Friday, June 30, 2023


 Using up some days off and trying to beat the heat so today, while 2nd Man is at work, I am heading to the farm.  

It's going to be hot, we are still under a heat advisory.  I haven't mowed in over two weeks though it also hasn't rained in three so...then I'll do some edging around the fruit trees and of course water everything well and get my behind back into some cool weather.

Here's a little bonus Hobart for good measure...

...doing what he does best, and indeed all cats before him, finding a good place to sleep.

Have a good day, more updates this weekend since we'll be in where it's cool.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023


Even though it was crazy hot at the farm, we did have a surprise growing for us.

This is the new cherry tree/bush we got on super clearance last Fall.  It's called "Cherry of the Rio Grande" in these parts, but is also known as "Barbados cherry".  Native to Brazil and considered a tropical cherry, it's not directly related to cherries but is said to have a very similar taste.

We are already growing two Nanking cherry bushes (those are related to cherry trees) so we figured this would be fun to try.  We've just left it on the porch for now, keeping it watered and letting it have light.  Then it developed blossoms and we hoped that we might get something from them.

Well look there!
Up on the top corner end of a branch...

It's an actual Barbados cherry fruit!

Hard to tell scale here (looks like an apple, ha) but it's about the same size as a good sized bing cherry you'd see in the store.  We hope this one stays on and healthy so we can at least get to taste it.  They are supposed to have a sweet taste that is very similar to a cherry but with a slight tartness that makes them unique.  We shall see!

It'll go in the ground next Fall after the heat has passed.  For now, it will stay on the porch where it's not crazy hot and gets a good watering every week.  

Monday, June 26, 2023


This has been an internet classic for years.  The recipe was given to a columnist by Katherine Hepburn who said it was her favorite brownie recipe.  It's ours too!

1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 cup roughly chopped pecans or walnuts - optional
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

Heat your oven to 325 degrees.  Melt the butter in the microwave (or saucepan) and stir in the cocoa powder.  Allow it to cool a bit and pour into a bigger bowl.  Whisk in the eggs one at a time and stir in vanilla.

In another bowl, combine sugar, flour, nuts (if using) and salt.  Add to the butter-cocoa mixture and stir just until combined.  

Pour into a greased 8x8 square pan.  Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Do not overbake.  The brownies should be gooey.  Let cool and then cut into bars.

Now we did this batch a bit differently, note that the recipe as above is for an 8x8 pan.  2nd Man wanted to try a thinner brownie so he used our Lodge cast iron pan and since it's bigger, he doubled the recipe.

He baked it and they came out great.  After cooling, he used the parchment to lift them out and then sliced them into squares.

We always love the flavor and texture of this recipe and they were really good being baked a bit thinner.  Next time we'll do them back in the 8x8 pan.  We just wanted to have a bit more to last through the week of snacking and eating, ha.


Some of the things we do differently:

We swap out different nuts from time to time (and sometimes don't even use them)...

We use salted butter instead of unsalted because it gives such a great taste to the chocolate...

We use use a special dark chocolate cocoa powder (made by Droste) that's why this batch is dark...


Sunday, June 25, 2023


 It is hot today so we are staying in where it's cool...with some good food and of course, Hobart.

A good breakfast featuring homemade bread, sunny side up eggs and some ham steak.

We have the air conditioner on to keep it nice and cool here at the apartment and Hobart is sleeping on his cushions.  He is getting some sunshine since he needs a little warmth on his bones.  Because...


Here is the current temp mere moments ago, it's 95 and "feels like" 110.  Only going to climb.

Stay cool wherever you are, or at least enjoy it if it's already cool, ha.

Friday, June 23, 2023


The only thing as wonderful as fresh vegetables from your own garden...

Peaches and blueberries

...would be fresh fruit from your own orchard!

You probably saw the posts for the peaches and blueberries as we gathered them but we had taken this picture when we picked them and thought we'd share.  This picture makes us smile.  Sure it's not a bushel of peaches or quarts of blueberries, but we grew them and that makes everything better. 😁

We made more blueberry cream cheese...

