Sunday, October 30, 2005


Using field guides, I was able to figure out that this weed, growing so abundantly in our garden, is galinsoga. It's also known as quickweed, gallant soldier and guascas. It's native to Central and South America.

I found out that it's edible, and I also discovered, through a little web research, that it is a very important part of a special Columbian soup called Ajiaco. Maybe I'll try to make it.

A google search turns up a mix of information about this plant. Homesick Colombians and American foodies are seeking this "guascas" to make the soup properly, while farmers are trying to get rid of it, seeing it as a pesty weed!

I cooked it up as part of tonight's dinner. I boiled it for 20 minutes and put some butter and vinegar on it. It was very tasty. How many times have we pulled this plant out and thrown it in the compost heap, not knowing it was food? But it patiently grows back. I'm glad I now know it as a friend.

Any recipes for green tomatos?

We have 3 bowls full like this. Any suggestions? Posted by Picasa

poke berries

These are poisonous, BTW. Posted by Picasa


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fall creek2

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This one came with a washed out yellow light that I thought was kind of cool

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fall creek1

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Mushrooms by the woodpile

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Mums and rose leaves

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Honeybees on Oct 30th.

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We still have roses!

There are still roses, parsley, green beans (although we let them get too big and tough), celery, kale, a few carrots, lavender, mums... it's such a weird fall. Very warm for the end of October. Posted by Picasa

What a beautiful day it was today!

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Can you see the lettuce peeking out from under the dead leaves?

Some volunteer lettuce. Posted by Picasa

I have no idea how to use the digital camera!

This pic, taken at the same time as the one below it, came out so differently. I randomly play with the settings on Dave's camera as I actually have no idea how they work. I think it's interesting how the lighting came out so differently. If anyone knows how I did this, let me know, ok?
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These jalapenos are the first ones I've ever had ripen till they turned red. They are getting a little dried out now, they've been sitting in this bowl for a few weeks. None are moldy so I think they are still fine. I want to make Lousiana hotsauce out of them if I ever get around to it. Posted by Picasa


We like to make this applesauce in the fall. Posted by Picasa

Here's how we do it.

Put a canning pot full of water on the stove and add 5 empty pint canning jars. Put the lids and rings in a seperate smaller pot of water but don't heat it yet.

Peel, core and chop 1 peck of apples.

It works best if the apples are crisp, tart and sour. You have to add more sugar, but the end result is better. Our tree produces rather tart apples of some unknown variety. I think they may be cortlands.

This year, our apple tree didn't produce any apples, and the ones I bought at the farm stand were a little mealy and overripe. So, I added the juice of 2 lemons and a few dashes of cider vinegar. I added only a teaspoon of sugar or so. If the apples were tart I might have added up to 1/2 a cup.

I put 1/2 the apples into a pot and cooked them over a medium heat. If they aren't juicy enough, add a little water.

As they cook down (and this is variable too, sometimes they cook down fast and sometimes it seems to take forever. This time they cooked down pretty fast) mash them with a potato masher. When they are a pulp, add the other half of the chopped apples. Let that cook down too, and mash it as well. There should be some little lumps of apple in the pulp.

Some years I leave the apples almost all in chunks (like apple pie filling) sometimes it's more of a sauce. This year it's more saucey. Again, it depends on the apples. Mealy apples are better this way, crisp apples are better in chunks. I have fears that the chunky apples could leave air bubbles in between the fruit, causing it to spoil, so I add more water when I do it that way, and more sugar too. This year I didn't have to worry about it.

Spices: I put in a mix, which also changes from year to year. It tends to be mostly cinnamon, but I also add nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cardamom, salt, a tiny pinch of cayenne pepper, all kinds of things... BUT, the trick is, not to overdo the spices. I have an empty jar labled "apple pie spice" and I add the mix of spices to the jar, put the lid on and shake. Then I put it into the sauce a pinch at a time, tasting it all the while. I want the spices to just make the apples taste a little more "appley", but not to take over. I think I put in about 1/2 teaspoon all together this time. Maybe even less. Sometimes I get all carried away and put in too much spice but this time I was careful, and I like the result better.

