Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A cool and rainy day (after face-melting heat)

Things have been fairly quiet at Johanesen Cottage these past weeks. As the anxiety disorder makes me even more hermit-like than ever, I am spending most of my time in the house, taking care of my son.  He was allowed to attend preschool two or three times a week before it closed for the summer, to see if he’d like it, and he LOVED it. That’s my boy. He asks every day, now that preschool is over, when he can go back to ‘the school building’. 

He will be enrolled officially in September. I’m not sure I’m really accepting how much he’s grown already. I still want him to be my baby. He will be 40 and be my baby.

Fascinated by yellow buses, like his mom.
He was allowed to climb aboard while
the bus waited for its big-kid passengers.
It’s a slow day today. We ate some leftover clam chowder I made the day before yesterday, for lunch. After 90 and 100 degree days, we are now enjoying 46 degree temps and heavy rainfall. Just the kind of day for chowdah.

My off-the-cuff Chowder recipe (amounts may vary a bit since I cook by the seat of my pants, you can adjust liquids as needed for your desired thickness—I like it to be thick, but not stand-your-spoon-up-in-it thick)

  • Three medium leeks chopped fine and cleaned well. (I use leeks because I’m Belgian and I love leek. But most recipes you’ll find will call for onions and that’s fine too).
  • One large carrot diced into tiny cubes.
  • Four 6.5 ounce cans of cherry stone clams from Trader Joe’s, diced up to small pieces
  • Three tablespoons of butter.
  • ½ cup flour
  • ~2 cups of water/stock
  • ~2 cups of milk
  • ~one cup heavy cream
  • A spash of white wine
  • Two Idaho potatoes cut into one inch cubes.
  • Coriander and thyme (to your tastes)
  • Salt 
  • Black pepper

Melt butter on medium until the sizzle goes silent.  Toss in the leeks and stir until transparent.
Add carrots. Stir in the flour until everything is coated. Deglaze with the liquid from the canned clams. All 4. Then add water/stock. Add wine (just a splash). Add in the clams and the potatoes.
Add milk and spices. Taste first, the liquid from the clams can be salty, so you should always taste before adding salt. Add pepper to taste. Let cook for an hour on low.  Add heavy cream abefore serving. Add some cilantro or parsley to taste. Garnish with a dash of paprika.

My garden is growing. My radishes have bolted because of the strange weather. I just went outside between rain showers to take some pictures of the progress.

Walla Walla onions are coming along nicely.
The little root is swelling already.

The potato-tire stack has grown!
I'll be adding one more tire in a few weeks.

I like my garlic. 

The radishes have bolted!
The flowers are cute though.


Gandules! I got some hard-to-find things to grow for my puerto-rican cooking.

Strawberries are doing well

Our little carved bear guards the back door.

There is something deeply soothing and satisfying, watching your garden grow. The only major failures so far are the bolted radishes and the celery seedlings that were gobbled up by something. The carrots are coming back from their first attack by nibbling somethings or other.

I've managed the slugs, and whenever I find them, they are the perfect treat to give the newest members of the Johanesen Cottage household; the little chickens!

I’ve wanted chickens for a long time, but my husband has been kind of a major brat about it, worried that they would be eaten by predators and whatnot. But this mother’s day he relented and got me a little coop for four hens. You could not imagine my delight, I know that sounds stupid. 

Ever since I lived at my sister's farm in Estacada, I have been in love with the layers. We had chickens at our stable, but they just roamed free and at mice, and laid eggs randomly about the place to be stepped on when they rotted.  My sister got me a horde of chicks to raise for eggs, and oh, I loved them. It was only when she brought in the cornish cross meat chickens that I started to dislike having chickens. They ruined everything, they were SO GROSS.

My little coop: 

So I went out first thing and picked up two chicks to begin with: The first two I got are Silver-Laced Wyandotes. They will look like this:

Miss Chicken McFluffyPuffButt

They looked like this when I brought them home: 

But they look like this right now:
Their names are Bea and Emmaline. Not quite sure which one is which.

I got two Ameraucanas this weekend. Cadence and Mellie. They are still eensy and super cute!

They will look something like this:

They live in a little coop which will soon have a large run attached to it for their pecking around purposes. Hopefully in a few months we will have beautiful blue-green eggs and soft tan ones with rich yolks. The big girls already eat just about anything. They're great for my potato peelings and old lettuce, as well as the slugs that dare slime their way onto one of my garden bales. They are great composters, and when I much out their space I will pile it up for future garden fertilizing.

Otherwise, Johanesen Cottage is trying to get through this crazy spring.

Mother's day flowers

My window box. Trying a new experiement
to keep things alive in it.
 Alex has been fully potty trained for a few months already. I had some pull-ups and diapers left over from his diaper days. So I took three or four and tore them apart, shaking all the crystal powder and cotton lining into a bowl. It didn't amount to much, it seemed; until I filled the bowl with water. The stuff expanded to multiple times its original size. So I blended that with a planting soil, and lined my flower box with an old shower curtain, filled it up and planted sedums and a seathrift in there.  Normally it dries out super fast and I just can't keep up with the watering. I'm hoping with this water-retaining crystal stuff in there, it will create a lovely sedum garden overflowing from it, with a seathrift for colour and texture. Time will tell!

Sedum flower explosion in the hot-poker pot.

I love sedum. I steal them from everywhere.
Many of my pots are just collections from my
klepto habit.
The chimney of my repurposed cracked
chiminea is still going strong.

And the bottom half of my chiminea,
although cracked, has served beautifully
as a sedum pot. I just put a piece of
wire mesh over the mouth and filled it with soil.
The sedum are being barfed out of it. LOL

This is just a chill day today. Nothing glamourous. 

Alex is playing in the blankets and ruining the bed.

Sweet bratty boy.

A ghost! 

Two more pics before the rain starts


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