Busy Summer

From year to year, I forget how busy summer is. When it rains all winter, there isn't much to do outside, and I can spend all my time indoors sewing. Summers and gardening can get very, very busy. Just when I tell myself I'm caught up on gardening efforts, the next day comes with a whole new set of tasks. I had breakfast with Sue yesterday morning, and then we went for a short walk. We walked through Barrows Park, a place we've walked before. Although it's been some years since we've been there, things looked remarkably similar to previous walks. As I was trying to focus for an image of the one blooming thing I noticed...

Sue noticed these galls on the tree overhead. They appear translucent in the sun. We thought they looked like little blowfish.

Back home, I had watermelon sorbet to churn, and I did that first.

Twenty minutes later, it was ready to go into the freezer.

I've made sorbet from all kinds of fruits, but I think the watermelon is my favorite. (It might also be the easiest to make.) We had a scoop of sorbet and a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert last night. The combination of the two will get you pretty darned close to heaven on earth. Here's how you make watermelon sorbet:

Watermelon Sorbet


2 ½ pounds watermelon (flesh only), pureed until smooth
1 cup granulated sugar, minus 1 tablespoon
2 tablespoons lemon juice from 1 large lemon
1 tablespoon vodka or Campari


Combine watermelon puree, sugar, lemon juice, and alcohol in large bowl. Stir on and off for several minutes until sugar has dissolved. (Or, to speed chilling process in next step, combine ingredients in a metal bowl set over a larger bowl filled with ice water.) Rub finger along bottom of bowl to see if sugar has dissolved.

Pour mixture into small container. Seal and refrigerate until mixture is no more than 40 degrees. (If mixture has been stirred over a bowl of ice water, it may already be cold enough, and this step may be omitted.)

Pour chilled mixture into container of an ice cream machine and churn until frozen.

Scoop frozen sorbet into a container. Seal and transfer container to freezer for several hours to allow sorbet to firm up. 

It's one of the best things ever. Here are a couple of things to know about sorbet. It has lots of sugar, and that is what creates its silky texture. Don't skimp or you'll end up with something more akin to watermelon ice. Of course, if that's what you're going for, then skimp away. Also, the addition of a tablespoon of vodka or Campari is what keeps the sorbet from freezing solid. You can leave it out, but your sorbet will be more like a stickless popsicle.

While it was churning, I took stock of the pickling cucumbers I've collected over the past week or so. They are all different sizes and shapes. That one on the right got away from me, and I didn't notice it until it was the size of a large potato. There didn't seem to be enough here for an actual batch of pickles, but I worried they would go bad before I had enough. It seemed like a good time to experiment.

So using a quick refrigerator pickle recipe, I cut the various cucumbers into different shapes and then experimented with the peppers that will give them some heat. Two jars have a dehydrated pepper, and two have red pepper flakes. The rest of the ingredients are the same as the recipe I've linked to. In addition to checking on which provides the best heat, I'm curious to see what shape holds its crispiness the best.

These are supposed to sit in the refrigerator 3-4 days, but I tasted one of the pickle chips this morning. It was pretty darned good. I'll wait a few more days before calling them finished. They are not shelf stable done this way. When I have enough cucumbers to make a proper batch, I want to can them in quart jars. There are lots of tiny cucumbers on the plant, but they won't be ready for pickling for at least another week. 

Okay, and so it was late in the afternoon by then, but I did some more work on the Dream Big panel. Here's something else I've discovered about feathers: they are very forgiving. For this first petal, I decided to go all around the edge with a feather. Although the loops weren't all even and uniform in size, I could fill in with three lines in each loop, and somehow that improved the appearance of the whole thing. There was a small open section in the middle that I filled in with echoing lines.

For the next one, I did a curly-cue meandering motif. This was easy and fun. It's a good filler.

Finally, this one. It had a zig-zag shape to the inner edge. I decided to go with that. After making some layers of lines, I filled in between them, but then still had a large section to finish on the outer edge.

And so I filled that in with another feather that curled around on itself. The centers of those loops were filled in with more loops and lines. 

I'm getting close to being on the outer round of petals, but there are still a couple more to do in this middle section. I've outlined about the next one, and I'll start there today. This might be a good one to do some more McTavishing.

It was time for dinner then. I was making lobster rolls from a recipe on our diet. The recipe called for using two live lobsters. I don't know about you, but there is no way I'm ever going to have the gonads required to drop a live lobster into boiling water. I bought a couple of lobster tails from the grocery store. I prefer that my food not resemble in any way the animal that it once was.

So that was all well and good, but there was precious little meat in those two tails. What to do...what to do? So it seemed like one solution was to turn it into a sort of egg and lobster salad, and then serve it up like the lobster roll I intended. It was pretty darned tasty, and it stretched that rather expensive lobster meat far enough to feed us both. I served it along with chunked up watermelon that was left over from the sorbet.

So, here's how I did that. I can recommend it. And if you aren't up for the cost of lobster, it would be good with crab or tuna or salmon, or pretty much any kind of fish from which you can make sandwich filling.

Egg Salad Lobster Rolls
adapted from myrecipes.com


2 lobster tails
4 top-split white or whole-wheat hot dog buns
2 tablespoons butter, softened and divided
1/4 cup low-calorie mayonnaise
1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives or tarragon
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
4 Bibb lettuce leaves


Bring water to a boil in a pot over high heat. Place lobster tails in the stockpot, cover, and boil until shells are bright red, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove with tongs; place on a rimmed baking sheet. When the lobsters are cool enough to handle (after about 20 minutes), cut open tails using kitchen shears and remove meat. Chop into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces. Mix with hard boiled eggs, mayonnaise and chives (or tarragon).

