Archive for garden

Out Of The Surplus Garden ~ Plus Pickles as Promised!

“Where have all the bloggers gone….”

Sung to that old tune Where Have All The Flowers Gone, this phrase keeps running through my mind.

~~~ begin tiny rant ~~~

Time and again when I click on a link, from my own blog archive or another, and I receive the same message:

“To access your blogs, sign in with your Google Account.
The new Blogger requires a Google Account to access your blogs”

Where *have* all the bloggers gone?

I mean the bloggers of yore (if ‘yore’ means several years ago!).
I know life can come crashing in — often unexpectedly.

It happened to me.

I understand taking an extended break — I had to do so myself.
I know there are times when I can’t get motivated to post a thing.

I know blogging takes hard work, time, and a certain desire and drive to keep plugging away. It’s not very lucrative for hobbyists such as myself! πŸ˜‰

I started my little blog venture purely for my own selfish pleasure. Along the way, I learned much, found camaraderie and friendship. For these reasons, I am thankful to be back once more. The thrill that accompanies each new visit to my old haunts — the same thrill that comes from a comment at my own humble blog-home — these have not diminished πŸ™‚

That said, I do confess to missing some old friends. For example, Suganya would have liked the kitty pics I took last night…

daisy playing
daisy playing with her jingle toy

pinks talking to me
pinkie talking to me about how hungry he is πŸ˜‰

Never mind, I tell myself… don’t look back. If you must, look upon the happy times and all you have gained from them!

And if you find yourself stalled in blog land with unpublished drafts in your dashboard, as I was for so long, here’s a thought. As miss m and I said to one another countless times throughout the past year of trial and tribulation… don’t stop, don’t give up! If you’re even thinking of giving up on just about *anything*, I promise you’ll think twice after viewing that little one-minute clip πŸ˜‰

~~~ end tiny rant ~~~

Meanwhile, back at my dashboard….. several recipes lurk!

Lucky me, I have good friends out there; they never fail to come to my aid. Take dear ISG, who blogs all that tempting food for thought and plate, over at Daily Musings. I peeked in the other day and there was her perfectly timed vellarikka pachadi. I made this last night and it was awesome! I added brinjal and a couple of rogue okra, too πŸ™‚ Since we are still eating down a huge pot of rice and (green) beans, I wanted a little something fun to float in the curry — a la kadhi pakora.

isg's cucumber pachadi
ISG’s vellarikka pachadi ~ YUM!

Taking a stroll through my own archives, I found this recipe from Nags at Edible Garden, formerly Cooking and Me. Using that old standby Upvas Fasting Mix in place of besan, I mixed the batter and cooked it as a pancake, in a non-stick frying pan. Cucumber (yes, more cucumber!) took the place of potato and onion.

thick cucumber pancake
a thick cucumber pancake

It turned out better than I hoped — in fact it was great.
For once I didn’t skimp on oil for frying — I bet I used a whole TB! The pancake was crispy and crunchy outside, melting soft inside.

cucumber pancake
crunchy outside ~ soft inside

I broke this pancake up (after I ate about half of it hot!) and had it for my supper at work tonight, soaked in ISG’s pachadi — a loose and liberal adaptation of dahi vada with a double dose of cukes! πŸ˜‰

my dinner
my dinner tonight ~ thanks ladies!

Cucumbers in check, next up was the gigantic lebanese squash. You may recall I was thrilled to have these growing earlier in the summer — and far be it from me to complain. Like plain old zucchini in Nana’s garden years ago, these did take over and come on much faster than I could cook ’em. One day I thought they had all but gone by — I looked down to find this monster πŸ™‚

miss squeaker and the squash
little miss squeaker isn’t much bigger than this squash πŸ˜‰

Not to worry — as I was in backtracking mode, this chutney by Mythreyee’s hubby, originally using ridge gourd, came to the rescue! Lebanese squash is more watery than ridge gourd; it needed to be drained well before grinding and still came out a little thinner than I like. Nevertheless, it was as tasty as I remembered and also made a great, healthy alternative to guacamole. Served with Snyder’s of Hanover corn chips, it was a hit.

lebanese squash chutney
chutney made with lebanese squash ~ recipe by Mythreyee’s husband

Finally, we come now to the pickle section (just for you, dear sra)!

