Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fall is Falling Finally

Two weeks after my first treatment. Waiting for the other shoe to drop. I had been coached that I would be so sick. Well? So far the only thing that has blind-sided me was constipation from the medicines that were added to my treatment. Man! I was not prepared for that! Concrete. Anyway, after doing what I had to do and getting on a regimen of Metamucil, I am fine.

I have another week before my next treatment. My plan is to get my lab done the day before so that there won't have to be such a waiting time for lab results before the treatment starts. I plan to ask if I can also do that ahead of time before my followup visits. It doesn't make sense to sit and wait for seemingly hours just to hear "you're fine," or not, especially if you are sick.

My lab was good my first week after treatment. They had kinda expected it not to be. I was told, "Well, it'll probably drop this time." Aha. To be warned is to be forearmed. Since my appetite has not been affected, I have kind of made a project of researching the foods I need daily to keep my iron level as stable as possible.

Also, we were told that my hair would start falling out two weeks to the day. That is today. Dare I look in the mirror? I know people are different, but the suspense is there. I do have my wig poised and ready for when we go out. I am not a baseball cap kind of person and I don't think I would look cute shiny-bald as one lady at the clinic looks.

Since the weather has cooled dramatically, I have started walking as much daily as possible around the garden track. The temp was 58 this morning at 8. September can be cruelly hot, but this respite is welcome.

So, with few problems, watching diet, exercise, so much to be thankful for. I am trying to focus on the "goodies" that are there daily. This morning, I saw several hummingbirds at the feeders and other blooming vegetation. This must be the peak season before they migrate. Also, the Jerusalem artichokes are blooming en mass. I hope J can get a good picture of them so I can post them. They are gorgeous not only where they are, but J enjoys picking a few along with some late roses for the bouquet he enjoys fixing for me. How sweet and how pretty. I wish I knew the name of the "cane" that blooms in September. It is breathtaking. I hope J can get a picture of that today. The 4 o'clocks are in full bloom. Some people think them pests, but I don't. They just do their thing without a lot of coaxing.

We had planted greens. They are up, but we fear the fall bugs are invading. J is fighting back. I need to feed them with Miracle Gro so they will go ahead and grow big leaves while they are still tender. I so hope I can can them this time. Our spring crop was a bust. We planted late squash, and right now they look healthy. Our cantaloupe crop has amazed us. There might have been three plants in that one hill, but we have had probably 20-something melons from that one hill. At today's prices, what a happy surprise.

If I remain feeling okay the next few months, I hope we can begin preparing the garden for the winter and have it as ready for spring planting as we did this time. What a work saver. The leaves we scattered have not only served to keep moisture in but kept grass under great control. My plan is to have a spring garden.

Besides keeping up with household obligations, I have done substitute transcription for a friend who has had health problems of her own for a few days. This was for the speed demon surgeon who doesn't or won't realize what a pain it is to hear each little syllable that can make a huge difference in how a word turns out. It's not a place for guessing. Said friend is scheduled for an upper endoscopy tomorrow and was testing the waters to see if I can cover for her again so soon. I probably will. That's my small way to help her.

This cool morning beckons, so on with the walking shoes and sweater (what a concept) and on to the track. Looking forward to whatever new is blooming this morning.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Lot of Water......

I think with the amount of rain we have had precluding my walks in the garden, that I am losing out on keeping up with events. The other day, we picked the last of the tomatoes that were still good and made juice. Then on Monday, I was cruising what I thought was the last of the veggies and spied a new crop, albeit small, of green beans, some of them shelly. I couldn't bear the thoughts of them going to waste and not knowing if I would be feeling like handling them later, I picked enough for 6 quarts of mixed snaps and shellies. I was thinking that amount would be fairly easy to handle, but got a long phone call and then came dinner, so there were the beans to prep and can. It was getting close to 11 or 12 when I finished. The only consideration there was that my chemotherapy was to start the next morning, Tuesday. Well. I am glad to have the beans to replenish what we have eaten and shared.

I don't think I have mentioned that I got my VAD implanted Friday afternoon. That went well, and I had no after effects, i.e., pain from the procedure. So my first chemotherapy therapy was scheduled for Tuesday. I am getting Adriamycin at three-week intervals for about four months. I suppose that the information I was given applied to the average person. I had been told that I would be given an anti-nausea medicine and some other meds that would prevent nausea, etc., and that I would sleep through the procedure. Guess again. The meds didn't faze me, was an interesting session, and J sat with me and we chatted through the entire procedure which lasted approximately an hour. We had lunch out, did some shopping for the food I would need in case I did develop nausea/vomiting. We later had a nap, and feeling well, I prepared dinner after having prepared to not feel like doing that. That was yesterday. During the night I developed a slight headache from a self-diagnosed sinus problem. Checked my temp, and that was normal.

I was all prepared to face today of possible nausea and had my pills, water and crackers by the bed. We had agreed this would be much like morning sickness with pregnancy. Been there--done that. So, I started my regimen of above plan, then regular small snacks, timely meals, and aside from just not feeling ravenous probably from the anti-nausea meds, I have done very well today. I have toyed with the idea of not taking the pill tomorrow because it does affect my general feeling of well being; however, I will be compliant. If I did not do that and fell very ill, it would be my fault.

Wouldn't I be lucky if after all the warnings I have had about what could happen, I was on the lower part of the average and sailed through. The part I most likely will not sail through will be hair loss starting in two weeks. I am prepared for that, though. I have purchased my wig and probably will get a short pixie cut soon so that there won't be such a dramatic change and could start wearing the wig when I go out and not feel so conspicious. I am not a baseball cap person at my age.

My next sequential chemo treatments, 4 months each, will most likely be Taxotere, and lastly Cytoxan, finishing those about a year from now. I understand that breaking these down sequentially will not be so stressful for me. For that, I will be glad. I am told that the Adriamycin is the roughest of the three and is appropriately named "the red devil." I will go back in a week for lab work to see how I am tolerating things. We are lucky to live about a mile from the hospital, and J can stay with me if he chooses or run errands or whatever. My guess is he will be right there with me. I think many of the people on treatment when I was there did succumb to the sedative given before the treatment started, because I saw one person slack-jawed, snoozing, and hoping J would have the grace to prop my mouth if I started that. I must have willed myself to stay awake! I didn't snooze, it just didn't affect me that way.

Today I have mostly goofed off. We had received a book from a publisher that we didn't want, so we drove to the post office across town and returned that. That was the extent of our running about today. We had scattered showers today and probably will have them again tomorrow as the remnants of Hurricane Fay, so that has made staying inside well received.

Enough of this. I'm waiting to hear Sarah Palin's address and then to bed.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Countdown could be on several things. For one, the garden is almost slowed to a stop. J actually picked a"mess" of pole beans this morning. I have always enjoyed gleaning the late beans, which included shellies. The tomatoes have slowed down substantially. I need to pick some green ones and make the green tomato relish we enjoyed so much last year. I probably need to do that this afternoon because next week promises to be busy. I have finished the apples, peaches and pears. The pear preserve is delicious. I found out that the Bartlett, which is the old, old tree in our garden, doesn't have enough natural pectin, so I needed to add pectin to that, which made it okay. Looks like honey, all golden and delicious. The old pear tree from my childhood home is the best for preserves. That produces a "red" preserve, which makes a nice syrup, and if you watch it, it won't get so hard that it pulls your caps. Yesterday, for lack of something from the garden to do, and wanting to get a little ahead on some things I like to do, I soaked and canned dry black beans and cranberry beans. That turned out well. The grand boys like those beans, thankfully, so they like it when Granny brings a care package of veggies.

