30 July 2010

Watching the garden grow

Well, we ended up being gone for two weeks, and it turns out that the garden survived just fine without me. Of course it helped that my mom hauled water while I was gone. She wasn't supposed to do that, but she did. I guess that was her way of paying for all the cute squashes that she got. Here's the before and after. Some of the squashes are taking over and I already see several pumpkins starting to swell. I was picking those cute 'one ball' squash, and noticed a big zucchini too. Those were so good to eat after eating road food for two weeks. Ugh, I hate traveling. I also picked a cute little cucumber and more turnip thinnings. I forgot to take a picture, but there will be more squash in my future, I'm sure.

12 July 2010

First Harvest and oven blues

Technically, my first harvest was a few days ago, when I ate the turnip thinnings and one radish, but this was the first thing that I could actually fix for dinner. Two, 'One Ball' squash. I have lots of these coming, which is wonderful, since my yellow crookneck plants don't even have any blossoms yet, and my son's zucchini are still very small. These are the first summer squash I've ever grown and harvested. I sauteed them with some onion and Cajun seasoning. Yum! Except my mommy brain struck again (just like today, when I burned the cookies and left the lid open on the washer) and I cooked them longer than I wanted to. I thought I turned the burner off, but I guess I just thought about it and didn't do it. So, they were a little overcooked, but they still tasted good. My husband humored me and tried a bite.

Here's the garden a few days ago. The corn is more impressive now and growing fast. Hope it makes it before the frost! I'm going to take a picture this week again, because we're going on a week long trip and I want to see how much it grows while I'm gone, or if it just can't possibly grow with me not being there to look at every single plant and blossom.

I think I identified the mystery squash. Judging by the size and shape of the little green squashes, I'm guessing it's a pumpkin, which will make life a little difficult as it smashes the other squashes in that row and takes over the pathway. I need to figure out some ways to protect the other plants around it. The poor cucumber plant behind it is struggling as it is, poor thing. I'm just not good at cucumbers or beans yet. One thing at a time, I guess. Hopefully, when I get back, I'll have some cherry tomatoes waiting for me!

On another note, my mom's new oven has stopped working properly. I say properly, because it sucks you in by preheating normally, so you think all is well, but then it never kicks on again, so you put your cookies in, for example, at 350 and watch as the butter melts and runs out of them and they slowly flatten out, but never cook. Then you open the oven, which still says it's at 350, and notice that it just feels a little warm, not enough to actually cook anything. Luckily, or unluckily, I'm not sure which, mom still has an old stove in the basement that she uses for canning. So I preheat and take the already melty, runny cookies downstairs and put them in to bake. Then, my baby wakes up and needs attention. Sometime later, I remember that I'm baking, or shall I say, burning cookies downstairs. They probably would have been a failure anyway, but the extra baking time sure didn't help.
On to the bread catastrophe! Once again, it preheats wonderfully, so I pop five loaves of bread in. 30 minutes later, I notice that they haven't baked, but have now risen five inches. Downstairs we go again, unfortunately, they crashed, since they were partly baked, but mostly dough. I have a timer set this time, so even though the bread will look terrible, at least it won't taste burned. I hope.
I really have a hard enough time surviving day to day as a homemaker when everything goes smoothly. I don't need the appliances to sabotage me just for fun.

02 July 2010

Raspberry rhubarb pie

My mom brought home a bunch of rhubarb yesterday. We were going to can it, but then we decided to use it right away for Dad's birthday pie. My dad asks for pie instead of cake on his birthday, so this year, we made raspberry rhubarb pie. We kind of made it up as we went along, since we couldn't find a specific recipe and we didn't have any strawberries on hand. We put a few cups of rhubarb in the pie shell, then mixed raspberries, sugar and flour, and put that on top and covered. The raspberries put out a lot of juice, as you can see on the last photo.

The kids got to make their own little pies. Can you tell which one was done by a girl?

The finished pies. I really don't like when the juice leaks out of the pie shell, but I think raspberry juice will be okay. We had one after dinner tonight as we sang to grandpa. It was delicious with some vanilla ice cream on the side. Yum!

It's my Dad's birthday

He's turning 70 today. For his present, we are all writing up some memories to put in a book. I wrote mine like I was telling a story to my kiddos. His life has been anything but ordinary, so it will be fun reading what everyone comes up with.
Haying is not Grandpa’s favorite time of year, but it’s a job that needs to be done, even if it can’t be done from the back of a horse. All of Grandpa’s kids were needed to help in the hay fields at some time or other. With so many older siblings, the youngest girl was not needed in the hay field until she was in her teens. She started out driving the truck and trailer to haul bails for Grandpa to put in the stack yard. Then she was moved up to the rake tractor.
For some reason, the youngest, most inexperienced driver is given the worst tractor to work with. The first tractor she used was an old John Deere that had to be started with a screwdriver touched to a certain place on the starter. Grandpa didn’t show her where or how to start it, he just started it for her and sent her on her way. The hydraulics would get hot and cause the bucket to sag down, so the driver had to be aware and raise it every once in a while. After a few hours of raking, she was feeling hungry and wanted to stop for lunch. She realized she had no idea how to stop the tractor, so she just kept going, hoping someone would come along to help. Finally, the bucket sagged too far without her noticing, and jammed into the ground, causing the tractor to die. After lunch, she had to try to figure out how to get the tractor started again. It took a while of banging around with the screwdriver, but she finally got it going again
Another summer, this same girl was raking again, and again given the worst tractor. This time, it was a Belarus with no clutch. That meant she had to start it in the gear that she wanted to drive in, and stay in that gear. It was a scary thing to do! The tractor would jerk and jump when she tried to start it, and she had to use the throttle to slow down or speed up. As she neared the end of a wind row, she would push the throttle way down, pull the rake up, swing around very quickly to head the other way, drop the rake back down and then pull the throttle back up. It was a difficult thing, but they got the hay raked in record time that year.
One of her favorite haying memories is when she was the only one working with Grandpa that summer. They were haying the Johnny Popper at the Z bar. Grandpa would bring a little lunch for them to share, like tuna fish on a cracker and a pickle slice on top. They would sit on the bank of the empty ditch, in the shade of the trees and eat lunch and visit for a while. Then it was back to work. The two of them got most of the haying done that year and had a little fun while doing it.