Monday, July 31, 2023

Wicked hot weekend!


The weekend was another one of dealing with overpowering heat and not a drop of rain. Other than grabbing some needed grocery items on Friday afternoon, which was a scorcher, meeting up with daughter and her partner on Saturday at a wine bar to celebrate his birthday over a chilled glass of Portuguese Rosé - which was great - we stayed close to home. 
Watering is tiring at the best of times, dragging heavy hoses while batting off mosquitoes and bees (I've yet to find a bug repellent that truly works!) in triple digit temperatures is stupid. . . . . . .but sometimes has to be done for the greater good.
Neighbor is away, the vegetable patch is mine for a while, and I'm not going to allow these gorgeous tomatoes to suffer - he told me to pick them and use them which of course I'm doing. 

The weekend harvest!

These 'Beefmaster' tomatoes are excellent - and we actually made old
 fashioned sandwiches with sourdough bread, mayo, salt and
 pepper - delicious! The flour was out as I also plan to bake some
 whole wheat cheese scones this week - on a cooler day of 
course - as they go well with tomato dishes.

Early Sunday morning prior to another hot day, Bob fired up the grill. 
Wcooked corn and red peppers for future recipes and grilled thick
 slices of leftover bread to use in Panzanella (below).  
With a bowl of 'green soup' (spinach, potato and zucchini), also made 
early morning, we had supper ready without having to heat up the kitchen.

Sunflowers are on their last legs. Picked a few smaller heads for indoors
 but they too are going over now.  Two of the really huge heads, still
 on their sky-high stems, I've enclosed in net bags and hope to gather
 seeds for planting/eating - must save them prior to nibbling visitors
 such as this. . . . .

. . . . who showed up Saturday evening to enjoy a dessert of ripe figs! 
A murder of crows visit the top of the fig tree daily now, noisy but fun
 to watch. Robins really love the figs and come non-stop all day long, 
along with many other birds, and of course the bothersome squirrels.

What's happening in your garden?

Today it's a wee bit cooler so I plan to slow-roast some tomatoes for 
sauce and soups - always a tasty treat on a cold winter's day. . . . . .which
 can't come soon enough for me!

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Home grown -------


My next door neighbor is sharing his harvest with me,
meaning I'm not buying many tomatoes from the store or market 
right now.
In return I water and give some TLC to the plants when he is out
of town during the growing season. We've done this several years
in succession and it works well for both of us. Of course I also kitty
sit for him too so don't feel guilty picking his tomatoes. . . . or having
 him pop over with a handful of just picked ones around supper time.

My first thought always is what to do with so many tomatoes all at once.
As they pile up in bowls ripening on the kitchen island I get nervous, so
 out come baking dishes, saucepans, salad bowls and such. . . . . . . and
I get to work 'doing something' with them! 
 After all that TLC in the past few months I feel I must continue to be kind
 to each tomato now grown into such a beautiful fruit in spite of wind, rain, 
burning sun, munching deer, pecking birds. . . . . and an aging gardener
 in a floppy sunhat stopping to water and talk to them, encourage them, and 
bring them along from little yellow flowers to brilliant shades of orange, 
red and gold tasty fruits.

Tuscan Panzanella Salad -

- and, as I recently made Focaccia bread and have leftovers in the
 freezer, I'm going to try using it in what is a favorite Italian tomato salad 
for a very hot summer day.

"Buon Appettito"

Home baked Focaccia Bread

"It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating
a homegrown tomato."

Hope you are growing tomatoes, or someone is sharing
a harvest with you. Photos of my tomato dishes prepared
and enjoyed in past summer seasons.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Wellbeing - Fennel and Sunflowers. . . . . . .

via - UK Country Living

I've noticed lately that there are many more articles being published in reading materials such as magazines, newspapers, books etc., and of course online, regarding digestive issues. If you, like so many of us, struggle with any of the many 'tummy troubles' brought on by illness, and especially aging, you will find everything covered, discussion is more open, and treatment offered from every area of the medical field and more. 

I found this little jewel of a herbal treatment, a natural 'digestif' to aid in stomach spasms and bloating - fennel seeds. I purchased a small bag of organic seeds and have been chewing them after breakfast and supper - we usually don't eat lunch. The licorice taste is pleasant and I chew for a while prior to swallowing as they are a bit weedy in the mouth! If you look up fennel seeds you will be amazed at the health benefits. Of course as with anything you ingest always check on the negatives too, and maybe discuss with your doctor. 