My schedule next week is busy. Monday, we go for pre-admission for (1) my Tuesday morning PET scan and echo cardiogram, and (2) go by my surgeon's office to sign permission to proceed with the VAD on Friday. Tuesday at 7 a.m., we will be at the imaging center for the PET scan, to Cardiology at 10 for the echo, and if I understand rightly, scoot on over to Outpatient for lab work and possibly pre-admission for the VAD. Then, I visit my oncologist for results of the tests and further discussion on proceeding with chemo. Sometime Thursday, I will be getting a taped dictation from the Orthopedic clinic I have transcribed for the past possibly seven years, get that done, and be back to the hospital on Friday for placement of the VAD. My friend at ortho "lets" me help her when she needs a break, and we think this will help me keep focused and have something for my mind to "rest" on. I need to stay busy.

I have made quite a list of discussion questions for the oncologist. On Thursday, I will find out if my tests indicate that I am well for chemotherapy, or if one or so needs to be changed. I was given a booklet, "Finding the 'Can' in Cancer," which has some helpful information on preparing for the effects of chemotherapy. Since I have not had chemo previously, this will be a new adventure. So far, I have not worried a lot, went through the mastectomy without a hitch, but I have to admit, the prospect of chemotherapy is daunting. Next week, early on, I plan to visit the wig place and get my wig ordered. I want to be prepared if my hair starts thinning/falling out soon. Probably will have it cut short soon so that there won't be hair all over the house. I feel that would be off putting. With cooler weather coming on before very long, I probably will wear 'boggans a lot when I am outside. I plan to walk as much as possible for exercise around our garden where J keeps a track mowed/raked. I read that appropriate exercise is a good way to handle a lot of the issues of treatment.

Some time during the week, weather permitting, we will be gathering with J's sisters who live in the area to celebrate a sister's 84th birthday. We do that for all those siblings who are in the area. He has six sisters, four live in the area, one in North Carolina and one in Tennessee who gets to visit home fairly often. He is their only brother. I think it is neat that they make a point to celebrate birthdays together. We have lunch together at a buffet restaurant, talk and eat, and then usually gather at the retirement center where their 85-year-old sister resides, for more talk about "old times" and what each is doing and what their families are up to. Lot of good fellowship.

We have had a slow rain today which actually was cozy. Looks like the sun is out now, so I need to make my tour of the garden before it sets in again. Since J has picked the okra, the beans and 'maters, probably there won't be much for me to gather in. We have kept the scuppernongs picked pretty well, but there might be a few ripe ones.

This has been the nicest year for fruit and vegetables. My pantry is proof. I have been advised that there possibly/probably will be times when I am on treatment that I won't be interested in being in the kitchen, so J has been coached that he can have his choice of veggies that can be warmed in the microwave, and he can pick up prepared meat such as chicken, barbecue, etc., that won't smell up the house. He is a good cook, and I know he can handle that well. If need be, I will just sit on the deck if it gets too pungent in the house! I hear that one can be very sensitive to odors, but I'm not borrowing anything to worry about that this point. I was told that my treatments would be one per week, every three weeks, over the next year. Thankfully, we live about a mile or so from the hospital here, and that will be so much more convenient for us both.

Off to the garden, hoping that it won't be too muddy to enjoy a stroll around the track.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Celebrating, Our Style

J and I celebrated our 53rd anniversary today by planting our fall crop of turnips, mustard, yellow squash and zucchini. It was relaxing and fun, and we finished just before the rains came.

We had a leisurely lunch at our local catfish eatery and then came home to just have a relaxing afternoon inside. He did make a few trips to see if our newly planted garden was surviving the rain. Appears it did. With the hot weather and moisture, we wouldn't be surprised to see that the seedlings will be up in a day or two.

I think we will be glad to have this done. Next week will be kinda busy. On Monday, I will be doing my preadmission for my PET scan on Tuesday at 7 a.m. Later that day I will be getting an echocardiogram. These tests will determine if I am healthy enough for chemotherapy, and I guess will determine if I can have the standard kind. I really wish I could skip the chemo, but since the pathology labeled this "poorly differentiated," that pretty well says I need all the ammo I can get to not have this come back somewhere else, such as the chest wall. Cancer is not for sissies.

So, on Thursday of next week I will be seeing my oncologist to get further information. I have deferred getting my VAP installed because of a snaffoo in information I was given, and I'm afraid he was given, and I want further information from him before I proceed. It won't be a biggie to get the VAP after I talk with him. I started to vent here on the snaffoo but decided not to do it now. May later. All's well that ends well.

I meant to can tomatoes today and maybe do a few more pear preserves, but goofed off instead. So sue me. The tomatoes will still be there tomorrow. And the pears.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Unexpectedly, we made a trip to Prentiss County to my old home place. THE pear tree, which should have gone away years ago, was laden with pears at just the right stage for pear preserves. No one else wanted them, so gullible me, I brought a batch home. I have made preserves with them, made applesauce with the remainder of the apples, and have a few pears from our own Bartlett tree that I will do something with. I may make a pint or two of preserves, although Bartletts don't make the very best preserves.

Watching Food Network, I happened to jot down a recipe for a rub for chicken to be grilled or roasted. We had purchased a package of chicken leg quarters. I tried the rub and roasted the chicken pieces. This seemed so simple, but we were pleasantly surprised that it is quite delicious.

Combine 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. That's all. Rub into chicken breasts that have been pounded to thin pieces, or any pieces you choose. Grill or roast until done. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me.......

It's my party, and I can cry if I want to.......... Except I'm not cryin'. I have spent my 73rd birthday doing things I like to do, including doing a batch of apples from our pitiful tree that keeled over from the weight of the rain this spring. Said batch is going into a recipe in another post for mock dried fruit. We may not have another year for fruit such as this has been, and the canned product will last for a couple of years. The "fried pies" have been a hit. I don't fry the pies, but bake them, and they are simply delicious. Just ask my grandsons.

I am trying to get as many things taken care of as possible from the garden so as not to waste anything. I still have tomatoes to can, but as that is so easy I plan to take care of all of them. Juice is so easy to do.

The reason I am in kind of a hurry is that I found out yesterday from a first visit with my new oncologist that I will be doing chemotherapy for my recurrent breast cancer. I did not have chemotherapy 10 years ago. This all gets too technical to detail here. I am healing quite well from my mastectomy. The next move is to schedule the port for the sequential chemotherapy I will be receiving every three weeks for the next year. I am expecting to lose my hair, and I plan to visit my friends at the Tupelo Cancer Center who will help me decide where to go to order my wig to approximate my natural hair (I don't fancy baseball caps). I will be ordering a prosthesis soon, as I tend to "guard" my operated side and protect it much as a mother would a child, thus putting pressure on my already compromised shoulder. I don't need to do that and try to remember not to "give" to that side. Also, I am not waving a flag to say "look everybody, I have breast cancer!" I do feel very positive about my upcoming treatment and plan to make the most of it. I may be updating this blog with my progress or lack of.

Don't be surprised if I keep a log of my adventure. I have so many people on my "team" that I can't help being positive about the outcome. So----next!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Peach Pie Anyone?

Today, anticipating a full but happy day with my daughter and granddaughter who stopped by on their way to her return to MUW, I had a phone call from my sister who wanted to verify a recipe for mock dehydrated peaches. She declares that that originally came from me, but that was so long ago that I really don't remember the origin. Wish I did. I believe her, though. This was timely, because I couldn't imagine what I wanted to do with the peach crop we had by some sort of miracle through this weird spring and dry summer.

I do plan to give this a try and see what gives:

Mock dehydrated peaches for pie filling

2 gallons peaches, washed and cut away from the seed in moderate size slices
1/2 cup vinegar
6 cups sugar

Combine and keep in a stainless steel or enamel container for 12 hours. Cook carefully, stirring to avoid sticking, until the consistency you want for pie filling. Put in sterile jars and probably wouldn't hurt to process in a hot water bath, although I bet some don't do that. I probably will.

This is great for "fried" peach pies or as a double crust pie you have baked in the oven. If after I have done this and think of something I've left out, I will add an addendum.

