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

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

On the Road

July 25.

Fernando left today on a job.  He's working so hard for us!

I miss him, but it's okay.  I know he has our best interests at heart, and he's doing what the Lord has put in front of him.  He belongs to Him, and I belong to Him.  And it's all okay.  I'll see him soon.

Back to life,

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Summer Wedding

July 24.

We attended a fun-filled wedding this weekend!  Here are a few pictures I took.  Mostly, we laughed, ate, danced, and talked.

A beautiful sunset completed a beautiful day!

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Monday, July 25, 2016

July's Garden Garlic

July 19.

After a massive downpour one day...

...I finally went out to work in the garden on my day off, to finally get the garlic harvested.

After digging up all the garlic, I worked the soil and then smoothed it out.  It's pretty much ready for next year.

I didn't have time to be fancy, so I dumped the garlic bulbs (and the seed heads) onto my front porch and spread them out to dry.

I'll peel and freeze (or ferment) them in two or three weeks once they're dry.

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Friday, July 22, 2016

Garlic Scape Pesto

That stuff above is Garlic Scape Pesto.  It's a yummy, garlicky pesto, made with the scapes of the garlic.  Did I say it's garlicky?  Very, very garlicky.  If you like just a mild flavor of garlic, this recipe is not for you.  You should try the regular--and equally delicious--pesto.

See those white tops of my garlic plants there?  Those are the scapes--basically, the tops of the garlic plants that produce the seed head.  Before the seeds burst out, and while the heads are still small, the scapes can be picked and used in many different recipes.

The scapes were a little larger than I wanted them to be, but I went through the garlic beds and snipped off all the ones I felt were still usable.  Many had the seeds starting to push through, so I left those to bloom; I'll harvest those later for next year's seeds.

For this garlic plant, the seeds have already burst through.  They start off a deep purply red, and actually flower!  This particular one is a large head with large seeds, so I'll definitely be using it next year.  (I save only the largest seeds for the best crop the following year.)

I snipped off the scapes with my kitchen shears.

TIME OUT for a random photo of a woodpecker in the dead pine tree on the church side of our back yard fence!

I had heard the tap-tap-tap of his beak, and figured I'd try to find him in the tree.  Success!!

Okay, on to the recipe...

Garlic Scape Pesto

2 cups garlic scapes
4 cups packed basil leaves
1/2 cup almonds (or pine nuts, or walnuts)
1 teaspoon (or so) salt
1 cup evoo (extra-virgin olive oil)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano (or a blend) cheese (nothing like freshly grated!)

Cut off any tough stem parts on either side of each garlic scape bulb.  Put scapes and basil leaves in a blender and pulse briefly, then scrape.  Do this a few times, then add nuts and pulse-scrape again a few more times.  Add the salt.

Now, while setting blender on a lower blend setting (you choose--I have a Bosch Universal Mixer and set it on 2), slowly pour the evoo into the blender.  You may have to stop and scrape down sides (I do), but eventually it'll blend really nicely.  Keep blending until all ingredients are the consistency you desire--some like a thicker pesto and some like it more smooth.  You can see mine below.

At this point, I scrape the pesto out of the blender and into a bowl, then hand-stir in the fresh Parmesan.  That way, it doesn't get obliterated in the blender and keeps its consistency.  If you're using store-bought (aka Kraft), the Parmesan is basically powdered and it doesn't matter when you add it in.  (But please, use fresh!)

Use and Storage

Serve this on crackers, on top of baked/grilled chicken, on pizza or pasta.  Or eat it by the spoonful.  You'll need breath mints for the rest of the day, though.

Store in the fridge for a week or two, if it lasts that long.

Long-term storage--I freeze my pesto in portions using ice cube trays.  After a day or two (or when I remember!), I pop the cubes out and wrap them in individual squares of plastic wrap, then pop into a freezer bag and label with the date.  They freeze beautifully!  We're actually still eating up pesto from last year's harvest (late summer), and it still tastes fresh and awesome.

