Sunday, August 29, 2010

Italian Sausage Soup

   Summer seems to have taken a vacation the last couple of days. We even had a frost warning already. Luckily, frost didn't happen. The newscasters were telling people to cover their tomatoes. We did. Lately, especially with the crazy weather, people are really worried about the weather getting really cold before everything in their gardens are ready to pick. Us included. This week, we are only suppose to be in the 60's for our highs, and upper 30's to low 40's for our lows.
   I used up the last of the zucchini that was in the fridge last night. There is still more in the garden. I made Italian Sausage Soup and homemade garlic bread. The recipe for the soup makes a lot, so I don't need to fix dinner for a couple of days. That's ok with me. Maybe since the weather is cooler, I'll get to the cherry preserves.
   Anyway, here is the soup recipe: Italian Sausage Soup
   1 1/2 pounds Italian sausage-(I used bulk, sweet sausage)
   2 cloves garlic, minced or mashed-(of course ours isn't ready to pick, so I had to buy some)
   2 large onions, chopped-(out of the garden)
   1 large (about 28 oz.) Italian-style pear-shaped tomatoes-(would have used fresh out of the garden, but only 1 was ready)
   3 cans (14 oz. each) regular strength beef broth-(I used 4 cups of water and 4 tsp. beef bouillon)
   1 1/2 cups dry red wine or water-(used water since I didn't have wine)
   1/2 tsp. crumbled basil leaves
   3 tbsp. chopped parsley
   1 med. green pepper, chopped-(left out because I don't like them)
   2 med zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick-(out of the garden)
   3 cups uncooked bow-tie noodles or large shells (about 6 oz.)
   grated Parmesan cheese

   Make the day before: ( I didn't this time, but have in the past) in a 5 qt or larger (I'd go larger) Dutch oven, cook the sausage until lightly browned. Drain off any fat. Add garlic and onions: cook, stirring until limp. Stir in tomatoes, (including any liquid) breaking them with a spoon. Add broth, wine, or water, and basil.Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Cool, the chill. Later, remove any fat that is on top.
   The next day: add parsley,pepper,zucchini and noodles and bring to a boil and then simmer for about 25 minute or until noodles are tender. To serve, ladle into bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Makes 8-10 servings.
   This makes a very hearty soup. I have a 6 quart Dutch oven, and it was very full. Since I didn't make this in 2 days, it will be better today. I think I will add carrots to the soup next time. I made homemade garlic bread to go with the soup. It was a good meal. I never have made it with wine. One day, I might.
   I think I've found a good batter recipe for fried zucchini. I also found a good oven baked zucchini recipe. My next zucchini meal will be lasagna. Instead of using noodles, I will slice the zucchini length wise, fairly thin. I still have some home grown spinach I will use in place of the meat. I use low fat cottage cheese, drained, instead of ricotta cheese. I make my own tomato/spaghetti sauce. I use lots of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese on top. Of course, we'll need garlic bread.
   I guess now it's time to get up and make the cookies for Tim's lunches. An applesauce cake or lemon poppy seed bread also sounds good.
   Oh, and tomorrow, I am sending cucumbers with Tim so people at work can have some.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Grasshoppers Are Here! Again!

   The grasshoppers have arrived. Walking through them is like the parting of the seas. Sitting here in my rocking chair, typing away, I hear them hit the windows. Jake and Chip are having a blast trying to catch them. I never noticed before that grasshoppers can hover. I thought it was a butterfly, until I got closer. So far, they have not destroyed the garden.
   I weighed the onions that had to be harvested early because the deer squished them. I also counted them. 204 onions and 18 pounds. I guess I have my work cut out for me. They are spread out on the dining room table on pans. Luckily, we don't use it for eating. There are still onions to be harvested later. We also got 1 Roma tomato. More will ripen all at the same time. I washed the lone tomato and put it in the freezer waiting for more.
   We have harvested some pappy pan squash. Tim and I had never had it before. I fixed some tonight. I cut it in chunks, mixed it with Italian Salad Dressing and then scooped them out and put them in a bag with Italian Style Bread Crumbs and shook them up. I spread them on an oiled cookie sheet and baked for 15 minutes at 450 degrees. I fixed them with our Shake-n-Bake pork chops. It was a good meal. We liked the patty pan squash. It's a good thing, since we will be having a lot of the as well.
   Yesterday, I fixed 7 stuffed zucchini. I cut them in half, so we have 14. I put the in the freezer for later eating. I still have 4 zucchini left in the fridge. I was going to make zucchini bread today, but I played in onions and crocheted more of the baby afghan. I am almost finished with it. I also re-potted some house plants that were terribly root bound.
   Friday is only suppose to get to 67 for a high. Everyone is hoping fall isn't on it's way.
   I wonder what I'm doing for fun tomorrow?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Onions, Onions, And More Onions

