Friday, August 15, 2014

The Quest (Lust) for Corn


 

Zip is a lover of corn.  It's his favorite vegetable.  You might say he's a corn-a-holic, the Corn Meister, a connoisseur of the cob, a corn wort.

The quest for fresh sweet corn starts sometime in late winter when Weis Market starts importing corn in the husk from SOMEWHERE.  Somewhere far  enough away that the corn has that held-in-refrigeration-for-who-knows-how-long taste.  Usually a disappointment, but we have to try it.  So we hold off for a week or two.  Then it's time to try again.  Eventually they get in one or two good batches.  But we keep buying.

Finally summer arrives and LOCAL corn is available.  Oh Glorious Day!!!
So we start making the rounds of the farm stands and markets.  Now where did we get that really good batch last year???  And what variety was it???  Bodacious, Incredible, Butter and Sugar, white, yellow, bicolor?

We begin to buy and try and buy some more until we have corn coming out of our ears (pun!). 
The trouble with corn is that it ages.  What was good one week will be probably be too old by next week.  But that doesn't always register with Mr. Corn.

The best way to not get snookered by aging corn is to pull the husk down a little way and LOOK at it.  Are the kernels large and waxy looking?  If so,  I don't want it.  But Zip hates to check the corn in front of the people selling it.  He says they disapprove.  It's embarrassing.  So I end up having recipes where I can hide inedible corn.  Soups, fritters, quesadillas, salsas.

But this week we were lucky and found the best corn of the season so far.  The farmer had the good sense to pick it while still young and tender.  Even I, who am usually to the point by now that I never want to see another ear of corn, loved this.

Zip wanted me to add that the name of this corn is 'Mariah', like that singer, only sweeter and more luscious.
 


 If you think humans are the only ones affected by this CORNINESS, you would be wrong.
 
Only minutes after Zip laid this bag on the table, The mania began.  I came into the kitchen and saw this.  Good grief!



 Keep plastic bags out of the reach of your children!



Let them dig in trash cans instead.


The kitties have this irresistible attraction to corn also.  They go crazy trying to get husks to chew on.  Unfortunately they barf the pieces all over the floor later.
Happiness is NO PICTURES!!!

OK, I think I've said enough on that subject.
Last week a spinning and weaving friend invited me and several like-minded women to a day of relaxation and chatting under the trees at her lovely 19th century farm house.  The weather was beautiful, the company was great, everyone had a nice time.

I took some dog hair to card, but never got it out of the basket.  As usual I was too busy talking.
Our hostess using her Canadian production wheel.  At least I think that's what it is.


Taking the spun yarn off the bobbin and putting it on the niddy noddy to be finished.


Spinning and knitting.


Their lovely vegetable garden and pond.  Oh no, I don't see a cornstalk anywhere!


Thanks for stopping by and putting up with my foolishness.
And go out and get yourself some really yummy corn-on-the-cob!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Just Peachy

This past weekend Hollabaugh's Orchard near Biglerville PA held their annual Peach Fest.

They featured alive band each day, lots of good food made with peaches, and a lovely selection of fruit and veggies for sale.

We went on Sunday to see a band called The Willys who were supposed to be bluegrass and classic rock.  They were heavier on the classic rock which was OK with me.  Zip kept mumbling that he thought he was going to be listening to bluegrass.




We had yummy fresh peach sundaes for lunch.  Somehow it got eaten before I even thought of taking a picture.

There were dozens of varieties of peaches to choose from.  These are the best of the crop.


And then here are the bargain bins where I usually get my peaches.  There were so many people gathered around filling their bags that I had no desire to fight for my fruit.  Zip and I decided to go back another day through the week to make our purchases.


The baked goods made with fresh peaches really looked yummy.  There again, we decided to wait because the checkout lines were a mile long.  I really hated to pass up the kettle corn.



I don't know how I managed to get a shot of some produce bins without people in the way.  They had some lovely yellow watermelons.


A visit to the orchard isn't complete without a view of the trees from which all these delicious peaches are harvested.   The trees in the foreground are apple and the ones up farther on the hill are the peaches.



On the home front, work has slowed down on the addition.  Or maybe the changes just aren't as dramatic.  The basic wiring and plumbing is done.

The drywall being unloaded.


 The French doors are installed.


 I don't know where along the walls we are going to have room for cupboards and dressers, there are so many electrical boxes all over the place.  Switch plates, thermostats, receptacles every six feet and the electric baseboard heat.  This is Zip's bedroom.


 This is the laundry/storage area.  We are keeping the original outside wall with the wood siding and painting it to match.


The drywall is now hung but still needs finishing.  The crew was supposed to come yesterday but didn't show up.  No sign of them today either.  Where are you, guys???

