Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Fatty Tomato Jr.

Hey Mary and Jeni,
I was going to link this post to your post about Fatty Tomato Sr.
But I can't find it.     Here it is. 
The proud gardener.
This year we have 6 tomato plants in the garden. Jim's Early Girl is a non-starter for some reason. Maybe we have had too much rain.  But a new tomato for me, called Pruden's Purple, is causing shock and awe in the garden.  One point five pounds of tomato goodness!
The first tomato in the garden.
The garden is rather full this year.  Rain every three days will do that for a garden.  Now, in late July, we have only watered twice.  We might need to water again on Friday.  Wow, three times this summer!
The garden on July 29. 2014
So anyway Fatty Tomato Jr. was looking so big, fat, juicy and tempting that I was afraid he was going to be plundered by some lawless animal.  I worried over him for two days and then I brought him in yesterday thinking he could ripen on the kitchen counter.  After only one day on the counter he was sacrificed for the first ripe garden tomato sandwich of 2014.
The first sandwich.
My friend Beth Davies taught me her version of the tomato sandwich many years ago and it is still my favorite.  A ripe garden tomato, real Mayo and white bread.  This bread was Sicilian Bread from the Turtle bakery which is covered with sesame seeds.  YUM.  I added fresh lettuce from the garden because I could. I know, I know, white bread! It is a failing of mine.  I have tried to prefer wheat but it just doesn't do it for me and I will NOT apologize! 

After my lunch with big fat slices of tomato (almost 3/4 of an inch thick) in the (noB) LT sandwich we still had enough so we could both have our first BLT's of the season for supper.  And there is a glass jar in the fridge with about a cup of diced tomato in it for tomorrow's breakfast or dinner.  

Mission accomplished for this year.   Heh.  

Maybe next I will talk about the Roma II beans I have blanched and frozen for later.  


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Harmonic Convergence

The class project.
The proud teacher and the smart student.
This is Lindsey's first Harmonic Convergence quilt.  Most of the work was done at Faye's Henhouse.   We got it spray basted on the back deck last night in a rush because rain was forecast. Now all she has to do it quilt it.   Oh, and bind it.


Monday, June 2, 2014

Gardening and Birding Spring 2014

Dear Jeni and Mary,
A nice sunset in May.
Jim and I have been working hard in the garden.  This is what we came home to in late April. The two raised beds were the only fairly clean spots. I always leave the trash in the garden because the birds can use it for food and shelter during the winter.
Garden on May 2nd 2014.
In the spring I love to watch the Orioles stripping the milkweed stalks for nesting materials.  Only milkweed as far as I can tell.  Luckily I usually have plenty of milkweed.
A female Baltimore Oriole with some of Alice M. Johnson's fur.
I also keep a stash of milkweed silk and cat fur for nesting material.  It is very popular.  This year I added a package of nesting cotton bought from Fleet farm on the recommendation of birder and photographer Sharon Watson.  
Could be an Eastern Wood-Pewee or a Least Flycatcher.
The tail is notched so I am leaning towards the Pewee.
She took the nesting cotton.
One morning as I was looking out of the upstairs window 'with a view' I saw 4 different birds getting nesting material.  The Oriole wanted milkweed floss,  The Yellow Warbler wanted the cotton.  The Catbird took the fur from Alice M. Johnson and the Robin seemed to prefer small sticks.  The garden provided quite a few of those.

My plan this spring was to add two more raised beds.  It was hard to decide where as the west side of the garden does get afternoon shade from the huge boxelder tree.  So only one bed is on the west side and it is hopefully far enough north to stop it being shaded too much.
The raised beds in place with mounds of dirt beside them.
Taken late one evening.
Our neighbor Joel Brandsted came over one day and helped Jim move the beds, from the quonset where we assembled them, to the garden.  I couldn't lift them.  The beds are 4 feet wide and 8 feet long and 14 inches tall and that lumber is heavy!  One 2x6 and one 2x8 tall on the sides.
Starting to put the dirt in the east bed.
We strain it through hardware cloth to remove the quack grass.
The east bed is finished and we are ready to work on the west one.
We finished up both beds on the same day.  Whew!

This is the way the garden looks today...

Garden 6/2/14

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Weekend Update for May 16-18, 2014

This is your weekend update for May 16th-18th (sorry, no pictures YET):

On this weekend in history: Maggie Drew was born on May 17th in 1919.  


Tomorrow at the Library I am wearing the Curious George costume for the 10:30 a.m. storytime.  It is a hot heavy costume and I don't know why I volunteered to do it.  Plus, I'll dress up again on Saturday to visit the Storytime at the farmer's market.  Since I have to walk a few blocks to get there, Christy has volunteered to steer me around.  George is supposed to wander through the market for about 20 minutes before ending up at Storytime.

Visitors to Missoula:

Katie Blankenship and her Mom, Laura, are arriving in town Friday night because Katie is on an elite soccer team that is playing two games in Missoula on Saturday.  They'll stay in my extra bedroom.  it's a bummer that Curious George has to be at the market during Katie's first game, but we'll get to see the second game in the afternoon.

Gardening news:

I now have a garden plot at the Corso Community Gardens. It is plot # lucky 13 - at least that is what I am calling it.  However, it's pretty big (15' x 15') considering that I have no starts and that planting will begin a little late since Garden City Harvest (the nonprofit that sponsors the gardens) doesn't have the soil ready yet at this brand new garden.  So - calling all Missoula relatives & friends: if you want to grow something in particular that you can't at your own house, consider buying a start and I'll plant it in my plot and tend it.  At the end we can share the fruits of your pocketbook and my labor.  And that way if we get an eggplant and lots of eggplants grow, you won't have to eat them all in one weekend because I'll help!  Hey - and if you feel like coming and hanging out in my garden and watering stuff or pulling a weed or two - you're welcome to do so!

