Bitty Garden Tour

Bumblebee & Borage

Oh, who am I kidding? This post is likely to have 527 photos.

I'm a Liar!

The Kiss

A sad sight greeted my eyes last week (do pardon the tardiness—I also had surgery last week and recovery is taking a bit longer than anticipated): the first hard frost of the season, covering the grass and nearly-denuded trees and, of course, my veggie garden. Ben and I headed out to grab the last (green) tomatoes from the vine to ripen in the garage or be turned into some sort of preserve.

Last of the garden (methinks)

While most of the plants are indeed done for the season, my darling nasturtium actually doesn’t look bad and the youngest borage plants—borage being my other garden flower love—look as fresh as can be, and the same can be said for, of all things, the dill! The Brussels sprouts are fine, too, of course, and will probably taste all the better for the frost.

But for all intents and purposes, 2017’s growing season is over. This weekend I’ll put it to bed, though leaving up the still-blooming plants for as long as I can. Since it’s done for 2017 (my hopes of a winter garden setup having bitten the dust for the coming winter), why not a little tour? Continue reading

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Homemaking 102: Setting Up For Putting Up

All Done!

The fruits of my labor.

For a little while now I’ve been kicking around the idea of a homemaking 101 series here. More than one woman of my own age or younger has said (enthusiastically, even) she’d love to come across such a thing, however politically and culturally incorrect it is for an American woman to say she has an interest in serious homemaking anymore—and it is incorrect, terribly—so how many would like to know more but are ashamed to speak of it? A sad state of affairs indeed. Homemaking is something I consider important for reasons I’ll discuss in a future, introductory post, but let’s skip ahead a little bit  and talk about canning—it is the season, after all, and that’s what I spent most of my Wednesday doing!

Of course, canning can be done any time of year, no matter where one lives, but autumn seems to be the season people’s minds turn to it. Perhaps this is a throwback to a much earlier age when we had to put up food for the winter lest our family starve, or it’s because many of us recall our mothers or grandmothers steaming up the kitchen while canning seemingly countless jars of tomatoes, applesauce, and sliced pears, but either way, there is plenty of

Putting Up!: Candied Jalapenos

Candied Jalapenos, aka “Cowboy Candy”

produce to choose from in the fall—the last gasp of glory before winter sweeps in. Preserving is one way to enjoy summer year-round—to say nothing of knowing exactly what it is in the food you’re eating and always having gifts on hand to give. The response I get from handing someone a jar of home-canned anything is quite possibly more rewarding than eating whatever it is myself!

Many people seem intimidated by the idea of canning, but it’s very easy to learn, really; most recipes, such as this one (for which I’m hoping I can find a few last local raspberries), give you step-by-step instructions that probably sound simplistic to novices. What seems to unnerve people most is the possibility of Death By Home-Canned Goods, followed by the process itself. Continue reading

Some Sweetness For Your Weekend

Earl Grey CupcakeI’m not sure why, but I’ve spent a great deal of time in the kitchen of late—more than usual, that is; I cook about 98% of our meals and simply enjoy the process (and, of course, the results). Obviously there’s the newfound tasty giggles to be found in Jell-O molds, but I’ve been baking a lot, too.

Perhaps it’s the winter—being safely but involuntarily cooped up inside from the cold but wanting of course to stay active; maybe it’s the still-recent-to-me loss of my grandfather, occasionally stinging more deeply when a box of things from his house arrives as Dad, my aunt, and my uncle continue cleaning out his and Grandma’s home and pass things on to family members. Grandma was an amazing baker and cook, as I’ve mentioned before; it seems that most of her kitchen things are being divvied up between my aunt and I, because we’re the ones who seem to simply love being in the kitchen the way Grandma did (we are also both passionate gardeners, like Grandpa…two apples who did not fall far from the tree, to be sure). Whipping things up in Grandma Sally’s and Great-Grandma’s bowls makes me feel so close to them both—Great Grandma was a whiz in the kitchen, too—it’s as if they’re in the kitchen with me. Grandpa used Grandma Sally’s bowls after she passed 20 years ago, so…it’s just warm. Does that makes sense?

It has been bittersweet, using these new additions to my kitchen, but less bitter and more sweet every time I use them. Sometimes I wonder what Grandma would say, seeing me go about dressed and coiffed so that people at the supermarket and in church stop me to tell me I look like I’ve “stepped out of an old movie”, baking and cooking and gardening and canning; I like to think she’d smile and love it. Grandpa certainly did, as do my mom’s parents, so I guess I have to go with their verdict and guess hers would be the same, don’t I?

Maybe all of this baking and kitchen bustle of late is my way of working through the loss. Earl Grey Cupcake with Lemon cream cheese frosting Considering my genetic predisposition to this sort of thing, it does make sense, doesn’t it? And I know Grandma and Great-Grandma would be proud as Grandpa took “just two”. 😉

At any rate…all this to say that the house smells like a bakery these days (not a bad thing!) and I’ve probably put out maybe four dozen cupcakes in the past two weeks. Yes, you read that right! First a batch of strawberry cupcakes with lemon frosting that left me with an overload of the latter.

Hating to waste all of that lemon frosting, I decided to make a tea-flavoured cupcake to use it up, because as we know, lemon and tea are quite good friends indeed. A quick internet search led me to these Earl Grey Cupcakes from Edible Moments (another blog that appears dead—I sure can pick ’em!) that seemed perfect.  Continue reading