Saturday, August 31, 2013

Ode to a season...

It's that time of year that I'm always ready for and yet saddens me at the same time...the end of my garden. I've been involved in gardening in some form or other for about as long as I can remember. My mom and dad always had a garden when I was growing up and after I married, Mom would pass along any excess she had. A couple of our previous homes never really had a good place to have our own, so when I decided I wanted to do my own canning and freezing, we increased the size of the folk's and then we'd drive out here to help plant, till, water, and pick.

With just the hubs and I now, and our kids doing their own gardening, there's just no need for me to mass produce anymore and the old garden spot was way too large, so this year I downsized and decided to put a small spot out behind the barn. Having come through last year's severe drought in this area I wasn't sure what to expect for this growing season, but when the days begin to warm and the peepers begin to holler I just can't help but find myself some dirt to dig in, "weather or not" I have cooperation from Mother Nature! 

This year drought was not a problem...oh no! This year we didn't have to worry about precipitation....we got lots of it! First was the snow that continued right on through to the end of April. It didn't stay long, but there is nothing more depressing than having several days of warm spring weather, putting in your young plants and then waking up to find snow on your garden a week and a half later! Those plants hung in there though and made it to our Spring rains, however it rained and rained, and then rained some more. My poor little plants not only got their feet wet, they were in it up past their ankle bones! I just knew I'd have to replant once everything dried out, but those little guys pulled through once again and produced better than anything I've had in many a year.

We've not only ate fresh all through this growing season, but had enough to can and give away as well. The heat and dry weather made a come back a couple weeks ago, so needless to say the garden has just about give up the ghost. Yesterday was the finale...the daughter-in-law and I canned the last batch of salsa for the year and sometime over this Labor Day weekend I will go out and put an end to the suffering of my trusty plants. I'll take the largest of any green tomatoes that might still be there and ready them for the freezer and fried green tomatoes during the winter, but I know as soon as those plants are removed I'll be longing for a fresh sliced tomato, or a stew pan full of fresh green beans.

Still, I always look forward to the cooler weather and the Fall season so it will only be a passing sadness to the garden's end. Come January I'll be looking forward to a new year and a new garden and you can bet once those peepers start in March or April I'll be making garden plans once again!


Thursday, August 29, 2013

To blog or not to blog...THAT is the question!

I've tried to advance a little farther into this world of blogging and all I can say is...OH MY!! When I told you in my first post I really didn't know what all this stuff was about, I meant that, and after perusing several Google searches these last few evenings I'm wondering what I've gotten myself into! I've read until my eyeballs hurt...literally! I'm still trying to decipher linking, gadgets, widgets, and buttons. Cyber etiquette (to which I'm not really sure such a thing exists!), followers and circles, to plus or not to plus, use emails or feeds. As I'm reading I'm realizing, it takes a strong constitution to blab...uhhh, I mean blog. Add to that is the idea there are people out there who actually make a living from doing!

No doubt my amazement comes mostly from the fact that I live in an area that seems more removed from the high tech world that exists out there, or maybe I'm the one who is more removed, but down here on the forty we're more into figuring out where to find those morels come spring, growing a garden and canning the excess, or just enjoying a day out in the yard, so when I venture out into the real world I sometimes get hit with culture shock. Oh sure, we have our Facebooks, My Space, and occasional Tweets; cell phones and WiFi, and we can Pinterest with the best of them, but a great deal of our time is just spent trying to raise the kids, get to our jobs, and surviving the economy.

I don't plan to make it big blogging, I have no desire to become "famous" through the internet, nor do I have plans to give up my day job anytime soon, but neither would I be adverse to trying out various products to know, like a new BMW let's say! I don't really expect to find too many takers on that idea though, which is probably just as well. That new BMW probably couldn't pull a camper nor would it look good setting next to the 8N Ford!


Monday, August 26, 2013

Here's your sign!!

Our youngest daughter lives down the drive and across the road from our place and for some reason everyone who gets lost on this road ends up at her house. She doesn't like it! Both of us actually live at the end of two miles of gravel road and back in the day, when my grandparents lived here, they were the ONLY ones for this last mile. When my parents moved here in the early '60's they had roughly 340 acres that began at the dead end to their house. Unfortunately progress, the sale of land, and those escaping the city has opened up the area to all types and kinds of traffic.

The county road still dead ends at our house, but between our drive and the daughter's drive is another private drive that leads back to a couple other homes and it's always their traffic that seemed to get lost. Why that is we're not really sure because directions should be pretty straightforward..."when you get to the top of the hill turn left and go through the gate"'s not hard to explain and shouldn't be hard to follow because you can see the gate plain as day, but they will turn down the daughter's drive every time and rather than pull up to her house and ask, they make the circle and then proceed to follow the drive back to her barn....and then...they set there!

Now I don't mean to sound un-neighborly, but one particular family, that everyone always seems to be looking for, has kind of become the bane to our existence, to us and everyone else along this two mile stretch. The "need for speed and in-attention" seems to be their call words and have on many occasions brought out the in-grained redneck-ness those of us who live in the country possess!! And it's not that we haven't tried to call attention to the problem in a more friendly and pleasant manner, they've just chosen to ignore those previous encounters.

