL do it. Not can. Not might. Not should. WILL.

I know that I am not convinced yet...but I am much closer than I was a week ago.

I also am 5.5 lbs lighter (Hey, it may be water weight, but it has to come off some time!)

First Frost of the Year and Foodage!

Our official first frost date is October 11th, but we just had our first frost last night on the 28th (unlike last year where it was on the 8th I believe).  The tomatoes are pretty much just a little wilted, rather than being completely died back, but it definitely was enough to put the end to their official season.

I also planted a winter bed a few days ago, so eventually we will have:
Leeks (transplants given to me of unknown variety)
Carrots (purple)
Beets (a colorful mix)
onions (bunch)
and garlic (Spanish Roja, once I plant it a little further into November)

We shall see how cold it gets this year--if we end up with another -15F week like last year, I am not sure how much will make it through the winter. I was surprised to see that the carrots, beets, and spinach lasted through last winter despite neglect and colder temperatures than we normally have.

I also have a few pomegranate babies growing inside over the winter, along with the strawberry hanger. The pomegranates were from seed and are a white skinned variety that my mother found originally from Home Depot many years ago. I am hoping to get a few bushes up and running next spring, since they should be big enough to transplant by then. For now I need to get them up to the next size container. I didn't really expect every seed to grow like it did!

Onward to a redone recipe from Betty Crocker:

Impossibly Easy Quesadilla Pie (or I. E. Chile Relleno Pie) with Chicken--Gluten Free

(Image courtesy of Betty Crocker)

    1 can (4.5 ounces) chopped green chiles, well drained 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (8 ounces) 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro 3/4 cup Bisquick® Gluten Free mix 1 cup milk 2 cans (5 oz each) cooked chicken (do not drain) 3 eggs (salsa if desired for garnish)  

Heat oven to 385 degrees.

Generously coat a deep dish 9" pie plate with cooking spray. (I think a regular pie plate will work, but it may be close)

Drain chicken into a microwaveable container.

Add milk to drained juice (should be about 1.5 cups total liquid)

Microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes.

Mix all other ingredients in a bowl. Add in warm liquids and mix.

Pour into pie plate and bake for 45 minutes or until set and slightly browned on top.

Serve with salsa or sour cream if desired.

Serving Size: makes 6 servings in a 9" pie plate

  • Servings Per Recipe: 6
  • Amount Per Serving
  • Calories: 336.5
  • Total Fat: 19.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 158.4 mg
  • Sodium: 704.6 mg
  • Total Carbs: 15.7 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 0.6 g
  • Protein: 23.6 g 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Of Tomatoes, Potatoes, and Squash Bugs

The Cherokee Purple tomatoes that I thought were dead were very much not dead! In fact, they are just starting to ripen and oh my are they tasty. I also rescued a Brandywine tomato from our hardware store to see how those tasted as well. In addition to those, there are a ton of Glacier and Early Girl maters. Here is a picture of the three heirloom tomatoes: Brandywine (pink), Glacier (red), Cherokee Purple (you take a guess).
But why no Early Girl photo? They look exactly like a small version of the red Glacier tomato above. And I forgot.

Last night my husband and I did a taste test of all the tomatoes, both with and without salt (our preferred topping for maters). The results: 
  • Brandywine tomatoes taste exactly like store bought fridge tomatoes, and are nothing to rave about, though they are rather meaty. They ripen late, an just started about a week ago. Also not very heavy producers. Perhaps they want a more acidic/humid/steady climate.
  • Glacier  tomatoes taste very much like how we imagine a tomato should taste, and tend toward a more tart than sweet finish (which I like). They are very meaty and are great for sandwiches.
  • Early Girl maters have a tougher skin than the other varieties and have a high goop-to-meat ratio. They ripen early though, and are at the end of their season right now.
  • And finally, the Cherokee Purple tomato was the cream of the crop, tasting rich, and tomatoey, not too sweet and not too tart and even more heavenly with salt.  They are late to ripen and are just now getting ripe for me, but also are heavy producers.

So what does all this mean? Well, the Cherokee Purple (and Brandywine) are what is called a "determinate" tomato, which means that it ripens most of its fruit all at the same time (this week apparently). The Glacier and Early Girl tomatoes are both "indeterminate", meaning that they ripen throughout the season. All this combines to meant that I will be planting lots of Cherokee Purple and Glacier, with a smattering of Early Girl to get my season going sooner. And no Brandywine.

I also dug my potatoes today, and got a paltry four pounds of taters from the giant bed--a far cry from last year's 15lb haul. I learned my lesson though: make sure to break up the straw when putting it over the plants lest the roots not get air...and not grow their tasty tubers. Instead the plants grew very vigorously on top, but had very few taters down below. 
Now onto less savory matters.

Squash Bugs stink. 

The darn shield shaped evil-doers ate every last vine in my garden, first on the summer squash, then to pumpkins, to acorn squash, then on to the cucumbers, watermelons, and cantaloupe. Not one vine survived. I got a few zucchini before they attacked, as well as a few acorn squash and pumpkins. No melons. No cucumbers. Bastards.

Oh well, that is how gardening works sometimes. Time to go eat some maters and mozzarella and contemplate next year's garden plans.