Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I have been peeling tomatoes while preparing to make a salsa recipe that my cousin, Gay shared with me. She told me to "cook it till the cows come home." I have been thinking about that idea and what it means and it has led me to other rambling and reminiscent thoughts. Gay was raised on a dairy farm in Star Valley, Wyoming. She lived out of the city limits of Afton, while I was a "city girl" in the booming town of about 1,200. From what my mother has told me about farm life, I understand that after the cows are milked in the wee morning hours, they are taken to the pasture where they can graze for the day; when milking time comes again, they are ready and willing to make the trip back to the barn to be milked. I do remember from time to time, being at Aunt Mae's home and going with Gay or Patrice to get the cows. The cows came right along, slowly, after being away all day. So in other words, "till the cows come home" is an all day thing. . . . Another thought about the cows. . . . I remember springtime in Star Valley and how going down to Uncle Morris' how the manure smell was especially potent. I made comments about it stinking and he said that it was the greatest smell on Earth. Now when I spread manure on my garden and the kids complain because of the smell, I don't think it is all that bad? Funny how our perspective changes with life experiences.

I have many fond memories of Star Valley and I find it interesting that I am constantly running into people who know someone who lives there, has lived there themselves, or has family who has or does live there. Mother and I went to a local farm recently to buy some cucumbers (ours didn't do well at all) and in speaking with the owner, it came out that he has family who lived in Star Valley many years ago--Ollie and Evie Petersen. Mother had heard of them, but they had left the "Valley" years ago.

A few years ago, when Matthew was returning home from his mission to Denver, Colorado, we were anxiously waiting at the Portland airport. Because of the changes in the security at the airports, of course we couldn't go right up to the terminal but had to wait behind the security gates. We had no idea which flights were coming through at the time, so I stopped a girl who had just come through and asked her where she was from. I really meant where did you fly from, but she took it literally and said, "Star Valley, Wyoming!" (What are the chances of that?) I told her that I too, was from Star Valley and told her my maiden name. She excitedly told me that her best friend was Ashley (my first cousin). What a coincidence. It is interesting how so many people know about Star Valley, but it really is a wonderful, beautiful place so I guess it isn't all that strange after all.

When Gay first gave me her salsa recipe and told me to "cook it till the cows come home," I didn't have the patience and instead drained off most of the liquid so it would thicken more quickly. When I told Gay about it, she said, "I told you to cook it till the cows come home." This time I am going to exert more patience, I think that must be another lesson to learn when dealing with cows and other things. . . . Here is Gay's salsa recipe:

8 quarts tomatoes, peeled and chopped (I like Roma the best)
8 cups onions chopped
4 cups green peppers chopped
2 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup salt
2 Tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp black pepper
Jalapeno peppers chopped (15-16 to taste)
Put all ingredients in a very large kettle and "cook it till the cows come home!"
Pour salsa into hot jars and process according to canning guidelines for your state.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Our most recent goal has been to finish up the uncompleted projects before the winter rains and cold weather come. (Our winters here are generally pretty mild, but we are still limited on what can and should be done during that time.) Anyway, one of the projects has been to finish the siding on our house. We focused on that over Labor Day. We rented a roofing gun and special cutters for the siding only to find out later, that our neighbor had them and would have generously loaned them to us. Even though it was a relatively easy project, our stress levels were a little high. After we got the knack of it, Nathan, Mary, and I were good contributors to the project. We got to be pretty proficient at using the power tools and actually fitting and nailing the siding to the house. That allowed Jim to focus on the details such as fitting the siding around the gas meter, phone box, and placing the electrical boxes. We finished the South side of our house. I got it painted and now I'm moving on to some of our other unfinished projects.

Here I am with the measuring stick Jim made so we could get accurate placement of the siding.
Nathan, Jim, and Mary. Half of the south side is finished.


I am leaving for Utah in nine days; I'm trying to get as much done as possible before I leave. I have been staining the doors that I never finished with our home addition, canning, and I even painted the chimney?!! The chimney? I have been accused of finding painting jobs if there are none available. I guess it is genetic. I remember my grandmother (who lived next door to us for much of my childhood) constantly having painting projects she was doing. I remember that she painted her sidewalks every spring. I haven't done that yet. (Jim won't let me!) I still have some other touch up painting to finish on the house trim and also the siding on the West side when we get that finished. That should satisfy the painter in me. Our shop will be needing paint in the Spring. . . .

More Zucchini Recipes

As Summer is starting to wane, the garden is producing at an all-time high. Those zucchini's keep on coming which leads me to yet another new zucchini recipe. I find it interesting to find another variation on the old favorite of zucchini bread. There is zucchini bread with nuts, without nuts, with pineapple, with chocolate, etc. . . . I found this one to be very exceptional. It calls for applesauce.

