I’m making progress on the first sleeve of Knitter’s Dude for Bob.
I am keeping up with the Celtic Mists mystery knitalong.
On Monday we had a surprise visitor to the garden.
I decided to name her Kéya, which is Lakota for turtle. I did some research. It’s nesting season for snappers, so I think she was off to find someplace to lay her eggs.
I offered her a strawberry from the garden, but she wasn’t interested. Once we stopped gawking and went back inside, she booked it to the woods. Turtles can move pretty fast. My last snapping turtle friend won 2nd place in the Stigler, Oklahoma Reunion Days turtle race. I was 10.
My garden is weedy. Part of this is intentional. Slugs and critters don’t seem to care if they are eating weeds or veggies or herbs, so I leave the weeds in places if they aren’t competing with what I’m cultivating. This has helped reduce the damage.
On the other hand, if I don’t stay on top of the weeds — preventing them from sprawling or going to seed — then I end up with a real mess on my hands. Right now I’m trying to extricate grass seedlings that are surrounding lettuce seedlings. It’s like agriculture surgery.
I am also keeping weeds to make fertilizer tea. I throw them in a five gallon bucket with banana peels, fill it with water, cover it, and in two weeks I have the best free fertilizer. I strain it and dilute it one to one. This simple trick is changing my gardening game this year. The plants love it. When I have enough nettle growing, I’ll do the same with it.
Someone told me to try planting mint in the garden to deter pests. This is also a dangerous game, but I have noticed the groundhogs have abandoned their burrow in the garden now that the opening is surrounded by mint. I’m trying the open-bottom pot in the ground trick. Supposedly, this will keep the mint from spreading. We use mint in tea, and I would love to learn to make our own cilantro mint chutney, so a little more mint is welcome if I can corral it.
I’m also trying rue around my one sunflower seedling. I cannot grow sunflowers here. They are simply too delicious. I had one in a pot that was thriving, but eventually even that one got chomped. I decided to plant it in the garden surrounded by rue seedlings. Rue is one of my favorite herbs, and it’s very bitter. I’m hoping the critters don’t like it and will leave my sunflower alone. It’s a red sunflower, and it seems to be coming back with two stalks instead of one.
The deer ate the baby gooseberries. Next year we will try a fruit cage. They are also nibbling at the low-hanging baby apples. Luckily our apple trees are old and big — too tall for the deer to reach very many. I have a good feeling about the apples this year.
My garden sorrel started flowering. I cut it back, trying to coax it into a longer season of greens. Then it cranked the finger at me. I guess I’ll let it go to seed and hopefully have sorrel babies next year.
The Daikon Radishes are doing great. I would harvest this one, but I’m supposed to let it go to seed first. The rest of the kimchi garden is hit or miss. The mustard bolted. I may plant more. The Napa cabbage is struggling. We did get a bunch of kale today, but that may be it for the season.
The good news is some of the peas rebounded. I hope to get a few. The tomatoes and peppers are doing well. The zucchini is surviving. And the Jerusalem Artichokes seem happy so far.
The soapwort is thriving, as are the hops.
And we have strawberries, if we can keep the chipmunks at bay.
Maybe the chipmunks will be happy with the false strawberries from the ground cover I’ve let go in places. It’s like gardening sleight of hand or the Jedi mind trick. “These are not the strawberries you are looking for.”
I am trying my hand at foraging. I’ve never foraged more than blackberries and wild onions, so this is new. We have Dryad’s Saddle growing on our property. I went through a long process of identifying them, although I’ve read there are no poisonous lookalikes. Unfortunately, I got to them too late. I tried sautéing them in butter, but they were too big and tough. I’ll try again in the fall or next spring, now that I know what they are. (Please do your own research on mushrooms and don’t go by anything I say. I’m not an expert. I’m still alive though. I ate one bite… well, tried to.)
This year, I have roses. Okay, they’re invasive multiflora rose, but they smell divine. We’re removing any that are competing with other trees and plants, and pulling up those that have spread. But we will leave one or two that are doing well, and collect the hips in the fall for tea. This plant provides food and shelter for wildlife. (We’re handling honeysuckle the same way since the hummingbirds love them.)
I recently read an article about climate change and native species that made me rethink how we handle competition in our natural environment. Granted, some invasive species have to be controlled, but many will be balanced by nature. I’m letting the mosquito larvae go in my pond and attracting dragonflies with plants to help control them. This is how I’m trying to think about things. Also, I’d love to install a bat house.
I’m seeing many more bird species this year. I feel like we must be doing something right. In addition to the regulars (goldfinches, house finches, titmice, nuthatches, downy and red-bellied woodpeckers, blue jays, and crows) we now have regular visits from red-winged blackbirds, grosbeak couples, cowbirds, a red-headed woodpecker, and I even saw what I think was a Cedar Waxwing at the Oriole feeder, though I’m not 100% positive. I did see an Oriole early on at the hummingbird feeder, but it’s not been back even though I’ve now put out jelly for it. We have a female hummingbird in addition to the males (ruby-throated), which come back each year. And we finally have regular cardinals. This is good, as they eat stink bugs, and we have too many of those.
We’ve been making pizza dough with the gluten-free sourdough starter for months, but I’ve never posted the recipe. The sourdough starter changed the game for our gluten-free pizza crust.
