After reading ‘Animal, Vegetable, Miracle’ by Barbara Kingsolver last Spring, I rushed to order the La Ratte fingerling potatoes she raves about in the book.  Now we are harvesting them, and let me tell you, it is quite a prolific harvest!  One plant had 20 fingerlings, though the average was probably about 8 or 9; anyway, we have filled many boxes with just this one variety.

The La Ratte fingerling potato is described as having a nutty flavor, making it extremely desirable by chefs and cooks serious about their food.  I have cooked them for a few meals, and I’ll have to be honest and say that so far they haven’t tasted any more flavorful than any other potato varieties we’ve harvested this year.  What I do like about them is the fact that a quick scrub is all it takes to prepare them for cooking, which is right up my alley – I quit peeling potatoes years ago when I discovered skin-on mashed potatoes; well, except for Thanksgiving, gotta have white mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving.

I’m glad I gave these a try, but I’m not sure yet if I’ll plant them again – perhaps they will get nuttier tasting as they age and sway my viewpoint, but for now the jury is still out.

July 16th, 2010

Flower prep the day before the wedding – sister Deb made six hand held  bouquets,  40 or so tabletop mason jar arrangements, two pulpit arrangements and the flower girls basket – all with flowers from my garden except for a few dozen roses that we ordered.  We used hundreds of peonies that had been sleeping in my fridge since May and June!

Florist designer - sister Deb

sorting peonies for the wedding

Scott and Becca’s wedding – July 17th, 201o

Storm watching before the wedding

Scott and Becca's rainbow

Funnel cloud over the church after the wedding

Becca's bridal bouqet

Handheld bouqets all in a row

mason jar arrangement

Made with love

Family pictures to follow soon!

8 cups blended tomatoes
1 large red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup minced onion
4 stalks of celery, diced
1 tsp. salt
1 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons real butter
¼ cup water
¼ cup flour

Combine tomato, pepper, onion, celery and salt in large pot.  Bring to boil and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisply tender – about 30 minutes.  In a 5 cup blender container, blend 2 cups of mixture at a time (no more), until smooth; return to pan.  Combine water and flour, slowly add to soup.  Add sugar and butter, cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil, boil 1 minute.  Milk or cream may be added right before serving, if desired.

For canning:  once soup is completely done and simmering, fill clean jars with hot soup and attach clean lids.  Process in boiling water bath:  35 minutes for quarts, 30 minutes for pints.  Time is counted when water is at a full boiling roll.  Do not add milk before canning.

Makes 8-9 cups of soup

Mid summer bouquet

July 8, 2010

Mid summer brings a burst a colorful perennials and annuals:  purple liatris (gay feather), pink echinacea (coneflower), purple and white scabiosa (pincushion flower), solidago (goldenrod), pink clary sage, phlox, rudbeckia ‘Indian Summer’, blue delphinium, poppy seed pods, variegated grass, and hosta leaves.

‘Do it yourself’ could be my (doggone) middle name.  I’ve decided that there must be a missing connection in my brain somewhere; it’s the connector that fails to deliver a warning when I discover a new craft or trade which I admire and then begin to tell myself – “Oh, I bet I could learn to do that!”  Right then there should be flashing lights and bells clanging, but the malfunctioning connection has fooled me again.  Sometimes it is so fun to be fooled.

Right now though, I’m quite questioning my sanity and my middle name.  You see, we have a family wedding in just a few weeks, our son is getting married to his sweetie pie.  And so –  I’ve been told that the only responsibility of the mother of the groom is to wear beige and shut up – but somehow it’s not quite happening that way.  And it’s my own fault (mostly).

Well, being a flower grower, of course I would offer to help with the flowers – and that will be very special to have the church decorated with all our homegrown flowers.  Not every bride wants garden flowers, so I am thrilled that they are thrilled to have garden flowers for the wedding!

Then let’s see – oh, the wedding cakes.  Now, for some odd reason I decided to make my own wedding cake when I was 17 (with no warning lights or bells way back then, either), and have practiced the art off and on over the years.  So I just couldn’t stand the thought of the brides family paying mooka money for wedding cakes when I could make them for just the cost of the ingredients!  Well, I just had to offer, and they so kindly obliged me, and even offered to help out with the baking.  Bonding in the kitchen!

I did hesitate on offering to make the buns though; I was a little worried that I might be taking too much on.  But when I mentioned my doubt to my husband, he assured me that he would help (he really does make bread sometimes), and with his helpful help, we could gitter done.  So that’s partly his fault, though maybe I didn’t argue my dilemma well enough.  Anyway, I did make the first batch of buns today without his help, as he was busy taking the kids knee boarding at the lake.  I’m not sure what he is busy doing tomorrow.

So the problem might be the missing brain connection, or it might be the fact that once you know how to do it yourself, it seems so wasteful to not do it yourself;  and the homemade taste factor holds quite a bit of weight, too.  But I wonder if the day will come that I will be happy to write the check and let someone else do it all for me?  Somehow that doesn’t sound like me, but then, after all, how would I know with my missing brain connection?

Are there any other do-it-yourselfers out there that have a hard time not doing it yourself?

Fresh bouquet ~ 6-28-10

June 29, 2010

Delphinium, white phlox, asiatic lily, drumstick allium, baptisia pods, pink bachelor button, peony and hosta.

I recently attended, and then hosted, an Upper Case Living party.  My daughter is a new consultant for the vinyl lettering products company, and I have fallen in love with the products and all the creative ways to use them.

When I spied the quote, ‘together is a wonderful place to be’, I knew I had the perfect spot for it; it also made me realize how much the walls needed a fresh coat of paint!  Don’t you love when one little project turns into three major projects?

Here is the finished ‘Family’ photo wall; his family, my family, our family – five generations on display  – together is a wonderful place to be.  I love how it turned out!

Have you been inspired to decorate with vinyl lettering?