Monday, August 29, 2016

The Skipper

We have skippers fluttering all over my garden.  They really like the zinneas and the comfrey, which are now in bloom.

I like this skipper, that I caught on my cell phone camera.  I watched them flying all around for a good five minutes before I even thought to take a shot.

Readers, do you have many butterflies around your place?

Friday, August 26, 2016

Comfrey Salve

Last month I made my first healing salve.  My parents gave me some comfrey for the garden, and it took off.  I picked some and layered into olive oil, then let it sit in the sun for two weeks so it would solar infuse the comfrey into the oil.  I used a mason jar that was warped, since I didn't want to put this jar through the canner.
After two weeks were up, I strained the oil and made the salve by adding beeswax, plus a couple of healing essential oils.  Comfrey is one of the best known healing herbs - perfect for bruises, cuts, sprains and wounds.

I got a sunburn one day from taking the boys to a water park (I used sunscreen, but didn't realize it was expired by a couple of years).  I put the comfrey salve on it and it diminished the pain immediately - it felt so soothing.  Paul got welts on his skin from removing a bandage, and he used the comfrey salve and found it speeded the healing and took away the itching. 

I need to make some more!  I made several jars, but everyone wanted some (which made me happy - I love to share the things I make).  It's so handy to have in the medicine cabinet. I still have a big jar for us, but I thought maybe I should make another batch just for sharing.  We have plenty of comfrey in the garden, so this will be a good project in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


A few months ago my mom gave me a vegetable spiralizer.  I kind of forgot I had it and then one day I was trying to figure out what to do with all the squash I had, and decided I would try making zoodles (zucchini noodles).  It turns out the spiralizer is super easy and quick to use.  I made the zoodles and then went to work cooking a red sauce.
The zoodles cooked rapidly - it only took about 3 minutes to sauté them.  Much faster than pasta! 

Everyone in the family really liked the zoodles except for Reid.  He complained a bit, but maybe if I make them more often, they will grow on him.  What an easy way to use up excess squash!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Garfield Cake

A few months ago when Pierce left for a week of camp, I slipped a Garfield comic strip collection book into his bag.  I remembered reading Garfield as a kid.  Apparently, Pierce found this book in his suitcase and then stayed up all night reading it over and over by flashlight, snickering along the way.  All that midnight giggling caused the camp to create a new 'flashlights out' policy.  And in our house, it started a Garfield craze - we've been checking out books and movies of Garfield nonstop.  I have to admit, even as an adult, Garfield is pretty funny.

Next thing I knew, the twins wanted a Garfield cake for their birthday.  I did a vanilla cake with lemon curd filling and a coconut rum frosting.

I decided just to freehand this one.  Considering the frosting wasn't completely smooth, I think it turned out alright. 
This cake didn't stick around for very long! 

Readers, do you like Garfield?

Friday, August 19, 2016

Black Walnut Tincture

Last year I wanted to make walnut tincture, but I missed the window of time when the hulls on the walnuts are green.  This year I timed it just right.  All you need to make it are a few walnuts and the strongest proof vodka you can find. 

You need to chop up the hulls from the walnuts.  The husks are antiparasitic, antifungal and antibacterial.  They are designed to keep worms out of the walnuts.  The second you cut into them they are yellow, but they instantly start turning brown and they will stain your fingers, so don't be like me -- wear gloves!  My fingers were stained brown for days and nothing would remove it!

The tincture can supposedly be used like iodine to clean wounds.  The walnut hulls smelled just like iodine when I was chopping them up.  Black walnut tincture can also be used to deworm for various parasites.  Some people use it to deworm their animals.  Among other things, it may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and may treat heartburn and colic.  It is known to be good for fighting candida or yeast in the system.  Some even say it fights cancer, syphilis, and malaria. 

Black walnut tincture is strong and you should consult your doctor before using.  It is not recommended that you take it for longer than two weeks, and it is not recommended for use in pregnant women. 

I think it will be handy to have around.  I will let this cure for a month in a dark place before straining out the hulls and bottling it. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Half Runners

My grandmother told me to plant half runners this year, and I've been waiting for them to get long and plump.  I finally had a day I could go pick a batch from the garden. 

When I brought them up, I had a helper to string them for me while I chopped potatoes and onions and garlic.
Our HVAC had died and we were trying not to heat up the house, so I cooked them on the grill burner.  They were delicious!  I am hoping I will have enough to can a bunch in addition to eating them fresh.  I love green beans. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Rebellious Squash

This is the time of year when my squash gets out of control and does whatever it wants.  It takes over all the nice rows I've laid out.  My husband is irritated it climbs over the fence he built around the garden.  He says, "you need to do something about your squash". 

What, exactly, am I supposed to do?  Ground it?  Remove privileges?  Send it to its room? You can see in the picture below where two different types of squash are escaping their prison. 

Aside from the fact that my squash is trying to take over the world, it doesn't seem to hurt anything when it climbs out of the garden.  I do have to wear muck boots now in the garden, as I can't see very well and there is a black snake that likes to hang out under the shady squash. Not to mention that neighbor of ours that got bit by a copperhead when picking peppers in his garden is never far from my mind. Here is one area I now call squash row (this area is primarily rampicante and blue hubbard):
I know I've got rampicante, blue hubbard, butternut, and delicata growing.  There is also a pumpkin and zucchini, but they are planted elsewhere. There may also be some spaghetti squash in there somewhere - I did plant some.  It will be a nice surprise to hopefully stumble upon at some point

Readers, do you have a favorite squash?