1 tablespoon psyllium husk powder
1 cup warm water
1 cup gluten-free sourdough starter discard
1 cup room temperature water
2 1/2 cups gluten-free flour blend
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
In a small bowl, whisk the psyllium husk powder into the warm water and let it set until congealed.
In a mixing bowl, dissolve the sourdough starter in the room temperature water. Add the rest of the ingredients, including the psyllium mixture, and mix until blended. Turn the dough into a bowl greased with olive oil. Cover lightly and let set in a warm place for 2-3 hours. The dough will almost double.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat pizza stone or pan in oven. Prepare pizza toppings. When oven is to temperature and you are ready to assemble pizza, remove pan from oven and prep (cornmeal for stone, olive oil for metal pans). Press dough onto pan until size, shape, and thickness desired. Add sauce and toppings. Bake for 30 minutes. Makes 2 thin pizza crusts.
We top our pizzas with basil pesto and veggies, or Bob’s homemade tomato sauce. Bob likes vegan cheese while I prefer goat mozzarella. We mix it up with toppings.
I’d like to try a thick crust in a cast iron skillet with Margherita toppings next time.
I’ve been having a wonderful birthday month. (A little joke but I mean why not?) I went for tacos, a hike, and to a folk music festival with my kids. Bob and I drove to Oklahoma to visit my Mom and sister. I got to stop over at Bonny’s on the way there. I went to a yarn shop in Oklahoma City with a yarn-bombed bicycle in the window and — yes — bought yarn with birthday money. I even finished knitting a project!
I am keeping up with my Celtic Mists mystery knitalong. The designer makes the clues short and sweet! While I love alpaca’s softness and drape, I normally prefer wool for elasticity. But the way this yarn is spun keeps it springy. I love working with it!
This week I planted my veggies and herbs in the garden. It’s a little early, but don’t worry. I have back ups. If those in the garden do well, I may put the extras on a table at the end of the driveway with a “free plants” sign.
The greens are doing well in the greenhouse. Bob has used mustard from the garden in a batch of kimchi. The mustard is already flowering, so I need to pull it up before it goes to seed and takes over the world.
Something has been chomping my pea stalks, which is discouraging. Last night we tried rags soaked in ammonia hanging in the garden as a deterrent. It may have worked, since there was no damage this morning. Only time will tell. I haven’t seen a single frog. I haven’t seen many slugs, either.
We’re hoping an abundance of apples this year will keep the critters away from the garden. Bob saw a fox kit on the porch this morning. I am encouraging foxes, and hawks, too. Please, come eat our menagerie of wildlife and stay away from the neighbors’ chickens. Just don’t do it when I’m watching. (Hey, predators gotta eat.) Either that, or I’ll end up like my Grandma standing in the garden in the middle of the night in my nightgown with a pistol, shooting at raccoons. (Just kidding. We don’t have a gun.)
Other than sewing three new Tekura Tees, I’ve been knitting Freya’s purple Lodge Sweater. I’m nearing the end of the first sleeve. I also started the Celtic Mists MKAL, but not much to show yet. Why yes, I did join another mystery knitalong. I think this one is more in my wheelhouse.
Oh! And I’m entering three items into the Ohio State Fair: Arrowhead, Ocean Moon, and A Lonely Heart is a Hunter. I’ve never entered anything in the Creative Arts division before, only Fine Arts, where I won some awards and sold all my pieces in 2009. That was an exciting year.
The Tekura Tee is my go to top in warm weather. So I decided to make a few more! I can get one from a yard of fabric, so I grabbed the two prints on the left in organic cotton knit when Spoonflower was having a sale. The white interlock on the right is from my stash.
If you look closely at the blue print, you will see an elusive character. 👀
Bob and I used to struggle with gluten-free waffles, especially if we were trying to make them vegan. This sourdough starter recipe with eggs is a keeper though. I’ve made them a few times, and it is my own recipe based on decades of waffle making experience.
3 cups gluten-free blend flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sourdough starter discard
1 1/4 cups oat milk
Blend the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Add the wet ingredients and mix until it is the consistency of cake batter. Heat the waffle iron and brush with canola oil before adding the batter. Cook until golden brown, using your waffle iron manufacturer’s directions.
I use a Belgian waffle maker and scoop 1 cup of batter for each waffle. That means I only get five waffles per recipe, but they are big, so Bob and I share one. We like them with butter, maple syrup, soy yogurt, and fresh blueberries. I add chocolate chips for Freya’s and freeze them so she has a quick breakfast ready on school days.
I also like a waffle for lunch topped with chicken sautéed with onions and celery in a chicken broth gravy, kind of like a pot pie on top of a waffle.
I post these recipes here for my own use. Someday I will print my recipes into a booklet. Maybe I’ll self-publish it, for myself.
Yesterday I sewed my second pair of Ottobre’s Casual Cotton Pants pattern in some stretch navy twill fabric from deep stash. These fit better than the last pair, but if I decide to sew them again, I will cut a smaller size. This is size 48, but probably sized 46 or even 44 after sewing, as I did not include a seam allowance and sewed with a 1/2” seam allowance.
They are super comfy. I love the high waist. I’ll think about sewing a pair in denim, but not anytime soon. I think this could be my favorite pants pattern, if I can nail the sizing. Pattern is from Ottobre Woman Autumn Winter 5/2021. This issue also has a great trench coat pattern I want to sew.