Wednesday, July 31, 2013

SOUTHERN SWEET HOT EASY PICKLES RECIPE

Recently, a very dear coworker brought in some sweet hot pickles.  It's a Southern thing, and we've adapted it for use on the farm.  It's sort of a quick type pickle.  The pickle company has already done all the hard work, you just make them sweeter and spicier and add a few extra veggies.  It makes the perfect condiment for topping burgers or sandwiches, but one of my favorites is to have a bit on a cracker covered in cream cheese.  YUM.  


So you buy a jar of sliced burger pickles.  We like the slightly thicker ones that are sliced at an angle, but you can use the regular burger sliced style.  This recipe is for the large jar, I believe it's one gallon.  Then some carrots, jalapeños, onions, and garlic.  I used six peppers, three onions, and about a pound of carrots.



Take the pickles out of the jar, drain in a colander and discard the juice.  You won't need it, it will make it's own again.  Slice up the carrots, onions, peppers.  You can discard the pepper seeds to reduce heat and the garlic you can either leave whole or chop into pieces.





Next, open a 4 lb bag of sugar.  Yes, you'll use most all of it.  It also helps to have all of your stuff lined up and ready to use.







Put a layer of pickles, onions, carrots, pepper and garlic in the bottom of the jar...




...then pour a layer of sugar over all of that.  You kind of just have to eyeball it and when it's more or less a layer of its own, start on the next one.








Keep repeating and layering until you use up all the veggies and pickles and then top it off with sugar.  Along the way, if you seem to be running out of room, just mash it all down with your hand or the bottom of a drinking glass.  Clean the top and screw the lid back on.







For one week, leave it on the counter in a cool dark place and once a day, you turn it upside down.  We put it on a foil lined baking sheet just in case it leaks.  It didn't, but better safe than sorry.
After a week of doing this, it should be marinated nicely and the flavors developed and then you just put it in the refrigerator.  








Initially it will look like this, kind of pale, but as the sugar dissolves and it settles in the jar...












...it will darken up a bit and look more like this.  No other liquid was added, the sugar dissolves and interacts with the moisture in the veggies and creates more, kind of like maceration with fruits.

After a few weeks of maturing in the fridge, they turn sweet, spicy, and soft and just so good.  I could eat them on their own (and have) but they are good on a burger or sandwich.  As I mentioned earlier, another favorite way of having them is to put cream cheese on a cracker and a bit of this on top.  The cream cheese cuts a bit of the heat and it enhances the sweetness of the pickles and other veggies.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

GREEN IS COMING BACK




I'm back, back on the Zen Machine (John Deere riding mower for those new to the blog).  A few weeks ago, the drought was so bad, the grass was all dead, well, I guess dormant is a better description. Click HERE to see that posting.





There was a lot of mowing to do after the 4" of rain we received over the last couple of weeks, so I saddled up the mower, put on the iPod with a little Adele 21, and off we went.  Took about 2 1/2 hours to get it done but it was a nice break and gives me a chance to clear my head.  And think.  And daydream.  All of which can be dangerous, ha.

Monday, July 29, 2013

NEW SHELVES IN THE KITCHEN

Kitchen wall shelves
Here is something I did for 2nd Man as a surprise.  We had this big empty spot on the wall behind the stove.  Storage and a place to put stuff is always important in a smaller house and so we did not need a big empty wall with nothing useful on it.  Sort of like the JULIA WALL we recently did.

So one day at lunch, I found these really neat cast iron shelf brackets that looked sufficiently retro/vintage.  Then I went to a local hardware store and bought a couple of prefab white shelves.  They are both 3 feet long.  I got two sizes, the top one is 12" deep and the bottom one is 8" deep so that it doesn't interfere with working on the marble top table next to the stove.

He saw it this weekend and of course loved it.  Now he has a blank slate to fill up as he desires.  Cooking oils, herbs and spices, maybe some mixing bowls?
I'll have to make sure that I at least have some input, ha.

After the UTILITY SINK SHELVES I recently did, it's been a regular shelf-a-palooza at the farm. And I still have one more place to put another set up!

