Plink! Plink!

I love the sound of canning-jar lids sealing themselves. 🙂

I finally got to put up salsa today. I’ve been waiting all summer for my tomatoes to produce enough fruit to do the job, and with monsoon season apparently behind us, the vines have perked up a little and the fruit is starting to ripen instead of just rotting on the vine. If I could keep the birds from taking bites out of my pretty Creoles, I think I’d get a fairly decent crop. I can’t really blame the birds, though. A ripe homegrown tomato is pretty hard to resist.

I put up a gallon of salsa in pint jars. One of the jars refused to seal, which means I need to pick up chips tomorrow. 🙂 My salsa recipe is here. I followed basically the same recipe tonight, except I left off the cucumbers because I didn’t need them.

While I was cleaning out the stove drawer yesterday, I discovered a plate that belongs to my friend Linda, who left it here after a Ya-Ya party two years ago. I kept meaning to return it to her, but I had an idea I might fill it up with something lovely, and I never got around to it. Then I misplaced the plate and forgot about it until yesterday. I made a batch of Gilded Lilies to put on her plate before I return it to her this week. (Recipe below.)

I had a really productive day. In addition to canning and baking, I bought lumber, built two sets of shelves, finished reorganizing three closets, took a carload of stuff to Goodwill, bought some new clothes, ran the dishwasher, did a load of laundry, and now I’m getting ready to fold the laundry that’s scattered all over my bed so I can put my feet up and read a magazine. I have to run five miles and change Gretchen’s oil tomorrow.

Here’s the recipe for Gilded Lilies. I call them that because I started out with a basic chocolate-chip cookie recipe and then realized we were low on butter, so I substituted peanut butter for some of the butter in the recipe. Then I remembered I had some black walnuts in the freezer and some dried cranberries in the cabinet. Putting peanut butter in a chocolate-chip cookie recipe is already gilding the lily a little bit, but adding cranberries and black walnuts is just over the top. They turned out pretty great, though. Make a batch and see for yourself:

Gilded Lilies

1 tsp. baking soda
1 stick of butter, softened
3/4 c. peanut butter (I used creamy, but crunchy would probably work just as well)
2 large eggs (I substituted three small ones ‘cos our girls are still too young to produce big eggs)
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 c. granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 bag Nestle semisweet mini-morsels
3/4 c. half-pulverized black walnuts
1 c. dried cranberries
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 375. Soften the butter in the microwave. Stir in the peanut butter. Add the soda, sugars, and vanilla, stirring after each addition. Add the chocolate chips, walnuts, and cranberries. Mix well. Stir in the flour, a little at a time. (I use either a pastry cutter or my hands to mix in the flour.)

Roll into 1 1/4-inch balls. At this point, if you’re not afraid of salmonella — which I obviously am not, because A.) germs and cooties are against my religion, and B.) I cook with ridiculously fresh eggs that come from feisty, beautiful, well-cared-for hens who have never been sick a day in their lives — you could declare these “no-bakes,” roll them in powdered sugar, and store them in Tupperware in the refrigerator.

If you feel the need to bake them, place the balls on greased cookie sheets, flatten gently with a fork, and bake for about 10 minutes. Makes about 50 cookies.

Fresh salsa from homegrown tomatoes and cayenne peppers and cookies made with black walnuts from my mom’s tree and eggs we brought in from the chicken tractor this morning. We are so spoiled around here. If I’d been thinking on my feet, I’d have used some of our girls’ honey in the cookies, too. Maybe next time….

Emily

Progress

So … we got up late this morning, but I managed to get my bedroom closet almost completely cleaned out; I’m just in the process of putting the “keepers” back in there now. I did pretty well. The closet looks a lot better and should be a lot easier to keep clean.

Here are three things I have learned in the process:

1. I am apparently incapable of eating anything without spilling it on my clothes, as evidenced by the pile of T-shirts that have now been relegated to the rag bag. (On the up side, I may never need to buy another paper towel.)

2. Pants do not grow when you put them back on the hanger and ignore them for six months instead of donating them to Goodwill when you figure out you can’t zip them without lying down. (For the record, this process will not remove weird smells from workout clothes, either.)

3. I am less materialistic than I used to be. I had boatloads of T-shirts that I never wore but couldn’t bear to part with for sentimental reasons. I ditched a ton of them today.

Gotta run. I have to finish repacking the closet, drop off some stuff at Goodwill, take some recyclables to the M.E.T. site on Sheridan, and pick up lumber for my shelf project.

Emily

Trivia contest

In my recent barrage of housecleaning and decluttering, I found some Route 66 items that are either duplicates of things I already have or are things I am tired of storing/displaying and would like to share with someone else.

In the interest of making sure these things go to good homes where they will be loved and appreciated, I am going to use them as prizes in Route 66 trivia contests.

Here’s the first contest. First person to post with all the correct answers wins a necklace (handmade by yours truly) with a pendant containing a piece of the road.

1. Where on Route 66 will you find a sign that says “Doofnac Xemi”?
2. Doofnac Xemi is an anagram for what?
3. I need a bottle of Yoo-Hoo, a package of Rit dye, a can of Strongheart dog food, a new jacket, a ham sandwich, and a flat of petunias. Where on Route 66 can I buy all these items in a single location?
4. How many patties are on the Big Okie at Hank’s Hamburgers?
5. It’s Thursday night. I’m sitting next to a bunch of steelworkers, eating free chicken wings in one of the oldest bars on Route 66. Where am I?

Good luck!

Emily

P.S.: Don’t forget: To prevent spammers from commandeering my blog, all posts are held in moderation, so if your answers don’t appear the minute you click “submit,” don’t resend the information. Your message will appear after I’ve approved it.

Odds and ends

The solar panels generated 7.6 kilowatt hours of electricity today. Not bad, considering the fact that it was partly cloudy today.

A really beautiful bird flew across the road right in front of my car today on Route 66. I’m not sure what it was, but it was little bitty and had the brightest blue feathers you’ve ever seen. I also saw a couple of scissortails sitting on wires next to the road. They were pretty.

Somewhere around Oakhurst, I looked up at the clouds, which were gorgeous — all big and golden-pink and Maxfield Parrish-y against the bright blue sky — and noticed a much bigger, darker cloud off to the southeast, with a faint rainbow splashed across it. I didn’t try to get a picture, because the rainbow was so faint the camera really wouldn’t have picked up much of it, but it was really pretty.

The hens produced three eggs for us today. I think this puts their total at 12, if anybody is keeping score. I harvested a handful of okra, several tomatoes, a cucumber, and several cayenne peppers this evening. Assuming most of them are usable, I should have enough tomatoes to put up a batch of salsa this weekend.

In honor of that occasion (and because our recent adventures with six-legged invaders forced me to come to terms with the quantity of disorganized junk cluttering up every closet, cabinet, and flat surface in my house), I cleaned out the living-room closet so I can install some shelves in there tomorrow and turn it into a fabulous little pantry to store all my canning equipment, dehydrator, honeycomb cutter, and various other once-a-year tools that need to be accessible but don’t necessarily have to live in the kitchen.

In four and a half hours this evening, I managed to declutter and reorganize two closets, take measurements for two sets of shelves I’m building tomorrow, fill three garbage bags (including a big contractor bag) with trash, fill a grocery bag with recyclables, sort and reorganize my garden seeds, sort and reorganize the strange assortment of random objects lurking under the sink, completely reorganize my kitchen cabinets and drawers, and clean the drawer in the bottom of the stove.

I’ve got another big list of stuff to do when I get up. We’ll see how much of it I get through.

Hope your evening was productive.

Emily