3 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups peeled and grated zucchini
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp allspice
3/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp baking powder
3 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped nuts
Preheat oven to 350. Beat the eggs until light and fluffy; add sugar, oil, vanilla and mix well. In a small bowl combine salt, soda, and spices and add to sugar mixture. Add flour. Stir in grated zucchini, making sure to mix it throughout the batter. (Be generous with the zucchini. I packed the zucchini into the measuring cup and threw in a little extra for good measure) Add chopped nuts. You can add more or less of the nuts. (In my opinion, more just makes it better!) Pour into two large greased loaf pans. Bake in oven at 350 for 1 hour and 15 min, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (1 hour 15 min was exactly right for my oven.) Remove from oven; remove bread from pans and cool. Zucchini bread freezes very well.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Here is a great new recipe:

Zucchini Quesadillas

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion chopped
1 tsp salt
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise (8-9 inches long and approx 2 inches across! Small is better!)
1 cup frozen corn kernels
Taco seasoning or chili powder
Cooked chicken, pork, or shrimp (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
flour tortillas
2 cups grated pepper jack cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. In large skillet heat oil, add onion, salt and cook until onion is soft, then add garlic and cook 1 minute more.
3. Add zucchini and frozen corn kernels; cook, stirring occasionally, until zucchini is soft and corn is tender, about 6 minutes.
4. Heat tortilla in another pan. (We warmed ours in the microwave.)
5. Spread filling on 1/2 of tortilla, top with cheese and fold in half.
6. Repeat with the rest of filling and tortillas and place on a baking sheet.
7. Bake until cheese has melted and tortillas are golden brown, turning once
8. Remove from oven, slice into wedges.

We used the soft taco size tortillas. I would guess they are approximately 8 inches in diameter? This recipe made about 10 quesadillas. I used canned pork and it was very good. Chicken or shrimp would be good. Nathan thought that steak would be good. I'm sure it would! I served this with a little sour cream and fresh salsa since we have lots of tomatoes right now. We also have jalapeno peppers and fresh salsa is so delicious. Here is how I do it:

Fresh Salsa

Four or five Roma tomatoes (I like Roma because they are more meaty and less juice but other tomatoes work too just squeeze out some of the juice.)
1/2 med. onion
1/2 jalepeno pepper (with seeds)
Fresh cilantro
1 or 2 garlic cloves ( I have been using the bottled minced garlic and like it a lot. I just figure about 1 teaspoon per clove. That is probably generous, but I like garlic.)
Lemon or Lime juice
Salt to taste (probably at least 1 teaspoon)

Use a food processor or blender on pulse. Don't puree everything, you still want everything to be somewhat chunky. If it is too hot, add more tomatoes or less peppers and garlic. I have also made this using my Pampered Chef food chopper.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Here is Grandma working in the garden! (Her passion!)

Yeah!! Finally our garden is in full production! We are eating wonderful tomatoes. I had one today that I'm sure weighed at least one pound. It was huge and delicious. I ate it for lunch along with corn on the cob! It was wonderful and I never tire of tomatoes and corn or most of the other of our home-grown goodies! I also picked a bucket of blackberries from our patch that grows wild. I never have to water or weed or fertilize. They just keep coming! From that bucket I froze two one-gallon bags of berries. We enjoy making blackberry cobblers especially for those who are visiting the Pacific Northwest. We also enjoy blackberry pie, smoothies, etc. Blackberries are wonderful fresh or frozen or in jams or desserts. Oregon is a wonderful place to live and grow a garden. We have a wonderful mild climate! (Most of the time we don't get snow, but we are close enough to snow if we want it. We are also close enough to the ocean for a visit there as well.) What I would like to know is if this is such a wonderful place why have all of our children migrated to the Wasatch Front in Utah? The only thing we are not close to is our family!! Yup, while we are growing this wonderful garden, our children and grandchildren are living 900 miles away! We wish they were here to enjoy it with us. So we hope for visits from them; and we keep the airlines and gas companies in business as we visit them.
Here is Mary with my one pound tomato.

Today's berry picking along with tomatoes and corn for lunch!

Here are the berries I picked today. I generally don't wash my berries before we eat or freeze them. They haven't been sprayed and they are away from the road where they might get lots of road dirt on them. They hold up better if you don't wash them. (What is a bug or two, right?) Then I spread them on cookie sheets and freeze them. After they are frozen I put them into gallon-size freezer bags to be used for delicious desserts or smoothies later on.


NEWS FLASH--Reports of invaders are flooding the airways! The Zukes are taking control of even the most mild-mannered citizens, influencing them to make desperate choices and causing them to do unthinkable things even to unsuspecting family and neighbors. Take precautions now: Be extremely cautious when opening mailboxes. Make certain you keep your cars locked and windows rolled up. The notorious green aliens are known to be so bold as to come right to your doorstep. Make certain that if you do fall prey to the Zukes, you dispose of them properly so they don't return next year. Whatever you do, do not throw them into your back lot and hope you are rid of them. If you do, they will return with a vengeance next year! Some things you can do if all else fails: If you have a matched pair, you could hollow them out and make shoes out of them. You could hollow out one large one and make a canoe, or lash several together to build a raft. Children have been known to carve them into works of art and enter them in the county fair. You could use them as a baseball bat or another type of sporting equipment. Whatever you do, try to catch them before they explode into giants. If you can get them while they are less than one foot long and have a diameter of two inches or less, you can avoid becoming one of their latest victims!

Despite all precautions, the insidious invaders have struck again!