Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday Garden Club

First the good news, because well, yeah, there is some bad news to report from the garden this week, but first the good...

The peas are doing well. Still not yet flowering, but soon...
The vine portion of the garden is starting to get a little nuts. I may need to thin out some of the pumpkin and squash plants before they take over the entire yard...
Most (but not all) of the tomato plants are doing well and are starting to produce green tomatoes...

These funny looking plants below with the red stems are Okra. They are actually a red variety of Okra as opposed to the traditional green. Okra is a new one for me this year so I have no idea what to expect, but so far so good.
The sunflowers seemed to have shot up a foot since last week and guess what? So have the beans, right up the stalks of the sunflowers!
The Gardener and I, almost in unison said "I'll be damned" when we noticed it for the first time this week. So cool that it's working as planned!
The first of the raspberries have started to ripen...
Not enough to make a dessert, but enough to keep the girls happy.

I picked these 4 zucchini last night and we ate them for dinner. Delicious!
Radishes and cilantro...

My little helpers have been great this year about working in the garden. I started some chore charts for the summer and one of the chores they get credit for (stickers they collect, then cash in the chart for some money at the end of the week) is gardening. 20 minutes at a crack seems to be the perfect amount of time to get something done but not so long that they lose interest.

Mae weeded the broccoli row this week and did a great job getting in between the plants.
She also spotted a huge thistle growing up in the raspberry patch that she had some trouble getting out. Not giving up, she called sister over to give her a hand, or more like a tow...
Now for the not so good gardening news. We found this summer squash plant broken off laying about 2 feet from where it was growing. Not sure what happened to it but I'm thinking those naughty dogs from the pig farm across the road or a wandering deer could be to blame...
As if a dead summer squash plant (with squash on it!) wasn't enough for the week, Friday night a nasty storm rolled through that produced some damaging winds...
Broken tree branches and shingles from the roof of the barn were strewn about the yard,
Potted plants were overturned...
The giant daisy plants not quite blooming yet were knocked over. We staked them up but still, they look pretty sad...
Some of the tomato plants too were damaged and blown over...
One cauliflower plant was lost as well...
It could have been worse, but still this is enough destruction for the season. You hear that Ma Nature?

Now for all you gardeners out there who wish to participate, either leave a comment on what's growing in your yard, or post a Monday Garden Club update on your blog. Don't forget to drop your link in the comments and I'll add it to this post.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wardrobe Wednesday

So, my girls haven't worn anything notable lately except maybe the lack of clothing that Binny prefers on these hot summer days, so here's one from the wedding I photographed over the weekend. I had almost 1400 images to choose from and narrowed it down to the best 409. This one of the bride getting ready made the cut.
I like this photo in black and white, but the accent color on her dress is too beautiful to leave out. The bridesmaid dresses were the same color blue with a big floral print.

More Wardrobe Wednesday at Heathen Family Revival.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Strawberry Rhubarb Coffee Cake

Yesterday, I mentioned on Facebook (I know some of you are cringing at the F word) that I was eating a piece of strawberry rhubarb coffee cake for breakfast. (No need to tell me how boring my life is, I already know.) One of my friends requested the recipe, so here we are.

This photo was taken 2 days after I made it so it's not as pretty as when it first came out of the oven but it's still delicious!

My mom brought this recipe to us when she was here visiting last month and I just made it again for the Gardener on Father's Day. He's got a thing for rhubarb and brown sugar topping...

With rhubarb season still in full swing, it's nice to have a new recipe to use. Rhubarb is one of those great seasonal foods that comes into season so fast and produces like mad. Rhubarb can be used to make some of the best home made deserts but after 5 or 6 9x13 pans, even yummy rhubarb crisp gets old. When my mom made this coffee cake for us last month, she followed the directions and only used 2 cups of chopped rhubarb, but for the most recent cake I made, I used at least 2 cups of rhubarb and about as much chopped strawberries as well. Actually, I'm just guessing on the amounts, I hardly ever measure anything. I also upped the baking time by about 10 minutes with all of that fruit just to make sure it all cooked through. It still turned out plenty moist. I think next time I'll double the brown sugar topping too, it's really the best part of the cake if you ask me.

