Saturday, August 28, 2010

Oh, Wow!!!! And Convenience Food Haney Style ... Just Sayin...

So, as I intimated, it has been busy.  Oh brother!!! Or should I say uncle???  Well, whilst the garden was busting out all over today, I was blessed with my dearest of Lekya's.  Ok now, nobody has ever had a sweeter or more lovely harvester than she...c'mon, you know it's true.  She picked a "gred" pepper (meaning partly green, and partly red).  Well, that's how the day went.  It's already after 10, and the kitchen lights are on bright and clear...

So we processed a strainer full plus the babka bowl full of ripe tomatoes.  We did 7 quarts of cajun spiced/recipe ready tomatoes:  and they all sealed.  Major score!!!  You plant it, you grow it, good God willing you harvest something, and then you preserve it, because there is too much to eat right now, and it would be a real crime to let it go to waste...

And then there is the mother-lode of all convenience two little words...BLACK BEANS!!!  I mean, you plant 'em, they grow, and then you pick 'em when they are all dried already and shell 'em and stick 'em in a ziploc bag, and you've got food for the winter, protein, fiber, taste, you name it, and you don't have to do one more blessed thing in order to preserve it.  If we could, we would plant an entire field of these little lovelies!!!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Oh boy, it really is busy

It's really a lot of work to be a full-time-employed urban/suburban person, try to live the homesteading way, and take care of your personal and civic duties at the same time.  That's the only reason we've been so quiet.  I'd rather be doing it than blogging about it, I guess.  Priorities.  But we brought in goodness knows how many quarts of tomatoes this weekend, along with three FAT quarts (meaning about 1.5 qt. ea.) of green beans.  Big Steve spent a day scraping and painting at my Mom's house -- I need to talk about her more here -- the awesome NONNIE -- and I had a wonderful just post birthday lunch with my bestest of cousins, Kathy.  Walked the dogs, cleaned the house, put two hots on the meal each day....well, you get the picture.  Sent off goodness knows how many soldier packages/letters, and now we've moved into the world of paper sunshine for prisoners.  No haters here...the scripture commands that we remember those in prison.  We will be OFF our desk jobs for Labor Day week, which means there will be a frenzy of real work around here.  I PROMISE more pictures!!! 

I seriously needed a break from my desk job today, and meandered the 1/4 mile from my desk, across the Empire State Plaze, to the NYS Museum.  I thought I knew the place like the back of my hand, due to my proximity and the regularity with which I visit.  WELL -- there was a relatively new exhibit, just beyond the birds of NYS (my personal favorite permanent exhibit) -- and it was all about the NYS soldiers' contribution from forever ago on.  It really was a lovely tribute, and I got to spend more than a little bit of time speaking with a soldier who was born in 1936 -- served the NYS National Guard (same as our dear Anthony) during peacetime.  Once -- while on a training mission -- he was able to actually save a life -- he was a medic, and the other solder had taken a fragment through his face and throat.  I was so moved to hear him speak.  I was REALLY sorry that my day job got in the way of my real life -- in other words, hearing more from this man who, although he never was needed overseas, was willing to give everything to defend me and mine.  Awesome.  It just goes to prove how God puts precious people in our path, every single day, if we ask him to.

Here is one part of the exhibit -- the purple medal awarded to Sgt. Leroy E. Sprague of Elmira, NY of the 108th Infantry Regiment who received a Purple Heart after being seriously wounded in 1945 during fighting on the island of Luzon in the Philippine Islands.  To the left you can see Sgt. Sprague's bible, which stopped the enemy bullet that might otherwise have taken his life.  Miracles do happen!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

It's a Very Busy Time of Year!

Seriously, it really is.  From now till, well probably, mid-October, it will be a frenzy of activity around here.  Bringing it in.  Bringing it all in.  I have a table full of green tomatoes tonight, a field full of jalapenos, green beans needing to be spoken for, and the tomatoes and bell peppers haven't even started.  Then there is that tree full of peaches...  I'll stop now because there isn't time.  Suffice it to say we had a wondrous meal last night...steak on the grill, monstrous baked potatoes, and best of all, fresh tomato salad.  Fresh red tomatoes from the garden. Yummy!!!!

Tonight, it was a cooked meal with the fresh stuff....bracciole cooked in a fresh tomato marinara in the slow cooker, and a wonderful tray of eggplant parmagania with the eggplant and tomatoes (and herbs) from the garden.

