Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Visit to Indiana County, PA with Piccadilly!

Yarnick's Farm Stand
Lynnette Yarnick Describing How They Grow Produce for Eat 'N Park Restaurants!
Some of the Tomato Vines Are 100 Feet Long!
They Have Some Good Looking Squash and Pumpkins for Decorating!
They Grow Herbs in Stacks Hydroponically!
Romaine Lettuce is Also Grown This Way!
One of Several Covered Bridges in the County Still in Use!
Thee Village Eatinghouse Where We Had An Amish Wedding Feast!
The Drying Shed

A Cat at The Drying Shed Found a Perfect Napping Place!
The Smicksburg Pottery!
Entrance to the Studio and Garden at Smicksburg Pottery!
A Lovely Terraced Garden!
A Beautiful Clump of Nasturtiums!
'Walker's Low' Catmint
Reminds Me I Need to Plant More Annuals-Zinnia Closeup!
Beautiful 'Wooly' Thyme!
I Have Always Killed This Agastache!
Broken Pottery Lines the Driveway!
The Mahoning Creek Pottery by Chance or Appointment or Festival Time!
The Amish Have Made Smicksburg and Surrounding Areas Their Home!
Thought I had better do a post about my visit along with the Piccadilly Herb Club to Indiana County, PA.  I grew up in the county next door and had never been to this part of Indiana County.  Lots to see and do.  Our first stop was to Yarnick's Farm and it was probably one of my favorite stops we made.  They have a lot going on every day in the growing season.  They grow produce for Eat 'N Park restaurants which is a local chain along with produce for their farm stand.  They have a Halloween Boo-Grass and Hog Roast coming up on Sunday, October 12, 2014 featuring the James King Band.  A great family owned business that you should support if you are in the area.

We next went into Smicksburg and had an Amish wedding feast at Thee Village Meetinghouse.  Not a very good blogger, didn't take any photos of what we ate.  Too busy eating!  We then had time to shop.  Patty who described the Amish wedding feast at the restaurant has the shop next door.  Lots of country items and a cat who found its spot for a long afternoon nap.  We then walked across to the Smicksburg Pottery and discovered they not only have beautiful pottery, but a lovely garden near the studio.  I think this was my favorite spot.  Lots of annuals which I always keep telling myself I need to plant and just a lovely space to spend some time.  The owner's husband came out and told us that he has trouble getting his wife to make pots in the springtime because she would rather be in the garden!  Duh! 

The other pottery, The Mahoning Creek Pottery is only open by chance or appointment or during one of several festivals they hold in Smicksburg.  Hopefully Bonnie and I will get back there next year and take The Herbal Husband with us!  We also stopped at the Cheese Shop where they make their own cheeses and the Windgate Winery.  All in all it was a great day.

I'm still picking raspberries and making jam.  Tomorrow's batch will bring my total for the season so far to 120 jars and the raspberries are still producing!  I need to get more sugar because I haven't even done all of the herbal jelly yet!  Our weather is going to change by the end of the week.  We may not have our first frost, but my pineapple sage has started to bloom so frost can't be too far behind!
Finally, the Pineapple Sage is Blooming!  It Must Be Fall!
  Hope you are having a great day!  Talk to you later!  

Monday, September 22, 2014

Under Attack at the End of the Season!

The Bite of the Stink Bug Produces More Leaves!
Well, there is good news and bad news!  The bad news the damn stink bug attacked my oldest lemon verbena.  The good news is that it produces new leaves and the bites weren't as significant as before.  We had stink bug problems on the raspberries, apples, grapes and tomatoes.  We were finding them in the nasturtiums because they were in close proximity to the grapes.  No damage to the nasturtiums.  Just orange tattoos on my fingers!

So it has been crazy here as far as raspberry jam goes.  I have made almost 8 boxes or 96 jars of jam!  It is a spectacular year.  I've made 3 boxes of grape jelly.  That is done for the year.  I have yet to do any herbal jelly!  Down in the 40's tonight.  Basil will have to be processed in the coming days!  Although it will be back in the 50's for the next few nights.  If we can get through this one without too much damage, I will be able to some other flavors.  The pineapple sage is starting to blooming as is the Peruvian salvia which is a beautiful flower.  Here it is in bud.
The Flower Bud of the Salvia discolor or Peruvian Sage!
Last Gasp for the German Chamomile!
There are so many herbs to bring inside!  Here we go again!  We can't help ourselves!  Hope you are getting everything done here in the northeast or mid Atlantic.  Talk to you soon!  Oh, happy fall!  One of my favorite seasons!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Raspberry Jam and Grape Jelly Take a Selfie!

This is my life at the moment!  When you grow fruit, it is sometimes hit or miss whether you get anything!  This year despite the very cold winter and the stink bugs, we have had a bumper crop of raspberries.  The jury is still out on the grapes.  They are still being cut and detangled from cat hair.  Yes, we have a feral cat that likes to climb especially the grape arbor and rests up there.  The Herbal Husband was cutting grape bunches the other day and out comes the cat.  Scared the you know what out of him!

