Friday, August 31, 2012

apricots, finally done

Okay, here's a rundown on all the apricot stuff:
  • first apricots: June 30
  • first driveway cleaning: July 1
  • second driveway cleaning: July 10
  • last apricots/driveway cleaning: August 12
  • countless apricots to Stacy over the course of the summer
    processed mostly into 5+ gallons of super-concentrated apricot purée, currently in the Walter Burke Catering freezer
  • five grocery bags picked in 20 minutes by Patrice: July 14
    estimated 30 pounds, processed into, according to Patrice:
    6 half pints of sugarless jam; 4 frozen pies to bake on a cold winter's day (pie pie me oh my); several pints of thick, delicious apricot syrup for dipping chocolate cookies and pouring over ice cream, or using to sweeten lesser fruit pies, or just swigging out a few tablespoonfuls when no one can see; bags and bags (4 gallon bags) of fresh apricots pitted, cleaned and quick frozen for future adventures; more jam with cherries added; bowls and handfuls for fresh eating and cereal; 4 more pints of sugarless jam with agave
  • one grocery bag to Steven and Janet: July 16
  • one grocery bag to Nicole and John: August 10
  • 4 grocery bags for our own use
    processed into 1 apricot tart, some fruit leather, some refrigerator preserves, 4 gallons of frozen purée, 4 cups blanched frozen halves, 6.5 pints of canned preserves

Patrice wrote a sweet note thanking us:
The Meehans' neighborhood apricot tree. Sweet orange morsels ... Apricots are my food, my special fruit that is part of my identity. I am a California July baby and remember climbing the fence into an ownerless apricot orchard to pick apricots every summer. We kids cleaned 'em and cut 'em open and Mom laid them out around the swimming pool to dry. We had shelves full of dried apricots until the next season. In late July, the whole neighborhood smelled sweet with the overabundance of fruit on the ground. What's not to like? Round and orange with a ruby blush. Mmmmm — the fragrant, tasty essence of summer. I have a floor-to-ceiling chalk board in my kitchen and kept a count from the pits ... ha ha! It looked like an orange smooshy hurricane hit the kitchen that day. Considered hosing out the kitchen floor but thought better of it. Wish I had taken pictures. Thanks for sharing the abundance.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

weekend update

Tomatoes have been coming in like crazy! I returned a platter to our next-door neighbor today with eight! Robesons on it. And earlier this week we brought five Robesons and a buncha Sungolds as a hostess gift for another neighbor who was throwing a party.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

tomato snack

Tomatoes with a little balsamic vinegar, olive oil, basil, Parmesan, and some salami.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


Yum! BLTs with the Robesons.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

apricot preserves

Two grocery bags of apricots = 11 half pints of preserves

My eight quart stockpot was only big enough to fit half at a time. Woof!

I picked, cleaned and cooked down the apricots last Sunday. Then everything sat in the fridge until this weekend. Brought the preserves back to a boil in the stainless steel dutch oven (in 2 batches), then processed them in the big stockpot.

Since I don't have any real canning equipment, I improvised with foil at the bottom of the stockpot (instead of a rack) and rubber band-wrapped tongs (instead of a jar lifter). Ghetto fabulous!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

pasta with tomatoes, basil, and smoked mozzarella

A favorite with fresh tomatoes. Super easy and delish!

While water is boiling/pasta is cooking, cut up tomatoes. Toss with salt to taste in serving dish. You want the salt to render out some tomato juice, so let that sit for a bit. Meanwhile, cut up mozzarella and basil. Add to tomatoes, along with some olive oil. Stir. When pasta is done, drain and dump into tomato mixture. Stir some more. Good warm or room temp.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

apricot tree - fully loaded!

All the branches are weighed down.

Lots of lost ones under the tree in the rock mulch and on the driveway.

Two in an old bird's nest — not staged, I swear!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

weekend update

In the raised bed, the fennel is bonkers. Note to self: next year put a tomato cage on it while it's still small! Robesons are ripening.

Lots of bees (and hornets!) in the fennel

In the south-facing bed, Sungolds are looking good. Lost one of the three basil plants — other two are ok. One has totally bolted already.

First Sungolds and Robeson!

Friday, July 13, 2012

plants list

I made a new site to keep track of plants I'm interested in. Tags will sort for size, water needs, sun needs, flower color, bloom time, zone, etc. Permanent link at the top of the sidebar column on the left.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

more apricots

This tree is not fooling around.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

apricot picking

Stacy came by to pick some apricots.

I helped, and picked enough for the tart I was making and bringing to a party at Stacy’s that night.

Tasty, but a little underdone, as it turned out. Should have pre-baked the shell.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sunday, May 20, 2012

what’s blooming

Roses, roses, roses:


Monday, May 7, 2012

weekend update

Got most everything planted yesterday. First deadheaded the perennials, put down grass seed and watered. Ripped out the last of the bolted arugula from the raised bed. Then I hauled the last two bags of mushroom compost over two the south-facing bed and dug those in. Behold my half-assed hardening-off technique: plop the tray with all the flowers and tomatoes and basil on the patio, in the shade under the sumac the day before, leave them out overnight and plant the next day.

First the Robesons went in the raised bed.


With cages:

Then the Sungolds and the basil took a ride in the wheelbarrow over to the south-facing bed.

Planted, with drip hose:

With cages:

The basil teepees are more to keep the dog off them than for anything else:

Speaking of dogs, here's our neighbor’s idiot chocolate lab, who likes to pop his head over the wall when I'm gardening next to it and Cujo at me. We're not entirely sure what his name is, so Bram and I refer to him as Cletus.

Planted the flowers in the front door pot last. Why is Elspeth Quinceberry giving me the stink eye?

Friday, May 4, 2012

omg, the apricot tree

So, ever since we moved into the house in the spring of 2007, the apricot tree next to the driveway has always put on a lovely, showy bloom. Here’s a photo of it from that spring:

Our real estate agent opined that it looked like "a Baumann woodcut."
[click for larger Gustave Baumann goodness]


Also, every spring, there’s a cold snap that kills off any set fruit. We’ve gotten a few fruit here and there. Maybe 20, max. This year, however, the spring’s been really mild, and that tree is loaded with fruit. I’m a little worried.