Friday, November 28, 2008

Reflections on Blogging, Relationships, World Relations

I started garden blogging this fall, then added a Christian blog not really knowing who I was addressing, whether it was myself or others.  I do not consider myself a writer, but love to talk, and I think that this is a way of communicating with others.  Through my writing, and seeing the personalities of others expressed through their blogs, I have realized that, as with people "in the flesh" we get to know a few well, and develop a larger group of acquaintances.  

The big opportunity we have in blogging is getting to know people who live very far away from us.  We all have differences in things we believe and value, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy something about each other.  It doesn't mean we can't determine to be at peace with each other. 

The last few days I have been more intentional in visiting blogs from other countries who participate in the "memes" I do.  I sometimes have trouble keeping up with everything, but we'll see what happens.  Anyway, the reason for this post was to say why I put up the translation widget I discovered on someone's blog.  


(This has been my usual signature for my other blog.)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

SkyWatch Friday

The first photo was taken early Thanksgiving morning from my Nebraska, USA front yard.  More skies from across the world can be seen at SkyWatch.

The next two were taken from our car on the way to my sister's house.

To Our Garden Friends in Mumbai India

I'm sorry for all the violence happening in your city. I hope you are safe. Please put posts on your blogs soon, or leave comments on my post so we know you are OK.


From My House to Yours

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you enjoy food and family, and are blessed with patience and forgiveness for others and yourself.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Blooming Tuesday (my first)


By clicking on the above picture, you will get to Jean's blog, and see a list of others participating in Bloomin' Tuesday.

Thanks, Jean, for commenting on my squirrel pictures, and inviting me to participate here.  

I had trouble getting a good focus on this Goodwin Creek lavender, but wanted to include it because I did a post on lavender, and had put it in my egress window.  I took it out, and put it in my east facing garden window after reading it can grow inside as a houseplant.  This one will be going back outside in the spring, though.  It would have had more blooms, but I cut them to dry.

Some of the African violets have been blooming longer than others.  I got them at garage sales, so don't know their names.

The trailing rosemary is holding onto a couple blooms.  You can see a bird feeder out the window.

The rest of the pics were taken outside.  The ornamental kale is still looking good.

I can't remember what kind of grass that is, but the rue is nice and green, and still has the bloom I showed in my GBBD post.  Baptisia is the tall plant to the left.

The different kinds of coral bells are still looking fine.

This is arum italicum is something I planted as a bulb several years ago, and my son informed me it's supposed to be in the shade.  It gets some afternoon shade, but is in sun a lot of the day.  The foliage dies back after it blooms, and this is the first time I recall that it has regrown. I hope it comes back next year.  

Some of the perennial geraniums have nice looking foliage this time of year.

I love my sage!

These pansies are holding on, wanting to keep blooming against all odds!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Kale Pt. 3, The Soup, Garlic, and a Few Fresh Herbs in Zone 5b

I want to start out with onions and garlic from my garden, harvested in August or September.  The garlic is hard neck, and is easy to peel.  The onions and garlic may not be lasting much longer.  I'll have to watch the garlic for drying out, and the onions for spoilage.  My in-laws grew the garlic, and there is always plenty, even though I just figured out last year that you are supposed to replant it.  I didn't get that done this year, and may not get a chance now.  I know I have some younger plants that weren't ready for harvest this year, so it will be OK.  

I started out by cutting up all my veggies.  Usually, though, I cut the first ones to go in the pan, and cut the rest as the first are starting to cook.  To cut kale, take the stems out, either by cutting along the edge, or just tearing the leaves off of the stems.  If the weather permits, put the stems on your compost pile.

As always, I looked at recipes, then made something up.  I normally don't measure, but did, sort of, for this soup.  Rather than trying to measure 8 cups of chopped kale in a dry measuring cup, I just put it in an 8 cup liquid measuring cup to get an idea of how much kale to use.  I don't like it when recipes give you a number of a kind of vegetable to use, because they come in different sizes, but I did that so I wouldn't have to measure.

I went ahead and tore up the rest of the kale off of the stems rather than cutting it, as it was just as easy.