Disclaimer: Making pickles is fun and easy. Remember to follow safe food guidelines at all times. I have referred to USDA guidelines and others when preserving at home. I am not a food safety expert and am only relating what works for me in my kitchen.

Not to scare anyone off, just advising to err on the side of caution πŸ™‚ Here is a good place to start.

Food poisoning is nothing to joke about — if you make these or any other preserved product and you have the least inkling something is wrong — I would say follow that old addage: “when in doubt, throw it out”!


This bread and butter pickle recipe came from my mom. These are a treat because they’re not ‘sickly sweet’ like some bread and butter pickles from the store. I believe the addition of onion makes a difference too. The most important part, in my opinion, is to slice the cucumber and onion as thinly as possible. I like to use kosher salt — if you can’t find that, canning/pickling salt can be used. In a pinch, I am sure any coarse salt would work.

Mom’s Bread and Butter Cucumber Pickles

makes approx 2 pints

Vegetable preparation:

4 medium cucumbers
1 large yellow onion (preferably sweet)
2 TB kosher salt

cucumbers and sweet onion
cucumbers and sweet onion

kosher salt
kosher salt — my favorite brand is Diamond, but can’t find that in Michigan!

Pickling solution:

1 c white vinegar (5% acidity)
1 c white sugar
pickling spice (optional)

white vinegar and sugar
white vinegar and sugar ~ brand is not as important as freshness!

pickling spice
commercial pickling spice ~ you can omit, or make your own with yellow mustard seed, clove, bay leaf, and black peppercorns ~ this brand uses cinnamon but I remove that

You’ll need several pint or half-pint sized canning jars, also called mason jars. How many will vary depending on the size of your cucumbers. After you’ve made pickles for awhile, you know how much they will shrink after salting and can estimate. This recipe made 2 scant pints for me. You can reuse old canning jars and rings as long as they are clean. It’s preferable to use new lids each time you make pickles.

canning or mason jars
this package of half-pint mason jars came with brand new lids and rings


Wash the cucumbers well. Cut a bit off each end. Slice very thinly and place into a large, non-reactive bowl.

Next, peel and wash the onion. Cut a bit off each end. Slice very thinly and place into the bowl with the cucumbers.

Mix the cucumbers and onions well, separating the onion rings as you go. Add the salt and mix again. Cover and leave for four hours, stirring every hour.

thinly sliced cucumbers and onions tossed with salt
thinly sliced cucumbers and onion are mixed with kosher salt and left to stand

While the mixture is salting, prepare your jars:

Wash jars, lids, and rings well in hot sudsy water. Rinse well in hot water. Leave the jars upside down to drain, in the dish drainer or on a clean towel. Place the lids and rings into a clean plastic or metal bowl.

canning or mason jar
a pint-sized canning or mason jar, showing the three parts ~ jar, lid, and ring

When four hours is up, transfer the cucumbers and onions to a large colander. Rinse well under cold running water, tossing and squeezing to remove as much salt as possible.

cukes and onion after salting
cukes and onions after salting for four hours ~ you can see how they have wilted down

rinsing the cukes and onion
rinse the mixture well and squeeze to remove excess salt

Fill a pot or kettle with enough water for sterilizing the jars, lids, and rings. Bring this to a boil as you make the solution below.

In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the vinegar and sugar together, stirring well to dissolve the sugar. When this solution is hot and the sugar is dissolved, remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Run the glass jars under hot tap water to heat and temper them. When the plain water is boiling, discard the tap water and fill each jar with boiling water. It’s fine to let the water run over the rim too. Fill the bowl of lids and rings with boiling water as well.

preparing the canning jars
canning jars, lids and rings prepared with boiling water to sterilize

Now it’s time to pack your pickles, one jar at a time.

Empty the first jar, taking care not to scald yourself with the boiling water. Set it on a clean towel to absorb heat. If you are using pickling spice, put a scant teaspoon into the bottom of the jar now. Using a clean spoon or fork, fill the jar with the cucumber and onion mixture. Pack it in lightly, leaving at least a half inch at the top to allow room for the pickling solution.

canning jar with picking spice
optional pickling spice goes in first

filled canning jar
the jar is filled with cucumber and onion mixture ~ leaving room for solution

Now carefully pour the hot pickling solution over the veggies in their jar. You can pour directly from the pot, use a clean ladle, or a clean canning funnel. Fill the jars nearly to the top. Don’t worry if you run out of solution, just make more using the 1:1 vinegar to sugar ratio.