By now your canning pot should be boiling. If not, wait till it is. The water should almost fill the pot, BTW. In the smaller pot, heat the lids and rings but don't boil them.

Spoon hot sauce into the jars (I use a sterilized funnel to make it easier) and wipe the edges of the jars with a clean, damp napkin. Put on the lids and rings. Lower the jars into canning bath, put the lid on the canning pot and set the timer for 20 minutes.

When the bell rings, take the jars out with tongs and set them on a clean dishcloth on the counter overnight. Don't tighten the lids. Don't turnt he jars over. Just let them sit there and admire them. When you wake up the next day, put them in the basement. When it's spring and you're dying for a nice apple but there aren't any left that really taste like apples, take the jar out and open it. You will be happy.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Rasta sheep

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Yes Sir, Yes Sir, Three Bags Full...

As a knitter, (and most knitters can relate to this) I am obsessed with yarn. I love to feel it, smell it, look at it and adore it. I have trunks and closets full of wool yarn and I just want more and more. My favorite kind of yarn is that made by local sheep farmers who spin and dye their own wool. Therefore, better than Christmas for me is the day I visit the yearly New York State Sheep and Wool Festival. And guess what? That day was yesterday!

Now, another thing that adds to my anticipation and love of this event is that, traditionally, I attend it with one of my favorite people: my best pal Joanna, (who taught me to knit and who also loves yarn). Joanna lives in Manhattan and I live Upstate, so the Sheep and Wool Festival (which takes place in Rhinebeck) is a half way point for us.

Traditionally, we meet at the Poughkeepsie Train Station and traditionally, I am late. This time I brought a thermos of (still hot) Earl Grey (J's fav) tea with me to pacify her and I think it worked.

We get to hang out all day talking about and enjoy sheep, alpacas, goats, bunnies, border collies and most of all YARN. We get compare and love yarn from all over New York State and meet the people who make it.

There are people spinning, knitting, and wearing handknitted sweaters, scarves, hats and shawls. There is delicious locally grown lamb to eat (although Joanna is a vegetarian so she always gets a baked potato and steamed spinach with garlic instead). Joanna is also a little freaked out by the many sheepskin/shearling things for sale, but I happily bought some slippers that are amazingly soft and cozy. (We are both animal lovers, but my love of animals doesn't keep me from eating and wearing them, I guess!) There is yarn galore, of every type and color, and roving and fleeces for spinning. We compare, contrast, discuss, smell and touch, and also: BUY. We always spend more than we should.

This year we also got to see the sheepdog trials, which I always want to see but never seem to get to. It's so cool how the prey drive is so controlled in those border collies, they can chase the sheep in such a way as to get them to go where they want, but not frighten them too much and curb their natural instinct to bite them. Joanna and I agreed that border collies are the coolest dogs (well, except for my dog, Besty of course!). There were adorable border collie puppies for sale too but we had to resist them. We both know they would need more space, land, time and attention than we could give them.

One of the best things about the Sheep and Wool Festival is, we have a good excuse to hang out together ALL DAY doing something we both like to do without anyone to bother us or interrupt our happy knitting obsession. :-) We love our husbands, and I love my son, but it's so rare we get a chance to be "just us". This year we even stayed late and went to a delicious dinner afterwards at the Terrapin Restaurant.

I have tons of cool pictures, which I will try to post later this week.

I now have bags full of beautiful, sheepy smelling, handspun yarn. Better still, I have even more happy memories of a great day spent with my best buddy. I am a happy, happy woman.

Yeah, it's yarn. We love it.

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Angora yarn is soooooo divine. That's Joanna's lovely hand. :-)

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Llama puppets!

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Angora rabbit

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I want....

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Who could resist this face?

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