Flashback – Foreshadowing?

I was browsing my archives and reminiscing, and at the same time thinking about how I’ll be teaching flashback and foreshadowing as literary techniques very soon. Here’s a flashback to Election 2012.

The flashback begins with a smallish haul from a midweek farm market.

I’m not growing zucchini this year. Can you tell?

Unfortunately, Chuck thought I went overboard.

Fortunately, I have good recipes for zucchini bread and zucchini cookies.

I met a friend for coffee. Unfortunately, I ran late. Fortunately, I found a great parking place and we had delicious coffee as we worked.

Lovely, tasty beverage!

Fortunately, I donated zucchini bread when I did a little volunteer work for the Obama campaign.

Unfortunately, I didn’t plug the meter with enough change.

A $5 Ticket!$@#^!

I dropped off the Obama postcards at the post office and then went to City Hall to pay my dues. It’s a small price to pay to help re-elect the president. Fortunately, I had change for the meter that time. Unfortunately, I left the change in my pocket. Fortunately, the meter readers were still canvassing the blocks by the political offices. So… I made another investment in downtown and brought home smoothies for me and Amigo.

Oh, what a day. I think I’ll go hide in the tomato jungle. At least I don’t have to pay for parking there.

Foreshadowing? Come back for more in the category of literary techniques, Daisy style.

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Foraging again

I’ve been driving past this small, overgrown garden for weeks. This patch caught my eye each and every time.

Onions! Walking onions!

Onions! Walking onions!

These onions, the Egyptian walking onion variety, were HUGE. They had sprouted bulbs on top, as these onions do, and a few had fallen over to plant the next generation.

The appearance of the garden led me to think that someone wasn’t taking the time to care for it. The owners probably wouldn’t miss a few clumps of bulbs. But I wanted to be ethical and above board with my foraging. So when I saw a man in the driveway loading a car seat into his vehicle, I pulled over and asked him. He was more than willing to let me come over and harvest bulbs for my own patch, and he even warned me that they’ll spread.

I knew that.

It was a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon when I tucked my phone in my pocket and grabbed a shears, gardening gloves, and an empty banana bag. I encountered a few Pokemon critters on the way, and walked my way toward hatching an egg or two. Trust me. Poke-fans will understand. The banana bag was about half full when I packed up to walk home again.

bunches and bunches of onion bulbs

bunches and bunches of onion bulbs

bulbs separated and ready to plant

bulbs separated and ready to plant

Forager Daisy strikes again! Next spring I’ll have more green onions than I need, and they’ll plant the next generation with or without my help.

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Family Foraging

I may have mentioned that the school in which I teach is moving to a new location. I visited the new building last Saturday, said hello to my principal as she was unloading boxes in the basement (we have a storage room!), and took a closer look at the location. A few observations:

The landscaping is overgrown. We noticed milkweed and black eyed Susans in the midst of lots (TONS) of day lilies, lilies of the valley, hostas, and more. Chuck, my chauffeur, overheard the principal saying that maintenance would be tearing out everything behind the building, including aging playground equipment. He asked if we could dig out the milkweed and black-eyed Susans before the big digging machines came in. She said yes.

On the way back to the Momvan, I noticed one of the trees alongside our new office building was an apple tree! I haven’t identified the variety yet, but we looked and tasted and decided to come back for a harvest. I’m now working on version 1.0 of apple jelly. It might end up being sauce, and that’s okay. I have plenty of apples in the garage waiting for me.

As we dug up the milkweed and the flowers, we discovered a like-new, unused compost bin. Principal will ask maintenance what’s happening to it. I have tentative permission to bring it to Habitat ReStore rather than let it go to the landfill.

The results of our foraging around the new-to-me building —

  • 2 large buckets of ripe apples
  • several Black-eyed Susan plants
  • a large bucket full of uprooted milkweed
  • a few seed pods from the aforementioned milkweed
  • the bucket I filled with milkweed (found buried in the hostas)

All things considered, I think I’m going to like the new location.

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Crocks for Planting: The Auction Chapter

I have a 3 gallon Redwing stoneware crock that I bought at an antique mall. I also found a very large (6 gallon, I estimate) that had a huge crack in it. I caulked the crack in the crock, and then set it aside. I plan to plant in both crocks.

I lost out on a few crocks in online auctions, and I was bummed. Then I saw a generic label of “Lots of Crocks” in another auction. On closer examination, I recognized that one was a 2 gallon Redwing crock, dirty and possibly cracked. The others might or might not be good enough to use as planters along with those I already had, but it was worth a try.

