Saturday, August 15, 2009

Food Movies, The Garden And Life In General ...

Not writing here much these days. It's been a busy, very intense summer. I've been hard at work cleaning out my studio, getting rid of "stuff" I've been hanging onto for far too many years. It feels really good to be doing this and I've much more to do before I can consider the job done. There are also the closets throughout the house that seem to overflow and spill out every time I open a door. I will continue slowly but surely.

Weatherwise it's been gorgeous with very few 90 degree days. Rain is lacking at the moment, but I notice the tropics are heating up with hurricane energy and perhaps the remnants of one will swing this way. Here in Virginia the most beneficial late summer rains often come from these truly destructive storms so it's not that I'm wishing for one. I'd prefer the late-day summer thunder shower variety of storm without tornadic twists and turns. Just a lovely rainfall that makes the earth smell fresh and helps the plants to grow.

The garden grows more slowly now and the
tomatoes ripen slowly though the plants are loaded with them. I worry they will all be ready for picking at once but if they do I shall still be grateful. I'll make gallons of tomato sauce and freeze or can it for those winter days when I want to remember the sun ripened flavor of real tomatoes. It's been a terrible tomato year all over the east coast and I hear the same about other regions of the country.

This has been "Foodie Movie Month" for us, beginning with
Food. Inc, a must see for anyone who cares about what we consume and actually should be required viewing for every American. Wonder why we all are getting chunky and are dying of cancer?? There are some important answers in this film as well as in Fresh, which basically covers the same territory but seems a bit more hopeful. Both films feature local hero, Joel Salatin, of Polyface Farms. Though we eat very little meat these days, when we do, it comes from Polyface.

On the lighter side and oh so much fun, is
Julie and Julia. We saw it in a theatre packed with other "seniors" who like my husband and I watched Julia Child religiously every week and learned to prepare heavenly French dishes. Though we knew how to cook before Julia, after watching her shows, we REALLY knew how to cook! Meryl Streep is wonderful and though she doesn't have the physical heft of the real Julia, she has the "voice" down pat.

And finally, surfing channels one evening this past week, we came across the animated film, Ratatouille, which I consider the dessert course of these viewings. I didn't see it when it was in the movie theatres, but happily watched this fun flick about a rat who is a master chef in Paris.

Just writing about these films is making me hungry ... off I go to cook something!!
Hope you're enjoying August!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Summer Time ...

Summer time and the living is lovely. We've had an abundance of rain and cool weather ... the coolest July in 100 years with an average of 6 degrees below normal. We've used little air conditioning in comparison to past years and the windows get thrown open most nights. Sometime during the wee hours I'm apt to grab the blanket ready and waiting at the foot of the bed. Summer has been my least loved season in this location because of the heat and humidity, so this year is a true gift.

The garden has done well, though the tomatoes rebel against the chill and too much rain for their liking. I've harvested well over 25 pounds of potatoes. Not bad for the meager 2 pounds of seed potatoes I planted. The weeping cherry tree is beginning to brown a bit and drop her leaves as is her habit in August. Other plants, lovely early in the season, are beginning to show some wear as we enter a month when gardens in this part of the world generally aren't at their best.

The "Scarecrow" mentioned in my last post is keeping the deer out of the vegetable garden, though not before they polished off the cucumbers and bean plants. We've seen spotted fawn twins in the early morning several times and know they've been told of that horrible water monster that blasts the vegetables when approached. Peter and his cousin rabbits abound. They seem to sneak in under the radar and get a tasty treat now and then. I've gotten over my greed and feel happy to share a little bit with them. After all it is this human who has invaded the space diminishing what used to be just their place.

I've been inspired to work on some projects that have been gathering dust and so this French beaded Poppy was birthed and placed in the peyote stitch covered bottle I created several years ago with no particular purpose in mind. As I was finishing the poppy, the bottle caught my eye and I knew immediately what its purpose was.

I've been away from my creative life for far too long and I've every intention to pick up where I left off, leaving piles of junk and half baked ideas sitting on every visible surface. I'm now in the process of cleaning it out and beginning to reconnect with my muse once again.

Hope you are having a great summer too!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Of Deer And Scare Crows ...

Swiss Chard


Sweet Potatoes

The ScareCrow

There has been much gnashing of teeth, tears, saying REALLY bad words and cynicism here of late. Two nights ago the "night raiders" struck, then had the nerve to continue in broad daylight, not moving much at the sight of a hysterical woman, shrieking and waving a broom. Gone altogether are the beets, the carrots and several string bean plants. Maybe these defoliated plants pictured above will come back if they are given a chance.

