Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It’s The Little Stuff That Makes You Happy!

I sure all of you are wondering how this picture of cabinet space below my bathroom sink can made me happy.  I lived in my house for 7 years now with a shelf so warped that anything would slide and tip over toward the big dip located front and center.  I kept telling myself that I could wait until I remodeled my bathroom since I would like to replace the bathroom sink with a pedestal sink.  After living here for 7 years it will be a long time before I remodel the bathroom.  I still have a lot of weatherproofing and insulation work to do on the house before I can fix up the interior.  So why not make life a little easier by fixing it.

I use a rubber mallet to knock out the warped shelf.  Then I cut some salvage 2”x4”s to make a platform to place a shelf.  The 2”x4”s left 1¼” gape to be filled in with leftover plywood.  I found ½” plywood cut two pieces to layover the base and nailed it in place.  I found some ¼” plywood, cut it to size and glue it in place.  The shelf was now even with the cabinet.  I finished it off by put down shelving paper.

After seven years I can finely can used this space for storage and that is what makes me happy.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A 2009 Checklist

I wrote in my last post that my next project was to thoroughly clean my house. Last Saturday, I spent time washing all the surfaces in the kitchen that included walls, floor, cabinets, and appliances. Before putting back all the notes and magnets back on the refrigerator, stop long enough to review the notes and found this note named “NEXT YEAR 2009 TO DO LIST”.

Reviewing this list has brought back memories and there are still many unfinished items.
  1. Finish Swan: Years ago I brought my Mom a topiary swan frame from http://www.topiaryinc.com/ and used sphagnum moss to fill out the frame. She received this one Mother’s Days. In 2008 the Kickapoo River flooded town of Gays Mills, my Mother was lucky the yard, garage and basement were flooded but not living area of her home. The topiary swan was sitting in that dirty water and all the old sphagnum moss was removed and need to be replaced with fresh moss. I did finish working on the form in the spring of 2010 and it now back in her garden every summer.
  2. Put together the Turtle: Another topiary frame, Rittenhouse use to sell a turtle basket frame. The turtle was finished in the summer of 2010.
  3. Fix electric outlet hole on the outside of the house: The hole until this year plugged with a broken shovel handle until this summer. I filled it in with foam but need to fill in the remainder of it with wood putty. This is the wall I stripped off the paint and will finish next spring or summer.
  4. Paint dryer hole cover: Before I brought the house the washer and dryer were placed in the northwest corner of the basement. A previous PO finished the north side of basement and the washer and dryer were moved but the old dryer vent was never closed off. I filled in the vent hole sanded it down and painted late 2008. So I must have made this list sometime in the fall of 2008.
  5.  Make Bamboo Trellis: Completed in the spring 2009, this is the trellis which I weave my squash vine through.
  6.  Wash unfinished south basement wall: completed in 1/3/2010
  7.  Fix crack in wall: South basement wall, 2/3 of the wall was finished early spring 2010 and the remaining wall this spring 2011.
  8. Fix Cracks in floor: Complete over the 2009-2010 winter. See Moisture and Water Problems Part 3 
  9. Paint Finished Craft room floor: See #8.
  10.  Wash Closet Walls: Not done closet show in Moisture and Water Problems Part 3 
  11. Paint Closet Walls: See #10.
  12.  Shellac Closet doors: My bedroom closet has wooden bifold door which only ½ of the bifold door is done.
  13.  Hang Closet door: Not done do to #12 not being completed.
  14.  Lay out garden around telephone pole and box: Still on my To Do List but other things become more important so this keeps dropping down on the list.
  15. Call for a Watch Dog before digging up the garden around telephone box: Waiting for #14.
This is the fourth winter I been working and the basement and hopefully the last. I found that if I just put waterproof the basement as a project and had to wait four years to cross it off my TO DO List it would be discouraging. So I have been breaking down large projects into smaller projects so I feel like I accomplished something.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

House Progress Report

It took about a month for my back to heal. The only thing I decide to work on was getting the house and yard ready for winter.  My brother helped lifting up and putting in the storm windows.  He was a big help with this and cleaning up the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants.  We hauled four large lawn bags to the community compost. 