(IMPORTANT ADDENDUM) After cooking this ALL morning in a stainless steel stock pot, and its beginning to stick/burn, I called my sister-in-law, the best-cook-in-Prentiss-County, and asked her how much longer I was going to have to watch the pot. She asked, "Are you doing that in stainless steel?" I replied that I was. She said, "That's the trouble! You have to use heavy aluminum." I know the jury is out on cooking in aluminum, and I had thrown out a wonderful, heavy, aluminum Mirro cooker/canner just the right size but which had lost its handle and was too old to find a replacement. What to do. I decided to scrub out my larger Mirro canner that I have canned veggies in all summer (it holds 7 quart jars I think), and that worked wonderfully well. Just right for "cooking off" the rest of the fruit. At this time, I have canned 12 pints apple pie filling and that much or more of peaches. Wish I had more peaches. I will do more apples from the pitiful little tree that fell over from the rain and heavy fruit this spring.

My SIL is doing this with apples. As I remember, apples didn't yield the same results, but it might be worth a try. Since the peel of an apple is different from the peach, one needs to peel the apple before cutting into slices/chunks. That tough apple peel simply won't cook down, the peach peel will.

Guess what we're having Saturday when the kids are home........

PS: Father, daughter and granddaughter are transporting her to MUW but are retrieving her belongings her roommate had generously stored for her during the summer (in Carthage), so that will mean yours truly will be alone for the afternoon and evening, for one reason, limited space in the vehicle. I have napped, shelled butterbeans, prepared 'maters, loaded the dishwasher from the sumptuous lunch we had today. I'm so glad granddaughter is a veggie lover.
Next, I canned 2 1/2 pints butterbeans and cut off tomatoes to make another batch of tomato juice/soup for daughter to take home this weekend, along with a load of the beans, etc., I've been having such joy canning this summer. Before it gets too dark, I probably will gather a bucket of those peaches I have decided to make pie filling from. It was funny that I had already cut off about 2 quarts and froze them, not having any idea what I wanted to do with them. Thanks, sis!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Busy Weekend

Yesterday, Saturday, J brought a bucket of peaches from two scrawny trees that we never thought would bear again, what with the spring freezes just when the trees have bloomed. Well, whatever else the weather has wrought this year, several things have outdone themselves with almost more than we can take care of. Hurriedly, I pared and sliced and put peaches in the freezer, hoping for some cobblers if nothing else. I can't believe it! The peaches were so nice that I am thinking it would be great to save the seeds and transplant the seedlings to the tree farm where they can do as they please or not. Anyway, as a lark, I dumped several seeds in the leaf bin where the leaves are still moist/wet, and as we see many oak seedlings sprouting there, we just hope to get a few trees from these heirloom peaches. Nothing ventured, nothing gained I guess.

This afternoon, with the ox being in the ditch so to speak, I am making tomato paste from some tomatoes that I surely don't want to let waste. I am using the directions from the Ball Blue Book, and although that is fairly easy to do, it does take a little time to cook the juice down to about half volume. It is so delicious. I'm canning that in pints and didn't let it cook all the way to paste, so it will be delicious to heat a mug of that this winter, add a few spices, and enjoy! Admittedly, I am a tomato freak....

We're getting ready for a visit from our three children this coming weekend. Unfortunately, the spouses won't be able to be here and perhaps only three grandchildren, but we plan a feast of Southern veggies with a few extras thrown in. That will have to include cornbread, and I have a new bag of Sunflower cornmeal mix and a container of buttermilk all waiting to cook up a pone of bread. That is the only brand of mix I use, period. In one way it is sad that we don't have cornbread often, but on the other hand it saves us calories. J is diabetic and can't tolerate most breads, so I usually don't tempt him by having that around. We'll just have to go to Plan B here, because with certain veggies, you just do have cornbread.

I don't know how many veggies will be ready to "put up" this coming week. I will do something if I have to sit up at night and get that done; however, I canned a dozen pints of a combination of green beans and shelled beans--those that had gone on to mature. I think I am caught up on that for now, but probably there will be more cranberry beans and Christmas butterbeans, as well as a few lima beans. Maybe J will be able to help some with that. He has arthritis in his right shoulder, I have a left shoulder rotator cuff problem that failed surgical treatment, so we are a pair of bookends and it takes both of us to do some things. I will be collecting plenty of okra for family this week. I have marinated that in buttermilk and rolled in cornmeal and deep fried. It doesn't get better than that. We will have to go on a very limited fat diet right after this week!

I hear the timer, so it is time to remove the jars from the hot water canner. So pretty!

Thursday, July 31, 2008


Here I am late on blogging but so busy. This afternoon I am canning 'maters! They have just started ripening, and I am canning the 17th quart. I'm scared to think how many there will be. I am giving choice ones to friends/family/neighbors. J told me that when I get tired of canning, we will just give the rest away. Yes, if I pick them! Never had much luck making soup that we really care for, so for the time being, it'll be just regular sliced/diced or juice. It's not too hard to make juice, and that'll probably what I end up making.

Still doing the shelled beans--cranberry, lima, Christmas butterbeans, pole beans. Haven't counted the pints lately, but they are so popular with family that I don't want to miss one. Having the time of my life status post a mastectomy three weeks ago. God is Good! If, as and when I need chemo in a coupla weeks, maybe I will be caught up on most of the canning if I don't feel too well then. But, I plan to BE FEELING WELL. That's my plan.

Our chillun will be visiting next week mostly for the weekend. We will be feasting on a huge veggie meal on Saturday. I couldn't start to list the menu. May even do a chicken and dressing. If you're from the South, you know it is about the veggies. At least they are healthful.

Our garden, in spite of the heat and no rain, is still producing. Must be doing something right.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Same song, another verse

Got half of my stitches out on the 14th as well as one of the drains. Coping with the drains has been my biggest challenge. On Monday, the 21st, I get the other stitches and the last drain out. Then all I have to do is wait for my Oncology visit on the 12th (he is out of the country for 3 weeks) and presumably to find out my course of treatment--chemo and/or radiation therapy.

It looks like I have an outbreak of lichen sclerosus on my arm! I understand that can come on any part of the body, but it is usually in the very moist areas such as one's bottom. I did have an outbreak of it there a month or so ago, but with application of an ointment I have on hand and liberal applications of vitamin E oil, I had that under control fairly quickly. On my arm, I am still in the rash/itch phase, and I am hopeful that on Monday I can persuade my surgeon to get me in to see a dermatologist while this is still ongoing so that we can find a better treatment, if there is one. From doing research on the Internet, I haven't found much encouragement there. I would nominate that to be one of the great plagues, and I'm not kiddin'.

On to more pleasant topics, I/we have picked, shelled and canned approximately 2 dozen pints of baby limas, Christmas butterbeans, and cranberry beans. That is just the beginning, I hope. Our other veggies are surviving the heat/drought with copious watering. I canned 3 quarts of tomatoes this weekend. They are just now producing more than we consume, so that will be adding up soon. The eggplants are producing well, but the squash is not. Oh, well. But, we have been very surprised at the cantaloupe hill. We have 5 or more at different stages of development and hope to pick the largest one in a day or so.

I'm sterilizing pint jars to can the shelled beans picked today. Don't know yet what the yield will be, but I probably will add an addendum so that I can brag on that. But, first, it's time to cool off and rest a bit. The temp here today is around 97 or 98 and very humid, making it very uncomfortable to be outside.

ADDENDUM: My yield of shelled beans today was: 2 pints baby limas, 2.5 pints Christmas butterbeans, and 2 pints cranberry beans. And they all sealed! That's more than it sounds like.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Getting Caught Up

Goodness. I woulda thought I'd have posted something since the 2nd! I guess it was just my imagination. However, in between the 2nd and the 11th, lots of things have happened.