We are finally getting some much-needed rain.  It will be nice to see green grass instead of brown.
That's all for now.  Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Amazing What Can Be Done In A Week

It's 6:45 a.m. on Monday morning.  The construction crew just arrived for another week of work.

They really worked hard this past week.
We now have a structure that looks like a house, complete with roof and siding.


This is the side that faces the street.  The double windows are in Zip's bedroom and the small window is the bathroom window.  Kinda looks like a mobile home with the roofing trailer sitting there in front. The Addition on Wheels!


The mud room/laundry attaches the two sections to each other.  We'll be able to back the car up to the door to unload groceries and take them right into the kitchen.  I can't wait till I can plant  something in that area. Seeing that little area looking so bare makes me want to put in a trellis for a vine and lots of ferns and hostas.

This is the back side of the house.  The kitchen is to the left and is the width of the main house.




You may ask why we put our entry door and porch on the side away from the street.
The large open space under the porch roof is where my French doors will be.  I've always wanted French doors somewhere in my house but in the old part of the house there was nowhere that they would fit in.  In the new part, they are perfect.
And when Zip is sitting on the porch and I am sitting inside looking out (while weaving, etc.!) I want to be able to gaze on this instead of the neighbors across the street.


We had the guys put siding on the kitchen area so we don't ever have to scrape and paint the wooden siding again.  They made nice new doors to replace the old uninsulated wooden ones.



The scaffolding they use is amazing.  Just two tall aluminum posts.  You can see the bottom of one end in the above picture.  Between the posts there are two levels of narrow aluminum stages that they walk on and put their supplies on.

And what holds this up with only two aluminum posts on the ground???

These two little antennas at either end.  Nailed to the roof.  In this case these are not even nailed to the new roof.  They are nailed down at the other end only where they are still working on the old roof.  It looks scary to me!


No kitty pictures this time.  They spend a lot of the day under furniture trying to avoid the blasting of the nail guns and the whine of the saws.
Reggie is the only one who seems interested in watching while they work.  He wants in the new area in the worst way.  He goes from the nearest window to the door, tries the doorknob and ruminates about ways to get out there.  Once the French doors are in place, I will be able to let them explore under supervision.

They know the instant the guys take their breaks or go to lunch or leave for the day.  They everyone comes out and goes to the windows to view the progress.  They are much less intimidated than we expected.

Guess I better get out there and start supervising the work.  Ha-ha!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Progress


The middle of summer is here and our night blooming cereus is ready to put on it's show.
When I was a child, this was an event at my grandmother's house.  She had a huge plant potted in a large galvanized washtub.  There were sometimes forty or fifty buds on the monster which was about 5 feet high.  My father's family would all come to visit and we stayed extra late to see the amazing flowering.

I don't have room for such a huge plant so I keep mine pruned back to window-sill size.  And I'm perfectly happy with just a few blooms on a summer night.  The picture was taken about 10 p.m. with a flash.  The blooms are about six inches across.

Mid summer is also zucchini time.  They are growing like weeds and get to the size of a caveman club before you know it.  We try to pick ours young and of medium size, but it's hard to keep up with them without harvesting daily.

I love squash dipped in batter and fried in butter.  I could eat a ton of it but have to use restraint.  This year I decided to try getting the same kind of flavor with a slightly less caloric recipe.   This is my version of zucchini pancakes.

1 medium zucchini, finely shredded and squeezed to remove most of the water
2 eggs
1 T. oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp. Italian herb blend
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup Bisquick (or flour with 1/4 tsp. baking powder)

Shred the zucchini either by hand or in the food processor.


Squeeze out as much water as possible.


Mix all ingredients together.  The batter should stick to the zucchini and mound up on a spoon.  If it seems too runny, add more Bisquick.  If it seems too stiff to spread out on the griddle, let it sit for about 5 minutes and it will start to loosen up.


 Drop heaping spoonfulls onto a griddle or frying pan sprayed with cooking oil.


Fry till golden grown on bottom, then flip and do the other side.
Dig in!
One batch makes about eight pancakes.


When the workers left on Friday the foundation walls were finished and they had filled the dirt back in against the foundation.

Yesterday they brought lumber to start the framing.  By the end of the day, we had WALLS!

Our contractor is a young Amish man.  The Amish have elevated this building thing to a science.
They started by putting in the floor joists and covering it with plywood.  Then to my amazement, they unloaded the wall pieces from a flatbed trailer.  The walls had all been constructed last week in their shop and all they had to do was lift them up, sit them in place and fasten them together.  And everything fit perfectly!

The first piece in place.



Zip's bedroom walls.



Continuing on.



Almost finished.