canning jar filled with pickling solution
carefully fill the jar with pickling solution ~ use a clean fork to press around the side of the jar, allowing the solution to seep down to the bottom

Place the lid on the jar and then the ring, tightening gently.

canning jar with lid applied
first the lid is applied

canning jar with lid and ring applied
then the ring is fastened over all

If everything is sufficiently hot, you may hear a slight pop when you fasten the ring — this means the jar has self-sealed — it is nothing to worry about. You can test whether the jar is sealed by pressing gently in the middle of the ring. If it bounces back, it is not sealed. (Don’t worry if your jars don’t self-seal. These are not processed pickles and must be refrigerated at all times.)

Repeat the process until all the jars are filled.

Allow the pickles to cool to room temperature before placing in the fridge. They should keep for about a month after opening.

mom's bread and butter pickles
mom’s bread and butter pickles!

I wish I could take credit for the beautiful red cucumber kimchi I made — alas I cannot. It comes directly from this recipe with all credit to Dr. Kim.

cucumber kimchi from Dr. Kim
Dr. Kim’s cucumber kimchi

And sadly, I am still working on the banana peppers. When it came time to open the jar, they were mushy and not at all what I hoped. When I get that recipe settled, I will post it.

banana pepper pickles
banana pepper pickles ~ heat packed and not crispy 😦

Leaving you now with a halfway decent shot of a halfway unusual bird sighting a few days ago — a Yellow-Billed Cuckoo. He was lunching in a tree at the top of the steps that lead to beautiful, ever-changing Lake Superior πŸ™‚

yellow-billed cuckoo
yellow-billed cuckoo ~ in the upper peninsula

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Going “Up North”

beanstalks grow on this huge sunflower...
beans are climbing up this huge sunflower…

Now that I live in the “northern lower”, a trip “up north” to the Upper Peninsula isn’t such an undertaking — all I need is a few days off and a car as opposed to a few weeks off and a plane ticket!

Here is where I am headed…

When I get back I hope to have some great new photos — perhaps even some foodie stuff too! (such as pickles, sra?) πŸ™‚

lake superior ~ yum!
lake superior

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Autumn In The Air

apple after early morning storm
ripening apple dripping rain after an early autumn storm ~ right in the front yard!

I arrived home to Michigan five months ago, but it feels like only yesterday. There has been much hustle and bustle around here of late, and every day seems to bring an exciting change!

A new roof sits on both house and garage and a brand new room was created in the old entry porch out back. While contractors worked, DG gave the little red house a fresh coat of paint, complete with tan trim.

Then it was time to clear out the garage so two cars can fit inside during the snowy weather to come.

front view of wood pile
woodpile seen from the front door

wood pile side view
side view of the impressive woodpile ~ a tremendous amount of work done by dg

For winter warmth, DG has worked hard, splitting and stacking over thirteen cords of wood. This is fuel for the wood-burning stove which, to me, a thing of beauty — presiding over the living room in its own fresh coat of black paint.

the all-nighter wood stove
patiently awaiting the first fire ~ the trusty wood stove

I envision a pot of bean soup bubbling on this stove during a winter storm, and it makes me smile.

In the kitchen, DG removed an old dishwasher and is building an open cabinet in its place, complete with tongue-and-groove paneling to match the rest of the room. Included with this new storage area will be a shelf, sized perfectly to accommodate the mixie in its box underneath.

building the new open storage cabinet
dg is building the new open cabinet

DG envisioned that project — a few days later, it’s becoming a beautifully built reality. I don’t have that sort of talent, but I am so happy to be here watching these ideas come to life πŸ™‚

And now, regarding pickles…

cukes and tomatoes in late june
cucumber and tomato seedlings

Way back in June, it seemed the little cucumber seedlings would never take off and produce a fruit. Patiently we waited through June and July. Then, all through August and into September, the cucumber vines marched onward and upward. They now spill over the tops of the teepees we made, climbing over tomatoes on one side and weaving through the beans on the other.

bunch of unruly cucumber vines ;)
riot of cucumbers

Inundated with cucumbers (happily so, I might add!), we have been making pickles to beat the band. Refrigerator pickles are fun and easy to make — they require only a few ingredients and a little bit of time. You can tweak the amount of sugar and add or subtract seasonings to suit your taste — I would not recommend changing the salt or vinegar however — as they both act as preservatives.