Yesterday I brought them home.

the five new pieces in front of the 3 qt in back

the five new pieces in front of the 3 qt in back

You can’t get a good look at them in the dark garage, so I moved them outside for some natural light.

Here they are in the sunshine.

Here they are in the sunshine. Some are in better shape than others.

Kaukauna Cheese!

Kaukauna Cheese!

Did it cost one dollar and 59 cents, or one and 59/100 of a penny?

Did it cost one dollar and 59 cents, or one and 59/100 of a penny?

Butter from Sheboygan; and a lot of stain or rust.

Butter from Sheboygan; and a lot of stain or rust.

And finally, the crock that led me to bid on this lot.

And finally, the crock that led me to bid on this lot.

My plan: with baking soda and salt, perhaps a vinegar/water rinse, and a lot of bow grease, I’ll see how these pretty little crocks clean up. Then I’ll decide what to plant in each one. Chives might do well in the #3.

What do you think, readers? Do you think these crocks have a future? Do you have advice for cleaning them?

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Prepping for – What?

I have joked in the past that I prep for the Walker Apocalypse. Many teachers I know are in a Cautiously Paranoid condition; we know the future of public education in our state is shaky, at best. We’re looking to provide for our families one way or another. My method consists (in part) of filling the freezer and the pantry with decent food, mostly organic, much locally grown.

I’m still cautiously paranoid about what happens in my state capitol. Education budgets keep going down, down, down. My pantry stock keeps going up, up, up. This year’s new project is jelly. I’ve always made jam, with pieces and chunks of fruit. Jelly is clear, and it takes an extra step: draining the juices through a piece of cheesecloth or through a jelly bag. Jelly also can take a little longer to set.

strawberry-rhubarb jelly in the making

strawberry-rhubarb jelly in the making

So far, the jellies are looking good. I remade one batch that didn’t set right away; it’s on my counter now, looking much better.

cranberry - cherry jelly

cranberry – cherry jelly

Even as I work toward electing Hillary Clinton, I’m prepping in case of a Trump apocalypse. Expect the shelves in the basement to fill up and the freezer to be stuffed.

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Hot, Hot, Hot

It’s unseasonably warm here in the “Frozen Tundra.” The Green Bay Packers held their annual shareholders’ meeting yesterday with a major storm in the morning and extreme temperatures in the afternoon. Why would that matter, you might ask, for a shareholders’ meeting? This meeting takes place outdoors in the bowl of Lambeau Field. The shareholders dress in green and gold, and so on, and so on. If you’re wondering, no, I didn’t go. It’s enough to know I could. There are 360,760 people holding approximately 5 million shares of Green Bay Packers stock.

So anyway, it’s more than warm. In my Prep for Winter mentality, I made a new batch of jelly yesterday. It didn’t gel. I’m blaming the humidity and heat, and I’m monitoring the jars to see if they’re just gelling slowly.

It's pretty, though.

It’s pretty, though.

Also in my Prep for the School Year mode, I picked up a couple of new wardrobe elements on clearance at Kohl’s. I saved far more than I paid; that’s Kohl’s and my shopping savvy.

Bored yet? I don’t want to work outside because of the heat, but I set up a batch of sun tea to brew. My formula (recipe, if you insist) is this. 2 quart mason jars with lids; 3 tea bags per jar; fill each jar with filtered water; let sit in the sun until tea reaches desired strength.

It'll need sugar, but not much.

It’ll need sugar, but not much.

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And More Rhubarb – this time, Juice!

I have a bumper crop of rhubarb again this year. I may have mentioned it. I might have also mentioned that I still have rhubarb in the freezer from last year, as well. When the basic conclusion is Too Much Rhubarb at the O.K. Chorale, there is only one solution: can.

Here’s something I found. It looks very pretty, too. You might know how rhubarb can oxidize after it’s picked and end up looking, well, kind of poopy brown? This mush released the prettiest reddish pink juice! Without further ado, adapted from at least two Internet recipes, rhubarb juice concentrate.

Ingredients

  • 12 cups diced rhubarb, fresh or frozen
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • zest and juice of one orange

Directions: In large pot, combine rhubarb, water, lemon & orange zests and bring to a boil. Stir constantly over medium high heat. Reduce heat, cover and boil gently until rhubarb is soft (10-20 minutes). Remove from heat.

Pour into dampened jelly bag or strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth set over a deep bowl. Let drip for at least 2 hours, undisturbed.