After Arthur went home I worked on cleaning the gutters.  We have two large white pine trees on the south lot line.  The neighbor on that side of the house commented that he like to cut those pines down.  I could not understand why he would like to do that when I first moved in but now I do.  White pine trees are dirty trees examples are the dipping sap all over my back deck, shedding pine needles and cones all year long.  The second week in October is the worst about third to half of the needles turn yellow and fall off the tree.  The long needles continually clog up my gutters and cause the water to pour over the sides.  I will not cut those pines down because they keep my house cool and protect my house from the hot summer sun.  If you want to include white pines in your landscaping, do plant them within 30 feet of a house.  There is one good thing about them the cones make wonderful decoration.  I used them in my Christmas garland wrapped around the front porch railing.

All the gardens are cleaned up except the garden with the broccoli, red cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.  I plan on harvesting that garden this weekend.  We had several nights this past week where the night time temperature reached the low 20’s.  The Brussels sprouts should be nice and sweet with the hard frost.

The last two weekends I have been working on getting up the outside Christmas decorations.  I brought two four foot candy cane and put one on each end of the front porch and also tied the pine cones to the garland.  This year I brought lights and a timer for the back deck and wrapped them along with the garland.  I still need to set up the deck timer which I will do this weekend.

My next big project will be to clean the house since it has been negligent all summer.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Eggplant Sausage Casserole

 Eggplant Sausage Casserole


1 lb medium tube pasta
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cube
2 lbs turkey Italian Sausage without casing.
1 large onion chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 6-oz can tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup fresh basil, minced or 1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon paprika
1 15-oz carton ricotta cheese
4 cups (16-oz) shredded mozzarella, divided in half

Directions: Cook pasta according to directions and set aside.

In a large skillet cook Italian sausage over medium heat until no longer pink, drain off fat and set aside. In same skillet add olive oil and sauté eggplant, onion and garlic until soft. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, basil and paprika. Bring to a simmer, cover the pan and simmer for another 15-20 minutes. Now stir drained pasta to skillet and then mix in the cooked sausage.

Oil a 13”x9”x2” baking dish and spread half the sausage mixture into the pan. Spread half the ricotta cheese over the mixture then sprinkle 2 cups of the shredded mozzarella cheese over it. Repeat the layers a second time ending with the mozzarella on top

Bake casserole at 350F for 40 minutes. Let the baked casserole stand at room temperature at least 10 minutes before serving it.

Makes 12 servings.

Here another recipe my Mom gave me.  It is an easy way to use eggplant in a meal.  I reduce the fat in the recipe by using non-fat ricotta cheese and low-fat mozzarella.  This is a simple easy casserole to prepare and tastes great! 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Nana’s Spaghetti Sauce

Below is the original recipe from my paternal grandmother, it is a great tasting and simple recipe to make.  Over the year I have experimented with the recipe.  This fall I made it with roasted paste tomatoes from my garden.  I used 2 quarts of Amish paste tomatoes, cut in half, removed the core and place cut halves down in a boiler pan.  Place the pan on the upper rack under the broiler and roast until the peels blacken.  Then remove pan from the broiler and let the tomatoes cool slightly before pulling off the blackened peels.  Set roasted tomatoes aside for later and add them after onions and meat have been browned.  Because I only used paste tomatoes in the sauce I found that only one 6-oz can of tomato paste was needed to thicken the sauce.

For the meat mixture I used one pound ground Italian Turkey sausage and one pound ground beef then browned it in olive oil instead of butter.  The only another change I did was to used ¼ cup of fresh basil instead of a pinch of oregano to season the sauce.

Nana’s Spaghetti Sauce


¼ cup butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 lbs. ground chuck beef
¼ cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves
2 cans 28-oz whole tomatoes
2 cans 6-oz tomato paste
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar

Brown meat in butter and throw in onions with browning meat.  Add olive oil, turn burner down, add tomatoes with 1 tablespoon sugar, chopped garlic cloves; add salt, pinch of oregano.  Simmer sauce for 3 hours.