We bought some Blue Bell homemade vanilla ice cream and added blueberries, peaches and a cookie...

One night for dinner, we put peaches in our salad with tomatoes, feta cheese, and roasted sunflower seeds...

And then we made THESE with the last of our peaches AND blueberries:

OMG so good (recipe/technique coming soon).

Backyard orchard area

It's still small, but it's growing and producing and as time goes by, our harvests will (hopefully) only get bigger and better.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023


 It is hot.


Last Friday, I took off Friday so I could go the farm early and mow and edge and be done and get back into town where the a/c is.

When I left a little after noon, it was 97 degrees and it "felt like" 110.

Later in the day, it got up to a "feels like" of 119!  By then, I was back in town in the cool a/c.

I mowed (note the grass is getting the 'beige tones' familiar in a drought) and edged around the orchard beds.  I did what I had to and put the mower up.

Mowed for an hour (and 3 minutes, ha) and that was it. 

This week were are again under all sorts of warnings about the heat.  Check out these headlines:

Roads are buckling around town due to the heat.  Flat tires galore...

Water mains are breaking as the ground shifts...

Then yesterday afternoon, our phones went off as the state sent out warnings asking people to conserve electricity because the power grid across the state was in danger of collapse...

This weather pattern will stay through at least the end of the month: dangerously hot.

Usually August is when we say it is the month of doing as little as possible outside.
Now it looks like June.
And probably July.
And definitely August.

Monday, June 19, 2023


Friday, we posted about our peaches.
Today we'd share that our blueberries were still doing their thing as well...

These are so pretty. This batch had LOTS of plump and "blue" berries...we always say that when they are wet with dew, they look like sapphires on a bush!

At $5.42 for a package, we are happy to have four bushes producing for us, ha.

We got a nice jar full again this time...

Just like the picture of the peaches last week, I had to take an "artsy"photo of the blueberries.  I pulled out a white dish towel and scattered them around.  Another picture ready for the kitchen?  Ha!

We 💖 blueberries!

(post later this week showing how we used our limited fruit bounty)

Saturday, June 17, 2023


Knowing that the heat was going to be extreme and in the "dangerous" territory, I took off work yesterday to go the farm and mow so we could run some errands and do some shopping today while staying near a/c.

We went shopping, had lunch, did some more shopping and ended the day with a stop at the amazing Voodoo Doughnut shop.

This is why we stayed indoors as much as possible...the feels like at the farm is 119 degrees.


It going to be a long hot summer...

Friday, June 16, 2023


Instead of having them just from my coworker's family, we now have PEACHES OF OUR OWN!

Early this spring, our little peach tree that we replaced after the "big freeze" had seven little peaches on it.

We watched as they grew bigger and I put up extra fishing line "fencing" to keep the deer and whatever else passing through the yard, at bay.

Even put bird netting over the top to keep the birds away.  Sadly, when I was doing that, I knocked one of them off...and then there were six.

They kept growing until last weekend when we were able to harvest six peaches.

I couldn't resist taking an "artsy" photo of them. I think it came out nicely!  2nd Man said we should frame it and put it in the kitchen.  We like to have a record of our harvest to look back on and a pretty picture is always a good way to remember, ha.

We 💖 peaches!

Wednesday, June 14, 2023


This past weekend was mowing weekend.  It's been a couple of weeks.

My favorite place to be, even in the heat.  Well, maybe not THIS heat, ha.

It was overcast and there was a warm breeze.

About normal time and distance.

When we finally left at 4pm, the 'feels like' temperature was 105 degrees.

Here are the forecast highs for this week.  These are actual temps but our 'feels like' temps will be dangerously close to 105 or more. They are putting us under a heat advisory and opening cooling centers for those that need a place with a/c.  

No rain in the forecast either, at least this week and all of next.  While we certainly don't want a drought, I'd be ok if I didn't have to mow for a couple of weeks and lack of rain slows the growth for sure.  Will just go out and water the fruit trees and other plants.