In clean, large pot combine rhubarb juice and sugar. Stir in lemon juice and orange juice. Stir to dissolve sugar and bring to a brief boil. Remove from heat.

Ladle into hot jars. Leave ¼-inch headspace.
Place jars in prepared hot water bath canner with jars completely under water. Process for 20 minutes. Turn off heat and remove canner lid. Allow jars to sit in canner for 5 minutes before removing. Set jars on rack or towel and allow to cool.

Serving suggestions: Mix about 1 Tablespoon rhubarb juice concentrate with 8 ounces of another beverage. Serve over ice. (The recipe suggested equal parts concentrate and mixer; the concentrate is much too strong that way!)

Beverage mixes can include water, iced tea, lemonade, ginger ale, or anything you can think of.

Enjoy!

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Pea Pod Soup – a classic pantry raid

It was a day full of food prep. I’d picked a large amount of rhubarb and slashed the leaves off the stems. While the rhubarb was soaking in the sink to get the dirt off, I’d been shelling peas. I looked at this huge pile of pea pods and thought about the big pile of pods I’d dumped in the compost last week. You can see where I’m heading, can’t you? There had to be another way to use the pea pods after the peas were out.

Soup broth was an option. Pea pods, green onion, garlic scapes – a decent broth, probably. It had potential. But where there was broth, could I also find soup? I did what resourceful cooks do all over the world; I searched the Interwebs. Here’s the result.

Ingredients:

2 lb. fresh, whole pea pods

6 cups water

4 Tablespoons soup base (chicken, beef, or other)

1 small onion, diced (I had a yellow onion on hand)

Garlic Scapes (I used 5)

2 Tablespoons margarine or butter

1 1/2 teaspoons flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Wash pea pods. Pull off strings.

In medium saucepan, bring water and soup base to a boil. Add pea pods, onion, and garlic scapes. Return to boil; lower heat, simmer for 20 minutes. When pea pods are tender, remove from pan. Push this mix through a food mill or use immersion blender until smooth. True confession: I did both. Mix flour, salt, pepper, and sugar. Melt butter (or margarine) in saucepan. Gradually add flour mixture until thickened. Add soup mix little by little, allowing soup to thicken. Heat through.

Serving options: Add diced ham or chopped bacon; top with sour cream and chives; add saltine crackers; add peas, corn, & carrots during the last ten minutes of cooking.

Amigo ate all of his. Chuck did, too, and proclaimed it “Not bad.” I was rather pleased at how well I raided our pantry and freezer all week long without hitting a grocery store for anything other than milk or bunny food. On the other hand, our next shopping trip is going to carry sticker shock. The kitchen looks like Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard.

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Prepping for winter – or summer – with rhubarb

I’ve been under the weather for several days, and while I rested and drank fluids, the rhubarb patch grew wild and unruly. When I finally get to it, I will have a lot and I mean A LOT of rhubarb. Frozen rhubarb has good flavor, but the texture isn’t great. I’ll only freeze this bounty if that’s the only option left. Meanwhile, as I was resting, I used the power of the Internet to find more ways to use rhubarb. Here’s a list.

rhubarb jam (of course)

rhubarb jelly (I haven’t really tried jellies yet)

rhubarb cobbler and crisp

rhubarb barbecue sauce (I’ve already put up one batch)

rhubarb juice (now this could be interesting)

I made a trip to the always-fantastic Fleet Farm last night to replace my small hot water bath canner, and as long as I was in the aisle, I grabbed a jelly straining kit. This kit can be part of making jelly rather than jam or straining actual juices from fresh fruit. Rhubarb juice? It’s a possibility.

My thanks to Rhubarb Central for the many, many successful recipes!

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Banana Bread with Strawberries

Ah, good intentions. The road to you-know-where is paved with good intentions. I planned to share another in-season recipe last week, and the time and the baking got away from me. Here’s a recipe that used to include maraschino cherries. Now it has strawberries, very ripe and juicy, in a classic banana bread.

Banana Bread With Berries

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter (one stick)

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 ripe or very ripe bananas, mashed

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups flour (whole wheat pastry flour is my favorite)

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/2 to 1 cup fresh, ripe strawberries

Directions:

Combine butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, bananas, baking soda, and salt; mix well. Mix in strawberries and chocolate chips. Add flour; mix well until all is moist. Pour into loaf pan or mini loaf pans (my favorite) or muffin tins. Bake at 350 degrees. Large loaf pans: 50 minutes. Small loaf pans: 35-40 minutes. Muffin tins: 25-30 minutes.

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