I promised myself (and you) that I would not post anything but my two weekly memes until I got caught up. But I cannot help it. No, I am not caught up; not even close, but there is so much spinning around in my head that here I am, making a post rather than visiting you and answering e-mails.

And this one has very little to do with what has been going on in my head.  I have had a chaotic week filled with a sort of conflict.  No upfront, bold conflict, but mostly the backbiting/stabbing kind. Or the kind in which someone smiles and pretends to be in total agreement when I am present, but turns around and does the exact things as before, and maybe even in a harsher manner as if to punish me for even questioning something.

But today is not the day for those posts . (Though I fear I will not be able to keep quiet about it forever.)  This is a random post about some of the nice or funny things that have happened to me in the last couple of weeks.

First, to my Maine trip. I have more of that coming up by the way. I visited three states, all new  to me, on that excursion. While I was in Portland, O’Mama and Mrs. Chili were kind enough to cover considerable miles to meet me for lunch.  Do I have pictures? No,  not really. I must admit that except for my kids, I am really lousy at getting people pictures. I do not think of it, and it is not my forte anyway. So no pictures except for the lovely pizza I had for lunch at Flatbread Pizza. I had never heard of Flatbread Pizza. Generally I am mostly opposed to franchise food operations, but this was different. Maybe it was different because I had never been there before, but it was GOOD.  O’Mama and Mrs. Chili are willing to rack up some mileage for this food, and I completely understand why. There is one in Maui. I told them I would be happy to join them there for pizza as well. (In another state to which I have not been.)

2009-10-17_12-28-21

My pizza. I can't remember it all, but it had artichokes, yellow peppers and cream cheese for sure.

I just have to say something more about the two women I met. The reason I read them is because they are honestly two of the most sensible (albeit, honest) women I know.  They each have two daughters with similar age differences as mine, but slightly older and a little older than that, and they are amazing parents. They are both teachers, and what a different place our educational system would be if all teachers had their values and principles.  I am not slamming teachers in general, and I know there are a LOT of good ones out there and even some good ones who read this blog. I am just saying that I appreciate their points of view, and they are vocal about them.

Last week was Chicklet’s half-birthday. We usually do not celebrate it because her birthday is in April, so we do not need to celebrate it. (Chic’s is at Thanksgiving, so we just do a small family party then and her friend party at her half-birthday.) But the girls are getting older and notice the disparity, so we had to have some acknowledgment of Chicklet’s half-birthday. We actually forgot, but had a dessert last weekend and remembered to put candles on it. She was elated.

Double Chocolate Cherry Dessert Pizza with 5-1/2 Candles

Double Chocolate Cherry Dessert Pizza with 5-1/2 candles.

Last Sunday morning I checked the weather and there was frost in the forecast. After returning from New England, it had been pretty much beastly hot, so it was a bit of a surprise. I always work in my garden early Sunday morning. Well last Sunday I spent 4 hours picking all the green tomatoes and peppers of any size worth picking and finding places for them to ripen. I have them on every inch of counter space and in three produce bins in two  refrigerators. I am hoping to be able to make fresh salsa with some of the tomatoes for Christmas. (Stranger things have happened.) By the way, it did  not frost that night, but it did later in the week, and Sunday is the only day I would have had enough time to take care of that, so I guess it was not a wasted effort.

Tomatoes

Cleaning out the garden before a potential frost

When I woke up yesterday morning, the thermometer said it was 19 degrees. OK, it gets cold in New Mexico, even colder than that. But NOT IN OCTOBER! One of my posts one day will be about one of my eccentricities which involves a cold house, so I was not amused by the temperature.

Then later in the day it warmed up… enough to snow. And not just a little, but coming down harder than it did when I was in Vermont a couple of weeks ago. Clearly still October. It was even sticking to the ground. Had it not been so hot a few days before, we probably would have had more than two inches sticking. The good news is that we are already returning to regular October weather.

2009-Oct-29. Seriously?

29-Oct-09 in Albuquerque. Not amusing. And the center of the picture is the cosmos bed where the picture from the last post was taken.

This week I have spent some part of every day except today making Halloween costumes for my girls. Below is what they chose. Chic is an Indian Princess and Chicklet vacillates between Laura and Mary Ingalls. Today we got a surprise bonus when Prince Charming called to say there was Trick-or-Treating at his work after lunch. I dressed up Chicklet, and she has already made a haul. We think the weather is improving enough that they will not get frostbite tomorrow night.

