Monday

Blueberry Picking!


On the way home from the mountains last Friday I drove by the local blueberry farm to see if they were open or had a sign out. They did and they were opening for the season today. We were all pretty excited since we have missed the season the past few years due to not paying attention to the dates. So we piled in the car this morning at 8 am and headed to the farm...

They gave us our buckets and belts and sent us on our way. The boys of course loved picking in here:

We picked for about an hour

Until Lakin wore out and wanted to be held.

But we got about 7 lbs of berries....ready for freezing and eating and baking.

Now I just have to go to the store for some items to make the pie they are begging me to make.

Thursday

Adventures with Tie-Dye

For Christmas this past year my dad and stepmother gave Rylan a tie-dying kit. I had put off doing it for awhile- when it was cold, since I would rather handle permanent dye outside than inside. But even when the weather turned nice and sunny I still put it off....4 kids, one of who doesn't like to get messy, one of who gets stained just standing there, and 2 who are too little to responsibly handle the dye....but I was reading on The Pirate Mom Dot Com yesterday about their tie-tye experience and thought we'd give it a go.... So I bound up the shirts- 9 total in various kids sizes and set them to soak in the soda ash solution. Then came the dye.
You would think I would put aprons on them, wouldn't you? They did well....and I was the only one with dye covered hands.

Then we wrapped them in plastic for 24 hours! That is an awful long time for impatient people to wait.

But time was up this afternoon and Cale helped me rinse and unbind them. Then we had to wash and dry them in the machines. So another 2 hours later here are the shirts:

I really like them, especially the spirally ones. I ended up with lots of extra dye so I made a shirt for me and even a couple pairs of underwear!

It wasn't nearly as much trouble as I anticipated and they all love thier shirts.

Tuesday

Poorman's Crab Cakes

Our big zucchini plant wilted on Saturday. We have 2 smaller ones, and 2 tiny ones that were planted a month or so after the bigger one, we'll see if they make it.

So here's my last zucchini post, I promise....

I've mentioned before about my love of crabcakes, how it is basically the only meat I eat, and even about my childhood memories of crabbing....so when I came across this idea earlier this year I knew I'd have to give it a try when zucchini season came about....

Poorman's Crab Cakes
(aka a cheaper, vegetarian version)

2 cups grated zucchini
2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
1-2 cloves garlic- minced
1 large egg
1 T Old Bay Seasoning
butter/olive oil for frying

Mix it all together and fry in butter/oil a couple minutes on each side until golden brown. Serve plain, with ketchup, tarter sauce, as a sandwich, etc....

*Notes*

Most recipes have 1 T of Mayo in them, I don't eat Mayo, don't want to eat it, so I skipped it. Feel free to add it back in

If you are avoiding high fructose corn syrup like we are I'll let you know that most commercial bread crumbs have it. (why????) So I made my own....about 3-4 slices bread, toasted to dry it a little. Add dried seasoning- thyme, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder... pulse in a food processor.


How'd they taste? Pretty good. They aren't Maryland or lump crabcakes, but they tasted pretty close, and I'll make them again.

Monday

In the Garden


We tried a sunflower house a couple of years ago and it didn't do to well....but last year we had a few big heads and we saved the seeds. So we tried again. So far it is doing really well, I am not sure if they will get to the height required to tie to tops into a roof....but it is a house already. With marigolds, cosmos, zinnias and morning glories growing all around. It even has inhabitants:


I am very thankful for the the rains we have been getting this year- I don't think it has rained like this in nearly 5 years, and everything is green to show for it. And it is even better that it is raining summer style...popping up in the afternoon, pour for a 10-30 minutes and then the sun is back.

From our garden this afternoon,


Bell peppers
cauliflower
little boys
buttercup squash
Cantaloupe

the view from above...

Mama and her babies- age 6 weeks.

Wednesday

Vacationing

Last week I took a vacation....well, a mental vacation maybe. A vacation from many of my normal daily duties...

