Saturday, August 16, 2008

Edible Beauty

Did you ever notice that grocery store commercials show heaping displays of fruit and vegetables, wholesome piles of breads, maybe a little meat (always raw), but never big heaps of what people are actually buying? And judging by the people who are generally in line behind me at the grocery store, that would be frozen dinners and Cheetos.

But those ad people know what they're doing. This is certainly much prettier than a bag of Cheetos:

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and this beholder says tomatoes are beautiful, dammit.

This is what I harvested from the garden yesterday morning. Harvesting is a daily affair now. What you see up there are tomatoes (duh), green beans, cucumbers, and dill. The cucumbers and dill were put into pickles. The tomatoes and green beans are still hanging around, waiting for their turn to be eaten. Our vegetables are fatalists.

As you can see, we're in The Panic stage of tomato harvest now. I think Monday will kick off The Canning stage. Aaaaand, cue nasty heat and humidity! Yes, just in time for the serious canning, the forecast is calling for much warmer and stickier weather next week. Perfect. Thank you very much, Mama N.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have not yet been out to the garden for this morning's harvest. I suspect more tomatoes are waiting for me.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Let the Games Begin . . . Earlier

I love the Olympics. The inspirational stories, the gold medal victories, the impressive physiques of the male swimmers. I love it all. So why do the t.v. scheduling people wish to deprive me of my entertainment? WHY IS PRIMETIME FROM 8 P.M. TO 11 P.M.?

You all know that 8 p.m. is pretty much the end of my primetime. And yet, that's when the Olympic coverage begins. And they always show the same things between 8 and 9:30. I've been watching a lot of synchronized diving and beach volleyball. Which means that night after night, I've watched the Chinese absolutely SPANK the other countries in diving and Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh kick sand in the faces of any who dare to challenge them on the beach volleyball court. This is all very nice and entertaining, but I would really like to see some gymnastics, already. By the time those gymnasts mount their pommel horses and balance beams, I'm drooling into my pillow. I just can't stay awake that late, even for my beloved floor exercises. I feel cheated.

And another thing. You know those McDonald's commercials? The ones that show Olympians, in all their muscled and fit glory, making inspirational comments about why settle for silver and they're not going home without it? And then they bite into a fried chicken sandwich from McDonald's? Shall we all call McDonald's out on this bullshit? Yes.


Does McDonald's really expect the viewing public to believe that these men and women got to the Olympics by eating a fried chicken-like product on a "buttery-tasting" biscuit from McDonald's? Apparently, McDonald's believes people will run right out to purchase one of those disgusting-looking sandwiches (even in the commercials, when they've been presented by food stylists, those things look gross) in their pursuit of six-pack abs and Olympic glory.

Please. My intelligence is insulted. As are my taste buds.

So, in summary, I wish the Olympic scheduling committee to contact me regarding MY schedule before the next Olympics, so I'm sure to be awake during the good stuff, and I wish McDonald's to get a grip on reality already and quit using prime examples of human fitness to hawk their nasty grease bombs.

Thank you for your attention.

P.S. If you would like to see something amusing, go over to Finny's site for the Grow Your Own Round-up today (round-up number 14, in fact--that's a lot of rounding up). There are all kinds of seriously beautiful, seriously fancy actual recipes on there. And then there's mine. I have this song in my head, "One of these things is not like the other, one of these things is not the same . . ."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Greeting the Day

Good morning! It's a foggy, spooky morning at Blackrock today. I took the camera out with me when I went outside to capture some of the cool fogginess, but because I am the World's Worst Photographer (I expect my certificate any day now), the foggy pictures didn't look as . . . foggy as the real thing. But I did get some nice shots of the smiling, wagging, and loudly maaing faces that greet me every morning. Would you like to see?

First, I let the dogs out of their nightly imprisonment . . .

We're innocent, I tell you! INNOCENT!

Then, I snuck up on the ewes and got a peaceful photo of them before they opened their mouths to start yelling for corn . . .

