Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

July 31, 2014

Gone Tomatoes

Filed under: 66 Days of Summer — Karma @ 7:39 pm
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For yesterday and today, days 41 and 42 of summer, I present you with tomatoes!
A vegetable garden can change a bit when you are gone for a couple days. As I perused my cucumber and zucchini plants to see if anything needed picking, I noticed a bit of red out of the corner of my eye.

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The first of my early girl tomatoes were beginning to ripen.
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That one in the upper left of that photo, looked like it would be ready to eat very soon. And today it was!
First of the season

I sliced it up and ate it with my dinner. Nothing quite like the first garden fresh tomato of the summer.
Dinner tonight

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August 8, 2011

I ♥ Summer!

sunny sunflowers (2)

I love summer.  I’m pretty sure I’ve stated this previously on the blog, but it is worth repeating.  It isn’t just because I am a teachers’ aide and I have summers off (although that’s a great part of it!)  I love all that summer brings.   Maybe I wouldn’t be saying this if I had to endure Michaela’s temperatures, but I love days in the 80’s and 90’s (and will even take the humidity if I must) so much more than days in the teens, 20’s and 30’s.

The butterflies have returned to my butterfly bush:

Eastern black swallowtail

Summer birthdays…
Cake!

…with a nice, easy, backyard BBQ and pool party.

My favorite summer treat is starting to ripen:
first tomatoes

There is nothing like the first bite of tomato straight out of your garden.

I also recently managed my first picture of the local falcon or hawk or whatever s/he is:
falcon or hawk?

My guesses for this bird are peregrine falcon or cooper’s hawk.  Any thoughts?

And okay, this really has nothing to do with summertime, except for the fact that time off allowed me to finish this quickly for a dear friend (our dance teacher) who recently had a baby girl:
quilt by me

And my most favorite part of summer?  My one week vacation to the beach with my family:
Welcome to Hills Beach

Just the four of us will head up this Saturday to the same cottage at the shore that we rented last year:

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No worries for a week, freedom from the “should be’s” – my favorite week of the whole year.  I just can’t wait!

What do you love best about summer?

October 6, 2010

Subtleties – Picture Fall, day 6

Filed under: Photo assignments — Karma @ 8:35 pm
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 Favoreds

Well, maybe this isn’t what you would call “subtle”.  Subtle like a sledgehammer.  Today’s photo prompt encouraged us to find a single color palette and use light to bring out the subtleties and texture within the subject.  By the time I got to deciding what my subject would be, all natural light was gone for the day.  I was stuck with artificial light and flash.  At least I get to show you a few of my favo”red” things!  Ba-dum-bump! I crack myself up.

August 29, 2010

Tomato Days

Filed under: Recipes — Karma @ 9:17 pm
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tomcrop

I decided to take a break from the Maine posts to ask you a question: Do you have tomatoes coming out of your garden like crazy right now?  Could you use a few different ideas for ways to use them up?  My tomatoes are ripening and begging to be used, so I thought I’d offer you a few of my favorite recipes.

For my first favorite, I really don’t have a recipe though!  Oops!  But I can tell you how to do it and how you can make it to your liking : Fresh Salsa!
Fresh salsa

My ingredients:

Tomatoes

Hot Peppers – any kind; we grow jalepenos, cayennes and thai dragons

onions

cilantro

garlic

Chop up an onion and garlic cloves.  Place them in a strainer and pour some boiling water over them and let them sit for a few minutes.  Chop hot peppers with gloved hands!  Remove the seeds; depending on how spicy you like it, remove some or all of the inner membranes.  More membrane = more heat.   Chop tomatoes.  My basic proportion is about 1-2 hot peppers per 3 tomatoes, more if you like it extra hot and spicy.  This gives what I would call medium heat.  Dice some cilantro leaves and add in enough until you have a nice sprinkling of green among the red.  Stir, and let sit for a few hours.  Enjoy within a few days for best flavor.

