Monday, July 24, 2017

Harvesting My Herbs

This morning I harvested my herbs outside the summer kitchen.  The herbs have grown and taken care of themselves without interference from me.  I gave them a scant cup of fertilizer when I first planted out the seedlings and we have had lots of rain.

I snipped off plenty of the Oregano that lends itself to be tied up with a pretty ribbon and hang up to dry for later use in stews.

I also got plenty of Sweet Basil that is so good with corn and tomatoes.  The basil had paled a little because of being out in the strong morning sun.  I plan to let it lay on the kitchen towel and dry.

In addition, I cut the parsley that as far as I am concerned is a cool weather plant.  I use it often for decorating food that is otherwise bland and I use it in stir fried foods.

Finally, I am leaving out the herbs in a cup of water to be used as I go along doing my cooking from breakfast though dinner.  Oh, I forgot to tell you that I also got a few sprigs of Rosemary for my memory.

I must say that the few herbs that I do have is nothing to brag about but it makes me happy to have them and they have to do fine for a garden this summer.  Ah, a handful of the herbs smell so fresh and so delightful.  They will go a long way in the summer kitchen.

Thank you for visiting my blog and I hope that you have a wonderful summer.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Florida Heat Pump

Bottom Portion of the Pump
Top Portion of the Pump
We have what is known as a Florida Heat Pump.  It  pumps the water out of a shallow well in the ground

In the summer time, it uses the coolness of the water to centrally cool our house to what we have set the thermostat to read inside.

It works in reverse in the winter time.  It takes the warmth out of the water to warm the house to desire room temperature.

When we bought the house, we found the Florida Heat Pump to be the most efficient and economical heating and air conditioning system.  The water is being circulated though the unit in the garage and the pump is on the outside of the house drawig water from a shallow well.

After the water has been circulated through, it could be returned to the ground; however, we use it to water the lawn and/or the garden..  We also use it to refresh the water in the pond.

Most often, people don't have big enough yards or gardens to use the water so they use more conventional methods of cooling and heating their houses.

The blue Pressurized Well System Tank may be replaced should it fail and it often does.  It is imperative that electricity to the pump is turned off and that the tank is de-pressurized otherwise it may take off as well as any projectile from Cape Canaveral.

Nowadays, it is a lot of work to put in a Florida Heat Pump and it is being done less and less.  Also, we are finding that few technicians know how to work this particular system in general.

Thank you for visiting my blog.  Stay cool and drink plenty of water.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Fresh Fruit in Season

It is so interesting and tempting to go to the grocery store or the Farmer's Market for fresh fruit to eat and preserve.  Fresh fruit is such an integral part of nutrition.

The only fresh fruit that we have growing now on the Back Forty
are figs and we have to share them with some of the birds.

We have a small fig tree against the garage window.  It is easy to bend the branches to reach most of the figs that are high up.

The tree gives some shade.  It is the first tree to loose its leaves in the fall and it is the first to put out new leaves in the spring.

Both red and green grapes are available at the grocery store at a reasonable price. My husband tells me that we have muscadine grapes maturing on the vines that he planted a few years ago  We have neglected the grape vines this year:  we didn't trim them but let them grow wild.  The weeding has been minimal, not to mention the feeding  I don't believe that we will be making any vine or preserves  any time soon.  The grapes below are from Lucky's Market

Cherries are also available in the grocery store at a nice price.  They may have to travel a bit to get to Florida but sometimes that cannot be avoided.  It is interesting that some stores let you know in their ads how far some of their produce have been transported.  

It seems that bananas are always in season and they are so sweet and rich in potassium.  My husband cuts them up over his oatmeal and I prefer to peel them and eat them.  I am sure that kids will like a peanut butter sandwich with mashed bananas instead of jam.  It makes for a good change.

Thank you for visiting my blog.  Continue to have a great summer.  Enjoy the fruit but be sure to wash them first.  And drink plenty of water and use your sunscreen.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Simple Strawberry Jam

I went to the Farmers Market downtown in Jacksonville and I had my taste buds set on large juicy Georgia or South Carolina peaches.  It was not to be:  the weather messed up that harvest.  Oh, well. the California strawberries are still inexpensive and plentiful and we need some for eating and some for jam to see us through with sweetness for a while.

For a very basic and simple strawberry jam recipe, I used 2 lbs of strawberries and 2 cups of sugar.

Wash, hull, cut and dice, and/or mash the berries.  The berries and sugar was brought to a roiling boil in my large enameled pot while stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from sticking//burning. I  turned down the heat and let the mixture simmer for about an hour.

Forget simple and let's jazz it up some by adding a handful of cherries that are also in season.  I also added a bit of lemon for added pectin and I added a few full leaves of minced sweet basil from my herb garden.

Just before I removed the pot from the heat, I added a little bit of Southern Comfort to the jam.  Hmm!  Pretty good jam!

This time, I poured the jam into a large bowl and covered with a lid.  I let it cool down and sit on the drainboard for several hours to let the strawberries/fruit soak up the juice.  I got this idea from the PBS program, The Farmer and The Chef with Vivian Howard whose mother made strawberry jam this way and it made sense to me.

Finally, I ladled the jam into a couple of jars and sealed them with hot wax.

Thank you for visiting my blog and continue to enjoy the hot summer.

Saturday, July 1, 2017


It is summertime.  It is hot and only the figs thrive in this heat  This one tree is against the garage in hopes that it will give us some shade but the tree is rather small.  The leaves break out early in the spring and they are the first to turn color (brown) and fall from the tree as soon as there is a hint of autumn in the air.

The other year, I made fig preserves and they turned out very sweet.  This year, we are going to eat them as soon as we can pick them.  Our competition are squirrels and birds.  That is OK:  we share.

Figs don't last very long once picked and the greenish ones don't mature.  Let's eat 'em and enjoy 'em!

Thank you for visiting my blog.