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the disappearing garden…

Is it time to pack up the overalls and call it quits on the farming? Maybe. Almost. At least till the spring. I think.

There are a few things that I didn’t anticipate about gardening:

  1. Being so lucky my first time around- things grew and grew and grew!
  2. How hard it would be to actually figure out what to do with so MUCH produce (aside from setting up a roadside stand).
  3. How hard it would be at the END of the season- I thought for SURE the hard part was in the beginning.

I feel extremely grateful about number one. Don’t get me wrong.

But I went out the other day to check on the progress of things dying, and came back in with this:

IMG_0573

Then went about cleaning, freezing, passing along, etc. Whatever you do with excessive numbers of peppers. I am also going to do one more round of pickling- the banana peppers. SO, if you you know me- it’s likely that you’ll be getting something from the garden for the holidays. Just prepare yourselves. 

As far as number 3 goes- I really did think, somehow, that everything would just die off and it would be easy to sort of gather it up and throw it away.

But no. A month ago I had to pull up all the cucumber vines. More work than you might think. This week I finally tore down my wall of tomato plants. They were really just starting to gross me out- birdies really like to eat some tomatoes- and I would pick them and they would be mushy.

Now, the garden looks more like this:

P1030158

So, I am left with- well, still a lot.

Please, let me show you (up close) my close to 10 foot tall okra plants.

P1030161

And allow me to let my oldest love-of-a-boy show you the last tomato that he picked from the vine…

P1030166

While Finn just dances around and dreams of cookies…

P1030167

I guess the point of all of this is…gardening is hard work.

But it’s definitely worth it. I had tons of veggies all summer AND now I have holiday gifts for all my loved ones.

And please, those boys are precious.

Just sayin’.

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Hey, hey.

(cuteness: a preview)

So, if you listened to my “ramble” on Thursday, to you I say…”Thanks”.

I have a few things to discuss. I will segment it. Organization, people. Right?

Fitness:

I have a few race plans for the fall, and a BIG ONE for next year. I am a planner. I like to have goals. I also like to reward myself for meeting those goals. That’s part of the fun!

My fall race plans include: running a 10K in September, running my SECOND half marathon in November, and running a 5K on Thanksgiving Day that was the HARDEST 5K ever when I ran it last year. You can check out my training on googledocs, linked on the “running” page. I’ll do my best to follow that. I guess that my “goals” for each race, besides training well and finishing (ha!) are these: 10K- it’s my first 10K, so anything will be a PR, but my goal will be 1:05; 1/2 marathon- it’s my 2nd, so I’ll go for a PR of UNDER 2:16; and the 5K- I would LOVE to blow it away with a 30 minute time- it’s FULL of hills!

So, the thing is, I will be training during FOOTBALL season, which involves a lot of tailgating and more late nights (because of being out and about, not because of doing silly things at home) than usual. So, my challenge will be to keep myself hydrated and on schedule. While still being the life of the tailgate, of course 😉

And the BIG PLAN, you may wonder? Well, I am planning on training for and running my FIRST MARATHON next year. The plan is to run the San Diego Marathon in June. It’s my birthday weekend, so it will be a major accomplishment PLUS a good birthday trip!

Stay tuned- there will be a lot of posts discussing my runs (long and short) as well as how I try to stay hydrated and stong with all this running!

Farmer Katie:

So, I have a LOT of hot peppers. I have made a lot of hot pepper relish. I have pickled hot peppers pickling away in my pantry. So, what’s up next, you may ask?

Pepper Jelly!

This week, it was Jalapeno Jelly (to be specific).

Please- look and learn 🙂

First- about 3/4 of a pound of jalapenos. Fresh. From my garden. Plus about 3 serano peppers for extra heat 😉

Chop them a little bit, removing the stems and some of the seeds (with gloves on, please!).

Add the peppers to the food processor, along with 1 cup of cider vinegar…

Blend, baby, blend.

Add the blended mixture, pluse one more cup of the vinegar plus SIX (you heard me) cups of sugar to a large pot.

Bring it all to a boil. Boil it for 10 minutes. Stir it A LOT.

The next few steps were very reliant on good timing, and were also very MESSY, so they were not photographed.

