Thursday, July 30, 2015

Afternoon Tea at the Beach

There is a beautiful small house not too far from the beach that has been converted into a boutique and several tea rooms.  The boutique carries all cute things in white and the tea rooms are decorated in about fifty shades of whites.

The tea rooms are elegant with linen table clothes and napkins with lace.  It is sophisticated according my granddaughter, yet it is "beachy".

It it is a place where ladies and matrons in flip flops may have their afternoon teas, soup and sandwiches.  My granddaughter and I got all gussied up for this outing.  We had matching open toed wedges with silvery tops that showed off our painted toe nails.

We had a large pot of tea and the waitperson poured us the first cups to prevent us from spilling on the beautiful old linen.  Soon thereafter, she brought us crackers with a cranberry cream brulee.

The main course consisted of various sandwiches such as cucumber sandwiches, pimento cheese sandwiches, and chicken salad sandwiches.  Strawberries, slices of cucumbers, and oranges quarters were also served.

In addition, we also had dessert with the sweetest layered cake and the best warm scones with Devonshire Cream.

To make a Mock Devonshire Cream, use the following ingredients:

1 cup of heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup of confectioner's sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup of sour cream

Beat together the cream, sugar, and extract until stiff.  Fold in the sour cream. Refrigerate.  Served with warm scones, fresh fruit, and enjoy it.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Surf Fest Summer 2015

Summer time and it is time to go dip my toes in the surf and forget about gardening.  The weeds are doing very well without my help.

The other week, there was a Super Grom Surf Fest in Jacksonville Beach with a lot of young kids who wanted to build sand castles, fly kites, and ride a surf.

It was a great introduction for youngsters.  They learned how to keep the balance on a surf board and how to safely fall off it.

The kids lined up with their instructors waiting for the perfect wave and mothers and grandmothers lined up on shore to take the perfect pictures.

Today's Tip:  When at the beach and your feet are covered with sand, sprinkle a generous amount of baby powder and gently brush it off with your hands.

Thank you for visiting my blog.
Stay hydrated.
Use sun screen.
Have a nice summer.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Different Names for Butter Beans

I have a distinct taste for butter beans; however, not all butter beans are the same. There are some misconceptions about this beautiful, nourishing, easy to grow, and good tasting butter bean.

The butter beans that grow so well in my garden on the Back Forty are known as Carolina beans, Sieva beans, and bush or pole beans.

Then there is the Lima bean that is also known as butter bean.  The Lima bean may very well come from Peru but it is much larger than the Sieva bean.  It is "mealier".  It is often sold frozen in grocery stores and served in restaurants.

You may find both Sieva and Lima at Farmers' Markets, shelled or not.  It is relaxing to sit on the porch and shell butter beans although it is time consuming.  The Sieva beans freeze well, too.  Blanch, rinse, and bag 'em.

The Sieva beans are much smaller than the Lima beans; however, the Sieva beans are not baby Lima beans. If left on the vine, they not grow any larger:  they  will brown and dry out.

These are my notions and if you like to grow Lima beans, fine.  If you like the taste of the Lima beans, that is fine with me.  And if you don't like any kind of butter beans. . . .What do you grow?

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(Post a comment below, if you like.)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

My Secret Garden

My garden is so overgrown at this time; I can't even find it.  The corn stalks are only a reminder of the sweet Silver Queen we picked not all that long ago and the tomatoes that weren't stalked are meandering.  It is too late to sow a ground cover of beans to enrich the soil and hold the weeds down.  Oh, well!  Another growing season is fast approaching.

Not too long ago, one of the major news networks covered a story about coloring books for adults and that perked me up.  Women of all ages gathered together to color, paint, and talk.  It relieved stress and it was fun, they claimed.  Not to mention a break from the so called "high tech."

In a recent Sunday issue of Parade magazine inserted in the news paper, there was another story about coloring books for adults and they gave free samples to print.

Check out:

My granddaughter is visiting and that was an excellent opportunity to stock up on water colors, acrylics, crayons, colored pencils, and so on.  I like coloring, painting, with acrylics.  They dry fast and they can be painted over.

To see what the free prints looked like, I printed some of them out on regular printing paper and we attempted to color with markers but the ink ran through the paper.

I had paper available for water colors that had to be modified (it was too wide for the printer).

So, my granddaughter and I have colored our secret gardens this week and we talked about art, our feelings for art, and had our artistic disagreements.  The outcome of the talk was that she had to create her own secret garden, to use her colors, and her imagination.  We really had a wonderful coloring party for two.

Enjoy your own coloring party.
Thank you for visiting my blog.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Hot Tomato and Pepper Salsa

When it is hot on the sand and hot on the grass, it is hot in my kitchen.  So I made a hot tomato and pepper salsa.  The growing season for tomatoes are quickly coming to an end but they are still producing more than we can eat.

To Do:  I used the yellow and red cherry tomatoes that I halved. Any kind of tomatoes will do fine.  It is up to you if you want to remove the skin and the seeds.  I didn't.  The peppers are also maturing in the garden and I used medium green bell peppers that I seeded, sliced and diced.  I minced a medium sized yellow onion to make 3/4 cup and I also minced 3 large cloves of garlic.

