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After the Rain

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Turkey Tracks: July 12, 2020

After the Rain

Last night and yesterday morning we got a good rain from the remnants of tropical storm Fay. Around noon, the skies cleared and the sun came out. Earlier, I had roasted some Hope’s Edge CSA beets in the oven and was making a salad with them, so I went out to the garden to get some fresh herbs: tarragon, mint, and lemon thyme came inside for the salad—along with these flowers as you can’t turn me loose in the garden with a pair of kitchen shears and downed flowers offering themselves up. It was painful to see the downed delphiniums.

Before I knew it, my kitchen window was so pretty.

The beaded humming bird was a gift from a grandchild a few years ago. And I can’t use vinegar in a salad, so I use the herbs to give my roasted beet salad some interest. The mint was especially nice in the beet salad, which turned out to be delicious. I used olive oil, salt, some Penzey’s Sunny Paris (to which I am addicted), diced roasted beets, chopped spring onions, chopped Vidalia sweet onions, some drops of Young Living Essential lemon oil, and the herbs. You could add vinegar—a fruity one would be nice. Or balsemic. And maybe a tiny, tiny bit of Dijon mustard?

I finished getting the “little circles” quilt top together later in the afternoon. It is so sweet. And now it is OFF the design wall as it is time to make this month’s Sugaridoo QAL row. Then on to The Color Collective project “Bedrock.”

I was intrigued with these double prong pins to be used to keep seams together and each “flap” in place so ordered some. They worked REALLY well. When I get close to a pin, I sew up to them in slow motion—sometimes sewing over the prongs REALLY slowly, sometimes removing them as I get to the first prong—depending on where my sewing machine needle is going to land. I got them from Connecting Threads I think. (The one pictured below is inserted a little too crooked; they need to be straighter.)

ENJOY YOUR SUNDAY!

Written by louisaenright

July 12, 2020 at 10:52 am

Washer/Dryer Woes and Joys

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Turkey Tracks: July 11, 2020

Washer/Dryer Woes and Joys

I knew my American washer was on the way to dying. At only eight years old, it was making ominous grinding noises. It’s predecessor, the same maker/size washer, died after eight years.

I was bracing for doing something about the washer so I wouldn’t find myself without one at any moment now, when the 19-year-old gas dryer died about 10 days ago. Getting an old Sears product repaired, or even examined, in this rural area was going to be a real problem.

Oh my!

And “Oh My” again when I learned at our local really good appliance store (Kelsey’s) that no one makes either a washer or a dryer that would fit the built in space where the old ones were now going or gone. No one. Everything is either HUGE or little. The middle ground is…gone.

What to do?

I ultimately went with very high-tech European stackables that will sit side by side. They are smaller, but I did not want to have to redo this whole space to accommodate bigger appliances. The washer plugs into the dryer, so the gas feed had to be capped and a new 220-240 outlet had to be installed. (A shout-out here to Rubenstein Electric who, despite being crazy busy once again bailed me out and came to install the new outlet between the old washer/dryer removal and the new installation.)

Here they are:

There are spaces all around them now, but I’ve since taken the tv trays off their stand and slid them into the side spaces. That’s a streamline that works well as the stand of tv trays was a footprint that wasn’t especially visibly pleasing.

AND HOLY COW!

These very high-tech babes are AMAZING!

The washer will take a 17-pound maximum load. That’s a lot of clothes. The dryer needs no vent. It removes moisture from the air and shuttles it into a drain, so it, basically, dries the air rather than just pouring heat into the drum. And it knows when to just…stop…rather than blindly following a timed schedule. Each machine has an amazing array of controls that allow all sorts of washing and drying possibilities.

There is a whole new learning curve involved here. You can see I have both manuals on top of the counter with a pen.

My first four washes/dries came out beautifully. Basically there were no wrinkles in anything, and the clothes were very clean with very little soap used.

I’m happy now.

