I finally got my first mosquito bite. I was becoming somewhat smug. I do think as one ages one is not as tasty. My young women workers and granddaugher seem to be bothered by them. After the great soaking of last Monday and the return of humidity, they are in their glory. When we were coming up in Rew, Pa., we called them punkies. Every evening we would build “punkie smudges.” This is a small bonfire onto which wet grass is placed, causing a great deal of smoke. We would stand in that smoke as long as we could stand it without breathing. The bugs would avoid our smoky skin and hair so we could resume our nightly kick-the-can game. In those days we self-entertained with all the youth in town. There were 15 or 20 of us. We weren’t necessarily friends or classmates, but the long summer evenings brought us together. No one drove and our parents never carted us around to organized activities in Bradford, the “big city” eight miles down the valley.
Where was I? Oh yes! Mosquitoes! They certainly put a damper on early morning and dusk garden activities. The days are noticeably shorter. I am closing the henhouse a full hour earlier than in mid-June.
My beet crop has been completely dependable. I planted some in flats early on in the greenhouse and painstakingly transplanted them out mid-April. Since I am the one in my family who actually enjoys them, they last the entire summer and fall. In the past I didn’t eat them much in the summer as I prefer them oven-roasted until tender enough to remove the skins. I love them cold with oil and vinegar with a little blue cheese for lunch. It’s usually too darn hot to run the oven.
Lately I’ve been using my small crockpot to “roast” them. I drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil and leave them on low for a day. It works perfectly and the kitchen stays cool. I also tried it with garlic bulbs with equal success. I used to wrap the bulbs in foil for the oven, but again, the crockpot saves energy and the foil is unnecessary.
Thanks to Lisa Berkowsky. She gave me a great book this spring by Gabrielle Hamilton, Blood, Bones and Butter. The author is owner/chef of Prune restaurant in New York’s East Village. It’s a great account of the food business as well as eating locally in Italy once a year. She has some awesome descriptions of Italian markets and the meals made from them.
I was so looking forward to the visit by Carlo Petrini, founder of the slow food movement. He was to give a lecture this month, but some sort of health and/or family issue caused him to cancel. If you are not familiar with slow food, it is worth a trip into cyberspace.
The remnants of Hurricane Irene will be bringing us a good amount of rain. It seems every year the weekend before Labor Day has inclement weather. Sorry for you vacationers, but it will be great to kick off the fall gardens.
Now that Governor Rick Perry is full-on into the Presidential nomination race I feel compelled to take a few swipes at Texas. I lived there in 1966-1968. In my college dorm, I was happy to discover blacks, Hispanics and whites living together. This was in the middle of the civil rights era. After careful examination I discovered all the whites were Yankees. Honestly, a sheltered Pennsylvania girl took a while to figure that one.
Let’s see, Mr. Job Creator Perry has fired 49,000 teachers. This will help Texas keep its record 51st place (after Puerto Rico) in high school graduates. Texas has the highest divorce rate in the country as well as right up there with teen pregnancies. Ironically, gay marriage Massachusetts has the lowest rate of divorce. I’m not even going to the climate change denier place.
Why would all those family values types begrudge our President a few days with his family? It’s going to be an interesting winter politically!