Monday, January 11, 2016

Almost Back

Almost back to normal. The recovery from the pre Christmas surgery has been very slow. The incision part is just fine though there is a bit of swelling still. The bad part has been whatever caused the hematoma and all the other swelling. Still tender and swollen still. I did manage a bit of a walk with Zoey yesterday and Saturday. Today we did the full mile.
Hard freeze last night and another forecast for tonight. I felt the need to try and salvage some of the cabbage in the garden so I went out Saturday and harvested half of it. Six very large heads all about 3 pounds each. The only thing to do with that much cabbage is to make sauerkraut so that's what I did yesterday. After trimming and everything I wound up with 14 pounds of shredded cabbage which is just the right about for a 10 liter crock and that is where it all is. Four weeks and we should be kraut.

While I was shredding the 14 pounds of cabbage ( big job!) I looked up and noticed a Copper's Hawk hunting in the backyard. One of his perches turned out to be the closest deck railing to the kitchen window. I was lucky to have my big Nikon handy and fortunate that I had the 300mm zoom mounted. I got some good shots. I'm calling this a Cooper's but it could also be a Sharp Shinned Hawk as they are virtually identical except for size. Anyhow here are a coupe of good shots.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015

Happy Christmas everyone. A very wet one here in the Atlanta burbs. Been raining for days and still promising to rain more. Yes, the basement flooded.

Still pretty hampered with the recovery from the surgery last Friday. I thought I would be pretty good by now but that is not happening. Lots of swelling and bruising. A lot of the bruising is fading but the swelling, especially the scrotum, is pretty impressive and causing me to walk funny. We won't talk about sitting down. The only real comfortable place is the bed. Still taking the Percoset plus Advil so the pain is manageable. I'm usually off the pain killers by now but not this time. Both sides are now reinforced so I shouldn't have to do any more hernia surgery thank goodness. It's not fun.

Not letting the disability keep the Christmas dinner from happening. Nice little 6 pound boneless prime rib that I will sear under the broiler (since I can't light off the charcoal grill) and then roast at 250F in the oven until it gets to 135F(Madam likes it medium and I like it rare so this is half way). If it was just me it would be to 125F and nice and rare. I've tried a lot of methods for prime rib and this is far and away the best. The slow cooking cooks it evenly so all the meat is the same color and you don't have that grey ring on the outside with a rare center. Yorkshire pudding cooked in popover pan and pickled beets. There will be a nice salad and a California Cab. There is only the two of us so there will be left overs which means hash could be in the future.

Madam has her big Boxing day lunch tomorrow for all her buddies. There will be 8 or 9 old ladies chirping away and yours truly will locked in the bedroom. Baby sitting Mini Monk's dog Peter tomorrow so it will be Zoey and Pete and me against the powdered horde.

In spite of my counsel Madam is cooking something she has never cooked before. She is insisting on Chicken a la Kiev. I'm not really up to helping here with it so here's hoping for the best. I suggested she at least practice once but it isn't going to happen. I will try and help here assemble them this evening but the breading and cooking will all be her tomorrow. At least the rest of the menu is do ahead and idle.

So anyhow, everybody enjoy their holiday and don't eat or drink too much. I am going to be good since I'm on narcotics and just have a few glasses of wine.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Long Morning

Hernia surgery scheduled for 1245 today so I am fasting. No food or liquid since about 830 last night. Sure miss my morning coffee. Recovery is going to put a bit of a damper on the holiday but it is what it is. This time of year is the best for this kind of stuff. No real work to do in the garden and the yard. I have some trees to trim and remove but they'll wait until later.

I 'll get a walk in with Zoey before I have to head to the surgery center. She just came back in after running off the white tail deer that were hanging out in the back. I don't know how she knows they are out there but she bounds out of bed and can't wait to get out the back door.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Still Around

Yeah, I'm still around just not blogging right now. No excitement in the garden other than cabbage and stuff. Most everything I feel needs a comment goes to Facebook and that's why it is so quiet here.

