Seems like there’s a Press conference going on non-stop – the Pres, the Gov, the Mayor, the Chief of Police and misc doctors. The thing that jumps out at me are the signers who are passing on the speeches to the hearing impaired. I really find it almost impossible to believe that anyone can understand that or if they’re really signing what’s actually being said. I’d like to see a reverse test – have the signer give the speech and then have someone who understands it, vocalize. Or to have two signers, out of sight of each other, working simultaneously to see if they’re both doing the same thing. I’m most attracted to the facial expressions and body language. The person giving the speech or answering the question is doing it straight with no facial emotion whereas the signer is using really wild facial expressions and body movements.
One crop I haven’t mentioned in a while is the pineapple crop. I have about a dozen plants scattered about – all started by planting the top of a store bought pineapple. This is the first time I’ve been able to observe a pattern in the life cycle. There are 5 baby pineapples that have popped out of the mother plant in the past several weeks. So I now know that spring is the beginning of the cycle. My guess right now is these will be pickable in May. I don’t see any pattern in the size of the mother plant or the location in the garden but this is the first year that I’ve had multiple new starts at any particular time or season.
March has turned into summer with daily temps in the 90’s now. That’s playing hell with the green veggies so we’ve uptick’d the freezing project. This is the first time we’ve ever tried to extend the greens by freezing and I sure hope it works out as we’re visualizing. Yesterday was chard day; today is kale day. With this social isolation thing going on, I have plenty of time to weed and otherwise keep track of the garden. I’m more on top of it than ever before. For example I spotted the first New Zealand spinach sprout. This is a heat tolerant variety that is classified as an invasive species. I can for sure see why. I planted it once – seeds- several years ago and it quickly took over the garden. Since then I yank it whenever it pops up except for a couple plants that provide my green smoothie makings all summer long. It propagates itself by spreading branches that put out roots wherever it touches the soil and also by seeding.
Sure is nice driving around nowadays. Virtually no traffic and very cheap gas. I filled up yesterday at $1.80; 1 hour trips are taking 45 minutes. If only the pubs were open. Here’s how boring it is – I noted that a chain of car wash places is offering an unlimited car wash deal for $20/month. They have locations in Palm Coast, Daytona, Ormond and Port Orange – places we visit. I’m considering signing on just so we have a place to go. Now that’s desperation.
Observing isolation, more or less. Tom came by the other day and brought us his old I-phone that he had loaded with entertainment – movies and TV shows that we don’t have access to. He connected it to our TV and we now have literally hundreds of hours of new things to watch. I have some vision issues and fat fingers so operating the device can be a challenge but I’m getting better at it. Yesterday I was sitting at the computer when I heard an explosion not too far away that was followed, a few seconds later, with a power glitch. Not too unusual for here but a few seconds later there was a crash over by the TV. I had no idea what that could have been but spotted the phone on the floor, vibrating and buzzing. Apparently the power drop caused the iPhone to go into some vibrating mode that walked the device off the counter. I pushed lots of buttons but couldn’t get it off so I had to call Tom. He walked me thru a reset and it’s been working just fine ever since. One series he loaded on was one Nancy had been wanting to see – Mrs. Maisel – and she loved it. He also loaded several crime/detctive kinds of things for me.
We’re still getting loads of tomatoes from the garden but have enough sauce to last at least a year. Nancy decided to make (home made) stewed tomatoes with the latest batch. It occurred to us that neither one of us had ever had anything but canned stewed tomatoes. Wow, what a difference. So now we’re going into production making and freezing stewed tomatoes.
We’ve been having “summer” for the past couple of weeks and it’s really putting a hurt on the winter greens. Also because Nancy’s activities – bridge and crocheting – have been curtailed, all the greens I would have picked for her friends are wasting away in the heat. But today there was an article in the newspaper about freezing vegetables with lots of information regarding greens. Greens are the main ingredient in my smoothies so normally I quit making them when the garden crashes. This article says maybe I have summer smoothies in my future. So as long as we’re observing this social isolation thing, freezing chard, kale, and collards seems like a great use our time. According to the article, you blanch the greens for 2-3 minutes, move them to an ice bath, dry them off and put into a zip lock or similar container. Sounds simple enough. That’s our project for today and several future days. The limiting factor is the ice bath. We have a limited supply of ice so that will stretch out the project. Between the veggie freeze and the stewed tomatoes, we have a good project load.
A while back I mentioned picking up some new kale variety seeds. One was called Portuguese Kale and featured very large, soft leaves. It looked great in the catalog but it’s never certain the plants will actually look the same from your own garden. In this case they really do. We’ve got a hot spell ahead of us and that’s not ideal for kale but I’ve seen enough already to know these plants will become spectacular if planted at the right time. And as advertised, they are more like chard than Kale.
