I almost gave up

Last night the worst hailstorm I’ve ever experienced blew in and pummeled the area for about 10 minutes. I hadn’t covered my plants, not that it would have helped much. the weather has been weird – on June 22, horses were blanketed because of persistent cold rain. Then it was finally summer a couple days later. The hail punched through a shade sail and left holes in our picnic table. I wondered what area horses without shelters were doing. Kids gathered a bowl full of frozen balls and put them in the freezer because kids do stuff like that. I about cried.

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This morning I surveyed the devastation. It isn’t quite as bad as I thought it would be. Several poblano plants are barely injured at all, and I’m not sure why. Most of the tomatoes and beans took a hit, and the few squash plants, which were thriving and optimistic-looking before the storm, are beaten down. They look how I feel. I think they will recover, but it would eat up a lot of the growing season and once again I will get, if anything, a late harvest. I hope the frost will hold off until late fall.

I gathered broken tomato branches and a fish pepper into a desperate bouquet and put them in water with a little fertilizer, knowing they will grow roots and clone themselves. Whether the clones will become viable plants I’m not sure. This morning there was still a pile of hail that had collected in a shade sail and taken it down.

 

I guess there’s nothing to do but move on. I’m glad some of our house sparrow friends have a nest box.

I don’t know if this is just a tough year or if it’s related to climate change. I can blame myself as much as anyone for climate change, since we just got back from a trip to Santa Fe we took in our fuel-burning minivan. This will be our last fuel-burning vehicle.

This is not a food blog

How did I make pasta for decades without knowing I could stop the water from bubbling over by simply placing a chopstick over the pot? I learned this recently from one of our favorite shows, Chef & My Fridge

A wooden spoon works too. A stick would work. The bubbles pop when they hit whatever item you rest on the rim of the pot and it doesn’t boil over onto the stove. My dad lived his whole life without knowing that, and he made a lot of pasta. Is there anything else simple and obvious I should know? About cooking, gardening, parenting, putting my pants on, anything?

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Here’s another stupid thing I did. Somehow I mislabeled seeds either when I collected them or planted them, and came out with plants I didn’t expect. A lot of them are cherry tomatoes, which is fine. They taste very, very good and make an excellent sauce. They just don’t impress your friends with their size and aren’t some wacky color, and it’s easier to harvest a few large tomatoes than 100 small ones.

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I also have a variety I can’t even identify as one I previously planted or bought seeds for. It’s pinkish and medium-sized; looks a lot like a bald peach.

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I wonder if I hybridized something, although I don’t know how. It’s shaped like a German Orange Strawberry but not golden in color and frankly not as tasty. And I haven’t grown those in several years because they were susceptible to disease and not very productive. I won’t give them a bad review, I just might not have the right climate for them.

Lucid Gems are as expected, and a couple Brandywines I didn’t have much hope for are producing. Almost no large tomatoes are ripe yet, and most are still getting larger. We had a party last weekend and I was unable to impress the other parents with a tomato salad, but there are some decent Marketmore cucumbers. These and a zucchini make pretty good, inoffensive low-carb noodles. I recommend eating them raw. They have a nice, crisp texture and that’s about it. They taste only as interesting as the sauce, oil or whatever you put on them.

Here, we’ve had smoke from the California wildfires and several downpours they could use in California. To get an idea of how bad it must be there, this is Boulder, CO on a clear day, which normally means the sky is a saturated blue and mountains are visible:

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I am starting to see something like Septoria Leaf Spot on a few leaves but that doesn’t freak me out. I excise the affected leaves knowing it won’t eradicate it completely, but I have seen it this time of year frequently and healthy plants usually overcome it for the rest of the season.

 

Peppers are doing unusually well. I don’t know what the ones that look like Ancho chilis are – they might be Ancho chilis. The seeds are from a plant a coworker gave me last year, and he didn’t know what it was either. The long curly ones are Jimmie Nardellos , grown from seeds I removed from ripe peppers I bought at the farmers’ market. They are sweet and not spicy at all.

 

I used about 4 cups grated zucchini to make 2 bundt cakes, which were very good.

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Metal Pig made Kolaches (traditional Bohemian pastry) with cherries from my friends’ tree. But I didn’t get a pic of the cherry ones before they were gone. This has poppy seed filling:

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