PS:

I LOVE to hang out wash on my clothes line. But with the brown tail caterpillar hairs still flying around, I don’t think putting sheets, especially, on the outdoor line is a great idea.

BUT, an outdoor line provides a lot of pleasure in many ways, including saving $$$$, as neighbor and friend Marina Schauffler details in this lovely essay—which also talks about European dryer technology.

Hanging Out: Reducing Clothes Dryer Use

Written by louisaenright

July 11, 2020 at 8:43 am

Bits and Pieces: July 9, 2020

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Turkey Tracks: July 9, 2020

Bits and Pieces: July 9, 2020

Here’s what’s happening on my design wall at the moment. These circles are from the backs of the big circles we learned how to do in The Color Collective (Tara Faughnan, Sewtopia) season 1. When you trim out the back of the big circle after you have sewn down the circles on the front, you have these little circles left over. I couldn’t throw them out. Some time over the past two years I bought the light grey solid and cut it into squares on which I planned to mount the little circles. When I started sewing, though, I had more circles than I thought and I ran out of the light grey, so I just added in a darker grey from my stash.

My goodness these are cute! I was planning to use these circles in an improv quilt, but they really just wanted to stay by themselves. I made myself throw out the little grey circles from the backs of these circles. Time to STOP.

The 6 by 3-inch flying geese are a “leader/ender” project. Bonnie Hunter pioneered this method to keep running sewing projects through your machine rather than breaking thread. She suggests a new leader/ender project each year in July and has just revealed this year’s choice. Basically, you are making two quilts at the same time. That info for this year’s project is on her blog at quiltville.com.

I’ve cut a lot more fabric combinations, so these present colors will spread out. I’m thinking at least 10 rows wide. For play, I often stop and make some of these geese blocks. Who was it who said “no more new projects until the to-do projects are done”?

The shell peas are ready to pick now. I picked these at Hope’s Edge on Tuesday, came home, and put some raw on my lunch salad. They are delicious! The rest I added into a lamb/rice stew when it came out of the oven. I just recovered the pot and let the peas cook in the heat of the hot stew. BTW, the lamb also came from Hope’s Edge last fall.

On the way to pick up my weekly raw milk order, I passed a mommy duck walked her babies…somewhere. I tried for a longer video, but a biker came by me and ruined that one. Aren’t they adorable?

I’ve been in the garden for DAYS, and order has been restored out there. For the most part. There are always small jobs that have to be done. I am so grateful to Duane and Leslie Smith and their crew for helping me.

We are having cool weather, mixed with overcast, rainy, and sunny days. The temps fall at night into the 60s, so the sleeping has been lovely. The drought has broken, and everything is looking green and lush again.

Summer doesn’t really come to Maine with predictable hot weather until after July 4th. This year is no exception. Our summers are short and sweet and so filled with wonderful food and beautiful flowers.

Nipplewort Wildflower

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Turkey Tracks: July 8, 2019

Nipplewort Wildflower

Remember this bouquet from a few days back?

The tiny yellow flower I couldn’t identify is Nipplewort, or as it is known around here by those who know these things, “Common Nipplewort.” It is in the larger aster family. “Wort” just means “plant” in Europe, so it’s just known as “the nipple plant.” The fancy name is lapsana communis, which means it grows in a “community of other plants.

It is in my New England wildflower book, but what was throwing me was that I could not identify what some were calling leaves on the lower part of the plant that supposedly resemble a “nipple.” I could only see large leaves that were opposed by two tiny leaves. And what kind of “nipple” did the description mean? A nipple like on a baby bottle? A nipple like on a female dog’s belly—elongated and protruding. Or like a human’s nipple that is surrounded with a wider circle?

I finally found what I think is a more plausible explanation on the web site https://www.juliasedibleweeds.com/general/nipplewort. Julia says that this plant is an astringent, so back in the day (or today too I suppose) it “probably helped heal chapped nipples or breast ulcers.”

It is edible. It is used as a salad vegetable in Europe. It has a calming effect. Used in a tea, it can help staunch breast milk when it’s time to stop breast feeding.