Kitchen wall shelves


Sunday, July 28, 2013

VINTAGE POSTER SUNDAY, FRUITS AND WOUND HEALING

 Fruits and Wound Healing vintage poster, image from National Archives at College Park, MD

This poster is definitely interesting, if not a bit blunt in its message.  It was similar to others from the time that talked about how healthy fruits were, but this one tied it in with the war effort.

Here it is the vitamin content that they are emphasizing.  It states that Vitamin C is an aid to healing wounds and building tissues and the Government urged people not to waste fruit because it could help soldiers who were wounded.

Hope you are having a great weekend.  We have done some stuff at the farm and best of all, things are greening up again after the rain.  More later!

Friday, July 26, 2013

WALL MOUNTED RACK FARMHOUSE FIND

Wall mounted paper towel rack
This is kind of a neat find the other day.  It's a wall mounted basket/towel rack.  I think it's for a roll of paper towels since the round rod on the bottom is removable.  Then I guess the top is a basket for more storage of some sort?

It was only $3 when I found it, so I bought it first and will think about it later, ha.  Kitchen?  Maybe the mudroom?  Heck, we could even put a roll of foil or plastic wrap on it and hang it on the JULIA WALL.

If we don't put it there though, I'm thinking that perhaps it might be time to break out the red paint again!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

INSPIRATION THURSDAY, A HAMMOCK AND FLOWERS

A hammock amongst the flowers, image courtesy of BHG.com
OK, now a hammock is something I've always wanted.  Before we got the property, I imagined a hammock strung between two trees.

Then we got it and, while this may seem odd, at the farm, since most trees are mesquite, and a lot are quite small and spindly, there are no two trees I've found (so far) that would work to string up a hammock between.

But when I saw this picture not too long ago, I realized I don't need trees.  I could just plop two poles into some concrete filled holes (or a pole and a hole packed with dirt) and make my own 'hammock' area wherever I decide.  Of course it would HAVE to be planted with flowers, even some bulbs might be a nice touch.

Be inspired! 


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

WILLIAM, KATE AND THE LITTLE PRINCE

William and Kate with baby George, image courtesy of AP
CONGRATULATIONS!

What a happy moment as a break in the often otherwise depressing news around the world.

Wishing them well.  We watched William (and Harry) grow up under the watchful eye of Diana.  She would have made a wonderful Grandmother.

Can't wait to watch the newest little prince grow up.

Update: Prince George Alexander Louis, welcome to the world!



FLATWARE IN A CANNING JAR

Utensils in canning jars
Recently, we bought some assorted vintage silverware in a service for eight.  They are very cool and we love the randomness of them because the pieces don't match.  Our first thought was of course a drawer, sorting them all by size and use.  But with only four drawers in the entire kitchen, we decided to think 'outside the drawer' so to speak.

I looked around at all the assorted canning jars we have, and a light bulb went off.  I decided to use those instead!  So I put all the knives (below) in one with a narrow opening, the large forks and spoons in another larger wide mouth jar, and then salad forks and soup spoons in a smaller, shorter jar (both above).

It makes things easily accessible and looks like it belongs.  I think it even has a sense of country charm that we enjoy.

Silverware in a canning jar

Monday, July 22, 2013

WALL SHELVES UP ABOVE UTILITY SINK

 Got the new shelves up above the utility sink.
Forgive the photos, using a backup camera today and I don't like the quality of the photos it takes.  It is what it is, ha.

Ikea Gorm shelf hack into wall shelves
Well, on a slow and rainy afternoon, I got the shelves up above the utility sink in the mudroom!  I had to think outside the box to come up with something.  I saw these galvanized metal shelf brackets at the local hardware store.  I liked the metal because it looked like the stainless steel of the sink.  But then I needed to find some shelves to put on them.  The obvious choice would just be a regular "shelf" like you find in white, black, wood grain, etc.  

Galvanized metal shelf bracket, closeup 
Then I remembered Ikea, where we got our Gorm shelving.
CLICK HERE to see the posting when we got the shelving units.  They made 'extra' shelves for them in a smaller size.  I wondered if they would work?  I took the plunge and decided to buy a set of shelves.  The were the perfect depth for the brackets!  I decided to install them using the 'edge' of the shelf as a sort of way to lock the shelves onto the brackets.  I made the brackets just far enough apart so that the shelves "slide on".  This way, they won't move around as we put things on them and use them regularly.