I have always liked Halloween, but I love it more since I moved here. Our neighborhood is quite festive, and we usually get about 200 Trick-or-Treaters. The streets are full of  parents and children, and it is wonderful.

2009-10-30_17-59-32

Chic and Chicklet in their Halloween costumes. They picked out the fabrics themselves, so don't judge me for Chicklet's apron that doesn't really match the dress.

I hope you have a fantastic weekend and a Happy and Safe Halloween if you celebrate the holiday.

Advertisements

I know, I know. This is the last weekend of summer. But at least for me, our produce (tomatoes) are right now in their fullest production mode, so we can have these things for a while yet.

My tiny garden which is almost entirely tomatoes this year.

My tiny garden which is almost entirely tomatoes this year.

Maybe I have mentioned before that we eat most things a maximum of once each year. My menu planning involves looking at what we ate this time last year and eating it again if we liked it or trying something else if we did not. I only tell you this because these two recipes are things we eat more often. They are not main dishes which partially accounts for that, but we love them so much that we crave them several times during the summer.

(My apologies that I have no idea where either recipe originated. If you saw my stashes of untried recipe clippings, you would understand. Both appear to be from magazines, but there is no indication which magazines.)

First, a salad:

Tomato-and-Cucumber Salad with Dill

Tomato-and-Cucumber Salad with Dill

Tomato-and-Cucumber Salad with Dill
-2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
-2 Tablespoons olive oil
-1 garlic clove, pressed or minced
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-2 large tomatoes, chopped into bite-size cubes (I sometimes substitute or add cherry tomatoes when I do not have enough large tomatoes)
-2 small cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
-2 scallions (green onions), sliced (I did not know what scallions were until I was out of college, but my mother was not a cook.)
-4 radishes, sliced
-1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
-1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

Whisk together first 5 ingredients in a small bowl; set aside. Place all vegetables in serving bowl. Pour dressing over vegetables. Toss gently to coat. Yield: 4-6 servings.

Next, a side dish:

Yellow Squash and Tomatoes
-2 medium yellow summer squash, cut in half lengthwise, then into 1/2″ slices. (For the fat part of the squash, I cut the semi-circles into wedges.)

ChoppedSquash
-olive oil (no more than 2 Tablespoons)
-16 cherry tomatoes, halved

HalvedTomatoes
-2 Tablespoons minced, fresh basil

ChoppedBasil
-1/4 teaspoon salt

In a large skillet, saute squash in oil until tender.

SquashSaute

Add the tomatoes, basil and salt. Reduce heat to medium; cook 1-2 minutes longer or until heated through. Yield: 4 servings.

Yellow Squash and Tomatoes

Yellow Squash and Tomatoes

I usually make 1-1/2 recipes of this because 1 is just not enough. One time we made it with something that had couscous. I ate the leftovers for lunch the next day over the couscous. Delightful.

Happy 3-Day Weekend to you who live in the U.S. I’ll be back on Monday.

2009-03-10breadsticksAt this very moment I am making breadsticks. I am working on the 9th batch this week. Counting this batch, I have three more to go. I must hurry because I only have a couple of hours to do a lot of things.

I am making breadsticks for the wedding in which I wear the wonderful dress. I had to get the dress altered. It would never zip up, and my winter of being sick three times (third time currently) has not allowed for lots of any exercise. The person who altered it (for an unbelievably good price) made loops and lacing in the back. It is actually very pretty. But although I love the color of the dress (which is not truly represented in this picture), as predicted my March skin does not look too terrific in it. I should have gone to get a spray tan, but no time or energy. There are chocolate shawls (which I have yet to model), so I am hoping that will be advantageous.

2009-03-12dresslacingHere is the funny part about the dress. The person who picked out the dresses and purchased them (in another state–not the bride) is a size “0.” Yes, it’s true. I will admit, here online (I cannot believe I am doing this) to being a size 10. (I have no idea what this corresponds to in non-American sizes.)  The dresses were small for everyone. The size 0 purchaser got herself a size 6 because that is what fit her. She got everyone else a dress at least two sizes bigger than their actual size. Everyone but me, that is. Mine was a size 12. It should have been at least a 14, or according to her own purchase, a 16. But mine was a 12 and did not fit. Thus the alterations.

But as I was earlier this week  picking up MY perfect dress, I learned from the Bride (who always went with me to the fittings because the seamstress was a lady who does not speak English, and I do not speak Spanish) that Size 0’s dress does not fit anymore. She gained weight, and it does not fit.  At this point, no one is sure what she is going to do about it. Me? Forgive my snicker!