   Last evening, Tim and I harvested the last of the onions that the deer squished. I haven't weighed my produce box full yet, but I think there are at least 20-30 pounds of onions in it. I'll clean them up and weigh them later this week. Most of them are almost tennis ball size, with a good mixture of smaller ones. We still have at least 100-150 left that the deer haven't smashed down.
   I dehydrated 7 3/4 pounds Friday, and it came to 1 quart jar full. The house will smell like onions forever. I'm sure we will, too. Maybe, if I'm lucky, it will be a years worth of onions.
  Today, I plan on fixing stuffed zucchini boats to put in the freezer for later eating, if I stop playing around on the computer. I'm pretty sure there are more zucchini ready to be picked, too. We are going to be so sick of zucchini.
   I am pretty sure I will be making cherry preserves this week, too, since I need the room in our tiny freezer.
   The corn is coming along nicely, but not fast enough for Tim. He says he'll help be with shucking.
   The potatoes are doing great. We'll have them coming out our ears, too.
   The tomatoes are going to be ripe all at the same time, with my luck. I'll have corn and potatoes and tomatoes to deal with at the same time.
   The second batch of carrots is doing much better than the first batch. Too bad, I didn't save the seed packets or write the names down, so I'll know what not to plant next year. Live and learn.
   We discovered why the deer have been leaving the garden alone lately. They have discovered the peas. Peas must be really good. I got 5 pea pods off of them Saturday, and sad to say, that might be the whole pea harvest.
   I am about 3/4 of the way finished with the baby afghan for my friend, Terry. About the same with the one for Amy. I gave up on the sewing idea for awhile. Maybe when I'm stuck in the house during winter.
   My fingers are so sore from cracking. I really wish I could find something that works on them.
   Saturday, when I went into town, I noticed some of the undergrowth is starting to turn colors already. I could be because it's really dry, or, fall is coming really early. I'm not ready for fall, so I'll say it's because it's so dry.
   The dirt road in front of our house is a regular hunters freeway lately. It's bear and chukar season. Scary thought, hunters hunting for bear so close to our house. I have visions of a bear walking up the driveway, as I'm walking down.
   Well, I guess I'll get up and start the stuffed zucchini. After this movie is over.

Friday, August 20, 2010

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Harvesting Time Is Upon Us

   It looks like harvesting time for some things is upon us. First, before I go into that, I'll let you know how the zucchini from one of Tims' coworkers went. Tim wanted me to make zucchini bread for him to bring in, so I made 2 loaves on Monday, and Tim comes home from work only to inform me the guy is taking a 2 week vacation. It figures. It's ok, though. The zucchini bread tasted good, but it wasn't up to my usual standards. I even used my old standby recipe. Maybe I should have used the new recipe I found. Next loaves, since we'll have more zucchini. I did make the zucchini casserole with more of that zucchini. It was a big one.
   Anyway, some of our zucchini is ready to pick. I picked some Monday and dehydrated it. More is ready. Fried zucchini is good. I want to shred some and dehydrate it for later use. Tim wants to know what you do with dehydrated zucchini and I tell him the usual things I do with it. I have told Tim it lasts longer dehydrated.too. I reconstituted a slice last night to show Tim that it turns back into normal sliced zucchini. I found some recipes for pickled zucchini I think I will try.
   Thanks to the deer, again, we are harvesting some of the onions already. I am going to dehydrate a bunch of them, too. We go through a lot of onions. Since I am suppose to keep a log of how much the garden produces, I counted and weighed onions. 49 onions weighed 7 3/4 pounds. As I said, they were small onions, thanks to the deer.
   Some of the corn is getting some nice ears on them (it?). More to eat fresh, besides freeze ears and dehydrate kernels. I'm going to make jars of soup mix with some of the dehydrated veggies.
   We have one small Big Boy tomato just about ripe and another one a few days behind. Someone forgot to tell them that with a name like Big Boy, they should be big. I'm assuming we will have over 100 tomatoes ready all at one time, with more to follow. I've never dehydrated tomatoes, but I think I will give it a try. I've heard after you dehydrate them, you can grind them into powder and add it to things. I might give it a try.
   The deer are doing a good job of eating the peas. The carrots, 2 different varieties, are doing well. The potatoes are doing great. I'm sure they will be ready all at once, too. I do mention stagger the crops, but even when we do that, they all seem to need harvesting at the same time.
   Tim wants me to keep a log of how much we get from the garden so we'll know how much to plant next year. He wants to double the size of the garden. This way, we can have twice as many well fed orphan deer. At least we haven't had the sheep from behind us come over.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I Lead Such A Boring Life