These are the ingredients that I put in a large pot, let them come to a boil, reduced it to a simmer for 20 minutes and stirred once in a while:

3 cups halved cherry tomatoes
2 and 1/2 to 3 cups diced bell peppers
3/4 cup minced yellow onion
3 large minced cloves of garlic
1 and 1/2 cups of vinegar (white, apple cider, or mix)
1 and 1/2 tsp Kosher salt or sea salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin (optional)
2 tsp dried oregano leaves (optional)

Crushed red pepper to be used at your own peril.  I was a little heavy handed and the end result was a hot but good salsa.

At the conclusion of the simmering, I filled two (2) Mason jars, 2 cups each, with the salsa and had about 1/2 cup left for tasting.

I put the the two jars in the stock pot, covered them with water and let it come to a slow boil for 15 minutes, turned the stove off, and let the jars cool in the water bath.  I made sure that I had not tighten the lids too tight, but when removed from the water bath, I checked the seals and no movement indicated that the jars were sealed.  I tightened the lids and put the jars into the cupboard.

In my blog, one (1) cup is 2 dl.

I am also thinking how colorful this salsa would be with the addition of corn kernels and black beans.

Thank you for visiting my blog.
Stay hydrated.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Caring for the Crepe Myrtle

The Crepe Myrtle or Crape Myrtle is a hardy and beautiful tree that will grow to different heights depending on the desired requirement of your purchase.  The label usually states how tall it will grow.  I seem to remember somebody saying to keep it away from your house because the color will smear the facade.

The Crepe Myrtle requires sunshine and proper drainage, good food and insect control.  I have not seen any insect around my Crepe Myrtle; however, moss has covered some of the branches but it is supposed to be harmless.

I have neglected my tree this year:  I didn't  fertilize and mulch around it.  I should have used plenty of pine straw as mulch because it likes acidic soil.

I noticed that some of the leaves have yellowed and it could be because I did not fertilize it properly this spring.  But I did fertilize the grass under and around it.  The Crepe Myrtle does not require special fertilizer so 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 will do very well and that is the kind that is used for the garden, too.

Fertilization of a grown Crepe Myrtle should take place in the spring.  If new trees are planted (and that is usually also done in spring), it is recommended that you fertilize every month from March through August.  Nursery staff recommend 1/2 lb to every 100 sq.ft.  You fertilize, broadcast, all the way out to the drip line (as far as the branches reach).  I try not to get fertilizer too close to the trunk.

What I feel is the most important in the care of the Crepe Myrtle is the pruning.  I absolutely feel sick when I see that the branches has been cut off and leaving knobs.  This is such an eyesore near road ways and in parking lots.  Please, prune your tree to look like a beautiful vase or let it grow free.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Cherry Preserves

The local grocery store had dark red luscious cherries from Washington State on sale and I couldn't resist picking up a few packages.  We devoured some of them but there was enough left to make preserves.  Without much ado, this is what I did:

Two (2) lbs of washed, pitted cherries with stems removed
1 and 1/2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of sweet red wine or water
1/2 lemon, chopped
Sprigs of mint (optional)

Mix them all together in your enameled pot, bring to a boil and let it simmer.  I let my jam simmer for 45 minutes and stirred often.  I really watched that pot towards the end.

No artificial pectin was used.  Once the jam had thickened, I transferred it to one (1) jar, sealed it with wax, and put it in the cupboard.  2 lbs (1 kg) of cherries yielded 1 pint (about 2 cups = 4 dl).  Is it worth it?

To seal, I melt the wax in a double boiler and paying careful attention to that pot, too.  I simply put a pot with the wax into another pot with water and as the latter come to a boil, the wax will melt.  It does not have to be at a roiling boil.  Easy does it.

It is my belief that if I put the hot jam into sterilized jars, seal them with the wax, and put the lids on, the preserves will last a long time in the cupboard.  I believe that this is a safe method of conserving the jams, jellies, and preserves.  Some people like to give preserves a water bath and I don't have a problem with that method.  Other suggestions are welcome.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

4th July 2015

There is not a bald eagle celebrating the holiday and the summer at the Back Forty; instead, we have a bold hawk that has taken up residence around the pond.  In this picture, he is resting on a trellis post after a good meal that he devoured under the nearby grapefruit tree.

He likes frogs, snakes, mice, and anoles.  We have plenty of frogs around the pond and we consider them good for us because they hold the mosquito and bug population down.  They also serenade us at night.

We also do have some snakes around and we don't mind if he feasts on them.  Now, the anole that look like any miniature iguana is another matter.  The green anole is native and we are happy to see them,  There are also the brown and black anole that he is welcome to have for dinner; however, the anoles are working hard to catch insects  (This picture was snatched from the images of anoles on the Internet.)

We were not sure what kind of hawk this bird of prey is but I have come to the conclusion that it is a red shouldered hawk although no red is showing.  Otherwise, the coloring of the wings, breast, feet and beak are that of a red shouldered hawk.  If anyone can enlighten me, let me know.

The staff of one and I wish you all a happy and safe holiday.  Enjoy it.  But be cautious and sensible.

Thank you for visiting my Back Forty and my blog.