This recipe I got from Cooking Light magazine, but I’ve made an improvement to it. 

Quick Panzanella with Chicken:

Ingredients

  • 4  (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 3/4  teaspoon  salt, divided
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 2  cups  (1-inch) cubed tomato
  • 2  cups  diced ciabatta bread (about 4 ounces)
  • 1  cup  thinly sliced celery (2 stalks)
  • 1/2  cup  fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 2  tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2  tablespoons  red wine vinegar
  • 1  small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2  English cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)

Preparation

1. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; cook 6 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from heat, and chop.

2. Place tomato in a large bowl; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add chicken, bread, and the remaining ingredients to tomato mixture, tossing well to combine. Serve immediately.

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Taking that bread and toasting it into croutons makes this recipe over-the-top delicious!  I toss the bread cubes in a frying pan with olive oil and some herbs snipped fresh from my herb barrel.  I also cook the chicken on my George Foreman grill with some Greek seasoning, rather than just salt and pepper.  I mix up all the veggies and vinegar and oil before adding the chicken and bread:
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Add the warm croutons and the chicken right before serving, and this is what you get:
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Delicious!

This last recipe is a recent one I’ve tried.  It was good, but there was definitely room for improvement.  You can find the full recipe here.  I started with these for my ingredients:
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I pretty much followed the recipe straight except that I had frozen ravioli instead of fresh and big garden tomatoes instead of grape tomatoes.  I par-boiled the frozen ravioli and that seemed to work out fine.  The dish turned out beautifully in my opinion:
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It was lacking a bit in flavor, however.  I think both the tomato sauce and the raviolis could have benefited from more seasoning in the cooking process.  Maybe some basil ( duh, why didn’t I think of that when I was cooking?) for the tomatoes, and some garlic or maybe even a dash of some cajun seasoning on the ravioli.  Meghan and I ground some garlic salt over the ravioli when we ate them, and that helped.  I wanted to include this recipe because I think it most definitely has some potential.  Why don’t you give it a try and let me know how it comes out?

P.S. to Jennifer: yes here’s another that could have been a guest post for you!  Feel free to use the new “reblog it” feature if you’d like!

August 5, 2010

Garden Update

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 5:13 pm
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Harvest time has begun here in my veggie garden.  I mentioned the cucumbers last week.  I’ve been picking zucchini for several weeks already.  This week I’ve gotten to eat my summer garden favorite, tomatoes.  Cayenne peppers have also been ripening fairly regularly.
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Jalepenos…
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…and Thai Dragons are coming along.
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Have you ever seen these hot peppers growing before?  Isn’t it strange how they grow upwards?

My bell peppers are a bit further behind…
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…but at least it appears I will get some this year, unlike last summer.

Remember my story earlier this year about the only surviving seedlings that I started?  I am shocked to discover that I may actually get to eat watermelon from my garden this year!
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According to information I’ve read, icebox watermelons are supposed to be 6-10 pounds at maturity.  I’ve never grown edible sized melons, so I don’t know what to expect for size.  I took this picture to try to give you some idea of the size…
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(I do have relatively large feet for a woman! Size 9 1/2)  Any ideas whether this is close to eating size?

Not all of my plants are in tip-top condition, but at the very least it appears I will be able to harvest some of everything I planted this year.  That’s a definite improvement over last years woeful garden, due to an extremely wet summer here in New England in 2009.   I’m happy so far – especially with those tomatoes!  Delicious!  I should have taken a picture of the one I sliced up to go with my lunch today ( or with my dinner last night) to share with you, but I ate it too quickly!

