Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day tribute to Grandpa Fancey

Omer James Fancey

3 August 1903 - 25 August 1967

I remember his lace-up boots with the hooks at the ankles. I remember his dark ruddy complexion from the sun. I remember lying on my grandpa's lap and him blowing fragrant smoke into my ear as a remedy for my ear aches. I remember him giving me those round red and white peppermint candies for my stomach aches. I remember curling up against him when I slept. I remember his kindness. He died on Sunday, August 25, 1967. He was 64. I was 11. The sun was shining and it was in the low 70s. A beautiful day. I remember my mother walking in the door weeping.

His death was expected and may have been a blessing; I was too little to understand. He had been in and out of the hospital for a while for his emphysema. Having worked in the brass factory during the war; his lungs were riddled with tiny holes from breathing metal sparks.

I am blessed that I knew him and have a memory of him. Some people are not as lucky.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pasta with Dehydrated Tomatoes and Garlic

The thermometer hovered in the high 80s with heavy humidity. It reminded me of being in Managua. I wanted to make some summery tomato basil pasta sauce, but didn't have the ingredients without going to the store and I was too lazy. Sissy pulled her head out of the freezer and saying, "I have some dehydrated tomatoes from last year." What the heck, I thought, let's give it a whirl.

1 quart bag of dehydrated Roma tomatoes. Cover with water and let sit overnight. Simmer for 20 minutes and mash. I added a small can of tomato paste to thicken it a little. (I think 1/2 a can would be better, since I ended up adding water at the end.) I added 2 glugs of olive oil, salt and pepper. While it was simmering away, I threw some dehydrated garlic slices from last year's bounty into a cup with water and popped it in the microwave for 2 minutes. I let it sit to soften then chopped it. I threw it in with a cup of basil leaves fresh from the garden. Simmer to combine the flavors. Serve over pasta of choice. We used basil garlic fettucine, Sissy had hanging around. Simple, easy, delish. You can, of course, use all fresh or canned ingredients. I normally use 1 of those big cans of whole tomatoes.

To dehyrated tomatoes:

Use Romas, slice into 4 half-inch rounds (any thinner and it turns into a fruit (veggie) roll-up and you can't get it off the rack. Just saying.)

Lay them on the racks in a single layer, not touching

Put them in the dehydrator for 24 hours. They have to be stored in the freezer.

To dehydrate garlic:

Slice in 1/8 -1/4 inch pieces

You should do the garlic by itself because the strong aroma may taint the flavor of other vegetables. It also needs to be kept in the freezer.

Set the dehydrator for 135 degrees and walk away. Do not keep checking it. Watch dehydrator never dries. Sorta like the watch pot.

Sissy uses a Nesco American Harvest dehydrator. She likes it because it has a fan on the top and a thermometer. And it's reasonably priced.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Picking Currents

"Come, help me pick." I looked up and she handed me a bowl. Off to the garden we went to stoop and peer under leaves, delicately plucking tiny scarlet berries. I love current jelly and my sister is growing them with the hope of one day having enough to make some. It takes 7 quarts to make one batch, so, this is going to take years, even though she now has 3 bushes. She picks them a bowl at a time, washes and freezes them. I have fond memories of picking currents and gooseberries at my aunt's place. She sold out years ago, I hope the new owners didn't pull those old bushes out.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Dragonfly Summer

A walk with friends along a path strewn with yellow vetch and spotted with daisies reveled not a morning resonate with bird song but one resplendant with flashes of richly jeweled dragonflies. One of my new favorites is the Ebony Jewelwing.

Widow Skimmer

Ruby Meadowhawk

Common Pondhawk (female)

Spangled Skimmer

Ebony Jewelwing

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Summer Treat

While pawing through the freezer looking for something to make for dinner, I found a gallon bag of chunked rhubarb from last summer. With no thought other than this needs to be used, I tossed it into the sink to thaw. This morning I dumped the rhubarb and its liquid into a pot with some water and a couple of big pinches of sugar and stewed it until it was thick and sweet tart.

There is nothing better over ice cream.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Warwick Garden Tour

For me, one of the highlights of June is the Warwick Valley Countryside Garden Tour. I have been going for years and in fact many of the plants in my garden; I first discovered growing in someone else's, during one of the tours. The route is self-guided and at your own pace. When I bought my ticket ($15) I was given a yellow flower sticker to wear and a tour booklet with information on each garden and explicit directions from one house to the next. At each turn along the way, there are yellow flower arrows clearly pointing the way.

This year there were 8 houses on the tour. Starting with the lovely garden in the picture, I wandered through a front yard transformed into a putting course, a wood nymph's playground outside of the community of Amity, 4 petite gardens on one block, including a white garden (the first one I had ever seen) and I ended in Greenwood Lake, NY at the most incredible lakeside property I have ever been on. Gardening in a microclimate is tough, whether on top of a mountain or lakeside. They have done an amazing job; around each curve there were surprises.

I did not find anything new that I HAD to run out and buy, but I did get lots of ideas on how to deal with the rocks. AND a yen to have my garden on one of the tours, maybe even next year.