Hack of Gorm shelves from Ikea
Here they are finished and ready for putting stuff on them.  They match the rest of the shelving in the mudroom (see picture below) and I think they worked out great.  Best of all, it was an inexpensive project.  The brackets were $4 each, and the shelves came in a set of four for $20.  I only needed three, but I have plans for the other one so that was an unexpected bonus.  
We're satisfied with the end result and now comes the fun part, figuring out what to put on them! 

Gorm shelving when we first put it in the mudroom
Update:  Here is a picture of the shelving right after we put it in about a year and a half ago now.

It's since been junked filled up, well, it is being junked filled up as we figure out what to take to the farm to keep out there.  Just thought I'd show you how they match compared to the new shelves above the sink.
The sink is slightly behind and to the right in this picture.

Mission accomplished for the mudroom shelves!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

VINTAGE POSTER SUNDAY, WOMEN'S LAND ARMY

Women's Land Army poster, image courtesy of Imperial War Museum
I've posted some of these Women's Land Army posters before, and I just love them every time.  It's neat that they empowered women to do things like this.  The image on this poster is really neat, though those crop dusting planes look a little unusual, ha.  I know they are war planes, to remind people of doing this for the farms and food industry while others were in the war, it's just a neat way of doing it.

More rain today, hope you are doing well and having a great weekend wherever you are!


Saturday, July 20, 2013

YAY FOR WEEKEND RAIN




Well look what we have here today...more rain!

Went to the farm this morning, and it was sunny but starting to get cloudy.  By midday it was dark and raining.




A bit of thunder and lightning and about 1/2" of rain!  Of course, the forecast didn't include this, but then again, are they ever really right?

We'll take it!  No mowing, but more water and things will soon come back to life.  Also did some more inside projects.  Overall it was a good day!

Friday, July 19, 2013

RAINY WEEK FINALLY


We have had rain!

In fact, it rained, on and off, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and the morning of Thursday.  We're back to Sunny today but that's OK, we've had somewhere between 3 and 4 inches of water pour down and that's wonderful.  


This radar image was from Monday or was it Tuesday?

No matter, it was pretty much the same at some point each day of the week.  The red pin is the farm location.  It was a pretty slow and steady rain at times, then stopped and was sunny and clear and then another round of "orange and red" would move in and the cycle repeated several more times.

Sadly, it's not enough to get us out of our drought designation but it might green up the grass and it's definitely a good, deep soaking for the fruit trees, which, honestly, at this point are the most important things to keep alive at the farm.  Also hoping that the basil and two stubborn tomatoes have perked up.

I think we're back into a dry cycle now but hopefully we'll have more relief sometime later in the month.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

INSPIRATION THURSDAY, CHAIRS AND FLOWERS

Chairs in a flower garden, image courtesy of SouthernLiving.com
Here is one that really makes me want something like it.  I love the border of flowers framed by the picket fence and the way the flowerbed isn't just a straight line along the fence.  It curves and flows.  But best of all, Adirondack chairs just begging to be used.  I even like the blue color, which seems to be cropping up a lot in landscaping lately.

You know what's funny, we have a spot that is currently empty, but there is a fence along the back like this (not picket, sadly) but it's also where I have planted the two pear trees and in a few years, I can see them looking like this tree and how easy it would be to plunk down a couple of chairs (I'm thinking yellow or red) and plant a bunch of flowers along the fence.  Then we could sit and watch the sunset whenever we wanted to.  

Happy day!

Be inspired!


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

DEWBERRY PIE SURPRISE


It's the story, of a lovely lady, who was looking for some
dewberries of her own...

OK, Brady Bunch memory aside, here is a post two months in the making.
The week before Mother's Day, I got an email from someone who found the blog while searching for dewberries in the Houston area. 


She wrote the kindest note and asked if I knew where she could either pick fresh dewberries or buy some.  I told her that unfortunately, most of the places had closed up for the season.  She then asked if we allowed picking on our property.  I wouldn't have minded that at all, except we were in between them being not all ripe and not having a very good season anyway.  She needed them because she wanted to bake a dewberry pie for her boyfriend's family for Mother's Day.  It was their first one without their Grandmother and dewberry pie was a favorite family memory.  Their Granny used to make it all the time.




