Eatin’ good from the back yard

Thanksgiving was great – good company, good food, what more can you want. Tina picked and prepared a great food selection and it came together like a finely tuned machine. That event was followed on Sunday by a birthday party for Tommy Jr. He made it home from Chicago this year so we got to celebrate his event and Thanksgiving together – been quite a while since that occurred. He’ll be back again about mid December and we have a beach pub crawl planned.

The fall/winter bird migration has started as I’m looking out the window at a large flock of robins and another of the large woodpeckers. That unofficially hooks with the speckled perch season as does the several cold fronts that have moved in over the past couple of weeks. I’ve got to get up the gumption to give it a try. Usually George and I would have been hitting it early in November but I haven’t had the urge or the nudging from George.

I made the first pasta and greens for this season. I used kale and swiss chard, both just starting to put out a few decent size leaves. I probably could have added a collard leaf or two but will save that for next time. We’ll be full overload mode with greens by mid December. Nancy made cheese and green bean omelets for lunch so we’re definitely feeling the garden now. This year we have way more beans than eaters so consequently I’m picking them earlier while they’re small and tender. You can really tell the difference. We made a green bean salad for Thanksgiving which used 3 lbs of beans. Seemed to go over well. Beans are really tender relative to dealing with cold weather so I’m guessing that they’ll crash in the next couple of weeks.

Having our first serious cold tonight, Wed 11/28, with the F word (frost) popping up in the forecasts. I picked the last couple handfuls of green beans, the last zucchini, and a “ready to pick” green bell pepper then covered the pepper plants with a sheet and attempted to do the same with most of the tomatoes. I really suspect we won’t have any frost due to our lakeside location and the fact that the wind is coming off the lake but it’s not that much trouble covering up a few of the more sensitives. The beans are just about picked out so if they go, so be it. I can use the garden real estate.

First Smoothie of the Season

It’s crazy cold. Believe it or not, it’s 48 degrees and not even Thanksgiving yet. It’s nice and sunny but with a 20 mph wind from the north, it’s biting. I start to get nervous and jerky when it falls below 70 – especially during the daylight.

Chris is all moved into his new digs in Jersey. The move went like clockwork. He’s close to where he lived before so it’s all familiar. He got back from a conference in Miami, a few hours late, into the great snow disaster and drove over to see if his apt was ready for the furniture to be delivered first thing in the morning. Good to go and by 10 AM it was all delivered and fully functional. Then he got his car – a Jeep Cherokee for now which turns into a new Chevy Equinox in a month or so.

Milestone – made the first green smoothie of the season. The kale provided the “green”. The plants are now big enough to provide leaves for the rest of the season even if none of the other plants come through. By the end of the month I’ll be able to make the same statement relative to Swiss Chard. And the green beans are coming in goodly quantity so we can have them whenever we want. In addition to the ones we’re eating, I have a 3 pound bagful that is designated for a green bean – cranberry salad at Thanksgiving. I’m guessing there’d be enough for a green bean casserole as well but that would be a bit much. UPDATE – the green bean salad is made and ready for the big event tomorrow. It includes chopped walnuts and dried cranberries and a vinegar/oil based dressing. You can tell, I’m very invested in this salad since I’ve been with these beans from seed to salad. In parallel with making the salad, I’m making the whole berry cranberry sauce. I didn’t grow the cranberries but added a few pieces of back yard tangerine for the home touch – all this while Nancy is playing bridge in Crescent City.

Awhile back I mentioned Fish Bites as my new bait of choice for the surf. This week the surf was so roiled that I decided to take my act across the street to the Intracoastal. My rig has two smallish hooks and I decided to populate them with crab and clam for starts. There are loads of crabs in that particular body of water so I suspected that could work. Turns out that the clams were the ticket. As soon as I cast out into the channel, I’d get bites on the clam but nothing on the crab. I tried shrimp and sand fleas but the preferred bite was unquestionably clams.

Did my first “fixit” job since George passed. The wheel on the wheel barrel crashed and needed replacement. Seems simple enough but getting the old one off was trickier than I thought. Then the replacement tire was not quite the same size so I had to modify the shaft and cut the spacers to fit with my totally inadequate tools – so it looks a little weird but works. George is shaking his head and laughing.

Bird Attacks

I think I mentioned some time back that we had a problem with cardinals attacking the side view mirrors on any car that parked near our house. Nancy solved the problem by making mirror covers. Only the vehicles that were parked near the house were subjected to the bombings- no problem if parked under the carport. Now with only two cars, they are both normally parked in the carport but the problem has recurred although I don’t think it’s necessarily the same culprits. The size of the deposits lead me to believe they are buzzards or bald eagles. The ones last year clearly perched on the mirror so the mess was limited to the mirror surface itself. These guys target the whole side of the car with none attacking the mirror per se. I’m going to try hanging a towel over the drivers side window and see if that solves the problem.

By the end of the month we’ll be getting a goodly crop from the garden. We’ll be able to pick some kale leaves, chard leaves, lettuce, green beans and zucchini. A few green tomatoes and green bell peppers are visible and probably ready to start picking in December. Ditto the Chinese cabbage, collard greens, and spinach. By the end of December we’ll be providing greens to Nancy’s bridge buddies in Crescent City and Palm Coast. All of this assumes no crazy weather events.

