At least it’s a dry heat!

 

Where the hell  is Chico?

Looking down on Chico from Hwy 32, you can see, air quality is pretty bad.

When Biscuit and I stepped out onto the patio about 3pm, the KIST! thermometer registered a nifty 110. Oooooo!

We had a nice drive up to Forest Ranch this morning, bolted out the door by 7:30, trying to catch the breeze off Butte Creek Canyon before it turned oven hot. The dogs like to have a walk, but here the sidewalks turn hot by 9am.  We enjoy the winding hillside trails, we stay in the shade, watch out for big snakes and ticks.  

On the way home, we could see – apparently, the smoke from recent wildfires has settled down on top of Chico. Yecccchhhh.

So here we are now, enjoying an episode of “A-Team” on the boob box, waiting for some tomato sauce boil down, grind some flour to make bread tomorrow.  These days, we get up at 5 so we can  get something done before the heat sets in. 

I know, I’m getting so boring. Going to have to do something exciting. I’ll keep you posted.

 

Dogs Days are about to heat up

Biscuit says it's time for a belly rubbing.

Oh yeah, every dog has her day, and some dogs have more days than others.

Yesterday I got up at about 4:45 and wandered outside to look for Orion. Orion is walking during the day now, so if I want to get a look at him, I have to watch him mount the sky just ahead of the sun.  Not to mention, the way things are heating up around here, I like to get out there and get right back in the house.

The sun was already lighting the sky, but I got out just in time to notice an unusually bright, sparkling red star hanging low in the Southeast. I thought it was Betelguese, but apparently it was Sirius –  one of Orion’s dogs, following faithfully at his heel as he tromps out into the day.

This is what I have always thought of “Dog Days” – Orion and his dogs are out in the daytime.

It means a little more than that to astronomers. Tomorrow, July 23, Sirius should be rising precisely with the sun.   Orion will disappear from the night sky altogether for a couple of months. I will look for him again some October night.

In the book, “Sounder,” the boy’s mother tells him that Dog Days make dogs go crazy with the heat. Of course it’s good to watch out for your dogs in these triple digit days, make sure they have some shady shelter, a big dish or pool of water. I wouldn’t take my dogs out after 9 am – the ground gets hot, and your dogs release heat through their mouth/nose and the pads of their feet, so if they are walking on a hot sidewalk or even hot ground, they will have a hard time staying cool.  When night time lows are staying over 65, you will notice, the ground does not cool off, even after the sun goes down. Be careful out there with your four-legged friends.  

Local weather men are predicting one heck of a heat wave starting this weekend.  Chico News 24 brings in a lukewarm forecast of 103, while Mike Kruger over at Ch 7 says Chico will hit 107 by next Tuesday – ooo – 110 in Redding! Red Hot Redding!

I think it’s probably a good idea to get ready for 110, and then try to look disappointed when it only hits 105.

Dog Days is a good time to get out and howl at the moon.

Dog Days is a good time to get out and howl at the moon.

 

 

 

 

 

Garden to live, live to garden

This arrangement reminds me of a Paula Busch painting.

This arrangement reminds me of a Paula Busch painting.

I’ll borrow a line from the Hell’s Angels – garden to live, live to garden.

I found this collection the other day – two varieties of long beans, including the green “asparagus bean”, a wax pepper, and a couple of the long variety of squash we’ve been growing the last couple of years. We’ve found out that squash fruit resting on the ground will get short and fat, none-the-less delicious.

Eating out of your garden can get tedious if you don’t use your imagination.Vegetables can be bland.  It’s good to look online or at the store for new flavor sensations.  Something I’ve found lately is the combination of lime juice and sesame oil – Wow!

Actually, this rice is great plain, but look how much more exciting it is with a little color.

Actually, this rice is great plain, but look how much more exciting it is with a little color.

When I’m hungry, all this stuff would go down fine without any kind of seasoning. The Basmati rice I’ve been buying at Cash and Carry comes out sweet and delicious every time, the grains separate and tender, not mushy.  It fills the house with a popcorn smell.  It’s easy to cook ahead of time, set it in the fridge, and have it ready to throw into a skillet later.

I parboil the beans and squash for three or four minutes and run them under cold water and set aside.  Then I toss the rice into the pan with a tablespoon of vegetable oil, very low flame so it heats without sticking. As soon as the steam is rolling off the rice, the vegetables go in, the heat goes off, and we toss in some lime juice and sesame oil.  Ready to eat, with squash on the side.

We also had a bbq chicken – 99 cents a pound at Safeway. I bought one for dinner, and another one for the freezer. I wish I had a picture of that, but it was a small one, and you know how fast something like  that will disappear around here.

 

 

 

 

Think I can fill my empty nest with tomatoes?

For the last couple of years my husband and I have been watching our biddies take off, leaving us kicking around an empty nest. At least our older son has decided Chico is his town, and lives nearby.  Our younger son might be home for the last time – a month from now he and his girlfriend of two years will be taking their first apartment together at their new college.  