After writing back and forth a few times trying to come up with an option, I found out that she and I only worked a mile apart...in a city of  millions of people, she randomly found us on the internet, what are the odds?

It seemed like it was meant to be.






It was time to practice a random act of kindness again and do something to help someone out.  So I pulled three 2-cup bags of dewberries from the freezer and we made plans.


We met on the Friday before Mother's Day at a grocery store near both of our offices.  I had my bag of dewberries and she had a gift bag for me.

"Yes officer, I swear, it's only dewberries..."






She could not have been nicer.  As it turns out, she has read the blog and enjoys the aspect of us working our way out TO the country as she grew up IN the country and worked her way to the city, ha.  She had trouble thinking of something to give us in exchange (though NOTHING was necessary at all).  She said she realized she had fresh from the cob frozen corn...direct from Iowa, where she grew up.  Her mother loads her down with "fresh from the stalk corn" to remind her of home and she thought we might enjoy that.

We did, and of course there was NO comparison to any corn I've ever eaten.  I could eat that fresh corn every day!

Delicious!

Thank you "C"!

Out of the blue, the other day she emailed me a bunch of photos from their gathering and she wanted to share them with me.  I, in turn, thought I'd share a couple of them with you.

Dewberry Pie
Here is her end result!

I wish I could tell you first hand how delicious it was but she said it was and I believe it.  It certainly looks delicious.  And I'm loving the Made in Texas box she served it in.  How cool is that?  She was nervous making it because she wanted it to be authentic and tasty but of course it came out beautifully and said it was a huge hit.  Everyone was surprised and they all laughed and talked about their Granny on Mother's Day.  I'm so glad we could play a small part in their happy day.  I love how food brings us all together!

Perhaps next year, I can provide them with some fresh picked dewberries.

Dewberry Pie and Ice Cream
Pie AND ice cream!  YUMMY!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

TYPESETTER TRAY FUTURE PROJECT

Vintage typesetter tray
One of our dear friends asked me if I wanted this the other night when we all met for dinner.  She thought we could do something neat with it at the farm.



Of course I said yes!
These things are cool!

For now I'll put it aside as a project for later when there is more time to just relax inside but my mind is wondering about the possibilities.

Should I paint it?
Leave it as is?
Wallpaper the back side?
Put glass over the front?
Hang it on a wall?
Lay it on a table?

And then what to put in it?  I've seen shells, rocks, leaves, photos, trinkets, mementos, etc.  I am going to create a crafting space at the farm, and this could also be valuable to hold beads and thread and things like that.

Decisions decisions.  Anyone seen any cool ones?

Monday, July 15, 2013

AND THE GRASS IS ALMOST DEAD




This is the "grass", for lack of a better term, that is in front of the house near where we park.  Such a lovely shade of gold, ha.
As you can see, my days on the "Big Green Zen Machine" appear to be over, for now.  





There is still a bit of green grass left here, under the shade of Old Barnabas, but that is just about it.  Not enough to mow and I'm not even sure how long it will actually last.



The ground is starting to crack in a few spots, a sure sign of the need for some rain.  We've now gone over a month with no rain, following a month prior to that with very little and almost a month of 99-108 degree temps.



After we get enough rain, fingers crossed, things will green up again, but it's still kind of sad to see.  At least the trees are staying green, for now anyway and on an up note, the golden brown does look striking with my red car parked right in the middle of it, LOL.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

GOODBYE LITTLE ORANGE TREE

Dead Satsuma Orange Tree


Well, the little Satsuma Orange that I planted a couple of months back has died.  It's not the drought, as the Lime and Lemon on the other sides of this one (15 feet away on either side), are still doing OK.  I think this was the ground where it was planted, it seemed to be very heavy with clay and I'm pretty sure that's what happened.  I'll have to buy another one in the Fall and try again in a different spot.

You win some and you lose some!

