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Monday, October 31, 2016

Homemade BBQ Sauce

Homemade BBQ Sauce

I have made things in my crockpot with barbecue flavors from scratch plenty of times.  The other day, I was talking to Kevin about barbecue sauce, and he mentioned how expensive it was at the store.  That got me thinking--can I make it from scratch all by itself?

It took 25 seconds of searching to find a basic barbecue sauce recipe--and it was as easy as could be.  I won’t put it here because, as usual, I altered it by adding stuff to it, which I didn’t measure out, so what I made can’t be duplicated.  It came out scrumptious.  I added fresh basil, oregano and a pepper from the garden.  I also tossed in an onion.  It took no time at all.  While it was simmering, I cooked some fresh vegetables and macaroni.  I put them all together, and had a great lunch.


I would say that there is no excuse to not make it from scratch as long as you have ketchup, vinegar and sugar--and a simple recipe from the internet.  Don’t let the grocery stores fool you--barbecue sauce doesn’t have to come from a bottle.  It can come from your kitchen.

Book Review: The Secret Agent” by Joseph Conrad

Book Review: The Secret Agent” by Joseph Conrad


I have read several other Conrad books and really liked them, so I was looking forward to this one.  They have all been a little slow in getting going, but this one took three quarters of the book before there was any real action.  The rest of it was boring.  What a disappointment.  It did have a spy and some intrigue going on, but it wasn’t much to keep my interest.  I didn’t even care much for the ending.  This isn’t one that I will forward on to Ellen unless she is having trouble sleeping.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Book Review: “The End of the Affair” by Graham Green

Book Review: “The End of the Affair” by Graham Green

This was much more like it after reading “Travels with My Aunt” by the same author.  It was a well-crafted and clever book.  Our protagonist is reminiscing about his love affair with a married woman at the same time as telling us what is going on in the present.  He used this same technique in “The Quiet American,” and it worked just as well.

The book talks extensively about love, hate, jealousy, how jealousy can destroy love and the existence of God.  The characters are well formed and believable and the story moves along smoothly.  I did get a little bored when several chapters were dedicated to journal entries, but they were essential to the plot.

Totally enjoyable in spite of being sad.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Ground Cherries

Ground Cherries

I learned about ground cherries--a relative to tomatillos and tomatoes--and I was intrigued.  I never tasted one before, and I have so much success growing tomatillos.

I ordered some seeds and planted them in the garden in the spring.  I only got one plant to sprout.  I wasn’t very surprised about the bad gerination because you are supposed to start them in the house and then transplant them, but my house is really too cold to start most seeds.  You are supposed to do the same with tomatillos, but driect sowing worked for them--why not their cousin?

So, in a sense, my project was a failure.  I transplanted some tomatillos into the area since I had too many of them sprout and moved on.

Months later, I saw a ground cherry on the ground.  That is when you pick them; hence the name.  You still have to wait a couple weeks before you can eat them because they are poisonous in the beginning.

It was worth the wait  imagine a little yellow berrie about the size of a blueberry that tastes like pineapple!  I have picked a few dozen of them over the summer.

I will not give up.  Next year, I will try planting them again.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

EASY HOMEMADE FLOUR TORTILLAS

EASY HOMEMADE FLOUR TORTILLAS     
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup warm water
Combine all the flour, salt, vegetable oil, and water until it forms a dough.
Roll the dough into a big ball and take about an 1 to 2 inch pieces off. Pat the dough flat with your hands or take a rolling pin and roll into circles.
Put the dough on a flat pan on the stove and let the sides cook until there are little brown specks on both sides like you would see on other tortillas.
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I tried this recipe this morning, and it was so easy!!!!  I actually split it in half, so I wouldn't have too many leftovers. I will never by tortillas from the store, again.  Have you seen how expensive they have gotten?
It took me a little bit to get the hang of the rolling.  I learned to put a lot of flour on them as I rolled so they wouldn’t stick.  It only took a few minutes to cook each one--and they taste really, really good.
I made wraps of homemade cucumber freezer pickles with cheddar cheese.  For dessert, I put my homemade yogurt cheese on it with a generous helping of homemade grape jelly.  Wow!

Book Review: “Travels with My Aunt” by Graham Greene

Book Review: “Travels with My Aunt” by Graham Greene

I have really liked the novels that I have read by Graham Greene, but I was disappointed in this one.  I was expecting more adventures and a more interesting story.

The main character is a retired banker that likes his quiet life spending his time in his garden.  He meets a long lost aunt at his mother’s funeral, and she brings him into her rather odd life.  It seems most of the book was him being fascinated by the stories of her life.  She does get him to do some traveling with her and they ended up in some odd circumstances, but the book never became a page turner.

Over the span of the book, we see our man changing his attitudes about his life.  Now, as a retired estimator living a quiet life with my animals and garden, I just didn’t see the change as that realistic.  I can’t imagine that being arrested would make me desire a more exciting life.

Also, I have an eccentric aunt, myself, and I would say they are way over rated.  Their stories aren’t that fascinating--when you aren’t even sure what is true and what isn’t--as it the case with this book.

I didn’t hate the book, but I expected more from Graham Greene.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Homemade Grape Jelly

Kevin called me a couple days from a vineyard.  On impulse, he had just bought 12 pounds of concord grapes.


To me, concord grapes only mean one thing--it is time to make jelly.  When we were kids, there were a lot of wild grapes growing in the woods around our house.  We would pick them, and my mom would make grape jelly.  It was so delicious, that to this day, I don’t like the taste of store grape jelly.  It tastes fake like grape candy.  


I have made jelly in the past, so I know it is easy to do.  I never made grape becasue the grapes are no longer there.  Kevin was completely ignorant about the process.  He didn’t even know what pectin was.


We plucked about half the grapes, cooked them down, made juice by running them through my food mill, added sugar, brought them to a boil, added the pectin, boiled another minute and we were done.  Seven cups of jelly, just like that.


Kevin was so worried it didn’t set that he wanted to quit in defeat.  We still had enough juice left for another batch, so I pushed him on to do another batch.  Twenty minutes later, we had 7 more cups.

It is delicious--as tasty as I remembered.  Kevin loves it, too.  I wonder what kind of jelly we should make next?

(We made grape juice from the balance of the grapes--and it is delicious!)

Monday, October 3, 2016

Back to Retirement

Back to Retirement
Today, I start my first full week of retirement in 6 weeks.  I really, really didn’t like going to work, again.  Even though most of it was for only a couple days a week, it just destroyed the contentment that surrounded me when I was fully retired.  I am so glad to be back to it.

There is so much to do.  I definitely need to catch up on my blogging.  Though I had the time to do it, my heart wasn’t in it when I was working.  It didn’t take long for my yard and gardens to get out of control, again.  Sadly, they are nearing their end for the year.  I sure do miss the gardening in the winter.  Now, it seems like I am mostly pulling out plants that I don’t want to go to seed.  There are others that I will leave in because I don’t mind if they spread--and some of them the birds will come and eat the seeds.  They are fun to watch.  I haven’t seen a hummingbird in a couple of weeks, so I think they are gone.  There are way less dragonflies, too.  They seemed to have left when I was working.

Maggie is back to getting long walks every day.  Since it is cooler, the walks are getting longer.  Today, we went exploring on a trail that I haven’t been to since last year.  I thought we needed to add more variety to our walks.  There was some hills, too.  I need more hills to get in better shape.

Thunder was taking me for granted the first time I was retired.  When I went back to work, he got very needy, again, and he wanted me with him all the time.  He is starting to settle down and take naps when I am around.  It will make it easier to blog, that is for sure.