On the 2nd, my just younger sister died peacefully from a 10-year struggle with COPD. We were able to travel to Florence, Alabama, on Sunday the 6th for her funeral. Won't go into details here, but there is an emptiness when we think about her being gone, but at the same time, we are grateful that her pain and suffering are gone.

The next hurdle was preparing for my mastectomy on the 9th. I would be coming home the next day, so there was not a lot of packing to do; in fact, most of the stuff I did take was never touched. The morning of the 9th, we got up about 5 o'clock. I prepared a traditional breakfast for J--bacon, eggs and toast with coffee. It was so tempting to me, but I could only have a sip of water with my meds. We drove to Tupelo and got to the hospital by 7 a.m. I was taken down for injection of dye for a sentinel node biopsy which I had been told would be gruesome but there was really nothing to it. I guess it was due to the skill of the doctor administering the dye. My surgeon had several surgeries scheduled ahead of me, so we had a bit to wait for my surgery, which allowed the dye to do its stuff. The surgery itself took approximately 40 minutes, and before I knew it, I was back in recovery and then to my room. After just a bit of morphine to get me past waking up, I have not required any pain medication except for one percocet for pain caused by lying down and coughing. Since then, the recliner. Altogether, I have felt great. Our daughter came home with us. We picked up some fast food on the way home from the hospital, and that evening we went to our local Mexican restaurant for a quick Speedy Gonzalez. I slept really well in the recliner, didn't require any pain medication, and was ready for a good breakfast, which J prepared, complete with biscuits. I'm being spoiled. Our daughter went home to her family about mid morning. We enjoyed her visit with us. Maybe she trusted us to care for ourselves at this time.

I simply could not wait to see our garden after being away from it for almost two days! There were more ripe tomatoes, and of course beans and okra to be picked. We saved that until this morning. J and I went to the garden fairly early, and with one hand, I picked some Christmas butterbeans, because I didn't have to bend over to do that. I sat in the comfortable yard chair while he picked the Louisiana purple pod beans and the rattlesnake beans, as well as the okra and eggplant. He had already picked the tomatoes. I felt well enough to prepare lunch, which was just as country as could be but without cornbread, his nemesis. We had the butterbeans, okra, eggplant, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers with a cola beverage. That filled our plates and was so good. We needed just a bite of something for taste, so J microwaved a few pieces of very good bacon, blotting out the grease with paper towels. Really quite delicious. Not from the South? Don't gag. Don't know what you're missing.

I'm looking back on my calendar for the log I've kept on the number of jars I've canned this spring/summer. So far, I have canned 69 pints of pole beans and 7 pints of cranberry beans. Don't know what I'll do with those beautiful beans picked this morning, but they probably will be a gift to the neighbors. Might even spare a tomato or two.

Time for a nap before we think about our evening meal--supper for us Southerners--dinner for foreigners. Still feel great. We got back to my surgeon for a checkup on Monday and hope to get one of the drains out then. Probably know about my appointment with my oncologist then. My mantra: it's always somethin'.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

One Goal Met

Today I canned the 50th pint of green beans for this spring/summer. Go Me! Some of these will be given to family, and J and I will enjoy them during the coming months. If I don't get to can any more green beans, the remainder will be delicious as shelly beans. I may have to scrounge up more jars; however, quarts can be pulled into service if necessary. I use the quarts in a favorite recipe of ours, hamburger pie made with ground turkey instead of beef. I think the recipe is somewhere in this blog. If not, I will find it and post it. It is a very easy but I suspect Southern dish.

Also, today, we had the first large ripe red tomato. You guessed it, a BLT without the L, but cheese instead. Fabulous.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

This 'N That

What beautiful weather we had today! I went to the garden early to do some timely watering. Just about have that down to a science. We are still not having rain, but watering seems to keep everything producing well. There was a cool breeze. The neighborhood air conditioners were not humming, so there was only the birds chirping.

J had suggested that he run to Burger King and get a couple of sausage and biscuits, normally a no-no, but under the circumstances we buckled and said what-the-heck. He brought them back along with two senior coffees, and we prepared to sit in the swing and enjoy breakfast before getting back to the garden. Birds had visited the swing and left their calling card, so we had to go to Plan B, which was NOT sitting in the swing.

When I finished watering vegetables and did the daily inspection of vegetables ready to pick, I was so surprised to find that there was a "picking" of cranberry beans. That happened so fast! A day or two before, I had found just a handful of beans mature enough to have for one meal, and these were on older vines that had not been drowned from the torrential rains we had this spring. We had replanted, and the new vines are probably a week and a half younger; however, they are promising to be prolific. Just from these few vines, I was able to can three pints of cranberry beans. Actually, that is very easy, and shelling the pretty, speckles beans is a pleasure.

It had seemed that the hot weather has slowed down our pole beans. However, this morning I saw a new crop of beans. I did gather enough for three pints of a combination of Louisiana Purple Pod and rattlesnake beans. That totals 43 pints of green beans I have canned this spring. I plan to continue to can them until my surgery this coming week, and after that, if I am not up to canning them at that stage, I will just let them go shelly, as that is delicious, also. That is, if my neighbors don't want to gather them. The baby limas are blooming heavily, as are the Christmas speckled butterbeans.

We are in awe of our tomatoes. It seems that using the gallon-jug-method of watering and feeding has really paid off. Those tomatoes are huge! I hope they are sweet and good as they look. Today we saw two in different stages of ripening. One will be picked tomorrow.

The delightful surprise has been the Japanese eggplant. That is bearing so well. We slice each veggie, microwave just long enough to speed cooking, and put on the stovetop griddle until just lightly browned. With a dusting of salt and pepper, it is ready to enjoy, and how easy is that. I am not good at remembering the names of the different varieties, so as we were familiar with the usual large dark purple variety, we have been pleasantly surprised at one which is a light purple large one. Prepared like the Japanese kind, this is just so good. We try not to use a lot of oil. I use the aerosol spray oil which is convenient, and a little spray will do ya. These plants are so healthy and beautiful.

Unfortunately, our yellow squash is not doing so well. We have had a few off them, but they are suffering, and it could be from the extreme heat. We have started a new batch and hope for better luck there. The older zucchini has had a very few on it, but it is not prolific yet, as one would expect from that variety. But with the eggplant and beans, we have had enough variety to not get bored. We are having a bit of okra. The cucumbers have been delightful, and thankfully are not producing so heavily that we can't take care of them. We have enough to share with family. The two jalapenos are producing enough to have as a condiment, picked before they are too hot. They have such a delicious taste of pepper without the heat. I had never realized their value at that stage before this year. I hope I can save enough to make hot sauce later.

Just as a lark, earlier, I had purchased a pot of cantaloupe seedlings but really didn't expect much from them. Wow! We have counted about seven melons in different stages of development, the largest almost large enough to eat, although it appears that they have a few days to go yet. Certainly hope the bunnies don't catch on. I saw one scamper away when I got to the garden this morning, but apparently he/she doesn't know what lies just a few feet from them.

We have harvested the last of the onions. That has been such a delight. We really had too much rain for them to be cared for properly, but anyway they have done well. We don't plant corn or potatoes because of J's dietary restrictions for diabetes reasons. We lost out on a crop of mustard greens, probably because of the excess water early. Will try again this fall.

A bit further into the back yard, not in the garden, we have three blueberry bushes that have done beautifully this spring. Last spring, we probably got one berry after that fateful freeze. This is a daily thing to do, keeping them picked. The grandsons love blueberries and helped pick when they visited. We can keep that done and really enjoy doing it. Also, our apple trees that we thought were too old to do much have a heavy crop of apples. We had given up on ever having peaches because they would always be nipped in the bud by a freeze, but surprise of surprises, this year we have a heavy crop of peaches which should be ripening fairly soon. Don't know exactly what I'll do with them, but I'll have to do something. There may be some Bartlett pears, also. No pecans, though, thanks to some resident squirrels. We have given up trying to control them. Oh, well.

