Thursday, May 10, 2012

Busy Yet Blah Week and an Experiment in the Kitchen

At about 9:30 am Monday, I started thinking that if only the temperature outside stayed the same all day as it is in the morning, it would be a perfect day.  The day started cool and clear and comfortable, so at 8:00 am I was out in the small garden patch behind the house to do some weeding.  I had expected to plant herbs, but by 9:30, it was already uncomfortably hot.  I had gotten the weeds cleared, so Tuesday morning I can begin planting.  I am close to the finish line on the shawl, so the cool indoors was a good place to be and sit for a while so I could cool off.  I'd sent the remaining horchata with Becca to school, so iced tea would have to do.  It was too hot to finish the morning coffee.

After working on the knitted shawl for a time, I noticed something wrong.  Looking closer, I could see that about 15 rows down, somehow I'd dropped about eight stitches.  All I can think is that one of the dogs must have moved the needles when I set it down, and I hadn't noticed the missing stitches when I picked it up.  What a pain.  I secured the loose stitches, and now am going through the tedious and disheartening process of "un-knitting" so I can pick them up and finish it properly.  There are approximately 1,000 stitches in each row, so this is going to take A Long Time.  After being so excited to be in the home stretch of this pattern, this is a tough lesson to learn.

Tuesday morning, I was able to get some added soil into the small garden plot, and planted aloe, culinary sage, and chives.  Again, by 9:15 or so, it was too hot to continue to work, so I'll sow lettuce and arugula when it's cooler.

I did some more in-depth research on planting the loofah starts and realized that I need to think about plants before deciding to grow them.  These will grow in vines that need a strong trellis to hold the gourds.  This will take more planning before I can transplant them.

Did you know that you can grow loofah sponges?  I'd always assumed that they were something from the sea until last year, when I read an article in a magazine about growing them.  The sponges are actually from the inside of a dried gourd.  Since I am making soap, this is a perfect accompaniment to that endeavor.

Tuesday evening was Becca's night to meet with her sister for some algebra tutoring.  She still has a lot of projects to complete before the end of the school year, and Tuesday night was a rough one for her.  I was really happy that she was able to take a break and get a breather by going on an evening hike with her sister and brother-in-law.  It was still a late night, after 11:00 pm, before we could get some sleep.

Wednesday morning was another bright, beautiful start to the day.  The cows were resting in the field across the drive from our garden.  I don't know why, but I really enjoy seeing the cows from the neighboring dairy when they come over to graze down our tall grass.  There's something peaceful and relaxing about being around dairy cattle.  I guess that would be different if I had to milk and feed and move all 50 of those...  I'm content just to hang out near them.  What's funny is that of it's so quiet at night that I can hear them chewing from across the driveway.

The small garden plot is coming along, and the wild ginger is growing rapidly.  I love it when plants show me that they're enthusiastic about growing!  I spent most of Wednesday morning painfully pulling images and maps from the internet using dial-up, so Becca could hit the ground running when she came home after school.  There is a huge art project (the final) due this week, and the poor girl cries every day from the stress of all that she has to do.

Thursday was barn cleaning, and though I admit that I slacked off on the daily cleaning after the crazy three-day clearing of a huge mess, it wasn't too bad and did renew my desire to do a quick sweep every day.  Now that I'm heading out to the nearby garden each morning, that's easier to do.

If you have made it this far in this blog post, congratulations.  I have been adding on to what would normally be a daily post and stretching this through the week, because there's really not been much to "write home about."  I've felt blah, and have been focused on recovering from the knitting mistake I made (a tough thing for me to do) and supporting Bex in her end-of-year struggle while things ramp up for her finals and final projects at school.  I've got a little something new to talk about now, instead of what I planted in the garden.  Maybe you'll find this more interesting.

I'd worked my way through the previous batch of Amazing Pulled BBQ Chicken and wanted to make some more.  This stuff makes a good and quick lunch sandwich, even cold.

I'd gotten the chicken seasoned and in the pot and realized that I didn't have enough BBQ sauce for the recipe.  Determined to forge ahead, I remembered that I'd recently seen an episode of The Pioneer Woman on Food Network (I'll discuss why I absolutely love this show later) where she'd made a sauce to top her meat loaf.  It looked easy.  I looked it up, and I had all the ingredients, which are pretty basic. 

I stirred the ingredients together and tasted ... and was immediately disappointed.  Why hadn't I realized that this was meat loaf sauce, therefore, it's a glorified ketchup.  It tasted like ketchup, and to my taste buds wasn't even slightly glorified.  (I also decided to learn how to make my own tomato ketchup when the garden starts churning out tomatoes.)  I took a tour through the fridge and cupboards, looking to find something that would kick this up a notch.  I thought about Worchestershire sauce, but I guess I haven't needed that in so long I forgot there wasn't any in there.  (I later discovered a bottle in what is now the "dairy fridge" that had never been moved.)  Hunting, hunting, and ... What's this?  It's a bottle of Terra Verde Farms Peach Tomato Hot Sauce that I picked up at last year's last farmers market.  I hadn't opened it yet.

I figured it was worth a try and put two tablespoons into the mixture, then tasted.  Wow, I could taste just a hint of the peachy hot sauce and wanted more, so I doubled that and ended up with a pretty decent BBQ sauce for the chicken recipe.  I'm pretty darn excited about this and wanted to share, so here's my take on Ree's meat loaf sauce, transformed into something to use with the BBQ chicken recipe.

1 1/2 cups tomato ketchup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 cup Terra Verde Farms Peach Tomato Hot Sauce (from Petaluma!)
If that's not hot enough for you, add tabasco to taste

Mix, and done.

I'll let you know if it sucks or is terrific when the chicken's done cooking.


  1. Sounds like you are staying busy. I am glad to hear that. Don't forget to do something for yourself daily. Not a chore or making dinner, but something truly for you! Even if it is stopping to talk to my friends the cows. I love those girls! They are great listeners too!

    Love and miss you!!

    1. Thanks, Tammy! I'll remember to do something for myself and talk to the cows for you. Thank you, too, for the card I received yesterday. It is always something special to receive something good in the mail. You made my day!

      Love and miss you whole bunches!!