August, 2014 browsing by month


Beautiful green

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

It looks so different here after a few weeks of rain.



And the rain is still coming down.



From the garden

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

Got our first cantaloupe today…and we’re going to have to start canning these tomatoes.

Making cheese

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

One thing we have good access to here is goat’s milk. And what better to do with that than make chevre or goat cheese, so I decided to give it a try.

It was very easy and yielded great results.

To start, you heat the milk to about 86 degrees. You then add a very small amount of mesophillic culture (available for about $1 per batch) and let the whole thing sit overnight. The result is a big cake of cheese floating in whey. (For those interested, the whey is good for making bread or smoothies.)

photo 1

You then strain it with cheesecloth. The amount of time you strain for determines how soft or dry the cheese is. I like mine fairly soft, so I only drained it for about an hour.

photo 2

After that, you can add flavoring if you like and shape it if you like. I made plain, honey lemon (blintzes?), and fresh herb chevre and rolled them in waxed paper to make logs like you get at the store.

photo 3

Overall, this was an easy process and was cost effective vs. buying premade cheese. (One gallon of milk yielded about 7 of these good sized logs.) And most important of all, it was delicious!

Garden update

Friday, August 8th, 2014

Despite the trials and tribulations of this summer, most of our garden is doing quite well. The monsoons have been good and steady, and after a very hot stretch in May, it’s been more moderate.

This is what the beds look like full of plants. They grow to fill the shape of the netting.


The tomatoes have done especially well. I’m not sure what to attribute this to, but possibilities include good seed (all locally seed saved), continued enrichment of our soil, new organic fertilizer, the weather, and/or a new method of watering which involves not only drip, but a low level sprinkling (generally sprinkling is thought to be bad for tomatoes, but we speculate that this cooled the beds, possibly allowing for fruiting during hot temperatures, which is normally our biggest problem).

We are currently getting a good size bowl of tomatoes every other day, and the bulk of the tomatoes are not yet ripe. There must be well over a hundred green tomatoes with some getting quite large. Definitely the best tomato crop so far here.



Other crops are doing well. We continue to eat lettuce and have had yellow squash and cucumbers as well. Cantaloupe and watermelon should be ready soon. The beans are thriving as usual. Even the sweet potatoes appear to have come back from their run-in with the javelina (though it’s hard to tell with the actual potatoes being under ground, but the greens look very healthy). Barring any particularly bad insect invasion, which could come any time now, we should have a lot of food here.

An abundance of basil

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

As you might remember, last year, we planted a large bed of basil. It was quite lovely, but there was really a lot of it.

This year, I decided to plant just a few small pots. (We still have pesto in the freezer from last year, and all of our neighbors have probably had their fill too.)

However, the bed from last year reseeded itself, and I am loathe to pull out healthy volunteers, so we now have a large amount of basil among our cantaloupes and lettuce. (At some point, all of my beds will be a mix of everything because of my reluctance to eliminate volunteers. For example, this year we have tomatoes in 3 or 4 different beds. This is a nice treat though.)

In the course of perusing food blogs this summer, I saw a recipe for basilcello. (If you haven’t tried limoncello, you should. It’s an Italian lemon liqueur, best served ice cold.) So naturally, I thought I’d give it a try. And I made it with lemon basil, which I love, hoping that lemon flavor would come through.

The results were fabulous. And you could taste the lemon flavor as much if not more than the basil. Here are a few pics of the process.

First you start with some vodka in a mason jar.

After washing the basil leaves, you par boil them, plunge them into an ice bath, and then add them to the vodka.

The basil then steeps in the vodka for a week. It gradually becomes green colored.

You then strain out the basil leaves, add some simple syrup (with relatively little sugar overall), chill the final beverage, and it’s ready to consume.