Follow by Email

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Salsa Recipe

I decided that I would make salsa this year.  Actually, I decided it last year, but I didn't have enough tomatoes.  Though many of my tomatoes have blight, I do have enough for salsa.  This is the first year I have ever tried it.  Here is the recipe.  It is based on one I found online, but I made a lot of changes to it to suit my taste.

4 cups diced tomatoes (about 5 large)
2 diced green peppers
1 diced onion
Diced hot peppers to your taste
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
Garlic (powder or fresh) to taste
Salt to taste

Mix everything in sauce pan.
Bring to boil.
Simmer 40 minutes
Freeze or eat fresh

Book Review: "Crime and Punishment" by Fyodor Dostoyevskyn - 1866

When I saw my niece home from college for her summer break, I told her I was reading this book.  Would you believe, so was she?  Now, what kind of coincidence is that?  Maybe it is a case of great minds travelling parallel paths...

This is my first venture into Russian literature, and I guarantee, it won't be my last.  I loved this book for so many reasons.  The story is a complex psychological murder drama that kept me wanting to turn every single page.  Though I wanted to see how it ended, I didn't want it to end.  There are scenes that are so vivid and tense, that I swear I was holding my breath.

Our main character plans and executes a murder and robbery of an old woman who is a pawnbroker.  His reason for doing it was not due to his poverty, but to prove a theory he had.  He then suffers a physical and mental breakdown.  He is being investigated by a very wily detective-which puts so much pressure on him that he starts to fall to pieces, page by page.  It was fascinating to read.  Other characters in the book have their own problems that are intertwined with his.

There is love, action, suspense and more.  There is nothing formulatic about this book, at all.  If all Russian novels are like this, I am going to have some terrific reading in my future.

The author paints a vivid picture of the poverty and social circumstances of St. Petersburg at the time--without making it preachy.

The ending was very, very satisfying.  So often, an ending is a disappointment, but this one was terrific.

I had trouble with the names.  There are so many complicated names to be learned for each character.  I can't pronounce any of them, either.  That is my only complaint--but what can you expect from a Russian novel, English names?

A must read.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Turn Your Overabundance of Cherry Tomatoes into Sun-dried Tomatoes!

You won't believe how easy it is.  All you need is a food dehydrator.  I know a lot of people who have them and never thought of making this delicious treat.  I have been making them for years.

Today, I started my first batch of the year.  All you need to do is cut your cherry tomatoes in half and place them face up (so the skin is on the bottom) on the trays.  In a couple days, you will have a gormet treat that will keep for months.  If I get enough tomatoes, I will make them in the hundreds--and I never get tired of them.

You can use  bigger tomatoes, but if you don't place them with the skin on the bottom, they will stick to the tray.  Also, if you cut the pieces too big, sometimes they will get moldy before the dry--not good.

I like tossing them into canned cream corn for a quick and tasty soup.  Dad and I used to fry potatoes with peppers and sun-dried tomatoes.  They were so good that way, that this year, since I have a lot of peppers, I might do that, again.  They taste good in pasta dishes and are good plain, too.

If you have a dehydrator and some cherry tomatoes, you just have to try it.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Sand Run Metroparks in Akron, OH

Kevin and I are running out of new trails by our houses, so we ventured down south to do some exploring.  We started out at the Seiberling Nature Realm.  I love flowers, and I could look at them all day.  Kevin and I thoroughly explored it, one day.  I was so impressed by how pretty it was.  I loved the idea of building a greenhouse out of 2 liter bottles!  In the herb garden, not only did they label the herbs, but they labeled the big boulders, too,  There was one section of weeping trees, several pretty ponds, meadows, rhododendroms that must have been gorgeous when they were blooming and enough trails to keep us busy.

The next visit, we went into Sand Run and hiked the Mingo trail.  It was certainly rugged with some very steep hills.  We took the extension and ended up on a trail that is made just for joggers and walkers.  We walked that a while, but then turned around and headed up the really steep hill to get back onto the Mingo trail.  The trail was all shady and well-maintained, but you have to be ready to hike hills.