Friday, October 7, 2011

This is for the Leaf Peepers

What a differents a week can make when it comes to leaf color.  On the last day of Arthur's visit, I promise him we do something fun and Hyde Mill was one of those stops.  Arthur is alway looking for subjects to paint and I thought he would enjoy the mill.  The property is for sale right now and it has been posted with no "NO Trespassing" signs but you can park on the right away and get some great pictures.

Here is how it looked on 9/30/2011 when Arthur and I visited it.

The past owner used to allow the public to walk and picnic on the property and displayed old the gears and mill stones used to grind grain. 


 Last night I stopped at the mill with the leaves in full color and what a different it makes.  Now is the time to view the Fall Colors in Southwestern Wisconsin.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Storage Shelves for the Basement

The week before I hurt my back, I found time to put up storage shelves along the newly painted wall.  I felt just like an excited little kid putting them together. 

The thought I might be able to use my sewing room for its actual use just made me giddy.  Since last fall the sewing room looked like a hoarder lived there with little paths allowing you to pass through to another area.  On the morning before I put my back out, I transferred all the boxes pictured on to the new shelving. 

Sometime this winter I go through all the boxes and determine what can be thrown out and reorganized rest.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Way Laid for the Moment

For the last week I have been ordered to slay off the roof since I wrenched my back on September 11. How did I achieve this? Well I was sitting on the roof scraping paint off the wall. Trying to keep your balance on the roof and keep both hands free (one to hold the heat gun and the other to hold the scraper) is a feat. I twisted my body in funny positions and aggravated a minor back injury to a major one. I spent most of last week off from work barely able to get out of bed. I guess four to six hours a day for four days in a row was more than my body could stand.

I did get most of the scrapping done with only about 2 hours left to do. My biggest problem is that most of the caulking along the roof and wall needs to be replaced before winter comes. I can leave the rest of the work until next spring. I hopefully I will be able to get back on the roof in the next two weeks to caulk the roof line with removable caulk for the winter then next spring I can properly prepare the wall by sanding and priming it before applying the permanent caulk. I also removed all the old glazing from the window on this wall so I will most likely be using the removable caulk there too.

The small area on the wall left to scrap.
Roof eve area left.
My brother is visiting me for the next two weeks and will be helping me clean up the yard for winter but he is not a handyman when it comes to working on the house. I am more afraid of him falling off the roof than I am going up there to do the needed roof caulking for the winter. Yesterday I received a notice from Burpee’s that my raspberry plants are coming in the mail this week so Art will also be digging the holes so we can plant them too this week.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It’s Done!

I finished painting and staining the deck on the last day of August. All I needed to do was unpack the new wrought iron furniture

and hang the sherpherd hook and lantern brackets.

I decided to spray paint the brackets the same accent color I am painting the screen and storm windows. They were finely ready to hang last Friday. The finishing touch came in the mail yesterday. The previous owner left lanterns with candles in them but I found solar Arts & Crafts lanterns to replace them and they look perfect.

The umbrella fabric needs to be replaced and that is my current upholstery project. Here is a picture of the new cover. I was checking the fit before I start covering the seams and umbrella edge with dark green binding. The umbrella should have the new cover on by mid-October.

To celebrate the finished deck I pulled this out of my pantry.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Labor Day Weekend

Over Labor Day Weekend, I was planning on spending just Friday canning tomatoes but things changed and I spend the entire weekend preserving food. I started by collecting the last of my 2009 whole canned tomatoes and reprocessing them into 6 quarts of tomato juice. Then I took 10 quarts from the 2010 whole canned tomatoes, made vegetable juice from them for a total of 8 quarts. On Saturday at the Dodgeville Farmer’s Market I brought large chili pepper for a Canned Tomato Salsa recipe I found on Simply Recipes web site. The recipe says it makes about 5 pints but I got 13 ½-pint jars of canned salsa. The previous weekend I tried Simply Recipes Tomatillo Salsa Verde and it was great. I used my new pressure cooker to can this salsa.

