After picking two gallons of blueberries the conventional way, staining figures purple, sweat covering our brows and running between shoulder blades, a brilliant thought entered our collective heads.
“Don’t they have machines in commercial blueberry fields to shake the berries off?” my middle son asked.
“Yes, I believe they do,” I answered. “How ’bout you go in the house and get a sheet and we’ll spread it under the bushes and shake them by hand.”
Eureka! Plump purple berries bounced to the tarps; it worked like a charm. Of course, there were sticks to clear from the gathering of berries, but still a good method for berry picking.
For our Independence Day celebration, my no-churn ice cream recipe got a new flavor. I mixed about a cup of fresh blueberries, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup water and cooked that down into a syrup. Cooled a little bit, the blueberry syrup was swirled into the whipped cream and sweetened condensed milk. Here’s my recipe No-churn Ice Cream
Fourth of July Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.
I can’t not talk about the weather. It takes hold of everyday life and changes my plans. A tropical storm started out on one side of the country Amanda, crossed the Ucitan and became Cristobol, bringing with it rain and high winds.
The storm knocked down most of my flower patch. Roots are exposed. Plants, still living, are growing crooked. The stems travel along the ground, but the bloom at the end turns upward, trying to face the sun. I will endeavor this weekend to righten the storms battering. Wooden stakes, jute twine, hammer and elbow grease should do the trick.
This is a picture of what our nation is going through. We are battered by a storm whose name keeps changing. We’re knocked down. Running low. But at the end, we need to look upward.
Blessings for a safe weekend from the Exile’s Kitchen.
Summer is knocking on the door, with its great big yella hand. The yellow eyes of the daisies and cosmos are bright. The yellow squash is abundant. It has already graced our supper plates this week. I hear Bubba reciting various squash dishes: fried squash, stewed squash, squash casserole, squash hushpuppies.
A craft project of refurbishing old metal chairs, using cans of spray paint, lacks at least one being yellow. Weather permitting, I’ll get that done this weekend. The sunflowers have come up, along with old maid zinnias; no blooms to show yet.
Beginnings of my potager. Raised beds made from reclaimed 100 year old tongue and groove boards and same-age former fireplace bricks. Started in February, planted in March and blooming in May. I see supper.
It’s mayhaw season. The first part of the year, though trying in many ways, must have had the right weather conditions to produce the biggest mayhaws I’ve ever seen. Storms last Sunday night brought a great windfall of these little red fruit. I picked up a gallon this afternoon and the fact that many were the size of pennies and nickles was lagniappe. A windfall because the wind made them fall and all I had to do was pick them up. Lagniappe because they were a generous size. They filled 2 quart bags! And like the dish towel says, I’m grateful.
Windfall and Lagniappe Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.
I think it was Wednesday today. Each 24 hours around the sun blends into another. Told to not go into work, my mother, Marigold and I bugged out to the country, not quite a week ago.
I’ve spent this time planting my big garden. G90 corn under planted with contender green beans: 2 rows. Almost half a row of squash: zucchini and yellow crooked neck. The rest of the rows will be zinnias, cosmos, bishop’s flower and a multitude of sunflowers. Pink flamingo whirlygigs mark where I’ve planted what. Plus, detailed notes are kept in a notebook. A gentle rain for most of yesterday (Tuesday?) graced the turned ground, making it perfect for planting.
Early evening, after a simple supper of braised chicken tenders and tossed salad, I sat down at the piano and right hand pecked out old hymns. I have trouble reading bass clef. Marigold was on the porch and she started barking, when she heard my feeble notes. Everyone is a critic.
Gardening. Writing. Music- kinda. What’s keeping you from going stir crazy?
Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen while hunkering down at Flowers Proper.
As my farmhouse is over 100+ years, and there was no garbage pick up way back then, just below the top layer of ground lies century old trash: shards of crockery, glass bottles and farming implements. Everybody had a burn pile and a junk pile. They burned what they could, reused what they could, repurposed what they could. What couldn’t be burned, reused or repurposed was thrown on the rubbish heap. In the case of my farmhouse, that must have been an arms throw from the back door. Whenever there is a heavy rain, the stuff rises to the surface. Its best to wear a pair of thick soled shoes or rubber boots.
Last fall I had an odd shaped building torn down and hauled away. It was right next to the house. A tree had fallen on top of it many years ago and the previous owner never repaired it. The buzzards liked to roost in it each Spring. Nasty things! It was abandoned with decades of old, well, the afore mentioned. And every time it rains hard, more artifacts of the founding farm family come bubbling up from the rich, dark earth.
Tearing down the odd shaped building opened up the landscape. The view sweeps straight back to the old barn and pecan trees. This afternoon when I arrived home, clumps of yellow flag irises greeted me. I’ve never seen them blooming in the three years I’ve owned the property. I realize now that the junky building had obstructed my pleasure in noticing their bright yellow blooms.
I am the old farmhouse. My past is buried right under the surface and on occasion, it comes bubbling up. In other posts, I have mentioned that I come from a long line of strong women. They each had a good sense of humor, too. Thank God for laughter. It “doeth good like a medicine” says Proverbs.
So, as shards of my past came rising to the top this afternoon, I began a healing conversation with myself, spoken only in my head. I will not share it with you. It was a private conversation, after all. Where once certain things would have made me cry or made me angry, now I can just think of a quip and laugh. Laughter is that pair of rubber boots to wear while crossing the ground of the past to get to the bright, yellow flags of the present.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Unt-uh. Not Christmas. I enjoy Christmas, but my favorite time of year is Spring. The earth wakes up. Everything stretches and gets moving.
A field trip to a garden center this morning filled the trunk: Fruit trees, hydrangeas, azaleas, a big pretty basket. I could get into trouble at a garden center, y’all. Man, could I!
On my way home, a couple of packages of Peeps hitched a ride and then jumped into my cup of evening coffee. One of these days, you’re going to try coffee and Peeps and you will wonder why you waited so long.
Recent happy emails from Harris Seeds and Wildseed Farms told that my flower seed orders are on their way. I cannot wait to play in the dirt. Visions of flower arrangements dance in my head. It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
Suppers before payday can be tricky to pull together, when money is tight and there’s a mish mash of ingredients on hand. That’s what I faced in preparing supper tonight. Time to think outside the box, so to speak.
Pound of ground meat, but no noodles of any kind. Hot dog buns, but no franks. Hmmmm…. ‘Cut the buns in half and make up little hamburger patties. Yeah, and top ’em with cheese’, I told myself. Little Cheeseburger Sliders with a side of Cottage Fries. Baking potatoes, cut length ways and tossed in Italian dressing, were started in s lightly oiled iron skillet, then finished under the broiler.