Gifts from the Toy Garden

Today's toy garden harvest

I love cooking when I’m in the mood!

When it’s time to cook dinner, I’ll have the meat defrosted.  But I’m never sure how I’m going to prepare it. I take a look in the refrigerator to see what I have to work with, then I just start playing, and dinner evolves from there.

Tonight I had 3 boneless beef ribs thawed.  I put them in a pan and browned them well.  Then I added garlic, onion, ginger root from the freezer, celery and a handful of baby

Garden gifts chunky soup

carrots.  While that simmered, I sniffed my way through my spice drawers.  Ah, that would add a nice high note.  That one would add depth and complexity. 

Then I added diced potatoes, and the pole beans and two tomatoes from the garden.  The ho-hum one pot meal morphed into a down home delight.

Next it was time to cook the eggplant.  I LOVE fried eggplant.  Even though I enjoy eggplant parmesan and baba ganosh, I always default to dipping the

My favorite! Fried eggplant!

eggplant slices in egg, seasoning them, then dredging them in a mixture of flour and cornstarch, and FRYING them!

I love it so much that I deliberately only planted one plant this year to keep me from over-indulging.  That one plant provides 3 or 4 eggplant a week, which is more than we need.

We got a very light, gentle rain most of the day.  Much less than was expected or predicted from Tropical Storm Lee.  Tomorrow we should get more.  But it doesn’t look like we are going to get anything near the 5 – 9 inches that was predicted for this area yesterday.

That’s okay.  If we get a couple of inches, I’ll be thrilled!

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Country Road & Beaver Dam

Down my rural lane

My country road

Late yesterday afternoon Ron and I took a walk to check out the beaver pond about 3/4 mile from our house.

Wild carrots grow all along the road.  They fascinate me.  Such intricate clustered white flowers — each one with one tiny purple flower in the very center.  I used to enjoy dipping the flowers in batter and frying them for an unusual treat.  But since I’m trying to eat wiser, I just admired the flowers this time.

wild carrot flower

Wild carrot flower

But even more interesting than the flowers is the birds-nest form the flowers take on as they go to seed.  At first, it looks just like a cupped birds nest, but they progress into a completely closed cage-like formation.

Funny…. when I was younger I thought studying plants was the most boring thing on earth.  Now I find it endlessly fascinating.

The wild daylilies blooming season is past.  I found one single flower remaining.  The rest of them look like straggly bunches of grass now.  I used to thoroughly enjoy fully exploiting the edible parts… corms, shoots and flowers.  But it has been so hot this year, I haven’t had much desire to go digging in the dusty clay or bushwhacking through tall weeds to get to them.

wild carrot flower birds nest

Wild carrot birdsnest fully closed

I think, too, once you have learned a plant and its uses, that simply taking photographs can be as rewarding as eating them.

When we got to the beaver pond, we were disappointed and saddened.  The water is WAY down.  And it looks like someone sabotaged the dam.  There were large rocks on top of it that someone must have put there.  And the dam had fallen into disrepair.  I am afraid that something happened to the beavers.

beaver dam

Due to the low water level, grasses and weeds are growing, and the dam appears to be abandoned and in disrepair.

We did get a good bit of rain last night, so the water level might be up a little.  I’ll check the dam again soon and see if it has been repaired.

On our way down to the pond, one of the neighbors’ aggressive dogs ran out and accosted us.   I am not usually afraid of dogs, but this time I was really frightened.  One of the owners’ kids came out, gathered up the dogs, and assured me, “They won’t bite you.”  Yeah, right.

They are supposed to be fenced or chained, but no one enforces the laws out here.  On our way back, again the dogs came out at us, but the kids rounded them up again.

daylily flower

The one remaining daylily bloom

I used to enjoy taking long walks, but I am feeling less and less safe.  The only place I really enjoy walking anymore are the trails when we go camping.  It’s so sad, because I do live in a beautiful area with so much to take in on long, leisurely walks.

Whew!  This post is getting long!  I’ll quit talking now and just share some of the photos I took.

[Note 8/8/2010:  The beaver dam is in complete disrepair.  Apparently someone killed the beavers.]

erosion and tree roots

This eroded tree root by the side of the road looks like something out of "The Hobbit"

groundnuts

Groundnuts plant

wild quinine

Wild quinine

wild carrots by beaver pond

Wild carrots by the beaver pond

red clover

Red clover looking a little heat stressed

buttonbush

Not a great picture, but I included it because it is the first time I have seen buttonbush flowers growing here.