Once I finished with the juice and salsa, I started roasting tomatoes in the broiler, removing the skins and placing them in quarts jars to can. I roasted both paste and regular tomatoes and ended up with 7 quarts of each type. I still had some tomatoes left some I roasted them up and made “Hot and Spicy Chili Sauce” to use on hamburgers and sausages. This gave me 15 ½-pint of chili for my pantry. Then I pulled the last of the 2009 strawberry and rhubarb from my freezer and made jam for a total 3 pints of strawberry and 12 pints of strawberry rhubarb jam.

In between all the canning I did find sometime on Labor Day to wash the basement floor and apply hydraulic cement on possible leaks in the floor. Next Monday I can start painting that section of the floor.

I still want to roast another 5 quarts each of the paste and regular tomatoes before I call it an end to the canning season.  I am still picking bean, broccoli, zucchini, eggplant, and peppers and freezing them.  My winter squashes are dying off and soon will be ready storage in my basement pantry.  The gardening season may last until the end of the month if I am lucky and the weather remains mild.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Things are Moving Along in the Basement!

The floor along the east basement wall is now painted. I finished putting the fourth coat on the floor at 4:50 AM on Tuesday before going to work. Now I need to allow the paint to cure one week before I can set up my shelving.

Last night I started to move the jelly cabinet and other items so I can start to prepare a new section of the floor for paint. I noticed there is an area by the chimney which needs a coat of hydraulic cement before I can start painting it. So I will do that over Labor Day weekend and then I can paint it the following weekend. I cannot believe I might finally finish working on the east basement wall section this fall and I will be only six months late of my goal. I still will have the 2/3 of the north wall left to do and that is where the laundry tub, washer and dryer are located.

PS: I done painting the deck but need I want to put out the new furniture and put the hanging baskets up before I show it off.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Can you Count the Ways To use Zucchini #3

Zucchini-Eggplant Casserole
This recipe is also from my Mom.  I use hot chili peppers in this recipe since zucchini and eggplant are mild to add more flavor to the dish.  The cream cheese reduces seems to reduce the heat in the chili peppers. 

6 medium Zucchini, ¼-inch slices
1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced
1 (8-oz) pkg. cream cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 (4-oz) can chopped green chilies, drained
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs
¼ cup butter or margarine, melted

Simmer zucchini and eggplant in boiling water 15 minutes. Drain well and set aside.

Beat cream cheese in a medium-mixing bowl. Add eggs and blend well. Stir in zucchini and eggplant, green chilies, salt and pepper. Spoon in oiled 1-quart casserole. Combine breadcrumbs and batter. Sprinkle over casserole. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Can you Count the Ways To use Zucchini

I guess this is number 2.  As with many gardeners who plant zucchini I am runneth over with them.  When I first was introduce to zucchini as a kid (and yes I was once a kid) my Mom would make a mixed vegetable stirred fry dish.  Back then I enjoyed it but now I just will not make it anymore I guess I just had it too many times.  So the hunt was on to find as many I can serve zucchini. 

This recipe is from my Mom and I have no idea where she found it.  This dish would make a nice main course or side dish.

Zucchini Provolone Bake

Vegetable oil spray
1 medium onion
4 cups thinly sliced zucchini
2 tbsp. minced fresh or 2 tsp. dried basil
¼ tsp. salt and pepper
1 cup shredded Provolone cheese
½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
2 eggs, beaten

Spray oil on to skill. Over medium heat add onion and cook until tender, stirring occasionally; add zucchini and cook until crisp tender, frequently stirring. Remove from heat and stir in basil, salt and pepper. Add cheese and eggs; mix well. Spoon in oiled 1-quart baking dish. Bake at 350F for 35 to 40 minutes or until top is browned. Serves 4.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Day's Harvest

Yesterday I spend most of the evening working in the garden picking vegetables or dead heading flowers.  Here is the result of all that work.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Slow Going but I am still progressing forward.

