Posts Tagged ‘broccoli’

It’s been hot here this week, with a forecast for more hot days.  I took advantage of a bit of cloud cover this afternoon to make up a pasta salad.  I am not good at following recipes when I cook, but here is an estimation of what I did:


Boil one box of penne pasta (we like whole wheat)


In the meantime, slice up and fry one package of halloomi cheese until browned on both sides (this is amazing stuff.  You can slice it,  fry it, brown it, and use it like vegetarian bacon!).  If you can’t find halloomi, or don’t like it, I have also been known to just cube cheddar or mozza cheese into the salad – don’t try to fry it, though!


Coarsely chop the following vegetables:


one red pepper


one yellow pepper


a small head of broccoli


a handful of green onions


several mushrooms


In a separate bowl, mix up the herb topping:


a generous handful (several tablespoons) each of oregano, basil, and Italian seasoning


1/2 to 1 tsp of garlic powder, depending how garlicky you like things


salt to taste (probably at least a teaspoon, but under-estimate it, as you can add more later)


pepper to taste


1/2 to 1 cup of shredded parmesan cheese


Mix the cooked pasta, fried halloomi (or cubed cheddar) and the raw veggies in a large pot or bowl.   Pour several tablespoons of olive oil over the mixture and stir well.  Start adding the herb mixture, a bit at a time, mixing well.


Voila, lunch.  It is great hot or cold, so it is a convenient summer meal!



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We have been making little discoveries all over the acreage, now that the snow is gone and things are starting to leaf out.  We’ve found wild strawberries, wild roses, peonies in a random patch of tall grass by the (crab?) apple tree, raspberries, and what looks like an elderberry bush.  Hubby stumbled across an old rhubarb patch, right in the middle of a truck track behind one of the sheds.  There are a few other odd plants that I will have to identify – one of them might even be horseradish.  Of course, there are also a ton of what look like little stinging nettles – they are too little to tell if they are nettles or wild mint, just yet, and I have no interest in finding out the hard way.

There have also been swarms of bumblebees and hordes of little wood frogs.  Today, we saw hummingbirds for the first time, and also caught a glimpse of the woodpecker that we have been hearing for ages, but had not seen.   There were magpies squawking and swallows swooping.  We heard a bird song that sounded like all the world like a ringing phone, though it went on long past when the machine would have picked up, and was in the wrong direction, anyhow.  There are these little rodents, that look like squirrels but act like gophers, which we have been watching for a couple of weeks.  We also saw one of the bunnies on the lane while we were eating dinner.   This place is suddenly crawling (and sprouting and hopping and flapping) with life.   Unfortunately, the mosquitoes are out in swarms, also, but it’s a small price to pay to have the rest of it.

Hubby is determined to take pictures of all of the birds here in our area, so we hung up a hummingbird feeder, as we doubted we would ever get one to stay still for the camera, otherwise.  So far, there have been two ruby-throated hummingbirds visiting, and hopefully we will see lots of them, as we hung the feeder just outside the kitchen window, where we can watch it while we eat.  Of course, as soon as Hubby set the camera down, one flew right up to the window and tapped on it with his little beak.  I laughed!

In other news, the garden is coming along, albeit more slowly than we would like, with me being so creaky and all.  We’ve gotten the potatoes in, now, and also some radishes, parsnips, kale, chard, spinach, golden beets, lettuce, and broccoli.  We are going to try adding another quarter – row every week or two, to have a fresh supply through the summer.  That’s the theory, anyhow – we’ll see how fast we run out of room and / or patience.  We’ll make a big planting of the storage crops (beets, turnips, carrots, and such) later in the summer, so that they mature right around first frost.

Hubby found an old compost pile from some former residents, and hauled a few wheelbarrow loads over to my front flowerbed, which I decided to plant in tomatoes and peppers, instead.  It seemed like a great place for them, as it is sunny, protected, and close enough to the bathroom to lug buckets of used bathwater (“greywater”) out to water them with – the bed is right out the front door.   It is still a little early, but Hubby has been hauling the plants in and out every day to harden them off, and the weather has been fine, with a forecast for more of the same, so hopefully they won’t get too chilled at night.  We put in eight tomatoes, four hot peppers, and four sweet peppers – we started more, but they would not all fit.  While I was at it, I planted some little potentilla bushes that I bought on a whim, and some tulips and daffodils that were given to us by a friend who neglected to plant them last fall.  I tucked some herbs in between the bigger plants – parsley, basil, oregano, chives, and some garlic cloves that I just tucked in here and there.  That should be an entertaining “flower” bed, for sure!

We likely will have to put the rest of the garden on hold, now, as we have family coming in for a visit over the weekend.  If the kids get too bored with our lack of a television, we’ll set them to work planting beans and corn, but otherwise it’ll just have to wait until Monday…

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There is a song by a band called Spacehog.  It is called “Standing Outside A Broken Telephone Booth With Money In My Hand”.  I always thought that was an extremely evocative title.  You could really “get” the sense of defeat, just from that title.  It just so happens I like the song, too.

I had that sense, today.  In honor of Spacehog’s song title mastery, I am hereby calling today “Driving 25 Miles Home On Three Cylinders In A Saskatchewan Blizzard“.  It doesn’t cover the exceptionally long and crappy day at work, the car-swallowing potholes, the knee-deep snow, the broken windshield wiper, the homicidal snowplow driver, or the annoying squeaky rattle that developed around 2500 RPM, but you get a sense of how my afternoon went, anyhow.

