Kitchen/garden clutter and zucchini jelly

Orange Zucchini jelly

In my last post I wrote of getting rid of more clutter, particularly in the craft area. Today my thing to mention is about the kitchen. I have no great stories of cleaning or organizing or even sorting, though I did manage to toss out two raggedy looking oven mitts that were causing more burns than they were preventing. I still prefer pliers to take out the steak plates and the small bread pans. Last week, I finally had enough of the zucchini on the counter. I took the two large ones and shredded them up and turned it into a batch of zucchini bread and one of jelly. There was even enough left to put two bags into the freezer for later.

The jelly (in the picture above you can see 3 pints and 3 1/2 pints) is a recipe I have posted before, but I will leave it at the very bottom for anyone new to this site. The flavor comes from the gelatin of your choice. It calls for orange, but you can really use anything that suits your fancy in terms of jelly. I didn’t happen to over boil this batch, so it is a bit more runny than some of my others in the past. I did notice that this time the orange flavor really reminded me of those little baby aspirin that we used to get way back before anyone knew that children should not be eating real aspirin.

Funny story on those pills. There was a near tragedy at our house way back when. My mother found my brother and sister with a bottle of empty baby aspirin and she wasn’t sure who had ingested more. My brother was older and when she asked them what happened, he pointed to my sister and said she is the one who ate them all. As expected, my mother swooped up her little girl and rushed to the hospital. There it was decided to keep her for the night and monitor her. They didn’t see the need to cause her excessive trauma by pumping her stomach since they were not sure how much or if she had actually eaten any of the pills. The truth is no one was sure how many pills were even in the container. She survived the night and when it was all said and done my brother confessed to having eaten the pills. He blamed her because he figured she wouldn’t get in as much trouble as he would because he was older. True story!!

Orange Zucchini Jelly (Sharon’s version)

6 cups of grated zucchini-no peelings, 1/2 cup lemon juice, 1 cup crushed and drained pineapple, 6 cups of sugar and 2 packages of orange Jell-O.

Boil the 6 cups of zucchini for 15 minutes on medium high. This may seem impossible without extra liquid, but believe me it has enough juice to make this work. (If you use frozen try to thaw it and drain as much of the excess liquid as possible, or boil it off. Add the lemon juice and pineapple and sugar and boil for 6 minutes. Stir this so the sugar does not stick to the bottom and use a fairly large container as the sugar doubles the volume. Take off the heat and add two boxes of Jell-O (flavor of your desire). I have used orange, apricot, raspberry, strawberry, and even lime. Ladle into jars that have been washed and are hot. Seal up with fresh lids, no need to process. If by chance your lids do not seal, put in the refrigerator and use within a month.

In the 15 plus years that I have used this recipe, I may have had a few jars go bad. Mostly the issue is making sure that your jars are clean, your lids are new and that you bring the mixture to a full rolling boil for the amount of time listed in the directions. As always if it is moldy or smells bad, do not eat it. That is a good general rule for all foods, especially those we can ourselves. Good luck and hope you are able to enjoy this jelly.

Long day of labor

James and I opted for a Saturday at home. It was supposed to be a day of much needed rest, but instead it was far more labor intensive than we spend during the week as teachers and preachers. I guess. Anyway the issue was to do as much as we could in the garden. I had a really hard time getting started, and in fact thought it would be best to let the tomatoes have as much time on the vine as we could allow today.

James started by digging out the rest of the potatoes. He said it might have been better if we had taken them sooner. It seems that there were worms or slugs or something underground eating on them after it rained. I stayed inside while he was digging and made some vegetable soup. I wanted to use up the carrots in the crisper before we dig out our carrots and store them there. I also had this idea about baking bread.

Opps I almost forgot, in the meantime before I really got going on the bread, I peeled up all of the damaged apples and made a batch of apple sauce. How could I forget about that. It took longer than the bread mess that I have printed out below.

So, here is the bread thing. I used this recipe that Paulina left behind. I misread the yeast amount and by the time I was adding the 4th cup of flour, I knew that something was very wrong. I needed 4 teaspoons and had read it as 1 tablespoon, so I was only off by 1 teaspoon, but something else must have been off. I actually accused her of being another Grandma Freda.

James asked what I meant, and the thing is that my grandmother would never really share any of her recipes because, well she just didn’t. If someone insisted on having her recipe, she would leave something out, or give it just a bit off, so that no one else could do what she did. I remember watching her bake pies and I was never smart enough to write down exactly what she did. No one could make a pie the way she did.

