Musing on food and cooking ...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

How Does Your Garden Grow

Dear Readers, you might remember me talking about putting in a garden this summer. Well, things are progressing nicely. And I promised you a post on how I got it all started and regular updates. So here is the first in what is likely to be many posts.

I began my gardening by removing sod. Boy, was my sod healthy... several inches of roots. I started by taking it off by shovel. Hahahahahahhahahahahahhahaha. Yeah, that went over gangbusters..... taking way too long and too hard of work. So I then rented a manual sod cutter, which looks a little like a hand plow. What a wonderful thing. It removed 200 sq feet of sod in the same amount of time it took me to remove 20 sq feet with a shovel.

The next weekend, a coworker and I rented a tiller and tilled up my little plot. I then had about 250 total square feet of garden space, some in the front and some in the back. Next year, I hope to take up even more in the front and do some additional planting.

Once the ground was tilled, I planted. Pickle cukes, cantalope, noodle beans, violetta beans, spaghetti squash, Italian flat green beans, radishes, zucchini and summer squash, mater plants, shallots, leeks, okra, eggplant, parsnips, carrots, two types of lettuce, swiss chard, and spinach in back. Snow peas andIndian cukes as well as herbs and pepper plants (hot and sweet) in front. I had very mixed results.

Below are very early radish seedlings. I picked my first radish yesterday. It was spicy!

Everything in front has gone gangbusters. my snow peas are trellised up the fence and are about 2 feet tall! I have flowers on the peppers!

In back, none of the beans came up. The carrots and parsnips were spotty as was the okra. The leeks came up not at all, and neither did the spinach. I think it was too wet. So I waited and replanted, and adopted some orphan mater plants to put in the bare patches where I could replant. And I got fresh seed, so I can do a fall planting of chard, spinach, kale, and napa cabbage.

Right now, there are lots and lots of weeds and little maple saplings that need to be removed. I guess that will be our weekend project. But no matter what, I think we are going to have a lot
of really good veggies to eat this year.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Dogs and Cats Living Together! Mass Hysteria!

So, the getting adjusted to the new household arrangement continues. Over the weekend, Boxer and I got a lot of stuff moved, rearranged, and put away. I will freely admit that the adjusting has been difficult. We have both lived alone for a long time. But I think we are doing fairly well, although there was that hilarious incident where I forgot to poke holes in the taters before sticking them in the oven and one exploded and I cried from shame.

I think the sharing sleeping space with another person is the hardest part. I find myself very conscious of the fact that he is there, and so my sleep isn't as restful as it might be. But as the days go by, I am getting used to it. Besides, Pele annoys him far more than she annoys me during the night, because she is madly in love with him and can't leave him alone. That or she is totally jealous, because she does like being between us.

OK, sleeping is getting better. And stuff is getting put away. And no major horribly irritating habits have raised their ugly head yet, or at least nothing I wasn't already expecting. And the one thing that I was most worried about seems to be a non-issue.

The boxer has not yet eaten the cat. In fact, they are now almost entirely tolerant - if not friendly - with each other.

We started out by having them totally apart. The door in the middle hallway was closed. The boxer got the living areas and Pele got the sleeping areas. We introduced them to each other once while the boxer was leashed. He was mostly curious; his little stub tail was just a wagging. Pele was unimpressed and whomped him on the snout several times and hissed and complained in her granny voice. She is a little afraid of him because he is so big and very playful. On Tuesday, I found a babygate at a thrift sale, and we opened the hall door and put the babygate there while we were awake, taking it down and closing the door at night while we were sleeping. We wanted no unsupervised visitation. Pele refused to come out and mostly stayed on the bed, while the boxer gazed at her with longing from his side of the great divide.

And then, Friday night, Boxer pokes me while we are watching tv and goes, "Look at that!" And there was Pele, perched on top of the babygate preparing to make an incursion into the living area. And - POP! - down she comes. The boxer is very curious. He just wants to sniff her. Pele is still unimpressed, and she makes her way over to the couch, where she again hisses and complains and whomps him over and over(Pele has no front claws, which might be a good thing in this situation). The boxer follows her around. He tries to sniff her while she hides under the kitchen table. But, he learns quickly that if she hisses, he should just back away. But we spent several hours of the boxer just sleeping on the floor and Pele sleeping on her princess and the pea cushion on the couch amid the great peace that only comes through ignoring THAT THING over there.

