Thursday, November 27, 2008

Strange visitor


We've had visitors in our yard before...

P1010357rev But we've never seen anything like this...


Happy Thanksgiving!!!


--Curmudgeon & Wing Nut

Monday, November 17, 2008

Green Tomato Jam

Aunt Debbi over at Aunt Debbi's Garden has sent out a call for help, asking for suggestions of what to do with all her green tomatoes. Well Aunt Debbi, if life gives you green tomatoes, make green tomato jam!

This year we ended up with 6+ quarts of green Sungolds. So we did some research and asked around. One of Wing Nut's co-workers came across a recipe for green tomato jam in one of her Italian cookbooks. It was very easy to make and we use it just like we would any other jam.


  • 2 lbs green tomatoes cut into 1/2 inch pieces--reserve juice and seeds
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar (10 ounces)
  • 2 medium lemons, preferably organic
  • pinch of salt
  • generous pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  three inch cinnamon stick broken

1.  In a glass bowl, toss together the tomatoes, their juices and seeds, and the sugar. Lightly cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature 24 hours.

2.  Turn the tomatoes into a 4-quart saucepan. Scrub the lemons if they are not organic. With a zester shred the zest of both lemons into the tomatoes. Cut away and discard the white pith. Cut the lemon's flesh into small pieces, removing the seeds. Stir into the tomatoes, along with the salt, pepper, and cinnamon stick.

3.  Bring to a boil, uncovered, over high heat. Reduce the heat so the jam cooks at a moderate simmer. Simmer, uncovered, about 40 minutes or until a candy thermometer set into the jam reads 210 F. Or, test by spooning a little jam onto a chilled plate--it should not run. Do not over cook. Turn the jam into a bowl to cool. Refrigerate or freeze. For fullest flavor eat at room temperature.

Note: Because the jam is low in sugar it may spoil if canned, but it freezes well for 6 months or keeps in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

I protest!

Occasionally, on a fine Fall day, the Wenches can be found engaging in an activity other than gardening. Quite a shocker, I know. But it does happen. And yesterday was a very fine Fall day. This post has absolutely nothing to do with gardening. It's blatantly political in nature. You've been warned. For this post Wing Nut took the pictures & Curmudgeon wrote the text.

Have you ever taken part in a protest march or demonstration? If you haven't, would you ever consider doing so?

I've participated in a few. How many is "a few" you ask? More than a couple but not so many that I can't remember each one. My very first march was at the age of sixteen when my high school French teacher, Sister J., took a busload of us Catholic school girls to Washington D.C. on a bleak winter's day.  I do not recommend polyester skirts and knee socks as proper attire for a protest march in blustery weather.

When I was in France, in the early 90s, a number of Jewish cemeteries were vandalized and the tombs desecrated. In inimitable French style, the citizenry took to the streets with gusto to exercise their freedom of speech and protest such hatred. It was my students at the school where I was working who took me to my first French demonstration or manif. It was quite a vocabulary builder for me.

What stays with me to this day about my first march, and each of the other marches in which I've participated, is the energy of the crowd. Being part of a crowd that is thousands or tens of thousands strong is a very powerful experience.  It's exhilarating  and terrifying beyond belief--from "I can't believe so many people think like me" to "Oh my GOD! I could get trampled to death" in a single heartbeat.

Curmudgeon that I am, for me participating in a demonstration provides a reprieve from the cynicism that is always lurking, like the troll that lives under the bridge. I don't believe that a march or demonstration will really change anything. I don't believe that minds or actions will be changed. I don't think anybody "on the other side" really listens to the people waving signs and chanting slogans. And let's talk about those signs and slogans. Would a little artistic talent be too much to ask? Check out these protest signs  and you'll agree that, apparently, it is.

So what did I do this weekend? I attended a protest march with Wing Nut and some friends. Why? Because I needed a reprieve from cynicism. Because I felt the need to exercise my right to free speech. Because I wanted to hear my own voice joined with those of thousands of others who think like I do. Because I felt passionately about the issue. Participating in a protest march is a fairly cheap form of hope. This weekend I'm hoping for a better future for my family.

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Wing Nut was particularly moved by these two signs, held by two of the youngest protesters at the march. The kids' spelling is a little off, but the sentiment is right on.  Go kids go!!




--Curmudgeon & Wing Nut

Monday, November 10, 2008

A sunny Monday in Novembe--a.k.a. GBBD November 2008

It's not often that the sun comes out in Seattle in November.  Between last week's set of wind storms and this week's set of rain storms we are having one bright sunny day. Today is a day to rejoice. Tomorrow it's back to researching ark building. So given that the wenches are caught between downpours and a deluge, I hope that Carol over at May Dreams Garden will understand my posting so early this month for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. My camera is not waterproof!  


On the hillside there were many surprises. The alpine campanula 'Get Mee' is beginning to bloom--again.


We'd given up on the pineapple sage blooming this year. Guess it's just a late bloomer. It seems to be going strong.


Strawflowers are so bright and cheery.


Salvia 'Mystic Spires' has been a knock-out all summer long. The intensity of color is spectacular.


Wing Nut had brought home several cyclamen and I finally got a chance to get them in the ground. This white one is intensely fragrant.


The variegated wallflowers continue to bloom and their foliage pops during gray dreary days. 


Other interesting leaf textures on the hillside include this variegated sage and euphorbia 'Blackbird'.


Cyclamen leaves.



In the shade garden color is to be found in the containers.  The doronicum is blooming again. This leopard's bane was the first thing to bloom back in mid March.


This is Rieger begonia 'Karen'. Wing Nut is particularly fond of this one.


Pericallis 'Senetti Blue' is still blooming. But we seem to have lost the licorice vine that was sharing its pot--they were both annuals from last year that survived the winter and bloomed again this summer.


Pink and orange gazanias brighten the walkway to the patio.



On the patio summer stalwarts are still filling the world with color. Coreopsis and blanket flowers provide sunshine when the sun is nowhere in sight.



This geranium with its neon salmon flowers and variegated leaves is one of my favorites.


The leaves of coleus 'Gay's Delight' contribute to the riot of colors on the patio.


And in one corner of the potager the chard is a bright beacon. We started these from seeds. The tender young plants were a favorite of the slugs. But the plants did manage to recover and thrive.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Garden Bloggers' Muse Day--November 2008


Starting From Paumanok

Take my leaves America, take them South and take

     them North,

Make welcome for them everywhere, for they are

     your own offspring,

Surround them East and West, for they would

     surround you,

And you precedents, connect lovingly with them, for

     they connect lovingly with you.

--Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

For more GBMD posts visit Carolyn Gail at Sweet Home and Garden Chicago.