Places to Party

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Midsummer's Garden

A lovey rainbow we had a week ago.

Ah, the lazy, hazy days of summer....

We are in that timeframe of summer where things are just on the verge of exploding but haven't quite yet...i.e., canning season....

I haven't shown you the status of the garden recently so let me take you on a little tour....


Our midsummer garden is actually going gangbusters this year, thanks in part to mother nature doucing us with rain throughout June and July. The tomatoes are huge and the corn is preparing to ripen where as my neighboring field has not even tasseled yet. (I know, competitive much? :) )

Out of the three rhubarb plants, two have survived although the pepper plants and the bean plants alas did not fare as well. Out of six pepper plants, I have two left and  they haven't begun to fruit and while I know I planted lots of beans, I haven't found one yet.

The small fruit is a mixed bag. The strawberries really didn't do as well as I had hoped, this being their first year, but the grapes and the raspberries are going strong. I've already canned one quart of gooseberries and hope to get a few more. The blueberries have given only enough for picking while perusing the garden so I'll have to go off-farm for those.

Grapes! For the first time!

Walnuts.. be wary of the wrath of squirrels should
you partake!

The walnut tree is already dropping walnuts which I never seem to get as the squirrels guard them with their lives and warn me anytime I get close. It took ten years to finally realize what those little green golf balls were and I couldn't figure out why there were so many walnut shells in the wood pile. I'm a little slow on the uptake sometimes I guess.


The hops came back and so there will be sleep pillows again and one year I may even try to make beer.

Anyway that is where we stand right now, in a holding pattern. Once the floodgates open, I'll be in the kitchen swearing to my husband, like I've been for the last sixteen years, that I'm not doing this next year.. and he'll smile and say, "You know you will"... and I'll admit, "Yes, I will"...

Happy Gardening!

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Coney Dog.. A Divine Gift from the Meat Gods.....

Ah July.... smack dab in the middle of hamburger and hotdog season...

As a Flint Ex-Pat, there are three things that
MUST be done when I go back to my
birthplace in mid-Michigan and they are:

1. There will be a Halo Burger Deluxe with Olives consumed at some point in the journey. While I can put olives on any hamburger at home, there is just something wonderful about a Bill Thomas Halo Burger. I'm told people from Detriot will even make the trip just for the taste of one.

2. There will be a trip to Frankenmuth and specifically to Bronner's to buy yet another ornament I really do not need for my Christmas tree. One of these trips I'm going to take the family to Zehnder's or the Bavarian Inn for the chicken dinner and to see the glockenspiel.

3. But most importantly and perhaps with more frequency, there will be at least one if not more outtings to hunt down that most delicous delicacy that cannot be found in my adopted area, the CONEY DOG!

When I moved to NY 20 odd years ago, I figured I would have no problem getting coney dogs... after all, weren't they named after that famous fun park, Coney Island? But alas, I live on the other side of the state and nothing is even remotly close to the coney dogs of my youth.

What is a coney dog? Well,  lets start by saying what it IS NOT. I've seen a lot of debate on this on the web and it's pretty obvious that may of those responding have never had a true coney dog. A coney dog is not a chili dog. Nor is it a hotdog with hot sauce on it. It is a heavenly coffee based meat concoction that is served atop of a 100% beef (in Flint this must be a Kogel Vienna) hotdog.

Coney dogs typically travel in pairs and the greaser the paper bag, the better the taste. They can be served plain with just mustard (like I like it) or with mustard and onion (like my husband likes it). They are typically very cheap and are excellent end of the night fare when you are a) working  b) coming home from a night out or c) just too lazy to cook.

Living in a state where I cannot seem to get one, I have to make them myself periodically. Today I just had to have one so I'm going to post my grandmother's recipe for coney islands. A restaurant coney will typically have a finer grate on the meat, but other than that, this is pretty dead nuts.