Last night we took the next step. We moved the babygate back even further, so that Pele's food and litterbox are inaccessible but there is freedom for both in the entire house, and then we went to sleep. Pele slept on the bed, and the boxer slept on the floor. There were maybe three moments of sniffing boxer and complaining Pele, once when she had to walk by him to get to the babygate and a couple of times in the morning when we were all waking up, but in general, a calm and peaceful night was had by all.

In fact, if she is sleeping somewhere beyond the babygate at any point in time, the boxer stands at the babygate and whimpers a little bit because she isn't there. It is both pathetic and endearing.

We still won't leave them entirely alone together while we are gone during the day. The boxer has a little sunroom in which to spend his time. And they may never be friends. I don't really care about that. But it does not appear that there is going to be any major issues (Please, Ceiling Cat!). Which is good, because I have a recipe for BBQ dog that I would prefer to never have to use.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mercury Is in Retrograde

Moving hell just will not end, it seems! On Monday, Boxer called to check on the status of his Relo-Cube and was told it would be here Tuesday. So he reserved the UHaul for a Tuesday afternoon pick-up. We head off. We get the UHaul and as we are driving Boxer suddenly pulls into the gas station. I scoot in there, thinking there is something wrong with the truck.

There is something wrong, but not with the truck. ABF had called him to tell him that the cube wasn't actually in Waukegan yet. It was still in Wheeling. Their truck had broken down and they had to rent a truck, which they couldn't do until Wednesday afternoon.

Which is bad, as we had already rented the UHaul, and now needed to pay for a second day. We went home, and Boxer managed to actually get the UHaul into my driveway, which is an amazing feat as the driveway is very narrow. And I was all stressed out the entire evening and exploded a baked tater in the oven and cried. Poor Boxer! He would have to pick the weepy woman....

So, we are now hoping that the damn cube will be there earlier rather than later on Wednesday, because (1) we need to not have the UHaul for a third day and (2) we have tickets to a concert we badly want to see - Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.

So, ABF, skirt up and get that cube to where you said it would be, dammit!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Move Is Almost Over

Well, the move is almost over. It has been an adventure, to say the least!

It began when I flew down to NC on Saturday. My plane was, of course, overbooked, and when I was checking in, it was suggested that is I could upgrade, I should or there was a huge risk of getting bumped. So I upgraded, and it was a good thing. At least 15 people were bumped from the flight, and another dozen on standby were SOL.

So I got down there, about 30 minutes late, and then Boxer and I went to Mimi's Cafe for a late dinner. And then home to meet the boxer, who seems to like me but is still learning to respect my authority. Hah!

Sunday was a day of packing. I was surprised that there was still so much left to pack! But thankfully, Boxer has a lot less crap than I do, so packing wasn't really horrible.

The truly horrible thing was the heat... It was hot and humid, nearly 100 every single day. Even with the central air on, it was hot.

On Monday, we went to pick up the truck and started loading it. We took things very very slow, as Boxer had a lot of steps and it was so hot, we were sweating buckets. But we got everything loaded, and on Tuesday morning, we hit the U-Pack place and loaded the cube. Boxer's stuff only filled about half of it. Then we dumped a lot of stuff at Goodwill, finished the cleaning, loaded up the car, and headed north.

The first day, we planned to go as far as Asheville and find a place to camp. But as we got near there, it started to rain. So we kept driving. Through the Smoky Mountains. Just into TN, we pulled off at a place that advertised camping sites by the river. But when we pulled in, it didn't seem like they were really open to the public. Seemed to be associated with a bunch of whitewater rafting places.

So, we said screw it and found a hotel in Newport, TN, and headed off for dinner. It turns out to have been a great idea to get a hotel room, as while we were at dinner, the skies opened, and water poured forth as if from a giant faucet.

Wednesday dawned bright and sunny, and we got back in the car and headed for Berea, KY. I chatted with my friend, and she gave us a couple of recommendations for campgrounds, and so we ended up at the Oh! Kentucky! campground, where we started setting up our tent.

Oh god.