Inquiring Minds want to know: what was Jonny's experience in Calgary working on a television show like?  Please tell us some stories!

Signing off,
Your Correspondent from Montana,
Mary Drew Powers

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Quilted runner class at the Linden Tree

Hey there Sisters,

This is a Quilt as you go style runner I taught in a class at The Linden Tree.  It is a simple design and we were able to customize it as to size so it would fit the space she had in mind for it.  If I remember correctly this is about 16" x 30"

Quilt as you go runner using Joel Dewberry fabrics.  Photo by Judy Peterson.
 We had a little fun making sure the birds were right side up and not cut in two in any of the strips.

Closeup with matching bowl. Photo by Judy Peterson.
This was a two hour class with homework and we met twice to give her time for sewing between learning the techniques.  It is always interesting for first time quilters to meet the scant 1/4 inch seam.

Thank you Judy for sending me pictures of the finished item


Monday, April 7, 2014

Singer Model 66 with Lotus decals

Model 66 with Lotus decals, commissioned March 27, 1906
Yes, I went to an estate sale this weekend.  It had a sewing machine cabinet just like the one I bought 40 years ago for my Bernina 831.  I was curious what was in it.  I went on the second day and the cabinet was gone so I never found out what was in it, but I did find this in the basement.

Faceplate in 'before' condition.
Luckily I had requested my husbands attendance and so I had someone there for heavy lifting.   Jeni's rules are go the last day and there was one more day left but I was fighting a cold and just said I will pay the (63.25) price and the heck with it. At least it was 25% off the 80.00 they were asking.

Metalwork in 'after' condition. 
Serial number H306605
From the back.  I am thinking I will remove the motor and make this a handcrank.
There is a handcrank in the future for this machine.  I think it will be nice looking although the decals in the front where the fabric slides over the metal are well worn.  The rest of the decals are very good for 108 years old.
Side mounting feet, not the back mounting ones usual for a 66
Included with the machine was a Singer cardboard box, in good condition, with a nice assortment of attachments, two packages of needles (11 and 14)  and a personal note from the original owner.

In threading bobbin run thread across (drawing)
Always cut bias tape at an angle before starting.
Always put self binding through large opening
Loosen large screw for small stitch.
Words of advice are always appreciated.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Howdy, Sisters! 
It's a good day to stay inside, drink chamomile tea, and cook something since it's 13 degrees F., with a cold gusty north wind rattling the wind chimes and making it feel like minus 5.  I'm roasting potatoes, thawing chicken broth in preparation for making soup, and thinking about granola.

Caribou Coffee cup courtesy of E; tea infuser courtesy of J. Dawson.
I gave granola for Christmas and received two requests for the recipe.  It's a pretty common request, because the granola is, as one of my friends put it, "KICK ASS."  
It's only "my" recipe because I've changed it so much.  When looking for a hard copy, I found five versions.
The original recipe is courtesy of Linda Simmons, someone I have never met.  She was a girlfriend of Jim Blankenship, and the original given to him was handwritten on a piece of 5" by 8" note paper.  Besides her granola recipe, Linda Simmons is famous in my mind for having a monkey that she would flick on the nose with her finger when it was acting up - or so I've been told.  Anyway, I had custody of the original for many years when Jim asked for the recipe back.  He was incredulous that I still had the 30+ year-old original. 

Anyway - the recipe:
5 c. rolled oats
1.5 c. shredded dried coconut
1 c. wheat germ
1 c. chopped nuts
1 c. sunflower seeds
0.5 c. sesame seeds
0.5 c. bran

.25 c. oil
.75 c. honey
1-2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt

COMBINE honey-oil mixture with dry ingredients; mix well.
BAKE on oiled cookie sheet at 350 degrees, stirring often.
ADD 1 c. raisins when cool.

CAUTION: let the granola cool before storing it.  If it doesn't cool enough before being shut into a container, it won't be crisp.  Soggy granola sucks.  And don't put in those sulfured dried apricots - they also make the granola soggy, even if it was crisp when you added them.

Okay - now here's what I really do: 
1. Skip the wheat germ and bran.  It adds too many tiny parts without adding that much flavor or nutrition (to my mind), and makes it messy when I'm grabbing it to put into my mouth (yes, I'm a slob who eats over my computer - tough beans). Instead of that 1.5 cups of germ and bran, I add 1.5 cups of other nuts or seeds - always pumpkin seeds and then whatever else is on hand.

2. I quit oiling the cookie sheet decades ago.

3. Guess what - 1/2 cup of honey works instead of 3/4, so cut down on the sugar (and the price - honey is expensive!)
4.  You can change almost anything about this recipe and it's still fabulous.  Try any flaked grain instead of rolled oats, for instance.  Vanilla?  Try almond extract instead.  You can add probably 2 cups more of nuts and still not have to increase the amount of the honey-oil mix.  Note that the higher ratio of nuts adds to the fat and calories.  And since I'm not a raisin fan, my version always has dried cranberries instead.  The granola I handed out this Christmas used 3/4 cup of maple syrup because I didn't have honey, and I skipped the coconut and added dried papaya. I'm sure everyone will figure out their own favorite way to make this granola - and it will be incredible!
Cheers and love from Montana,
 - Mary