Saturday, September 26, 2009

Urban Gardening

It's been three weeks since the seeds were sown. Theoretically, within three more weeks I should be able to harvest. Looking at what is here, I can't help but wonder if I've overestimated just how many meals this will really provide, over the coming months. I had rather grandiose dreams of unlimited potential for harvest, all the fresh greens I want over the coming winter. And that may yet be true. Yesterday I gave them their first fertilizer since planting. Natural, fish emulsion, of course. Nothing but natural and organic here!

The spinach is definitely on the biggest roll, growth-wise. It popped up first and it's going gangbusters. I'm not sure how big this variety will become, but I generally eat my spinach in large handfuls, raw or wilted and generally young and tender. I may need to change those habits.

The lettuce is looking pretty good, too. It's starting to take on some tinges of red, but growing more slowly than I expected. On the other hand, I'm not an experienced lettuce grower, so it's probably right on schedule. I'm also wondering if I'll actually get a meal through thinning -- it might have to be a very small salad! Still, when thinned and grown, I expect the mature plants to provide plenty of large, outer leaves for harvest.

The chard is lagging pitifully behind. Last to sprout, slow to budge. That's no doubt simply its nature, nothing to worry about. No plans to harvest this young, so there should be plenty of mature leaves when the time comes, all winter long.

Hurry, please!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Senate Bean Soup

My one project for this lazy day was to make some Senate Bean Soup, from a recipe in my Rancho Gordo cookbook. I've made a couple of other recipes from this book, and both have been lovely. This one is, too.

The day began by soaking the Yellow Eye beans in cold water for about 4 hours. The book says 2-6 hours and I don't think it matters a great deal. Here, they have just been drained and are about to hit the cooking pot with a couple of ham hocks and some bay leaf.

After about an hour of steady simmering, I added the parsley, celery, onion and garlic, plus salt and pepper. From here, another hour or so of steady simmering produced tender beans and meat. Unfortunately, the ham bones didn't have much meat on them, but that's not the recipe's fault.

When I first tasted the soup, I wasn't impressed. But, after it cooled off and sat awhile, I heated a bowl up for dinner and it was luscious! I don't know if letting it sit helped the flavors meld, the soup thicken a bit, or what, but it's rich and flavorful and a keeper.

Doesn't exactly look like the soup in the book photo, but what the heck. I never claimed to be a food stylist.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fabulous Exploration!

Friday morning my neighbor and I left at 7am for the drive to Crater Lake. I was correct in my guesstimate of travel time -- we arrived right around noon. After gorging ourselves on the views of the lake from the visitor's center (and that took awhile), we began our clockwise trip around the lake. Hunger called, so at the first opportunity we stopped for a picnic. Hauling the cooler and paper bag of food up a hill was effort well spent -- we sat on a fallen stump in the shade overlooking the lake, and dined upon PB sandwiches, cheese, and cookies. My companion shot this photo of our picnic 'table' and a portion of the bounty. Simple food, but it served the purpose.

After packing back down to the car we continued our next five-hour (true!) journey around the 33 mile circumference of the lake. Obviously, we stopped often. In fact, not an opportunity to pull over and see what we could see was missed. I have a hard time even now believing we could have spent that much time driving 33 miles, but even if you include lunch in that time span, which I do, the fact remains that we arrived around noon and returned to the starting point around 5 or 5:30, utterly pooped.

Indefatigable photogs that we are, we'd planned to stay until sunset to catch that event, but that didn't happen. Somehow, with another couple of hours to go we couldn't envision either continuing to drive or just stopping to sit in the car until sundown, so we headed on down to our lodging an hour away. We were even so tired we decided we didn't need to return the following morning as planned, for that lovely morning light. After retiring to our rooms, we both crashed. I, of course, driven soul that I am, had to process my photos and upload to the Southern Oregon Coast blog. And somehow, as tired as I was and despite the comfortable bed, I didn't sleep much at all. Nonetheless, by morning we were refreshed enough to return to the lake, and I am SO glad we did! The public story is over there. Check it out. This angle of the story is for family.

Driving home was an interesting adventure. Hot, for one thing -- about 90-95 most of the time between Shady Cove and California, which was a couple of hours. And I was sleepy, for another. I'd put a few jazz CDs into the player and somewhere outside Grants Pass I asked Jack to pop those out and put in..... he finished the words for me.... Delbert McClinton. Loud and rowdy Texas blues guaranteed to wake anybody up! I turned the sound way up and we sang ourselves silly to this one, dancing in our seats. When that one finished he found some Hank Williams Jr. and when that was finished, yet another of the same ilk. We rocked and sang all the way into Brookings where it seemed only fitting to finish up the journey with a beer at a dive on the main drag. I enjoyed the entire trip, but these last couple of hours were certainly the most sheer fun of the whole time. And I was wide awake for the driving.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

This is Getting to be a Habit

When we were tooling around the area on Monday looking for things to photograph, we found this neat little colony of 'cat houses' on the Rogue River Jetty in Gold Beach.  I thought about CNN's iReport as soon as I saw them.  A producer called Tuesday right after I posted them, and today they are marked with the coveted [by my ego] CNN logo.  I don't know where they were used, but here's the link to where they are if you wanna have a look. Update Sept 12:  The producer who contacted me has also used them in a blog post, here.

As usual, the resolution isn't all that great, but that's because of the round-about process I have to go to to copy my own photos off CNN.  By the time I get them through Print Screen and Paint, a lot of quality is lost.
My ego is smiling again.