Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mangoes, Figs, and Whatchagot stew

What's Gardenin'?

Not much but at least I've discovered my problem.  Actually I have 2 reasons for my poor garden production.  The beds and plants are doing well; but, except for the cucumbers, strawberries, some tomatoes, and a couple of banana peppers, I'm getting hardly any yield.  I've only gotten 1 yellow squash and 2 zucchinis.  ZERO cantaloupes, even though the plants look great and the flowers are there, somewhat hidden.

As I sat in the yard swatting mosquitoes one early evening and looking around it dawned on me... I was so focused on the veggies I wanted that I forgot to plant enough flowers!  The lantana was slow coming back, the flowers up the teepee are slow growing, we skipped the sunflowers this year, and there are just a few marigolds in the raised beds (and only 1 really blooming).  We simply haven't had many pollinators and I haven't had the umph to hand pollinate.  Another thing is that we usually have tons and tons of honey bees - they love the white weed flower that generally proliferates in our back yard.  Hardly any bees this year, and much to dh's delight, no white weed flowers so far.  I finally started seeing bees several weeks ago and put a hanging basket of flowers between the beds.  That helped bring them to that area.

I went to two area gardening centers and ended up with just some low-growing flowers.  I wish I would have held out and gone to another place to get some zinnias or something tall.  Maybe it's not a lost effort as this pretty little butterfly kept following me around while I was transplanting them, panting, and dripping with sweat (me - not the butterfly nor the plants!).

So, if you are not getting produce and your plants look fine, consider adding flowers or hand pollinating.

What's Cookin'?

Mangoes!  We dried, canned, and ate mangoes until we were orange in the face (literally).  When I was canning I started doing them like the peaches and had them in the simmering sugar water when I went to check online for the canning time.  Much to my chagrin I read that you cold-pack mangoes.  I quickly spooned them out, sliced some more up, and cold-packed some.  Then I put them in the water bath for the required amount of time. 

I was then left with some 1/2 cooked mangoes.  What on Earth could I do with them?  I saw the recipe for mango salsa and it cooks the mango and ingredients so I decided on that recipe. (sigh) But I didn't read the recipe very closely before starting- it calls for a whole cup of sugar (gag!).  Since I don't know much about canning (obviously) and it was nearly midnight I decided to just go with the recipe in case the amount of sugar was necessary for safety/preservation reasons.  Note:  I do NOT have a sweet tooth. 

To me it was horrible but dh had a brilliant idea.  He said, "Why don't you use it for a glaze when cooking meat?"  Aha!  The next day I poured it on some chicken I was cooking and it really gave it a nice flavor.  Best of all, the sweetness disappeared :).  It would be even better with pork, if you eat pork (I quit eating pork except for occasional bacon since I don't have a good local source).

Here are some mangoes ready for the dehydrator:

Here are some in the freezer.  Freeze in a single layer and then put in your containers so they don't freeze together. You can see some frozen peaches underneath.

Figs:  I got some figs at the farmer's market yesterday.  Pathetically, I had to call a friend and ask, "How do I eat these things??" When I called my friend she was in the act of turning on her dehydrator to dry out some figs and mangoes.  After hanging up I dug into the figs and loved them!  They are a mix of kiwi and guayaba.  Mmmmm.  Other than eating them fresh I don't know what I'll do - I don't have that many.  Any favorite fig recipes?  I should check to see if Nourishing Traditions has figs in any recipes...

Whatchagot Stew:  Every time it is original and different.  This time I browned some stew meat and then added water to the pan and let it simmer about 20-30 minutes to cook.  Meanwhile I cooked noodles.  In a separate pan I sauteed the following in some coconut oil: zucchini, garlic, onion, and several types of peppers.  When it was almost done I ran outside and cut some thyme, oregano, and basil (only because that's when I thought of it!).  Since I know even less about herbs than I do canning I just put all of them in the veggie mix and cooked a little more.  I dumped the veggie mix into the pan with cooked meat and then lightly sauteed some chopped tomato from the farmer's market (mmm).  I added that to the meat/veggie mix and also poured in some white gravy - Can you believe I actually made that first so it would be ready??

I can't tell you how much that lightly cooked fresh tomato added to the flavor party.  When I bit into a piece it was a burst of sweetness and flavor but not mushy.

What's Schoolin'?

I'm almost done with aligning the Chemistry sources for next year and I finally finished sorting out Chemistry links by chapter for Real Science 4 Kids. 

The dc have been reading the Patricia Polacco books that I won't be using for the writing class.  The olders have also been reading her books that go along with our slavery/Civil War studies.  Their assignment is to read them whenever they want; write the title/author in their Reading Response Logs; and respond however they want (and I gave some examples) [Yes, I'm really tough!].  They have been devouring them and I can't get them to stop reading!

Dd's eyes were red as she read January's Sparrow so I told her that at the end he survived and they only pretended to bury him.  She immediately cheered up and wanted more details (which I refused to give so she'll want to read more, he, he, he).


  1. Have you written a post on your reading response logs? I'm interested in seeing more details on this.

  2. Kylie,

    Hmmm... I haven't done that yet... Good idea!

    This is middle dd's response to Pink and Say by Polacco (EXCELLENT Civil War picture book - intense, not for littles!):

    "It was also a sad book (she had just responded to another book), but made me think about stories that older relatives have told me. I should keep every word in my heart like the author did."

    I like to print thumbnail pictures of the book covers to glue in their response logs also. I think the visual helps them remember the book better.

    Thanks for your comment!