But, you would add two 3oz. bags of liquid pectin (to make it jelly-like). Stir. Bring to a boil. While stirring. Boil HARD (not sure what that means, exactly, but I let it ROLL) for 1 minute. Stir. STIR! Remove from heat. Add some green food coloring unless you want it to be dookie brown. STIR! Divvy it up into your jars of choice (which have already been cleaned and are warm so they won’t break when the HOT- and it’s HOT, like burn your finger, hand, arm HOT- jelly gets all in ’em). Seal them up in a boiling water “bath” – a big pot of hot water. Sit them around till they’re room temperature.

Photograph them:

Pray to the “seal the jar” gods.

Do a happy dance when they are sealed.

Put them in the pantry with your pickles. They’ll make good gifts.

Cute Kiddos:

Just because I love my boys.

And I love you enough to let you love them, too…

So, what’s next? Probably a report on my running so far this week. Then I’ve got to do something with my drawer full of peppers. Plus, I’m reading books!

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So, hi!

Last week was a busy one. Or not. It just seemed like life took over every single second of every single day. In a good way. We had a lot of good times, just not a lot of down time. And when I wasn’t good timing it, I was trying to figure out what will come next. So, lot’s to talk about. Let’s get to it.

One of the most healthy, productive things in my garden (besides my hot peppers) is the OKRA! As a sort of afterthought, I bought two tiny okra plants to fill in a space in my garden. They are doing so well, it’s crazy. They are super sturdy, and kind of pretty. I’ll have to take a picture of the actual plant. But for now, here’s some of it’s produce:

Now, the only downfall of “only” having two okra plants is that it takes me a week or two to get enough okra to really do anything with. This time around, we decided to go southern and fry it. (I also froze a couple of them for gumbo and/or chili in the fall and winter) I am not really a fried okra kinda girl, but my husband LOVES IT. He also loves to dip it in soy sauce, but that’s his deal (but is admittedly pretty good).

To fry it, we just sliced it up, dropped it in an eggwash (generally, you don’t have to do this, but since ours was in the fridge all week, it had lost some of it’s “gooeyness”), rolled it around in some cornstarch and dropped it in a hot cast iron skillet (filled with some oil). Viola!

Then we put it on a plate with some grilled pork chops (that were simply soaked in Texas Pete for a while before grilling) and a few grilled veggies (also from the garden- maybe zucchinni and tomatoes?). It made for a pretty tasty weeknight dinner!

Yum.

While we are talking food, I will also say that although it is summe, and the salad-makin stuff is a-plenty, I am sort of down on salads these days. I just want bulk, or chew, or something carby. Ha! Anyway, I tried to convince myself that I wanted this salad the other day:

A fine salad, as lunch salads go…spinach, cucumber, tomato, feta…But it just didn’t call to me. Plus, I had run about 4.5 miles that morning, and was just feeling hungrier than that. So, I decided to chop it all up, get it good and goddess dressing-y, and throw it in a wrap.

We always, always, always have tortillas around (quesadillas are a surefire hit with the boys on most days) and this was such an easy, tasty fix. Just FYI.

On a completely different note, our back door has some water damage on the outside molding. It has since we moved in- we did a quick fix with filler and paint once, but it really wasn’t “fixed”. So, every now and then we look at doors. It’s a patio door- a big one with lots of windows. Those puppies are expensive! So, we decided to get all crazy and go to a salvage auction to look for doors.

Seriously, have you ever been to a salvage auction? I think the concept is this: sometimes things fall off trucks, or trucks get in wrecks, or water seeps in, or whatever and things get a little damaged (usually just their boxes/palates/containers) and scatter about. So, it costs the trucking company less to sell the entire truckload to salvage yards vs. returning the damaged goods to the company to get repaired, etc.

You can get whatever you want there, really, as long as you are patient (there were over 500 things being auctioned- from boxes of oreos to power washers to boxloads of light bulbs) and set your price and stick to it.

That’s right. You heard me. Boxloads of lightbulbs.

Someone “won” this for $25. Now, I don’t need all these lightbulbs, and I am not a contractor or anything, but that’s a bargain. I mean, one big box of flood lights costs about $40 at Lowe’s. Just sayin’.