We did not get the forecasted rain until early Saturday morning so I spent Friday evening putting the first coat on the remaining balusters and called it a night. We had intermittence rain over the weekend so I needed to change my plans on working on the outside of the house. Saturday morning in between going to Mineral Point’s Farmer Market and doing laundry, I prepared the basement floor for painting. I first vacuumed the floor and then washed it. It took many buckets of clean water to clean a 15 x 8 square foot area. The rain did help me find where water was coming in the floor’s south corner. I applied hydraulic cement over the leak. I now need to wait a week for the cement to cure before I can start painting the floor.

Later on Saturday I removed the glass panes from the storm window on the wall I am stripping and also stripped it of paint. The storm window’s lower joints needed to be glued back together. The bottom section of the window has some rot in it and some time this week I will be applying wood harder to those areas. After I fix that area and fill in some other areas with wood filler, I can prime it and reglaze the glass panes before painting it with the accent color “Hodley Red”.

Sunday was again spent canning and freezing vegetables. I canning another 4 quarts of Amish Dill Pickles and preserved my first ten 12-oz jars of Dilly Bean this year. I did find time to make an eggplant and zucchini casserole and roast cherry tomatoes for a pasta salad. I love the “Roasted Cherry tomatoes and Garlic Pasta Salad”. It is a great way to use all those cherry tomatoes up, I found this recipe in Martha Stewart Magazine last year believe it was in the October issue. Look it up because it is a keeper.

Updated 8/23/2011: The recipe I wrote about is called "Rigatoni with Roasted Tomatoes" from Martha Stewart halloween 2009 special issue, p. 114.  I looked for it on the her web site but it must not be posted anymore. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Its Primed

Yesterday I spent the day priming the deck and got some of the balusters painted with the first coat of paint.  The weatherman was forecasting rain after midnight last night so I tore off all the papers last night.  We recieved no rain last night and are not expecting until later this evening I could have spent other day home and maybe finished the job but instead I am at work due to a bad forecast.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Still Scrapping the Wall

I took more time off last week to work on the house.  I spent Wednesday and Thursday scrapping paint off the wall.  My goal was to finish scrapping all the paint I could reach before I needed to climb on the roof to remove the rest and I almost made it.  This is the wall were the electrical wires are attached to the house and it took longer than expected because I needed to be aware where the lines and the hook up was at all times. My father is a retired electrician and I asked him how I needed to keep safe while working around the wires.  He told me the bare twisted wire was the ground and I could touch that connection to the house but the other two black wires were not to be touched.  He told me not to wrap my body around the wires while scrapping.  It is not easy trying to use a heat gun and scrapers to remove the paint and work around those wires so it took a little longer. 

Friday I decide to take a chance that it would not rain and started staining the deck.  I only got the deck floor and stair treads done before the sky turned very dark.  I have been trying to make up my mind about staining the whole deck with the color "Dragon's Breath" and I finely decided that I am not going to do.  I will be painting the hand railing, stair riser, stringer and rim joints with the "Tarrytown Green" and the balusters will be painted "Brookline beige" (the color of the clapboards).

The deck would have been too dark if stained in one color and using a three colors combination on it will make a nice contrast.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Garden Shots

The weekend was busy canning Kohler Dill Pickles and corn relish, making rhubard strawberry jam, and freezing vegetable.  Here what I found in the garden this weekend.

Cardinal Flowers
Northwest Corner Porch Garden
Giant Black Swallowtail


Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Juvenile Udumalapet
Rosa Bianca Eggplant

Graffiti Hybrid Cauliflower

Butternut squash
Sugar Pie Pumpkins

Ruby Perfection Hybrid Cabbage

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Updating an Old Oak Chair

Last night I finished working on this piece. It was a very easy job and took about 6 hours. I torn off the old leather seat covering and determine it was the original covering to the chair. My upholstery teacher thought it might be so I was wondering if I should even fix it up. There was another student in class who is an antique dealer told me that the chair was not worth much and it would not matter if I removed the old covering. The old leather seat was torn while trying to remove it so there was no going back at this point. The blog called “New Arts & Crafts Chair” show the chair in its original condition.

