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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Growing Dome Update: End of May

We are at the end of May and it's like June or July in the Growing Dome. It got too warm inside for the sugar snow peas, so after several good stir fries and a yucky fibrous peas and carrot side dish, I decided to pull them out. I'm going to put some cukes in there instead.

It's time to add some water to the tank. I try to fill it to the bottom of the wood crossbar about every two weeks. In the winter it's about once a month. I'm wondering if I could raise tilapia in there.

The wind blew like crazy this past Memorial Day weekend, but inside the dome all is calm. Want a little tour?

The warm weather veggies are having a partay! They love how peaceful and nurturing it is in the dome. There is a little breeze when the vents are open, but they're not being beaten to death by the wind.

Way in the back near the reflective insulation are a baby basil plant and a tomato plant that wants the green beans out of there. This year I decided to succession plant the green beans, so I will pick a couple batches and then pull the plants out so the tomato back there has some room.

Some beans are forming on the early plants in the back.  Twining up the squiggly supports are the Poona Kheera cucumbers and just next to them are an Amy's Sugar Gem tomato plant, still small, and the second sowing of green beans which are as big as their earlier buddies. The cucumbers have blossoms and some teeny babies.


We bought these squiggly supports from a nursery in Angel Fire. I think they are kind of Seussian, as are the fuchsia colored tomato cages I found at Ace Hardware in Taos. If last year was any indication, the cukes will outgrow these supports, so I will tie twine to the ceiling for their continued march. Twine works well to keep cukes up off the ground.


Above is a shot of the tomato plants with their pretty cages that will probably need to be extended with twine, later in the season. The tomatoes have babies. The one on the left in the corner is a cherry I bought in Albuquerque in March and the other one is a mysterious volunteer. I can't bear to waste them, so here it is, looking good. The yellow zucchini are blooming and I ate the first one last night.


It's freaking May in Northern New Mexico and I have zucchini! Yay!


Probably because the temp in here is a nice 84 degrees F at 10 in the morning.

On the other side of the dome I have seeded lettuce, planted a Cherokee Purple tomato as well as another volunteer tomato plant, variety to be determined. There are some Dinosaur Kale, jalapenos, Big Jim New Mexican chiles, a Mexibell pepper, and yellow bell pepper planted on the east side. There is a Stupice tomato plant, lemon thyme, basil, scallions, and another couple tomato plants in Earth Boxes in front of the tank. When I get the last Earth Box planted, I will take a photo of them, too.

It's going to be a great planting season and this year we will do our best to keep out roving cows and other varmints!

Speaking of varmints, Ms. Pearl wants you to know that she didn't leave this gopher head (or the pile of guts Tom stepped in) on the rug. It was Miss Bonnie the stone cold killer.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Almost Summer at the Ranch-Country Busy

For the past couple weeks it's been busy at the Nickel and Dime, well, our version of busy:


The cabin got a new coating of oil based stain, which makes it look as good as new. Thank goodness we only have to do this every 7-10 years.


There are two bridges across the creek, but Tom made some "walk the plank" bridges for the harder to access areas. At the end of each plank, he drilled a couple holes and added rope handles so he can pull them off the creek when the water gets high.


Since we heat with wood and winters are, in my dad's Tennessee vernacular, "colder than a well-digger's a@#," the wood gathering and sawing continues. So far we haven't needed to go to the National Forest to cut wood since there is plenty right here. We haven't had to cut anything living yet, just dead and down branches. It isn't as pretty as big logs, carefully split, but wood is wood and if it keeps us warm, who cares how it looks?



And it's green! I twirl around and sing, "The hills are alive with the sound of music," but the steers just look at each other and say, "I think there's some more of that Blue Grama grass over here, Bro."

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Chard is Actually Good! A Simple Chard Recipe

In the 1960's when I was growing up, most veggies at our house came from a can. Peas and green beans were a grayish green and spinach looked like elephant snot (at least that's what I told my mom when she served it.) I loved canned carrots. Go figure.

 Both our parents worked, so there was no veggie garden in the back yard and the only farmers' market nearby was the Japanese market on the way to the beach where we would buy strawberries in the spring and corn during summer. And, of course, we had those country green beans that were cooked all day. Yum! But chard? What was that?