Brush the inside of each bun with butter. Toast lightly in a toaster oven. Place buns on a platter. Line the inside of each bun with 1 lettuce leaf, and divide lobster mixture among the buns. Serve sandwiches immediately.

As I was coming up to write this post, Sadie decided to speak her mind. She chattered and chattered at me. My grasp of Catonese failed me here, and so I have no idea what she was talking about. She seems very distressed that Simone Biles has withdrawn from the Tokyo Olympics. 

She feels an affinity with Simone, being petite and powerful, and able to leap tall kitchen cabinetry with a single bound.

Okay, so it's a stay-at-home day, but there's plenty to do, as usual. Today I'm going to make some plum salsa from plums Erik and Mae gave me from their tree. Erik asked for a spicy salsa, and the original recipe I'm working from called for habanero peppers. I wasn't able to find habaneros, but I'll add serranos and include an extra. They aren't quite as hot as the habaneros, but they'll pack a punch. Also, I'll be hoeing weeds in the garden and harvesting anything I see there. My friend Susan informs me the melons might be difficult to pollinate, and that's why I'm seeing lots of flowers, but no melons. I'll take the soft make-up brush I use on the tomatoes and give them a tickle while I'm out there. Maybe that will get me some melons.

The weather will turn warm again this week, but not as warm as the heat dome from last month, thankfully. It's been quite some time since we've had any rain. I know you folks back east have had a lot of rain. It's been a weird summer weather-wise, hasn't it? 


Barbara said...

Pine needle sorbet? Pine needle sorbet?! My kids do NOT eat sorbet. They eat sherbet, and they pronounce it sherbert, and they wish it was ice cream! ~ Homer Simpson

Beverly said...

Another reason you might not be seeing any baby melons is you have all male flowers. My squash and zucchini had most male flowers so pollination wasn't doing any good. Finally I am seeing some female flowers so have begun to get some fruit. Check and see whether you have both male and female flowers. The female flowers will have a small rounding below the flower and the males will be just straight below the flower - just a stem.

Darlene of Creative Latitude said...

I may understand how Sadie feels about Simone. Maybe Sadie could write a letter (or special post) to Simone to remind Simone that they are distantly related as they both have the ability to climb, jump, tumble amazing things at purrfect precision. I bet Sadie could help Simone feel 100% better and give her words of encouragement right now. Like Sadie, Simone is a wonderful lady and we all wish her well. She has plenty more amazing moves to still dazzle everyone.

Julierose said...

Yummy recipes, Barbara:))) I could use some of that sorbet after PT--I didn't even know my body could be put into those positions!!! Yikers!! ;000 (and certainly not a good visual).
Anyway--I do love how your quilting is looking--such fancifulness just adds to that lovely panel...I have never been able to do FM--so am very envious...
just sayin'..*-))
It is pretty hot here today and humid once again--supposedly a cold front is whooshing through tonight --fingers crossed...
hugs from my heating pad..Julierose (or what's left of her)

gpc said...

I agree with Sadie and Darlene and add my support to Simone. I read that restaurants somewhere have now forbidden the boiling water technique for lobsters as inhumane. It's about time. It's bad enough that we have to eat living things, we can at least be as quick and painless about it as possible. Love your quilting, still. Also love the idea of the sorbet but when our freezer broke last month, I am not sure what became of our ice cream insert. I'll have to look into that . . .

piecefulwendy said...

As I'm writing this, the skies are very dark and rumbling. We desperately need rain, so as long as it doesn't storm too aggressively, it would be good. Those lobster rolls look so tasty!

Carol in Texas said...

Barbara, I love your kitty commentary! It always leaves me with a smile. We are a cat household too, as well as having many outdoor cats. We live rurally so i rationalize our ‘herd’ as the snake brigade. They are also pretty fun to watch with grasshoppers. I cheer the catch of each of those devouring menaces!

Magpie's Mumblings said...

Alas there will be no lobster crossing the threshold in this house - Resident Chef is violently allergic to seafood. And, like you, I can't wrap my head around the cruelty of boiling the poor things alive. There outta be a law! Freezer pickles are often created here - please post the verdict on your experiments because curious mind(s) want to know.

SJSM said...

Is that a fig tree with the galls? Our fig tree is producing well. It is so tall the birds are the only ones that get the harvest. This fall I hope to start shaping it to produce fruit at a lower level. Most likely that will take several years to get to the size where we can pick the fruit. The tree is over 70 years old and has beautiful gnarled trunk and limbs. It was neglected by the previous home owner and we continued the neglect until the last few years.

I will try the watermelon sorbet.

QuiltGranma said...

S- S- s- Sadie! She was a lady..... oh such a lady, she could complain and chat and have lots to say, if only her person understood Catonese.

kc said...

What a fun day you had! Full of friends, food, fanciful fills and feathers, and felines!! Your stitches are beautiful and very imaginative. I just learned about that hook one the other day and was glad to see how it looked in use. The lady that showed it to me indicated it was a good, fast filler.
Your pickles are pretty, they made my mouth start watering! Bad thing, since we are at doc office, waiting on lab report from a Mohs of the nose.....git about 2 more hours, and released if clear edges, back under the knife if not. Poor Driver. Well, report is on, back under we go!