2 Tbsp Oil
3/4-1 lb ground hamburger
1 can (12 oz) corned beef
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 c black coffee

Heat oil in a large skillet and add hamburger. Brown.

Once brown, drain and return to skillet. Add corned beef and chop up in skillet mixing well with hamburger.

Add coffee and chili powder and work to combine.

Boil a package of 100% beef hotdogs (Kogel Viennas if you can get them), place them in your buns, add coney sauce and dress either with (onions) or without (sans onions).

ENJOY a little taste of my hometown area.....

Friday, July 5, 2013

Jenny's Homefront Strategy


Lately, I've had a thing for all things 1940...

It started while watching Eleanor Burn's Strip Quilting show and went on to watching Bomb Girls. What is our current fascination with this generation? I'm not sure.

I think part of what resinates with us, is this was a time when people came together for a common cause and women were, for one of the first times in history, literally called upon by our government to "keep the homefronts running" so our men could concentrate on the war. Women were valued not only for what we could do in the workplace, keeping American industry strong, but for one time in history, for what we could do, and had been doing, in our homes for so long. For once, the value of our work got the spotlight.

Reduce, reuse and recycle were very much common themes that are very familiar to us today. Women were encouraged to be as resourceful as they possibly could in planting victory gardens and finding many new ways of nourshing our families. I seem to recall on the show, The Supersizer's Go... that, directly after the war, people were (at least in Britian) much healthier than they had been in decades.

The beautiful lady in the corner of this blog was my grandmother. She was an inspiration to all that knew her and if you can't tell by the picture a fun person to be around. She was very resourceful, very crafty and truly a women of the modern age. She worked when women didn't work out of the home, she forged her own path and didn't listen to anyone who told her what she was or wasn't. In her honor and because it was her generation, I'm naming this "Jenny's Homefront Strategy".

Jenny's Homefront Strategy

Jenny's Homefront Strategy is all about being resourceful and preparing for the upcoming months ahead when produce prices become higher. It's about canning, couponing, gleaning, trading, drying, crafting and preparation. It's about taking stock of what you have and what your family may need. Like what our grandmothers or mother's may have had to do to make sure that their family got through an uncertain future. Our future is in no way certain in the midst of unemployment, layoffs, rising costs and an uncertain economy. To use a quote from one of my favorite Disney movies:
"Luck favors the prepared".

When we moved out to our farmhouse 15+ years ago, we were a newly married couple that had little savings. I had grown up on a farm so one of my first moves was to begin planting a garden and fruit trees...after all, one can't eat grass. I also discovered that the area we moved to had many farm stands and pick your own options... and that they varied in price. I learned how to can and do everything possible to stretch our meager income. The fruit and plants that I planted didn't always produce what we needed but through the years of trial and error, we finally began being able to rely more and more on what our little "farm" could produce. One of my most cherished memories was when my mother came to my home and stated that I "had a nice little farm here". A farm, my mother recognized my little house as a farm!

So with as much rain as we've had going on in the Northeast this year, it appears we should have a wonderful year for our gardens here on the farm. The cherry tree is still producing (and I'm getting so sick of picking, not to mention becoming a smorgasbord for the mosquitos and biting flies) but I'm counting my blessings as they haven't always been there and going out picking everyday being grateful for the bounty.

So what was the final tally and what did we make with all the cherries?

  1. Traded 6 quarts for 6 quarts of strawberries at the local fruit market. 
  2. Canned 3 quarts of maraschino cherries, five pints cherry jelly, three half pints cherry jelly, two pints of cherry syrup and two half pints of cherry syrup
    (the later being used for "glaze" in fruit salad)
  3. Froze three Tupperware containers full of cherries.
    2013's Cherry Harvest from ONE TREE
  4. Took four to work as gifts for people I work with

Summer in a Jar!

So what are your strategies for filling the pantry for the winter months? What did your grandmothers do to make sure their families were fed? Do you still have their recipes? What are you planning on "putting up" this summer?

Until next time....