   We seem to be the hang out for orphaned deer. At least our garden is. They are very well fed orphans. One of them, there are 3, has decided the best place in all of our 5+ acres to lay is on the onions. Our acres are wooded, you would think it could find a better area. Of course, with the damp ground, the onions are probably cooler.
   We also have some palm size, and bigger, toads. They like under the front and back steps. Tim is relocating them into the garden. Who knows if they'll stay there.
   Tim got the riding lawn mower working. One of our next door neighbors had it for a long time in his locked shed, because he lost the keys to the door years ago. He told Tim he could have it, and try to get it working with the agreement he could use it when he wants. We really needed a riding lawn mower and the price was right. It's so dry here right now, it's a very dusty job cutting all our grass and dead wildflowers. Tim's decided to wait until it rains to hold down the dust before he continues.
   All the cherries are pitted and in the freezer for later when it's not so hot. I don't really want to can in the heat, even though I could turn on the AC.
   We have close to 100 tomatoes on the plants, with a few of the starting to turn red. The corn is getting ears, luckily, not all at once.
   Tomorrow, I am making zucchini bread from a zucchini a coworker of Tims'. It's so big, I am also going to make the dreaded, kids couldn't stand it, zucchini casserole
   To make it these days, I cut the zucchini into bite size pieces, add homemade spaghetti sauce, cooked bulk Italian sausage, about a pound of it. Mix it all together, top with mozzarella cheese and Italian style bread crumbs doted with butter and bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes. I think I'll have to make garlic bread to go with it. Our kids couldn't stand this when I tried feeding to to them as kids. They will tell you we always had it, but it was only a few times.
   I've made bread and oatmeal raisin cookies today and all the clothes are washed and even folded and put away. Now, if I could only figure out what to fix for dinner.
   I have only 1 more baby afghan to make for my friend. I finally put up the sewing machine yesterday. I really intend to sew in the near future.
   Probably the biggest news is I stopped playing Farmville on Facebook. I could never get to my farm or anyone else's and it kept freezing the computer up. I'm not going through FV withdrawals as much as I thought I would. One of these days, I'll decide if I'll continue playing Frontierville. I could just go outside and play frontierville for real.
   On another note, I am going to start exercising tomorrow. Really I am. Really. I'll let you know how that goes. Too bad, just thinking about exercise doesn't work like exercising. I'll have to take the exercise slow, since I'm in such terrible shape. I was going to get into good shape by the time I was 40. I am a lot older than that now, I guess I should start. I hear late is better than never.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Cherry Pitting I Will Go