Rhubarb Cake
1/2 cup butter softened
1-1/2cups white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups chopped rhubarb

1 Tablespoon flour (for coating fruit)

1/4 cup soft butter
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup packed brown sugar

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla. In another bowl sift together dry ingredients. Mix dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk into the butter sugar mixture. Coat the fruit in the flour and add to the batter. Stir until combined then pour into a greased 9x13 pan. Mix together the butter, cinnamon and brown sugar with a fork and sprinkle the mix over the cake batter. Bake at 350 for 45 min to an hour. You should probably let it cool before digging in because the molten fruit WILL burn your mouth. Just sayin'.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday Garden Club

So, it's Monday, after another busy weekend. The wedding on Saturday went very well and I must admit, when I heard it was going to be a casual backyard wedding with a beer keg on wheels and an entire hog turning away inside a huge grill, I was a little worried. Turns out, beer keg technology has come a long way (there was even a tap of Sprecher Root Beer) and really the pig roast was kinda awesome. The weather was perfect, perhaps even a little hot out in the sun. I posted some photos from the wedding on my photo blog if you want to have a look. I'm hoping to post some photos of all the food later today...

Anyhow, like I said, It's Monday, time for a garden update!

The Summer squash still aren't quite big enough to pick but there are LOTS of them.
Check out this giant pumpkin. The seed packet promised it could grow large enough to fit a small child comfortably inside.
Lots of green tomatoes hanging already...
Last week I mentioned trimming up the tomato plants in an attempt to keep them under control. Here's what they look like now...
Now the plants look more like trees than bushes and the cages are holding them up so far. My father in law saw me out there with my pruner and a 5 gal bucket and thought I had lost my mind. He doesn't do anything special to his tomato plants but he also told me that he can't even get into his tomato patch because the plants are too sprawly already. My point exactly!
I replanted the Lima beans (front corner above) but they haven't come up yet. I'm starting to think maybe the seeds were no good.

The apple trees in the orchard (too fancy a name for the area of our yard where the fruit trees live) are doing well.
I'm thinking if the birds and bugs leave these apples alone, I may have enough for a few pies.
Yesterday while the Gardener was out mowing the lawn, he stopped and called me outside to look at what he had found out in the orchard. He had been mowing down some trees that came up on their own right through the grass and finally when they got too big to keep driving over with the lawnmower, he decided to just let them grow.
Any ideas what this tree is???
It's a Mulberry tree! With Mulberries on it almost ripe to pick!

Not sure how we missed a 6 foot tall tree with BERRIES on it, but it is a huge surprise. I was just reading a recipe for a Mulberry tart and it mentioned that Mulberries don't travel or store well (I've never seen them in a grocery store) so the only way to get any is to pick your own. My in-laws have been trying to grow them (trees they bought from a nursery) for years with no luck bearing fruit so far. Goes to show that Mother Nature still has major control over the gardening world. To be perfectly honest, birds love Mulberries and our neighbors have several trees so I'm thinking that our luscious berry trees were transported here as seeds through bird poop. Mmm, delicious! This pretty much makes up for the blueberry bushes I have been trying to grow for years without much luck.

Now for all you gardeners out there who wish to participate, either leave a comment on what's growing in your yard, or post a Monday Garden Club update on your blog. Don't forget to drop your link in the comments and I'll add it to this post.

Participating Blogs:
Out In Them Sticks

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thursday Goodness

Thursday Goodness is something my bloggy friend Wild Child has been doing for a few weeks now and this week I decided to join her. Speaking of Wild Child and and all things good...

She and her children joined us yesterday for an afternoon of strawberry picking (and eating!) and a fun game of kickball in our front yard.

Meeting a real life blogger, someone I only know through photos and stories and whatever else they post on their blog was a new one for me (and her too!) but I think we were both pleasantly surprised to learn exactly how normal we each are. The kids got along great and the two of us ate my favorite salad and chatted about everything from in-laws to health insurance and everything in between. It was a fun afternoon.

The Gardener is back to working full time! Still far away with a 3 hour round trip commute but it's work and should last at least a few months.

