Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Favorite Summer Recipe!

Whew! It's been a wild few days for many reasons, but the main one: we made a weekend trip out to Kansas to attend Jennifer's cousin's wedding - leaving Friday night and arriving home Sunday night with most of the time spent driving to and from. The event provided some nice family time, which we enjoyed. Pictured below is Jennifer's Grandma Eileen, mom - Linda & sister - Lori.

We always pack lots of road food in our plug-in cooler for these trips. We find we can travel most trips like this and spend very little on food and enjoy quality vegetarian fare, which is MUCH easier to find in our cooler than along the interstates of the United States. One of our newly discovered favorite summer foods we took on our trip is from The Moosewood Restaurant: Cooking for Health cookbook. This recipe is so easy and so flavorful. Give it a try with all your homegrown basil! Yum!

Pepita & Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil or extra-virgin olive oil
2 packed cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
1/4 tsp salt
dash of black pepper

1. In a small sauce pan, bring to boil the sun-dried tomatoes covered with water and then set aside until softened, about 5 minutes. Drain and chop. (We didn't do this because our sun-dried tomatoes were really soft.)

2. In a food processor (or blender), whirl the pumpkin seeds, garlic, oil, basil, fresh tomatoes, salt, pepper, and softened sun-dried tomatoes until smooth.

Great as a dip or spread or topping or flavoring! Use your imagination!

Finally, for those of you interested in our last post's viburnum identification, a reader commented and let us know it's most likely Viburnum recognitum. Thanks George!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Mid-Summer Life & Observations

We are busy and summer is flying by so this blog post is a mishmash of some of what we've been up to and observed over the last week. Steve spent some time at Brown's Lake Bog, one of the properties he is assuming responsibility for as steward, and spotted this orange fungus on a downed cherry tree. We're not sure on this id, but love the color.

We ordered 20 lbs of tart cherries from Michigan through a local farm to take advantage of summer's bounty and canned some for jam and froze the rest for now. We can never have too many tart cherries. Look at those beautiful preserves!

Cicadas are emerging, singing, mating and being consumed as evidenced in the photo below. This little guy met his demise most likely in the beak of a bird, but is now living in the higher energy level of his predator. Both wings and six legs pictured - pretty cool.

The garden is faring pretty well though it took quite a pummeling last night with an intense thunderstorm we experienced. I found Steve's Red Seneca corn lying flat on the ground this morning with many other plants, but this afternoon I will work to support the plants I didn't work on earlier. The zinnia colors are even better than before. Bees and butterflies are loving the blooms...

Bees are also loving the corn blossoms. As I tied the unbroken corn up this morning, the bees were on it immediately. I believe this is a female carpenter bee.

Meet our friendly visitor...a young robin. This little bird, as well as a mated pair of cardinals, call our backyard home most of the time.

This juvenile robin's coolness entitles him a place on our blog, but his antics push him over the top. Check out his poses...

Yep, quite the norm for this little guy. He sits this way for minutes, sometimes upwards of 10 minutes, on end. Any thoughts??

Visitors...Jennifer's sister and family visited and we enjoyed all sorts of fun adventures...walking, cooking, antiquing, crafting and here passing along the knitting tradition. Whitney is learning to knit and is proving to be a super fast learner!

And finally, more nature observations. While enroute to some appointments out of town this weekend, we stopped and took a hike (we always have to fit that in!) and noticed this fruiting shrub intermixed with some blackberries. Many of the ripe blackberries ended up in our mouths while we looked closer at this shrub. The leaves are opposite so we're thinking some sort of viburnum or related species. We would appreciate your thoughts!

A native pasture rose...look at those beautiful blooms.

Interested in gardening for wildlife or wondering about your lawn? Check out this really great write up and pass it along.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Color, Color, Color!

Here's a collection of photos of the things inspiring us lately....color, texture, creativity, nature; it's all one for us.

Old door inspiring a new jelly cupboard by Steve...



Yarn stash ...

Jennifer's first granny squares...

Jennifer's weaving....

New soap colored with annatto seeds and scented with bergamot, clary sage and geranium....

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Flowers and insects

We always plant flowers amongst our garden to help attract pollinators and just this week the zinnias opened.  OOOO - we love them!  The flowers are so colorful and cheerful.  See for yourself:

The garden looks more inviting to us with color too.  There are two large rows of marigolds that will open soon and we let a Queen Anne's Lace grow for the black swallowtail caterpillars.  The calendula and sunflowers are getting very close to flowering too.

We are definitely dealing with more garden pests here than anywhere we've gardened together in the past.  Our winter squash is completely infested with squash borers, but we are just letting the plant grow for now.  (We've cut borers out in the past only to lose the plant anyways, so we are just letting nature go.) The flowers are still attracting many bees that will hopefully visit our other plants too.  We learned butternut squash is not a favorite of the squash borer moth (which is so beautiful!) so we might just stick to that in the future.  Our zucchini also attracted the borer moth; it is suffering, but still producing so we planted more seeds that germinated in ONE day.  Wow - it's certainly warm.

While working in the garden we discovered this little caterpillar turning into a cocoon:

We're not sure what type of moth this fella will become, but know it is going to spend some time in the soil until emergence time.  We moved him to a foot free location.

I (Jennifer) also discovered this fantastic Nais Tiger Moth in our straw bale this morning.  I had just enough time to take a picture before the moth crawled hurriedly into the deeper recesses of the bale.  Gardening is so fantastic!  We're such fans of all this wildlife!