As I was getting the tent unfolded and Boxer was getting the boxer attached to his tie-out, the boxer peed on the tent. Ack ack! So, we quick washed it, and continued with out set up. We were just about done, when all of a sudden, I felt something fly by my right ear. And then, I looked at the tent and went, "Why did someone just thrown pork and beans at us?" And then I went that isn't pork and beans!

It seems that a hawk had hunted a pigeon and eviscerated it in such a way that the guts sprayed over the tent. OMG! Disgusting. Stink. I cleaned it up with tp and water as best I could, while trying not to puke. Boxer was fairly grossed out, and I totally give him props for not insisting on throwing the tent away and hitting a hotel. The boxer was greatly enjoying his call of the wild snack, as he did manage to eat some of the bird before we had managed to get it all clean.

After that horrid event, we went to visit with my friends at their eco-dome (I will have a post on that soon) and had a wonderful dinner of garlic pasta with homegrown bok choy, oyster mushrooms, and other veggie goodness. And then we went back to try and sleep on our tent. It didn't work very well. First, some weird guy pulled up to our campsite, looking for someone in a yellow tent. That made me nervous. And then, the tent truly wasn't a four person tent as advertised, so there was no room for the boxer. And it was noisy. We ended up waking up about 5 am to interesting lightning, packed up, and hit the road.

The last day of driving went fairly well. Indiana is boring to drive through, but everything was going smoothly. We stopped at Fair Oaks Dairy and got some milk and cheese and had lunch. The only traffic we hit was, of course, in Chicago, what with all the major road construction going on.

We got back to the house in Waukegan about 3 pm. It will take some time to get everyone integrated. Pele is unenthused about the boxer. The boxer ate several apricot granola bars. We should be able to pick up the stuff from Boxer's cube on Monday afternoon or Tuesday. And then we got to get it all put away,

Man, it is good to be home!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Made It

Back home from NC, Boxer and boxer in tow. Exhausted. Hot. Had a gross incident involving birds (more on that later). Safe trip, decent gas mileage. Full details soon to come!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Yes, I Am a Crabby Cat

My apologies. I will get over it.

Yeah for vacation! Even if it is just helping my honey move....

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Monday, June 02, 2008

Answers to My Meme

Here you are! Everyone did pretty damn fine....

Where did we meet? Well, duh, you all got this one!

Take a stab at my middle name? My middle name is Ann. When I was a precocious youngster, I actually spelled it Anne, after Anne of Green Gables and it is therefore spelled incorrectly on my college diploma. Harvard, wisely, asked me if I wanted my middle name on my diploma, and since I never use it, I said no.

Do I smoke? Nope. I smoked only one time in my life and got grounded so bad, it still hurts.

Color of my eyes? My eyes are officially hazel, that jumble of colors when your eyes aren't any one color. Before my gastric bypass, they were more golden hazel. Since then, they have become much more green.

Do I have any siblings? No human siblings, although mia madre always jokes that I am Ike's (the dog's) sister.

What's one of my favorite things to do? Cooking, camping, gardening......

What's my favorite type of music? This is a really hard one as I am all over the map, but everyone certainly touched on at least one genre of music I listen to on a regular basis.

Am I shy or outgoing? My Div School friends are trying to create a new personality category - the extroverted introvert. These are people, like mystics, who have to be extroverted for specific periods of time and have to be darn good at it, but would prefer to live lives of quiet contemplation. While I am not a mystic, I do believe that I am an extroverted introvert.

Am I a rebel or do I follow the rules? Mom actually hit this one on the head. I secretly desire to be a rebel but I have a rule-abiding streak about a mile wide in me. I have no idea why this is. It is why I feel guilty about things like taking time off from work. Sadly, following the rules rarely allows one to really get ahead in life, which is also why I still am a poor wretch.

Any special talents? I really don't feel that I have any special talents, although I know a lot of people would disagree. The closest thing I feel I have that is a special talent is the ability to remain completely calm and take control during other people's emergencies. Not my own emergencies, but other people's.

How many children do I have? No human children, and, currently, only one fur-child.

If you and I were stranded on a desert island, what is one thing that I would bring? The answer to this one depends on if there is any hope of getting off said island. But should we be stuck, yeah, probably something cooking related....