Mercifully quiet . . . for the moment.

Next, I turned to the right to capture The Boys filing over, expressing their desire for grain . . .

"Maa" can be loosely translated to, "Gimme corn, fool!"

There were also cats milling around begging for food, but I didn't take a picture of them.

So, how do you start your mornings?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Evolution of a Tomato Harvest

Stage One: The Beginning

The tomatoes have just started getting ripe, so there is much anxious monitoring of the plants for any that might be ready to eat. No storage containers are necessary at this stage, as the tomatoes pretty much go from plant to mouth, with occasional uses for tomato salads. The tomato grower might start exhibiting signs of extreme jealousy and paranoia regarding Tomato Thieves.

Stage Two: The Hoarding

The tomatoes may be starting to accumulate slowly, with a few harvested every day and put in a small bowl in the kitchen. The tomato grower is still jealous of his/her tomatoes, but may be willing to share with select friends and family members. Tomatoes may begin to be used for actual cooking in this stage, as opposed to the plain tomatoes and tomato salads that characterize Stage One.

Stage Three: The Accumulation

The tomatoes are ripening much faster now and require a fairly large colander for storage on the counter. The tomato grower may begin doling out tomatoes with a generous hand to anyone who expresses interest in tomatoes. The tomatoes are now being used in greater quantities for sauces and other cooked dishes requiring five or more tomatoes at a time.

Stage Four: The Panic

The tomato plants are now more red than green, with dozens ripening every day. Multiple large bowls and colanders are conscripted into use for storage, and every available foot of counter space is full of ripe tomatoes. The tomato grower may begin weeping at the sight of the vast quantities of tomatoes that have now taken over his/her life. The tomato grower may also begin thrusting tomatoes at random individuals, such as the UPS man.

Stage Five: The Canning

The tomato grower has conceded defeat and begun the tedious process of peeling, de-seeding, and canning the multitudes of tomatoes. He/she may be prone to fits of rage at this stage, most especially if canning coincides with an oppressive heat wave. Cold compresses and gin and tonics are recommended.

Stage Six: The Waiting

At this stage, the tomato grower begins anxiously watching the overnight forecast, looking for the first hint of frost. The tomato grower will cover his/her plants the first few times a frost is predicted, but will eventually give up, harvest all the tomatoes left on the plants, and begin plotting next year's tomato plantings.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Hold onto your head, Jive Turkey . . .


I know I said we wouldn't be getting any chickens until spring. I lied. Not intentionally, though. See, what happened was, the MiL went on a camping trip with her sister this week, and on the way home, she drove past a sign on a back road in the hills advertising eggs and chickens for sale. The MiL was, understandably, very disappointed about the failure of the hatchery to actually HATCH THEIR DAMN EGGS, so she bought six chicks from this crazy lady who is trying to create her own breed of chicken. Whatever. The MiL arrived back at home this morning, bearing chicks.

They're some indeterminate cross, and we don't know yet whether they're male or female. They're about three weeks old, so they have a little bit of a head start, which is good. Mia is fascinated with them.

So the coop will not be lonely and silent all winter, and if all goes well, we could have eggs by the new year. Wheeee!

Feeling Saucy

If I'm not cooking a meal with garden produce meant to be consumed immediately, then I'm preparing garden produce for future consumption. I'm cooking and preparing vegetables all the time, every day, is what I'm saying. On yesterday's agenda: Using up some tomatoes and beets.

Have you been to Finny's site? If not, you should go there now, because she's funny and grows a kick-ass garden. And then you should go look at this recipe for the Best Tomato Sauce Ever. Yep. I made this last night. It was good. It was really good. It was really, really good. I stood there eating the sauce with a spoon until I told myself to get a grip, who eats sauce straight from a spoon? So I got some Triscuits and used them to shovel sauce into my mouth. Much more civilized.

