Archive for Books

Preserving & Etc.

So, do you ever wonder what to do with all those jalepenos, or other peppers that your plant just keeps on producing and you can’t eat quick enough? My mother-in-law makes jalepeno jello, which you can do. I just really only have one recipe that I use that for, & I’m pretty sure I haven’t made that in oh, about 5 years. So, last week, I was looking through my trusty Ball Blue Book and came across this recipe:

Hot Peppers

1 1/2 pounds banana peppers

1 pound jalepeno peppers

1/4 pound serrano peppers

6 cups vinegar

2 cups water

3 cloves garlic

Leave peppers whole or cut into 1 inch pieces. Mix peppers together. Combine vinegar, water, & garlic in a large saucepot. Bring mixtu to a boil; reduce heat & simmer 5 minutes. Discard garlic. Pack peppers into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Ladle hot pickling liquid over peppers, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner. Yield: about 5 pints.

Note: When cutting or seeding hot peppers, wear rubber glovs to prevent hands from being burned.

I definately do not have that many peppers, so what I did was fill one jar crammed full of whole peppers (mostly because I didn’t feel like cutting them up). I then put 2 cups white wine vinegar (not distilled) with 1 cup of water & 2 cloves garlic, minced into a pot and continued to do the recipe that way. I didn’t even process the jar after I was done, and the heat sealed it on it’s own. Also, as I make flavored vinegas all the time, I figured the vinegar would preserve it without having to actually can it. Guess what? Today I opened that jar of jalepenos and it looked & smelled just like the jar’s you buy at the store. YAY! The jalepenos even changed color to look like the ones you buy in the jar. So, I was happy!

Also, for those of you who have trouple with your bell peppers looking as big as the ones at the grocery store, I have been doing some research on this topic. This year, my peppers have had a few problems. Mostly, I think, because I have a fungus in the soil that they are growing in, so the leaves look wilted. I have buried banana peels under each plant, because apparently this is good for them as it provides magnesium as the peel breaks down (which it does rather quickly, despite the fact that it is very thick). I have also read to do this for rose bushes. I have also given them a good dose of epsom salts for nitrogen, which has helped them a little bit. Anyway, to make a long story short, the other day, I was picking up my vegetable basket from boutiful baskets and I had done the organic one (yes, even though I have a garden, I do get other veggies, mostly for the fruit right now). There were lots of bell peppers. They were smaller ones, just like the ones in my garden. So, apparently, it doesn’t matter. So, don’t fret about your peppers. I was pretty happy when I saw that!

I let the dove out of the chicken coop this am. The dog simply couldn’t stand that there was a dove in there and was trying to dig into the coop. Ridiculous! I had my husband go out there and look at the coop and he couldn’t figure out how these birds are getting in either! It’s a mystery!

Lots of long beans came off today! I really love those. If anyone would like some seeds for these, I have been saving and drying a few in my window. You really only need a few beans for a meal. And they are really tasty sauteed with a little jalepeno. Even my husband likes them, which is saying something!

Bay leaves, long beans, peppers, & radishes

Pictured above are the leaves from the laurel bay that I am drying. Apparently, when you cook with them, you are supposed to tear the leaf a little to release the flavor. Who knew? All these years, I have been putting them into my spaghetti sauce recipe and didn’t realize I was supposed to be doing that.

Yesterday, I went to lunch with my delightful friend, Roma, who is so incredibly talented, if I do say so. And, afterward, I dropped by the fun boutique, Rustic Hutch, which is located on Gilbert & Baseline, in Gilbert. I found some really awesome candles there. I have been burning one this morning & love the smell.

McCall's Country Canning Candles

I bought 2 of them. The one above is for Christmas, & is really lovely. The one I have been burning this morning, is “Raspberry Lemon Tea” & I do believe I love it!

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Starting to get ready…(this post should have been posted on July 18)

Tomato Hornworm

Tomato Hornworm

So, I remember myself saying that,thank heavens I haven’t had any tomato hornworms, and lo and behold, what do I see staring right back into my face? You guessed it! The dreaded hornworm! I really could only find one, but it had made a great meal of the tomato plants so out the tomato plants have come. Unfortunatly, most of the heat had done them in.

So, out with the old, in with the new! It’s time to get ready for fall. YAY! My little tomato starts had to be restarted so they are about 10 days old right now, and looking good. All but 2 have sprouted. Which is a pretty great percentage, all in all. I hope to have some nice plants for next month. We shall see. I keep rotating them in the south facing window and in the mornings I put them out on the back patio. So they seem to be doing fine,with that.

Last year, in the winter, I decided to start some plants early, because I really had the spring planting bug, and all the plants sprouted, did fine, and looked wonderful. For about a month. Then, they all started wilting and dying. I discovered that they actually need some air blowing over them, like they would if they were outside, because otherwise they get wilt. Interesting.

Melon growing up a trellis.

Melon growing up a trellis.

The melons (canteloupe and watermelon) are really going to town right now! Love it! I discovered last year if I could just hold them through the squash bugs and the heat, that in late July early August, they would really take off. And that has held true this year again. So, my advice, when they look like they can’t hack it anymore, baby them along, and they will reward your efforts with more melons! Awesome little plants. I have a variety of melons out there right now. And the melon in the picture above just got picked yesterday. Tasted wonderful, too.

Zucchini

Zucchini

These new little zucchini plants are doing fine. And just when I was congratulating myself on gettng all those dreaded squash bugs, what do I find infesting one of my little plants? More of them. I am telling you, these things are everywhere. I just keep picking them off and putting them in my little jar and this does seem to be a good way of killing them, but not preventing them. How about a magic wand?

I used my first compost the other day in the old tomato bed. I pulled out some new compost from the bottom and integrated it into the bed. I think that bed needs some calcium. A few of the tomatoes had blossom end rot, which I think means the soil needs some calcium. That compost had some egg shells in it, so hopefully that will help.

 According to Mary Irish, in her book, “Gardeing in the Desert Southwest, you can plant fast maturing corn right now. So, that is what went into the old tomato bed. I haven’t really had much luck with corn fertilizing very well, eve though they are planted 4 across, 12 long. That should be sufficient according to all the literature I have read. I will let you know how it turns out. They are all just sprouting right now. I love to see those little plants poking themself up out of the dirt. I love to go out and count how many have come up since yesterday.

Last week I FINALLY got my automatic watering system put in. It works fabulous, except I need to adjust the length of time, I think. It’s only watering about 1 inch depth, instead of 2-3. But it does save me about an hour a day. Which is great, if you ask me.

With the kids back in school, and the weather not quite as hot, I am finding myelf thinking about what I will plant in October. Time to plan…

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An Awesome Book

A Slice of Organic Life

A Slice of Organic Life

I recently checked this book out from the local library and found it to be very interesting with ideas on “green” things to do around your home. Although I did try their idea of killing grass with vinegar and found that on bermuda, which is so much like a weed around here, the remedy didn’t work well, the rest of the book seemed to be very informative. I would even consider purchasing this book for myself.

My little baby chicks are coming along nicely and doing well under their little heat lamp. I’ll have to post a pic soon. I strongly suspect 2 of the 3 are roosters. We shall see…

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