No coffee for me this morning. I have to go in for a routine fasting lab appointment. If my post seems incoherent this morning, you'll know why. I've been forcing myself to drink more water than usual just to plump up my veins. I used to have good veins for a blood draw, but not so much any more. My mother was the same way. The folks at my PCP's office are pretty good though. I've never had a problem there. It's when I stray to other offices for one reason for another, and that's when I run into the phlebotomists with no pheelings. Fingers crossed I won't run into one of them this morning. And after that, we're rewarding ourselves with our beloved Egg McMuffin and then....drum roll, please...grocery shopping! Do I know how to get the day off to a good start, or what?

Backing up to yesterday...holy moley! The Black-Eyed Susan has opened!!!

It certainly was slow to the party. On the other hand, it's only the first of many. I'm hoping for a lot of color in the whiskey barrel near the front door very soon. And I'm really hoping these will come back next year.

Back inside, I was getting ready to make some Plum-Habanero Salsa. The plums are some Erik and Mae gave me from their tree. This is a new recipe to me. It also has tomatoes and red onions. The first task was to roast and peel the tomatoes. I learned something new yesterday, although I'm not sure how valuable it is. In previous tomato-processing sessions, I've peeled tomatoes in the conventional way...scoring and blanching...and I've also peeled them by first roasting them in a 425° oven (convection roasting works well for this). After about 15 minutes, the skins are shriveled and spotty brown. You can then remove them from oven and pluck skins off, using tongs. Very easy and quick when you're doing batch after batch of them. The drawback of that method is that a lot of water is lost from the tomatoes, and so the yield is lower.

Okay so yesterday's recipe had me roast them in a 350° oven, cut side down to start. 

After 20 minutes, I turned them cut side up, and then roasted them for another 10 minutes. I gave them about 20 minutes to cool, and then the skins slipped right off, with almost no loss of water.

And the reason I say I'm not sure if this is helpful is because the water then goes into the pot with the rest of the ingredients, and it takes much longer to cook it down and thicken it. Here's how mine looked. The recipe said 20 minutes of simmering. Mine took at least twice that long.

When it was finished, my yield was 5 pints. The recipe for Plum Habanero Salsa calls for three habaneros. I couldn't get habaneros, and so I substituted 4 of the less-hot serranos. I've only tasted this while it was still boiling in the pot, and it was *very* spicy. It isn't to our liking so much, but Erik requested a spicy salsa, and spice he shall have.

It was nearing lunch time by then, and I still needed to hoe weeds in the garden. Mainly, I needed to check for more veggies. I harvested another four zucchinis and about a dozen pickling cucumbers. I believe the cucumbers are going to come fast and furious now. And remember my refrigerator pickles from yesterday?

Technically, they won't be ready until Friday, but we pulled out one of the "spears" on the left of the image above for a taste last night. Wow...it was really good. I worried about that cucumber because it was the one that got away from me and grew to the size of a large potato. I worried it would be mushy, or that it would be hollow inside. It was neither, and it had a nice crunch like a Claussen pickle. So we'll try to have patience now and not eat all of them before they're ready on Friday. The pickling cucumbers I'm harvesting now will probably be processed to be shelf stable, and I have a similar recipe to use for those.

Every time I go to the vegetable garden now, I see more color in the bee garden. It's more colorful than I expected, and so I'm thinking subsequent years can only be better. I planted a smaller bee garden last year, and so we may already be seeing some of the advantages of throwing out wildflower seed each year.

There were some newcomers too. This is a dark cosmos. I've only ever seen these in the lighter pink color, but the foliage gives it away as a darker cousin.

Also a few more of these little poppies. These have more petals than the "corn poppies" I've been seeing.

And I'm totally enjoying the sunflowers this year. 

Also, I was happy to see the beginnings of some melons. There were several. I got pictures of a couple of them.

Furry little things, aren't they?

It was late in the afternoon by the time I finished in the garden yesterday, and I was tired. I showered and then mostly sat around the rest of the afternoon. I had a long phone chat with Matthew about his recent trip to New Mexico. He was there studying with a grammy-award winning musician, and he was excited about all he'd learned. It was nice talking with him, and I used up all my sewing time. It was fine though. I really just wanted to sit and relax. So, all of that to say that when we get home from grocery shopping today, I'm going to devote the rest of the afternoon to sewing. I'll do a little quilting, and then I'm really hoping to start sewing the blocks together for Jenny's Flower Garden. Maybe I'll do that first, just to be sure.

This morning I noticed our skies have been red, even though we have no clouds. I can only assume it's because of the very big fire in Eastern Oregon. It's the largest in the country right now, which is a dubious honor. Also, I heard you folks in the Southeastern part of the country are headed for a heat dome like the one we had last month. It's becoming a very hot world out there, so stay hydrated and stay safe, my friends.


Barbara said...

Gardening does so much for your brain. You're learning how a process works, and how important it is to do everything right so that you can eventually enjoy a tomato three months later. I've always been patient, but gardening really helps you with that. ~ Marc Gasol

MissPat said...

I think I remember reading somewhere that most of the early flowers on cucurbits are all male and the female flowers develop later. We had a delicious ripe melon from a local farm this morning. Fresh, ripe melon bears no resemblance to the hard rocks they sell in the grocery store most of the year.
We've had hazy skies for the last week or so due to smoke from the western fires. And while the west and mid-west gets the heat dome, we're going to barely break 70 for about 5 days.
I'm still resting the pulled arm muscle, so not much is happening here but blog and IG scrolling and book reading. I'm really bummed to not be able to take advantage of the cooler temps to weed before the moisture from the recent deluge disappears.

piecefulwendy said...

Well you sure accomplished a bunch! Hope the blood draw went okay. I'd love to taste that salsa, although it might be too spicy for me (but I do like a good spicy salsa). Love the look of your bee garden; what a great idea. How cool that Matthew was able to do that in New Mexico. I'm sure you enjoyed the chat with him. We are really hot and humid here, and I'm more than ready for it to cool down.

SJSM said...

Our on shore flow is keeping the heat and fire smoke away. We will get a little warmer today and for the next 3 days …into the low 90*. Then back to our normal. The Delta Variant is raising its ugly head. Back to masks in most situations. After seeing all the diseases as a child disappear with vaccines, it boggles my mind that people want those type of days back.

You must have slept well last night after all the energy spent in the garden and canning.

Magpie's Mumblings said...

I won't be making the spicy salsa - I can't seem to tolerate anything that's too overly spicy. We never grew melons so didn't know they were that 'furry' - interesting to see! Hope the blood letting went okay.

QuiltGranma said...

that furry stuff on melons and squashes sure does a number on my skin. Hope you wear gloves when yo are picking!