We are having the outside of the kitchen sided and re-roofed at the same time so it all looks like it fits together.  You can see how badly the outside kitchen walls need to be re-done.


Being a person who is afraid of heights, the way these men walk around on the tops of the walls just amazes me.

The roof trusses on the flatbed truck.

Today they put the trusses in place and applied the plywood and black roofing paper.
The interior wall studs are done.  A few windows are in.
Things are moving along really well.  It's looking like a house.

I didn't take pictures today because it was so blasted hot that I didn't even want to go out in the late afternoon.  But hopefully will get some tomorrow.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Catching Up

We had a really nice July 4th.
Quiet, no fireworks or whoopin' and hollerin'.  Just a nice cookout with Brad and Kami.
They supplied all the food and did the cooking too.  Zip and I didn't have to do anything but sit and watch and chat.

The Grill Master in action.


 Brad made his special burgers smothered in provolone cheese.  There are lots of secret ingredients in with the ground beef.  I know one of them is chopped salami.  These are really delish!
We had seasoned grilled corn on the cob, roasted potato slices and creamy coleslaw.  for dessert there was lemon cake with fresh strawberries.


Not a lot was happening on the addition this week.
The blocks for the foundation walls arrived on Monday, but the mason wasn't able to come until today.


He was able to lay one side of the walls today.  It's a slow meticulous job.
I took a picture through the back screen door but it didn't come out well.  Next time after more is finished, I'll walk around back and do a better job.

It's been hot and muggy this week.
I made one of my favorite hot weather salads for lunch.  It's a great thing to make at this time of year with both corn and tomatoes in season.

Corn and Black Bean Salad

1 1/2 cups fresh cooked corn cut off the cob
1 1/2 cups black beans, rinsed and drained. (one can is about 1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped, Vidalia onion also works fine
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh tomato
1/3 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
salt and pepper

Mix it all together and chill before serving.  Makes about 6 one-cup servings.

I don't know what it is about cats pressing themselves between the window glass and the screen, but here's Reggie being a nut.   Our windows are hopeless for staying clean because there's always cat paw prints on both inside and outside.


In the end, the joy of loving cats outweighs all the little messes they make.  I couldn't live without them.  Right, Deiter???

Don't mess with me, Mom.  I'm on the laptop.


Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you're having a delightful summer.





Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Groundbreaking Decision

I had mentioned several weeks ago that we are in the process of making some life-changing decisions.  This was the Big One.  For several years Zip and I have debated adding on to our house so that Brad and Kami could move in with us.  Zip was ambivalent about the idea.  I though we really could use the help of two younger and stronger people.  We sure aren't getting any younger.

They have been coming every week and helping around the house and yard and it has been very nice for us older people not to do heavy lifting, raking, mowing, and carrying things up and down the stairs.  There are benefits of having the younger generation nearby.  Besides, I simply love their company.  And work around the house seems to go much more smoothly with someone to share the misery, especially for those of us who hate housework.

We spent several months choosing our contractor.  Then I drew up a plan.  We did the bank stuff.
Finally today we had groundbreaking.  This is what the back of the house looked like last year when the tree branch fell on the pantry.

The pantry, the little add-on with the red door, is being removed so the new addition can be attached to the house.  Note the concrete steps and the concrete foundation under the pantry.


The backhoe arrives.


 The area is being cleared.


 Then it's time to remove the pantry area.  The backhoe dug into it and gave a few mighty tugs and the whole end of the kitchen wall started to come loose.  Uh-oh!  Time for the reciprocating saw! 

 After some careful detaching, the wooden part of the pantry came off nicely. Then for the concrete foundation.  We assumed it was a hollow square of concrete blocks.  Not so.  It was a six foot solid cube of concrete.  Here comes the jack hammer!   Run for your lives, kitties!!!


 Talk about noise!

But after half an hour of breaking up concrete, the rest of the afternoon went very well.

The wooden forms for the footer are in place and crushed stone is spread.


 The cement truck pours the footer while our contractor levels the slurry.


 I really didn't expect so much to be accomplished in one day.
On Monday the blocks will be delivered for laying the foundation.

This is the plan.
Brad and Kami will have their private living area in the upstairs of the main house.  Our private living area will be in the new addition.  We will share the downstairs of the main house, the kitchen, the small sitting room with the woodstove and the large sewing and craft room.

The blueprint for the addition.
There will be a 10 by 10 foot mud room where we will have the washer and dryer plus storage cupboards.
Zip and I will each have a bedroom.  There will be a small living room with a woodstove and a bathroom and a front porch.


 There won't be any stairs for us to climb and will be easily wheelchair accessible if we get to the point that we need it.  Which I hope is no time soon!

I'll be updating as the work progresses.

Thanks for stopping by!