I completely ignored the weeds growing in the garden

I ignored the dust on the shelves and the hair on the floors

I ignored the dishes- as much as one can when the dishwasher is broken

I ignored the laundry

I ignored just about everything except preparing meals, baths, and playing/reading with the kids when they asked me to.

What did I do?

On Thursday I read this:

On Friday I read this:



On Saturday I read this:


On Sunday I read this:


Although Paul was home some on Sunday so I didn't read quite as much, so I had to finish the book during quiet time on Monday. I was seeing vampires in my sleep. It's been a long time since I have read like that- when I was in high school it was quite common for me to read 400+ page books in one day/night....

But now I am back....I have received 2 of my 3 orders for the upcoming school year. I have most of the curriculum I am going to use, I have 2 units planned, and about 7 more to plan...or at the very least roughly outline...school officially starts the first week in July.

Zucchini Pancakes


Zucchini Pancakes

1 medium zucchini grated (about 2 cups)
6-8 T Flour
1/4 cup onion
1 clove garlic- minced
2 eggs- slightly beaten
salt and pepper
butter for frying

Place the zucchini in a bowl and mix in the eggs. Add onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix in 6 T of flour, if it still very wet add the additional flour.

Preheat a skillet on medium, place a small amout of butter in the pan (or olive oil) and spoon about 1/4 cup of batter in the pan. Cook 2 min on each side- or until browned. Makes about 6 large pancakes.


I don't know why I've never made these before...but they went over extremely well. Everyone gobbled them up- some with ketchup, some plain, some with butter. I added a bit of Old Bay Seasonings too.....I plan to make "Poor Man's Crab Cakes" in a few days and I think they'll go over well since these did.

Garden overflowing with zucchini? Try these other recipes:

zucchini quesadillas

chocolate zucchini bread
zucchini garlic bread

Thursday

Lunch! Zucchini Quesadillas

I make tortillas about 4 times a week. They are quicker to make than bread, so we eat them a lot. We make burritos about just about anything- eggs, cheese, apples and cheese, peanut butter, pizza, etc....Yesterday I tried out zucchini quesadillas for lunch. They went over amazingly well. Cale who won't eat raw zucchini gobbled his up, Rylan who will eat raw ate most of his, Lakin picked at it....but he didn't eat much of anything yesterday, even things he normally likes, and Cohen ate about half...which is more than I can say about his like for plain cheese or egg burritos.


I posted my tortilla recipe once before, but I've changed it, and finally reached one I really like, and one that reheats well.
Flour Tortillas

2 cups flour
~1 tsp of paking powder
dash salt
2 T butter
3/4 cup milk
honey (maybe 1 tsp- 1 T)

Heat the milk, honey and butter together until butter melts. I do this in the microwave...you can do it on the stovetop too. Combine all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. I ues my stand mixer with the dough hook attached. Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the milk, butter and honey mixture. Allow to mix until a dough ball forms. Depending on the humidity you may have to add more liquid, I usually just add a little water at a time until the dough is formed. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes. Cut into 10-12 pieces and cover and rest for another 10 minutes.

Preheat a large skillet on medium heat. On a wooden cutting board that is lightly floured roll a tortilla until the desired size is reached....6-8 in diameter. Flip a couple times while rolling to prevent sticking. Cook on one side for about a 30-60 sec until bubbles start to form, flip and cook an additional 30 sec on the other side. While they are cooking, roll the next tortilla out. Once you get used to it you'll get a good rhythm down. I can do about a dozen in 15 minutes. Keep the cooked tortillas between towels while the rest are cooking. This recipe doubles (or triples) easily and keeps well in the freezer.

Now for the filling....