If you ever do have to drive home on three cylinders, I recommend turning the radio up, putting your head down, revving it high, and just going for it.

So, as you may have guessed, my trusty Corolla did not pass the inter-provincial safety inspection.   The mechanic got up to about $4,000 worth of work (on a $2500 car) without even getting it in to the shop.  At least he was kind enough to stop and call me before getting into the part of the inspection that would have cost money.  He did not even charge me for the bit of investigation he did do, which was kind, and will win him more business from us.  It is really unfortunate, as the engine is in excellent condition, having been rebuilt just before I bought the car, but apparently, almost every other part of the car is on its last legs.  Oh, well.  We needed another lawn ornament.

Also, we killed the tomato seedlings by leaving them in a window that was apparently a bit too hot and sunny.   About half the broccoli has succumbed to what I presume to be damping-off – it just fell over and shriveled up.  Conversely, we apparently bought our squash seeds from the The Little Shop of Horrors (for anyone who remembers that movie), as they have sprouted these monstrous root systems that are flopping out of their pots and into pots of the nearby celery, which has hardly sprouted, and will be completely crowded out if we don’t tame the squash somehow.  Pretty soon they’ll be attacking the cats.   I’m guessing that 7 weeks to last frost was too early to start squash.  Oh, well, live and learn…

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Hubby has been on a real water conservation kick, lately.  It was a real eye-opener to him to have to wait until the water truck comes to be able to take a bath, and the cost bothers him.  It is $140 for 2,000 gallons (approximately), which fills our cistern about halfway, and does not last nearly as long as Hubby suddenly thinks it should.  I feel somewhat like saying “I told you so”, but I shall refrain.  I have spent years harping on water conservation, but until he could actually see the water come and go, I guess it wasn’t very meaningful.  Now, he can take a peek in the cistern anytime to see how much it has gone down, and suddenly we are collecting meltwater from the roof and only flushing solids.

Two thousand gallons sounds like an awful lot, but then you start doing math.  One single toilet flush is around five gallons, at least with our vintage toilet.  A bath is probably thirty gallons, maybe more (I haven’t measured, though I should).  A load of laundry is probably forty or fifty.  So, if you flush, say, four times a day (a very conservative estimate in a household of even two), each bath every other day, and do three loads of laundry a week, that is 500 gallons in a single week, without even looking at cooking, washing dishes, mopping the floors, watering the dogs and houseplants, and all the other things you do with water.   What we should do is get a front-loading washer and a composting toilet, but both are beyond our budget for the time being.   When we get the shower running, I plan to install a shut-off valve right at the shower head, for conservation.  I threatened to get Hubby a washboard, but that one did not go over so well.  Maybe this summer, we’ll dig an outhouse.

We decided, tonight, that the ‘cold’ portion of my bathwater could come from the buckets of snowmelt that Hubby has been collecting from various drips off the eaves of the roof.  The ‘hot’ portion came from the cistern via the hot water tank, which made as good a bath as any other, and I’m happy enough to keep bathing this way, as long as free water continues to drip off our roof.  We’ve also figured out that the initial wash cycle in the washing machine could be meltwater as easily as drinking water – you should be able to just pour in the water before turning the machine on, though this is only theory so far.  The rinse would still come from the cistern, but that’s still 50% less paid-for-drinking-water used for non-drinking purposes.   We’ve thought about plumbing the roof gutters into the cistern and getting lots and lots of water for free every time it rains, but I am not 100% sure this is a great idea, based on the asphalt shingle grit that is sitting on the bottom of the buckets.

Meanwhile, my Shitake mushroom growing kit from The Mushroom Patch arrived in the mail today.  I wonder what the postman thinks of us now?  I read the instructions while I soaked in the tub, and they amounted to leaving the thing completely alone for the next month or so, then sticking it in the fridge, soaking it in water, and waiting for the mushrooms to form.  I am sure it is not quite that simple, though I kind of hope it is.  I will report back sometime after May 6th.

We also found little green sprouts in our seed starting flats, of cabbage and broccoli.  I am now certain we’ve started them waaaayyyy too early, but we’ll enjoy watching them grow while we are waiting for everything else to sprout…

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We woke up this morning to a sunny blue sky, and the drip-drip-drip of snow melting off the roof.  Cooked up a big ole feed of bacon and scrambled eggs, with toast and home-made jam.   Sat on the front step sipping coffee, and taking in the sun.  It was 5 degrees in the shade, sweater weather at this time of year.


In honor of the actual spring weather, this afternoon I sat out on the step and sowed a ton of seeds in seed-starting flats.  Hubby supervised the dogs playing in the snow, and had himself a beer and a cigar (left over from our trip to Cuba last November).  I brewed up a fancy coffee from fresh-ground beans, and used it to wash down a couple of brownies that Hubby baked earlier this week.  We put a Cuban CD in the stereo, and kicked back in lawn chairs on the bit of lawn that has melted through the snow.  It was fabulous!  I’m loving our acreage, today.


I have now started peppers (sweet and hot), tomatoes, squash, cukes, celery, melons, broccoli, cabbage, a bunch of herbs, and a few tobacco plants, just for fun.   Over 100 little peat containers of potential are now sitting on my kitchen counter, waiting to sprout!  Planting time is usually the last week of May or first week of June, so probably 6-8 weeks from now.   I may be getting a little ahead of myself, considering we don’t even know where the garden will go, but hey…a little optimism seems warranted, today.  We’re going to try to keep detailed gardening records, so that we can figure out which varieties work best in our climate, and what keeps well.  It’s exciting to finally get started…

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