I guess that just about rounds up my bragging for the day. I am trying to not let the vegetables go to waste, but really, really enjoy taking care of them. Although I am not a worrier, keeping busy with the vegetables has kept me occupied so that I don't have too much time on my hands as I await my mastectomy a week from tomorrow. I am being very positive and not expecting to be "laid up" for long, but if I have chemo, and I bet I will, I am not projecting too far about that just yet.

Tomorrow morning, I plan to finish adding soil to the last two hosta planters. Those two beautiful plants have so patiently waited for me to finish transplanting them. Then they should not need such attention for a long time, other than watering, etc. As Gilda Radner used to say, "it's always somethin'."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


If there can be any good news about finding out for the second time you have breast cancer, it is that apparently it is not recurrent but rather a new tumor. Recurrence is not good. I'd rather not have the new one, but it is just now showing up in tests.

My mammogram in 2007 was BI-RADS-2, which is benign and would not raise suspicion. In a year's time, it had increased to BI-RADS-4: suspicious. So my stereotactic needle biopsy confirmed that it is a tumor. My surgeon recommends a simple mastectomy, and that is scheduled in a few days. I may require chemotherapy. We have a really good Oncology clinic here where I live. That will be convenient for us for the chemo. If I require radiation therapy, that will be done in Tupelo. I know and love those people there.

When I was a new medical transcriptionist 10 years ago, my first job was there at the Cancer Center in the Radiation Oncology department. About six weeks after I started there, my regular mammogram returned a malignancy. After consulting the excellent oncologists there, I opted for the lumpectomy with radiation, since the tumor was 1.2-cm, with 1 cm being the cutoff for no therapy. I was assured that the results would be the same if I had a lumpectomy or mastectomy. I would not get chemotherapy because my tests showed that I was estrogen receptor positive and chemotherapy is not used in that case. Instead I took tamoxifen for about 5 years, and after my stroke, I was put on Arimidex for about a year and a half more.

Anyway, with this past experience under my belt, I approach this with calm. I know it won't be fun, but there are other things not fun either. My sister just younger than I is now terminal with COPD. Another younger sister just this year had an E. coli infection which later went into sepsis. She actually went into a total system shutdown and was considered a miracle when she was resuscitated successfully. Compared to this, I don't consider I have a hangnail!

So, for the next two weeks, I'll be catching up on things around the house, taking care of the garden produce, and generally just being thankful for the good health care we have. Then the mastectomy, after which I may rest a few days and then be back doing things J and I love--enjoying life. This little time-out will give me time to get focused again and I will be full speed ahead once again.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Anyone who has ever had to wait to discuss treatment for C knows what I am talking about. I have had practice, however, because I was going through this same scenario ten years ago, same location. This morning I feel well. I went to the garden early and picked green beans, okra, jalapenos, cucumbers, sweet banana pepper, and squash. I saved enough Louisiana purple pod beans for J's lunch, that being his favorite bean. Will steam/grill the other veggies and bake two pieces of chicken. How healthful is all that!

I canned six pints of beans this morning, totalling 32 pints this spring. That is a pretty fair amount even if I don't get to do any more, but I do plan to do much more. It's time to go check the canner and make sure the pressure is staying up. Once the canner starts steaming steadily, it only takes 20 minutes to pressure pints. The timer just dinged.

Will check on the chicken and plate the veggies. Yum!

Monday, June 23, 2008

What Is So Rare As A Day In June!

Now that June's almost over, I realize that I have been neglecting the blog. Since our tornado a street over earlier this spring, and the cleanup next door from a 50-year-old oak being split by the wind, requiring it to be taken down, things just seemed to settle into a dull roar of mulching, watering, picking, canning, etc.

Sounds like I am bragging because this has not been a good gardening year for a lot of people around here. There was so much rain this spring that the gardens were just too wet to get in and get planted. This is where our preparation last fall and winter paid off. We had spaded/tilled the different plots and spread mulch. This spring, everything was ready to plant by just raking the mulch off to one side. Also, J had built 20-something cages from concrete foundation wire to stake our tomatoes, squash, etc. That was such a help as staking with wood stakes in the past was huge labor. He installed landscape timbers along the pole bean rows and ran lengths of that wire along there. Wonderful! Wish we had done this sooner.

We planted 20-something tomatoes, hoping to get enough to can this year. Last year was a bust on that. The one-gallon plastic jugs installed beside each plant have made watering/feeding so much easier. Our pole beans are okay, considering too much rain, but I am having plenty to can. So far this spring, I have canned 26 pints and will have more tomorrow. That is besides having plenty for family, neighbors and our consumption.

The cranberry beans are just about ready to gather. So pretty. This year we tried baby lima bush. If they mature all that have bloomed, we will be calling in help. The Christmas butter beans were planted a little later, but they are blooming now. The yellow squash looks a little "peaked," but the zucchini is beautiful. We steamed a large one for dinner tonight. Delicious. We're trying eggplant this year for the first time in many years, the regular large type, and the cute little Japanese variety. That may be my favorite, because it is so easy to cut into circles and grill on the stove top griddle/grill, my newly acquired pet. I have found out that the small yellow squash is so delicious baked, so I shall be trying that with the eggplant and zucchini. Did I mention the cucumbers? Egad. Did I mention okra? Egad again.

All of this and keeping the hosta, roses and other little things tended has kept me pretty busy. That may slow down for a bit, because there is a probability that I will be having a mastectomy for recurrent breast cancer very soon. (I am just almost 10 years out from a lumpectomy.) Anyway, it is my big plan to get well very soon and get back to my routine. Can't afford to lose any precious time with all those veggies beckoning! Wish me luck.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Welcome May 2008

I've heard that April Showers Bring May Flowers, and if that is the case, this will be the most prolific spring in our garden/yard yet. In a way, I had realized that I had not posted anything in a while, but with the beautiful weather we were having, we used our pizazz getting the gardening up and going. It seems the timing was perfect because just as we had finished getting the planting done, here come the showers! Perfect! I would guess we have had a couple of inches of rain over last night and today. Just a slow shower that will do wonders but not collect and flood the lower garden.

It's hard to remember that just almost two months ago we had that very pretty snow. Apparently, we had no loss of blooming things due to that cold snap. We're happy about that, because it appears that we will have a moderate crop of blueberries. Last year, we had maybe a couple of berries.

Don't have any current pictures of the garden, but to date we have a nice little strip of onions almost at the perfect stage for scallions, and a nice strip of broad leaf mustard at the perfect stage for wilted greens (a perfect pair with the scallions). We have planted five kinds of beans: J's favorite, Louisiana Purple Pod (pole); my favorite, rattlesnake pole; Christmas butterbeans; baby lima bunch, and cranberry bunch. So far we seem to have a nice stand. We had prepared for this spring by installing a strip of trellis, utilizing concrete enforcement wire secured to landscape timbers for which J had dug postholes. We are very proud of that accomplishment and don't plan to have to do that again anytime soon. Maybe we can have snapshots of that soon.

With all that behind, we felt the weather was warm enough for the tomatoes to be set out. We had not had much luck last year having enough tomatoes to can to suit my fancy, so I may have just overdone it on that one. We found some nice plants at the local co-op and now probably have 20-something plants. I am trying a row that will be partially shaded in the afternoon from that blistering sun that played havoc last year with my tomatoes. Our selection was mostly Celebrity, Better Boy and Marglobe, with a Bradley and some kind of patio tomato (Better Bush ?) thrown in. I can't promise I won't add a pink variety, even maybe yellow, before it's all over. Since watering had been such a chore last year, we had collected a bunch of gallon plastic jugs which have been installed alongside each tomato plant. That should be somewhat easier to fill with a water hose and maybe a little plant food every so often. If these produce as hoped, we should have enough to fill all the available jars and share with our family and neighbors, which we enjoy doing. Almost forgot the Sweet 100 we planted in a 5-gallon bucket with a hole cut in the bottom, through which the tomato was planted upside-down . We were dubious about that, but that little rascal seems to be flourishing! BTW, 5 gallons of dirt is heavy. We suspended that from an old frame that used to support our grandchildren's swing. I think that would be too heavy for a shepherd's hook. Saw that planting hint on TV and then on the 'net.

