Sunday, November 6, 2016

November 6, 2016- no heading does it justice

The Chicago Cubs have won the World Series.
That is an  sentence that no one has been able to write for 108 years.
Julia and I have been Cubs fans for a long time. Actually Julia has been a Cubs fan forever, going to Wrigley Field with her family as a child. I was a convert in the 70's after we were married. But that qualifies as a long time I think.
We took this picture two weeks ago after they won the game against the Dodgers that sent them to the World Series. I was going to post this picture last Sunday, but when they were losing 3-1 in the World Series, but I thought it would be bad luck. The fact that I thought that posting a picture on a blog could affect the outcome of the World Series is a sign of how thoroughly converted I have become. But here we are and I can post it now. We wore the shirts to the office Thursday, and even saw clients dressed this way. It's our office.

What a week. The Cubs. Halloween. And then there is the election. We voted an eternity ago, the day after early voting started in Iowa. There is only one choice this year. We know it. It is frustrating when others do not. If you still have a chance to vote in Iowa, remember to turn the ballot over and vote for the judges.

But in the Garden

It has been another very much September-like  week. The highs were in the 70's. The lows were in the 40's. Yesterday was so beautiful, from start to finish.
But it is so dark in the morning. Sunrise in Iowa City yesterday was at 7:43. But we now have the hour back. I may be able to do a few things in the garden before work. Of course it will be dark when we get home from work.

There is a bud coming on the prettiest orchid cactus. If there is no frost until Thanksgiving, maybe it will bloom outside. A daylily has set a bud. Mostly I do not have reblooming daylilies. The hellebores have started to push up buds. Sometimes we have a bloom for Thanksgiving.

Yesterday was city compost day for the garden. Iowa City has wonderful compost, prepared at the landfill from all the yard waste we give the city every week. I got some compost at the Scott Boulevard location at 8 in the morning. Having used that up by noon, I then borrowed a van and went to the landfill and got a whole bunch more. Julia came along since it was a pretty day. She helped out shoveling and filling containers for 20 minutes. That was actual serious shoveling work. I think she is going to remember that tomorrow in ways she would rather not.
I should add that all that compost from the landfill came to a little more than $5. That was a little over 500 pounds as the cost is $20 per ton. The City complains about how the program loses money. Duh. They should charge more.

Another orchid opened up outside. I just do not have the heart to bring anything in at the moment. It is not below 40 degrees, and the house plants certainly prefer the light and air they get outside. This orchid (a cattleya, probably) has regularly bloomed for me in the fall for a number of years. Last year it bloomed on October 25. And it was outside too. It has 5 buds this year, each with 8-10 flowers in it. It should boom for months.

Here are the prettiest of the ghost peppers. I have three nice peppers. So far the people I have asked if they want one have not come forward. It may have something to do with the fact the websites that tell you what to do with ghost peppers, all want you to know about first aid before you get started.

The zinnias continue to make wonderful colors, at a time when the garden is increasingly brown and yellow.

Maybe there should be a week during the picture contest with just zinnias.

Who would win a head to head between red and yellow and pink?

Don't forget orange.

Here is the air plant this week.  The name is tillandsia. It grew up in Florida. In the winter it lives over our kitchen sink. It is very much enjoying the outside.

In this closeup you can see the little purplish flower coming. Alert- it is not going to be a spectacular flower. If is going nevertheless going to be a very satisfying flower. It should get to bloom outside.

More Pumpkins

We carved two of our pumpkins (we got our hands on10) for Halloween. The rest will patiently wait for the cold to arrive. It needs to consistently be below freezing all day to be able to successfully carve and hang them in trees for the winter.

These pumpkins are now hung in the front yard since there are sky hooks.

As you wait for the cold weather the uncarved pumpkins can stay in storage in a cool place, once it starts to freeze. They store well. 

There are three pictures since we carve them on both sides.

If you have uncarved pumpkins you are going to throw away, bring them to our house if they are not too big. We will find a plant hanger and put them up if it ever gets cold. Maybe we will even have a pumpkin carving party in December.

To  give you some idea about how the hanging process can work, look at these two pictures right below. They are of course the same pumpkin. The picture on the left was taken in December, 2008. I believe Veronique carved it at an office Halloween party that year. The picture on the right was taken this week. The dried pumpkin is as light as a feather, and of course, we keep it in the dining room all year.

Eggplant Spaghetti Sauce
                                      By Julia Mears
Here is another late fall eggplant recipe, this time eggplant spaghetti sauce. This recipe (like the green beans vinaigrette) is a variation on a recipe from the Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas, which was published in the early 1970's or maybe it was the late 1960's and remains one of our frequently used cookbooks. This sauce is lovely with spaghetti, and there is always some left over for lunch later in the week. I often make dishes like this on Sunday afternoon, as it makes the house smell good and it simplifies making supper during the work week.

I started by peeling a couple of little purple-and-white-striped eggplants I had bought at the Farmer's Market (because they were cute); then cut them in slices and then into about 1/2" cubes. I had about 3 cups of little cubes. Then I cut up a giant green-turning-to-red pepper (Philip went on a pepper-buying spree in the last couple of market weeks), also into small pieces. I had 2 cups of pepper pieces. Next I smushed 2 big cloves of garlic (I have a garlic press), which gave me about 1 tablespoon of garlic.

Next, I put 1/4 cup olive oil in the yellow enamel pot, and I added the eggplant, pepper and garlic. I did not brown the vegetables, but rather cooked them over medium heat for a few minutes (say 5 minutes). Then I added 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon dried basil and 1 teaspoon dried oregano. And I stirred it all up. After another couple of minutes, I added a 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes and a 15 oz. can of tomato sauce. One could use fresh tomatoes and homemade tomato sauce, but I never have enough tomatoes to do that. I rinsed both cans out with about 1 cup of dry white wine and then added the wine and tomato-y bits. I do not drink as a rule, so the wine I have on hand is for cooking and in the under $10 a bottle category.  Next I added 1/4 cup of capers. Yes, the capers do make a difference. And a can of black olives. Usually I use a big (15 oz. size) can of whole black olives. We were out so I used a 4 oz. can of sliced black olives. The picture above is the sauce when everything was in the pot and had not yet simmered long and low.

The picture to the left is the sauce after it cooked on medium-low heat for 1 1/2 hours, with the occasional stir. Medium-low heat means it bubbled, but not in a crazy or vigorous way. You want the vegetables to have given up, but not turned to mush. Still distinct eggplant and pepper pieces. Serve over spaghetti. Semolina if you like, but there are very acceptable pastas now available made from corn or from rice. I am not a fan of soy-based pasta. Have some Parmesan cheese on the table to sprinkle on top. Serve with green beans vinaigrette if you are so inclined or a nice green salad. And as I said, there will be leftover sauce to serve with leftover spaghetti for lunch. It's magic.

A few final notes. First of all, this is a flexible recipe. If you have 4 cups of diced eggplant or 3 cups of cut up peppers, that will be fine. No less than 3 cups eggplant and 2 cups peppers, but a bit more of one or both is not a problem. Also I keep saying you will have leftovers, but of course that depends on how many people you are feeding. There are two of us (sometimes three) and that is what I think about. The recipe above (in the yellow pot) made about 5 cups of eggplant spaghetti sauce. Oh, and it freezes well.

That's it for this week. I expect that the picture contest will start the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
I have 48 pictures selected. A possible problem could occur if there are some good pictures between now and then. That is a problem I will enjoy.
Now I need to think about the election.
I cannot even contemplate...
Well, maybe I will not think about the election for a little while.
Go vote if you haven't already.

Philip and Julia

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