There are big leaves at the bottom, which give way at the top to just mostly bare stems with flowers and an occasional slender pointed leaf. The tiny yellow flowers only open in sunshine and close up by mid-afternoon. The seeds do not have “tufts of hairs to help the seeds fly away—they rely on being carried on shoes or by birds eating them.”

So there you have it. It’s an interesting plant, isn’t it? Who knew?

And remember that all plants interact with the world via chemicals they produce. These chemicals can be very strong—for either good or bad, depending on the dose one gets. So, always be careful. Respect plants! Even supposedly benign plants we eat all the time carry chemical packages to which one must pay attention. Eating plants in their own seasons is always a wise choice.

Written by louisaenright

July 8, 2020 at 10:17 am

Garden Garter Snakes and Garlic Cream Kale

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Turkey Tracks: July 5, 2020

Garden Garter Snakes and Garlic Cream Kale

I was in the garden all day yesterday, the 4th of July. The weather was overcast, the temps cool, and the ground was so soft that weeds just leaped into my hands. Restoring order is going quicker than I would have thought. And I hope to get back into the garden today.

It was my first big day in the garden this year, since the Brown Tail Caterpillar hairs have been so toxic that it has been impossible to weed without encountering the discarded hairs that were on all the plants. The hairs make a rash that is filled with blisters and that itches like mad, for days. My arms are only now healing up.

AC was “on it” with me.  He is fascinated with the garden snakes and is getting braver about grabbing them.  He has come close to catching them several times now and almost got one the other day with me looking on. The snake was hiding under the spent daffs by the strawberries—it was a longer one—about 18 or so inches.  I stepped in to give the snake some time to retreat across the path and into the growth and rocks on the other side. I think AC did grab it but jumped back with his mouth open as if the snake had shot it with some sort of noxious fumes. These snakes can do that, actually. It is a protective measure.

I uncovered a little one yesterday—6 or 8 inches—while trimming back the climbing hydrangea on the wall along the path—s/he was up by the house and went under the lower set of shingles above the concrete strip on the ground.  So, AC spent most of our many hours outside going from one “snake” place to another.  And, of course, checking on “mouse” at the compost bins, and “squirrel” on the upper porch, and “chipmunk” on the stone wall in back.  He was really tired after his dinner.  But happy.

Garter snakes work hard in the garden. They are a sign of a healthy garden, I’ve always been told. They eat insects, among other things. I know I have several here. And each year I see new little ones. The female snake gives birth to live little snakes. They don’t hatch from outside eggs. These snakes live together in a den. In the wild they can live to around five years. Some online sites say much longer. It probably depends on each snake’s habitat. Anyway, here they love the rock steps and the stone paths, where they lie in the sun. That is, until AC arrived. He does not allow such snake displays.

Yesterday I really wanted to grill something—it was the 4th after all. I wound up grilling chicken thighs for a salad lunch and, later, a little steak for a dinner that included corn on the cob, kale in garlic cream, and a bowl of summer berries (raspberries, blueberries, cherries, and strawberries from my garden).

Kale, garlic, and cream are a magic combo. Add nutmeg, for an even more magic treat.

Kale in Garlic Cream

Remember that it takes a LOT of kale to make enough food for more than two people. I count on one bunch for two people.

First, prep the kale. Put the kale in a sink and run water over it to knock off any sand or other debris. Start a big pot of water to boil—you only need about 3 or 4 inches of water. (This method is good for collards, too, but not chard or spinach, both of which are more delicate. Chard and spinach are better pan wilted in a good fat with only the rinsing water clinging to the leaves.)

I strip off the leaves with my hands. They come away from the central stem easily. Keep the leaves in big pieces for now. Some would lay the leaf on a cutting board and cut away the stem with a knife. I think that’s too much work for kale, but that is good for collards which have a tougher leaf. But, whatever.