Something else that has kept us busy in preparing the garden was incorporating cotton burr compost with the leaf compost we had spread last fall, which has been a godsend keeping down weeds and grass. We have done a version of trenching alongside the new trellis wire by digging a 12" wide x 12" deep trench and backfilling with garden soil, cotton burr compost and hummus from the stash collected from last fall. That was also used in preparing for the tomatoes. We plan to add some lime to help tone down the acidity a bit, especially around the beans.

I had collected several large half-whiskey-barrel planters last year at a closeout at Kroger. Those had been earmarked for transplanting the hosta which has really needed to be divided and re-set. That had turned into a pretty heavy job, lifting those plants which had begun to really respond to the warm spring temps. But I am almost there, using garden soil, leaf compost and the wonderful cotton burr compost. We hope to really see results of that this year, and again, maybe that won't have to be repeated anytime soon. Those planters are a wonderful size, and I plan to watch for the closeout again this summer at Kroger and get several more to use in years to come for patio tomatoes, etc., when we might not be so ambitious digging in the garden.

Oh, BTW, speaking of etc., we did plant bell peppers, jalapeno, cayenne, and egg plant. Apparently, our local source of egg plant didn't materialize, they say because of the cold weather; however, we were able to locate them at Tupelo. We have also planted our summer squash and zucchini. I just know I will be reminded of other things we want to do, but this should more than keep us busy for a while. I almost forgot the okra! How could I ever forget the okra! We have not included corn or field peas, which was a biggie in the past, because J doesn't tolerate those because of his diabetes. But we may add a few hills of potatoes this week because he found out he can tolerate the little new potatoes that haven't become too starchy. They are delicious, anyway.

Well, this has whiled away the afternoon. Still raining! Bet the grass will be "making hay," but that's another story for another day.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Snow NE Mississippi March 2008

Today's snow was beautiful. The ideal thing is to have it disappear before the re-freeze happens and driving or even getting outside becomes hazardous. By afternoon, most traces in our yard were gone, and we're okay with that. Here are a couple of scenes in our garden.

Don't think I'll be picking many peaches off this one this year!

Iris okay, but you'd never guess there are my new green onions lurking underneath the blanket of snow. They should be okay.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Little Green Onions -- YUM!

We have been haunting the local Co-op, hoping that the onion plants would be in so we could get them in the garden earlier than we did last year. We were in luck this week and bought four packs, which totalled about 144 little plants. We got them in the ground this weekend, and so far they are looking great. We were lucky to get this done because of the wonderful weather this weekend, but the weatherman is threatening severe weather Monday and snow on Tuesday! At least, our little onions are in the ground, and even if they get nipped by cold weather, from past experience, we found that they will make a come-back. We are so looking forward to the little green onions and don't really care if they don't develop into full grown bulbs.

We were disappointed that the Louisiana Purple Pod polebean seed had not come in. They are supposed to be here very soon, so we shall snap them up as soon as we can (pardon the pun). That is our favorite polebean, although I really like the rattlesnake bean. I get to grow them if we save a really nice spot for J's LPPs. In fact, the ground is already prepared for planting, but it will be at least another six weeks before we dare do that. Also, we have a place prepared for lots of cucumbers. Relish and pickles, oh my!

Probably will be another several days before we can get back in the garden, but we will be ready and waiting for the day.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I Have Nothing to Wear...on my feet....

I see so many posts about favorite garden tools, etc., and I can't help wondering what do other gardeners wear on their feet to keep off dirt/plant stains, etc.? I never see this mentioned. I usually wear an old pair of walking shoes that can be hosed off and left on the deck to dry. Not very glamorous, but they do the job. I have been on the lookout for a pair of lightweight boots that I can wear on our walks in rainy/damp weather. J has an assortment of shoes/boots. I have no problem in the summer with the walking shoes, but this winter weather is another issue. I don't want an expensive pair, as I wouldn't be wearing them outside our yard and don't mind the looks if they are comfortable.

Winter Comfort Food

February is being ushered out here in NE Mississippi by very chilly-almost dreary weather. Is it just to have something to do, or do we really need something hot and cheery to chase away the doldrums? In the pantry, I still have some canned turnip-mustard greens. How good would be cornbread be with that? Is it obvious I am very Southern? Also, I see I have a package of October/cranberry beans. Have been meaning to get that washed and prepped, so that is definitely something to do today. Those beans are SO delicious and quite nutritious.

Speaking of October beans, I recently had an enquiry about where I purchase seeds. We simply plant the beans we buy from the grocery store. They don't need to be treated and are definitely less expensive than from seed companies. I don't know if they are carried by every grocery store, but we have not had a problem finding them at Wal-Mart in the dry beans section. They are labeled "Siler's Selected Cranberry Beans." Then in another label, they are called "October or cranberry beans."

I have read in gardening tips (and do this) to soak the beans in tepid water about an hour so so before planting. This speeds sprouting. We will definitely be planting these again this spring and have the spot already prepared.

The sun is out now and temps are rising to almost a heat wave--40 degrees at 11:45 a.m. Maybe a simple lunch will suffice--this time!

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Beautiful Day

What a gorgeous day! My plan was for a walk-for-exercise around our garden track about 9 a.m. We had started spading a little strip in the garden a few days ago, and that just beckoned me. I was going great guns when J came down, and seeing how nice the soil was turning, he decided to bring the rototiller and finish that little spread. I did not object. He tilled in the compost that I had spread there last fall. Surprisingly for a February day, it looked ready for planting, but that is about two months away yet.

We went looking for black plastic to "mulch" that strip from the spring rains, etc., but were dismayed that what we had used in the past is not available here now, only a different kind that is way too expensive for our purpose. Will keep looking, though.

The rest of the garden was too wet to till. We did clear off the turnip-mustard greens row, because that is a definite go for this spring. We had very good luck there this past year. As soon as the plants come in for the "cold weather" stuff such as cabbage, onions, etc., we'll have a place to put them. That should bridge nicely until the real veggies are ready to plant.

Speaking of bridges, our plans for tomorrow do not include the garden. The weather man tells us to expect rain, so we won't feel too put out that I have to go once again to the dentist and have a temporary bridge re-attached. I was supposed to get the final one done on the 21st, but this temp had a mind of its own. When I was there last, I was so entertained by a 4-year-old girl who had to have some work done, and she was not happy, to put it mildly. A lot of little 4-year-old girls are SO dramatic. She proceeded to lie down in the floor and proclaim "I hate teeth!" I was impressed that the dentist, the father of a 4-year-old who is the friend of this little girl, understood her little drama and charmed her into cooperating. This was after banishing her mother from the room. This usually does the trick, and it did in this case. Before long, she was chatting away and probably came away with less dread of her next visit.

I don't think that a tantrum will fix my teeth. I don't think my dentist would appreciate it, either.

Saturday, February 9, 2008


This is a favorite for a quick side dish. I found this in a Heloise column. I might add a bit of shredded carrot. Also, how about a bit of thinly sliced onion.


1 head of cabbage (about 2 lb) shredded)
1 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons vinegar
½ teaspoon prepared mustard
¼ teaspoon celery salt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash of paprika

Mix oil with vinegar in a bowl. Add prepared mustard, celery salt, mayonnaise, salt, pepper and paprika. Mix well. Pour mixture over shredded cabbage, toss and refrigerate. For the best taste, make this a day ahead so the flavors have a chance to blend.