But what about the sweet potatoes? A couple weeks back I reported digging up a foot or so of the 15’x3’ row and finding several immature tubers. I pulled enough that we threw them on the grill and they were certainly edible but decided to give the plants another couple of weeks. I decided to extend the digging/picking another foot on the row. In that foot I pulled about 10 potatoes that were still small but more than double the size of those last picked. My original thought was to pick the entire row when they were the right size but I’ve rethought that and decided to harvest them on a weekly basis, about a foot of the row each time. Should be that as I work my way down the row, the tubers will get bigger with each subsequent pull and the harvest will extend for a couple of months. I’m also thinking that I’ll buy a bag of onion sets and plant them in the row as the potatoes are pulled. That way they’ll mature on an extended time basis rather than all at once.

Here in Florida were trying to decide whether the election screw ups are due to incompetence or corruption. Personally I think it’s a bit of both – especially since we’ve seen the same problems before in the same places and with the same cast of characters. Personally I think we should restrict voting to only those who have lived here legally for 5 years minimum. Also keep all the amendments off the general election ballot and deal with them in a separate election. Most of them are nearly unreadable and confuse a large number of voters, especially those with a limited command of the English Language. They also make the ballots larger so the equipment is having to deal with a document size ballot instead of a simple, one page sheet or card. I think that would eliminate lots of machine failures.

Acupuncture

Nancy started a routine of acupuncture to try to soothe her aching back and sciatic. She hit’s it twice a week, Monday’s and Fridays, for a total of 6 treatments. How lucky for us that it is only about half a mile from her bridge games which also just happen to be on Mondays and Fridays. Monday is also now grocery shopping day. We have transitioned smoothly into a routine where I do the grocery shopping from a list on Monday while Nancy plays bridge. Grocery shopping was about our most contentious time with me being of the get it done and over school and Nancy being a browser, shopping for deals. I’m actually getting to where I know where things are in the Palm Coast store and can be in and out in under 20 minutes with no deli purchases or 30 minutes with. So my Monday’s are getting tight – acupuncture, Dunkin’ for lunch, surf fishing, Hooligans for a mid afternoon libation, Public for groceries, the library for posting the blog and returning and/or picking up new books, to the bridge club and then home to the lake. The big time variable is the surf fishing which is hard to predict due to surf conditions and the fish bite.

Sure glad to be back on Standard Time and hope they keep it this way year round. I’m a morning person and like to be out and about by 7AM, especially in the summer when it’s hot, hot, hot. With daylight savings time, it’s too dark to be out much before 8 so I’ve lost my most productive time. I don’t care when it get’s dark because by 6PM we’re pretty much locked into eating and then watching the tube. Who cares if it’s dark out.

I’m about 10 books into a series that was recommended to me on our North Carolina vacation in July. The surprise was that the recommender is Peggy, Mark’s mother – “little old lady, mid 80’s so I thought the books would not be something of interest to me and didn’t pursue it. But I was at the library a few weeks ago just scanning the shelves when I spotted a full row of C. J. Box books and recalled this was the author Peggy had raved about. I read the cover and was surprised to find out that the main character was a game warden in Wyoming and the story was interwoven with Wyoming locales and characters. I was lucky that the first book in the series just happened to be on the shelf so I decided to try it. Very fast read, very interesting action with lots of local lore; great characters, blood and guts and all the things I like. I’ve tried to read them in chronological order which is not always possible with the library as the source. Even using both the Volusia County and Flagler County systems, I have a couple of gaps. The stories do reflect back on previous events and characters so it helps to be in the right sequence. And it fits my Monday schedule detailed above. I know exactly where the Box books are and can be in and out with a new one in under 5 minutes if need be.

Next post will discuss the fla elections.

Really bad news

In a month we’ll be in a serious lettuce overload. I have about 4 different kinds going and they are all super fast from seed to table – on the order of a month. Everybody likes lettuce so it’s an easy crop to distribute and better yet, you just pick the leaves you want and the plant keeps putting out. About the same time we’ll start on the lettuce, maybe Thanksgiving, there will be radishes and white Russian Kale ready to start picking. So the salads will be super. By mid December add spinach and swiss chard leaves to the mix and probably cherry tomatoes. I see a switchback to my green smoothie lunches fairly soon.

I went ahead and dug another linear foot or so into the sweet potato patch to see how much the tubers have grown since first checking a few weeks back. The good news is that I found a plentiful supply; the bad news is that they are still too small – bigger than they were a month ago but still way too small to eat – except maybe as a specialty, baby potatoes. I’d say they’re about half the size we typically buy. So Thanksgiving is not looking so good for the home grown sweets. And just to confirm, the tubers are still white so there are white sweet potatoes. I am picking some green beans so maybe we’ll provide the raw material for a green bean casserole.

Put in some snow pea seeds. Last year that didn’t work out so well, no idea why but going to give it another try.

Ate the half sized sweets putting them on the Holland grill along with zucchini slices and pork chops. They were good and welcomed when they get to regulation size.

George is back in the hospital. Barbara called last night with word that he had gone to the hemotologist for a routine check and they ordered an immediate transfusion of two units. That plus he has quite an infection, probably from the wound on his chest, and was running a fever of 103 degrees. He can’t catch a break. He’s been fighting that chest wound for at least 10 years with a handful of different doc’s but they don’t seem to be able to do anything permanent because of the old irradiated tissue – the result of a blast of cobalt about 50 years ago. This one sounds ominous and they told Barbara that he’d be at least 3 days in the hospital. Apparently it’s very much complicated by the fact that his pace maker is just a few inches away from the wound and prone to problems with infections. UPDATE. Got a call at 4:30AM, 11/1, telling us that George had passed away. No details other than the infection overwhelmed his system. I’m going to miss him a lot.