Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Happy New Year! And Food! And Dog!

Bernie's grand experiment this past fall was to attempt to grow Brussels sprouts in pots in our front yard farm. I'd given it a half-hearted try the previous year, but planted them too late -- I got to eat some of the foliage, but they never made those cute little mini-cabbage shapes. Bernie has had much more success.

Today he decided that some of them were big enough to eat. So we cooked them in bacon fryings with diced onion. Melt the bacon fat, add the onions, let them sweat down a little, then put in the halved Brussels sprouts, stirring gently now and then. When the color is bright green, cover them and let them steam themselves for a few minutes. Then flavor with salt and garlic powder, stir and steam again. They're done when a fork can penetrate them tenderly.

Holy smoley, they were delicious! Of course, as with just about all food, the sweet intensity of the flavor was so much better coming out of the garden minutes before. Yes, fresh is better than produce that sits in bins for days or weeks.

I love how they look like little knobby palm trees, and based on our culinary experience today, Bernie says he wants to plant a lot more of them next fall. I agree. More Brussels sprouts, more red-leaf lettuce, less spinach and chard and collards.

Yes, of course I have a picture of Kermit on his office chair near the table where I work. When I picked up the camera, he looked at me as though he expected to be photographed. He was very proud of himself today: he helped me unload the throw rugs from the dryer, every one of them. He's a working dog.

2017 is coming in with a deluge. I even heard a rumor that some of the reservoirs are going to fill to pre-drought levels. I certainly hope so, but I'll believe it when I see it. In the mean time, we have tentative plans to visit a somewhat flooded soccer field on Monday -- we're supposed to get a whopper of a rain over the weekend. Kermit is going to love it...

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year for 2017

In 2016, I did not make as much of an artistic effort as I would have liked. I'm hoping that 2017 will be a little better in that regard.

The big things in 2016? An expanded front yard garden, with over 150 pounds of tomatoes, a year's worth of turnips, my first successful canteloupes and cabbages, and more chard than I can eat or give away.

And Kermit the Frog-Dog. He's about a year and three months old now, hopefully as big as he'll ever get, and blossoming with a sweet and gentle personality. When I first got him, he was very needy-puppy-don't-mess-with-your-laptop, but with the newly-donated furniture in our front room, he has his own chair right behind where I work on the Press. I pull out the computer, and he hops up on his chair and snoozes like a perfect Office Dog. Maybe he'll let me get more art done in the coming year.

In spite of not doing enough art in the past year, I did renew my love/hate relationship with water colors, and revisited my teen efforts (crap, 46 years ago???) with oil pastels.

Do I make any resolutions for the new year? Not really. I'd like to do some art work every day, but I know that it's not, at this time, a realistic goal. I know I'll walk more with Kermit, garden more with 10 raised boxes in the front yard, and learn how to lay hardwood laminate flooring (starting in a week or so). I'll keep the Piker Press going.

That's probably enough.

Happy New Year, everybody.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Surprise Snack in the Flower Pot

What the heck?

Who knew that ornamental sweet potato vines would produce -- sweet potatoes?

And not only are they edible, they're delicious with a little butter and salt.

Kind of looks like plumbing under the sink, though.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Frog in Autumn

Some people might say that I am besotted with this dog. I can only counter that I have loved all the dogs I've had in my life. Kermit is no exception.

Kermit is also a dog with NO undercoat. None. Under that flat black hair he is naked. And he gets cold. We've had a few chilly nights, and since we sleep with the door open to the air, I've been awakened at 3am a number of times by a big froggy beast who forcefully pastes himself against my back to get warm. If I drape a blanket over him, he settles in.

So I got him a sweater.

Extra large.

Monday, August 29, 2016

I wasn't sure how stacking would work out after having surgery on my left hand, but it was fine.  A non-stick bandage kept the area clean, a light cotton work glove padded it even more, and then the leather work glove over top -- no problems.

Of course the highs were huddling very close to 100 degrees every day that I stacked -- doesn't matter if I get wood in July or August, the heat always soars for the dirty, strenuous wood-work.

Interestingly, this year the stacking seemed a lot easier, and I worked for longer stretches than previous years. For that, I guess I have Kermit to thank. The priority of walking him each morning for 40 minutes has really paid off in terms of my health.

Speaking of which big black pup, he's really coming along (so to speak) with walking on a leash. We've been walking through town instead of on the outskirts, and I'm pleased with his progress as he adjusts to the hustle and bustle on the streets.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Ahhh ... Football Again

So imagine me, eagerly using the modern technology of Direct TV to search, last Sunday, for the first pre-season NFL football game, the Hall of Fame game.

No one else in the house was particularly interested, largely because the Hall of Fame game is pretty much an exhibition game (it does rhyme with "lame") and has no meaning for the season. Still, it was the Colts and the Packers, and who wouldn't want to see if Andrew Luck has healed up well, and watch for that nasty glint Aaron Rodgers gets in his eyes when he knows his team is going to shellac the opponents?

Right, not many people care, but I'm one of the few.

I find Channel 206 with a minimum of effort (I really, really like Direct TV) and tune in to hear the announcer saying, "We don't know if the game will be canceled or not at this point."


Apparently some doofus -- maybe that should be capitalized, because I think that this mess may have re-defined the appellation -- some Doofus overseeing the painting of the turf's logos didn't know the difference between field paint and exterior building paint (or didn't bother to check to see what the crew had picked up from Supply) and the field was ruined. Especially after they sprayed some solvent on it trying to fix the mess, and I don't know of any exterior paint solvent that isn't toxic as hell.

Game over. Good thing I didn't make up my chicken wings to eat during the game. Or a plate of noshes, either of which I would not have done for the Hall of Fame game anyway.

But it would have been NFL Football. So I've had to wait another four days. Tonight there are six games being played, and I am going to watch all of them. Well, no, I won't, but whatever game is on, I'm going to watch it.

I'm going to be looking with hungering eyes for those long, bullet-like passes, the fancy footwork of running backs, and the defensive pounces that can sit a quarterback on his butt on the field in seconds. Will Garoppolo start for the Patriots? And will the Denver defense look sharp again this year?

Can't wait to find out!

Monday, August 08, 2016

The Bountiful Summer

For me, this is one of the most beautiful sights of summer: sweet corn -- from my own front yard.

Apparently the raised planter right next to the sidewalk has just the perfect climate for corn, because the plants got eight feet tall and produced full-sized ears. The pretty containers of corn out on the back patio don't do quite so well, not as tall, and with smaller (but not less tasty) ears. Maybe it's because so many people walk by on the sidewalk and admire the urban farming project -- maybe it gives the corn there more self-esteem.

We had plenty of corn from that 6' x 2 1/2' box, enough for several meals (and I mean corn as the main ingredient) and some to put away in the freezer. The variety is Burpee's On Deck corn, developed specifically for container gardening.

The other wonder this year was a successful experiment -- growing canteloupe in a raised bed. I'd never grown canteloupe before, and wasn't sure the plants would set fruit. Well, they sure did! We've been eating canteloupe like crazy, something we just couldn't really afford before. Delicious!

The melon variety, incidentally, is again a Burpee's product: Olympic Express. We plan on planting them again next spring.

But even while we feast on melons and corn and tomatoes, we're looking ahead a month and planning where to place the brussels sprouts, the beets, the turnips -- winter gardening will be much more varied.

Ah, but back to corn. I'd still like to lay in another five or six pounds of sweet corn for winter ... I wonder if the fruit stand up the road has some for a good price.