Friday, February 8, 2008


I don't need to update our weather if anyone has had TV on for a minute! The storm that really hit Oxford, MS tracked across just a few miles northwest of us. It probably was the one that did such damage in Alcorn County and beyond into Tennessee and Kentucky. Today's weather is so beautiful it is hard to picture the devastation not too far from us.

While taking the kitchen scraps to the compost bin, I decided to get my vitamin D fix for today and stayed outside about 20 minutes, soaking in the sun. Although there was a cool wind, the sunshine was so pleasant, and I enjoyed my walk around the garden, wishing it could be spring already. Too wet still to do any work there, though.

Planning lunch was easy enough. We had purchased boneless chicken breasts yesterday at a wonderful discount, using comp ads. I had remembered seeing a recipe on a box of Bisquick for Ultimate Chicken Fingers. I had the ingredients, so that is what I did for a quick and easy lunch. As I am giving Bisquick full credit, I don't think they'd mind if I share. We will definitely be doing this again, especially when the grandchildren visit!

Ultimate Chicken Fingers

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb) cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
2/3 cup Original Bisquick mix
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt or garlic salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1 egg, slightly beaten
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

HEAT oven to 450. Line cookie sheet with foil; spray with cooking spray. In 1-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag, mix Bisquick mix, cheese, salt and paprika.

DIP half the chicken strips into egg; place in bag. Seal bag; shake to coat. Place chicken on cookie sheet. Repeat to use up remaining chicken. Drizzle butter over chicken.

BAKE 12-14 min, turning chicken halfway through bake time with pancake turner, until no longer pink in center.

4 servings.

Note: I did add black pepper. I used Fleischman's spread, which is healthful. Also, I keep a container of grated parmesan, so that was a no-brainer. If one wishes, the chicken can be marinated in buttermilk for 30 min. or so, and the egg could probably be left off. I have done the marinade this way, and it makes the chicken so incredibly tender!

That's all for today.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A Quiet Tuesday

We are experiencing ominous weather today. Old time weather prognosticators always knew that the hot weather such as we are having the first of February was not good. Nothing we can do about it but be watchful.

I did make the Coca Cola chicken today, but in my cast iron "chicken fryer" in the oven instead of the crockpot. We had it for lunch, and of course there will be leftovers for dinner. The chicken was very tender. Hubby and I had a nice serving of that sans the gravy. That is where the fat was, and of course the sugar, with the Coke and catsup. But the onion was heavenly. For dinner, I plan to make more onion in the microwave in my favorite little microwave dish.

One productive thing I have done today was to set out the rose bushes I got yesterday. The yard is far too mushy to do anything there now, so I have borrowed a barrel that still had good rich dirt from last summer's flowers, set the roses in that, mulched them well, and will keep my fingers crossed that they will survive until I get a permanent place fixed.

Also, I am beginning to collect gallon plastic jugs to use as mini-irrigation systems this summer. To look at the garden now, one would find it difficult to picture how dry and hot it will be later. But it will!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Hamburger Pie #2

Found this today, also. Very similar to the one I posted earlier, and probably easier. This was a favorite of my family, especially when the kids were home. It is easy to do and very tasty. Kids will eat it! Why couldn't we use ground turkey? I think I will try that.


1 lb. ground beef
1 can tomato soup
1 cup green beans
5-7 medium potatoes, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Brown the ground beef in a skill over medium high heat. When brown, stir in tomato soup and green beans.

Stir until green beans thaw. Cut up 5-7 medium potatoes into tiny pieces. Blend the potatoes up with 2 tablespoons of butter. Transfer meat mixture from skillet into a 9 x 11 pan.
Layer the potatoes on top of the meat mixture. Broil in the oven for 5-7 minutes or until potato is golden brown!

Coca Cola Chicken

Something reminded me today of a recipe we had years ago, probably passed along by some of my husband's friends from a cookout. Here it is! We have not had this in some time, but I remember that it is SO good. I don't know if it could substitute diet Coke. It may be something in the Classic Coke that does the tenderizing. However, I can attest to the goodness. This can be made in the oven, as I have done it many, many times. Delish!


Serving Size : 4

1 cup Coca-Cola Classic
1 cup catsup
1 medium onion, sliced
1 1/2 pound whole chicken (or chicken parts)

Wash and pat dry chicken. Salt and pepper to taste. Put chicken in crockpot and onions on top. Add cola and catsup and cook on LOW 6 to 8 hours. When cooked place in refrigerator to cool and then skim off the fat. Reheat and eat.


What to do in February

Actually, I have been doing more than I have talked about, some of it kinda boring. We are being faithful in returning kitchen scraps to the compost bin. Today's contribution was lemon rinds from the wonderful fresh lemonade we made this weekend, using Splenda. So good. Also, we saved the parings from purple top turnips from the garden. All that along with egg shells, coffee and tea grounds make fairly frequent trips to the garden.

Something that we enjoy so much is feeding the flocks of birds that have found our back yard. We have many, many cardinals. They add so much cheer on a dreary day. We haven't bothered to identify all the different species of birds out there, but they are many and varied.

Today, I am being ambitious and bought three rose bushes. They are: Mr. Lincoln, one of my favorites. (I probably already have that, but you can't have too many, IMO); Gold Medal (grandiflora) (who can resist a beautiful yellow rose), and another yellow, New Day (hybrid tea). If I had my way, I'd have a garden full of roses, but compulsive as I am about everything green and growing, I must save room for the veggies! We buy our seeds at the local co-op, so today on our excursion, we checked to see when they would have their onion sets and seeds, and that should be in another two weeks. We want to get there early this time and get first choice.

Looks like more rain today. Good day for doing on-line research or catching up on reading.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Taking Care of Business

What a rollercoaster I've been on, but I'm not complaining. Let's see. Did I mention that our old Crosley chest freezer had been complaining? I think that thing, bought a couple of years secondhand even, is about 27 or so years old. It has never had many problems, so when it became temperamental a few days ago, we thought "it's about time." Fast forward to having the repairman out to the tune of $50 labor and $20 for the hard start relay. At today's rate, that is quite reasonable. When we questioned to him the reasonability of repairing that old unit versus buying a new one, he exclaimed, "Oh, no! You'd never get a new one nowadays made that well." So, it is chugging right along.

Next challenge: I noticed a little sensitivity in a tooth that had had major repair a few years ago. The pain seemed to be hanging on, so on a quick trip to the dentist and an assessment there, it didn't take long to determine that I have a rather significant abscess. So, in order to get that taken care of, I have been on antibiotics for a week, and on Wednesday I will have a root canal. That strikes terror in the heart of most people, but actually, technology has improved so over the past years that it is not that much of an ordeal. Here's hoping. However, I am facing rather complicated repair to other teeth, so Piggy Bank, here we come. My main problem has been remembering to take the meds at the time they were due.

Another challenge that I have dreaded so terribly bad was that in December my laptop computer konked out. With the holidays, etc., I was not in the frame of mind to deal with calling Dell Support and possibly getting someone across the world to talk to. Ever done that? I have tried that, and it is one of the more stressful things I've come across. So, having a backup computer, I put it off, thinking that I would come up with a solution that I could handle. I did have the paperwork that says the computer is still under warranty. SO, this afternoon, just like I had an epiphany, I went to Dell Support Online and chose the option of their chat support. Now why had I not done that before? This very nice person walked me through some questions and tests and decided that they would replace the motherboard and have a technician come to my home to do that. How simple was that? So, I am awaiting a call from the technician, and then I will be back to my spoiled self with my laptop baby back in operation hopefully.

The only thing I think we have done today that was productive in this very chilly weather we've had (didn't get above 45) was that hubby took the kitchen refuse to the compost bin. While he was out, he gathered some purple top turnips, and soon I will be preparing that for supper. Gotta have a little cornbread to go along, of course. The green tops from the turnips that I don't add to the pot will go back to compost.

Each day has its own challenges, and I'm sure tomorrow will have its share. But today I am proud of getting that issue of the laptop taken care of. How I dreaded that!