For those of you that were concerned about my parenting skills a couple of posts ago, let me say this:  My children are well-behaved and happy. I recently went to a birthday party in which there were 7 children all between the ages of my 2 daughters. (Nearly 5 and 7.)  There were three well-behaved children of the seven. Mine were two of them. There were three happy children of the seven. Mine were two of them. (The other well-behaved and other happy child were not the same child.) This is not an isolated incident. I do not want to get into giant discussions about parenting. That post was written for humor. And there is a lot more I could say on this topic, the birthday party, and parenting in general, but I am not the type to judge other people’s styles of parenting. (And I am not saying my children and well-behaved and happy every single minute of every single day. They are not. But the general trend is happy and well-behaved.)

2009-03-08bubbleplayToday’s post is not a SkyWatch post because I will not be able to do my regular SkyWatch visiting. I am having a medical procedure this afternoon relating to this problem. It involves sedation which is known to make me feel rotten for a good week.  (And of course I would rather feel rotten for a week than feel REALLY rotten for an hour!) Our wireless network does not work with my computer. (Prince Charming needs to get on that.) I am assuming I will be in bed this afternoon and evening, so I will not be visiting you, either.  The wedding is this Sunday, and festivities for us begin tomorrow evening when the groom arrives as our guest. I am hoping the doctor will give me something to take if I feel really horrible.  Sunday not only am I in the wedding, but I am one of the photographers. I will not be taking pictures at the church, but a few hours before the wedding at a park. I really, really, REALLY hope I feel good!  But thank goodness once the breadsticks are in the freezer, I am off of food duty!

Not for SkyWatch, but I couldn't help myself.

Not for SkyWatch, but I couldn't help myself.

So that is my current life in a nutshell. Exciting, I know. But I hope to be around a bit more next week. Although I will be babysitting my niece and nephew (ages 7 and 12) while the bride and groom are on their honeymoon. Maybe I will just stay in bed next week, too!

Today a new hummingbird showed up at my feeders.  It caught my attention because the regular hummingbirds were making a racket, like hummingbirds tend to do.  I went to see what was up, and saw glistening rust and orange.  All day long I tried to get a picture.  I do not have time to sit and wait, but finally I got a pretty good one.  My thoughts are that is is a Rufous Hummingbird, Selasphorus rufus.  There is something somewhat similar called Allen’s Hummingbird, but that one has more green, and I never saw much green on this one.

click on photo to enlarge

click on photo to enlarge

This bird is a real dazzler in the sun!  Apparently they live in the northwest U.S. and southeast southwest Canada in the summer, but migrate to Mexico for the winter, so we were lucky enough to see the little traveler.  I hope I can get a better glimpse, and picture, before it heads out.  I have no idea how long it will stay.

click on photo to enlarge

click on photo to enlarge

For a short time while waiting for the hummingbirds to get close enough to photograph, I took pictures of the herb flowers in my garden.  The hummingbirds like to get nectar from the lemon balm flowers.  I also have cosmos in the herb garden and took some pictures of that.  The cosmos pictures turned out OK, but I like an older one I have better, so I am putting that up.

This cosmos picture was taken in early morning light, and I liked it because of its shadow.  I did not realize until I uploaded the photo how interesting the other shadows in the picture were.  The extra shadows are from my late Weeping Cherry tree.  (I will probably do a full post on the tree soon. ) It was dying suddenly when the picture was taken, leaving it without foliage which made the nice shadows.  I cannot really explain why I love this picture, but it is a favorite from my own archives.

The last picture is of a Desert Willow bloom.  I love these trees.  They grow anywhere and very quickly.  When we moved here six years ago, I thought it was a bush and trimmed it as such in the Spring.  A year later I learned it was a tree.  It is a bushy sort of tree, but it is already taller than the roof of our first floor.  It will not be giant, but it is even now a very nice size. 

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

The Desert Willow blooms are full of nectar, and they “rain” it all the time.  It always feels cool when walking under one in the summer because of the mist of nectar.  This particular tree rains its nectar on my garden.  This morning I was picking jalepenos for a batch of salsa, and all of the peppers were covered in nectar and quite sticky.  The plants were also covered with aphids, and that was not as pleasant, but they came off easily when I cleaned the peppers.

The salsa recipe I made today is from Lynn at the Vintage Nest.  You can go here to find the recipe. 

When I made my first batch this summer, I used the following recipe:

Huachuca Salsa

4 lg. ripe tomatoes, diced

1 green tomato, diced

8 green onions, chopped

1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

2 or more jalepeno peppers, minced (I am a pepper wimp, so I usually remove the seeds unless the peppers have no heat at all.

