Monday, September 6, 2010

"I haven't seen you around much this summer"

That's what a neighbor said to me this weekend, and she's right. This summer has been unusual, for sure. I was selected for grand jury service, which in DC lasts 5 long weeks. No days off, 9:00 to 5:00, Monday thru Friday. An hour for lunch, and 2 15-minute breaks. Sounds like a fun way to spend the hottest month of the year, right?

I spent 5 weeks in this building. I started to feel like a prisoner after a while. On the plus side, I feel like I got a course in law and criminology. I learned about things I've only seen on TV... the cycle of violence is something I'm still trying to wrap my head around.

One of the most challenging aspects of jury duty, was to spend all day in a room with 22 strangers. Some of them were VERY strange, indeed. I spent some of my down-time sketching in these accordion books.

Here are my sketches. The books were passed around the room many times -- it seems people found it amusing that I passed the time with something besides crossword puzzles and soduko.

When I got bored with drawing, I crocheted granny squares. Yes, I'm sure my fellow jurors found me odd.

On the weekends I tried my best to keep up with my usual August canning schedule, but I was just too tired most of the time, and I've only canned about half of what I did last year.

We took 3 trips to Rehoboth Beach in August. I needed the mental break. I like to think the waves washed all the horror stories out of my head.

Besides, there's nothing a gorgeous day at the beach, Thrasher fries and Grotto pizza can't fix.

I have to go back for 2 recall days in September. Hopefully I'll start feeling normal again soon.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Roasted tomato sauce

I like to kick off the tomato-sauce-making season with roasted sauce. It's perfect when you have a fair amount of tomatoes, but now enough to justify going through all the effort of canning. I found this recipe years ago in Everyday Food (you're the best, Martha), and have made it countless times since.

I start by coating my pans with plenty of olive oil, thyme, salt & pepper, then layer sliced onions, and halved & cored tomatoes. Add a little more oil on top, and toss them in the oven.

After about an hour or so they look like this.

I let them cool on the counter for a bit, and then pinch off the tomato skins.

Then I toss everything in a pot, and break out the emulsion blender. (This is the best thing ever -- and so cheap!)

Sometimes I puree just a little bit, and sometimes I make it smooth. I let it cook down for a little while, then let it cool and get it ready for the freezer. Damn, it's good!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Harvest begins

It's that time of year again... tomatoes for dinner every night!

Here's an example of our daily harvest... roma tomatoes, various heirloom tomotoes, yellow pear tomatoes, jalapeños and chili peppers.

This is our crazy tomatillo jungle. The three plants are all over six feet tall.

There must be at least 500 of these buggers in various stages of growth. I'm in trouble!

I picked the first ones this week... they're bigger and heavier than the ones I've bought in the grocery store. Salsa verde, anyone?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tomato update

The tomatoes are coming along nicely! Canning season will be here before I know it.

Mortgage Lifters

San Marzanos

Yellow Pears

Harvesting garlic

Last fall I planted garlic for the first time. It was really easy. Following directions I found online, I used different garlic heads from farmer's markets, broke them up into cloves, and planted them at the end of the season (it's tradition to plant them on the shortest day of the year). Sure enough, they came up this spring.

I planted them among my herbs, but they were easy to spot.

Again following online advice, I pulled them when the stalks were brown about a 1/3 of the way.

Now all that's left is to cure them (dry them out).

Pretty cool, huh? I'm going to plant a ton of these next year!

Lily show

Here are some of my favorite lilies from our garden this year:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Garden update

Our garden is growing like gang-busters... I'm out there everyday, trying to keep up with the weeds, getting eaten up by mosquitos.

Here's a photo of our 1st tomato (a yellow pear)... we now have lots of baby tomatoes growing on our 11 plants.

And here's a photo of a baby tomatillo. I have hundreds of these little guys now. I think we're going to be swimming in green salsa!

And here's my favorite plant, because it's so big (3-4 feet tall) and beautiful... Mammoth dill!

Clematis sensation

Three years ago I planted four clematis plants around our light post. I understand they need a few years to establish themselves--well, it looks like they're fully established, because this year they're just gorgeous.

The light post is wrapped with chicken wire so that the plants have something to attach themselves to.

Here's a close-up of the four different colored flowers.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Allium, peonies & roses

Enjoy these recent blooms from our backyard...

Here we go again!

Ricardo told me I shouldn't "get carried away" with gardening again this year. Sorry, hon'... over the last week or so I planted:

1 jalepeno

3 tomatillos

6 begonias

11 tomatoes

12 marigolds

16 petunias

36 imatiens

and over 40 heads of lettuce.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Spring garden tours

This past weekend I took some friends to the White House Spring Garden Tour. It was a perfect spring day -- sunny & breezy. I hadn't been on a garden tour for years, but I have to say this is my favorite tour. The grounds are gorgeous, and I just love the architecture of the South Portico. I didn't take too many photos, but here are a few highlights...

Jen in front of the south fountain... one of my favorite spots.

Corner facade of the White House.

Rose garden as seen through the trees.

Jen at the famous kitchen garden. I wish I had that much space!

And the bee hive.

How here's a tour of MY spring garden...

Lots of color -- I planted all types of tulips and daffodils (close-ups below).

Happy spring!