Wednesday, July 30, 2008

hey, that's not pesto!

Nope.  It's my mom's squash casserole.  Or as close as I could get it.  No matter how hard I try, nothing tastes like it does when Mom makes it.  I guess it's obvious - if I make it, Mom's not making it.  Strawberry bread, macaroni and cheese, pumpkin bread: all favorites I've tried unsuccessfully to recreate.  

Nevertheless, I took all this (okay, not all that... several zukes were unharmed in the making of this casserole.  But the big one didn't make it.  Gone.  Chopped.  Stir fried, and baked.):

And ended up with this:

Yep... several of these:

Went in to this!

(My additions are in italics.... I know, I know.  And I wonder why it doesn't taste like mom's!)

1 1/2 lb. yellow squash, cooked with onion and drained
Zucchini to take up space if you don't have enough squash
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 small container of sour cream
Cheddar Cheese a whole lot 
Bread Crumbs a whole lot
Finely Chopped Walnuts

Put the squash and onions in a casserole dish.  Put a layer of bread crumbs and then a layer of cheese down.  Put the zucchini down next.  Mix the soup and sour cream and put on top of veggies.  Put grated cheese on top, then bread crumbs.  Then finely chopped walnuts.  Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes.

(P.S. from Mom:  Do not dillute soup... I might use half of small container of sour cream in order for it not to be too soupy.)

Yes, save italics, this is straight from an email from my mom.  Hence the post scripts.  She's a great recipe resource.  And she's got great post scripts.

Monday, July 28, 2008

basil night

Apparently there was one zinnia that didn't die from the aphid attack - this zinnia snuck out of the greenhouse and into the Handyman's yard in a basil tray (so says the Handyman).

Go on and pick your basil - we're making pesto tomorrow.

The reason we're making pesto tomorrow night is because I had every intention of making pesto tonight, yet it just didn't happen. I made a big dinner instead.  All of the leaves are off the stems now though. That will put us ahead of the game when we start tomorrow.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

and zinnias, sweet peas, and upside down tomatoes

Tragically, most of this zinnia's sister seeds died off in the Aphid Outbreak of 2008. But everytime I glance over at these babies, I'm SO excited that there were 6 out of thirty that survived! Those hearty little suckers...

A little less than half of my sweet peas have already bloomed and gone to seed - but just tonight, I was over at Leigh's house, and hers were ABSOLUTELY still beautifully in bloom.  I think there's a balance somewhere between drowning in sunshine and starving for light where sweet peas must flourish the longest.  Didn't find it this year, but it's definitely a goal for next.  The colors on these things are great... Even though it's a picture of a white one.  Hey, isn't white a color, too?  (Seriously though, if it weren't dark, I'd march right back outside and try to get another picture - the brilliantly colorful ones were sadly out of focus.)

This next picture is intended to be an "Aha!" for a certain someone who mocked me while taking the photograph.  You see, these tomatoes are really upside down.  Or rather, right side up on upside down plants.  Anyway, to take the shot, I stood up underneath the green leggy tomatoes and looked as though I had an upside down plant hat.  Which probably had nothing to do with the mocking.  I'm not even quite sure I remember what I was being mocked for.  But I got the shot.  So I get the "Aha!" 

Those maters came off the bucket second to the left.   Just in case you were curious.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

cukes, squash, cabbage, and hollyhocks

I have one cucumber, and that one cucumber has become Myosotis' favorite pee spot. It's a dangling green fire hydrant right in the backyard, and Myosotis is quite happy to do his duty. It's okay. He's a boy dog. It's what boy dogs do.

These guys are going nuts.  I'm going to have to research some tasty squash dishes to sneak them into the Handyman's dinner.  'Cause there are a lot of them... And I can't eat them all myself.

But the Handyman's on his own with the cabbage.  I like it in my Taco Del Sol fish supreme burrito - and not much elsewhere.  Maybe I'll be convinced to try some cabbage in a homemade burrito... But that's it.  No coleslaw.  Coleslaw has mayonnaise.  And my passionate hatred for mayonnaise has tainted the cabbage forever.

Mom, these are the hollyhocks I was telling you about.  Early this spring, I was told they wouldn't bloom their first year in the ground, so my expectations were lower than low.  And what a great surprise!  They're beautiful.  

Now that I have some in my garden, I'm noticing hollyhocks all around town. They seem to be a garage flower... There are tons of little tiny, makeshift garden beds behind people's garages that are full of giant hollyhocks. It's quite the phenomenon.

That's it!  Tomorrow, I pick up dog poop and mow the lawn.  Anyone want pictures of that?

Friday, July 25, 2008

in no particular order

It's terrible to be sick in the middle of summer. I've been sick for a few days now, and with a heavy workload this week, I've hardly given hardly a thought to my garden... or my kitchen and cooking for that matter. It's just been so much easier to have someone else cook for me. (like the nice people at the Iron Horse and Biga's!)

I'm using my cold as my excuse for no new photos. I was looking through my old pictures though, and I found a few that I thought I'd post.