Heavy sigh.  They went off to orientation this weekend, reminding me – in about a month, he will be off to college again. Every year it’s the same – we go through the whole separation thing again, me and the dogs wandering around the house in circles, trying to remember why we came in there.

My husband is down in the dumps as well, his usual workaholic demeanor giving in to “I’m tired today…” 

Something had to give, so we wandered out to pick tomatoes. As you know, we have a lot of tomatoes.

This wall of Early Girls started producing, well, early. We pick a box of ripe tomatoes about every other day.

This wall of Early Girls started producing, well, early. We pick a box of ripe tomatoes about every other day.

But there’s others.

Here's a Paul Robeson. We've been getting so many of these, I'm in the habit of slicing them for meals,. They look like big tomato steaks.

Here’s a Paul Robeson. We’ve been getting so many of these, I’m in the habit of slicing them for meals,. They look like big tomato steaks.

These pretty striped cherry tomatoes are good on salads, but I have so many I think I'll make a batch of salsa.

These pretty striped cherry tomatoes are good on salads, but I have so many I think I’ll make a batch of salsa.

These are called "Indigo Apples." When they are ripe they will be dark red with a cap of dark purple. I like to add them to my cherry tomato salsa, the color combination is outrageous.

These are called “Indigo Apples.” When they are ripe they will be dark red with a cap of dark purple. I like to add them to my cherry tomato salsa, the color combination is outrageous.

This whopper, pictured next to a regular sized "Early Girl" is a Hungarian Heart.

This whopper, pictured next to a regular sized “Early Girl” is a Hungarian Heart.

The Hungarian Heart weighed in at 15 ounces on my mail scale, wowsers, went straight into the sauce pot. I don’t kid around. 

Been busy folks.

Been busy folks.

I’m so glad to have the chest freezer this time of year, our side-by-side is cramped and already full of fruit and chicken. The downstairs freezer starts to look a little barren about March, but it’s still handy for meat we buy cheap at Cash and Carry. Whatever it adds to our PG&E bill I’m confident it saves us as much in food money.

Here’s a tomato we have not tried before, which will be a standard in future.

 

This Carbon weighed in at 18 ounces.

This Carbon weighed in at 18 ounces.

I was sorry I didn’t take a picture before I cut this beast, but look at the smooth juicy flesh on this thing – a perfect blanket for some bacon or a burger. 

We had BLT’s for dinner, a nice light dinner for a couple of tired old empty nesters.

Market Value Place – ad rag resorts to “bomber” mailings – OPT OUT OPT OUT OPT OUT!

I’ve had a LOT of searches for opt-out information for various garbage mailers, so I’ll share this little note I sent this morning having received that pile of dead trees known as “Market Value Place” yesterday. I’ve only recently contacted the Enterprise Record, asking them to take my name off the list, but this latest delivery seems to have been indiscriminate – they just left them in little plastic sleeves, laying in the street in front of houses up and down my block.

Why isn’t that “illegal dumping“? What if I don’t pick it up? Will my neighbors pick theirs up, or will we have them blowing around the street ad infinitum?

Send your complaints to Miss Jenny Jurdana, flak  catcher for the illegal dumpers. Make it loud, make it clear, don’t use profanity, but don’t worry about being polite anymore. I got news for Dave Little – it’s not polite to throw garbage in the street. 

jjurdana@chicoer.com;
dlittle@chicoer.com;
mark.sorensen@chicoca.gov;
mark.orme@chicoca.gov;

Kirk, Maureen (mkirk@buttecounty.net)

Hi,

I found a Market Value Place laying in the street in front of my mail box yesterday. I looked up and down the street and there were similar bundles laying in front of every house.I can’t believe this is legal. We live in a town that has banned plastic grocery sacks, but we can still come home to find garbage  laying in the street in front of every house on our block, contained in a “single use” bag.  That doesn’t say much for our town.

Please remove my name from the list, again.  I’ll ask, was there a list, or were these just dropped in front of every non-subscriber in town? 

Mark Orme, can you forward this question to code enforcement – is it legal to leave political mailers or other such items laying in the streets? 

Thank you for your due diligence Ms. Jurdana, Juanita Sumner

Here’s the cherry on top – who should have a front page ad on this thing but our mayor, Mark Sorensen.

DSC00086

Yeah, “the local guys” – your mayor is an illegal dumper.

So I wrote him a little note –

I noticed your front page ad in this thing – any plans to overturn the bag ban? 

Juanita

Sheesh – my bad – it was on the back cover. 

Stand up for yourselves.

 

When the maters come rollin’ in!

Don't panic, I have a plan!

Don’t panic, I have a plan!

Every Spring I get so excited as my husband’s garden takes shape, from seedlings in the greenhouse to big lush plants in the  garden. And then the tomatoes start rolling in, and, I don’t mind saying, I get a little freaked out at the idea of being chained to the stove for the rest of Summer.

OMG, there’s so many!

But that’s the good thing, see, cause last  year we didn’t have quite enough. We had to eat (gasp!) canned tomato sauce!

So, I try to pull myself together and get organized. The first thing I do, is clean off the counter tops in my kitchen, get rid of all the accumulated kipple, make space for tomato storage.  That means, get rid of peaches. What!?!

