A few weeks before I turned 71, the Pickle Queen asked me what I wanted for my birthday. Going to be 71 is not the same as going to be 18. I really didn’t need anything and I figured an 18-year-old Swedish girl was out of the question so I jokingly said, “Get me a parrot.”
August 5th came around and sure enough, the PQ called my bluff. The parrot was fully grown, with a bad attitude and worse vocabulary. Every other word was an expletive. Those that weren’t expletives were, to say the least, rude. I tried hard to change the bird’s attitude and was constantly saying polite words, playing soft music, doing anything I could think of to try to set a good example.
Nothing worked. I yelled at the bird, and the bird got worse. I shook the bird, and the bird got angrier and ruder. Finally, in a moment of desperation, I took the parrot down the basement and put it in the freezer. For a few moments I heard the bird squawking and cursing, and then suddenly there was silence.
Fearing that I had actually hurt the bird, I quickly opened the freezer door.
The parrot calmly stepped out onto my extended arm and said, “I’m sorry that I might have offended you with my language and actions and ask for your forgiveness. I will endeavor to correct my behavior.”
I was astonished at the bird’s change in attitude and was about to ask what had made such a drastic change when the parrot said, “Sir, may I ask what the chicken did?”
Keep your fork
Gator Babe called and asked if we had any ripe tomatoes on hand. We had just given her close to a bushel over the past few days and couldn’t figure out why she needed more so soon. Come to find out she had frozen all those tomatoes when her daughter called and wanted her to bring some fresh salsa to a family doings on Sunday. She had told her daughter that we pick our tomatoes on the ‘green’ side and would find out if we had any ripe ones on hand. We had a few that needed only another day to finish ripening so we could help her out. With this in mind and our picking tomatoes every other day led me to think a post on harvesting tomatoes might be helpful to my readers. Here are some thoughts on harvesting this common and delicious fruit.
- Tomatoes are generally ready to pick about 60 to 85 days after you plant the seedlings in the garden. If you have indeterminate varieties, which ripen all season long, you can pick all the way to frost by pinching off the tips of the main stems in early summer. Determinate varieties set and ripen their fruit all at the same time (within 2 weeks). If you are planning on canning, freezing, making sauce or juice, you want determinate varieties.
- Tomatoes ripen from the inside out, so looks count. If it looks ripe on the outside, it’s ripe on the inside.
- Tomatoes need warmth to ripen, not light. On overcast or cloudy days, the fruit will continue to ripen as long as the temperature is not above 86 degrees.,
- Tomatoes stop ripening when the temperature is above 86 degrees. If you have a long stretch of hot days or live in an area where the temperature is normally above 86 degrees, they will ripen to a yellow/orange color and stop.
- Heirloom varieties ripen before they completely turn color. Pick them before they look totally ripe.
- Cherry tomatoes will crack if left on the vine too long. Pick them just before they look like they are perfectly ripe.
- Place your picked tomatoes out of direct sunlight where the temperature is 65 to 70 degrees. A dark cupboard, a closed brown paper bag, in a covered box, etc. are excellent places for the fruit to continue to ripen. The ethylene gas produced by the fully formed mature green tomatoes age the cells of the fruit resulting in softening and the loss of the green color, turning the fruit to a shade of red.
- Grasp the tomato gently but firmly while twisting it until it snaps off the vine close to the fruit. You could use a garden clippers or a knife to cut them off close to the fruit.
- Once your tomatoes start to ripen, check your plants every day and pick those that are ready. Fully ripe tomatoes rot easily and will fall or be knocked off the vine.
Hopefully these few thoughts are helpful in your gardening adventure.
For the 1,000th time – Keep your fork
Here is a good recipe for freezing baked beans that could be pulled from the freezer and warmed up for a quick addition to a meal. It calls for dried pea beans which include: Black-eyed and Yellow-eyed peas; Chick/Garbanzo/Ceci/Spanish peas; Split peas; or Whole dried peas. See my post from 25 May 2017, Kinds of Dried Beans #2.
8 lb dried pea beans
4-1/2 c brown sugar
1/3 c salt
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 c molasses
4 onions, chopped (optional)
1-1/2 lb bacon, cut up
1/2 tsp pepper
4 qt tomato juice
2 qt water
Cover the dried pea beans with water and soak overnight. Drain and cook until soft. Cool and add the rest of the ingredients. Put into jars and cold pack 2-1/2 to 3 hours.
Keep your fork
Ray and Bob, two Government maintenance guys, were standing at the base of a flagpole, looking up. A woman walked by and asked what they were doing. “We’re suppose to find the height of the flagpole”, said Bob, “But we don’t have a ladder.”
The woman said, “Hand me that wrench out of your toolbox.” She loosened a few bolts, then laid the pole down. She then took a tape measure from their toolbox, took a measurement and announced, “Eighteen feet, six inches” and walked away.
Ray shook his head and laughed. “Well, ain’t that just like a ‘Miss-know-it-all’ woman?” he asked. “We need the height and she gives us the length!”
Ray and Bob are still working for the Government.
Keep your fork
“Do you have an advanced care plan?” was one of the questions asked of me at a recent doctor’s visit. One can take that question in two different ways. The first thought that came to my mind was, “Boy, I didn’t think my lab results looked that bad!” The thought of the medical team looking out for my future care and wishes never entered my mind. Luckily, it was the second way and not the conclusion I had jumped to. I do have one. Where it’s at, I’m not sure. I really don’t plan on needing it for a couple of more years.
An advanced care plan is another term for an advanced directive. It enables you to record the type of care you want to receive if you become unable to speak for yourself. Besides having a written plan, you may want to TALK to your loved ones about your care decisions.
T – take time to have the conversation with your physician and family.
A – Always be open and honest.
L – Leave no doubt about your values and preferences.
K – Know that advanced care planning is a quality-of-life choice.
Keep your fork
Back on 25 May 2017, my post, Kinds of Dried Beans #2, included black-eyed and yellow peas. Here’s an excellent recipe for using black-eye peas.
1 c celery, diced
1 c onions, diced
1 c ham, diced
2 15-1/2 oz c black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
8 oz c tomato sauce
5 or 6 dashes hot sauce
1 Tbsp dry ground mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
After placing the celery, onions and ham into a medium pan, add enough water to just cover and cook until celery is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients. Add water if needed to cover the peas. Simmer on medium-low heat for 45 to 60 minutes, stirring frequently and adding water if necessary. When the peas have a thick consistency, they are ready to serve.
Keep your fork
If you still have a lot of cucumbers left to pickle, here is an old Amish recipe you may want to try.
To 1 gallon of thinly sliced cucumbers, add 1 cup of salt. Cover with hot water with green food coloring (optional) added to it. Let stand for 4 days. Drain and wash/rinse and then cover with water to which 1 tablespoon of alum has been added for each gallon of water. Boil for 10 minutes, then drain. In a small cloth bag place 1 tablespoon each of whole cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and celery seed. Tie bag closed. Put in your kettle with the pickles and add 1 pint of water, 1 pint vinegar and 5 cups of sugar. Boil until transparent and put into jars and seal.
Keep your fork