I should mention here that these are not canned or processed pickles and I cannot vouch for their safety. They should be immediately refrigerated and kept so at all times. My own experience has been positive. Follow your instincts, and rely on food safety guidelines. Here is a good place to begin.

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

1 lb cucumbers, preferably small
2/3 c white vinegar (5% acidity)
1 c water
1 1/2 TB canning or pickling salt
1 TB sugar
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed whole
fresh dill stalks (with leaves and heads) to taste
fresh green or red chiles to taste (I used serranos and the occasional jalepeno)
peppercorns to taste
yellow mustard seed to taste (optional)


Prepare your jar and lid by washing in hot, sudsy water and rinsing completely. While it is still warm from rinsing, sterilize it by filling it with boiling water. I always let the water run over the top to hit the rim as well. Leave this boiling water in the jar and lid until you’re ready to fill it with pickle mixture.

Collect your cucumbers from the garden or very fresh from the farmstand. Wash them carefully under running warm water. Slice a bit off each end (this helps to keep the pickles crisp) and lay them aside.

cucumbers from the garden
cucumbers fresh from the garden

Prepare the brine: in a non-reactive pot (ie don’t use aluminum), mix the vinegar and water. Add the salt and sugar and stir well to dissolve. You can heat the mixture to aid in this, if you choose. Once dissolved, keep aside.

Prepare the garlic by peeling and slicing off each end — then crush each clove lightly with your hand or the back of a knife.

Prepare the hot peppers by removing the stem and cutting a slit through the side.

Prepare the fresh dill by rinsing and draining.

dill, garlic and chiles for pickles
dill, garlic, and chiles for pickles

Starting with the garlic, mustard seed, dill and peppers, pack your ingredients into a quart-sized jar. Add cucumbers as they fit best — some may go in straight up and down, others may do well laying crosswise.

laying on the cucumbers
cucumbers ~ washed, trimmed and packed for refrigerator pickles

When everything is packed into the jar, pour on the brine. Be sure all the cucumbers are submerged in the brine. Wipe the rim and threads of the jar with a paper towel. Fasten the lid and refrigerate at once.

In a couple of days, the pickles will be ready to eat. They taste even better as time goes by.

refrigerator dill pickles
just one of the many jars in the fridge now

Refrigerator dills are just one of many pickle projects. I have a bread and butter pickle recipe from my mom which turned out great — I’ll share that soon. Still working on the pickled banana peppers!

In the meantime, we are off to my beloved Lake Superior for a few days next week… I can’t wait.

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It’s A Long Way To Tipperary, OOPS I Mean Toledo! Moving Home Part Four

Warning warning! Long post, not much food either. I’d best hurry along with this ‘moving home’ story before I’ve been home a whole year!

Do you ever make up your own lyrics? I did πŸ™‚

I was playing with words when I put this title down — I was thinking (and singing in my mind) “it’s a long way to tipperary, it’s a long way to go… it’s a long way to tipperary, with the sweetest guy I know…”

Then I came to google the song and found it is an old WWI song, which has been translated into Kannada as something of a parody — how cool is that πŸ™‚

If you care to hear the song, in English or Kannada or instrumental — here are a few links — I don’t pretend to have done thorough or proper research πŸ˜‰

version one ~ mitch miller big band

version two ~ TP Kailasam Eternal Song ~ kannada

version three ~ dixieland

the lobby at erie

gallery of fossils
gallery of fossils embedded in a rock wall ~ outside the motel lobby at Erie

what was this...?
I wonder what creature this was in its long-ago life…

From Erie, with its fascinating fossils in the rock outside the motel, we drove down past the harbor where we saw one lone tug-barge combo, similar to this.

No time to stop for photos of the harbor, nor of the gracious homes lining the waterfront road — we were Toledo-bound and the temperature was rising fast. I was excited however, for today! Because we like the beautiful freighters that ply the Great Lakes (some might call us boatnerds), I planned this leg of the journey to take us along the shores of Lake Erie. Erie was the only one of the five Great Lakes I had yet to see, and it’s home to several port cities I had read about for years.

