A Day at Home

Today was supposed to be my last day of work for the summer. I've worked as a para-educator for several years now, part-time. The work is very rewarding, but the best part about it is that I can take the summers off to be with my own kids. The school I work for ended classes Wednesday, but we are moving locations, and the latter days of this week were for packing and moving. Unfortunately Kate woke up with a fever and vomiting this morning, so I needed to stay home with her. I'm of two minds about this; while it's nice to have an unexpected day off (even if it does mean looking after a sick person!), I was hoping to see all my work-mates today and celebrate the end of the school year with them. I've really enjoyed my work this year, and it's mainly due to the fact that we had a very strong team of people in our classroom. Most of the folks are half my age, but they are all highly motivated, intelligent people whom I admire very much. Nearly all of them are moving on to other jobs in the Fall, so I won't see them again. This makes me sad. I learned a lot from them!!!

However, a day at home is never wasted. It's hot here, again - hovering around 100 - so I do a chore outside, then do a chore inside, etc. As always, there's plenty of interesting stuff to look at, work on,  and explore. So come on a tour of the garden with me, and then we'll talk some culinary stuff!

We're getting three eggs a day at the moment.
I'm not sure, but I think they are all coming from
two chickens. Today I noticed a barred rock
nesting, and then afterward I found this big 'un!
Looks like full sized eggs are soon to be in our future!
The corn is recovering from its deer-provided haircut. The
tallest are about hip-high. It's safe to plant an inter-crop
here now, so today or this weekend I'll put the
sweet potatoes in. The SP's have rooted and shooted
in their shallow pan of water after a month indoors.
I planted two varieties of pole beans this year, green and purple.
These are the green. I love watching them figure out how to wind
upwards on the trellis.
The delicata squash has gone crazy, growing up
between the trellis (not winding, like I'd hoped), with
these big leaves. No blossoms yet. The butternut
is not far behind in size.
The tomatoes are flowering freely and a lot of fruit
is forming. We removed the straw mulch from the
paste tomatoes and sprayed the leaves with copper;
that seems to have done the trick, and paste
tomatoes are growing as vigorously as the slicing and cherry
We have plenty of both sweet and hot peppers
fruiting; these are definitely preferring the
North Garden over the South Garden (last year's
spot) - more heat and sun
a fresh crop of cilantro is ready for harvest
the first patch of basil (with cosmos interplanted)
is nearly ready for pesto-making
We're letting our second (and final, for this year)
artichoke flower; I think it looks really cool
and I can't wait to see the blossom
One ripe raspberry so far! I ate it immediately
after taking this photo. Boy, was it good.
Another dog vomit fungus. I get these all over
the wood chips that surround the raised beds.
This one looks a little like popcorn. 
collards, which I like sautéed with bacon and eggs,
is a great summer alternative to kale and spinach,
which prefer cool weather. The leaves will get
enormous, but I like them younger and smaller.
The potato plants are huge, with holes everywhere from
those dang cucumber beetles

harvesting carrots daily, glad I planted in succession
over six weeks; we'll have carrots for a while

The shallots are ready for harvest. The bulbs are
gigantic. We'll cure these above the chicken coop,
just like we did garlic. I'll have to read up on
storage methods.
Ah, sweet blueberry, one of maybe 10 we've had
this year. I think I need to learn how to prune blueberry bushes
for more consistent fruiting 
We're harvesting huckleberries every day;
they are delicious and numerous, but fiddly to harvest,
as they are tiny. How does anyone ever get enough to make a pie???
We're getting a last burst of clarkia 'mountain
garland' before the truly hot weather sets in.
I'll harvest the seed for next year.
I must've planted Queen Anne's Lace seeds at
one time, and totally forgot. It's beautiful in the
pollinator garden, light and airy over the more
steadfast poppies and sage
I have beautiful 'aloha' nasturtiums all over the
garden, both in the flower beds and the veg beds.
I used to hate nasturtiums; then I discovered
different varieties other than that garish orange
and I've fallen in love with them
Black-Eyed Susan, reminding me of my home state of MD
So that's the news from the garden. There's a long list of jobs to do there, hopefully I'll get to them tonight in the cool evening, or tomorrow morning before it gets hot. 

Meanwhile, I spent a little time in the kitchen with some 'herb-y' projects. Alice Medrich is one of my favorite recipe-writers, she mainly handles desserts, and they are always interesting and different. I read a recent post she wrote for Food52 about mint chip ice cream using fresh mint from the garden. Well, if there's something I always have a lot of, it's mint. So I followed her instructions for infusing heavy cream with chopped mint, and it's steeping in the fridge for later, when I'll make a custard (using home-grown egg yolks!) and we'll make a delicious treat, perfect on a hot day. (I just hope Kate can eat it!)

I washed and chopped the mint, then wrapped it in cheesecloth...
tied it up...
then added it to the cream. It already smells so good, minty but delicately so!
Then our weekly meat delivery from Tara Firma Farms arrived. This week it's high-end grilling meats, so I kept the rib-eye steaks out to defrost and put the other items in the freezer. I decided that a freshly grilled steak wouldn't need any seasoning other than salt and pepper, but I'd make some compound butter, too. This is super-easy to do. Just soften a stick of butter. Go out into your garden and choose any combination of herbs you like. Chop 'em up along with some garlic and mash them into the butter, then roll into a cylinder and put back in the fridge. It'll keep for three days (long enough to enjoy with the filet mignon early next week!).

I chopped up thyme, sage, rosemary, marjoram, and oregano
squished some home-grown garlic 
added a stick of softened, grass-fed butter
mashed it up with a fork
rolled it into a tiny log, and wrapped in plastic wrap
Adam's home from school (7th grade done and dusted!), Kate's asleep on the couch as I type this, and I think I might brave an outside chore, next. Gotta get those shallots out of the ground and up on the coop for curing!