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Saturday, August 5, 2017

Summer Rewards

We have been putting up with days and days of hot and humid weather but today it is raining, a nice respite. The greatest joy of the summer is our gardens. We think that the yard out front looks exceptionally nice this year. It is planted with a mix of annuals and perennials.

Front of our 1821 home that has a variety of garden flowers


We have had good luck with plants re-seeding themselves. The Chrysanthemum plants came back and are doing well, promising fall blooms. The portulaca (moss rose) has gone crazy, spreading everywhere.

Portulaca that has spread with wild abandon, growing among Argeratum


The Gloriosa Daisies are blooming once again. The Geranium we over-wintered is spectacular. The other day I counted 30 blossoms on that lone plant with many more buds!

A perfect orange Zinnia


Of course, we love Zinnias and do not know why we do not plant them more often.

The vegetable garden is going great guns, too. The Pollinator mix which consists of Cosmos, Dill Weed, California Poppies, Bachelor Buttons and other flowers is doing its task of attracting beneficial insects to the garden. I learned this week not to disturb eggs that are laid in a triangular shape under squash leaves. Those are the eggs of a beneficial killer wasp.

Our vegetable garden


Jim has been busy grating Zucchini for use in recipes this winter (chocolate zucchini cake is my favorite). He made pickles. He is freezing Blackberries galore and we have our winter supply of Rhubarb all cut up and stored. The other night Jim made an enchilada casserole with Zucchini and Summer Squash. It was delicious!

Wasp enjoying a Blue Globe Thistle blossom


Some plants we add just for fun. The Blue Globe Thistle is one of those. Our yard is a haven for bees and butterflies. If we were courageous, we would be bee-keepers. Bees are so industrious during the summer. I guess, like us, they earn a long winter's nap.



Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Ice Cream and Hot Summer Days

This has been an exceptionally hot summer with temperatures in the 90s and high 80s for several months now. When it is hot, I think of ice cream! There is an ice cream map available that tells the favorite places throughout the state of New Hampshire to get the "best" ice cream. Some of the places make their own. Others sell Gifford's ice cream. The stand closest to our home (and very handy) went out of business altogether before the start of the season. The two places in Concord that we like are Arnie's (on the Heights), or else, following the country roads, Beech Hill Farm and Ice Cream Stand in Contoocook. We also love Blake's in Manchester and The Goldenrod in the same city.

When my mother was still living (and she died in 2005), she bought an electric ice cream maker. She brought it to our home and one year we made strawberry ice cream. The maker is still in the box it came in and we decided to drag it upstairs from the cellar where it is stored to see if instructions for ice cream making are still intact. They were! Since I seem to have developed an allergy to strawberries and since we will soon have a large crop of raspberries to process, we have decided to make raspberry ice cream!

The next step was in finding sodium chloride (called "rock salt" or "ice cream salt") that is necessary for the process. We are also filling up our big freezer with frozen ice cubes we are making. The recipe calls for 17 lbs. of ice. The only rock salt we could find to purchase came in a 50 lb. sack! We should be able to make more than one batch of ice cream with that much!

I can't wait to make ice cream! Jim is already scouting out other recipes. The one for Maple Walnut ice cream requires too many steps and too much handling to suit us. With foods, we always enjoy experimenting. I don't always want to try to the results of the experiment but Jim is game for trying many new foods...like fried radishes! Of the two experiments, I shall opt for raspberry ice cream in lieu of fried radishes any day!

Someone suggested frozen popsicles. Those may be fine but I try to limit the amount of pure sugar and/or juices. At least with ice cream, there is the benefit of calcium. I am happy not to be lactose intolerant. In the colder months, my craving for ice cream may slow down a little but it is a wonderful food, especially on a hot summer's day "when the living is easy"! Wish us good luck in our experiment. Now we just have to watch for the berries to ripen!