Monday, June 29, 2015

Food Talk--Chicken Parmesan and Togetherness

Inspired by Ward's sister, Ward and I are tying to be more conscious about ETHOOLing. One way we want to do this is to spend more time together. We've come up with several different things we want to do and one of them is cooking. To begin with, we decided that we will cook together at least one meal every week and hopefully turn cooking from a chore into a fun time.

To start the process, I brought an interesting cookbook home from the library, Sheet Pan Suppers by Molly Gilbert. The book basically puts together meals that are baked on a sheet pan. Ward picked out the first dish from there that we were going to make--Chicken Parmesan. As luck would have it, Theo was visiting for the afternoon and joined us.

After reading through the ingredients and instructions, we all went to the kitchen to start the fun. Ward set to work preparing the chicken and Theo began preparing the dipping and dregging mixtures for it. I pitched in here and there where needed. When we were about done coating the chicken, Theo had an idea. He said that we should put the left over coatings on some of the zucchini in the fridge and it would be like Eggplant Parmesan. Great idea, especially coming from one of the carnivores. And before you knew it, we were sitting down to a hearty meal of chicken and zucchini parmesan served with steamed broccoli and a salad.

So how did it all turn out? The food was very good--especially the Zucchini Parmesan. Something to remember as we are about to enter the overflowing zucchini season. We worked well together and enjoyed eating together when it was all done.

Were we able to turn a chore into something fun? Well, we're not quite there yet, but we were able to make a chore more pleasant. Also, Ward and I and Theo got to spend time together. That part was great. And when it really gets down to it, we can't ask for anything more.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Thankful Sunday--June 28, 2015

I am thankful for rain.

In some places, there has been no rain. In other places, when it rained, it poured. But here yesterday, I found the rain just right. 

In the morning we had a steady, warm rain and I decided it was perfect time to wash the lawn chairs. So with my water shoes, a raincoat, and a hose, I washed away. And when it was all over, I was wet and smiling. It was like being a kid again and playing in the rain. And this time, I got to make some of my own puddles. :)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Food talk--strawberries

One of the great things about this time of year is getting fresh produce from local gardens (or out of the backyard). And we had another one of those treats a few days ago. Aunt Martha and Uncle Billy invited me over to pick the last of the berries from their strawberry patch. So early one morning before the thermometer climbed into the 90's, I went. Aunt Martha and I picked a quart or so of the remaining strawberries not counting the ones we ate or fed to the dog while picking. They were delicious--sweet, juicy, and gently warmed by the sun. I usually think of eating strawberries cold, but the ones off the vine that morning were perfect. We have now finished the strawberries and I'm a little sad. But the blueberries will be here soon enough.

Aunt Martha was already picking when I got there. Dog was eagerly awaiting anything that might be tossed outside the fence for him. BTW, after a few years, the fence is still keeping the deer out even though they could jump over it if they wanted.

The end-of-the-season strawberries were small, but sweeter than ever.

Even though there weren't that many, my fingers are still stained from cleaning these.

Besides eating them by the handful, we enjoyed the strawberries on our cereal every morning.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Second Look--June 24, 2015

The weather has been very hot and humid recently with a thunderstorm every afternoon/evening. I feel like I'm living back in New Orleans where we had months of this kind of weather. Actually since I started to write this post, it has began to storm and the electricity has bumped off twice. Let's hope it remains on.

When I took a walk around the yard this morning, I found that the deer had been enjoying themselves. In one bed, every single coneflower bud had been eaten and in another every hosta bud was gone. Add eaten day lilies and black-eyed-susan and I started to wonder if I would have anything to take pictures of except stems. However, they did leave a few things here and there. I think I appreciate the blooms I do find even more because of this.

It is definitely mating season in the bird world as I usually see pairs of birds together visiting the feeder. The bluebird nest has two eggs in it with probably more to come. The new wren's nest looks complete, but there are no eggs in it yet. Those wren's are tricky with their decoy nests, so we'll see what happens.

Here are a few things I saw this week 
during a Second Look.

Coreopsis. This is one of the few things the deer have left alone in our yard. I don't know if they don't like it or they like the day lilies and coneflowers next to it better. Okay. I just looked up coreopsis to see if it is supposed to be deer resistant and it is. However, coneflowers were listed right along with it as being deer resistant. That has been far from my experience. They seem to love them at my house.

Day lily

Geranium, "Rozanne" 

Day lily

Lamb's ear

Assassin bug--nymph (l), adult (r)
I had no idea that the spider looking bug I saw yesterday on the astilbe was really the nymph form of the insect I saw last fall. Apparently, their bite (both forms) can be quite painful. I'm glad I didn't try to handle it, but I did watch it for awhile as it used it's feelers to navigate almost like it was blind.

Balloon flower

Cardinal and house finch

Pollen covered bee in day lily

Bluebird eggs


Monday, June 22, 2015

A Trip to the Recycling Center

We are fortunate to have a good recycling center in our county along with curbside pickup. We have once a week pickup for glass, metal, plastic, paper, and yard waste. However, sometimes we have too much for pickup and we make a trip to the center itself. This is usually for yard waste and that's what we did past Saturday. Every time I go, I am amazed by the scale of the operation and this time was no exception. Below are a few pictures.

Thursday night, we had a bad thunderstorm complete with hail.

Friday when I was out weeding another bed, I noticed a very large tree limb in the neighbors yard that had come from one of our trees during the storm. We borrowed Uncle Billy's truck, and then Ward and I cut up the limb and loaded it into the truck to take to the recycling center.

The center is quite large, but there were good signs to help us find the section we needed.

In the yard waste area, they have different piles depending on what kind of waste you have. One of the employees directed us to the branch pile where we unloaded the truck.

After we unloaded, Ward decided that he wanted to watch some of the big machinery at work.

A bulldozer was loading an extra large chipper. Notice the large pile of chipped material behind the bulldozer and in the picture above.

The mulch is then available for anyone to take and use.