Hibiscus, Harvest & Sourdough

All the hibiscus are blooming. A few  raspberries and green beans are still trickling in. The cucumbers are taking over with a vengeance. Once again, my squash succumbed to mildew and I wish I had planted more potatoes.

The sourdough starter I made last week was ready to use Monday and I baked its first loaf of bread yesterday. I stuck with the recipe from, My Sister’s Kitchen. It never does me wrong.

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Rhinebeck


My husband and I took a ride through the hills. We spent the day in an artsy little town, Rhinebeck, New York.
Rhinebeck has a real vintage vibe – there’s a big, old family-owned five and dime store in the center of town along with clothing stores, unique little shops, cafés and pubs.
Lots of the shops have hand made things for sale. I really liked Nectar. It is a beautiful store and everything in there is fair trade, green or repurposed. The owner, Jenny, was really friendly and she told me she travels all over the world for her merchandise.
We had lunch outside on the patio of Terrapin restaurant. They have fresh, crusty artisan breads and handmade cheeses. Their food is sourced locally and they use organic ingredients. Everything was fresh and full of flavor… deliciousness!
The little pizza shop in town sells handmade ice cream. I couldn’t resist. I got a black currant and cream ice cream cone and it was really good.
We went off the beaten path a little bit and found a big barn/ Antique mart. It was fun to poke around in there for a while before heading home.

Sourdough & Detergent

I neglected my sourdough starter for too long and it died. I started a new batch today and I’ll be able to start using it next week. I made it the old fashioned way, following Sally Fallon’s instructions in ” Nourishing Traditions”. I ground 2 cups of rye into flour and added 2 cups of cold water. The mixture stays covered with a clean cloth and will be kept on the kitchen counter. For the next 6 days I’ll transfer the starter into a clean bowl and add a cup of rye flour and a cup of water.  It will get bubbly. Then it will settle down a bit and be ready for me to use for bread and baked goods. After that, I’ll keep it refrigerated and fed with rye flour and water . Hopefully, it will last for years, unless I abandon it again.

Two or three times a year, I make laundry detergent.  One batch makes 5 gallons.   I was getting low  so I made that too.  It took about 20 minutes and it has to stand for 24 hours.  Tomorrow I’ll fill up my milk cartons and be set for a while.

Garden Update

The days are busy picking blueberries, drying herbs, weeding and filling the house with giant bouquets of Bee Balm and Annabelle Hydrangeas. I made a big batch of sauerkraut and we have fresh garden salads every night.  The last of the garlic has been harvested and I’m keeping watch on the tiny beans, cucumbers, peppers  and squash that have set. They’ll be ready for picking soon.

I haven’t had to take any measures against bugs yet. There’s just been the normal wear and tear that goes with gardening organically. A few holes in the cabbage don’t bother me.  Everything is doing really well except……my tomatoes are dismal. The plants are sparse and spindly. I tried a new variety this year, Granny Cantrell. Last year I grew Ace..also an heirloom variety and I had gorgeous plants and was swamped with tomatoes. I’m not sure what the problem is.  Maybe its just not my year for tomatoes.

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Fruit Toppings & Keeping Flowers

A few weeks ago I made strawberry topping for ice cream sundaes. There was some left so I refrigerated it used it to top the yogurt and kefir I make. It was delicious.  I decided to do a healthier version with the small amount (1 cup) of gooseberries I harvested. I mashed and cooked them down for a few minutes and then once they were cooled, I stirred in raw honey. Heat kills the enzymes in the honey. Had I been sweetening with sugar, I would’ve just added the sugar in the beginning with the berries. I’ll keep this gooseberry topping in the fridge and make blueberry and strawberry as well.

Flowers are so pretty I wish they would last forever. My cousin told me that Mod Podge preserves fresh flowers. I printed out some quotes that I like in a dimension for bookmarks. Then I decorated them with fresh flowers and glued and sealed them with Mod Podge. (Elmer’s or white glue works just as well but needs to be thinned a little bit with water.)

I posted about our losing my cousin John a few weeks ago. His daughter Stacey (she is so much like her Dad), sent me roses. I wanted to keep them so I made rosepetal beads . The link gives easy directions and a wonderful story of how they were used in Medieval times. The only ingredients were 4 cups of petals and water. They were very easy to make. I strung them on a chain that I wear with my Grandfather’s wedding ring and a few other things that are meaningful to me. Body heat imparts the rose fragrance. It’s a beautiful reminder to me of people that I love so much.

New York City

My youngest daughter is an art student. She wanted to go to the Modern Museum of Art so we planned a day in New York City. We took a train in to Grand Central and planned a walking route to visit some of the things in the neighborhood.  The first stop was Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.  There’s a lot of construction and scaffolding..inside and out.

Then we went to the Museum.  There was a statue with a live beehive for a head in the courtyard.

My fun cousin Stacey recommended ‘Serendipity’ for lunch. We had to backtrack a few blocks to get there but it was worth it!

Back to 5th Avenue..I wanted to look at the window displays and visit Fao Schwartz one last time before it closes on July 15

It was a great day image

Backyard Fruit & Balloon Flowers

I like having a little fruit orchard in my back yard. I get fresh, organic fruit all summer and lots in the freezer for later. It doesn’t take much space . Berries are easy to grow and come back every year on their own. I’m not sure how hardy and easy he dwarf fruit trees will prove to be but so far, so good. “The Old Fashioned Fruit Garden” by JoAnn Gardner was a big inspiration for me to get started. The book has a lot of nice anecdotes.  It’s instructional but not overwhelming and contains lots of recipes and preserving techniques along with fruit growing and harvesting methods.

Marie’s Balloon Flower is blooming now. I love the way the blossoms are so puffy before they open.

I think I planted some of the garlic too deep. It never sent up scapes and the leaves dropped and started to dry. The bulbs look okay so I’ll spread them out on a rack on the porch to dry.

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I made Julia Child’s “Queen of Sheba” cake this weekend. She is my favorite chef. Her recipes are always accurate and easy to follow. I love her positive, happy attitude. This cake is almost flourless. Ground almonds replace some of the flour and it’s delicious.

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Summer Day

Lazy was a 4 letter word, according to my Grandmother..one of the worst. When I was taught how to do something, my Mother would say, “do it right or not at all…do it again.” When I’d finally get it right she’d say,”now do it faster.”

Those lessons have a way of sticking with me. I don’t want to be a slacker but on the other hand, there are some days when getting lots of  things done quickly and efficiently just doesn’t happen.

Yesterday, I was picking currants and the frogs were making a racket.  I ended up visiting with them for a long time. I started weeding but there were so many bumblebees I couldn’t resist trying to take beautiful pictures of them like the ones I see on Derrick J. Knight’s blog. (his photos are fabulous, I’ll spare you mine). Then I had the urge to try to pet the bumblebees.. I read on Mary Tang’s blog that people actually do that.   The bees kept buzzing away from me but I’ll try again another time.

Back in the house, I started cleaning but got distracted looking around my house thinking about redecorating and changes I want to make. That led to a rummage through my material.

Time got away from me so for dinner, I just made a salad. Kale, greens raw peas and pods from the garden with tomato, chopped onions and feta cheese. I thinned out plain yogurt with pickle juice and added some minced garlic which made a surprisingly good salad dressing.

After dinner, I had some laughs with my cousins and read for a while.

Definitely not a productive day but a good one, nonetheless.