So, for this soup, I used what you see in the next photo.  I'll give an approximate recipe at the end of the post.  :o)  Originally, I was not going to use meat, but decided to because Larry is not a big soup fan, and he is really disappointed if there is no meat in it.  After making it, though, I think I used too much meat  for the amount of veggies.

Let's take a little side trip to see what fresh herbs I put in the soup.  I cut some sprigs off this Arp rosemary, but ended up not using them, because I used a larger sprig from the Madeline Hill outside.

I just took this next pic to show the other rosemary plants that haven't dried out so far!  I used a couple leaves I'd dried previously from the bay plant on the lower left.  You can use fresh bay  leaves, too, but the flavor is not quite the same, and I wanted to use up the dry ones.  (I should have posted the lavender flower for GBBD!)

These next pics were taken just before using the herbs for the soup, after it turned dark.  Here's the thyme that is still  hanging on in a pot, next to some sage.

It's either oregano or oregano thyme in the pot with the handle, that I used for the soup.  Two kind of chives are in the middle, upper and lower.  I used some of them the other day for my herb cream cheese spread.  Salad burnett is on the right, and I haven't used it lately.

The Italian parsley has been nipped by cold weather, but is still edible.

In the back, is the Madeline Hill rosemary that is supposed to survive zone 5 outdoors.  It's looking good so far.  There is tarragon to the right back, sage on the lower right, and thyme on the lower left.

I ended up not using the Arp rosemary on the left, but used most of the rest of these herbs, and put the rest on a plate on a shelf to use later.  It may or may not be dry yet when I decide to use it.  It doesn't matter.

I love snipping fresh herbs like parsley right into the pan with the kitchen scissors I only use for  herbs.  You can see the kale has cooked down.  At first, I thought I  had forgotten to include a pic of the kale in the pan, and had to scroll up and look.

For rosemary, I snip the top leaves off, then turn the side ones, so they all face the same direction, then snip them off. 

I love the kind of thyme that has the leaves going up and down the stem, and just run my fingers down the stem to get the leaves.

After I put the soup in a bowl, I thought it might be good with shredded mozzarella cheese on top.

Larry picked up some bread that needed to be baked.  It was pretty good with the soup and the leftover herb cream cheese spreads I had made for Friday get togethers.  

I'll call it Sunday Kale Soup, because if I made it again, there would be something different about it.  Feel free to tweak it however you want, and post a comment to say what you did.  When I asked Larry if he liked it, he said he did, but he didn't like the kale in it.  LOL  For me, kale was an acquired taste, but I may not eat as much of it if I didn't know how good it is for me.  I have some seeds for the fancy narrower leaved kind, but didn't plant them, because the kale I already have is doing so well, so I hope to plant it in the spring, maybe in a flower bed.

Sunday Kale Soup:
1 T. olive oil
2 medium/small onions, chopped
3 stalks celery, cut into small pieces
3 cloves garlic, diced
4 carrots, cut into thin circles, or chopped
4 medium sized potatoes, chopped, peeling is only if those eating the soup won't eat the peelings, but I bet if they don't eat potato peelings, they probably don't eat kale  ;o)
1-2 cups turkey ham, chopped
4 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 can each, northern and pinto beans, or any other beans you like
1 can diced tomatoes
8 cups chopped or torn fresh kale
to taste: fresh or dried herbs, such as parsley, rosemary, oregano, and thyme
About 2 T. shredded mozzarella cheese per bowl of soup, optional

1. Heat oil, then add the next 5 ingredients, (through the turkey ham) in the order listed, stirring with each addition, giving the onions time to get tender by the time the turkey ham is added.  

2.  Add the water, bay leaves, beans, and tomatoes.  Cook until the veggies are tender, and almost done, about 10-15 minutes.

3.  Add the kale and herbs, and cook until the kale is tender, another 10 to 15 minutes.

We  had lots of leftovers.  I forgot to measure the number of servings, but there were at least 8 cups there.  I plan to put some in smaller containers to freeze to take for lunches.

By the way, there are a lot of good kale recipes out there you can find using a search engine.  I even found some kale information on some blogs.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Kale, It's going to be a Three Parter

Our 10 month old grandson has been over today, as usual, but he has a bug of some kind, and now his parents are sick with it, so he is going to spend the night here for the first time.  I didn't get the kale cooked today, but it will still be fine to use tomorrow.  

