Sunday, June 28, 2009

But I Had Scheduled a Weekend of Utter Slothfulness!

Against all my principles and my better judgment, I worked outside this weekend. It started innocently: I just wanted to dump a few bags of mulch over the dead bermudagrass in the rose bed. Just to make things look tidier. It won't take a second...

But the new mulch was so much darker than the old mulch that one corner of the bed was black, while the rest was light brownish-grey. And thus one thing led to another, and I ended up buying 20 bags of mulch from our nursery-around-the-corner, Bloomers. So I spread a lot of mulch yesterday. And then today, I felt (grudgingly, unwillingly) morally obliged to help Matt out with the water on the 'Mutabilis' bed--my part of the effort took till around noon (his took till about 2:30). Among other things, I learned that I have no talent for trench-digging; mine meandered and veered all over the landscape, while Matt's cut from Point A to Point B with the precision worthy of a Roman civil engineer.

The whole thing was a massive pain, but we hope to see ecstatic, lush plant growth towering audaciously toward a harsh blue sky. And then it will have been worth it.

Some Blooms
In other news, our Mystery Pink Globes rose bloomed recently. The oddest little pink balls of flowers--unlike any other rose I know, yet also completely unidentifiable, so far. This is how they look at full bloom.

Mystery Pink Globes rose

Also, during one of my many trips to Bloomers this weekend, I happened to spot the same unknown plum-colored perennial that I bought at Finch's Farm a month or so ago. Its name is Angelonia, possibly 'Serena.' You know what's amazing about the Angelonia (and its buddies, the little leadworts)? They aren't dead, despite having been planted in May/June in our meanest flower bed. Good little Angelonia!

Our tough little Angelonia

Requiem for Four Pines
Finally, a refresher on why I hate drought:

Sad stumps of once-proud great big trees

This, of course, is not our house--it's an utterly adorable little bungalow "downtown" (i.e., two blocks away). Until last summer's drought, it had 5 massive, ~50-year-old pine trees in its front yard, of a stoutness that is pretty rare for pines in our area. Then four of the them succumbed to drought after surviving decades of scorching Texas summers. You can see the effect that the loss of those trees has had on the lawn, and you can imagine the effect it's had on their electric bills. It's drastically changed the feeling of that block of the street, as well, which went from a shady green tunnel to a bleak and exposed bit of desert. Hence our watering efforts. And hence the need to water even very established, adapted specimens in the midst of a really ghastly drought like this one. Do you have a tree that you take for granted, that's always been there, unobtrusively providing shade and cooling your yard? For the love of Mike, water it!

In the midst of prolonged dry spells (let alone a really vile drought like this one), I always think of the passage from Out of Africa, in which Isak Dinesen describes a drought that felt "as if the Universe were turning away from you...

Everything became drier and harder, and it was as if all force and gracefulness had withdrawn from the world. It was not bad weather or good weather, but the negation of all weather, as if it had been deferred sine die. A bleak wind, like a draught, ran over your head, all colour faded from all things; the smells went away from the fields and forests. This feeling of being in disgrace with the Great Powers pressed on you. To the South, the burnt plains lay black and waste, striped with grey and white ashes...
Our droughts are a little different from Kenya's, I think, but the sense of joylessness and blight--we know that all too well.

CSA: What Do I Do with All This... Zucchini, Chard, and Beets?
I made another attempt at CHARD, the vegetable that loathes me. This time, I boiled it with a little red wine vinegar, browned some butter and then browned a cup of leeks in the butter, and then stirred in the drained chard (A variation on this recipe). Matt, when pressed persistently, gave this one 3/4 of a star out of a possible 5 stars. But, he hastened to emphasize, it's way better than my last attempt at chard. Well. Progress is being made.

Also, I'm making some ice cream cookie sandwiches as a treat to my hard-working Spouse, and I folded in a cup of finely grated ZUCCHINI. These were double-chocolate Andes Mint cookies (mentholated and adapted from here), and the zucchini gave them an interestingly cakey texture. We'll see how they react to being frozen and slathered with mint chocolate chip ice cream and then frozen again.

And this evening, I'll make my BEET-and-beef meatloaf (a beet-ified version of this). I'll let you know how it goes.


Bob said...

I so apologize for not getting this to you sooner. It's probably too late this year but maybe next year. It is a good recipe though and friends start asking for jars of beets before they are even out of the ground. Here it is.

Cut off beet tops but leave 1" of root and stem.Wash well, cover wirh boing water and cook till tender. Try a small batch to make sure of your time so they stay crispy, like a good pickle. Remove from hot water and put into cold water. Skins will slip off if you work downward with your fingers. After skinning prepare syrup mixture.

For one gallon beets.
2 cups sugar
2 long cinnamon sticks
3 1/2 cups vinegar
1 tablespoon Allspice
1 tablespoon whole cloves
3 1/2 cups water

Put all ingredients in large stock pot except beets. Boil for ten minutes. Place beets into canning jars, whole or sliced. Pour the boiling liquid over the beets. Try to get at least two cloves in each jar. Put on lids and rings and put into boing water bath. You want at least 1 1/2" of water over jars. Boil for thirty minutes. Take out and let cool. This will do 8 to 10 pints or 4 quarts.

Again I apologise for being late with this and I love your blog, Bob

Bob said...

It appears that no matter how old you get you can still be a dork. I have left you a beet recipe that you did not ask for and now need to determine just who did. It's a great recipe though. Sorry to confuse you.

Elgin_house said...

Hi Bob--No worries--always happy to take a gander at a new recipe. Though yours may be a little hard core for veggie-skeptics like Matt and me. I think we'll need to work up to it over years of partially concealed beets in meatloaf, risotto, and (heck, why not?) muffins ;-) .

I really enjoy your blog, too, though I'm always a little shamed by the magnitude of what you've accomplished, veggie-wise, pond-wise, and rainwater-collection-wise!


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