I'm shooting a wedding this Saturday! Funny thing how word travels that there is a photographer around. My brother's friend asked if I would photograph the wedding of some good friends as his gift to them. How cool is that? Even cooler is that instead of money I suggested we trade services and he agreed. I'll photograph this wedding for him and he is going to paint a portrait of our family! He is an exceptional artist and since we don't have very many family photos together (I prefer to stay on the other side of the camera) a painting would be neat to have. I'm hoping I can also convince him to do a sketch for this year's holiday card too...

Now if you'll excuse me, I have another 12 pounds of strawberries to deal with. I may post some photos of making freezer jam if anyone wants to learn how to do it...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Vintage Wardrobe Wednesday

I have a great photo (or 6) of my husband holding my purse while we were at a wedding reception last Saturday night. My purse actually coordinated with his outfit better than mine! As much as I would love to share it, I think he just might kill me if I do. Instead, I'll embarrass some other people.

We have been friends (although always long distance) with a certain Minnesota family for around 25 years now and have so many great childhood memories playing dress up and hide and seek over the years. They always had the best hide and seek houses. Their first house had 2 stair cases and the second had a great closet that tunneled under the eves upstairs. It was the best!

So glad our moms had the good sense to snap a few photos of one very classy dress up session...First off, that's me with the lovely mauve glasses and the blue beret, and that adorable pilgrim girl in front of me wearing the bonnet and sucking his thumb? Why that would be my brother K, and the diva next to him with the lovely charm bracelet and earrings just graduated from law school! I just hope those boys don't read this blog.

More Wardrobe Wednesday at Heathen Family Revival.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday Garden Club

It's been a rainy week here again. Not like monsoon rain or anything but a little everyday with no chance to dry up between rains to get out there and do some work. Finally yesterday as the rain held off for most of the day, we were finally able to get some much needed weeding done.

The Gardener used his ATV with the cultivator on the back to work up between the rows and the girls and I weeded around the individual plants and uncovered some of the pea plants the Gardener covered up with dirt on one pass. He didn't kill any though!

I ended up replanting the Lima beans that never came up. I used the same seeds so we'll see what happens... I also picked up a small pot of mesclun lettuces at the Farmer's Market last week (although the guy who sold them to me kept calling them masculine) and I planted them in the row where only half of the lettuce seeds I planted actually came up.

The spinach I started ahead of time is almost ready to pick and the spinach I sowed directly into the garden is right behind it.

While the girls and I were on our hands and knees pulling weeds around the radishes we found that some of them were ready! Radishes are a super quick crop that grows almost overnight. The woman I buy eggs and that delicious pork that's in my freezer from is also doing a CSA this year for the first time and we talk gardening every time I stop in. Anyhow, she was telling me that if the weather is very warm, radishes will become spicier and this year hers were almost too spicy with all the warm weather we had several weeks ago. (She planted hers a few weeks before mine.) Ours are plenty spicy for me but the Gardener thought they were perfect. A quick rinse in the sink and a sprinkling of salt with a cold beer is his favorite way to eat them.

Baby summer squash! Only about 2 inches long but within a week it should be big enough to harvest.
The tomato bushes plants are growing like crazy and one of my goals for this week (if the rain stays away) will be to go out there and trim up the tomato plants and start training them up the cages. The trimming being the same theory as the pepper plants I mentioned last week and too tomato plants tend to get very big and sprawl-y very easily so I'm trying to get a jump on it and maybe control some of the tomato insanity. Did I mention I planted over 25 tomato plants? And I only have 10 tomato cages, but I can stake the rest.
Still picking strawberries!
strawberries and radishes picked yesterday

Also, the pick your own strawberry farm right down the road from our house is now open for the season. Binny and I went the day they opened (I'm kind of a stalker like that) which also happened to be the last day of school. We picked two ice cream buckets full in only about 20 minutes. We then had enough time to clean them up, dip them in some melted chocolate, put 4 of them in a cute little box as a gift to the bus driver as she dropped off Mae for the last time this school year. Gotta keep those bus drivers happy! After all, how many winter mornings did she wait for us while I was scurrying around making sure the girls had hats and mittens and shoving boots on their feet?

Now for all you gardeners out there who wish to participate, either leave a comment on what's growing in your yard, or post a Monday Garden Club update on your blog. Don't forget to drop your link in the comments and I'll add it to this post.

Participating Blogs: