Summer Storms

This has been a summer of the most amazing thundercloud formations. On more than one occasion, you would have found Derek and I standing outside, slack-jawed, marveling at the sky. (Often lingering so long we had to scurry inside through the rain that began pouring down!)

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The front comes rolling in. Many powerful, Iowa thunderstorms have a bank of clouds pushed along the out edge by high winds. It creates an amazing spectacle. And a degree of foreboding.

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It gets so still. Only distant thunder rumbles and a capricious breeze stirs the grass.

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When the wall cloud moves overhead, all at once the winds escalate and bring sheets of rain pouring down. It so powerful and dramatic. I love how God’s power is reflected in how He made Iowa weather.

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The failing sunlight must have been streaming through the thunderheads above us. It cast this pillar of light shooting off into the east. I’d never seen anything like it.

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To the south, the sunset lit up the thunderheads.

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Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word! (Psalm 148:7-8)

The majesty displayed in the sky was so incredible! It was hard to decide which way to turn our heads; I just wanted to stare at it all at once! At the end of it all, this last show of glory before the close of the day.

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Let the heavens praise your wonders, O Lord,
    your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones!
For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord?
    Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord,
a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones,
    and awesome above all who are around him?
Lord God of hosts,
    who is mighty as you are, O Lord,
    with your faithfulness all around you?

(Psalm 89:5-8)

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The Mint that Lived

What a summer! That garden keeps our hands busy, that’s for sure. It’s autumn now, and I find I have quite a few catch-up posts to do. This is back from the start of growing season.

Maybe you remember “Pots o’ Things” from last year. Well, after the ground thawed out, here’s what I found…

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All dead. None survived the winter. (Excepting a stevia; being tropical, that herb spent the winter by a window, cozy indoors.) It’s not too surprising really. Iowa is sliced in half by Plant Hardiness Zones 4 and 5. Our particular location is right on the borderline. Most herbs can’t survive above Zone 5. (Excepting chives — some varieties of which thrive all the way up to the Canadian border.)

I’d been experimenting to see if we were deep enough into Zone 5 that herbs could overwinter. The bare pots have answered a resounding no. Time to start over…. But wait!

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Chocolate mint – coming out of the bottom of the chive pot? Shoving the pot back, I found a network of white roots alive and well. The mints overflowed their pots last summer. Some of that overflow must have escaped and put down roots. (Mints are evasive, by the way; always put them in pots! ) I dug up the sprig, and it’s now a lush, happy herb — and back in its pot.

A few days later, my hubbs came up to me as I washed dishes. He said, “I think your mint has escaped.”

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Apple mint? Behind the pots, a long stem of this apple mint had reared itself above the grassy thicket. Flourishing. I’m not sure how it survived too, but it did. I promptly transplanted it into it’s own pot. Though I missed a good chunk, because it showed itself again the following week. I haven’t had the chance to corral it back in over the summer, and I doubt I will with it being the thick of harvest season.

The apple mint has officially escaped. I hope I don’t live to regret it.

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Red Rock Seedless Watermelon

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Juicy.

Crisp.

Delectably sweet.

A favorite for as long as we’ve grown watermelons, Red Rock Seedless watermelons are the highlight of picnics, potlucks, and our farmer’s market stall. This melon sports a deep pink flesh with pale seeds so few, thin, small, you may not even notice them! This is the watermelon that summer dreams are made of. We’ve never had a seedless watermelon this good; and we’re willing to bet you haven’t either. Come find us at market and give it a try!

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Chelsea Watermelon

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Say hello to this old-fashion, Iowa local — the Chelsea Watermelon! Hailing from the town of Chelsea, Iowa, this watermelon was renowned back in the 1900s, being pulled in from the fields by horse-draw wagons and keeping well for weeks once picked. This 15-20 pound melon is now an unique heirloom. Expect a thick rind, big white seeds, sweet pink flesh, and an old-time watermelon experience!