Monday, January 14, 2008

Revving up for Spring

We're trying to get psyched up for spring and was pleasantly surprised to see a display of Burpee seeds this weekend. Shouldn't be too surprised as the valentine candy was out the next day after Christmas. To keep our spirits up, we selected a packet of Burpee Pickler cucumbers, as that promises heavy yields. We do have our spot picked out with more sun for our cucumbers this year. Also, we ran across the sunflower selection and picked Chianti Hybrid, which looks beautiful (burgundy red) on the packet, and the Mammoth, which produces edible seeds (looking out for the birds here). This must be what came up last spring from around our bird feeder. That was so much fun to watch grow and then leave for the birds. The last packet was of the Mexican sunflower, Torch Tithonia. From the picture, we believe it to be the kind of flower we see in the landscapes of the local Mexican restaurants and is so pretty and "fiery."

Also included in our spending spree was the purchase of a couple of rolls of lawn edging within which we plan to confine our semi-raised beds. This will require several more rolls, but interspersed along with regular shopping, maybe it won't break the bank. At some point, one has to decide if the return is worth the investment, but in this case, we think it might be. We don't want to see our hard work washed away with the first heavy rain. Also, unless we run into another close-out on landscape timbers, we probably won't be buying those in bulk.

Our outside chores are pretty much confined to pruning the old apple tree that succumbed to the freeze/drought last year. At least we are getting most of the dead limbs cut away and will decide later if the entire tree goes this spring. There goes the resting place for zillions of hummingbirds and others, and a convenient hangy-downy place for bird feeders and anything that needs off the ground. Temp today is 45, but the sun is shining, so that may entice us to do our power walk around the garden!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Soup Anyone?

Generally, I like soup. Husband doesn't care for it if there is anything else. That doesn't keep me from indulging on these chilly, wintry days. But I do try to choose a healthful soup. Lately I have had this extreme craving for tomato-based foods, expecially soups. The other day I had this bright idea to cruise the soup aisle at the supermarket. Almost as being lead to do so, I saw this display of Progresso Soup, and there to my wondering eyes was...ta-da....Vegetable Classics Hearty Tomato. The calorie count is not bad at 110 per one cup, but there is more sugar and more sodium than I would prefer. Actually, it is quite tasty and probably wouldn't hurt much for an occasional indulgence, but I did get ideas about flavoring my own. BTW, Progresso does have low sodium products which are great.

Along these same lines, I scan Heloise's Hints in our daily newspaper where she often has great recipes. On this particular day, someone had mentioned her recipe for cream soup. She calls it her No-Fat Cream Soup. Think of the possibilities here. You will need: 1 cup nonfat dried milk powder; 1 tablespoon dried onion flakes; 2 tablespoons cornstarch; 2 tablespoons chicken bouillon powder; 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed; 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed; 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Mix all the ingredients and store in an airtight container. This mixture will make about four to six 4-oz servings when water is added. To make soup, add 2 cups of water to the mix in a large saucepan and stir constantly over medium heat until thick. Add 1/2 cup of a main ingredient of your choice and cook until done, adding water if necessary. You can add ingredients to suit your taste. Heloise says that you can use instant potatoes or powdered milk to thicken up most soups. The contributor to this article said that she had used a jar of pureed butternut squash. This soup is on my to-do list.

Heloise's interesting link is http://www.heloise.com/ for recipes and other hints. The above-mentioned clipping goes on my fridge for sure.

Monday, January 7, 2008

All In A Day's Work

Ever tried to shop when your eyes are fully dilated? It's a challenge. Today was my annual checkup with my opthamologist, and as expected, I got the dilation bit. Later, we were cruising the produce section of a Wal-Mart Supercenter and found some enticing items. Their hazelnuts were greatly reduced, so considering the regular price, I thought .99/lb wasn't a bad price! The zucchini appeared to be fresh, as did the eggplant. Also we found sliced baby bella mushrooms. There was a special on green bell peppers at 50 cents each. We found the fresh young chicken leg quarters which are so nice to roast. So, even though we really did not need to grocery-shop today, we couldn't resist these bargains.

Back at home, there posted on the fridge was my copy of a recipe for oven-roasted veggies from the South Beach Diet, which I love. Dinner was so easy to do, adapting the veggies I chose for tonight. The eggplant will have its day tomorrow, oven-roasted, of course.

After pre-heating the oven to 450 degrees, into a large roasting pan I sliced two small, tender zucchini, the green bell pepper, one sweet onion, added the baby bellas, salt and pepper, and about 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, tossing to mix and coat. This was roasted about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. While this was doing its thing, I put two servings of the chicken leg quarters on a separate roasting sheet and did that at the same time with the veggies. They were small and were done not long after the veggies. So, that was dinner along with a beverage, fairly healthful, and easy to do.

This recipe could include any version of the veggies one prefers: asparagus, summer squash, red or yellow onions, scallions, to name a few. Easy to do, healthful, and really delicious.

The eyes are back to normal now. Tomorrow's challenge will be finding an appliance repairman to check out our aging chest-type freezer. Also, there is a chance I will get a call to do some backup medical transcription for a friend. As Gilda Radner once put it so succinctly, "It's always somethin' ."

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Belated Merry Christmas/Happy New Year!

I have absolutely no idea where to pick up here. That's what I get for doing a large draft of what I wanted to publish but sent it to draft because I was dilly-dallying, this in December. The unthinkable thing happened--my 'puter went kaput. At this point I am getting my information together, hoping that there will be something left in the warranty. Luckily, I have a backup until I can get my pet back. (I'm so spoiled to my laptop!)

We have had a good taste of winter here in Northeast Mississippi. Some days have been mild and fairly warm, but others are bitter cold, so on those days I feel content studying my Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew and planning with Friend Hubby how we want to incorporate some of those ideas in our garden this spring. I like the idea of the trench method of gardening, and I am hoping that will help cut down on the laborious watering such as we experienced this summer.

I had wanted to mention that our two generous neighbors have gifted us with a huge amount of small oak leaves, even bringing them to our compost "fence." We are adding to that our household scraps of remains of veggies, egg shells, coffee and tea dregs, etc., and this coming week, hoping that our schedule will slow down somewhat from the holidays, we hope to visit our local garden center and find a good, affordable, source of "mature manure" to help speed the process of composting. I do know that our state cooperative extension service has much helpful information on gardening, and that office is just about a mile from my home. A visit there would be something to do on a cold day. I want to get a kit to test the pH in my soil so I can proceed in a more educated fashion in amending the soil. Besides the oak leaves, we have our own supply of pine needles, which afford an ongoing supply of straw. Our little patch of mustard greens and turnip greens has about seen its best days, and those green tops will go toward composting. I did read from one interesting blogger that she had given up on the mixture of the greens and browns, etc., and just let nature take its course. That might work, but I have all this stuff to get rid of anyway, and I just cannot stand the thought of throwing that away when it can "give back" whence so much of it came.

Sometime in December before the rains/cold came, I had spent a coupla hours spading a row where we will be considering "trenching," just to see how that would go. It went well, but then weather and the holidays intervened. I had done a little display of the veggies I had canned from our own garden this year, and it was with a little pride that we could show and share with family/neighbors what we had been up to.

As far as things other than vegetables, our pink camellia has just bloomed probably better than it ever has. I don't know its name. It usually blooms by Christmas. The dark red one has many buds, usually blooms after Christmas, and I hope the freezing weather hasn't ruined that. Camellias are just gorgous and really add welcome cheer in winter arrangements. The hawthorne next to it has started blooming, but the weather has slowed that down. Of course, jonquils will be blooming in a day or two. Ah, Spring! If I can find some pix of the camellias, I will post that. Friend Hubby is the photographer amongst us, but we aren't so well organized yet on where he puts those things. That would be a nice job for me on a cold day--organizing photos!