I haven't put down the recipes because I don't have time unless I know someone wants them.  You know how to get me for the recipes.  If all else fails, leave a comment!!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year - Green Tomatoes & Such

It really is the most wonderful time of the year.  Time for fresh stuff to come from the garden to the table within an hour or less.  And time for canning, freezing, drying, you name it.

Tonight it was green tomato rice (recipe following), broiled bay scallops, and freshly picked green beans.  I meant (I really did!) to take a picture of a plate of it all, but I was really hungry, got really excited, and well, you know the rest.

So anyway, Big Steve was out doing some thinning and pruning out in the garden and we ended up with a mess of green tomatoes.  What to do?  It's tough to preserve on a moment's notice after a full day at work, especially when you have dinner to prepare ahead of you.  So we did what anyone would have done...we made green tomato rice as a side dish tonight. tomato rice would be fine and dandy on it's own if you didn't have any meat.  You could just stir in some cheese near the end and it would be a meal in itself.  As it was, we had broiled bay scallops with garlic, parsley and oregano, along with some green beans freshly picked from the garden.

So anyway, whilst Big Steve was snapping away at the green beans, the green tomato rice was being prepared.  So here's how you do it:

Just take some bacon (we used "about" four slices)and fry it up in a nice saucepan till it's brown.  Then take out the bacon and set it aside to drain.  Then, to the bacon fat, add about one chopped onion, and cook it up for just a minute or so, until it's just getting soft.  Then throw in some finely chopped green tomatoes (2 or so) and cook for another minute or so.  Then you finely mince a nice jalapeno (we had a ton in the garden - just see it minced in the top photo) and a chopped clove of garlic (or whatever you have).  Bring it all around to a nice soft sizzle.

Now, add 2 cups of chicken stock, one cup of white rice, and a dash of tabasco sauce...a little freshly ground salt and pepper, a bit of thyme...and set the timer for 20-25 minutes.  When it's ready to serve, crumble in the reserved bacon and sprinkle the whole mess with the parmesan.  It's deep of the summer nirvana, friends.  A really nice kick, and yet, it's real comfort food.  And gluten free, to boot!

Happy eating!!!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Best...Birthday...EVER!!! Best of all - a (Re-) Proposal!!!

I may have had a nicer birthday in days past, but I'm getting old.  So if I did, and I don't remember, please forgive me for thinking that this birthday trumps them all.  Big Steve (Stiva to me) outdid himself and provided the nicest day ever that I can remember in recent history.  And it didn't involve any work on my part, which is the best part of all!!! A real day off.

I woke up this morning to the fact that it was a day off from work, after a wonderfully cool night (good sleeping weather, friends!).  A gentle stretch from me at some wee small hour, and a dear "happy birthday Mar" from Big Steve.  That set the tone for the entire day.

So I finally wake up and take the dogs out and such, and I'm checking my email and Big Steve says "Don't you even want your presents?"  He may as well have asked me "Does you know who do you know what in the woods".  LOL!

So...crack of dawn, and I am graced with the following:
  1. Two (count em) friendly nightgowns.  I can't even describe them to you.  Very sweet, very demure, definitely feminine, and very VERY comfortable.  Does this man know me or WHAT???
  2. A Soldier's Angel Recruiter tank top -- OMG it's awesome!!!  Sleeveless, pink, says "Angel Recruiter" on the front and the back, and also on the back, the Soldiers Angel Logo, "Support Our Troops" and "Ask Me About My Hero".  I just wish I could wear it to work!!!!!
  3. Now onto a wonderful device -- a Mixmaster to make my life easier when making Soldier Cookies -- or bread (but I'm gluten free) or CHRISTMAS COOKIES (for soldier cookies).  It's a really high energy mixer!  Maybe this is the year that I won't blow out my hand mixer when working on holiday baking!!!
Last but not least -- Stiva took me to Tanglewood to hear the Boston Symphony -- Sibelius, Elgar & Mussorgsky.  It was wonderful.  We sat on the lawn, and baked a bit, but the sun and clouds were about equal, and it turned out to be a perfect afternoon.  We brought a blanket and a picnic lunch.  The music just washed over us.  We smooched a bit.  It was W-O-N-D-E-R-F-U-L. 

At the very end of the day, Big Steve actually got down on his knees, and proposed (in his own way) by asking me if I would continue to be married to him.  OMG -- Can words express how much I love this man?

I don't remember a better birthday ever.  If you think I had a much better birthday in the past, maybe I did, and I truly do apologize for not remembering.  It's just that I'm basking in the wonder of today.  In my eyes, it was perfect!

I'll leave you with this.  I'm not one to idolize performers, but this is enchanting, and worth listening to!