I'll try and get back to posting some food and cooking stuff. Probably not going to get into any politics until after we see who gets nominated.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The End of Camelot

If I remember correctly I was in the 9th Grade in Wilmington, NC when the news came across the loudspeakers. It was biology class, my favorite, but it and school was cancelled for the rest of the day. November 22, 1963 will always be one of those dates for my generation that will mark great moments in our lives, The moon landing, Challenger and 9/11/01 are others.

It always makes me wonder how different our lives might be today if John Kennedy were to have finished his stint as president. I am pretty sure the world would be a different and better place today. Little did I imagine that someday I would be looking back 50 odd years at this. It is very strange indeed to look back at Camelot in the light of today's presidential politics and frankly kind of embarrassing.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Busy, Busy

Been a bust three or four weeks around here. Two sets of house guests and all the stuff that goes with that. A trip to St. Marys, Ga and Cumberland Island with our friends from the UK that were here. We had a great time with all and lucked out with great weather for our excursion to the coast.

Settling back down to the routine. All this rain has cause some water in the basement, not much but enough to make a mess. I can squeegee most of it out and vacuum the rest but it is a pain. I shouldn't have to mention that there has been basically no gardening for the last month or so. Did I mention that we have had over 10 inches of rain in the last few weeks?

Add to the hassles. We are getting a new refrigerator delivered today. Took advantage of Home Depot's early Black Friday deals and got a new spiffy Samsung French door. If you are close to needing any new appliances you might check out Home Depot as I got a $1,100 off the price for the fridge I got.

Anyway, still raining. Here is a picture from the trip to Cumberland. Beautiful country and so glad it is protected.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Traditional French Onion Soup

It's a gray day here in Atlanta and the thought of a proper onion soup will not vacate.
Luckily I have all the ingredients. A lot of recipes for onion soup call for broth
but traditionally it is made with just onions and water. It is a peasant dish after all.
Here is my recipe(Today I am actually only going to make a half recipe). I like  the little
hint of herbs that the thyme brings but it is not traditional that I know of. As always,
do what you like and tastes good to you. I wouldn't make a special trip to the market for
thyme but I have a garden full of it. The key here is to make sure you fully cook down the onions
until they are a rich golden brown. You cannot rush this process with high me.
Go very slowly.

2 tablespoons butter
7 or 8 Yellow or Red onions (7 to 8 pounds), thinly sliced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 or 4 springs fresh thyme (optional)
6 to 12 slices of baguette or any country-style bread
1/3 cup sherry
Red or white wine vinegar (optional)
Red wine (optional)
1/2 to 3/4 pound Gruyère or Emmanthaler cheese, grated ( It is important that you use one of these two cheeses and not some generic "Swiss" me.)

In a large pot, with a capacity of about 7 1/2 quarts...there are a lot of onions to start out with.
An enameled cast-iron pot is ideal. Start the onions and butter over medium heat.
Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt, cover, and cook until the onions have heated through and
begun to steam. At this point we want to lose moisture so uncover, reduce the heat to low, and cook,
stirring occasionally. When the onions have completely cooked down, the water has cooked off, and the onions have turned a rich brown (think maple syrup)(this will take a couple of hours) add 6 cups of water and season with several grinds of pepper and the thyme if you are using it. Raise the heat to high and bring the soup to a simmer,then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes to give the water time to extract the caramel from the onions. Add the sherry.

Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. If the soup is too sweet, add some vinegar.
If you would like another dimension to the soup add a splash of red wine. (I do)

This is the the onion-to-liquid ratio that I like but it is OK to make it a little more delicate if you prefer by adding an additional cup of water or so.

Sometime while the onions are cooking down you need to place the sliced baguette in a 200F oven and let it dry out completely... 30 to 45 minutes.

When you are ready to serve, preheat the broiler and ladle the soup into bowls, float the dried bread
on top cover generously with the grated cheese. put the boils under the broiler until the cheese is melted and nicely browned. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6

The Bees Will Hate Me

Gardener's dilemma. I had a month before I had to plant my garlic so I planted buckwheat in the two beds. It's a good quick cover crop but I forgot that it bloomed in just a couple of weeks after planting. Now its blooming and the bees are loving it as there is very little other forage available. I need to turn it under and plant the garlic but I hate taking away the flowers the bees are enjoying so much. What to do?