We set off early, in order to take the scenic route and avoid highway driving as long as possible. Traveling west on US20, we crossed the state line into Ohio.

ohio welcomes us!
requisite state welcome sign for the scrapbook

My first glimpse of the real Lake Erie was just a few miles ahead, at Conneaut (I didn’t count the harbor at Erie PA!). There, the dormant grasses waved in the morning sunshine and I was able to walk down onto the sand and bask in the beauty of the wide open water. Something about the Great Lakes speaks to me; Lake Erie on this hot blustery day did not disappoint.

wild grass at conneaut
grasses at conneaut

lake erie at conneaut
lake erie at Conneaut ~ hot and hazy day

lighthouse on lake erie
west breakwater light at Conneaut ~ loads of gulls on the jetty, and loads of ducks in the water ~ probably mergansers

From Conneaut, we meandered along Lake Road to the next stop, Ashtabula — home to an active Coast Guard Station, interesting bridges, and a rich maritime heritage. Ashtabula County itself is evidently home to many covered bridges as well. I wish there had been time to visit the Hulett unloader at Point Park. A vacation to Ohio may be in order!

ashtabula lift bridge
lift bridge at Ashtabula ~ every flag along the way was at half-mast for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing…

coal conveyor at ashtabula
interesting coal conveyor at Ashtabula

closeup of the conveyor
close up of the operation ~ complete with old coast guard house and fish tug tied up to the dock

vinca in bloom at the Ashtabula CGS

Leaving Ashtabula, we continued along the back roads through Geneva-on-the-Lake, a little tourist town which was still boarded up for the winter. You could envision it humming with summertime activity; like so many places on Cape Cod, the shuttered shops seemed to call out “come back on Memorial Day!” as we passed by.

By now it was nearly 100F in the car; concerned for the cats, we headed onto the highway to skirt around the crowded metropolis of Cleveland. Exiting west of the big city, we made one final sightseeing stop at the port of Lorain. The wind had really picked up and the water was a little choppy. A complex of purple martin houses stood at the shore — a surprise perk!

lakeview park
lakeview park at Lorain

lighthouse at lorain
lighthouse at Lorain

purple martin in flight
purple martin takes flight on the edge of Lake Erie

here's lookin' at you, kid!
purple martin on his front doorstep ~ here’s lookin’ at you kid!

Taking leave of Lorain, it was back onto the freeway to be blown — and I do mean *blown* — directly into Toledo. Never have I known such a strong crosswind while driving. Across the farmland of western Ohio, it was all I could do to hang onto the steering wheel! What a relief it was to unload our weary selves, along with two weary, hot little kitties, at the motel in Toledo. It was raining hard — severe thunderstorms had passed shortly before our arrival. In the aftermath of the downpour, I ventured out for our only takeout meal of the entire trip — the famous Tony Packo’s (apologies to any non-meat eaters)!

Notes on our travel through Ohio:

By this time, we were wise to Miss Daisy’s ways and let her ride in her cat carrier. There, she was somewhat shaded from the sun and content to be in her own little house. The carrier has mesh sides, so she always had a view of big brother Pinks riding along beside her in his bed. It was an unseasonably warm day for mid-April. In the car, the thermometer quickly reached 90F, then 100F.

Worried about the cats in such heat, we made frequent stops to be sure they were hydrated. For me, it was like having babies again.
We soaked paper toweling with cold water and squeezed it into their little mouths to be sure they were getting a drink — like it or not. Both cats got sponge baths at every stop, too. I can never thank dear G enough for being so diligent and helpful in caring for the kitties on that trip — and ever since.

They are truly now *our* kitties πŸ™‚

ohio kitties
kitties in the hot ohio sunshine

a weary dear G, leaning on the steadfast Subby ~ Toledo after the storm


Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, we are swimming in cucumbers and more. Coming soon: pickles!

a million pickles!

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Creatures of Yard and Garden

Just a few of the interesting guys (or gals!) who have surfaced lately…

walking stick
have you ever seen a walking stick?

who am I?
no idea what sort of caterpillar this is…

some kinda wasp
dg probably knows the scientific name for this ~ I think it’s a (harmless to humans) parasitic wasp

OK, enough insects…

baby chickadees
a family of baby chickadees has been hanging around…

took me awhile to figure this one out ~ there were several out under the woodpile the other day ~ ovenbird!

scarlet tanager
scarlet tanager!

hermit thrush
this little hermit thrush loves the pond ~ when they sing, they sound like bells…

little miss squeaker is quite elderly ~ she spent the day outside while her room was scrubbed down

she loved the carrots!

