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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lammas Eve

Happy birthday, Juliet!

"On Lammas-eve at night shall she be fourteen..."
-William Shakespeare

I "borrowed" the above from the fabulous Lunaea Weatherstone's facebook page. Sorry, Lunaea, I couldn't resist! I had no idea today was Juliet's birthday!

Of course, I knew it was the eve of Lammas, the festival of "first harvest". It is traditional to make some form of bread to celebrate this rather obscure holiday, and I am thinking about cornbread tonight with dinner. Lammas is the beginning of the harvest season in the old calendars, and a time to begin rejoicing in the fruits of the earth. There are also many other customs surrounding this day (and it's eve) and one of my all time favorite sources for information about them comes to us from Waverly Fitzgerald, she of School of the Seasons renown. Here is one such article:

http://www.schooloftheseasons.com/lammas.html

May your harvest be bountiful and your heart full of joy!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Preserving Summer

It has been hot as hell here in my neck of the woods this month. July is always hot, but we're having extra special heat waves this year. The noontime temps are climbing to 100F or more, and the heat index (a measure of how it feels outside) is between 110F and 115F. Add high humidity to that, and it's no wonder we're getting heat advisories every day!

Despite my discomfort (and soaring electricity bills) I know that summer will be a lovely dream in a few short months. I am trying to take advantage of every single great moment that the season has to offer. One of the things I love most about this season is the wonderful produce in my local farmer's market.

In the spirit of thankfulness for all of summer's lovely food bounty, I have tried my hand for the second time (ever) at preserving. I used blueberries picked from our own backyard and cherries bought cheap ($1.99/lb/!!) at the grocery store. This was what was up at my house last Sunday:



Beautiful berries!





Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble........



Waiting on the goodness.



Success!

Pictured above: Summer Solstice Jam and Old Fashion Blueberry Preserves.
Taken from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.

The Summer Solstice Jam is a combination of Blueberries, Cherries, sugar, lemon juice, pectin powder, and a couple of generous tbsps of cherry brandy.
These beauties are sitting in a dark cabinet right now, preparing to be enjoyed this fall and winter. Here is one more beauty shot:

Friday, July 8, 2011

Not funny

I have been thinking lately how much I dislike clever "snarky" comments on the web, especially facebook.

A coworker of mine recently posted pictures (taken in our store!) of a customer that she proceeded to make fun of. His 70's clothes, his comb over, his mullet, his "ginormous" belt buckle...etc etc etc. Then several people jumped in to add their own clever, oh-so-cool comments too. It made me sad, but I made no comment. I have to work with these people, after all. Then, someone I don't even know had the courage to post this reply:

"Did he do anything else to earn your contempt? Did he give you permission to post his image on the web? Did he even know you were taking his pic? And everyone just jumps in making fun like they never left elementary school. Is there some reason, other than your perception of the superficial, that this man doesn't deserve to be treated with dignity?"

I wanted to stand up and cheer.

Of course, all the oh-so-cool and clever people attacked her, telling her to "get over it" or "if you don't like my posts don't read them" etc.

If these were all kids, I would understand. I was once an insecure, superficial high school kid myself. But no, all of these people are my age. Mid thirties. I can only shake my head.

I believe in kindness. Doing unto others. Understanding. Yes, I have a sense of humor. I just don't think a laugh is worth attacking the dignity of another human being. That's just cruel. Not funny at all.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Rain!

We had a long, soaking all-nighter of a rainstorm yesterday afternoon, and another is starting up today. I am so happy I want to run around outside and get soaked! This is the most rain we've had in two months!

My garden and I are thankful.


:My semi-crispy tomato and herb plants, basking in the intense midsummer heat.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

July

Summer is definitely at it's peak here in my neck of the woods. It's hot and dry this year, with only about an inch of rain in the past 2 months. Watering my little garden is a daily task right now. We don't water grass--not because our community has water restictions (yet)--but because it seems so wasteful. Most of our neighbors are keeping sprinklers going night and day, and they just have little boring patches of grass! Only herbs, vegetables, and favorite perennials get water at our house when it's dry. I wish it would rain. We need it so badly this year.



Marigolds like the hot sunny days.


I have been harvesting a few things, mostly herbs and a handful of Roma tomatoes. The Brandywines and Cherokee Purples are not setting fruit in this heat-the poor flowers are dropping right off. And blueberries, of course! Mostly I've been buying fresh produce from the farmer's market. It's a real luxury to cook with fresh foods. We have had corn, cucumbers, peas, tomatoes, scallions, crookneck squash, peppers, fresh boiled peanuts (a summertime treat down south!), peaches, and watermelon. I've also bought wonderful eggs and milk lately from local farmers.



Roma tomatoes, rosemary, basil, and spearmint from my garden.


I've started making herb and pepper vinegars for the winter, and jars of pickled jalapenos. I also plan to make blueberry preserves, since we have so many blueberries. Our backyard bushes are full. There are plenty of berries for us and the birds and squirrels too. This makes me happy, because we can sit outside and watch all the feathered and furred visitors without feeling cheated of fruit! It's nice to have enough and to spare.





Blue abundance