But rather than paint the visitors with the same brush the daughter has decided she wants to paint a sign and put it at the beginning of her drive that plainly states who lives there, in the hopes that those who are visiting and somehow miss the gate, will see the sign and have the ability to read!! I don't know that it will help and I shudder at the thought of the outcome once the sign is in place and they are STILL driving back to her barn, but a sign she wants and a sign we are attempting to make. If it turns out good I'll post a picture...if it turns out bad? Well, perhaps I'll post a link to one that does look good!  

Friday, August 23, 2013

Sally's tomatoes and cukes

If by chance you're like me and ended up with plenty of tomatoes this year it may be that right about now you're getting a little tired of all those red orbs that seem to be stacking up all over the house....and the back porch! Hubs and I have been eating tomatoes at just about every meal. I've also canned tomatoes...and salsa...and pizza sauce. Yeah, it was a good year for tomatoes here on the 40! I've given to my daughter, the daughter-in-law, the sister-in-law, and a couple nieces and I'm sure I'll be picking again tomorrow evening. 
During a chat with the sister-in-law last night we were talking about tomatoes and how we eat them...well, naturally that triggered a memory for me and a "sort of kind of" recipe that I got from my good friend Sally Wood.

Sally and I met at college, which was not so very long ago. She and I were "late lifers"...we raised our kids and done all the other stuff BEFORE we went to college. While we weren't the oldest ones in class, we were both certainly more "seasoned" than most of them! We wound up one session in the same Psychology class and it wasn't long before we became fast friends. During one of our all night study sessions at Sally's house (that truly was ALL night), she fixed up this bowl of tomatoes and cucumbers. Maybe I was just starving from all that Algebra and Behavioral Statistics, but these were really good and now I make a bowl every chance I get. Just about everyone in my family loves them and they make a great side for church dinners too.

It's simple, easy, and quick:

1 bottle of Kraft Zesty Italian dressing
1-2 cucumbers (depending on size)
6-8 firm tomatoes 

Slice the cucumbers and cut the tomatoes into small wedges. Cover with Italian dressing;stir, then allow to marinate, covered, in the fridge for a few hours. That's it! 

I've only made one change to Sally's recipe...if memory serves correctly she always used House Italian, which is very good, but I soon discovered Zesty Italian and really like the extra "punch" it gives, but if all you have is regular Italian, they're just as good that way as well. As with anything, the longer it marinates the better it is!

(and yes! that's a pic of my own tomatoes and cukes!!lol

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Looking forward to Fall cooking

When the weather changes, so do I! I don't know about you, but when it's hot outside my ideas for cooking become pretty slim and it's not until the weather changes to cooler temps that I get in the mood to whip out a few things. The weather in my neck of the woods has been very un-seasonable this year...we've actually came through a pretty cool July and start to August, however this week, we're back to summertime temps again...not to my liking! Unfortunately the hubs still likes to eat, so I have to come up with something for after work.

I recently inherited my mother-in-law's electric skillet and decided to put it to good use by making a recipe long known to me as "Iowa Pork Steak". The original recipe called to make this in the oven, but with working I found it was just as easy to throw it all in a crock pot to be ready when we get home. Last night I decided to try it out in my "new" electric skillet and it works just as well in there too...just be sure to turn your temperature setting down to just above warm when finishing or you'll cook up all that wonderful gravy!

~photo courtesy of

Iowa Pork Steak

3-4 pork steaks, mixed chops, or loin chops
1 envelope of dry onion soup mix
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
2 cps. water
Flour for dredging to which you've added salt and pepper (optional)
2-3 tbl. of oil or bacon grease
1 tsp. Kitchen Bouquet* (optional)

Preheat the skillet with the oil at about 350 degrees. While heating, dredge the pork in flour, salt, and pepper mix. Lightly brown the pork in preheated skillet. While browning the meat, stir together water, soup, kitchen bouquet, and dry soup mix; mix well. Turn down the heat on electric skillet to about 200 and pour soup mix over the pork. Allow it to slow simmer, covered, about 45 mins. and it's done!

This is a pretty versatile meal, and one for all seasons, but in our house mashed potatoes are always on the sidelines to compliment that wonderful gravy! Enjoy!

*Kitchen Bouquet is a browning liquid used in soups and gravies.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

First time for everything...right?

Sooo...some friends of mine have suggested I needed to start a blog. I follow a few blogs when time permits, but really never quite understood what the idea behind a blog was. But, there's a first time for everything...right? And here I am starting out a new adventure without a clue to what I'm really supposed to be doing.

If you come to follow my blogs, you'll know that I'm a genetic rambler...I blame it on the Irish great grandparents, this ability to "talk" when there may not always be a reason to do so, although it was not my mother (whose side the Irish comes from) that did the talking in our family, it was my dad! There were five of us kids and short of my older sister, we all seemed to be blessed with the gift to gab!

I will warn you in advance though...if you're looking for something specific or something dolled up and fashionable, you won't find it here. This is just a place I intend to go when I have something to share, be it a recipe, a grandchild's accomplishment, or just my own walk down memory lane. I've been known to be opinionated, and not afraid to say so....there's a good chance you may find a few of those here as well! For the most part I'll be just another blogger out in here cyber space that thinks you might want to hear what I have to say and if you do, that's GREAT! You might even come to like what I share!

Here's to happy blogging,