Monday, July 16, 2018

July five

Just a few things I'm really enjoying in mid-July...


Homegrown tomatoes! Our tomatoes are better than ever (by a lot!) this year. We tried some new things, such a better soil amendment and fertilization, along with more conscientious watering, but we also tried new plant varieties, which are making a huge difference. We have a "Patio" tomato plant, in a bucket, which is just wonderful. We bought it at Lowe's. It's the first one of this kind we've had, and it outshines our other plants ("Early Girl," "Sweet 100" and "Park's Whopper") by quite a lot. We bought the larger size plant (there were large and small available), and we bought one with fruit already starting (in late April). Something about all of this was magical because we have gooood tomatoes this summer. I'm using them all the time, as in the family-size tomato-basil salad dressed with oil and balsamic vinegar, above...


And tomato sandwiches for my lunch as often as possible. I can think of few lunches I enjoy more than a tomato sandwich. I eat mine very simply: mayonnaise, salt, pepper and tomatoes on toast. Even better when the tomatoes are freshly harvested and still warm from the sun.


Speaking of sun, our sunflowers have done really well this summer. These are volunteers that grew from old seeds in the ground. I haven't planted any seeds in a couple of years but we still get sunflowers from all the years we did plant them. I'm not even sure what kind these are - they were probably in one of those assortment seed packs - but they sure are beautiful, especially on a bright, sunny day.


One of the best things about sunflowers is how they last and last. Each of these big blooms lasts for about two weeks before the petals start dropping. The sunflowers are in a straight line out of my kitchen window and I love to see them out there when I'm standing by the sink. They draw your eye right to them with their height and color. I love to watch them sway in the breeze.


Less beautiful, but oh so beloved already is my new rice cooker, which I've just started using in the past few days. My old Zojirushi, at least 22 years old, finally gave up the ghost. I used the heck out of it, as did the Bear before me (he owned it in college, from before I even knew him). This new one is a little more complex, but I'm figuring it out. It makes terrific rice and it's almost silent, which is a big improvement over the old sputtering, juddering Zojirushi.


As always, I'm enjoying strawberries almost every day. They are my favorite food, after all. I like them best just plain, but not straight out of the fridge. I like to let them warm up on the counter for a while before I eat them. It takes a little planning, but not much, and they taste so much better.


We're in the thick of monsoon season right now. We've had a few really good storms. On Saturday, we received more than an inch of rain in a late-afternoon downpour. I sure do love this time of year.


Every storm is exciting. The water pours from the canales and floods the patios and our tiny patch of grass. We had vivid lightning and very loud thunder with this storm. As I tried to take these photos out the kitchen door, a crack of thunder made me jump back into the house! It was intense. I love being at home during this kind of weather, especially on a Saturday when we're all home together. I cooked egg fried rice (with rice from the new cooker!) for dinner and made a fruit salad while the lightning carried on all around the house. The next day, Sunday, we had light showers on and off all afternoon and into early evening. The rain was light, and intermittent, and didn't stop us from grilling outside or picking up the yard, but it was nice to have it going on in the background. We're all weather-lovers here (maybe me, especially), and it's very exciting to us when the weather is doing interesting things. In every season, we read the forecasters' scientific discussions every day on NOAA.com, we listen to the weather radio (which is surprisingly interesting for reports read by a robot), we watch the sky and try to figure out if that dark patch over the mountain is going to amount to anything. It's fun! And educational, yes, but totally fun.

14 comments:

  1. Hi your strawberry photo has made me so hungry. X

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  2. Those sunflowers looks gorgeous.

    http://www.henatayeb.blogspot.com

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  3. Hello Jennifer! Your contentment with this time of year oozes out of every word in this post. Your tomatoes look absolutely yummy I can almost taste them. I liked reading about your new rice cooker too. Egg fried rice sounds like a great thing to make for dinner. We could use some of your rain. The fires have begun up here in the Northwest and it is so very dry and hot. I hope you have a lovely week my friend.
    Blessings, Betsy

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  4. I'm envying you your storms, there hasn't been rain here for so long, the grass has dried out completely. I like my strawberries and tomatoes sun-warmed as well, the flavour is best then. I didn't grow tomatoes this year, they don't do brilliantly in our climate, although ironically this year we've had a long hot spell which they would have loved. CJ xx

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  5. I have tomato envy. I could never get them to ripen here but ironically I stopped last year and then here we are in the best summer weather ever. It comes to something when you are getting more rain than the UK in your part of the world! Have a great week... eating rice! Jo xx

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  6. I'm just a wee bit jealous of those tomatoes! Ours aren't ready yet, but there is nothing like home grown tomatoes.
    Love the sunflowers too!

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  7. Hello Jennifer, We are avid weather watching folks here too - watch at least two versions of it on TV every night. I know, nerds. And we love nothing better than a good firecracker of a storm! That one sounds excellent, giving an inch of rain. No wonder your tomatoes are doing so well, and how delicious they look too. Most days of the year, a tomato sandwich, with some cheese or lettuce, is definitely the business :)

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  8. Sadly we are on shop bought tomatoes and strawberries so they don't have the same beautiful taste. We had hoped to have the building ready to start our indoor garden but it was not to be, maybe next year...I love to watch a good storm from the safety of the cottage too.

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  9. Shop bought tomatoes here, too. Scotland is not usually warm enough for a good crop, although of course this year it would have been fine to have a couple of plants! I am intrigued by your rice cooker, I have never used one. I bet it makes lovely fluffy rice, which I just love. Your summer storms sound wonderful, good for nature, too. I hope you are enjoying the gentle summer weeks coming up. xx

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  10. This is the first year for many years that I haven't grown my own tomatoes and I'm totally regretting it now, there's no better taste than a sun warmed tomato picked from the vine and popped straight in the mouth. We could do with a good downpour, everywhere's parched as there's been little rain here for weeks now.

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  11. Brian and I need to figure out soil amendment and such for our tomatoes. We only plant cherry ones (2 yellow, 2 red) and in the past years have done pretty well, but this year, not so much. However, I heard the deluge of rain we got last month (we actually had a lot of flooding here) has wrecked havoc on a lot of plants. So maybe that's it. The farm stand up the road opens tomorrow and I will be buying my tomatoes there! I'm making BLT's tomorrow with applewood smoked bacon and the delicious, homegrown tomatoes. I can't stand supermarket tomatoes, so I'm waiting in anticipation...

    I'm going to think about buying a rice cooker. My rice never turns out "exactly right". I know a lot of people are crazy about their Instant Pots and you can cook rice in those, too...but I'm just not feeling the IP right now.

    Your sunflowers are beautiful!

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  12. It sounds like summer is in full swing in your part of the world. I love fresh tomatoes, but sadly gave up on growing them a few years ago -- too many rotting issues in our humid climate. And how lovely to enjoy the storms from within a cozy home -- that would be a perfect day in my book!

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  13. Your tomatoes are gorgeous! I love fresh tomatoes with mozzarella cheese and basil. A summer favorite! Your sunflowers are so pretty. Mine are blooming, too. I think the storm that just came through may have knocked a few of them over, though. I really need to invest in a rice cooker. My rice never turns out right. My sis-in-law has one and she absolutely loves it and uses it often.

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  14. Such a lovely post Jennifer and sure loved all your colourful pics. I love sunflowers too and those tomatoes sure look tasty.

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