After the leather and padding was removed, I cleaned the chair with soap and water and wiped it dry with paper towels and determine that was all it needed. I was lucky the chair looked great and I wanted to keep its patina as is. The old padding was replaced with a ½” polyester padding and staple in place. Then the leather covering was cut to slightly over lap the padding and temporarily tacked in place. Four 1” wide strips were cut about 4” longer for each edge. I marked a center line along the length on the back side of each strip and apply double sided tape down the center line. Next I pressed/folded the both raw edges to the center line forming my taped edging. The tape was used to cover the raw edging on the leather seat covering. I then placed painter tape on all four side of the leather cover and marked out how far and how many tacks were going to be used to hold the leather tape in place. Now I could staple the leather cover down in between the tack placement.

The center of each leather strip was place on each center edge and then tacked into place. I worked each side from the center out placing the tacks ¾” apart. Where the strips meet in the corners, the strips were mitered cut and a tack was place in the center of the cut to hold it in place. Here is the finished chair. I much prefer this to the original.

The total cost to redo this piece was less than $5 since the leather was left over from this other project.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Work on the house is progressing

I took Thursday and Friday off to work on the house. The routine was not much different then before spent the first three mornings painting the basement walls and now can cross this off my list. I still have 2/3 of the north basement wall to paint but that will have to waiting until I repair and paint the floor along the walls I just finished.

The unfinish wall section in the basement.
When the floor is done I brought heavy duty shelving to put up along the east wall. I have a finished sewing & craft room on the west side of the basement which is filled with all the boxes that belong on those shelves. I cannot even get to my sewing machines to do mending let alone make curtains for the living room.

Thursday afternoon I finished sanding the deck and brought a deck cleaner to clean and brighten the wood up for staining. It looks great. Now I need at three days with out rain so I can start staining it.

Friday and Saturday afternoons I started remove all the paint from the 2nd wall elevation in back of the house. My goal each summer is to remove all the paint off, fix and weatherize all windows, prime it, then caulk and finish it with the final paint coats. Since I am the only person doing all the work at my house I am very happy to be able to getting finish one small wall each of the last two summers and hope to finish this third one now. I got a good start last weekend. I plan to take two or three day off this week since the temperatures around here will be in the mid 70’s and make it must easier to wear a facemask, ear muffles, face shield, leather gloves, long sleeve t-shirt and pant. I wear all that when using a heat gun since I have in the past accidently burned myself with it.

Here is another safety tip if using a heat gun to remove the paint from your house. Make sure the gun is set to low heat when using it. If the gun is set to high and the paint has lead in it, the lead can vaporize.  A dust mask or a dust mask with organic filter will not block lead fumes. Please make sure your heat gun is set to low.  The treatment for lead poisoning is not much fun.  It does not just remove the lead it also removes the trace metals needed for a healthy body.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The House Projects

This weekend I spend most of my time putting up vegetables from the garden. I cut the two “Cheddar” cauliflower heads and filled two Ziploc gallon bags for blanching. I spent Saturday morning freezing the beans, cauliflower and broccoli. I also prepared beet greens for freezing and cooked the beets. I save some beets for eating this week but the rest of the beets were pickled and canned for a total of 7 half-pint jars. Sunday morning I made 7 pints of canned dill pickles.

After getting that job done I found time to put the first coat of paint on the northeast corner of the basement. Putting the first coat on the wall takes the longest since I needed to painting over all the spray-foam and foam-board insulation between the cement wall and first floor. The next three coats should be a lot easier since I one coat usually covers the foam.

The rest of the Sunday I spent sowing “Detroit Red” &“Detroit Golden” beets and “Chantenay” & “Baby Nantes” carrot. I used boiling hot water from the food processing to kill weeds in the stone paths. I used some of leftover flowers from Farmer’s Market to fill in holes in the garden and composted the rest.

I also had the back deck on my “TO DO” list. I have a small area on the left stair riser left to sand. One week ago the heat wave broke and I spent that Monday home working on the deck. My upholstery teacher lent me her Black and Decker Mouse sander. The sander has attachments which allow you reach in the tight areas. I got all the deck done in 8 hours last Monday with only small area left to hand sand. The weather is going do cool down after Tuesday so I might take more time off to finish it.