At last, a few days with temps over 70 have provided the garden with just the nudge it needed to start producing in earnest. We’ve been picking cucumbers like crazy, banana peppers like mad, and a few other odds and ends like bell peppers, dusky variety eggplant, and the odd cherry tomato. Fairytale brinjals are next in line and I hope the beans aren’t far behind. There are two varieties of pole beans, and some long beans and papdi beans have flowered along with the horticultural beans mom sent.

dusky eggplant
this dusky eggplant looks like the big bitter variety, but it’s sweet and tender

wall o'beans
one side of the wall o’beans!

beautiful bean flower
at last I caught the beautiful purple long bean flower open!

garden entrance
the entrance to the garden has been taken over by the lebanese squash ~ no end in sight!

Meanwhile, back in the house…

I made some pakoras with fresh picked veggies including lots of my fav, peppers ~ yum πŸ™‚

pinks and gibby form a tenuous friendship ~ sharing space but studiously ignoring one another πŸ˜‰

I can’t wait to get outside in the morning — it was over 90F today so I expect the cucumbers will be thick.
How does your garden grow?

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Make Bhature While The Sun Shines!

here come the sunflowers!

here comes the sun, and the sunflower! this one has a double blossom…

Make hay while the sun shines, the old farmers’ proverb says.

Take advantage of your opportunities, and make good use of your time! πŸ˜‰

That’s what’s been happening here in the woods. No hay, but a lot of projects underway.

Last week, workers finished the new roof and a little sun porch which was enclosed and fitted out with five brand new windows! Dear G has been painting the house from dawn till dusk, as long as there is light to see by. I have been running back and forth to my two little jobs. Today was a welcome day off. Since I am not much good with roofing nails or house paint, I indulged myself by working in the kitchen πŸ™‚

Some while back, my dear kitchen fairy gifted me with a new pressure cooker. It’s been packed away all this time, waiting patiently for its inauguration celebration. Reorganizing the fridge and freezer was just the beginning for me (thanks again, Nupur!).
A few days ago I did the same for the kitchen cupboards; there is space now for a few of my treasured cooking vessels and this big beautiful Presto is a gem. Today was the long-awaited day to break it out and make an inaugural curry. I chose something I have been craving — spicy rich chole. I even made an attempt at bhature.

I read several (ok, many) recipes for chole bhature, some old and some new. Finally I settled on the version at Tasty Appetite.
I liked the way the chick peas were pressure cooked *with* the masala rather than separately. I changed up the chole ingredients a little, and the bread has the odd addition of dhokla flour, since I have no sooji!?! I loved the way the chole turned out, and the bhatures weren’t bad for a first try with the wrong ingredients πŸ˜‰

Chole Bhature
mostly from Tasty Appetite’s recipe here

3 c dried chickpeas (measured after soaking overnight)

2 TB canola oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
2 black cardamom
2 green chiles, slit
1 dried red chile without seeds

1 TB ginger paste
1 TB garlic paste
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 c fresh tomatoes, measured after grinding

1 heaping TB chana masala powder (I used Badshah brand, yum)
2 TB anardana powder
salt to taste


Heat the oil in your shiny new pressure cooker. When hot, fry the cumin seeds for thirty seconds, then add the other whole spices and chiles.

sizzling whole spices
inauguration photo ~ frying the spices in the new cooker!

Cook for a couple of minutes until fragrant, then add the ginger and garlic pastes. Cook another couple of minutes, then add the onion. Cook until onion has browned and softened, then add the tomatoes and cook a few minutes longer. Add the chana masala and anardarna powders and combine well. Cover and cook on low until the oil starts to separate — this took about 5 minutes for me.

mmm... smells so good!
the rich spice mix

Add the soaked chick peas and 2 c water and mix well.
Now it’s time to test the new cooker!

ready to close the lid!
before pressure cooking

Bring the mixture to a boil, then put the lid and weight on and lower the heat to medium. When the pressure comes up, set the timer for ten minutes. When the timer goes off, remove from the heat and allow the pressure to come down on its own. Remove the lid and mash a few of the chick peas into the gravy.

smells even better now!
after pressure cooking

If you prefer thicker chole like I do, simmer the mixture for a few minutes, uncovered, before serving.

again with thanks and credit to Tasty Appetite ~ I made only minor changes

2 c flour
(I used what I had on hand — 1 1/2 c bread flour and 1/2 c all purpose)
1/4 c dhokla flour (substituted for sooji)
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 c yogurt
2-3 TB water (my addition, as the dough would not come together for me without it)
salt to taste (I forgot to add salt!!)


