Saturday, August 22, 2015

Alexander and the Ducks, the Garden Peaking, and a Perfect Loaf of Bread - some photos

The pond on the property of my daughter, Cary, and her husband, Christopher, is home to many ducks this time of year. A few stay year-round, but more come in during the summer. One of the ducks was raised from an egg by Cary and Christopher and regards them as his parents. And he apparently has told the other ducks. So, every day the ducks waddle up to the house and hang around, waiting for the "duck food," to be thrown onto the grass. Christopher buys a special duck feed. And, if they aren't fed right away, they just hang around. My grandson, Alexander, loves to chase the ducks. They let him get very close and then glide, or sometimes, fly away. But they come right back.

The organic garden I planted at my daughter's house has given us corn, peas, string beans, cabbages, Walla Walla sweet onions, cucumbers, zucchini, broccoli, tomatoes and green, yellow and red bell peppers, jalapeno, cayenne and serrano hot pappers, and soon some cauliflower and a couple of pumpkins. One of the pumpkins is visible in one of the photos. The tomato plants grew tremendously - some are more than 6 feet high - apparently from a high nitrogen content of the natural compost we used. They are now producing copious quantities. I have canned several kinds of pickles and relishes, using the cucumbers, peppers, onions and zucchini. I also canned a batch of marinara, made from the tomatoes, mostly Roma and San Marzano, but with a few Big Boys and Better Boys. I have discovered that San Marzano tomatoes do not do well here in Oregon. The ones grown on Mt. Vesuvius in Italy are the best tomatoes in the world. I use canned San Marzano tomatoes from Italy and from California exclusively for anything that requires canned tomatoes or tomato sauce. However, my marinara came out delicious and I will be making more. It is very practical because it can be used plain for pasta, or it can be cooked down some and thickened for pizza, or it can be used in place of tomato sauce in other recipes. I have discovered that home-grown tomatoes usually are so ripe and juicy that if one tries to can them, the result is thin tomato sauce or juice. At least that is what has happened to me.

Finally, I used to do a lot of baking, and I have gotten pretty good at it. However, when I went on my low carb diet in January I had to cut out bread, along with pasta, pizza, potatoes, etc. The diet has worked well. My goal was to lose 20 lbs. and I've lost 35. I am now trying to lose at least another 15. So I don't do a lot of baking now. But now and then I get the yen, and my daughter, son-in-law and grandson are the beneficiaries. Here is a "perfect loaf" of white bread I baked for them last week.