So, the long and short of it is that we stood around in this for about 4 hours…

and came out with this…

for about 1/10th of the price we were going to pay for one like it (actually one we liked a lot less). Success!

(For more info on auctions, I think you can go to www.auctionzip.com, but I could be wrong)

For the conclusion of this random post, I will fill you in on something…

MY KIDS LOVE TOY STORY. To the point of obsession.

So, we finally took them to see Toy Story 3.

It rocked.

(Finn REALLY liked the candy display!)

Total joy and happiness. And then I cried. But at the movie, not because of anything the boys did. 🙂

I will say, though, that we’ve had a few nights of rough sleep on the four-year-old front because of the freaky monkey with symbols. And I’m not sure that the husband can recover from the horror that is “Big Baby”. But overall, it was the most excited I’ve EVER seen the one-year-old. Luckily we were basically the only ones in the theater, because he had a lot to say (read: yell) at the movie screen!

And, because it’s still summer, here’s a little taste of pool-time:

Thanks for your patience and attention to my random post.

Coming up next…a new plan for my well-being and training for a fall-full of races!

Happy Monday!

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  1. I had to rid my garden of almost all of my cucumber vines today. They were producing pretty deformed looking fruit AND just looked gross.
  2. I have had an allergic reaction to something and my mouth keeps getting all swollen and botox-like.
  3. I showered with chlorine today (in the pool).
  4. I am about to sign up for 3 races before the end of the year, but I can’t seem to find time to run right now.
  5. I enjoy Jersey Shore. And Teen Mom. So much that I should be embarrassed. But am not.

See ya tomorrow.

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Hey, hey.

When I was little, one of my favorite sammiches was peanut butter and pickles. That’s right. Pickles. At the time, it was (to be specific) Mt. Olive Kosher Dill Spears. But, yes, pickles. Where would someone get this idea, you might ask? Well, from t.v., of course. Webster. Remember him? He taught me all about getting rich via adoption AND peanut butter and pickle sammiches. One of these things I actually enjoyed for myself, and the other…well….I just enjoyed watching on t.v. Maybe I’ll try one again, soon. It sounds pretty good, honestly. And NO, I’m not pregnant. Ever again. Seriously. What a rude question.

Here ends therapy/story hours.

And here begins the actual story of….

PICKLING.

So, I “put up” some cucumber pickles and hot peppers last week.

I never thought I could/would/should ever do such a thing.

But I did. And it was a SUCCESS!

Please, let me show-n-tell you…

First, cut up some cucumbers. In spears. In slices. However you’d like…

*these cukes were grown in my garden! MY GARDEN!!

You also should sterilize (clean real good) your lids, bands, jars, etc.

and these lids and bands were sterilized in my sink. MY SINK. ha- well, you get my drift.

(mostly, I just think that the cleaned lids, etc. make for a cool picture)

Then you cram as many spears, slices, etc. of the cukies that you can into each of however many jars of pickles you are trying to make.

Unpictured you will also be boiling some vinegar and spice mixture that you will later ladle into your jars (once they are filled with goodies) that will eventually help them to become pickled. It was yellow. And hot. And a little stinky.

Then you place your jars (lids on, bands “finger tip tight”, aka not too tight) into boiling water for about 15 minutes. I have a basket thingy that holds 3 jars, so I was doing this for a while.

Then you get the hot jars out (they are hot- be careful! I was not so careful. I was burned. Oh well.) and place them on a towel or a wooden cutting board or whatever somewhere that they can cool completely (preferably overnight).

Then, if you’re me, you cut up your hot peppers.

Cram as many of these babies into jars as you can (and don’t take the seeds out unless you are afraid of some hotness- we are hot/spicy eating freakazoids around here, so the seeds stayed in/on/around the peppers)

Then you ladle some vinegar and whatnot all over the peppers as well. Different mixture than the pickles. But also stinky.

You do the boiling thing all over again (this time for 10 minutes, for whatever reason- probably just to make sure you’re paying attention) and get the hot jars out (they’re HOT!!) to cool overnight.