Finished Pretzels

Pretzel dough

OK so now I had this dough, and it was either figure out a way to salvage it or dump it. I know that 95 percent of my family would dump it. I am such a Scrooge that I pondered until I came up with a solution. I know that knepfla dough involves milk and eggs, so I added about 3/4 cup of milk and two eggs them mixed it as best I could. Next I turned it onto a floured board and kneaded it up. I flattened it out and cut it into strips then rolled it into a rope in my hands and made pretzels with most of it and bread sticks with the rest.

Bread twists

strips of dough

For the bread sticks, I sprinkled it with Italian seasoning and garlic salt. I let it rise for a bit, though it really didn’t rise much then I baked it at 350. Sadly I over baked the pretzels, but with a slathering of butter and some sea salt sprinkled on them when they were got out of the oven, they almost tasted like actual pretzels. The flavored bread sticks were quite good with the homemade vegetable soup. It was good dipping either in the hot soup after we came inside from working in the garden.

The tomato harvest

Close to 4 p.m. about when the sun was starting to head for the horizon, James and I went for the tomatoes. I started with the celebrity and the big boy plants. James had a table readied in the garage (the van will have to sit outside until the table is emptied), and we began to fill it. I filled the box seen at the end of the picture and the small section on the table that is covered with papers with the round tomatoes. James started picking the romas. Those seemed to take the longest, but I believe we had 20 plants of them. We filled and refilled and filled some more. I finally asked where the long plastic sleds were, and we filled them too. There is now only the plant beside the pumpkins left to be picked and those are extra-large cherry tomatoes. The small cherries are just going to be left, neither one of us has the inclination to pick them.

Pumpkins and one tomato plant left. Outside of the fence is the wheelbarrow filled with the pulled plants.

We also pulled all of the plants and the cages, except the one that the pumpkin went through. That will stay until Monday night when I pick the three pumpkins. It is supposed to frost really hard that night and by then we hope to have anything of significance inside the garage or the house. I guess the onion will need to be picked tomorrow, but the beets and the carrots are waiting until that frost because it helps sweeten them. Well that was our day…I have a feeling we will both sleep well tonight.

Light frost!

Garden in the morning.

So the first frost of this season hit overnight. It was not as bad as we expected but I am currently not home to check on the real damage. James had to recover all of the plants when he came back from his morning bike ride while we had expected. As he was going past the bank, he noticed the sign said 37 degrees F, but by the time he was filling gas in my van, it was 33. That was between 7 and 7:30 a.m.

Morning glories seemed hit even though James covered them.

I left the house a little after 9 a.m. because I had to stop at the bank. It was warmer then and the sun was shining, so I took some time to remove the cloths from the garden. I hung them all on the fence and the pictures show what I saw this morning. Ironically some of the covered plants looked frozen while some in the open looked fine. We will have to wait until later this afternoon to see the real results.

Roger watching me leave

Hope you all have a great day!

Chance of Frost under a full moon

full moon over covered garden

A lighter view of the moon.

About a month ago one of the men in our church predicted that we would have frost on the full moon. I think he is right, he was just off by one moon. Ha!! We are supposed to be having temperatures in the low to mid 30’s F overnight. Siri told me 35 by 7 a.m., but no idea what it would be at 8 a.m., so that was the unknown that made us go out and cover tonight. I was willing to take the chance, James said we didn’t work this hard to let them all freeze. I have been picking as much as possible each night, and that included another basket full tonight. It was enough to fill up what I took out of the boxes last night. Hurrah!!

Morning glory garden

Tonight the blankets are surrounding the tomatoes and the pumpkin, which are nestled on the ground between the tomato cages. I also covered the peppers, but there are no pictures of them. The wind has come up and we are pretty sure the blankets will be eased off before morning. Normally we would hold them down with bricks, but the cages have the plants so high I don’t think it will reach. James says he will check before he heads out on his bike ride in the morning and will reposition them. Frost is only a problem when the sun hits the cold plants, so they will be covered for sure before then if by chance they blow off. I took a few other pictures of the flowers just to know what they looked like because there was no way we were going to try to cover any of them. I did pull all of the house plants inside as soon as I came home from school and the other more outdoor types of plants like the petunias and the moss roses, we just pulled under the swing which sits under the upper deck. They should be more than fine there.