Since we didn't have enough hills, the next time, we went on the Dogwood trail.  It was similar to the Mingo trail, but shorter.  Just the 1.9 miles of that trail was quite a workout, but of course, that wasn't enough for us.  On the way back, we saw a trail that was closed and decided to explore that one, too.  It was washed out in several places, so I could see why they closed it. I hope it is just temporary because it was a very pretty trail.  There were hills, but they weren't as bad.  At the end of it, we found the jogging trail and took that back to the car.

There was still one more trail to tackle in Sand Run, and that was the Valley Connector Trail.  It was rated as moderate, and most of it was--but at the end, there was another one of the huge hills that this park seems to have everywhere.  The trail was really pretty, mostly shady and well maintained.  It was 2.8 miles, each way.  It was a hot day, and we sweat buckets.  Kevin packed a dinner, and we ate at Sieberling, again.  There, he saw an old friend of his, and we toured some of the gardens with him.  I can never see enough flowers!

As always, I have to complain about one thing about Akron--they have terrible street signage!  I have gotten lost so many times down there, that I hesitate to visit it.  We only got lost the first time, so that wasn't too bad.  We are looking forward to exploring some of the other reservations in the future.

Book Review: "Corrupted" by Lisa Scottoline

This is one of my contemporary books by an author that is still alive.  I read another of her books and liked it, so when I found this in the bargain bin at Half Price Books, I grabbed it.

She writes legal thrillers.  This one tells two stories; one of a boy who is bullied, gets into a fight and ends in jail--the other years later when he gets in a fight with the same man who is later found dead and he is accused of murder.

The two tails are intertwined and a romance complicates things.

A real page turner; once again, from Lisa Scottoline.

Book Review: "Peony" by Pearl S. Buck

Not the first Buck book I have read about China, and certainly not the last.  She brings China to life like nothing else.

Persecuted Jews traveled to China over many centuries ago, and they were greeted with much kindness, so they stayed.  They tried to hold on to their heritage, but as they assimulated and intermarried into the Chinese culture, that became more and more difficult.

This story takes place at towards the end of their era.  A Jewish mother decides that her son should marry the rabbi's daughter to to perpetuate their faith.  The son has his eye on a Chinese girl, instead.

Peony is a servant in the household that was raised with the son--and has fallen in love with him. She knows her place in the world, and feels she would be content with just staying in his household the rest of her life.  If he marries the Jewish girl, that seems unlikely.  Peony does what she can to encourage a Chinese marriage.

The story explores the two cultures as the son is torn between them.  It takes some unexpected turns that totally shocked me.

Once again, Ms. Buck hits it out of the park.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Garden Update


Garden Update

We have had so much rain that my garden has turned into a swamp.  So far, there doesn’t seem to be any damage except the lower leaves of my tomato plants are turning yellow.  That could become a big problem if things don’t dry out.  It may even be too late.  Still, I should get enough tomatoes because I planted so many of them.

I did pick my first one, yesterday.  It is an orange cherry tomato. I am going to make a salad with it, today.

My peppers look fantastic.  I thought the overabundance of rain would hurt them, but so far, they don’t mind.

I am excited about my ground cherries.  I tried growing them, last year, and they had a terrible germination rate.  To make matters worse, I had them with the rest of the tomatillos, and they were too crowded.  I only got a handful of them, but that was enough for me to know that I like them; alot.  

This year, I tried starting them in the house.  I still got a horrible germination rate--but it yielded 7 healthy plants.  They transplanted in the garden beautifully.  I gave them their own section and spaced them out correctly.  They are now blooming and soon, they will fall to the ground--hence the name.  That is how you know when they are ready to pick--or I should say--pick up.  I am looking forward to eating them, soon.

My tomatillos are blooming, too.  They are related to ground cherries, but are much bigger plants and get much bigger fruit.

The cukes and zukes are blooming.  I don’t see any female blossoms, yet.  The few bush beans I have are blooming, and I bet I will be picking in about a week.  The pole beans are looking particularly healthy, though they haven’t begun to bloom, yet.

Overall, things are progressing well.