 

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Sugar Baby Watermelons

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A common question we get about our watermelons is “What’s that?”
While we carry traditional seedless and seeded watermelons, we also feature several fun, heirloom varieties, some of which you can’t find in stores.
Pictured above is the Sugar Baby watermelon. Recognized as one of the sweeter, seeded varieties, it’s often a favorite for those who’ve tasted it before. Weighing in between only 5-10 pounds (about the size of a bowling ball) makes it ideal to take on picnics, store in apartments, or save to eat all by yourself.

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Asparagus: 2 Easy Ways (And 1 Bonus!) to Cook It

20170610_074448Every year, I come along with the hubs to local farmers’ markets with an offering of our garden veggies. Every year, while I’m behind the stand helping patrons, I also get several questions. Many follow the lines of…

“How do I cook that?”

It’s not surprising. Farmers’ market stands, ours included, can offer eclectic, regional, or new varieties of vegetables not found in supermarkets. I’m always happy when I encounter a person stepping out to try something new. It can take a lot of courage to try a new vegetable.

 

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Especially if it looks like that! Am I right? But, back on topic…

 

Just last Saturday someone at the market asked me how to cook asparagus. I thought I’d do a post here and there, showing you our favorite ways to eat garden fresh vegetables. To begin with…

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Asparagus!

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To Clean & Store

  • Rinse fresh asparagus well in cool water.
  • If you can’t use it that same day, store in a glass of water in the fridge. (Like you would cut flowers.)
  • Right before cooking, take each asparagus spear in your hand one by one. Wiggle and bend the stem near the base. This will help you feel where the stem gets too tough to chew. Snap off the tough ends.

 

Pan-Seared Or Oven-Roasted Asparagus

  • Leave as spears or break into smaller pieces, as desired.
  • Drizzle with oil.
  • Sprinkle with your favorite seasoning. (We enjoy good old salt and fresh cracked pepper.)
  • Toss around to coat.

> Pan-seared: Cook in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Stir frequently, or if you want a sear, less frequently.  Asparagus is done when it turns bright green and is tender to your taste. (About 10 minutes.)

> Oven-Roasted: Spread seasoned asparagus on a sheet pan. Pop it into a 450F degree oven. Stir at least once. As above, asparagus is done when it turns bright green and is tender.

(There’s no shame in sampling a few to check for doneness; Cook’s Prerogative, you know.)

Besides Pan-seared or Roasted, there’s another way we enjoy it. It’s great if you’re new to asparagus and need a little help warming up to the vegetable. 🙂

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Bacon-wrapped Asparagus

  • Wrap bacon around 2-3 stalks.
  • Grill or over broil 15-20 minutes, turning half way through.

> Usually, the ratio is about 1 lb of asparagus to every 1/2 lb bacon. It can be variable depending on the size of the stalks and the size of the bacon. I usually get a bunch of each and wrap what I can.

Extras end up as breakfast.

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Planting Peach Trees

Last week, we took a trip to my hubs’ folk’s place to plant some long awaited Red Haven peach trees. (“Long awaited” because Derek has been faithfully checking all the nearest Theisens Stores in search of this favorite variety since April.)

The truck being in for repairs made the journey more interesting than usual. We had to squeeze 2 peach trees, a stow-away pear, and two grown adults in our midsize SUV.

 

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Mr. Handsome

My traveling companions as seen from the driver seat.

 

 

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A.K.A. Mr. Sense of Humor

It’s hard to get natural photos of this guy. When the camera comes out, so does his goofiness. I’m learning I need to sneak up on him unawares.

 

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We had the chance to check up on the landscaping my hubs did last year. It’s really looking nice and the plants are growing nicely.

 

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Lovely Lilies

 

 

 

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Double mock orange in bloom — not only showy but smells so fruity!

 

 

Peach trees in the ground and watered; all in a good day’s work.

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