We have a feeling that this year we are in for a 

Monday, June 12, 2023


Pork carnitas.  A Mexican classic that is so good and yes, you can make them yourself.  Traditional carnitas are made this way, fried in a kettle in lard.  There are others made in the oven and basted over and over (we've done that and they are good) and some are cooked in a crock pot and other are pan friend in oil.  We've done them that way too but this is the most authentic way (short of outside in copper over a fire!).

Pork carnitas
There are not many ingredients, but again you will be frying these in lard.  You can use other oils but because you are adding liquids and odd ingredients, you could burn yourself or cause a big mess in your kitchen if you try this with regular oil (look online for those versions if you'd rather try it that way, they are out there).

Lard doesn't react to having coke and orange juice being poured in as other oil might.  It is sold in stores right next to the other oils.  We get the Morrell Snow Cap brand and before you think lard means greasy, if you do these right, not greasy at all.

But again, if you'd rather not use lard, just look for some recipes that use oil.

Carnitas ingredients
Believe it or not, these are all the ingredients.

 5 lb pork shoulder butt
3 medium oranges cut in half and 1/2 cup of the juice
3 bay leaves
6 garlic cloves
1 8oz bottle/can Coca Cola
1 can evaporated milk
3 or 4 lbs of lard

Ours was bone in and about 8 lbs total, but the bone is part of that.  We probably ended up with about 5 lbs of meat after deboning. 

Pork in pressure cooker
 Now this is a step we do to make the cooking time a bit shorter and make them fall apart tender.  We take the meat off the bone (unless you have boneless) and cut into about 3 inch size chunks.  Add 1/2 cup water and salt to taste and pressure cook on high for 30 minutes.

Carnitas precooked
This is what it all looks like after the 30 minutes of pressure cooking.  Falling apart tender.

Prepping carnitas ingredients
While the pressure cooking is going on (if you choose that option), it's a good time to melt the lard in a large dutch oven or other heavy pot/cast iron.  Go ahead and open the coke, the can of evaporated milk, cut the oranges in half and squeeze out the juice of them until you get about 1/2 a cup of orange juice and have everything ready to go.

Frying carnitas
When it has reached 350 degrees, place the chunks of pork in.  Be careful, hot oil!

Next drop in the bay leaves and garlic cloves.

Orange juice in carnitas
Pour in the orange juice.

Evaporated milk in carnitas
Pour in the evaporated milk.

Coke cola in carnitas
Pour in the Coke.

Carnitas boiling in lard
This is what it will look like.

Frying carnitas
Finally add the chunks of orange (yep, more flavor).  Keep the temp around 250 (the added liquids will of course cool it down) but you don't want it back up at 350, now you want it to be somewhat low and slow and for about 30 minutes it will look like this, foaming and not clear.  Regularly move the pork around so it doesn't stick to the bottom (it will if you're not careful).

Frying carnitas
After about 30 minutes, it just clears up and looks like this!  Let it go for about 10 to 15 more minutes, still moving the pork around to make sure it's browning nicely.  The meat is cooked but you just want to get it to the point you like it, you want the exterior bits to be crispy and then super tender on the inside. 

Cooking carnitas
Fish out the oranges and bay leaves (the garlic has mostly dissolved), and then there will be little bits of pork that are floating around or in the bottom... by the way, these little bits are REALLY good, ha. 

Mexican pork carnitas
This is what they look like.

Put them on a rack while you get everything else ready.  We sprinkle a little salt on them at this point.  They don't get greasy, you are essentially braising them in the lard, not frying them.

Carnitas tacos
They are served simply.  We chop up an onion, add cilantro, a squeeze of lime and some sour cream (we like Mexican Crema).  You can of course eat them on a plate just like you would chunks of meat with appropriate sides like rice and beans.

Carnitas tacos with flour tortillas
Carnitas tacos can be on flour tortillas (my favorite)...

Carnitas tacos with corn tortillas
Or corn tortillas (2nd Man's favorite)...

If you are not wanting to use lard, as we said there are other methods online, even oven cooked, whichever way you do them, try pork carnitas, they are SO good.