These first couple are from the Pintler trip a few weeks ago.

I love the way her ears fly up like that when she's running at full speed.

This is a modification I made to the Pioneer Woman's Crash Hot Potatoes. I was helping make dinner at the handyman's one night, and I had planned to make crash hot potatoes. The handyman was reluctant to give me free range of the oven since turning it on would have made the house into a little sauna. So, I took the potatoes, did everything just the same except I smashed them in an aluminum roasting pan - one of those semi-disposable ones from the grocery store. I tucked some tomatoes in there because I really like fresh tomatoes after they've been roasted a little. After spraying oil on the potatoes and sprinkling some chives (which I should have cut up a bit more) that came out of the garden, the whole pan went onto the grill. To be honest, there was nothing exceptional about the grill - the potatoes tasted just the same BUT the house didn't get all hot and stuffy. Note to self: cook outside as much as possible in the summer. Though most of you probably have air conditioners... I should have mentioned that first. A/C is getting more common here, but there are a few of us holding strong against the invasion.

This last picture is of some weeds that I had originally saved from the compost pile. When I got my community garden plot this year, I was pulling weeds in the back. This particular plant had giant roots, and I couldn't get a definitive answer from the handyman as to whether it would be beautiful or whether it would be a pesky weed. Turns out, it's both. And since even pretty weeds can be quite pesky, it's in the compost now. I took the picture so I could look it up later, but I've yet to do that. Anyone have any ideas? Was I mistaken to cast this lovely flower aside?

I've also gotten a little bit of flack from the handyman for my last post. He insists that I am to admit when I'm posting after a few glasses of wine, so that I will be forgiven for putting up so many pictures without text. There's my confession. And I suppose that's half the explanation that is promised. The other half is that I had duct work in the basement that didn't allow enough clearance for my dad to walk through without ducking his head. It was mostly unnecessary, so now it's mostly on the floor. The next step is to get the old ducts out and some new, streamlined, ducts in. Once that is done, the basement will have had all the attention it's getting for the year. Next year... concrete walls get some drywall.  And maybe I'll move into the big room!

(And, if that weren't enough, I've been asked the question, "How come the iron horse and bigas get credit for cooking for you, but i dont?"  So, thank you, Handyman.  The elk sausages and pesto ravioli were fantastic!  And thanks, Kassidy, for putting the elk in our freezer!)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

a little demolition

explanations will come later...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

berries and babies

Ever been to a u-pick berry farm?  

Today my first.  Less than an hour north of Missoula is a berry farm that has raspberries and strawberries, and I absolutely loved it.  At $3 a pound, it's questionable just how much money I saved, but I did end up picking exactly 10 pounds of fruit. 
Yes, ten pounds. 
I couldn't believe it when I lifted the fruit onto the scale.  And I really couldn't believe it when I got it all back to the kitchen and had to process all those strawberries before freezing.  I took Leigh's advice and didn't wash the raspberries - she's done it before and said that she ended up with a solid block of ice that wasn't as flavorful as other frozen raspberries.   I did wash the strawberries because it was easy and because they had more cheat grass seeds and other fluffy things mixed in.  (The whole place is in danger of being overtaken by a charging army of knapweed, but that's another story...)

The highlight of my day, of course, was getting to spend time with two handsome men, both under a year old.   Boy, they were dashing in their berry-picking outfits.  And both moms had the coolest carrying devices for their men.  I tried to climb in Leigh's for the walk back to the car, but Cooper threatened to never smile at me again if I stole his sweet ride.  So I walked.  And the boys smiled.  And I was happy.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

gas challenge update

I have a bit of a dilemma.  I've had to put the gas challenge on hold.  

I took a picture of where my gas tank indicator was on Monday because at exactly thirty-one days, I released my car into the capable hands of my good friends from North Carolina.  

After paying for plane tickets to come all the way out to see ME, I couldn't let them rent a car - especially when this challenge has slimmed down my driving frequency so much so that I didn't even think twice about it once they drove away for their afternoon touring trips!

So, my friends are up in Glacier now, and when they return tonight, I have to decide if I should resume tracking my usage, or simply be pleased with 1) the fact that I'm sure I would have made it two months and 2) that I have new habits that benefit the environment, and almost more importantly, my pocketbook. 

As I am ready to move on to other things, I'll probably be satisfied with progress so far, and simply take the counter down.  If you haven't tried something like this, you should give it a go... I've had fun!

bee's breakfast

Before I get to the bee's breakfast, I want to say "thank you" to my wonderful guests who have been with me since Saturday.  Rebecca is one of my closest friends from college, and during this visit, her computer-programming husband has "Kipped out" all of my computers.   We did so much "maintenance" that I had no energy left to blog, but I'll be sharing some of the fun technology tips I've learned soon.  Unfortunately, there aren't too many photos due to a small camera crisis, but I think everything's clean and happy again.  

Just in time, too.  I walked out my door this morning and saw this little guy sipping on a sunrise snack.