When the pot of water is boiling, throw in the kale leaves and push them under the water with…something. Let them cook until they wilt really well—no longer than 5 minutes, which is probably a bit too long for kale. You don’t want to cook kale to death.

Drain into a colander and run cold water over the hot mass. When you can pick it up, ball it up with your hands and squeeze out all the water. Put the mass on a cutting board and cut it into smaller pieces—about one inch along the mass, then turn it, and cut the other way. Don’t cut it into tiny, tiny bits. You won’t some texture.

You can prep the kale at any time—even the day before. I prepped my kale at lunch while grilling the chicken.

Second, chop as much or as little garlic as you like. (You could do this step while the kale is cooking.) In my world, there is no such thing as too much garlic. Heat a knob of butter in a smaller size frying pan—enough to allow a generous coating and warming of your kale. Add the garlic and let it just simmer until it smells lovely. That will take only 30 to 40 seconds. Add the kale and turn it all around until it is coated and is warm.

Add a LOT of heavy cream—what looks good to you. For my one-bunch of kale, I probably added 1/2 cup of heavy cream. You could also add some nutmeg if you like it. Nutmeg on greens is magic. I can’t do it, so I added tarragon to my butter and garlic. Tarragon is sweet and adds a kind of licorice taste. Definitely add some sea salt. Pepper wouldn’t be bad either. Hmmm. I’m wondering if adding some heat wouldn’t be nice? Something in the hot pepper range? Then you would get a sweet/hot taste. Cook until everything is combined and is warm.

Enjoy!

My batch left me with about half the batch for another meal. I’m going to put it into an omelet for a meal today, probably with some mozzarella cheese added, since I can eat that cheese. Ricotta might be nice too instead if I had some here today. And maybe more tarragon.

Written by louisaenright

July 5, 2020 at 9:20 am

Outside Grill Drama

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Turkey Tracks: July 3, 2020

Outside Grill Drama

My little Weber Spirit II is 2 years old.

It is the perfect size for me as it will also handle grilled food when family or guests come. It’s not too big or complicated. It is just right.

Last year I had trouble with the propane hookup, and a kind friend came and helped me. Can I just say that I have no experience with gas and that hearing and smelling it escape terrifies me. My friend said the propane tank was bad, took it back to the local store, replaced it, and got me going again.

This spring, when I went to grill a steak, something went really bad, and I could smell gas. I turned everything off immediately and when my heart stopped pounding, I started to research. The bad tank had been replaced. Was it the hook-up from the grill to the tank this time?

The name for the silver round piece behind the black attachment knob is called a “regulator.” They can go bad. I ordered a new one which came in a few days. There are videos that show you how to safely replace the piece from the gold bolts. It looked easy, if one has the right wrenches. Nevertheless I called a Lion friend who very, very sweetly came to help.

My friend swiftly replaced the regulator piece. That was no issue, but something was still wrong. We couldn’t get the black knob in the tank right and then everything froze up. The handle on the tank would not budge so we could remove the tank. In time, the system “unfroze,” and my friend rehooked the tank and tested that the grill burners would light. All seemed to be ok.

The next night, I defrosted my steak, which I froze when trouble started. I turned the handle on the tank to let the gas flow to the grill, and Oh MY God!!! Gas everywhere. I turned everything off, walked away, and, heart pounding again, pan fried my steak in the kitchen.

What to do now?

I went to bed and woke with the idea that I would call the propane tank supplier, which is also my household propane supplier. I talked with a very nice woman who said that they “don’t do grills.” But she said she’d talk to the propane tank manager and would call me back.

She did. She said he said that it was most likely the gasket in the tank and to take it off the grill and if it didn’t stop releasing gas after I disengaged it, to just carry it out into the yard and let it play out. Meanwhile, she would call the local store and tell them to replace the tank for me when I brought it in.

With heart pounding, again I tried to remove the tank, but couldn’t budge the black connector knob. I think it was freezing up, like before, which is a fail-safe safety feature. After several tries throughout the afternoon, I finally got the tank off the grill—and it didn’t leak gas. Yeah, one victory.

