Converting Veggies into Brew

I mentioned picking radishes in the last post. That needs just a bit of expansion lest you think I’m growing plain old radishes. These guys are purple skinned – perfectly shaped and not even slightly pithy. Very mild.

Picked another batch of tomatoes which we’ll be converted to sauce within the next few hours. That will make the fourth batch so far and there are still plenty of green tomatoes on the vines. Each batch gets us about 6 quarts – a dozen one pint Talenti cups. One Talenti cup of sauce covers one medium pizza; 3 cups works for a pound of pasta. The tomatoes will play out by the end of this month and I’ve already got the seedlings for the spring/summer crop on the porch. That’s the May – June crop and the official end of the tomato season in the garden. It’s just too hot and humid for tomatoes in Florida July through October. We’ve been on this schedule for several years now and have never run out of sauce. The biggest problem is running out of freezer space.

Any way I measure it, this garden has been the most productive ever. I think I’ve spent more time tending it than before – keeping it weed free, trimmed, harvested and mended with a steady supply of new compost – but it’s really showing. That plus the weather has been nearly perfect – cool but not near freezing; moisture but no frost.

The other thing that’s outstanding this year is the azalea bloom. I trimmed it back a little stronger than usual this summer and the bloom has really been fabulous. I think if we ever decide to sell this place – not that we will – we would do it in February. The walk down to the lake is incredible this year with several different, super bright colors on display.

My Friday walk in Palm Coast has turned interesting. I usually walk about a mile and a half from Waterfront Park to the European Village adjacent to the Hammock Bridge, have a brew at Moonrise brewery, then walk back to the car. A few weeks back my routine was interrupted when Moonrise was closed for a personal event. As luck would have it, there’s an Irish Pub just a few doors down and I decided to try that as an alternative. Wasn’t sure I could walk all the way back to the car without a refuel. It was mostly empty but the few people there and the bartender were friendly so I mentally set it up as a good alternative. All the patrons were old retirees, mostly down from NY for the winter, so easy to engage. One topic of discussion was the garden. Nothing special but the next week I was greeted with concern from the bartender, Denise, regarding the cold weather we’d had the night before and that she had worried about the garden freezing. It surprised me that anybody would even remember let alone worry. I asked her if she liked greens and learned that her daughter was a Vegan and they’d love fresh greens. The next week I brought a giant bag of mixed greens only to find the Pub, Farley’s, closed. There was a patron outside that told me that Denise had fallen behind the bar and had been 911’d to the hospital. Luckily my old haunt, Moonrise, was open and the gal behind the bar there just loved greens. Anyway, this week I called Farley’s and made sure that Denise was there and still wanted greens. Turns out she had had a pulmonary embolism (whatever that is) which had caused the fall and hospitalization but was back at work and wanted the greens. I brought a gigantic bag of kale and chard which blew her away. She wouldn’t let me pay for my beer so I’ve got a new gig – trading kale for Tangerine wheat.

Political – read no further.
The Dem’s are getting scary at this point. Seems like the end choice for them will be either a Socialist/Communist or a Billionaire New Yorker. Once they took the impeachment path, that killed off Biden. I just wonder whether that was intentional or a lack of judgement. How is it possible that they could end up with candidates who are not really Dem’s- Bloomberg being a Republican or independent at best; Sanders being a card carrying, no apologies Socialist. If you could be a fly on the wall, the best place to be would be the Carville’s – “it’s the economy, stupid!” listening to Mary and James have at each other. Might also be fun to listen in on the Clinton’s or the Obama’s – all straight down the middle, old fashion Dem’s. We’re seeing a classic circular firing squad. I think in the end, this election will be a choice between adults and kids, independent of party affiliation.


Beautiful picking day – a small head of cabbage, a small cauliflower, a handful of Chinese peas half a dozen tomatoes and same in carrots. Plus a head of butter crunch lettuce and a green bell pepper. Where I cut the cauliflower, I planted kale – the Amazing Blue variety. Also picked a few chard and kale leaves for a noon time smoothie.

Survived the week. I think I mentioned that I was having a kidney stone problem which was completely blocking one of my kidneys – (I guess that’s why we were designed with two). They performed a procedure on Thursday at a surgical center that blasted them to pieces (literally) with a laser. We arrived at the surgical center – Tom, Nancy and I – at 6:30 AM and were on the way home before noon. The next few days were uncomfortable as the chips and shards worked/cut their way through the system. kind of bloody, kind of painful but not killer pain – manageable with Tylenol. It nominally cleared up by Sunday PM. The procedure required a stent to be installed and that had to be removed on Monday as the final step. No problems. Unless you count Nancy missing a bridge game as a problem. The doctor just wouldn’t adjust the schedule to work around it.

Through all this I was unable to spend any time working the garden so was anticipating problems. Nope – it looks just great. Picked the first radishes and Romaine lettuce. A head of broccoli is starting to form as well as a few more cauliflowers and cabbages.


Believe it or not, today I planted tomato and pepper seeds in starter medium.   This is a little earlier than I usually get started but I want to have time to get new seeds if these purchased for 2018 germinate ok.   Assuming they do germinate, I’ll get them into individual containers early and hopefully be able to transplant to the garden a month earlier.  The advantage to that is the plants will get a longer bug free growth period.

I learned yesterday that I have a couple of large kidney stones blocking flow to one kidney.  I’ve suspected a problem for a couple of months so the only surprise is to find how complete the blockage is.   But no pain at all.  The corrective action is a procedure that either goes in and removes the stones as they are or breaks them into smaller chunks using a laser (or hammer and chisel).   The doc expects the laser.   The procedure is scheduled for next week.  I’ll be fully knocked out so Tom or Joey will be pressed into duty getting me home.   There’s a stent involved that will have to come out so I’m guessing I’ll be visiting the urologist a few times in the next couple of weeks.  This whole process will probably screw up Nancy’s bridge games and the special tournament she was anticipating.   Hope not.   

Funny one at the library today.   I was banging away on my laptop when a stranger came over and asked me if I was John Bolton.   I assured him that I wasn’t but he said the mustache was a dead giveaway.  We both had a good laugh.   As he walked away, he kept looking back at me, shaking his head.  

Tom bought us a set of 3 Blue Apron meals this week.  As I understand it, the selections were a default as opposed to selections he made.   I think it’s a timing thing – you have a certain amount of time to either reject, modify, or accept the selections presented and it slipped by Tom when he was in Chicago.   We opened the box and there were three meals, none of which we would ever have selected but anything we got from them in the past was great so there was no real alternative but to try them.   Wow!   As usual excellent.   One was an Indian Chicken dish, another a meatloaf and the final, some kind of pork steak.   We’ve done all three and enjoyed every last bite.   For me, the designated cook, the recipes are tricky and a bit exotic – lots of steps – but I’ve learned to take it step by step and do all the prep work first.  Their recipes tend to favor hot, hot ovens and things happen fast.   I have to pat myself on the back for pulling it off with only a few Oops moments.