Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Midweek

The usual going on, but wanted to stop in.

It's a learning week here, a week of creating habits. I'm eating healthier and exercising, and listening to my body. My right shoulder doesn't appreciate the new exercises I've been trying, probably in part because I work a mouse everyday too (and have very minor residual nerve damage from shingles up yonder), so I'm modifying those particular exercises until that part of my bod gets used to the new activities.

I also took yesterday off from exercising, and I'm so glad I did! I didn't hit a wall, so to speak, but I recognized that my body needed a break. Can tell even going back to walking today is going to be a little hard, one of those workouts that you slog through a bit, but I'm undaunted, because I've been feeling so much better.

Allergies kicking up because the local farmers just ran their second cutting of hay. Going back and forth with Sabadil and Advil Allergy.

We killed the chicken pot pie last night. Tonight will be BLTs with farm-fresh lettuce, homemade sourdough bread, and tomatoes from our own plants. Can't wait!

This last week of August is dragging its arse a bit, with highs in the 80s and more humidity. Hoping it drops just a bit for the apple festival this weekend.

Image from here.

Monday, August 26, 2013

New Week - Random Thoughts

I woke up at 6:30 this morning, tried to go back to sleep, then did the math and realized I'd gotten my 7 hours and didn't necessarily need to go back to sleep. So I got up.

There's new posts at Melanie's Gym and Dark Meadow Farm that illustrate all the goodness going on in my life right now.

We had the windows open last night again, and should be able to do that a couple of nights this week. Autumn is on its way!

The MIL is visiting this weekend, so the push is on to get my work done so we can hit the Apple Festival on Saturday.

Dr. Bronner's coconut oil retains the smell and flavor much more strongly than the lesser brands out there. Learned this the hard way on the chicken pot pie I made this weekend. Not an unpleasant flavor, but I'll definitely use less next time.

There are sourdough whole wheat English muffins rising. There's homemade energy bars for snacks.

Such abundance!

Have a great week, y'all!

Image from here.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Midweek

Busy week with doc appointments has me scrambling to get work done. I always forget that with my age and myopia, they'll need to dilate my eyes at eye doc appointments. Or rather, I always remember, or request it, but forget just how long it takes for the pupils to go down afterward. I got home raring to work and couldn't see straight. Took a nap early afternoon and finally was able to get cracking...so naturally I had to write blog posts first (winkwink).

My town is rather microscopic, but it proved handy for a nice wander this morning when I got done with the eye doc and wanted to give my eyes just a bit of adjustment time before getting behind the wheel. There's a shoe store in town that's going out of business, so I popped in to confirm that they didn't have anything I wanted. Met an adorable, friendly dachschund, the owner's pet. Then I hopped down to the Well-Bred Bakery, because they have an ├ęclair I've been lusting after, and if I'm about to get off sugar and high-glycemic carbs, I'd rather know what I'm missing. Total rationalization, I know.

Small southern towns are idyllic in the best ways. I say hi to people and their doggies as I walk, and there's a perpetual friendliness. It's really not possible for me to miss city life less than I do.

Rainy week here. Personally, I'm ready for some fall; the temps have been muggier. Getting juiced to make copious amounts of apple butter and dress in layers.

Image from here.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Weekend Review

We hit the North Ashe tailgate market on Saturday morning. Picked up blackberries, blueberries, eggs, potatoes, onions, ground beef, and Boston butt. We came home and made sausage, egg and cheese sandwiches on Bruegger's bagels. The sausage is from Hickory Nut Gap and the eggs came from a farm in Alexander.

I knocked out my site quota in a really great mood. There's such a comfortable vibe to the market. These days it's busy, but everyone's in a good mood, people bring their dogs, and there's almost always someone playing music. This weekend, there were three guys at one of the entrances: banjo, guitar, and fiddle, I think, treating us to bluegrass that I had to tip them for, because it made me smile so.

Sunday we slept in, then hit the evil big box store for essentials and then some. I don't have a meal plan set up for the week yet, but the next couple of days will be easy to throw together now that the main shopping is done. The bills are paid, so we're pretty strapped again, but we'll make it work.

It's such a balancing act. I bought 2 more shirts at the EBBS that will last me well into winter as bottom layers, and they make me feel pretty; so I don't mind not having the dough now to spend any more on canning jars or lids. I popped the fresh blackberries into the freezer and will address them in 2 weeks, at the next check. But I did find half-gallon jars that will work for the peppers when I dehydrate them, and for storing the starter in the fridge.

I feel pretty rich, for being so poor. There's another blueberry cheesecake setting in the fridge and 2 loaves of sourdough cooling on the counter. The starter lives for now, and will go in the fridge too after tonight. The laundry's done, and I'm getting a jump on sites tonight, because doc appointments this week will mess with my focus and time management.

I hope my happiness is contagious.

Have a great week, y'all!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Friday

Having trouble keeping my mind on work today. We're smack-dab in the middle of the first cool day of August. In Florida, you can't even put "cool day" and "August" in the same sentence. Those are true dog days down there, where all you can do is put your head down and slog through them, and it feels just like that if you're not a fan of swoon-worthy humidity. The relief I experience from living here should really be bottled as a depression cure.

I'm sure we could turn around and crank up to high 80s next week, so I'm enjoying the cool while it's here. But even the 80s aren't really 80s here...I've barely been sweaty or uncomfortable this summer at all. Pesky shade. Must not be working hard enough.