VINTAGE POSTER SUNDAY, WAR INDUSTRY NEEDS WATER

Vintage War Industry Needs Water poster, image courtesy of US National Archives
Here is a poster, relevant today as it was then.  It's from WWII and was put out by the local "Philadelphia Council of Defense" and urged citizens to save water for the war effort (manufacturing, production etc).

Of course, no war effort today, but the words on the poster are still important. Water, use it wisely!  True, true, true!

Hope you are having a great weekend.  It's H-O-T down in these parts, it was 101 degrees yesterday (a new record for that date).  There is rain in the forecast this week, finally, but we'll see.  Last Sunday's 'tropical downpours' never happened and we are now over a month with no measurable rain.

Friday, July 12, 2013

MESQUITE TREE LEAKING

Mesquite Tree sap
Barnabas is leaking.  Last weekend, I noticed these puddles on the ground (below) that looked like oil or something had spilled onto the ground.  Then I wondered if I left the Zen Machine parked there and it was leaking oil?  

But then I had visions of the Beverly Hillbillies, you know,
"...up through the ground came a bubbling crude...Black Gold, Texas Tea..."

No such luck...then I looked up (above) and this is what I saw.  It is where a branch was cut last year and now it's dripping sap onto the ground.

Everything I've read says other than making a mess, it's ok, and it will stop.  It's just the new growth coming on and the hot weather causing it.  Still, it's kind of gross and messy and not very pleasant looking.  Anyone ever seen this?

Never a dull moment!

And speaking of, I'll be back out there today working on some more projects, most likely inside where it's cool, so posting will be sporadic but I'll have updates later.  Enjoy your weekend!

Mesquite tree sap on the ground

Thursday, July 11, 2013

INSPIRATION THURSDAY AWESOME LITTLE POTTING SHED

Little White Potting Shed, photo courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens
Sigh.  When I saw this a couple years back, I just had to stare for a bit.  I could so envision this on the property somewhere.

I love the color, the picket fence (naturally) the flowers, and the bright yellow water pump. I also gaze inside and imagine all the fun things that I could create and do.  It doesn't have to be JUST a potting shed, right?

In fact, there is a clearing I've been working on that this would be perfect for.  Of course, there is just SO much more to work on at the farm, this will definitely move to the future bucket list of projects.

Enjoy your day!

Be inspired!


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

MILK BOTTLE CARRIER REPURPOSED


Here is a great find.  I was at a garage sale in town and found this old galvanized metal carrier.  I'm guessing maybe it was originally for milk bottles?

Anyway, as soon as I saw it, I KNEW I just HAD to have it for the farm.
I also knew immediately how we'd use it...


...as a wine bottle carrier!  So when we have friends over for dinner, inside or outside on the property, we can load up a few bottles of wine and carry them to the table.  It somehow seems appropriate for the country.

Got Wine?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

HOMELESS HENS AND UNWANTED CHICKENS


I read this somewhat disturbing article about 'city folk' that want chickens only to end up dropping them off at shelters in their towns. The numbers have been rapidly increasing in urban cities as those who get hens, change their minds.

Chickens in the yard, image courtesy of davesgarden.com

Apparently, they raise them with visions of baskets full of fresh eggs every day, only to quickly realize that they require more work than they imagined.  Feed, water, letting them free range for a bit, keeping them safe from predators, warm in Winter, dealing with their occasional health problems, cleaning out the coop, and then as they age and stop laying, they still live for years.

Then they just throw in the towel and drop off their hens at nearby shelters.  It's definitely a side of a popular trend that is often unreported.  I know that in our neighborhood in town, there have been people who have just let chickens go in the street when they tired of them and of course, then the birds have to get picked up by animal control.


Basket of eggs, image courtesy of backyardchickens.com

We definitely want hens at the farm, I'm even planning the area they'll be in and prepping for it, but we also understand the work involved, and that it's a commitment you just don't undo when you get bored with it.  So we'll wait until the time is right and we have everything in place.

Now in all fairness, the article does mention that hundreds of thousands of people are raising chickens in their backyards and loving every moment of it so it's just a small fraction of chicken owners that are causing issues.

Still, it's a fascinating read that makes you think.


CLICK HERE to read the full article.


A great resource for information on raising chickens is backyardchickens.com