So I will be posting sporadically.  The temperatures are starting to drop at night here in southwestern PA, so you should be doing something with your basils in particular.  Everything else should be OK.  I have my list of herbal jellies I will be making.  Just look at my chores list because I will try to change it to keep you thinking about herbs that need to be harvested.

We have been very cool already!  So I have had to scramble to make sure that the herb garden hasn't started to die back!  Lots to think about!  So hope you are having a great day wherever you may be!  Talk to you later!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Book Review of Blue Jelly by Debby Bull!

A Very Quick and Enjoyable Read!
I have such a big book collection that I don't always read each book as they are purchased!  It sometimes takes years for me to read them.  Dusting is an excellent way for me to pick out a book that I might not otherwise have read and get it read!  Such is the case with Blue Jelly--Love Lost and the Lessons of Canning by Debby Bull, a former editor at Rolling Stone magazine.  Blue Jelly is a memoir with canning recipes.  What more do you need! Now that I think about it I probably nipped my herbal jelly title from this book.  Ms. Bull talks about jelly making and canning as being a zen experience.  Some people enjoy a crowd when they are canning.  I prefer to go it alone hence the zen experience.

My kitchen is so small that to get more than just me working on process is almost too many!  This book is described on the cover as a deliciously quirky memoir.  She drops names because she can (pun intended) and because she had therapy, I can relate to her story in some small way.  If you enjoy canning whether it be savory or sweet recipes, you will love this book, like dilly beans, red current jelly and a recipe for raspberry jam when her therapy didn't work.  Just to name a very few.  I'll let you figure out which jelly was made blue!  Even the chapter descriptions in the beginning of the book will make you laugh out loud!  It is really a group of short life adventures with canning as a finishing touch.

Ironically the recipe I really wanted to do was one that she didn't give and I won't ruin the reason why.  You need to read the book.  So some day soon I will give you a recipe for rosemary apple jelly!  Thanks Debby Bull for making me laugh, think and love making jam and jelly so much!  In a similar vein, I have been very busy picking raspberries (because of rain) and making jam.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

It Was a Perfect Day!

A 'Queen Elizabeth' Rose Adorned the Dining Table!
A Fruit Salad with Lemon Verbena!
The Herbal Husband Shared His Favorite Waffles!
My gift, A Souvenir Spoon!
The Birthday Cards I Received!
Time in the Garden to Pick Raspberries and Bugs!
Picked Enough For Another Batch of Raspberry Jam!
K-P Duty for Lunch!
The Herbal Husband Prepared a Wonderful Causa!
Spiedino di Mare
Dessert Rosa for Me!
We Enjoyed Our Dinner and Especially Dessert!

Well, I hope you can see what a great birthday I had!  The Herbal Husband took care of making breakfast and lunch.  Well I did help with lunch boiling the potatoes and eggs!  Here is a link for the causa recipe.  I got to work in the garden.  We had a little drive to Ohio and had a lovely dinner.  Now back to reality and not eating so much and moving more tomorrow!  Thanks to everyone that wished me a Happy Birthday on Facebook and here.  It was a beautiful day here.  Back to summer heat tomorrow and over the weekend.  If you are in the U.S., have a great Labor Day weekend.  Talk to you later.  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Herbal Harvesting and Preserving Again!

Having Been Getting A Great Raspberry Crop Despite the Stink Bugs!
Well, when we get to late August, you are still not too late to be taking care of herbal chores in the garden!  We always seem to wait until the last minute to harvest, move plants inside, etc.  Don't worry you aren't too late!  Hope you weren't thinking that!  Erase those thoughts from your head.  I decided not to reinvent the wheel and give you some links to past posts I have done.

Vinegars are a very quick and delicious way to preserve your herbal harvest.  This first link is my favorite recipe for nasturtium peppercorn vinegar from Kathleen Gips' book called The Complete Vinegar Book.  If you have a lot of nasturtium flowers, this recipe is a good way to use them up!  Any of the small leaf basils, such as 'Minette', 'Boxwood' or 'Spicy Globe' can be put in vinegar as well.  I just had a beautiful salad burnet plant this year and I think I will be making a vinegar recipe from Alma Otto in Phyllis Shaudys' book, Herbal Treasures using salad burnet, chives and garlic.
The Cucumber Flavor of the Salad Burnet Minus the Extra Protein is Great in Vinegar!
I really don't have extra time to do a lot of fancy preserving techniques.  Well, you are going to say and I can hear it now but you can and make jelly and jam, Lemon Verbena Lady!  Yes, I know but everything else I do has to be very easy.  Here is a post I did in the early days of this blog called Herbal Crunch Time!