Actually, I'm working plenty hard. The first paycheck since they added Mobile sites to our responsibilities was a pleasant surprise (higher than I'd anticipated), so I'm busting tail to get my quotas up to what I need them to be, because we need every spare penny for the PA trip. I'm thinking again about renting a car (our 9-year old Nissan has been uber-reliable up until now, so I'm concerned about tempting the gods), so there's some financial finagling to be done in the coming weeks.

It's ridiculously pretty up here. My thoughts are on autumn...there's an Apple Festival in Hendersonville over Labor Day, my fingers are itching to play with the sticks and string again, and I'm wondering what shoes won't make me nutty as it turns cooler. I've LIVED in barefeet or sandals this summer, and the change in my feet is fascinating and liberating. The tops of my feet are wider, and my toes love spreading out. There's definitely some toe socks in my future. When we went hiking last Sunday, my feet were dying to get out of my sneakers by the time we were home. They weren't hurting, just itching to spread out. Weird, I know.

Have a great weekend, y'all! Get outside!

Image from here.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Friday, August 09, 2013

Friday

Where do these weeks go? At least it's been a good one...work is still a little pokey, but my attempts at a clean kitchen are continuing in earnest, I'm keeping the cookie jar filled with homemade goodies (proverbially... we don't actually have a cookie jar), so we steer clear of the crap that haunts the middle aisles of the grocery store, and the weather's still that crazy mild that keeps me grinning.

This week I made these, so I could burn through some of the strawberry jam in the pantry. We have blackberries in the freezer that will turn into jam in the coming weeks, plus I just made that peach jam. Since I was only able to process 3 jars and had extra, one went into the freezer and one went into this recipe, since we didn't have actual peaches on hand. Delish!

It's been a while since I've tried my hand at yeast breads, and my past attempts were pretty mediocre. I make a whole wheat that's yummy, but dense; and I've had some interesting failures in the yeast department. However, the desire to get off store-bought bread has me testing the waters again, so I started a sourdough sponge this morning using the recipe from King Arthur Flour, along with this site for guidance. Just looked over and the questionable looking batter of an hour ago has risen nicely! If I can keep him alive, his name will be Herman.

Mom, Lil Sis, and furrier Lil Sis (Mom's Morkie, Chloe) are coming up this weekend. We'll gallivant a bit, hopefully do some hiking, and eat naughty foods and drink wine, and they'll catch up on shows that are not as easy to access for them, cuz they're both frugal nutters who gave up cable.

One tomato has finally gone red, and the peppers are growing fast. Tied them to stakes today because the weight was sending them over. Guess I should look up if you're supposed to let them do that. So much to learn, like how I was surprised that the dry beans didn't climb. Just haven't read enough yet. Just got a pile of resource mags from Mother Earth News for a song, and Barbara Damrosch's Garden Primer is getting good use this season.

Have a great weekend, y'all!

Image from here.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Weekend Review

Saturday was a work day. It was mind-numbing, not worth discussing further, except to say there's a new step to my editing work that slows down things just enough to make a 6-day work week more of a thing right now.

Sunday. was. awesome. I had specific ideas for work in the kitchen that day and around noon, I hopped to it. Fresh local peaches turned into peach jam. I need to start a notebook on my canning attempts because I learned several things yesterday:
  • Peaches don't necessarily have rock-hard stones (pits). 
  • Well water may contain noticeable sediment.
  • The Ball basket probably works fine for small stuff, like your average jelly jar. But I was working with wide-mouth half-pint jars and the basket only fit two. I fit a third jar outside the basket, and my canning pot has a grooved bottom, so it processed safely; but I'm recognizing that I need to just break down and buy a rack for the pot.
The peach pit thing was jarring. I've always purchased peaches from a grocery store, probably loaded with all the requisite pesticides to make them USDA approved. Those stones are so rock hard they seem impenetrable...I've studied them before, because I've wondered about growing my own tree and researched the subject online. These peaches were from the local farmers markets, a batch from Hendersonville and a batch from a guy at the Weaverville market. Started peeling the Hendersonville peaches first, and sliced the first one clear in half. While my brain screamed WTH, I examined the split pit area, because it was a mess and I was concerned about blight, fungus, or something. But the flesh seemed OK, so I just cut carefully around the stone. The Weaverville ones were beautiful, perfectly ripe and juicy, but I ran into the same issue with a couple of those pits too. I wasn't happy with the Hendersonville peaches at all; they were huge, but not ripe and sitting them out wasn't helping. I'll steer clear of their fruit for a while.

And from now on, I'll use filtered water in the canning pot. The residue on the jars afterward is definitely from our water. I let the water in the canning pot cool and settle afterward, because I was thinking of reusing it on my plants. The sediment settled to the bottom. I felt like a kid doing a science project, seeing that sediment...it just hadn't occurred to me before then, because I haven't had well water since Above All. It doesn't affect the flavor, thank goodness, and I boiled the jars long enough where it's perfectly sanitary IMO, but it does change the smell of the product too, so I'll be more diligent next time.

After the jam was done, I made beef barley soup. I had stew meat from Hickory Nut Gap, a recipe from Martha Stewart, and Bisquick for biscuits. Thought about doing bread from scratch, but I was doing enough that day to recognize where to cut corners. Les is still raving about it. Around 9PM, I was still wired and we needed cookies for the week, so I whipped up some Toll House.

I'm still keeping the kitchen clean, and I'm planning meals so that we eat from home and don't spend money frivolously. Takes a pinch of time, but the benefits are ridic.

Image from here.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Lughnassadh

Did a little shopping today.

Baked peanut butter cookies.

Making banana bread tomorrow morning.

Stocked the freezer a bit.

Been keeping the kitchen clean.

My head's in a good place.

Merry Lughnassadh, y'all! Enjoy the harvest!

Image from here.