Looking at the full moon tonight, I think of those who were outside in Las Vegas last night under a nearly full moon having a wonderful time at a concert with their friends or family or just someone who had a ticket and stood beside them. How one person’s mindset can affect so many lives for such a long time. May God be with those who are grieving and those who are hurting and healing on this night under this full moon. May God’s love and healing power extend to all who are feeling the loss of this time, whether it is loss of a loved one, loss of time to recovery or even loss of innocence because we are all part of that issue. And by the way God, I am getting just a little bit tired of extending condolences and prayers for the families and those injured, maybe we could find a solution to this mess in our world. We, at least I, am open to some suggestions. Please let us know what you need from us to insure that these sort of events don’t happen anymore. Thanks God!!

Weekend Woes

Today’s picks

So much for my “to do” list for this weekend. I have been plotting and planning for several days all the things we will accomplish and even more so when I found out Paulina was coming home. Well Robert Burns in his poem, “To a Mouse” was right when he noted (please be aware that I am paraphrasing) that the best laid plans of mice and men often get thwarted.

My moss roses

My knees have not been cooperating with the idea of work as of late. I don’t know if it is my diet, the weather or just old age. My right knee has a pinch in it that seems to move around at random, and my left knee the past two days just keeps getting bigger and bigger. This evening is much better than this morning was. I thought I was hobbling on a couple of stumps. I have also been having some swelling in my fingers and so perhaps I need to seriously look at what I am eating. On the other hand, the chiropractor suggested it might be the amount of time I have been spending in the car lately. I personally think it is the cold and damp weather we have been having.

Morning glories in the cucumbers

Anyway, my point was not to complain, but just to say that I wanted to do all these wonderful things, but got to none of them. About the only thing that I did get accomplished was a little picking in the garden, which really for all points and purposes except for the tomatoes could just as well be pulled up. I may just start doing that this week. OK, so I won’t. I can’t ever seem to so that. I have this list that says: prune raspberries, cut off dead holly hocks, replant shrubs, plant mums, repot geraniums and none of it is getting down. Maybe I will remember to take in the poinsettias tomorrow. Hopefully I do that before we start on the tomatoes…It never ends around here, and then the knees hurt and I don’t get out of the chair. Maybe that would be a good time to work on the needle work… I promise to quit complaining and share my pictures. At least they are a little cheerier than I am.

New season

Brave sunflowers in the wind

Today the seasons change. The sun crosses the equator from north to south and here in the north we start the season of fall. As much as I love fall, I am not really loving the cold and wet that we have today. I know we need the rain, and the cooler air feels better than the heat of yesterday. BUT…. today my joints are screaming in pain and I was really hoping to sit outside watching the football game then maybe have a firepit when we get home. It would be fun because Paulina will be home and tomorrow is Saturday so that means not having to get out of bed so early, though knowing Roger she will want outside by 5 a.m.

Bee on cosmos

Grasshopper damage on tomato

I am typing this on my iPad so I will cut it short. I have a few pictures from this week in the garden to share. Hope to have a better update tomorrow.

Fall produce and pests

Pick of the day

Not much to say, just want to show off a few of my pictures including today’s picks from the garden, a cosmos with a bee on it and the damage of made by the squirrels. Also just a bit of area weather information. The temperature here was over 90 F and it is very dry again. The bugs are everywhere and the grass feels more like spikes in some places. Here are shots I have gotten in the past few days.

Cosmos with bee

Mess around the Russian olive trees

The culprit!!

To the far left is a cosmos with a bee trying to get the rest of the pollen from it. To the close left is the grass around one of my Russian Olive trees. We could not figure out what was causing it to drop its leaves with no wind during that time. Well, the picture to the right shows the bushy-tailed culprit in action. I came outside one day to find two squirrels one larger and one smaller. The larger, apparently older one ran screaming down the tree and across the yard to the north when I appeared. The smaller and must be younger one stayed in the tree and stared at me not knowing what to do. The next day, I was trying to pick up something that had fallen into our pond. I was so intent on the object that I didn’t realize that a squirrel was sitting at the edge of the pond trying to get a drink. As I reached, I almost touched the squirrel, we saw each other for the first time just as I was reaching for the object in the water and we both jumped. I screamed and jumped back and the squirrel jumped off the edge of the pool and ran across the street chattering the whole way and for about 15 minutes afterwards. It has been a buggy and a squirrely week to say the least!!

Just a note that as much as we are dry and hot at this time, we in this area understand how well off we are and have been keeping all of our neighbors in the path of the hurricanes and wildfires in our thoughts and prayers. May God be with you at this very difficult time, and may you not be burdened with more challenges than you are able to handle.

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