So I hope these links gives you some information you may have forgotten or may be new to you.  At the very least I hope you are enjoying your herb gardens.  We have had a wonderful season here in the 'Burgh!  A beautiful day is forecast for my birthday tomorrow.  Will post my favorite lunch The Herbal Husband makes me every birthday and we are going to Carrabba's Italian Grill in Ohio tomorrow night.  Hope you are having a great day and evening in your herb garden.  Talk to you later.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Another Surprise from Benevolent Botanical Greetings!

My Birthday Potpourri and Speak the Language of Flowers Card!
A Potpourri and Card for Giving Comfort and Sympathy in the Language of Flowers!
The surprises just keep coming in the mail.  Yesterday my Facebook friend, Elizabeth Bergstrom Case who operates the website Benevolent Botanical Greetings sent me a birthday card and potpourri surprise with lavender and rosemary among other herbs and blossoms and a sympathy card and potpourri as a sample.  Our buddy, Kathleen Gips brought us together!

You see in January of 2013 I lost my cousin, Dottie.  I asked Elizabeth at that time if she had a sympathy card that might work.  Her husband may have not been comforted by it, but I thought it was a good idea for others grieving.  Fast forward to yesterday when I received my package in the mail.  Elizabeth hoped that I would not have to use it right away.  Unfortunately I have the perfect couple to receive it, because they have both lost their mothers this summer!  Take a look on the website and see what you think.  Everything is artfully and beautifully designed and packaged.  Custom orders are always available.  I have added the website to my favorites on the right hand side of this blog.  Elizabeth and I teamed up to do a Valentine's Day post of Mother Earth Living called Crafts for Valentine's Day and the Language of Flowers.  Remember to think in the Language of Flowers for an unexpected and lovely take on holidays and in times of need.

We are having the ickies and stickies here again!  Last gasp of summer!  Can't believe Labor Day weekend is coming!  Got to work on more raspberry jam and basil jellies.  Life is never boring in the herb garden.  Hope you are busy harvesting and preserving.  Talk to you later.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Thanks for the Wonderful Surprise, Mar!

A Clue to My Surprise with Her Heartfelt William Morris Note!
Next a Sampler of Possibilities from Barbara Brackman and William Morris!
My best friend, Marilyn (I call her Mar) and I went out for a birthday/anniversary lunch last week.  Mar and I have been through many ups and downs over our 40 years of friendship!  She reminded me of one of those moments in her birthday note for me.

You see we share a birthday and anniversary.  Thirty-two years ago I was dumped by my boyfriend and I was not the ideal wedding guest for Tom and Mar's wedding on my 30th birthday!  And somehow she was glad that that episode occurred!  Over the past year she has weathered a couple of storms in her health.  She is lucky and happy to still be alive.  I love her kids like they are my own.  She is a terrific seamstress and she surprised me with some swatches of William Morris patterned cloth from Barbara Brackman for a quilt just for me.  William Morris was a British force in design in the 19th century.  Not going to be a large quilt just enough to cover me when I'm rocking in the nursing home!

I have tried to get away from presents between the two of us and have even given best friend coupons as a gift for her.  I thought spending time together would be the greatest gift.  It hasn't worked very well yet.  I still have hope!  So I was very shocked to find a gift bag in the front seat of the car when she picked me up.

Thank you so much Mar for your support, love and friendship.  Sisters couldn't be closer than we are.  I look forward to the reveal of my surprise birthday quilt!

Lovely hot weather in the final week of August.  Trying to pick raspberries before they are ruined by the stink bugs!  Looking forward to my birthday later this week.  I'll post my traditional lunch that The Herbal Husband makes for me and we are taking a road trip to Ohio for dinner.  I'll share that in a later post!

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Flavors of Summer from the Garden!

Chicken Salad in Avocado
A White Pizza
Lunch Today!
The tomatoes are coming in like crazy.  Not quite like in the early days when I canned them into tomato sauce.  Unfortunately I can't eat sauce any more in great quantities.  So we just have to find ways to eat them every day and almost every meal.  I had an English muffin this morning with some peanut butter and a Zebra tomato which is green if you don't know.  It is one of my favorite tomatoes.  The top photo is from a lunch a few weeks ago where I made chicken salad with a bit of mayo and herbs and a bit of mixed veggies thrown and placed in a half of an avocado.  

The middle photo is dinner one night several days ago.  Since I can't have tomato or pizza sauce because of my GERD and The Herbal Husband doesn't like red sauce, we do a white pizza.  Lots of toppings, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, ham, cheese on a Boboli crust.  You get the idea.

The bottom photo is our lunch today.  We had a big salad with avocado and feta cheese, croutons and lots of different herbs and fresh tomatoes!  Hope you are enjoying the flavors of summer before it is gone!

The ickies and stickies are still with us.  Hope you are having a great day!  Talk to you later.