Then, you take a picture of your new, hot baby jars that you are hoping and praying will all get sealed overnight. Because, really folks. This isn’t jelly we’re talking about. If your pickles don’t seal, they won’t be able to wait around long enough to really become tasty pickles. They’ll be “almost pickles” that you have to eat in a week or two. Who wants that? This was a lot of work.

But, please don’t be like me and have a hard time sleeping because you are just wondering if your jars are sealing.

And don’t dream about how excited you are to press on the top of the lid and NOT hear a pop so that you know they are sealed.

Because that might be pathetic.

PRESTO! All TWELVE of my jars sealed. The excitement in the kitchen was overwhelming. I am not even being sarcastic.

And now I have a stash of pickles in my laundry room cupboard. So, if you break in and are looking for the pickles, that’s where they are.

But don’t eat them until after September 1st.

Because I worked really hard on them and I really would like them to taste right.

Even to your theiving little tastebuds.

😉

So. That’s that.

And here’s this:

Tomorrow there will be a beach eats and fun update. Also, I am re-evaluating my “fitness” and the plan to keep it in my life. It’s a struggle and I have to make it more manageable.

Then I have to train for a marathon. Whatevs. Just keep up.

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Hey, hey!

We’re back from the beach, and our camera cords and whatnot are scattered about haphazardly as to not allow me to download anything in a timely manner.

Or at least that is what I keep saying to myself.

BUT, I did get up at 6 a.m. to go out on a little 3+ mile jaunt- and am now sweating to death because of that. SO, that’s something.

Also, I am seriously contemplating (to the point of doing a little planning) my first marathon. Surely you’ll hear more about that.

And there is still this garden to contend with.

And some jelly-making.

But first, today there WILL BE a pickling post. With beach whatnots. For sure.

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happy friday!

So, I’m totally avoiding the fact that I am a posting slacker and moving on with little apology. Just to say thanks for understanding.

Number One- I am not sure what’s going on with me and exercise. I have let children, garden, kitchen things/cooking/etc. and family life interfere! How dare I!??!! BUT, I did run 3 miles yesterday. There was an incident near the end that I am not ready to share yet. Seriously. Maybe one day, though. I am hoping to run again when this post is completed (even though it’s probably already 90 degrees here).  The big plan is to repeat this action for the next few days to at least feel a little less puffy and gross, while still consuming whatever I want. This is more about survival and ability to fit in clothes that I like at least a little bit, than about actual weight loss at this point in the summer.

Number Two- We eat frozen pizzas. Of course we do. They are fairly cheap and quick and tasty. But I make modifications:

Even better? These banana peppers, green peppers, tomatoes, rosemary and basil are all from our own backyard…literally! 🙂

Some other things that have been flying out of our kitchen due to a garden surplus, you might ask?

Stuffed Banana Peppers:

I split the banana peppers, chopped the onions, opened the cheese, etc…

After drizzling the split peppers with some olive oil, I baked them for about 10 minutes at 350- till they were soft enough to open up with out, well, splitting on the other side…

Meanwhile, I was cooking up some ground turkey as I usually do for tacos, etc…with some taco seasoning, onions, etc. Once it was done I “stuffed” it into the waiting peppers…

Covered it all with cheese and baked it, uncovered, for about 10 more minutes…till it got all melty and tasty.

I ate mine with a side of tomatoes…and some chips and salsa! Yum.

and

Pesto!

Take some of the basil from your herb garden- about 2 cups, lightly packed…

Gather other supplies….pine nuts (1/4 cup), olive oil (1/4 cup), garlic (2-4 cloves), salt, pepper, a little red pepper flakes if your crazy….and mix it all up in the food processor.

Viola.

Makes tasty pasta and also a tasty salad!

and lastly (for today)…

Tomato and Mozzarella Salad with Fresh Basil

Yes, it’s basic….no, it doesn’t even take any cooking…but YUM!

Pick/buy some tomatoes and basil. Add some mozzarella (fresh if you can find it!), olive oil, salt, pepper…

A tasty summer salad.

So, there you have some ideas…fresh from my garden to your internet!

Now, I can’t promise when the next post will be, because guess where we are???

…back at the beach!

But, I have some good things in store for you, including: my first pickling/canning extravaganza, round two of hot pepper relish, and (of course) some good ol’ beach fun!

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