I took the tank to the store and got a new one. These tanks are super heavy when full, and I had to get mine up a set of steps, a hill, and more steps to get it to the grill. But, I did.

The hook-up requires the strength to lift the tank on to its hook-up latch which is UNDER the permanent tray at the side. But it all went well. The grill lit just fine. And I’ve had several meals with grilled meat in the past days.

This is a long story. But it is a success story—made possible by nice friends, a nice person at the propane company, nice people at the local store, online research and videos, and some personal determination to sort and solve this problem.

Not bad for a 75-year old widow.

Written by louisaenright

July 3, 2020 at 10:53 am

Robin’s Plantain Wildflower

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Turkey Tracks/Interesting Information: July 2, 2020

Robin’s Plantain Wildflower

You saw this picture before of this vase of flowers in my kitchen window. At the time, I didn’t know what this little pale lavender flower with the yellow center was. It is Robin’s Plantain, and when I cut it, the lavender was a much stronger color. Now it has faded to almost white. This plant can also be a much darker lavender. The depth of color may depend on where it grows?

Next to it—the white lacy one like Queen Anne’s Lace—is Bishop’s Weed. It is also known as Goutweed or Snow on the Mountain. It’s pretty and lacy, yes, but it is horribly invasive, and I fight it all the time. At least one gardener online (Ecosystem Gardener) has called it “an invasive insidious persistent thug.” Another said, based on research, that it can displace a whole forest as it takes away all nutrients from the other plants. It is really hard to get all the roots, and it will come back from the roots left in the soil. Plus, it will put up a stalk right jam up to an existing plant, which makes it really hard to pull out without harming the plant too. Plus, it creates astonishing numbers of seeds if allowed to bloom.

Remember the Yellow Devil/King Devil wildflower I put online the other day. I had one in the arrangement above, and it died and dried out. Look how quickly each of those flowers can go to seed. I guess it has to be quick in our short and sweet summer.

The cheerful yellow flower below is Sundrops, and is in the Evening Primrose family. The pale pink sweet little blossom is a geranium form.

Sundrops are invasive too, but in a much more controllable way. They kind of have a life of their own in my garden, though when they show up in unwanted places, I just pull them out and send them to the side of the garage, where they can come up if they want.

Written by louisaenright

July 2, 2020 at 8:59 am

Giovanna’s Recent Knitting Projects

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Turkey Tracks: July 1, 2020

Giovanna’s Recent Knitting Projects

Giovanna’s pandemic knitting continues. Look at these two very pretty finished projects. She makes the difficult look easy.

I often wonder if I’d like to have a dressmaker’s mannequin. I read mixed reviews about them. The adjustable ones are also…expensive. And there is absolutely no space in my sewing areas to put one anyway. So today, as is usual with this issue, I’m not going there. That’s not to say it’s over though.

Written by louisaenright

July 1, 2020 at 1:17 pm

Sugaridoo QAL

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Turkey Tracks: June 30, 2020

Sugaridoo QAL

I’m up to date with the Sugaridoo QAL and have joined many of the rows. Eight of 12 are done now, and each row to come will combine with at least one other row.

I am making TWO versions: one in Sugaridoo’s rainbow solids and one in Cotton+Steel/Ruby Star Society print fabrics because I want to USE what I have amassed now.

I am enjoying this project and though I have quilted for more than 20 years now, I have learned A LOT of new methods and have enjoyed the growing collection of new blocks I can use in other projects.

Written by louisaenright

June 30, 2020 at 9:14 am

More Pleasure in Small Acts

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Turkey Tracks: June 29, 2020

More Pleasure in Small Acts

…like some time enjoying the garden.

Here is a Sunday bouquet. I have no idea what the tiny yellow “weed” flower is, but it is everywhere now. That iris is so not happy to be inside though.

Written by louisaenright

June 29, 2020 at 9:25 am