Saturday, August 29, 2015

Caterpill on Dill

I think I'm going to have to get a book on caterpillars soon. I'm never quite sure if I really should have left them eating happily away on a plant. 
Somewhere in my memory something says the ones feeding on dill
are swallowtails (if my memory is to be trusted).
Was that a beautiful butterfly doing minimal damage? Or was that a garden scourge waiting to happen, and I should have dealt with it while I had the chance? 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Dragon Tongue Beans

I like to try things in the garden. Someday I think I might find the perfect plant of everything. One of the new things this year was an heirloom green bean called Dragon Tongue. A well behaved bushing type, it has pretty purple flowers and pretty purple streaks on the beans. And the flavor is decent.

But they lose their fun colour when they are cooked and end up looking like ordinary green beans. They are supposed to also be good as a dry bean too, and the plants are working on getting me a batch to try that way still. So I'm going to say the jury is still out on if this variety will become a regular in the garden. I've got to say though, the loss of colour is leading me to think I'll maybe just plant out the rest of these seeds and then not bother getting more. I mean, if it's just going to look like a regular green bean in the end anyway... what's the fun in that?

Snapped beans, before cooking.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

And The Tomatoes Are Still Flowering

Are you tired of tomatoes yet? I'm not.

Tomatoes toasted with a Spanish Sheep's Cheese
on (homemade) Portuguese Bread. Good Combo!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Meanwhile, in the Garden

Rainbow Swiss Chard (Fall Planting)

Heritage Everbearing Raspberries (2nd flush)

My New "White" Rosebush in Bloom.
The label said it was "Summer Snow" a white climber.
The climbing is now also in doubt; and not knowing the name, I admit
I've been calling it "Yellow Snow." 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Botanicals and Tarts

Moda Fabrics and Spoonflower decided this year's Fabric8 competition theme would be Botanical Sketchbook. I've never designed a Botanical before. I love the way they look but, there are only so many things you can do with them and so many other people have done such lovely work already... But you know, I would love to be a Moda designer. Moda cottons have such a lovely hand to them and so I had to try.

Practice botanical... (not actual entry)

I lost track of Fabric8, but realized at the last minute that it was still happening and the deadline was looming. I had to scramble to enter. The deadline was yesterday, and I just made it. (Whew!) Ongoing computer issues made it deplorably slow to upload and it was anyone's guess if the internet would stay connected long enough to actually load, ...But it finally did. 

[My internet connection has decided to not work when it rains, or there's a wind, or the sun is shining, or if it's too dark... I'm more offline than on these days, though not by choice!]

Blushing "Green" Gage Plums
During this time the Plums have decided to ripen. They are lovely! Although they are not so Green as I expected my Green Gages to be. I suspect they are either a nursery mislabel, or a scam of sorts (what do stupid Americans know about European fruit anyway?) They are perhaps still a Gage Plum, but one of the red sorts, or more accurately a  Reigne Claude, as they are blushing away like crazy out there. 

Five years later it is a little late to return them; if I remembered which nursery they were from or wanted to dig back through paperwork, which I don't. So it is just as well that I am happy with them. 

The question is: When life hands you a nice lot of ripe plums, what do you make of them? Tarts, of course.

A Nice Plummy Tart

Begin by blind baking the crust and enough plum halves (sprinkled in sugar) to fill the bottom of your tart pan later. I used 18 here but you may need to adjust if your plums are larger. If your plums are smaller you actually may be looking for a cherry tart recipe. Add a tablespoon of sugar to this recipe for shortcrust and you will have an excellent crust for this tart.

Empty crust on left, pre-baking plums on right.
Bake at 325 degrees about 15 minutes.
I leave my pizza stone in the oven to help distribute and radiate
the gas heat a little better (that's what you see at the bottom there).

For the rest of the filling we make a custard. And we will make it with non-fat powdered milk instead of cream. After all, we just used real butter in our shortcrust. We have to pretend to be healthy somewhere -- also I was out of cream and who has time to run to the store for that?

3/4 cup milk, mixed according to directions on the box
1/4 cup extra, dry powdered milk
3 eggs beaten
1/4 cup sugar 
2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg 

Combine in bowl.