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

When One Good Thing Ends and Another Comes Along

Very end of June.

The regular strawberries in my first strawberry bed (for they've taken over the entire bed, those hogs) go wild for about two weeks at the end of May and beginning of June.  They're not huge, not like in the store, but they're a good size and I've got two four-pound bags in the freezer waitin' on me to turn them into preserves some day soon.  Plus, there are two more smaller bags in the freezer waitin' on muffins, or oatmeal, or...  You get the picture.

Well, strawberry season ended for those strawberries, but lo and behold, there's another strawberry season about a month later.  That's when my Alpine strawberries really come in--they had been producing mostly handfuls every several days, enough to put in my oatmeal yum yum--and now they were coming in like gangbusters.  Woot woot!

Alpine strawberries look like tiny Christmas tree lights, and are fairly delicate.  I finesse them off by pulling them to the side, not straight off, and let them tumble into my little white colander.

Aren't they cute?

These little beauties get frozen in one layer on a tray (or baking pan), then dumped into canning jars which stay in the freezer.  They added up quickly, and I have at least three quarts that I remember putting in (maybe there's more!!).  They're so small that no cutting is needed, and they can be measured frozen right out of the jar and into whatever recipe needs them.

Recipes like Berry Banana Baked Oatmeal!

This gets gobbled up at our house--I barely got a photo with my phone!

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Say Goodbye to the...

End of June.

We actually had an evening where we all sat down to eat a meal together!

That was an aside.  On to the real goodbye...

One last time, I climbed the stairs to the deck of our now completely destroyed pool, and looked down on what once was a sparkling blue sphere.  This was right before they guys took down the stairs to the deck, and it would be the last time I could stand at that vantage point.

If you've seen any "overview" garden photos of mine, you know that they're always taken from up there on that pool deck.  So, these last two photos are the last two I'll ever take like this.

I'm sure the neighbors will shake their heads when they see me lugging a ladder out to the back yard every few weeks so I can get a great shot of my raised beds.  *sigh*

Then, one last photo of our demolished pool, here below.  The memories of summer fun, cooling off, floating around with Fernando, having friends and family over for a dip, hosting big parties with the laughter of swimming dads holding on to their little ones--and having to take turns because there were so many wanting to swim--all the wonderful memories I have!

And this--this below--would be the last time I hang my cold-water washing out to dry on the pool railing.  Is that kind of like when you hang your clothes on your treadmill?  Maybe, sort of.

Maybe one day in the future we'll have a smaller one, but for now, it's goodbye pool; you served us well these past 13 or so years!

Back to life,

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

June is for Baseball!

Friends of ours invited us to a White Sox game, and the week of the game arrived--and Fernando left.  I let my friend Cindy know that he wouldn't be home in time for the Friday night game, so I let Cindy know that.  And then--Fernando said there was a chance he'd be home.  Then--Cindy told me she'd given the ticket to her sons' friend.  Then--Cindy texted me to let her know, even last minute, because she could probably get another ticket.  She was serious!  I let her know Friday afternoon that Fernando was headed home, and she got a new ticket for him.  Woot!

The fastest way for us all to meet at the M. house was for Danny to drop me off, and for Fernando to drive the SAT truck straight there.  There he is pulling into their driveway.

After a nice, traffic-filled drive (ha!) down to Cellular Field, we relaxed for just a little bit then went to find our seats.

There is most of our crowd; my best friend T is on my left and I had a great chance to catch up with her (I haven't seen her pretty much since I started working in May!).  Most of the kids are in the foreground.

FIREWORKS!!  Once when a player hit a home run...

Crazy friends.

FIREWORKS!  A second time when the Sox won the game!

FIREWORKS!  A third time for a huge fireworks show after the game.

This was the best I could do with my camera, without a tripod.

It was pretty spectacular!

On the way down all the back-and-forth ramps, we spied the city lit up in the night.

Beautiful evening, fun friends--doesn't get much better than that!

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