There was an interesting (to me) article in the WSJ about the new popularity of cauliflower. It’s the new “kale” and fits into a number of the newer popular diets as a protein. The statistics in terms of growth are incredible but I found one line in the article particularly interesting. I guess it’s easy and fast to grow and quite a bit of it is now growing in California. The article mentioned lots of uses for cauliflower rice and cauliflower based pizza dough is selling like crazy. Apparently people are using the greens in salads. When you grow a head of cauliflower there’s a large bundle of green leaves that come with it. For me it makes the compost pile but apparently it’s showing up in mixed salad greens. That also tells me it would be useable in smoothies although there was no mention of that. I think this year I grew 10 plants but next year I’ll double that. There’s 3 left in the garden now and I just found a cauliflower – rigatoni recipe that sounds great so we’re ending the season with a bang.
Ok, this is the very last tomato sauce production day. I keep thinking the tomatoes are finishing up and the neighbors are picking but when I checked this morning there was a load of vine ripened beauties ready for the sauce pan. And at least half of them are plum tomatoes, grown specifically for sauce. If we were suddenly cutoff from the civilian world, we would have enough pasta sauce and pasta/pasta making goodies to last us at least a couple of months. I don’t have a count, but would bet there are close to 50 Talenti pints and a handful of large ziplock bags ready to eat.
I made the cauliflower recipe mentioned above. It definitely was a test of my ability with lots going on – 3 pans on the stove top plus the pasta water, plus a 475 degree oven – all at the same time. Lot’s of timing issues. It split the cauliflower into two piles – 3/4 to be roasted and 1/4 to be added raw much later in the process. Even had to make croutons from raw bread – a first for me. I knew this was going to be a stress test so requested that Nancy stay clear of the kitchen until dinner was served. She did and I managed to pull it off. The good news is that it was delicious and there was plenty for a “left over” meal.
This corona virus thing got me to thinking : It’s reported to be potentially deadly for the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions. Are there any diseases that don’t fit into that notch? You could say the same thing about flu, measles, mumps – anything I can think of. Then both Joey and Tommy called off coming up to the lake this weekend because they’ve been out and about all week and potentially exposed to the virus. Especially Joey who’s been flying to Westchester all week. Then it hit me – they are concerned about giving something to us which could be deadly. In other words we’re elderly! I had honestly never given that a thought. Being “elderly” is different than getting “old”. We have friends and acquaintances who are well into their ninety’s and certainly elderly but us? I don’t think so. Elderly means you use a walker or something but if you fish (especially surf fish)and grow veggies or play golf or pickle ball , frequent breweries – you’re perpetually middle aged.
What I’m more concerned about is the forecast for an upcoming hot spell with daily temps in the mid 80’s and dry. The greens in the garden are not happy with that. They love it in the 60’s and 70’s and can handle an occasional shot of the 80’s or 30’s but not for more than a few days. We’ve got a few more broccoli’s, a few more cabbages, and a few more cauliflowers which I can pick if it becomes problematic but the leafy stuff – the chard, kale, lettuce and spinach will be hurting. The parsley collapsed totally after 3 hot days – wimp. I’ll try watering them all a couple times a day since the well water is a constant 72.
If you knit, crochet or do other needle craft – you might want to think twice about getting one of those robot sweepers – aka the ruumba. It’s amazing how they can eat yards and yards of yarn or thread and last time, ate up a 6” square for a quilt in progress. It took me half an hour to clean it out today after it got underneath the bed where Nancy stores her yarn.
Nancy spotted a Rachel Ray recipe for creamy chicken broccoli soup. She mentioned that you could use either broccoli or cauliflower so, with a surplus of both, we jumped all over it – our version used both. Really good and quite different from the roasted cauliflower soup we made last week.
Still harvesting and dealing with tomatoes. I picked about 10-15 lbs today and will be able to do the same Thursday, the day before a forecast freeze. We had a day free of appointments of any kind so decided to whip up another batch of sauce and a large pot roast – to use up carrots. This batch of sauce was the largest so far this season – constructed in a 12 quart pot. We added shredded carrots into the sauce this time – big carrot crop. This batch will end up using 20+ Talenti cups – more than we have at this point so the sauce will be frozen in zip lock bags.
The pot roast is also juiced up with shredded kale.
The other thing we’re running out of is freezer space with a day of reckoning upcoming. We officially run out of blueberries next moth which means another bulk purchase -25 pints or so – before April. So between blueberries and tomato sauce the freezers are overflowing.
We visited Joey’s new restoration project. It’s a 100 year old dwelling on a nice piece of property in Cocoa Village. As all such projects it will cost more and take longer than original estimates but in the end, it will be a prime property. It’s within walking distance to the marina where they’ll keep the boat when it’s finished. After the project tour, they took us to a brewery in Titusville, Playalinda Brewery. I wasn’t expecting much but was pleasantly surprised to find a great selection of home brews and a fine food selection to go along with it. I was hooked on the description of two selections, one a wheat – Orange brew; the other a Meyer Lemon, lavender brew. I first tried the orange brew – and it is now my favorite among all brewery beers. No way I could leave without trying the lemon brew. It too was great but the orange is the winner for me. Nancy had a “blonde” as usual and declared this her new favorite blonde. We each had burgers and they were really good but several people around us ordered nacho’s and that will unquestionably be our choice on the next visit.