Area that needs to be hand sanded.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Harvesting the Garden

This last weekend none of the house projects were worked on, I spent all the weekend picking blanching, freezing or baking.  I pulled up the pea vines and froze my last 2 quart for the season.  I was picking beans all week and froze approximately 6 quarts of whole beans.  Cucumber started producing this last week, so I made my first sour cream and dill cucumber salad.  I been trying to find a dill pickle crock pot recipe yet if you would be willing be share one, please do.  The summer squash is going crazy and my refrigerator is loaded with them. 

I had one zucchini get too large so I shredded it up and had enough to make 4 zucchini breads.  I prefer to pick zucchini between 6 to 8 inches long with a diameter of 1 to 1½ inches.  I made my favorite zucchini dish which is a zucchini quiche. 

You can use a frozen 9-inch pie dough but I prefer to recipe from 1,000 Lowfat Recipes which I referred to in the “Caramel Apple Pie” blog.  The original recipe suggested that cheddar cheese or Swiss cheese but I prefer using a Reduced Fat Baby Swiss Cheese made by Country Connection.  It is made in Wisconsin’s driftless area.  It is the only reduced Baby Swiss Cheese I found in a block.  I do not like pre-shredded low fat cheese in the grocery stores.  It tastes terrible so I always looking out for low fat cheese in block form.

Many zucchini quiches recipes puree the zucchini but I like them thinly sliced and then sauté.  It gives the quiche body (adds more fiber to the dish).  Here my version of the dish.

Zucchini Quiche

9 inches unbaked Pie shell
8 slices bacon
3 cups unpeeled thinly sliced Zucchini (pick 6 inches with diameter about 1 inch)
1 medium thinly sliced onion
4 eggs
½ cup evaporated non-fat milk
2 tablespoons fresh marjoram, chopped
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups reduced fat Baby Swiss Cheese (I like Country Connection brand, it is the only reduced Swiss cheese I can find in a block)

Cook bacon until crisp, cool on paper towel and crumb it.  Using the bacon dripping sauté onions until soft then add zucchini and cook until soft.  Set aside onion and zucchini mixture.

Preheat oven to 425F.  In a large mixing bowl break open the eggs and beat until smooth.  Add evaporated milk, white pepper, salt, basil and marjoram.  Beat until mixed.  Add onion and zucchini to egg mixture and fold it in.  Fold in Baby Swiss Cheese and bacon to mixture.  Pour it into the pie shell.

Bake at 425F for 10 minutes, then turn down the oven to 300F and bake for 50 – 60 minutes or until center set (knife or toothpick come out clean).  Let quiche sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 6 serving.

Adaptive from the The Zucchini Cookbook by Paula Simmons

Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Vegetable Plants must be on Steroids

View from Driveway
My vegetables are just huge this year.  My tomatillos are 7 feet tall this year.  I never have seen them this tall.  

Paste tomatoes are tied to the bamboo on the right
and the tomatillos are to the left.
The winter squash is moving into the garden path.  I have no idea why the plants are so much bigger this year.  All I used in my garden is compost and 10-10-10 fertilizer. 

View from the shed and you can see the squash moving into the path.
The previous two week we were in a drought along with the heat wave and I starting to wonder if I get any winter squashes since the fruit was falling off vines.  We finally got rain last weekend and the fruit is now setting.

Juvenile Butternut

Juvenile Pumpkin

The weather was cooler this spring which really helped the pea and Brassica.  Last year was the first year I tried to grow cauliflower and only ended up two very small heads between 3 to 4 inches.  I decided to try one more time and I am glad it did.  Friday I will be harvesting two cauliflowers heads that are about 12 inches across.  They not the normal white colored heads these are called a Cheddar Hybrid and they are the color of Cheddar cheese.

Cheddar Hybrid Cauliflower
 The cooler weather may have kept the pest bug in control allowing the plant get establish.  Whatever the reason I am graceful for the good fortune.