Sieve the flours together with salt, sugar and baking powder into a medium bowl, mixing well. Add yogurt and a little water. Mix to form a (stiff) dough.

**Aside: was my dough stiff due to dal in the dhokla flour, or the use of bread flour perhaps?**

Knead until smooth, at least ten minutes. Cover with a damp cloth and let it rest 4 hours in a warm place.

After resting, the dough was much softer as promised in the original recipe. Divide the dough into 8-10 balls.

making bhature for the first time!
making bhature for the first time

Roll them out one by one…

handy little roller tool!
how is this for a handy little rolling pin ~ from dg’s wide assortment of utensils!

…and deep fry one by one. Keep the dough submurged using a spatula until it puffs up. When golden on one side, flip and fry the other until also golden.

frying bhature ~ it puffed!
frying the first bhature ~ look mom, it puffed!

Drain well and serve hot with chole.


chole bhature
chole bhature plate ~ I love this because everything except the onion is homemade or homegrown!

Also, dg started the pickle jar tonight! More on that later πŸ™‚

dg dills
dill refrigerator pickles ~ an annual tradition for dg, and now me

A few garden photos to end this lovely day…

cukes climbing
straight eight cucumbers make good use of the teepees we built in june…

at last, brinjals! these are fairytale variety and they grow in little clusters

long bean flowers
long bean flowers had closed for the day when I took this, but were light purple in the morning… look to the left and see where the dear deer have been feasting on the tender leaves πŸ˜‰

afternoon sun on squash
lebanese zucchini bathing in afternoon sun

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The Road Goes Ever On ~ Moving Home Part Three (With Summertime Pasta Salad)

*** long post warning ***

“I’ve got a mule and her name is Sal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
She’s a good old worker and a good old pal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal.

I’ve hauled some barges in my day
Filled with lumber, coal and hay
And I know every inch of the way
From Albany to Buffalo…

Low bridge, everybody down
Low bridge, for we’re coming to a town…”

The above is from “Low Bridge” or “The Erie Canal Song”, an old song my dad taught us when we were kids. I sang it, in turn, with my kids. You can hear Pete Seeger singing it here. Not quite the same as our car chorus but… πŸ˜‰

We typically sang only the first verse — I guess the song, like the canal, went on for miles πŸ˜‰ When our version ended, my dad would jump into this:

“Oh the Ee-rye-ee was a risin’
And the gin was a’gettin’ low
And I scarcely think we’re gonna get a drink
‘Til we get to Buffalo-oh-oh
‘Til we get to Buffalo…”

And so on and so on, went the car-trip songs of my youth. I will spare you the one about the fox (he went out on a chilly night…) πŸ˜‰ You can read more about the Erie Canal song here.

ny thruway stops are all alike...
a travel plaza on the ny state thruway — here called the amvets memorial highway

To cheer myself during the long winter of uncertainty, I carefully charted a springtime course to take in as many sights — old and new — as possible. This leg of the trip home took us from Albany to Buffalo and beyond. I wanted to travel back to my future! With that in mind, as we set out from the outskirts of Albany, I had two detours planned. First was Scotia — where I lived from age three to age five or thereabouts. Most memories I have of that time are rooted in old photo albums and tales from my folks. It would be fun to visit now!

the little town of scotia
a bank in downtown scotia, ny

There was much confusion and frustration en route — partly due to Mom’s old directions. She insisted there would be a Woolworth’s across the main road from the old street, because, as the story goes, one day she was backing out of the driveway there and I piped up “look out mom, you’re gonna hit the W!”.

“The W” was Woolworth’s, a five-and-dime store which has long since disappeared into the history books. That landmark was no help. Nevertheless, we managed to arrive at the old homeplace.

I recognized the house from photos. Driving around the road that encircled our short, straight street gave me a glimpse into a few memories of my own — such as riding my bicycle on training wheels to the little house with the triangle entry, where Mrs. Sheehy would give me a glass of orange Tang. Perhaps you remember Tang — the beverage of astronauts!