These peaches ripening on my kitchen counter give my whole apartment the odor of ambrosia.

These peaches ripening on my kitchen counter make my whole apartment smell nice.

I’ve had the peaches coming in for a week or so now, we just had to start picking them green ahead of our voracious jays. As soon as they give a little to your fingers – don’t SQUEEZE! just roll it between your fingers a little, you’ll feel it. If it’s not rock hard, it will ripen on the counter. Unless you can camp under your trees, this is about the best way to get any fruit. After a couple of days on the warm counter top, they are soft and sweet, time to eat or freeze them. I wash and slice them in half without peeling, ditch the pit and set them in a freezer bag.  The skin will slip off when they thaw later.

Something new we’ve had in our garden this year is “Wonderberries”. My husband found them in the seed catalog and decided to try them. The bush grows about the size of an eggplant or bell pepper plant.  We planted several in different places in the garden, and while only one of them got very big, they all produce dozens of little blue berries.  They are mellow and sweet. I pick them about once a week, and I get about a pint of the tiny berries. I could use them in smoothies, salads, cereal – instead I usually make a batch of Wonderberry bars.

Essentially, oatmeal cookies smeared into a pan and covered with a pint of Wonderberries.

Essentially, these  are oatmeal cookies smeared into a pan and covered with a pint of Wonderberries.  The cookie dough puffs up and swallows the berries, the whole thing gets chewy and delicious.

These are a good hot with ice cream, and then as a snack any time of day. I especially appreciate them about mid-morning. 

Gardening is a good hobby, every time I go out to the laundry line I find something good to eat.

We have two different "cherry" tomatoes this year, and both bushes are starting to put out half dozen little jewels or more a day.

We have two different “cherry” tomatoes this year, and both bushes are starting to put out half dozen little jewels or more a day.

I like the seed catalog because we’ve tried new stuff.

These are now my favorite squash. The vine produces well, the fruit grow fast, and they are almost seedless.

These are now my favorite squash. The vine produces well, the fruit grow fast, and they are almost seedless.

This is a "Paul Robeson" tomato. If you have never heard of Paul Robeson, you should read up on the guy, very important person.

This is a “Paul Robeson” tomato. If you have never heard of Paul Robeson, you should read up on the guy, very important person.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Robeson

I don’t know who named this tomato after human rights activist, actor, and opera singer Paul Robeson, or why, but it’s very meaty and smooth, a tribute to anyone who loves tomatoes. I’m going to guess that Robeson was also a gardener, although that is not included in his impressive biography.  These are a good sandwich tomato, just exactly the right size to cover the average slice of bread.  In fact, I sliced this one up with some cukes and made a tomato and cucumber sandwich. 

Time to head for the garden and see what we find.

 

 

 

You could cut the air with a knife right now, but try this peach-blueberry cobbler instead!

 

It’s not the heat but really bad air quality that has me hiding in the house today. Went up to Forest Ranch to get out of the 3-digits Friday and saw too much coming home.

We were driving into the guck.

Look at that brown band across the valley.

I heard there are two fires burning north of Chico. While they are both near containment, the Pony fire near Happy Camp has been burning steadily since early June, and the Colyear fire, west of Los Molinos, has been burning for almost a week. That’s a lot of smoke.

Chico is over there, under that guck.

Chico is over there, under that guck.

Of course we passed a steady conga line of folks headed to the hills for the weekend.  I’ve met people who drive all the way from Los Angeles to spend a couple of weekends a year at Lake Almanor. Tom Cruise had a house at Lake Almanor when he was married to Nicole Kidman, we used to watch for him around the Ches-Mart.

The air was about 15 degrees cooler at Forest Ranch, a sweet breeze swizzled up out of the canyon. We’ve been leaving our windows shut all night here in town, getting up about 4am to open up, slam them shut again by 7. Especially after we saw the crud that was hanging over town.

I like the Fourth, it’s an important day of the year. I love fireworks, I love to burn stuff, I love to bust a cap now and then. But my dog hates that stuff. So, tomorrow night we will be sequestered in the house, watching loud television, waiting for the fireworks displays at the race track and the ball game to be over. It’s funny, she really loves A-Team, but she’ll go under the dining room table if you so much as crinkle a sheet of bubble wrap.

I’ve been doing my chores.

I drizzled this fruit with some honey and lemon juice and nutmeg.

The peaches are rolling in from our orchard, and I found cheap blueberries at Safeway.

I drizzled the fruit with honey, lemon juice and nutmeg, and then poured over a simple batter of 1/4 cup butter, 1/2 cup sugar, an egg, 1 cup of flour, 1/2 cup milk, in that order, and I poured it over the fruit. Baked at 350 for about 40 minutes, it was bubbling around the edges and golden brown on top.

I almost forgot to take a picture before we at it all.

I almost forgot to take a picture before we ate it all. Be sure to put a sheet pan or some tin foil under your baking dish to catch the blueberry explosions.

A nice dessert to take along on a picnic for your favorite patriotic holiday.