Monday, July 30, 2012

thoughts on photography

I finally, after about eighty attempts, got a decent picture of a hummingbird and a butterfly in our garden.I just bought a telephoto lens, and have been having fun figuring out how to use it. The garden is full of beauty and inspiration right now, and actually getting these pictures felt like winning a prize. Have you ever tried to capture a hummingbird on film? You just focus in on them and they go buzzing away. Or, their little wings beat so very quickly that all of your pictures are blurry. Same goes for butterflies, but they seem to flit about with an effortless grace, as opposed to a hummingbirds nervous energy.

I always enjoy taking pictures. I have had no lessons (other than a free "learn to use you camera" class) and have no photo editing software. I am certainly not a professional, and am very grateful for digital photography which allows me to erase my many bad pictures.

One thing I have just come to realize is that sometimes I get so caught up in getting a good picture that I don't truly notice and enjoy the moment. This evening, a warm breeze was blowing, the garden was sweetly scented, my children begged me to run races with them, and the sun was shining golden on the Cascades- a truly lovely evening. I was so busy trying to catch a good picture of the hummingbird that I didn't really step back and enjoy the evening, or watch the humming birds play or just sit down and rest. Tomorrow evening, I think I will make a date with the garden, and leave my camera inside!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

summer vegetables

We are moving in to peak produce season, with zucchini, beans, cucumbers, carrots, beets, and a few tomatoes available. I don't can many vegetables, preferring them fresh from the garden. I do pickle some beets and can tomatoes, maybe freeze some corn, but that is about it. I have cookbooks full of recipes using fresh vegetables-salads, quiches, vegeterian burritos, and so on. However, no matter how good those recipes sounds, I have yet to make one. I have discovered that (in my humble opinion) fresh vegetable are best one of two ways: Sauteed lightly in browned butter, or roasted with olive oil, coarse salt, fresh pepper, and several sprigs of fresh thyme. So simple, and very delicious. Everything is better with browned butter on it! The past few weeks, I have been sauteeing a mixture of potatoes, beans, zucchini, and carrots, then adding tomatoes at the end. With grilled chicken and a salad, a loaf of freshly baked bread, and cherry buttermilk cake or fresh berries with honey creme anglaise, summer meals are tasty and inexpensive!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I am attempting a post from my iPad.. It is very easy to use, but I can't for the life of me get it to upload a picture! I will have to play with it some more when I have more patience! Around the farm not much has changed. Blueberries are in full swing, as are kotata blackberries. I have decided on Wednesday as my big jelly making day, and I am hoping to get through a whole year's worth in a day. We will see how that goes! This evening I took the three youngest farm children to visit my mother. She was charming as ever, and knew who we were, which is always a good sign. Her dementia has progressed a little more rapidly in the last few months, and so I am always grateful when she knows who we are. She loves to come and walk through the garden and pick blueberries, so I will try to bring her out this week. She has taken to doing imitations which amuse my girls to no end, her favorite being an angry dog. So, if you are on the farm this week and hear an angry dog, do not fear, it is likely my mother amusing my girls. I made a delicious cherry buttermilk cake yesterday, and we demolished it in moments. I will post the recipe soon, but I need to figure out where I found the recipe first so I can give credit where credit is due. The two youngest farm children sat in front of the new oven and watched the cake bake. they were mesmerized, and I can't blame them. I got a certain amount of joy from clicking on the oven light and seeing my lovely cake baking! Our old oven light ceased to work years ago, so my children have never gotten to watch things bake. Simple joys, right? Still no luck on the picture, so I will end my musings and figure out my menu plan for the upcoming week. I need to make sure we are eating a lot of the vegetables that are ripe in the garden now!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Color everywhere!

The garden is in almost full bloom. It is rich with color, and the sweet scent of lilies. The Gladiolas are not quite in bloom yet, and when they are, the garden will really be full of color!
The hummingbirds love the garden, and as I was taking pictures and wandering through the garden last night, they were buzzing and darting about like crazy. I still haven't captured a good picture of one, and finally decided to put my camera away and just enjoy watching them!
Crocosmia- These are about the funnest flowers ever!

I tried to have my coffee here this morning, but our unfriendly barn cat decided he loved me (or was it my scone?) and wouldn't stay off my lap. I have zero tolerance for cat hair in my coffee, especially at 6:30 on a Monday morning!
One last picture to round out our tour! The green stalks on the left are the Glads, in a week or so that area will be a mass of color! The garden is open to the public, and we love to have people wander through and enjoy it!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Preserving season!

 I always promise myself that I will keep the blog updated no matter how busy I become. After all, posting a picture and tapping out a few sentences can't be that time consuming, can they? However, some weeks, the items on my to do list are urgent and time sensitive, and so being online takes a back seat to more important things. Things like slicing crates of strawberries to dehydrate, making fruit leather and jam, and strawberry sauce to top pancakes and scones with in the winter.
 There is also the making of raspberry cordial. I made this for the first time last year, and it is so delicious (and easy) that this year I made twice as much. The cordial steeps for four months, and then is strained and bottled. Last year, I strained and the cordial in early November, on a very cold, rainy night. As I poured the cordial in to bottles, the wind was howling outside and rain was lashing at the windows. One sip of cordial though, and it was summer in my mouth! The raspberry flavor is really intensified, and we found ourselves drinking a small tumbler of cordial most evenings as we read by the fire.
 Raspberries, sugar, and vodka. That is all there is to it! I gently shake the jar every day or so for the first week, and then forget about it until November. The man who gave me the recipe for this says he gives this away as Christmas gifts, and I think I will follow suit this year!
All those strawberries on my dehydrator trays in the first picture, which were destined to top my oatmeal in the winter, ended up being ruined when a (very adorable, very beloved) toddler turned up the temperature on the dehydrator to 155. I always dehydrate at 105 or below to preserve nutrients, and so strawberry fruit leather and sliced berries usually take 24 hours to dehydrate completely. I checked them after 18 hours, and discovered I now had strawberry chips and strawberry glass. the children still loved the strawberry glass (which should have been fruit leather), so it is at least being eaten. However. I have no fruit leather and no dried strawberries to show for my efforts! At least I have plenty of freezer jam, strawberry sauce, and raspberry cordial! Consolation, indeed. Next week's big kitchen job is raspberry/red currant jam, followed by raspberry fruit leather and blackberry jelly. The above picture was taken on my iPhone, which takes such good pictures that I have been using it more than I have been using my fancy camera lately. It is just as well I didn't spend that $600.00 for a new lens!