. . . . . . . while on the subject of healthy seeds, how about the sunflowers' offerings?
Have to admit they are delicious natural and roasted as a handy, healthy snack, and make such a difference to the taste and texture of many baked items, especially breads. I probably won't be eating mine from the garden as usually the squirrels and birds get there first, but that's fine with me. Growing a few of this awesome, now 10 foot tall, 'wow factor' variety has been beautiful to view. They have brightened the garden and welcomed people coming along the street. 

Soon I may be known not just as "the lady with the huge fig tree" but also "the crazy gardening woman with the gigantic sunflowers".

- Sunflowers today -

A favorite spot in the summer garden right now - under the Japanese maple.

Very hot and humid here.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Blooming in my garden this week -

Rose Mallow

 First bloom just opened after Sunday's heavy rain.
Growing in a large pot, it returns each summer.

"Rose mallow is a plant that goes by several names -- swamp mallow, 
crimson-eyed mallow or perennial hibiscus. The funnel-shaped blooms
 of the 6-to-10-foot shrub are often rose pink or white with a red center, 
and it thrives in moist, even wet, soil. 
Rose mallow is perennial in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant
 hardiness zones 5 through 10. No matter what you choose to call it, 
annual pruning keeps it healthy and attractive."

Shasta Daisy 

Dahlias and fading hydrangeas

Last of the lovely Daylilies

Regular size sunflower with busy bees

The Russian Mammoth sunflowers are not open yet. . . . . . .but soon 
I'm hoping they will wow us!

Saturday, July 8, 2023

July came fast and furious!

Saturday morning Breakfast Smoothie - Banana, Mango, Kiwifruit, Almond Milk, and a slice of walnut bread toasted.

It has been such a busy week here with the Independence Day celebration on the 4th, Bob's birthday on the 5th - which seems to have gone on for several days due to restaurants being closed over the holiday - along with five other birthdays among friends near and far. Yesterday we drove out of town to meet friends for lunch and went back to their lovely home for an afternoon cuppa. They were formerly our across the street neighbors who moved away 19 years ago - still great friends and enjoyable company.

The July weather pattern continues with its usual oppressive daytime heat reaching close to 100F, nights not much cooler. Thank goodness for air conditioning. Rain here around us has been nothing more than a 5 minute late afternoon shower now and then, not much help in keeping the gardens going and green. We took a drive to the local 5-acre 'sunflower field' where the city plants 200,000 seeds annually, but it was still just a huge swathe of tall green leaves, no golden blooms yet, whereas my little garden patch is lovely with the tallest sunflower now around 71/2 feet high, it's flowerhead still in bud! 

Hang on ---------- I'll run out and take a photo with my phone!

So, just took these pix, so humid and overcast outside - not the best weather. The tiny yellow flowers are my neighbor's cucumbers and he has already gifted me with a large one which I plan to use for a green gazpacho tomorrow. . . . a perfect chilled soup for this weather. 

While out snapping the sunflowers I caught these guys having fun on our white oak.

One of Bob's birthday (83) get togethers was at our favorite pub/restaurant where a few family members joined us and granddaughter Jasmin brought along a carrot cake - Bob's favorite!  How quickly the years are passing. How grateful for family who continue to care about us. Sad that some apparently don't!

Monday, July 3, 2023

Sunflowers - Wildlife - Independence Day -

I know I've been missing from here!  I really have been busy, mostly working in the garden, cooking/eating outdoors, and taking time to stop and smell not only the roses but all the other lovelies blooming around the garden now that summertime is really here. 
Travel planning, birthday celebrations, organizing 'stuff' for the always rather scary future - won't dwell too much on that - and meeting up with friends for a glass of very cold rosé now and then, has filled in the blanks. 

Now we have visitors - several of the four legged variety! 
A feral tuxedo cat who has been hanging around for many months is now a momma and introduced us to her two cute, already large, kittens on Saturday.
Yesterday, a momma grey fox brought three large healthy looking kits to our back garden just prior to dusk and they played for about 20 minutes. They seem to be living under my neighbor's shed. We've had foxes before but it has been a few years so seeing this new family is lovely.

Wildlife entertainment is always wonderful to view.  Photos through the window are not great - all these animals move so quickly - but you can see that all the babies are quite large already. Hoping of course there is no negative interaction of cats and foxes, and that all can live here harmoniously for the coming weeks until they move on!

Do you have big plans for celebrating tomorrow . . . . . if you live here in the USA?  
Whatever you spend your day doing I hope it's fun and the sun shines on you,
your families and friends. Very hot here, close to 100F all week.
On July 5 we'll still be celebrating as Bob will have another birthday!