Sunday, July 26, 2020

Cruel Summer

Like most everyone else, I have struggled with the mental highs and lows from this pandemic.  Between this virus and everything else going on in the world...saying this has been a trying time is just skimming the surface.

When spring came I felt a little better because I knew I could escape to my back yard and grow all kinds of wonderful things.  Everything has been doing very well.  Until last week.

I grew a six foot long patch of sun flower seeds.  They were looking so good.  As I stood at my kitchen sink doing dishes I looked up and saw one stalk swaying all around.  Upon further investigation it was a squirrel.  He pulled it down and was eating it. I went out and chased him away and sprinkled red pepper flakes all over the ground to keep him from coming back.

The next day when I came home from work I noticed almost all of the stalks looked damaged.  Then I watched as a squirrel climbed the fence to avoid the peppery soil and lunged to the sunflowers.  I went out to see what the damage was and it was a mess.  Sunflower seeds all over, flower heads pulled from the stocks.  The sunflower patch was totaled.

While I was out there I noticed I had about 10 tomatoes growing with one tomato that was about ready to pick and about 15 jalapenos.  

Then the next day I was doing dishes and saw a huge ground hog out there.  I figured he was just cleaning up what was left of the sunflowers.  I saw him chew up a very large leaf in about 30 seconds which I thought was pretty impressive.  I let him be because he seemed to be doing a good job of cleaning up the sunflowers for me.

Big mistake. I went out to garden the next day to get the tomato and the peppers that should have been ready and they were gone.  GONE!  All of them GONE!  I have been gardening for many years in Florida and then in Illinois.  I have never had something eat my jalapenos.  Our yard is fenced so whatever it was had to be able to fly, climb or crawl under the fence to get them.

It hasn't been a total loss.  Basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, lettuce, arugula, bell peppers and tabasco peppers have all done well.  Still, I want to know WTF ate my jalapenos?

Friday, July 17, 2020

Stuffed Jalapeno's

We grill a lot.  I love being able to cook an entire meal on the grill.  One side dish that is amazing on the grill is stuffed jalapenos.  I like the battered and fried version as well but in the summer, when the jalapenos are growing like crazy, the fresh taste of the pepper puts these over the top. And the types of fillings are endless.

These were cut in half, and stuffed with smoked gouda, small pieces of cooked bacon and a little panko sprinkled on top.  I put them on the hot part of the grill for about 4 minutes.

And, just for my blogger friend Spo, fresh, juicy, garden tomatoes.  I hope you're able to find some while you're in the Midwest.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Summer 2020

The best thing about summer in the Midwest to me is gardening.  Last Saturday I made my first batch of basil pesto for the year.  I will be making another bunch tomorrow morning.  When I make it I freeze it in an ice cube tray and then when frozen, I transfer to a freezer safe bag.  I like to have at least 24 cubes to get me through to the next year. 

Other than work and the grocery store runs, we're still staying to ourselves at home.  Like all celebrations since March, the 4th of July was very different this year.  First of all because I'm saddened by things going on in our country.  And second of course because of the pandemic.  We grilled out and then sat on our back porch and enjoyed fireworks from our back yard neighbors.  The only thing that has remained "normal" this summer is my love of gardening and cooking with fresh ingredients.  At least I have that.