I remember this place!
I think I remember this place!

the old house from the circle street
view of the old home from the ‘circle drive’

Taking leave of Scotia, we set out on the long haul across the Empire State. I wish now that I had stopped to take a few photos on the side of the road; much of the drive was quite scenic with rolling hills and farmland. Mostly we stopped to check on the kitties. The first day was harrowing, with driving rain and miss daisy trying to get through the ‘pet barrier’. I’d look in the rear-view mirror and see two little ears and a nose pressed through the gate. Day two, she chose to scooch in *between* the base of the barrier and the back seat. It took an hour to coax her out, but at least I knew she felt comfortable back there, and she was safe. As for Mr. Pinks, he rode half of the first day with his tail in the litter box. That very night we scrapped the litter box in the back — cats weren’t using it in the car, and I couldn’t stand the thought of his tail in there.

kitties at a rest stop along ny state thruway
we’re getting used to this car thing mom… but we don’t LOVE it! πŸ˜‰

And so we drove on, paralleling the old Erie Canal, until we reached the heart of the Finger Lakes region in the sunny mid-afternoon.

finger lakes region ~ stop on ny state thruway
most stops (called travel plazas in ny) along the thruway have a sign like this one at the finger lakes, with historical details of the area

Approaching Rochester, we took the second detour of the day — this time to see another old homeplace which I do remember — I lived there as a young teenager. Heading north and slightly east from the thruway, we came quite easily to Fairport — site of an engineering marvel along the Erie Canal.

Off route 31F, we stopped to see the grocery store my mother once referred to as ‘an airport store’ due to its size. Its outward appearance has not changed one bit from my days in junior high.

the old wegmans... looks the same as ever!
wegmans grocery ~ the airport store!

Just a hop skip and a jump from the ‘airport store’ found me gazing upon another old home — where I spent many an eve full of teenage angst, cozied up in the window seat of my bedroom. This time, I remembered it well!

the old home in upstate ny
I remember this place! my bedroom was the dormer on the right…

It was just a short drive from the little brick house to the little town, where we finally got to see the Erie Canal!

erie canal
erie canal at fairport… looking muddy!

de land sign at erie canal
when I lived here, I attended Minvera De Land middle school — evidently the De Land family was important in these parts — never made the connection till now

the famous bridge
famous (in days of yore) bridge over the erie canal ~ fairport

Leaving the canal behind, we continued along I-90 through the suburbs of Buffalo, finally making the Pennsylvania state line in late afternoon. I couldn’t get a ‘welcome to NY’ photo due to the rain, so I was determined to document PA πŸ˜‰ Of course, dear G indulged me — he did not complain when I stopped on the side of the highway; he even took the pic.

pa welcomes us!
pennsylvania welcomes us!

At the state line, there was a fun rest area with tunnels over each side of the road, leading to the facility in between. Inside, there were neat signs over opposite doorways — heading east or west. We traveled west towards Erie, the last stop for the day.

at the pa/ny state line
the door to the eastbound side

west to erie!
go west, young kitties!

“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say”

— J.R.R. Tolkein

view from the overhead bridge ~ ny into penn.
view from the overhead walkway ~ looking westward into pennsylvania


If you’re still awake, I have a summertime garden pasta salad for you!

pasta salad ~ lightened up
pasta salad ~ or veggie salad with pasta!

This goes especially to dear Vani for her eating better challenge. The lightened up part is the proportion of veggies to pasta — it’s really a veggie salad with a little pasta thrown in πŸ˜‰ You can substitute any of the ingredients for your favorites. The idea is to have a colorful, flavorful mix. Here is how I made it:

Lightened Up Pasta Salad
makes about 10 cups

2 cups cooked pasta of your choice (I used bow ties)

Wash and dice the following:

1 yellow pepper
1 orange pepper
2 red peppers
2 banana peppers
1 cucumber (remove seeds, if large)
1 summer squash (I used the lebanon zucchini from the garden)
10-12 fresh green beans

In a large bowl, mix the above with:

2 c baby spinach
1 c grape tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes, I would cut in half if using those)
1 can black olives, drained
1/2 c diced provolone cheese
1/2 c diced salami (optional)

Add 1/3 cup vinagrette dressing of your choice (I used Garlic Expressions) and mix well. Allow to sit for a few hours, or preferably overnight, for flavors to blend.

cucumbers on teepees
cucumbers reaching to the sky…

banana peppers, yum!
prolific banana peppers ~ one of several varieties growing in spite of a cool summer

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