I didn't know anything about chard until a few years ago and I didn't eat it until last week. What can I say? I was a deprived child! I don't have chard in my garden yet, but when it's time to plant cool weather veggies in the Growing Dome, you can bet I will. Kale is growing in the dome right now, but kale is for another post.

Anyway, the rainbow chard at the healthy foods market in Taos was so pretty I bought some. MBB eats that stuff all the time and I hate when my kid is one up on me, and it is well known that chard is a nutritional powerhouse full of antioxidants and vitamins, so sign me up.





Plus, isn't this chard pretty?

It reminds me of spinach, so after reading around a bit and also remembering how my dad made our canned spinach palatable by adding a few drops of vinegar, I came up with this recipe.

Sauteed Chard With Garlic and Balsamic Vinegar

Ingredients
2 T olive oil
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 washed bunch of chard, leaves stripped from the stalks, cut into wide strips (I chopped the stalks to use for soup)
2 T balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil.
2. When the olive oil is shimmery, add the chard.



 3. Using tongs to turn the chard in the pan, cook for about five minutes until the chard is almost wilted. Add the chopped garlic to the pan. 

Below is the garlic in my favorite chopper, the Garlic Zoom. The photo after that shows the chard and garlic hanging out.








4. Once you've added the garlic, cook for a minute or two more and then add the balsamic vinegar. Toss it around so the chard is coated with the vinegar. (Don't cook too long or the chard will look like elephant snot.) Add some salt and pepper to taste.

And that's it!

Optional: Toast a couple tablespoons of pine nuts and sprinkle them on top.

I can't believe how much I liked chard after eating this! What in the world was I waiting for?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Quilty Pleasures Wednesday: Dashes and Patches

A year ago I went to the Ogallala Quilt Festival to see the quilts and take a class or two. It's a quilt show in Dimmett, Texas sponsored by the Ogallala Quilters' Society and they manage to attract a growing number of entries and spectators for their quilt show and some excellent teachers and speakers as well. This year I missed it and darn it, David Taylor was the big name and according to a friend, he is an entertaining speaker and patient teacher.  In the past they've had Melinda Bula and Paula Nadelstern, too. If you want a sense of what Dimmett, Texas is like, read this blog post by Melinda Bula.

Anyway, one class I took was taught by Yvonna Hays, a notable local quilter who designs quilts, pieces the big raffle quilt offered each year at the Ogallala Quilt Festival, and teaches a class or two on top of all that. The quilt was from Yvonna's design, Dashes and Patches, constructed from churn dash and nine patch blocks of assorted sizes, from 3 inch nine patch blocks to 12 inch churn dashes.

This happens a lot:  I started this quilt while in class and set it aside when other quilt projects jumped up and down,  calling, "Make me! Make me!" Last week I got out my stuff and am pushing to have Dashes and Patches pieced by the weekend. And I'm going to do it!

Below are some big old 12 inch churn dash blocks. I've used a pack of Hope Valley fat quarters designed by Denyse Schmidt for Free Spirit.




Next are some of the 6 inch churn dash and nine patch blocks. There are still some 9 inch and 3 inch blocks left to assemble.






















It's fun working with these fabrics, each block different. I keep saying, "This one is my favorite!"

Don't you love a pile of pretty fabric just waiting for you?

























 I am such a cutup.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Decorating the Nickel and Dime Ranch Headquarters: Part 4

The Nickel and Dime Ranch Headquarters is just a fancy way to say our house, an Airlock Log Home built about 12 years ago as a vacation place for a rich doctor in Kansas. Now we live here full time.  People always wonder how we ended up here, so suffice it to say that Southern California Edison and an eminent domain situation gave us the opportunity to give up our old home and relocate to Northern New Mexico. It was either this or a tract house in Riverside County. What a choice.


Chief decorator is Tom, with the same decorating sense as Sherlock Holmes which can be good or bad, depending on what he finds and brings home. As a historian, he wants his memories in plain sight, anything from an old glass Clorox bottle to turkey feathers to bones. So I live in a sort of museum of the interesting and weird.