First you need a zucchini- or 2. And an onion. I used a tiny little onion from the garden, but I am sure most people would use more...you can throw corn or peppers in there too if you want. Chop them up and saute them in butter for a few minutes. Sprinkle the tortillas with cheese- 1/4 to 1/2 cup each- and top with the sauteed vegetables. My salsa loving kids requested that I put salsa in before they baked too. You can either fold the tortillas in half to cook or place one over another. You also have a choice of baking them in the oven- at about 325 for 5-10 minutes- or cooking in the same skillet you cooked the tortillas and vegetables in....flipping halfway through. Oven baking will produce a little bit crunchier tortilla, but both are good...and pan cooking keeps the dishes to a minimum.


Cut in wedges, eat and enjoy!

Saturday

Plan of Attack

See that? That's what I am trying to save. Well that zucchini plant plus some cucumbers, acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash, a few pumpkins, and maybe even some cantaloupe.
My plan of attack so far is this:
A jug with soapy water (and currently about 50 dead squash bugs). After the boys go to bed, and they day is cooling off I go out and pick off any bugs and eggs I see. Never seen a squash bug? I bet you have:
A stink bug, not really, but it looks like one and smells like one. So if you see them hanging around your squash plants, get them off. If you find clusters of red/orange eggs on the backs of the leaves GET THEM OFF! Once the eggs hatch the larva can wilt the plant in one day. Squishing them doesn't smell too nice, thus the soapy water.

And here is the best part. The part that makes me feel a little less like I am fighting a losing battle. This fly:
I have been seeing them all over the place the past few weeks. Well....not all over....in the zucchini and cucumber bed. Rylan asked me what it was and I didn' t know, but I told him that there are some insects that prey on the squash bugs....we were hopeful. Today I went to actually name that fly....starting in a hopeful place....I typed in the first predator of squash bugs on the list. Bingo! Tachinid Fly, more specifically Trichopoda pennipes. It is a parasite of the squash and stink bug families!! At least I have an ally out there!

But look at his face.....it's a fight worth fighting for a smile like that...

Monday

Random Thoughts

  • Today Paul started his summer class at UT. He is only taking one each session, and although I am excited and happy that he can finally go back to school and finish his degree, I am a little...anxious maybe? He will leave here at 8:30 every morning for class. Then go to work...so Mon-Saturday he will be gone from 8:30 am until after 9:30 pm. So the boys will see him maybe an hour a day. Sunday he will be gone only his normal 1-6 om. And if his sales stay up he will be able to keep his day off on Tuesday. It's like the terrible tent sales they have at work that takes him away from us for a week...only this is 2 months. But, in the long run it will be worth it. 2-3 years from now.
  • Yesterday was the last day of May, and I tallied up our produce for the month for the Freedom Harvest Challenge. 49.95 lbs. Which I thought was great! Considering we are in a rebuilding period for our strawberries, so close to 50 lbs with only carrots, radishes, peas and strawberries. I am sure the tally will be much higher for June since cucumbers and zucchinis will be going by then.
The forgotten zucchini, 2007
  • Speaking of zucchini....the dreaded squash bugs are back. The ones that nearly destroyed our gardens last year. Instead of 20+ zucchini we got about 3 before the plants wilted before our eyes. And instead of 20 cukes a day- we got about 10, not that great tasting ones, for the entire season. I am a bit more prepared, for now atleast. Every night we go and make the rounds. Remove the eggs we find and destroy any bugs we find. I am hoping that will be enough to help the plants survive....especially since I am growing about 4 different winter squashes too.
  • I am in the process of planning our upcoming school year. Does anyone else get completely overwhelmed looking at the Rainbow Resource Guide? I love that catalog- it's the size of a phonebook, but has about everything you could, plus reviews too. But my head is whirling with what I want to do....subjects I want to cover....things I want to get more serious about....extra activites I want to add.....book lists...etc....

"The Library" 2008
  • Speaking of book lists....our county library had it's summer reading program kickoff on Saturday. It's the first time we've ever been to the kickoff and it was a lot of fun. Crafts, a magician, free pizza. But better than that is that Rylan spent the entire hour of quiet time reading and has over a third of his list completed. Cohen wanted to sign up as a reader this year and has over 15 books that he has "read" or helped me read.