1/3 c. olive oil

2 tsp. lime juice

1/4 tsp. sugar

2 tsp. ground cumin

2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced

salt to taste

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Refrigerate to let flavors blend. 

This is my favorite summer salsa.  I make salsa once or twice a week when I have my own tomatoes and try different recipes all the time, but I come back to this one at least a couple of times every year.

Lynn’s salsa is much different.  It is sweeter and has some interesting nuances of flavor.  Go make one of these.  I swear you will have it devoured in no time!  (And you don’t need to bother with chips if you don’t want to.  A spoon is just fine!)

by Louise Cannon

Red-and-gold jewels

 

There are few foods I love in this world more than Rainier Cherries.

 

It escapes me when I first discovered these delectable delights.  I might have been single in the mid-90’s grocery shopping for Lean Cuisine frozen “meals” when these striking red-and-golden jewels caught my eye.  It may have been after I married S.  (I actually did do the grocery shopping for our household for several years of our marriage.  But that information is for later posts.)  Although I cannot remember exactly when the love affair began, I know it changed me as only true love can, and I have never been the same since.

 

The problem with Rainier Cherries is that they are available for 4-8 weeks a year.  And if it is for 8 weeks, it is not continuous through that time.  Well, not in Missouri or New Mexico, at least, which are the places I have lived since my discovery of them.  They are usually prevalent in July, possibly beginning late in June.

 

But imagine my UTTER DELIGHT when my husband, S, brought home TWO POUNDS to me after his grocery shopping trip on June 8! 

 

My personality is complicated, but most people would consider me a controlled person.  There are, however, a few things in life that can cause me to make a complete fool of myself bring out a screech of delight from me.  Rainier Cherries on JUNE 8 would be one of those things.  (OK, the first time I see them every season would be one of those things, but JUNE 8????)

 

Where did you find these,” I breathlessly asked?  He had been to one of the warehouse price club stores that day.  They had them.  And even though it was June 8, they only cost $10 for two pounds.  (I have happily paid $9/lb when I have seen them early in the season at a grocery store.) 

 

This all happened outside our front door.  I may have been watering plants.  I may have just been sitting admiring all the blooming trees.  I may have been warming up because my house is notably cold.  I cannot remember because the cherries eclipsed all else.  I ripped the precious bag from his hands, sprinted into the house and put about a pound of them in a colander for cleaning.  I would like to tell you that the picture with this post was from that first pound of cherries, but alas, I did not care about taking pictures at this point.  The only thing in my brain was, “I have two pounds of Rainier cherries on June 8!  I can eat them for two months!  I can eat them now!”  I cleaned them as quickly as I could and gobbled down the pound.  I did not even try to savor every bite because I had another pound.  And did I mention that it was only June 8?

 

Oh, the delightful bliss.  My girls and I had just returned from a 2-week+ trip to visit family in another state.  Vacation–then cherries.  It was going to be a good summer.

 

The picture you see is from the second pound of cherries, which I ate the next day.  By this time I had enough control to see how beautiful they were in the bowl with the morning light coming in.  I grabbed my camera and got the picture, which I’m actually quite happy with.  (By the way, I do not alter my pictures other than occasional cropping.  I do not have any software to do so, and I do not have a clue how to do it anyway.  Those cherries looked just that good all by themselves!)

 

Tuesday came along, and I was happy enough.  My cherries were gone, but I could wait until Sunday when S went grocery shopping again.  And if there were a real crisis, I could go myself during the week. 

 

But NO!  There.has.not.been.one.single.Rainier Cherry.to.be.found.in.this.city.since.then.  NOT ONE!  S frequents three different shopping establishments.  None in any.  Often we he needs to pick up something during the week, so other establishments have been checked.  Nothing.  NOTHING!  My sad, greedy self is craving those cherries.  It is bad enough that I can only have them for such a short time each year, but to be falsely led to believe I would have a longer cherry season this year has been torturous.  Maybe, had I known, I would have been a little more careful about eating the first ones all at once.  (Maybe not. OK, there is not even a chance of that.)

 

Would it have been better if I had not had the first taste so early?  Maybe.  Maybe I would not be sitting in anguish each week for S to come home with cherries, only to be disappointed. 

 

BUT, there is good news.  The actual Rainier Cherry season is almost here.  I should be feasting on these little treasures within a week.  And it should last about 4 weeks.  The time is almost ripe.

 

By Louise Cannon