   I have been busy pitting cherries. I bought an older German cherry pitter at a yard sale a couple of years ago. It was well used. I used it last year, and found it needed new rubber gaskets for the pitter and pits to go through. I was afraid I'd have to buy a new pitter, but, last week I found a place on ebay that was selling the gaskets for another brand, but they looked like the ones I needed, so, I orderd them. The came in 2 days and they do fit. Much cheaper than a new cherry pitter.
   The Black Jade Pie Cherries stained my fingers a nice black. This time around with all the Bing cherries, I wore those cheap plastic food server gloves. They made a big difference even if they are hot and too loose. Anyway, yesterday as I was pitting the last 4 pounds of cherries I discovered the cherries were so big, they wouldn't pit and wouldn't fall into the bowl. They were too big to fit through the hole the pitted cherries fall through. Most of the cherries pitted, but I knew a good portion didn't. I watch to see if the pits fall as I pit. When I was done, I cut each cherry in half to see if they were pitted or not. I don't care if they are whole cherries anyway, since they will be jam and need to be chopped anyway. I know that 4 pounds of cherries are 100% pitted. As I was finishing up cutting the cherries, I thought I probably should have done this with all of them. I know when you buy any cherry product, you need to watch out for pits. I made cherry milk shakes, ( could this be why I don't seem to be losing weight?) with frozen cherries I had bought to make smoothies before I bought all the cherries. The cherry milkshakes were very good, but there were pits. Tim found most of the pit chunks that the Vita-Mix chopped up. Every time I use the Vita-Mix, I think I should use it more often.
   The latest garden update is, it's doing really well. I guess the deer eating the tops of the tomatoes has kept the plants nice and compact, which is nice. We have lots tomatoes, which is good. I still might have to buy more. I will use the Vita-Mix when I am playing with the tomatoes.
   The potatoes are producing nicely, too. The corn has started getting ears, the assorted squash is squashing right along.
   The green beans and lima beans aren't doing as well as we had hoped. The lima beans had a severe deer problem and I don't know what the green bean problem is. What will Chip do with out his green beans?
   The onions we've had that the deer have pulled up were good. Tim is worried about deer spit on them and the wasting disease deer get. As far as I know, it's just a deer thing. Anyway, I wash the onions and peal them, since the are growing in steer and horse manure.
   Hmm, I wonder what key I hit to make the type look like this and how do I get it back to normal? Ah, I figured it out.
   I think, for fun tomorrow, Chip is getting a bath and a trim. His ears are going to get a good trimming down to ear shape. Seems big brother Jake like to pull Chip around by the ears and Chips whole head fits in Jake's mouth, so his ears are looking pretty ratty. I know why Velcro is a good name for poodles. Chip is collecting wildflower seeds whenever he's outside. I really hope Chip lets me cut his claws, too. I don't know why he doesn't let me anymore. I have never cut them so short I hurt Chip, but lately he won't have any of it.
   I am still working on baby afghans for friends of a friend. I haven't gotten anymore sewing done, but the sewing machine is out gathering dust, just in case. I think I should just but it up. The biggest news is I finally folded the towels. I'm making progress.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Just Rambling

   Yesterday was our 30th wedding anniversary, and we had the usual hard time thinking of something to do. We went to Walmart and got a battery for the riding mower, to Home Depot to get a fuel filter for it, to Big R, just because it's there, ( I did get some Sarsaparilla, Orange Creme Soda and some Carmel Vanilla Soda), and then we went to Green Bluff and picked cherries. I was looking for already picked cherries, and did eventually buy some, but after we picked some. We've been told by several people that this was a bad year for cherries. I didn't pick that many because I had to climb a ladder and that's really not a good place for me to be. Oh, and we bought some blueberry wine, but didn't drink it yet.
   Today, I pitted some of the cherries we picked. I have about 6 pound more to pit. My hands are stained a nice purplish black. I read lemon juice is suppose to get rid of the cherry juice stain, but I don't have that much and I was going to use it for canning. Yeah, I know, I can buy some more and just use what I have and make my hands look better, but I might as well wait until all the cherries are pitted before I try the lemon juice.
   I was going to dehydrate more celery today and freeze more carrots. I didn't get to that. I still haven't folded the towels in the basket by the dryer. I need to make cookies tomorrow.
   Our garden is growing really well. I do think it's funny (weird) that we have a white tail deer problem in our garden and on Farmville I have one, too. I guess I just can't win with that.
   I'm not making much progress crocheting afghans for my friend Terrys' friends that are having babies in Oct. I haven't made much progress with the sewing, either. I have finished 2 of my 4 library books instead.
   Chip is getting much better outside off of the leash. We think he runs like a rabbit. He's a very fast runner. Jake stops Chip by putting his front paw on Chip's back, and then he usually knocks him over. There's about a 35 pound or more weight difference between them. We're always telling Jake not to break the poodle.
   Towards the end of this month it will be peach season at Green Bluff. I'll have to get a box so I can make more Peach Butter and try making some peach preserves. When apples are ripe, I want to get some of those to make apple pie filling, apple butter, apple cinnamon jelly, and apple sauce.  That's the plan, but you know how those are.
  Anyway, it's still nice out here in the sticks, I just need to stop being so lazy.