Put pre-baked plums into blind baked crust and pour custard over them.
Then back in the oven to bake for 45 minutes at 325 degrees.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar to serve.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Spoonflower Contest: Please Vote for Me (and any other favorites you find)

Dear Readers,
Please follow this link to vote for your favorite Butterfly Collection in this week's Fabric design contest (August 13th - August 20th). My collection is called "Butter and Toast" and my Spoonflower shop is "Rabbit Trail." Thanks!
My Spoonflower Butterfly Collection Contest Entry (Four Fat Quarters)
Top Left: Large Butterfly on "Monarch of the Glen" plaid ground,
Top Right: "Woven Wings" which made me think of burnt toast,
Bottom Left: "Scattered Butterfly Stripe" (butterflies with toast stripe),
Bottom Right: "Butter Pat" (squares of small yellow butterflies)
I'm getting ready to enter another design contest where the prize is having a traditional fabric company offer you a design contract. More on that, maybe even a few sneak peeks of that collection, later.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Simon Says: Deadlines

Why don't you play with me all day today? Simon says. I would be okay with that. Let's go outside.

But I can't.

I promise not to tell. He cocks his ears at me in a way that makes him very adorable and he knows it. Why do you like that computer more than me? He whimpers softly.

Oh, little dog, I love you! But Mommy has deadlines to meet on Fabric Designs and Book Edits. I can't play right now.

Deadlines? I can play dead. Simon says, and he rolls over on his back. Then looking at me with understanding, he curls himself beside me to wait.

Good dog!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Wooly Feet

Hand knit wool socks fresh off the knitting needles and ready for fall weather. The yarn was left over from a skein I used for a pair of children's socks a few years back.  Most skeins of sock yarn will be enough for a pair of childrens socks and a pair of adult socks -- as long as you're not trying to do knee socks.
It's surprisingly difficult to take good photos of your own feet.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Human vs. Beans

As a child I noticed it. Beans are a stealth veggie. They like to hide from you so that just when you think you are done picking a row you notice that you missed one, and another one and another... until you begin to think you must have been picking a different row. Surely this row hasn't been picked yet, but it has. Beans are tricky like that.

The prolific fecundity of beans which tormented me as a young gardener is one of the reasons beans still have a spot in my garden.  A few plants are enough for fresh beans all summer, a few more and there are enough to put by for when the drab of winter is cheered by a splash of summer green.

This year, more than ever, I am realizing the dependability of those stealthy beans. They are still producing for me out there, despite being shaded by a wayward pumpkin vine that decided to climb their bean trellis.  Just this morning I found a bunch more beans on a row I could have sworn I'd already picked clean. Twice.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Photographs From Our Garden

Black Eyed Susan

Blue Corn

Globe Thistle and Hydrangeas

Tropical Sunrise Roses


It's Better Than Fig Leaves

Perhaps I lack a sense of fashion, but I have never felt drawn to animal print outfits or crocodile handbags. To my mind zebra stripe belongs only on zebras, snakeskin makes better snakes than boots, the leopard can keep his spots to himself and, giraffe print only ever looks right on someone with a 12 foot neck (so pretty much just giraffes and the guys from beyond alpha centauri).

The seeming public obsession with animal prints continues, circling round every few years with varying degrees of accuracy and imagination. Looking at craft and fabric store faux furs I have to wonder if there really are that many people seeking turquoise tiger stripes or, say, spandex-knit pant-weight skin of an animal I'm guessing it was half cheetah, half komodo dragon? I don't know.

But then, as I was pondering yet again the dubious wisdom that causes someone to put together an outfit consisting entirely of leopard print (in this case a swim suit and sarong edged in wooden beads no doubt meant to look tribal somehow) the answer came to me: It all goes back to the garden of Eden.

And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. ~Genesis 3:21

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Wrong Inner Child

...except ye be as a little child...

I have a friend who claims to not only not have had a childhood but to not believe a childhood is necessary. I have another friend who is currently living in a prolonged state of selfish adolescence. 

What is the balance? Not everything an be excused by pop psychology and blaming your inner child.

What makes childhood sweet but childishness hard to put up with?

How do we balance the innocence against the ignorance? Make room for irresponsibility in a life of responsibilities?