The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me. ~ Psalm 16:6 nasb

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Drying Oregano for Long-Term Storage--Finishing the Process

Once your oregano is dry, it's time to process it!  If you didn't already do that, click here to find out how I typically dry my oregano.  Then come back to this post, which is also linked from that post at the end.  :)

If you don't want to click over, here are a few pictures of a newly picked batch of oregano.  I didn't hang these sprigs to dry, as I did with my first, smaller batch.  There was just too much.  I am letting these dry on a large, clean beach towel in my basement, and I turn bunches of sprigs over every few days or so until they're really dry and ready to process.  See here:

Harvest the sprigs of oregano.

Wash the sprigs thoroughly with cold/cool water.

I arranged all the sprigs on a large, clean beach towel to dry in the basement.

Now on to the second part of the storage process!

Here are my dry bundles of oregano that I hung in the basement:

I untied all the bundles and brought them up to my kitchen.  Then I removed the dried leaves from the stems--I hold the base of the stem with one hand, pulling the stem through two fingers and a thumb of my other hand.  The leaves go into a bowl; the stems get discarded.

Time for my awesome Braun stick blender!  It has a blender cup for blending, among other things, herbs, of course!

I fill the cup pretty full, as you can see, and blend that quantity with several pulses, until it's the consistency I want.  You can get it blended pretty finely, or more coarse--it's up to you!

I use a canning funnel with a quart-sized canning jar.  I just pour the chopped leaves into the jar.

Doesn't look like a lot, huh?  That's why recipes always call for less dried herbs than they do fresh.  However, this is a great way to save freezer space!  This jar is in my "bomb shelter" space in our basement.  I'm hoping to get enough oregano for the entire year, and with that second batch of oregano you saw above in this post, maybe I'll just do that!

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Early July Harvest

July 7.

Time to see if there's anything to pick!  This time I'll start off with my overview shot.  If you get really close to your computer screen and scrunch up your eyes, you can see a ripe tomato!

My squash seems to be doing well.  Both acorn and butternut have lots of blossoms!

Rainbow blend, an heirloom variety.

"Melrose" sweet red Italian peppers (above and below).  Yum!

Giant Marconi sweet green pepper.


When I walked around to the backside of the sweet green pepper bed, I spotted this giant, about eight inches long!

Melrose sweet Italian red.

Garlic flowers.

Due to lack of time, I let my garlic bulbs flower.  I'll soon pick them off and dry the seeds for next year's planting, and harvest all my garlic for winter storage.  Last year's crop was small, so I'm hoping I'll get lots more this year.

Bad picture ahead.  My sage plant, which started the spring so beautifully, suddenly died.  As in, this is what it looked like mere days after I noticed one section wilting.  Ugh.  I left it there for two weeks before I was able to dig it up.  They're such hardy plants, and I have no idea why it died.  My garden-guru friends don't know, either.

Let's say goodbye on a cheery note:

Early July harvest.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Summer Caprese Salad

Three simple ingredients:  Tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella cheese.  Oh, and salt.  Just a little.  That's all you need.

Summer Caprese Salad

Tomatoes from your garden, chopped
Fresh basil (hopefully from your garden!), thinly sliced or chopped/diced
Fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
Salt to taste

There are no amounts in this recipe.  It requires you to be imaginative in your amounts.  Just use what looks good, and you won't go wrong.  For the salt, sprinkle in a little, then taste.  Then if it needs, sprinkle a little more and taste.  You're done.  Serve it with dinner, or eat it all up for lunch. 

Make a little or a lot.  Use more tomatoes than cheese, or vice versa.  You can't go wrong!

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Monday, July 28, 2014

My First Tomatoes

July 5.

The day after Independence Day, I wandered into my garden to check things out.  Lo and behold, these Cherokee Purple tomatoes looked like they needed to be picked!  They had already started to split, so even though it looked like they had a bit of green near the stems, I picked them.  And, I learned that that is what they're supposed to look like.  These tomatoes were ripe and ready to be eaten.