July 27, 2010

First Bite!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 9:41 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Just a quick post today for a first of the season.  I finally picked cucumbers from my garden!
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I actually tried using this as an exercise from the book I’m reading, Understanding Exposure, using a small aperture to try to get my garden in focus behind the cucumbers.  I’d thought I had it when I looked at it on my LCD, but as you can see here, the garden isn’t clear.  I think this was at f22.  I still have much to learn about lenses and such; I’m wondering if the garden isn’t clear because I was using the 55-250mm lens when I should’ve been using the 18-55?  I’m only just realizing now that aperture minimums and maximums are at the mercy of your lens.  I had no idea I couldn’t stop down past 5.6 when the lens is zoomed out.  I guess those numbers on the end of the lens should’ve clued me in.  But I digress…

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I made quick work of my first cuke and chopped it up to have with dinner last night.
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Delicious!

I’ve also picked zucchini and cayenne peppers from my garden –  so far, so good.  But for me, the real prize of the summer veggie garden is still to come, and by the looks of things coming very soon:
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(Side story about this blog post.  When I was writing this post in my mind, that picture of the tomato was where the post ended.  Unfortunately, as I sat down to write this evening, I realized the picture of the tomato that I took yesterday was in fact unfocused.  Dedicated blogger that I am -maybe a wee bit perfectionist? – I hiked out to my garden in the dark to get a focused picture of the tomato.)

June 4, 2010

A Gardener’s Day in the Life

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 9:18 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Last weekend, after my mournful Red Sox Game, I spent my Saturday planting my vegetable garden.  This has been a Memorial Day weekend tradition for me for many years now.  In the early years of my garden, I easily grew luscious tomatoes, bountiful peppers, and piles of cucumbers and zucchini.  I dabbled in corn one year – result, epic failure, due to local raccoons managing to pick virtually every ear just a day or so before it was perfectly ripe.  I’ve experimented with carrots, onions and radishes.  My clay soil is not overly friendly to root crops, although radishes flourished for a few years.  Eggplant and summer squash have come and gone from year to year.  I even gave tomatillos a shot one summer, but we don’t really have the growing season for them here in Massachusetts.  I’ve never had a successful planting of any kind of melon – I’ve tried both watermelon and cantaloupe.  Despite my successes and failures, it wouldn’t be summer for me without getting out there and getting my hands in the dirt.

Typically, on the day that I set out to plant my garden, this is how the space looks that I need to tackle:
My garden, 9:00 am, 5/25/08

Leaves to clear, weeds to pull, debris to move.  This year, however, hubby gave my garden and me a treat after the garden of the past few years hasn’t been as successful as I’d like it to be: 4 yards of fresh top soil!
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The photo above is how my garden looked at 9:00 am on Saturday morning.
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And this is how it looked at about 6:00 pm Saturday evening.  I only took a break for lunch, and I planted 68 fresh young vegetable plants, most of which were purchased from my local garden center, Sixteen Acres Gardens:
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Yeah, all those seeds I started this year?  The only ones that actually made it into my garden were, you guessed it, the watermelon seedlings (and I’m still not convinced they will grow even with the new top soil and the patches of composted manure that I planted them in!  They are “icebox” sized seedless melons, but in the past the largest melon I ever got from these vines was the size of a baseball!) Here are the best looking of those seedlings, not that much bigger than the last time I showed them to you.
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In addition to the watermelon, this year’s garden contains:
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Tomatoes (6 Big Beef and 6 Better Boys)

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Hot Peppers (12 Thai Dragons, 6 Jalepenos, 6 Long Red Cayennes)
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Sweet Bell Peppers (6)
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Cucumbers (12)
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And zucchini (6)

And this is what I looked like at the close of this gardener’s day:
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(I think I’ve mentioned before its hard to do much around here without involvement from 4-legged residents! )

Right now, I’m still in the early glory days of the garden season.  The plants are fresh and new and healthy.  I have hopes for my new top soil.  I’m hoping for some cooperation from Mother Nature, with just the right amount of sun and rain (which has NOT been the case the past few summers).  The dirt is weed free.  But, like the road to Hell, the paths of my garden are paved with good intentions.  Check back with me in August!  Hopefully, the garden won’t look like this:
The weeds win!