bye summer

Yes, this is it. The last official days of summer. Neighbors hanging out. Country music on the boom box. The sounds of happy kids and adults laughing and enjoying each other’s company.

Camaraderie.

Open space.

This is why we live here. This is what we need to protect.

pickled and put up

 

So I channeled my inner Pennsylvania German grandmother and pickled some stuff today.

I had a really fresh baby seedless watermelon in my CSA box, and I remembered how my grandmother used to pickle watermelon rind in the summer.

So I cleaned the rind (you remove the tough outer green shell and scrape out as much as the pink as possible left over from chunking up a watermelon) and cut it up into pieces of about an inch to 2 inches along with slicing up my remaining half bag of jalapeño peppers which also came from the CSA box. I brined both in salt water in the refrigerator overnight, bringing out today and draining and rinsing with clear water.

I brought to a boil a little over 3 cups (give or take) of a 1 to 3 part ratio of cider vinegar and white vinegar and sugar and spices. I had some white vinegar I wanted to use up, or I would’ve used all cider vinegar.  This is a sweet pickle so I had easily a cup and a half of sugar, mustard seed, pickling spice, dill, cinnamon sticks in the spice and sugar category. 

I cooked this mixture just shy of five minutes and then added first the watermelon rind, then about five minutes later I added the jalapeños and 4 sliced up medium carrots – slices of carrot no more than a half inch thick. 

Finally I added  slices of  1 large red onion. I cooked this until the watermelon rind reached a translucent stage, then removed everything from heat and ladled into preserving jars.

I did not put these in a hot water bath as I am going to store them in the refrigerator. They should last a few months that way.  It’s sort of an icebox pickle.

They will need to cure a couple weeks before trying them.

easy summer entertaining

  Entertaining in the summer is so easy and fun! Fresh fruit and vegetables and flowers are so readily available and it is easy to be casual.

I am not for the paper plates and plastic cup casual, though. I like to make things look nice for my guests.

Last night was one of those nights. We got together with some of our favorite friends from high school and we don’t get together as often as we should and I wanted it to be special. 

  I did my table in my vintage finds that were season appropriate- Fiestaware and a cool Vera tablecloth.

I served summer food with my culinary twists. Started with a real gooey traditional French Brie with fresh strawberries on the side as well as crackers. Melon wrapped in prosciutto but not just cantelope, a lucious canary melon too.  And a super fresh caprese salad with my own garden basil. 

  For dinner, sweet cornbread muffins with dill, chili powder, and cinnamon. Chuck roast I had marinated for two days and roasted (they were supposed to be for the grill but Mother Nature changed the weather up). The roast was tender and flavorful!  

  We finished with a seasonal greens salad topped with sliced thin rings of lolipop scallions, Mert’s Nuts (the salad crumbles), goat cheese crumbles and a simple mustard vinegarette. Dessert was a triple berry trifle with three layers of pudding (lemon, coconut, white chocolate) and cookies my friend brought from Isgros.

  And on a whim along with some lovely French Rosés I served prosecco. The food was fresh and simple and the table seasonally festive. I did it buffet style so my guests could mingle and eat what they chose while catching up.

   

 Best of all it was just one of those fun evenings where it all felt like it was only five minutes long! Good friends, good food, good conversation and fun! 

Thanks for stopping by!

 

life is good

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Life is good in a summer garden.

Morning is filled with the sounds of bird song . I can smell the garden phlox and roses as I water the rest of the plants. The garden is exploding with the colors of the end of mid- summer.

In the background I can hear my neighbor’s chickens clucking with some indignation of an inter-chicken family squabble.

A brave jack rabbit hops tentatively up a garden path.

A hummingbird along with a hummingbird moth flit from flower to flower in the main perennial bed.

I can now also hear in the background the hum of cicadas. To me, that is always the signal that another stage of the season called summer is about to begin.

The day started out with a heavy humid dampness, and is no doubt going to be somewhat of a scorcher before all is said and done and the sun is down. But these are the beautiful days we should cherish in the middle of winter and in our memories forever.

People often mock anyone who refers to life’s simple pleasures, but this is indeed one of them. To be able to sit in a porch chair and look at what you have created and what is growing is such a rare treat.

It may be an old cliché that people need to stop and smell the roses, but sometimes you just have to. With all the ugliness that exists in this world, there’s nothing more beautiful than a garden in bloom. I feel really sorry for people that are so miserable, mired down, and stuck that they can’t experience the simple goodness of things like this. Gardening truly is good for your soul.

Thanks for stopping by!
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