Here is one of them, sliced and ready for our dinner.  You can see the darker flesh inside, and these tomatoes have a wonderful summer tomato taste!  We ate them plain, sprinkled with salt.

I also spotted this monster, one of my Rainbow blend heirlooms.

I picked it a few days later, and it tipped the scales at one full pound.  Oh, the heavenly sweetness!

I.  Love.  Summer tomatoes.  *heart* *heart* *heart*  :D

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Summer Kebabs Marinade

As with all my recipes, it is below--as in, after all the stories and pictures.  :)

If you follow my blog at all, you know we've been struggling financially since Fernando was laid off last autumn.  We are in the process of starting our own business, which is a slow process.  More money goes out than comes in, and expenses have to be cut.  (I promise there's a recipe.)

For meals, I want to plan as much as possible.  However, with leaner times here, I tend to pick something in the freezer and see what I can make with it.  When I opened my freezer door recently, this package of kebab meat called my name.  This is what you would call a blessing meal, because that package of kebab meat was given to us by friends whom we helped move this past April.  I remembered a marinade that Fernando and I had put together, and guessed/hoped we had the (simple) ingredients for it, since they're typical pantry staples I usually stock.

We have been skimpy on veggies these past several months, gladly accepting gifts from friends and thankfully picking what we can from our garden this summer.  For the kebabs, we used organic sweet red peppers, given to us by another friend whom we helped with her family's friendship garden.  Isn't the Lord good to us?  We think so.  :)

Kebabs are a great summertime meal, combining meat and veggies on the grill.  It's an even better summertime meal when your husband does the grilling!  Just add another side dish--rice, potatoes, or corn muffins or whatever you have on hand--and your meal is complete.

Here is the kebab process in pictures:  Simply make the marinade, marinate the meat, put it on skewers (if using wood, make sure you soak them in water for 10-15 minutes so they don't burn) with the veggies of your choice, then grill according to your grill specifications.

Marinate the kebab meat.

My awesome Grillmaster.

Teriyaki Ginger Kebabs, and chicken sausage with asadero cheese (from Costco)

Teriyaki Ginger Marinade 
Yield:  Enough marinade for 1-2 pounds kebab meat

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (or 1/4 teaspoon ground)
2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce (I used Bragg's Liquid Aminos)
4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil (yes, I had this in my pantry!)
2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
1 teaspoon sugar (I used cane juice crystals)

Grate the fresh ginger with a microplane grater.  In a small bowl, combine all ingredients.  Pour it over your meat; you may use a plastic sealable bag, or whatever works.  I used a four-cup glass measuring bowl.  I cover my marinating meat and put in the fridge.  Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Assemble your kebabs--alternate meat and veggies on skewers, and simply grill to doneness.  I wish I could tell you how to grill, but I can't.  Just one more thing--discard any remaining marinade; you don't want to use it on your meat on the grill, since the raw meat was soaking in it.  Seems a shame, but that's the way of it.

These kebabs were tender and delicious, and the sweet red peppers were amazing.  You can also use this marinade for steaks or any other meat you'd marinate.


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Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Sweet Summer Gift

A dear young lady, one whom I called borrowed daughter, has spent the last year in Taiwan, teaching English as a second language in schools there.  She's home for a month or so, then will go back for another school year of teaching.

Miss G. knows me well--knows that I'm practical, that I love gifts I can use, that I love tea, and flowers.  This is what she brought me!

Thank you, G.!!  I've already used it, and will cherish this precious overseas gift!  <3

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Independence -- Part Two

July 4, continued.

Fireworks!  I really love fireworks, especially as a photographer.  I won't go into technical details on my family blog, but this post really is about the camera, and the settings.  My brother Jeff met us for the night's show, too, and the two of us had fun figuring out settings and angles and exposures.  Enjoy our night with us!


I do need to explain the below image!  It was almost the same image as the one above; however, I pressed the shutter release, and moved the camera around.  Oops.  But I love the effect, like looking over misty hills, with wildly erratic lights drawing paths in the air.  :)

The first bursts in the air were very bright, and helped me figure out my camera settings.  Then I was good to go.

Happy birthday, America!!

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