Bones and skulls have been a recurring theme and yesterday when I was dusting, I discovered this gem setting on top of the lamp.

























I am not sure why this bone is here, and I haven't asked.

In the background of the photo above, on either side of the doorway, is a pair of ship lamps that we use when the power is out for an extended time. 

Here is a closeup of the lamp with the clean chimney. The markings indicate it's from a ship called the SS Caledonia, from Glasgow, Scotland. I think they are neato.

































The entry was a screened porch, which we really didn't sit in, preferring the outside porch and deck instead. So we windowed where there once were screens, which makes it more of a mud room now.

It holds hiking stuff, boots, gloves, hats, scarves, turkey feathers, more bones, pack baskets, cleaning stuff, paper for starting fires, and extra dishes and little appliances. We try to declutter it once a month, and it is due for another cleaning and purging right now, so I won't show you all the dirty details.

Here's a wall with some of our stuff on it. On the right is a Duluth bag with a pack basket in it along with some military surplus bags and canteens. I like the little school chair hung up because it makes a good ledge if you have to set something down.

























We need more quilts around the house to add some soft, girly decor to the Holmsian interior. My quilts are usually given away, but with all the man stuff around there is an obvious need for more quiltiness. Tomorrow I will show you a quilt project which will add some yin to Tom's yang. (Hmm. Tom's yang. Sounds weirdly suggestive.)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Spring Randomness-Some Nickel and Dime Photos

Spring is finally, really here, with all the trees and bushes leafed out and, for a while at least, warmer weather. When we're talking warm, what do I mean? Dang! It was 78 degrees! It was "I could have stripped off my clothes and run around" warm! But I didn't.

The grass is growing and the steers have been having a party, moving throughout the Nickel and Dime like they're at a progressive dinner or something. You don't see any cattle in this photo because they are over in The Enchanted Forest testing the grass.  When we tossed out the last of our hay,  they ignored it. I think The Angus Boys like eating locally.

The bees are humming along, tasting all the blossoms: apples, pears, these pink things, and the lilacs you can see in the background.



Speaking of lilacs, I had never seen them growing or smelled their delicious scent until we moved here. When I smelled them, it knocked me for a loop and the next thing I knew I was weeping uncontrollably. I think I associated them with orange blossoms, which used to be the signature scent in Corona, CA. The days of orange blossoms permeating the Corona air are gone, so maybe I was weeping for the past. M said it was probably hormones. I think she's right.




















A series of storms has arrived, and these clouds were the beginning of it. Isn't the New Mexico sky amazing? No wonder artists like it here.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Turkey Hunting At The Nickel and Dime Ranch


Turkey season began Sunday, April 15th, but it didn’t look like Tom was going to get one. Though we had seen as many as 50 turkeys at a time, and a small flock of two toms and 7 hens drifted around our place the week before the season opened, Sunday was cold and blustery and there was nothing about, no preening males dancing, saying, "Look at me!" and no females studiously ignoring them.

Tuesday morning, however, Tom called one in from the neighbor’s property, over 500 yards away. It took almost an hour for the bird to get within range, but he was patient. Tom pronounced Ms. Pearl "a champ,”  tied up ten yards up the hill from where he sat, and told to “be quiet.”  Pearlie obviously liked this turkey.

 Three days later, Tom decided to try filling his second spring tag, and seeing some turkeys by our south fence, went out and sat in front of a tree on the other side of our wall. He called a little and then waited, and sure enough, another “gobbler” strode in front of his shotgun, across the creek. A little longer shot this time, it took two to put the turkey down permanently. Ms. Pearl was again nearby, behaving excellently like the half a hunting dog that she is. She was delighted at Tom’s----and her----success.


When I asked him how he knew how to call, he said “That part was easy.   I just tried to sound like you during our fight the other day……”

            Turkey.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

On the Road New Mexico Edition

For the past couple weeks it seems like we've been driving a lot.


We drove to Albuquerque.


Camped at Chaco Culture National Park.

 Went to Taos to pick up groceries and to eat food I didn't have to cook.


And made a trip to Santa Fe for more shopping. There's a Trader Joe's and a Whole Foods there.

Once my wheels stop spinning, we will catch up. Until then, enjoy the pics, friends.