Two things I really liked about this recipe, besides the obvious deliciousness of it: One, I got a great and somewhat twisted pleasure out of squeezing the roasted garlic out of the skin. Good times. And two, the wine in the sauce isn't cooked to boil away the alcohol. Naughty.

I did make meatballs to add to the sauce before serving, because you know our mantra here at Blackrock: Everything Is Better with Meat. (That's not really our mantra.) (But it could be.) Okay, so I really made the meatballs because I had some ground beef that needed to be used. But everything really is better with meat. Except maybe cake. That would be gross.

How d'ya like THEM meatballs?


Because the oven was on anyway to roast the tomatoes and garlic, I threw in some beets to roast, too. How thrifty of me. I don't have a plan for the beets yet, beyond eating them straight out of the bowl in the refrigerator. Not that I've done that in the past or anything. Ahem.

Beets seem to be one of those division foods: You either love 'em or hate 'em. Sublime food substance, or red-colored balls of dirt? Which way do you swing on this issue?

Monday, August 11, 2008


It's Monday morning and, uncharacteristically, I did not have a plan for my post today. I usually have a plan, because planning ahead is what I do. I'm a little OCD* that way. I think everyone has their own OCD tendencies, and I am certainly no exception.

For instance, when I go to Town to run errands, I plan out the route I need to take to hit every stop in order of location, hours of operation, and purchase of perishable items. So it goes something like this in my head, "Okay, I need to go to the feed store, the library, the dry cleaners, the liquor store, Home Depot, and the grocery store. The feed store is in the opposite direction on Route 34, so I'll go there first, then take 34 into Town. Then I'll take North Street to Main Street, and go to the library. The library doesn't open until 10 a.m., so I'll leave the house at 9:30 a.m. After the library, I'll stop at the dry cleaners. Then, I'll take Division Street to the extension, stopping at the liquor store on the corner, to get to Home Depot. Then Washington Street back to Main to go to the grocery store."

I think this all through in my head before I leave, so I won't waste time back-tracking and driving unnecessarily. If something is unexpectedly closed, it throws off my whole schedule. And then my head explodes. Yes, I'm a little bit of a control freak.

I am also a compulsively early person. I've spent a large portion of my life sitting in my car, waiting until it's time to go into the job interview/party/store when it opens, because I'm always there at least 10 minutes early, often 30. Being late makes me twitchy. Thank God I married a man who is at least always on time, otherwise I would spend my whole life twitching uncontrollably and nagging at him to hurry up. Not that I don't already do my fair share of this, since he'll be on time, but I MUST BE EARLY.

I'm very lovable.

But at least I've calmed down a little since high school, when I wouldn't start driving until my trip odometer was set at zero. And if I was getting close to my destination and the tape I was listening to was about to start with a new song, I'd turn it off so when I got back in the car I wouldn't be in the middle of a song. OH, THE HORROR!

Christ, did I have some issues, or what?

But I know I'm not the only one. So spill: What OCD behaviors do you indulge in?

*OCD, for those who may have been under a nice, cozy rock, is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Think Jack Nicholson in "As Good As It Gets." It is an actual mental disorder, for which people seek treatment and medication. OF COURSE I'm not saying I really have OCD, but that doesn't mean we can't all have our own leanings towards those behaviors. Aaaaand, end of disclaimer.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

This Silver Queen Is GOLDEN, Baby

I have alluded to the freakish height of our corn a few times. I've even shown you some photos. But what I have not done is given you a picture with a size comparison. But now, so you may fully appreciate the absolutely RIDICULOUS height of our Silver Queen corn, here I am standing in the Giant Corn Forest. I'm 5'5". The corn is . . . Well, the corn is freakish. If the corn were in the Olympics, it would be tested for performance-enhancing drugs. The corn would be allowed to compete, though, as I do not believe the Olympic Committee has banned turkey shit as a performance enhancer. And of course, if the corn were in the Olympics, it would be its own basketball team.

I bet it would have a wicked half-court shot.

Can you tell I tuned in to The Games last night?