Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Half-Baked Posts

From time to time I think "this would make a good blog post" and I take a photo or two. But for some reason or another I never get to turning the thought into a post. Sometimes it is because the post was going to be about a meal and it seems a better idea to just eat the food while it's hot and delicious rather than spend extra time posing the plate and taking the backup shots.

Tonight was one of those nights. So I decided to gather a few of those thoughts and photos and post them anyway even if the whole story is not quite "baked" yet.

Okay, we have the jumping photos to contend with I see.

On Sundays we usually have brunch which means an egg meal. This week's brunch had started with the purchase of some smoked salmon on Friday. By Sunday we decided to turn that into a version of Eggs Benedict. This version began with slices of sour dough bread, topped with smoked salmon, poached egg and then smothered in hollandaise sauce.

Now the challenge always starts with using the dreaded egg poacher. It has these four little cups that are coated in a supposed non stick coating. But, you guessed it, the eggs always stick. So we have finally figured out we need to butter the inside of each cup first. Then once we put the eggs in it is important not to fully cover the pan as there is no vent on the lid. Now, with precise timing we can sometimes remember how long we poached the eggs for last time to get the desired setting of the yolk. So off goes the burner. Then starts the challenge of how to get the egg out of the poaching cup. Yes, we have buttered the cup so the egg will slide out with a little coaxing but first you need to pick up the cup; that would be the cup with the metal handle which has just been sitting in simmering hot water. Burning of the fingers slows things down.

To add to the fun this week I was so intent on getting the egg out (hey, I got four out perfectly) that I forgot that the salmon should have gone on the toast first, before I slid the perfectly poached egg on. Sigh. So one person was detailed to carefully lift the egg, taking care not to cut open the yolk, while the other poked the slices of salmon underneath.

The end result tasted just fine although by now we were more intent on eating than on snapping more photos.

For dinner tonight we had decided to have gumbo to use some of the okra I had bought at the Farmers Market on Saturday. Now this was a bold choice when we were choosing our menus on Sunday as gumbo is not something I have made with any regularity. With some vague idea I had bought chicken sausage, chicken thighs and shrimp and thought that would be the basis of the gumbo. This afternoon I thought perhaps I should look at a recipe. Oh. That seems like a lot of stirring, ingredients, chopping up and more. Oh well. So using a bit of this recipe and a bit of that recipe but mainly just winging it, a concoction was produced.
We all agreed it tasted just fine.

 This position behind the kitchen faucets is often taken by a vase of flowers. But in the summertime I keep an ever changing bowl of red tomatoes picked fresh from the garden. They can be snacked on during the day or turned into a side dish for dinner.

 These are my volunteer plants. I have no idea what variety they are - the fruit is larger than a cherry tomato but smaller than a regular sized one.

These ones have ripened first. We have had about four yellow cherry tomatoes from the pots on the deck but it will be a week or so before we get any more of them. In the meantime these plants are loaded.

So there you are. A bit of this and a bit of that.

Friday, July 6, 2012

There's Been a Distraction

The weather has provided a major distraction for the past week. Temperatures have been quite a lot higher than the normal for this time of year; I believe I heard that we have had nine days in a row of "high" temperatures over 95F/35C. Do not be understanding this to mean that's all it has been...

A week ago after one of the really hot days we had a sudden storm blow in just after 10pm. At first there was this very very strong wind and we had to go out to rescue the potted tomato plants from being blown over. Then we noticed the barbecue/grill had been blown across the driveway and tipped over so there was a mad dash to fix that and secure the propane gas tank. On the heels of the wind it rained for maybe thirty minutes and then we lost power. It was around 10.30pm Friday night.

The power did not come back on again until 5.25pm Tuesday late afternoon. I did the math - that was 91 hours without power. During that time the temperatures were peaking above 95F/35C and the humidity was super high. This was not a pleasant place to live.

 Before the storm I had a pair of orangey red hibiscus plants in ceramic pots on the front steps. The plants were very pretty and each day new blossoms appeared and although each blossom lasts only one day there was always a show of color.

 But the wind toppled over one of the plants and pots. I no longer have a pair of pots.

 I was able to rescue the plant however and it continues to bloom. Meanwhile the hunt to locate a new pot to match the first (existing) one continues unsuccessfully.

 This holly tree had been pecked all around the main trunk by woodpeckers some many months ago. But it was still holding on until the strong wind. Now I'll need to get the step ladder out and cut out the broken main trunk.
 But in the garden, a week after the big storm, nature continues on. The swallowtails have found the butterfly bush. And, for the first time this season, just before dinnertime tonight, I saw three hummingbirds chasing each other around the feeder. There has been a single hummer for the past several weeks but tonight was the first opportunity to see that competition has shown up.

 I see there is a first tomato starting to turn color.

 The kitchen was a sorry sight. We had to totally empty out the fridge and the freezer and dump practically everything after being without power for that long.

Daily I went out on scavenging trips. I needed to first find a friend who had electricity so we could recharge various devices. Then I had to find a store that had ice for sale. If the store had ice for sale I would buy three bags and then I could also buy enough fresh food to make lunch and dinner for that day. The ice chests began to take over the kitchen. On the plus side the fridge and freezer have not been this clean since they were new twelve years ago! In fact we were engaged in washing out the inside of the fridge when we heard the happy sound of timeclocks resetting and the fans starting up at 5.25pm Tuesday when the electricity came back on.

This is where our power must come from. All day on Tuesday I saw the power company employees working on this pole. To begin with they had to remove all the trees/tree limbs that had crashed down on it and then they had to make repairs to the equipment. And then, hooray, we had power once more.

Some areas of our village still have no power. And some of those are homes where they rely on electricity to pump water from wells and to dispose of sewage into the septic tank. At least we did not have that added problem.

But for the first time that I can recall, along with losing the electricity we also lost the landline telephone and the cellphone reception. The phones began to work again in a sporadic fashion on Sunday afternoon.

These have been days to build character...despite the fact that I thought I already had more than enough character.

Saturday (tomorrow) and Sunday are predicted to be the two hottest days. And then finally, on Monday, we may return to more reasonable summer temperatures. I sure hope so.