Saturday, August 18, 2012

All of a Sudden . . .

Fall is in the air.  Or at least, the end of summer.  Low humidity, lower temperatures, bright sunshine, and a bit of a breeze.  It's about damn time.

How's the weather where you are, poppets?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Nothing To Do with My Kids

(It's so unusual these days to talk about anything other than those little dictators of my every waking moment--and the non-waking ones too--that I felt the need to announce it right up front.)

I may be jinxing things here by telling you this, but . . . we have chicks again.  There are three of them, and since these chicks were hatched in the coop, we have a much better chance of keeping them from becoming feral cat bait.  And before anyone comments to this effect. . . no, I do not have photos.  Maybe later.  If I manage to get the camera outside at some time in the near future.  I make no promises.

The tomatoes are starting to ripen in significant numbers.  Because I didn't really stake them properly this year and many of the tomatoes are actually resting right on the ground, I'm losing quite a few to insects and slugs, but I'm still harvesting a respectable number.  I froze a sheet pan full of whole paste tomatoes today.  That's what I'm doing this year instead of canning them.  I also froze the tomato juice I made the other day.

The freezer is my best friend this year.

Speaking of the garden, a couple of days ago I went in there to harvest tomatoes and AHHHHH!!! Dead bunny staring up at me with lifeless eyes from right in front of my tomato plants.  If the dogs had killed it, they would have eaten it, so I have no idea how it died and ended up splayed out in my tomato patch.  Maybe it died from overeating.  My bean plants.  Little bastard.  One down.

I think that's all.  Back to our regularly scheduled child-centric programming . . .

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

This Will Make My Dad Happy

When I was a kid, Sundays were always family activity days.  And family activities meant hiking.  Considering that for much of my childhood we lived in Alaska and Arizona, both states known for spectacular scenery and excellent hiking, this makes sense.  If you like to hike.

I don't.  At all.

I have never seen the point in walking without going anywhere.  It's not my thing.  So of course, like any child, I whined and complained and was a general pain in the ass about it.  I can't imagine why my parents didn't just abandon me on the side of the trail.

And then I grew up and didn't have to go hiking if I didn't want to.  The sweet freedom of adult independence!

Until I married a man just like my father.  Naturally.

You will recall that we now have Sunday Family Fun for the Family Blackrock.  When I was still very pregnant, and then when I was still recovering from birth, A. took pity on me and our family fun activities were relatively tame things like picking blueberries or going for ice cream.

But the baby turned one month old yesterday, so now there's no excuse for either him or me to flake out on the more strenuous activities that count for fun in A.'s and Cubby's opinions.  I would be happy for the two of them to go and do their tortuous activities by themselves, but then that wouldn't be so much family fun, now would it?

Considering my family history, I don't think it was an accident that my parents' baby gift for Charlie was a carrier.  So I can carry him for Family Fun hikes.

The only full-length mirror in our house it at the top of the stairs with windows opposite it, hence the picture quality.  But you get the idea.

The whole family went for our first hike on Sunday, Cubby in his pack* and Charlie in his.  We just went to The Plantation, which is a, uh, plantation of pine trees planted by A.'s grandfather in the 1950s.  It's only about half a mile from the house, which is about as far as I wanted to go.  After a short play session in The Plantation during which Charlie lay on the ground and Cubby ate some grapes, Cubby and A. descended into the gully.  I declined to climb down a steep, slippery gully bank while front-loaded with an infant, so Charlie and I headed home.

It was a short hike, but I have no doubt many, many more  of a longer duration will follow.  Yay.

Thanks, Mom and Dad.  I think.

* Cubby probably doesn't really need to be packed around so much anymore, but it's a useful way to contain him and cover some distance without trying to keep a toddler from pitching himself headlong over the gully bank in pursuit of his beloved creek.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Food Prep Al Fresco

Cubby and I went out to the garden yesterday to harvest tomatoes and found quite a few ready to pick.  Also quite a few that were cracked, thanks to the heavy rain the day before.  Which meant they needed to be used right away.

Cubby had been browsing among the basil as I was picking tomatoes, so he got a bunch of basil for me, I grabbed a couple of onions on the way out of the garden, and we brought it all to the house.  

But when I asked Cubby if he wanted to go inside to help me make spaghetti sauce, he said no and ran to play on the lawn tractor.  Right.  Rather than fight that particular battle, I brought the kitchen outside.  In a limited way, that is.

The baby did not go into the pot.

As soon as Cubby saw the knife, he zoomed over to assist me.  I elected to not give him the chopping duties, however, instead putting him to work pulling basil leaves off the branches.  Because I'm responsible like that.

Basically, I chopped all that up, plus some garlic, simmered it on the stove for an hour or so, then put it through the Foley food mill.  Cubby very much enjoyed the food mill, though he found it a bit tricky to operate.

The resulting substance was very liquid, and I decided to just use it as tomato juice, which is excellent for braising big chunks of beef.  Mostly because I did not have the time or the patience to spend two more hours reducing it to a saucy consistency.  I want to can it, but if I can't find the time in the next couple of days (very likely), I'll just freeze it.

It's a far cry from 39 quarts of canned tomatoes, but at least it's something.