I got to thinking, though, that I didn't remember when I planted the kale.  I decided to look for a photo of when the kale plants were seedlings.  I found pics of lettuce and other plants as seedlings, but not the kale.  The potatoes on the left were planted in March, as were the lettuce, I think.  I do successive plantings, starting sometimes as early as February.  Our spring was late in getting here, but I think I at least started some in March.  The buttercrunch and other leaf lettuce looks like it needed thinning here.  We start eating lettuce and other spring greens as soon as I start thinning, which is when they are quite small, so at this point, we were eating lettuce every day, and not keeping up.

The kale here, on 6/3, is quite small still, growing at an angle in the photo between some lettuce, starting at the cement block.  I'm thinking maybe I got the seeds later and planted them in April or May, not March, as I said in Kale...Pt. 1.  I am also thinking the kale was slow in coming up.  I should remember when I plant things next year, assuming I'm still blogging.  :o)  I'm not normally a good record keeper.  

The next photo was taken 7/5.  How could I  have forgotten about my battle with the bunnies?  I learned to tell their bite marks, by the jagged edge they leave.  They also took their share of lettuce, as usual, especially romaine.  Shortly after this was taken, I cut the plants way back to the stubs, and sprayed Liquid Fence around the area.  I ate the kale, feeling quite smug, and I don't remember if the rabbits came back when it regrew or not.

Look how nicely the kale rebounded!  This is from 8/13, and the potato plants were dying back already.  You can see stick verbena, which the butterflies frequent all over the yard, and there are some pepper plants in the photo.

This, taken 9/25, looks like it's showing where I've picked some of the leaves.  It doesn't look like I picked the center ones.  Maybe I just removed them because they had gotten big or had insect damage on them.  I just noticed the neighbors' fence to the lower right, which means I took the picture from their yard.

Kale, from garden to soup, Pt. 1

I've noticed that some people are finding my blog by using search engines to find out about eating sweet potato vines.  I wondered if they may also be looking for information on kale.  There is a lot of good info out there, but thought I'd add my little bit of sort of photo journalism to what's out there.

On Thursday, 11/20/08, knowing that the temps were supposed to dip into the teens, and not remembering how cold it can get before the kale gets mushy, I went out to take pics as I harvested and picked some kale.  First, I tried to get a little artsy with the kale, but my talent for that is at the beginning stages.  Still, I kept some and posted them.  

This kale was planted early, in full sun, probably in March.  I have been eating from them all summer, once a week or every other week.  I eat kale raw or cooked.  I read that the large leaves should not be eaten raw, but I do.

In doing a search this morning for information to add about kale, I read that it's best to harvest from the middle to promote new growth.  I did it because I figured the outer leaves had gotten too big and may be tough.

Here, I experimented with seeing if covering would help the kale last longer.  I haven't made it back out to see yet, but it's still looking green from the driveway.  It was getting dark.  I adjusted things so it appears lighter here than it was.  I saw that our lows are only supposed to be in the 20s this week, so I plan to take the buckets off when I get a chance.

I used the same method of washing, drying, and packaging as I do with lettuce and other salad greens.  First, put water in the bowl with the kale.

Push it into the water and swish it around.

Lift it out of the water, and put into the sink.

Pick up clumps and rinse them off.  

I usually put them on the drainer in the next sink, and shake them a bit, but skipped that this time because I didn't want to put the dishes away that were in it.  I just shook them by the handful and put them on a clean bath towel.  A couple kitchen towels could also be used.

Wrap and gently press against the towel to partially dry the kale.  It can be left a little while to absorb moisture if desired.

If not using right away, place a white paper towel in a plastic bag, then put the kale inside, adding a paper towel on top, before closing the bag.  If anyone knows a more environmentally friendly way to store veggies, please let me know.

I was planning on making soup with the kale yesterday, but forgot we had two functions to go to, so instead of making soup, I was making herb cream cheese spread to put on the crackers we bought to take to each of them.  It was nice seeing people we hardly ever see, and gabbing about my new love of blogging.  Now, we can go back to hardly ever going anywhere, and I hope to make the soup today, and have my husband take some pics.  :o)