Fresh-Picked For You

Cats are cool. My cat is particularly cool. Except today. Today, she is not cool. This is because it’s 88 degrees (F) outside and I am too cheap to turn on the air conditioning. Poor kitty. She is suffering.

Lounge Cat

How are you, Moxie-Kitty? Are you having a good day today?

Evil Eye

I’m pretty sure that is her “I am NOT Impressed” look. Or maybe, it’s her “Go away, I hate you,” look. I get them confused sometimes.

Anyway, while it’s quite hot out, the humidity is tolerable. As they say in the southwest part of our country, “it’s a dry heat”. That’s supposed to mean you’re not dripping wet all the time because the relative humidity is low. That’s supposed to suggest you aren’t sitting around, stewing in your own juices, like this pot roast is doing:

Cooking on the Grill

Please do not tell the people at Le Creuset that I put my fancy french oven on the grill. Even though it’s a second, and even though it’s sitting on a “pot burner”, they still might get upset. It is probably not appropriate.

Also, please do not tell the people at Le Creuset that I am cooking a pot roast in my fancy french oven (on the grill, nonetheless). I think you’re only supposed to do things like cassoulets and poached fish in your fancy french oven. Whatever the hell a cassoulet is, of course. But what do I know? I’m an ignorant American. I pronounce the “T” on my Le Creuset.

(Not really.)

Anyway, I did not set out to discuss the merits of braising on the grill, except I can tell you that this is a surefire way to keep your kitchen a bit cooler in the summer. Not turning on the stove indoors definitely keeps the heat out of the kitchen, so to speak.

Nope. Today, I’m going to brag some more about my annoying garden. I know you haven’t had enough pictures of how the tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, corn, and mutant basil are taking over at our little homestead. I know you can’t stand not knowing about all the squash sex that’s been taking place the last couple of days.

Baby Cuke

Check out these pumpkin blooms. Go ahead, they’re censored:

Flowering Punkins (Rated PG)

I wouldn’t want to expose my readers to full-on squash sex. That would just be tacky.

Pumpkin Blooms

Yeah, that’s what we do in our garden. Lots of sex going on, all day long.

Pumpkin Blossom

There’s a money shot for you.

OMG, that was just gross. Okay, enough of this hideous entendre. It’s completely inappropriate and totally unnecessary.

In our neck of the woods, there’s a saying that corn ought to be “knee high by the Fourth of July”. It’s a midwest America thing. Don’t worry about it. Just go with the flow. Now, today’s the eighteenth of July, but I took this next shot on July 11, and I did it to show that we are right on schedule with things here in the garden. (I’ve been posting in a very timely manner, as you can see.) Anyway, as you can see by the following Highly Scientific Exhibit (“A”), we are in good shape:

Knee High Corn

Nothing but the best for you, my dear friends. Nothing but the best.

Anyway, I have done little else of late, other than to tend our garden. However, there is a little confession that should probably come out right about now. You see, with all this talk about gardens and curcurbitaceae sex and plants and harvests and whatnot, I’ve probably led you to believe that I’m a good gardener who mulches between the rows. Or at least, you’re probably thinking that I pull at least some of the weeds. Well, for this I apologize, as that assumption would be false.

For example, here is the pepper patch:

Weedy Garden

Really, truly, there are five pepper plants in there. Can you spot them? One of them is on its side, trying to find some sun amongst all the weeds. The rest of the peppers look like this:

Pepper Plant

Still don’t see them? Okay, here’s a hint:

Find The Peppers

No? Well, don’t feel bad. Even I can’t find the fifth one, and I know it’s there.

Well, anyway, I spent the whole day toiling like a migrant worker in the garden yesterday, and now we have this:

Weeded Patch

See what I mean, about that pepper plant on the right growing sideways? I swear, it just couldn’t get around all those darn weeds to reach the light.

What? You say there are still TOO MANY WEEDS, and you can’t spot the pepper plants? Well, shucks. I came prepared.

Weeded Peppers

Is that better?

So, just now, when I went out to take more pictures to prove that I had, indeed, weeded a portion of the garden (but only a portion, because there’s still this: )

Weedy Patch

anyway, I realized that the punkin and cuke pictures were a week old. And anyone that’s grown anything in a hot summer knows that things happen in the garden fast. A week is like, well, it’s like a long time. Pretty soon, you have things like this:

Toddler Cuke

My little babies aren’t babies anymore! Pretty soon, they’re going to be PICKLES.

Meanwhile, some of the early tomato varieties are really showing promise.

Baby Maters

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about the tomatoes. I think my absolute favorite food in the whole wide world is a tomato sandwich on toast with a smear of mayo.

Now, lest you think I am some sort of gardening goddess, let me just correct that incorrect notion straightaway with this next shot. This, dear friends, is supposed to be a sunflower:

Sunflower

As you can see, it does not resemble much of a flower at all. I wonder if this leaf has anything to do with it?

Sunflower leaf

Ooops.

Yeah, well there’s lots of holey leaves like that in our garden. This is because I staunchly refuse to spray for bugs, which – I’m sure – have an appropriate place in our garden. Still, it gets my gall when I walk by a once-lovely plant and see this:

Holey Potatoes

and then this:

The Culprit

My policy on such bugs is as follows:

Go Away, Bug

It is enforced with a thumb and forefinger. Gloved, of course.

In case you were curious, that was one of the mutant potato plants. They’re going to take over the yard, I do believe. Remember these?

Taters

They now look like this:

Taters Gone Wild

Look, this one’s even going over the fence:

Escaping Potato

They suck you in with their pretty little flowers, making you believe you have nothing to fear.

Tater Flowers

I know better, of course.

Meanwhile, there are some other lovely surprises this week, such as the Thai and sweet basils (which have contributed to a delicious salad dressing, recipe forthcoming):

Thai Basil

(The purple thing in the center of the Thai basil is supposed to be there. It’s a flower.)

Sweet Basil

And here is a fun little surprise- mustard flowers. These grew fast. Like, 40 days from seed to flower:

Mustard Flower

I have these grand plans of saving the seeds and making my own prepared mustard. Heh. Right.

Meanwhile, though, the basil is quite yummy, and my Kiwi friends can grow some on in a sunny window while they’re waiting for their own summer to return. And when you do, you can try this recipe for Sweet Basil Dressing. I highly recommend it.

Sweet Basil Dressing

1 cup olive oil
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup honey
3 T minced fresh basil leaves
2 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely minced
pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a mason jar and shake well. Let the dressing steep for at least an hour, then shake well before using.

Enjoy! crunch, crunch, crunch I am.

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