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(Long) Catch-Up

20 September 2006

Well, people, here’s another Wednesday, and there won’t be a Word Wednesday for you. (Note: after putting this together, I realize it is a pretty long post, so I’ve separated it into three sections, and you can peruse each one separately, at your leisure.)
During the past few blogless days I’ve been busy painting the second coat of paint in the kitchen (yes, I know I did the first coat on the first day of *June*) and trying very hard not to let the cold that the the girls shared with the Consort and me get the upper hand. Oh, and there were gardeny things done, too. . . . But perhaps I am getting ahead of myself.

Fighting the Cold

This coming Sunday, my mother will be popping in for a 3.5-day visit. Cowgirl just had her baby boy yesterday (don’t ask me the name because they don’t know it yet). [I know: 9 months isn’t enough time for you to pick a nice name? 😉 In case she’s reading this blog in her post-caesarian haze, let me just say, Cowgirl, that I am urging the girls to call the baby Cousin It*.] Bonne Maman is visiting with Cowgirl for a week, then she’s taking the high road back from Texas to visit us here in the midwest before heading home. Now, last time she visited I spent most of the week in bed with a terrible sinus infection. Remember that? The one that made me cry? So it is imperative that I don’t get sick this time, otherwise it will be seen as a purposeful diss (which it isn’t). Now, this is a pretty tough bug, because the Consort stayed home from work yesterday. Not only that, but he CANCELED HIS OFFICE HOURS! If you knew the Consort as well as I did, you’d all be in shock and awe right now, because the man has a saintly responsibility-meter, and neither hell nor high water would keep him from holding his office hours. Even if we would get a great head start on a trip if we left a couple of hours earlier. Or if there was a school function that really needs an environmental scientist. Or if his wife needs to be picked up from outpatient surgery.** Ahem.
So anyway, it seems like a pretty rough bug. I am dousing myself with buckets of green tea, orange juice, and taking that always-forgotten multivitamin I ought to be taking daily (as in, *daily* vitamin).

Gardeny Things No. 1

We have two pear trees. One, who I will call Pear Tree, is large and always produces lots of fruit. She (this will become clear in a moment) loves the Consort, and the Consort loves her. He never prunes her (I suspect he sings to her, too), so her long, heavy, pear-laden branches encroach onto my okra plants and bullies them into submission. Pear Tree hates me with a passion. When I would mow under her, she’d reach down and tangle her branches in my hair, yanking viciously. Now, she does the same to Trixie when Trixie mows (can you see why I think this bully needs a good solid pruning?). I forgot to take a picture of her in her fullness, but note how many pears are on the ground. And think on the fact that this is just the end of the harvest. There were many more.
The Not-so nice Pear Tree
She is so prolific that it is hard for us to find enough ways to use the pears: Pear Honey, Canned Pears, Pears in your School Lunch, Give Pears to (Probably) Undocumented Mexicans Living Next Door, Give Pears to Somali Neighbors, Pear Cake, Pears in your Yogurt, … and now, Pear Relish.
You take 12 lbs of fruit, peel and shred it, cook it up with some colorful bell peppers, onions, pickling spices, all in a sugar-vinegar solution:
Bubble, Bubble
Then, you process it for 15 minutes, and, ta-daa! Pear Relish. How does it taste? Pretty good if you ask me. Not as crunchy as pickle relish, but I think this will make a great addition to those veggie Brats I adore on the grill:

Gardeny Things No. 2

We had our first frost warning yesterday. (This is about 1 month earlier than last year, but I’m hoping for a very snowy winter, so I don’t mind!) This meant that any delicate plants (like the tons of volunteer basil we had in our yard this season) would be ruined if it wasn’t taken in. Here is what I brought in yesterday:
Garden Bounty
This still left a bit on each stem, in case the frost wasn’t bad and the basil kept producing. You can also see the garlic we harvested from the garden last month. (We let it go a bit too long, so it is a bit dirtier than it could have been, but the dirt just wipes right off with the papery skin, so, no worries). That is too much basil to use in a reasonable bit of time, so I prepared three batches of pre-pesto (just oil, basil and garlic, pureed in the food processor), used one for dinner last night (by adding in pine nuts and grated Paremesan), and put the other two batches into ice cube trays, like so:
Cube Tray
This morning, I took them out of the trays, so that I had 21 1-Tbsp cubes of puree:
Pesto Cubes
And I bagged them for use either as pesto or as one-cube additions to stews for the coming winter (I adore my chest freezer. Jut adooooore it.)

Today, more green tea, maybe a bath, and a bit of worry as the project I was promised for the beginning of the month is delayed yet again.

*They don’t get it.
**Actually, that’s poetic license. The time he forgot to pick me up from outpatient surgery, he was in the middle of his 3rd-year review meeting. With some Head Honchos.

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