I knew the honeymoon had to end. The nasty scents of whatever they put in those deer repellent products always gives way and even on reapplication don't mean much to those who seek to undermine all of the hard, tireless work I've done throughout the spring!! %&+@#?*! No, they can't be hungry!! Look at all the stuff growing in the meadow!! I leave it there just for them!!!

So, yesterday I set up the ScareCrow, which I'd heard about last year. I was told about it by several acquaintances who said, "Yes, it works!!" It's a motion detector/sprinkler that releases "a short but startling burst of water when it detects an animal," according to the literature. And it's an expensive sucker!!

The jury is still out as to whether it works here, for me, with these particular deer! Bill, suffering from insomnia last night, heard it go off several times in the wee hours while he was rummaging about. Nothing more seemed to be missing during this morning's garden check, so we'll see.

I will tell you one thing ...
if you decide to try one ... when you are setting it up ... wear a bathing suit :)!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

City Market ...

7:30 AM at the City Market


My friend Maggie Stultz and her magical pottery.
I love all of her work but I especially covet that platter on the left with the eggplant on it.

I found black raspberries and candy cane beets here.

What else do I need?

The Haul

black raspberries
candy cane beets
swiss chard
summer squash
raspberry/rhubarb and native cherry
Jams according to Daniel

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tomatoes and Flowers ...

Grape Tomatoes

Potato Blossoms

Fever Few

Butterfly Bush

It's a rainy day today and chilly. We're going on well over 3 inches of rain so far for June. Some people are tired of it. Some gardens are getting too much water, not enough sunshine and growth is slow ... stunted.

I'm happy though. I picked my first grape tomato of the season a few days ago and it wasn't quite ripe enough but still full of sunshine. I harvested cabbage and cauliflower the day before yesterday and continue to enjoy sweet carrots. I pickled beets in balsamic vinegar and good olive oil ... WOW!!

The more of my own food I grow the more disenchanted I get with having to go to the Supermarket ... even Wholefoods. The big news of the week is that Trader Joe's is coming to Charlottesville in a new huge shopping center which I'm not sure we really need or even can afford as a community right now. I wish we had a year round farmer's market so that we could be getting fresher vegetables from surrounding states rather than the ones we see in the grocery stores from Mexico or Europe.

The price of gas is rising again after falling over the winter and people still don't understand we have to use less and get out from under the gas and oil giants big feet. And a new government report out yesterday suggests again that global warming will be much worse, much sooner that we thought. The North Koreans are nuke nuts as are a whole lot of other countries and the people of Iran want a recount and are demanding fair elections.

Still the flowers bloom, the bees buzz and birds sing outside my window. The sun will return. Nothing stays the same ... ever. There is good news. There is bad news.
I'm grateful for what I have and am able to do for myself.

Monday, June 08, 2009

How The Garden Grows ...

Herb Robert

Oak Leaf Hydrangea


Elderberry Flowers


This is what is in bloom right now!

See more here!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Hello Again ...

It's been a while, hasn't it. This is a busy season and there seems to be more to do than I can fit in any given day or days. This week I finished getting most of the herbs and veggie plants in except for a few things that I'll tuck in here and there as the summer progresses. For instance today I picked up a few more eggplants to replace the spinach which is now bolting and will no longer grow as the heat increases. Spinach will be replanted in the fall once cool days and nights are upon us.

Since the first of May we've had an astounding 6 1/4 inches of rain and local meteorologists say that though we still have a 3 inch deficit for the year, we are no longer considered to be in drought conditions and that the ground water levels are doing well. It's also been amazingly cool and though we may have a day or two near 90 degrees at the beginning of the week, it will cool down again into the 70s as the week progresses. I shall not complain about that or the abundance of moisture we've had this month. I hope we'll continue to have enough rain through the summer to keep the gardens as lush and productive as they are right now.

I'm no longer putting out hummingbird feeders. I found it difficult to keep up with changing the syrup every day or so and having cats I no longer want to tempt fate. Since I only put seed feeders out in the middle of the winter, our bird loss, I'm very happy to say, has really diminished. But still we have lots of humming birds about. They love these trumpet vines and I've also found them feeding on bronze fennel and basil when they are in bloom.

I'm trying to figure out if I will keep this blog going. I haven't been posting much and I find I really just want to be outside in the garden at this time of year. Still there are many things I'd like to write about and a blog seems to be a great way to keep the words flowing ... if I'd only do it. I'll let you know what I decide.