Fall is Here – Ick!
September 23, 2020
I had a a few weeks off from writing, which has really helped me without my having to ask for it. I’ve been spending a lot of time in the John Deere Trac, running the grain cart while Dennis runs the combine.
The houseplants had already been gathered together on the front deck, in the shade of the Virginia creeper that has grown up on the south side. I’d done that over a few mornings before heading out to the fields in order to make watering them easier. I didn’t have to drag the hose all over the yard in my limited time before becoming the “hired help” for harvest. (That job doesn’t pay in cash, but rather in love and appreciation.)
Gathering the plants really paid off when it froze last week. It was much easier to cover all the plants. I do have too many. I’ve only noticed two plants damaged, and it had dropped to 24.1°. The monstera and a philodendron cutting I was rooting both were blackened. I can start another philodendron easily, but I really hope the monstera will pop back. It was given to me by a friend.
Parts of the garden were also covered. I’d pulled the tomato plants thAat were in a short, second row so I only had the one row to cover. Dennis helped unfold the old truck tarps and to get them over what I wanted covered. (Some of my “love and appreciation” pay.) I hadn’t had time to dig the dahlia and gladiola bulbs, so they went under a couple tarps, held up by the fencing they grew next to. The few squash plants that were actually forming fruits were nestled under old sleeping bags. The celery and eggplants went under a tent made using a couple chairs, an old quilt, and clothes pins. (I’ve found that holding the tarps up away from the foliage helps keep the frost from going through and damaging the parts that touch the tarps.) The peppers, immature cukes (those were a bust this year), and some tomatoes were pulled before covering. I still have carrots, beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and three red cabbages doing fine. The uncovered flowers all turned black.
The live trap did catch a late raccoon for me even though the corn was all gone. He was the largest, yet most docile. Not one growl or hiss came from him. He’d managed, during his night in captivity, to drag a section of the closest drip hose into the trap with him, which he chewed to pieces in his anger. Perhaps the bits of hard hose he ingested didn’t agree with his system? Whatever, what Dennis dealt him definitely didn’t. He won’t be doing any more garden damage, ever.
From those tomatoes I’d pulled, plus a couple small cukes, I made my first ever gazpacho. I had a couple of nice suppers from this recipe while in the fields. I’ll be making this next summer, when it’s hot again. I left the seeds in the tomatoes, but removed them from my cukes. My bread was the heel of my whole-wheat. I didn’t strain it, either. Tomatoes will peel more easily if you first cut out the stem end and score an x on the blossom end before dunking in boiling water.
6 fresh vine-ripened tomatoes
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic
1 shallot OR onion (optional)
1 tsp sherry vinegar (or plain)
4 Tbl EVOO
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp crushed peppercorns
2 C water (for boiling, not for the gazpacho)
1 slice sourdough or any bread (optional)
Garnishes: croutons, shredded cheese, chopped cilantro, chopped hard-boiled egg
Heat water to boiling. Dunk tomatoes, then cool and peel. Cut into slices, scoop out seeds. Blend with cucumber, garlic, shallot, and vinegar until smooth. Add oil, salt and pepper, and bread. Pulse until bread is smooth. Strain into jar and chill in fridge. Serve fresh or chilled. Add desired garnishes.
I’ve also thrown together chopped extra ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced onion, cucumber chunks, thinly sliced raw beet, with capers and fresh basil for an easy salad. I used a bit of straight balsamic vinegar for the dressing. That salad, along with a serving of the broccoli salad (recipe shared recently) was my field supper last Saturday. Then I enjoyed the last piece of lemon cake (recipe to come) with raspberry cream cheese frosting without guilt.