06 August 2009

Harvest Time--Figs

Our Desert King fig tree. Great shade, huge tropical looking leaves.

Silly me-when will I learn to look up? SO often I miss blossoms, bird nests and fruit because I just insist, for some reason unbeknowest to me, to look upwards or I look up but not all the way UP!

Example at hand: I knew we had ripe figs; a handful of them at the most--maybe 1/2 dozen? All within fairly easy reach.

Enter my best friend---you know the one who has learned to look up in the garden (she also sees the slithery ones which I miss). All of a sudden, because she looked UP, what was a manageable harvest has turned a little less manageable and my time table has changed too. You see instead of 1/2 dozen figs, now I will have 5 or 6 LARGE bowls of ripe figs. Ripe enough for our birds to be feasting on them right now. Ripe enough that if I don't do something within the next 2 days we will have a sticky, sweet, gooey mess on our hands---and the bees are out too.

So what is this girl to do? Well the good news is that I have a freezer (although there is not much room left in it), a supply of freezer bags and ... directions for freezing figs. Thank goodness for the Internet.

The first bowl. They are soft and some seemed very soft. I washed them, sliced them in half--well most of the time--and then scooped out the insides and put them plus sugar and ascorbic acid in a bowl and then after mixing this mixture, into a freezer bag leaving some headspace. My advice to you who might want to freeze figs is heed the advice of the 'fig experts' on the link that follows.

And now--time for a quick snack and then to the first bowl of figs.

Some of our figs. Being the complete fig novice that I am, I was a little shocked to learn that figs aren't brown--you know like the interior of those little cookies. I also--shockingly--was not in a hurry to taste these; maybe tomorrow though. I am getting braver-I actually took three photos of a slithery one today.
(I know you are very impressed by that news!)

Did I say that in another month we will have even more ripe figs? A LOT of them. Family and friends...I know a source where you can get absolutely 100% totally FREE, spray-free, ripe, sweet figs! (They are right across the yard from the absolutely 100% totally FREE, spray-fee, ripe, sweet plums).

Harvest Blessings,

Michigan Extension: http://web1.msue.msu.edu/imp/mod01/01600465.html
Figs & health: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_fig#Figs_and_health

Note: For those with lactose intolerance, like me, you might be interested that figs are a good source of calcium. I just learned that from a free magazine I picked up when grocery shopping this week. The link above tells a little about the benefits of figs, With our more then bountiful crop, I am going to try to incorporate them into some baked goods.

Comments/FYI: Well the first bowl of figs have been processed and are currently laying in the frozen environment of my freezer. Learned several things from this--my first adventure attempting to preserve figs.

First and most important, having a Farmer Boy for a DH is an invaluable resource -- really he is better then an encylopedia or gardening book.

Second, if the stem is exuding a milky white liquid, the fig is not ripe. Unfortunately, that info came too late--there was one in the batch and since I didn't know better, it was processed with the others. I am SO hoping the sugar/honey I used will help all be OK.

Third, the skin of the figs was very fragile and in places no longer intact. The figs are really soft too. I did not like the slight odor from the figs but - and this is kind of wierd my skin seemed to like it. Hum, interesting.

Last, as usual, I changed the directions given and just used a spoon to scoop out the reddish pulp/seed interior and then mixed this with the sugar as called for in the link above. I also used some ascorbic acid as per directions on the bottle but remember I am NOT an expert and only time (and a little defrosting and then baking) will tell whether this first fig experiment was a success.

Anyone have a good recipe for a fig cookie, cake or quick bread?

Note to Visitors

Welcome to my cyber home--a little bit of my beliefs, life experiences, hobbies & interests and more. If that sounds like something you would enjoy, please feel free to browse around for awhile. My main interests are: faith & serenity, home & gardening, family & genealogy, photography and travel. About the latter two--I am currently in the process of re-labeling all the travel posts to be more specific in location (mostly these are under the label 'Walks in His Gardens') and consolidating others to make the site more user friendly and easier for me to manage.
Regarding comments--I accept those from fellow bloggers and also from visitors who wish to remain anonymous. Please keep in mind though, that since this is a family oriented site with a focus on peace, I will not post any comment that I feel isn’t suitable for young viewers or would create an uncomfortable place for my visitors. I may, too, in rare instances choose to not post a comment for other reasons--I apologise if that offends anyone but since this place is a reflection of me I have to be comfortable with what is on it. I may--if I do that though-choose to respond to my deletion of a comment by a response in the comment area.

Regarding followers: I appreciate your interest in this blog very much, but after much thought on the subject feel at this time that I will not include this feature because I want to keep things simple. You’re always welcome to visit though and I hope this site will be of blessing to you.
Since the purpose of this blog is not to bring me money or fame but to, in a small way, allow me to share in other’s lives and they too--should they choose to--share in mine this blog will reflect this in all its areas. Know that, because of the atmosphere of peace and serenity I want for my visitors and myself here, I have chosen to avoid 'hot' topics here; there are other blogs where I do discuss my feeling about things like politics and such -- but here it would detract from this site's purposes.
Lastly, if anyone of you are undergoing great pain or stress right now, for whatever reason, know that you are not alone. I too have had major stresses in my life and the reason this blog came about was, in part, because of two ones I am dealing with now. Faith and making some changes in my life have helped me a lot but since I am imperfect (shock!) know that I still have times when I feel fear, anxiety and other negative emotions.

In Peace,
Photo: bonsai bowl, sans the bonsai plant, in my Japanese-style garden.

05 August 2009

Walks in His Gardens--the Columbia River Gorge (part of)

The PNW has so many beautiful areas and though I've lived here for almost all of my life, I still haven't seen them all. But--of the places I have visited, one that consistently draws me back, at least twice a year, is the Columbia River Gorge--a gorgeous place with a truly dramatic landscape (no wonder that it is a National Scenic Area)!
It is more then that though--for that same landscape which makes it so scenic also makes it THE place to windsurf and a fertile place of countless fruit orchards and other agriculture (more about that in another post). It is also one of the gateways to Mt Hood, easily visible from many of the areas along the Gorge, where one can ski -- even in the summer!
Windsurfer--west of Hood River.
The day we went through here the winds were high enough that some people decided not to chance it.

To give you a little perspective of the area-the gorge is a river canyon of some 80 miles in length and it forms part of the border between Washington, to the north, and Oregon, to the south. The most westerly part is lush, with many waterfalls, and as you move eastward it becomes drier but still amazing! On this trip we traveled only a little further then Hood River. (BTW-please note that these photos are not in any order and some of them were taken from a moving vehicle so the quality may not be the best)
Multnomah Falls - from the freeway.
The last 2 photos were taken by R. Blessings on the bluffs above the river and are used by permission.
Besides its obvious beauty, this area also holds great historical and familial meaning for me because in the mid 1850's, two of my ancestral lines passed through here--the last portion of the Oregon Trail--to new lives they would make in the not yet states of the PNW (they used the river route as opposed to the Barlow Trail that is in the Mt Hood area). Then, the Gorge was vastly different then today, and sometimes I find myself thinking about what it would have looked like then, before dams tamed its wildness and changed both it and the lives of many Native Americans forever. It is something we will never experience, for now both the Cascade rapids and Celilio Falls lie buried under the dammed up waters of the Columbia River.
Today, some 150+ years later the area is easily traveled. There is now a modern highway that runs along the river and up some on the bluffs above it. Additionally one can drive part of the Old Columbia River Highway, that runs higher up on the canyon walls and affords one many amazing views of the terrain below. I have done this--years ago and it was truly spectacular; now I stick -- contentedly -- to the new highway. (You can also walk part of the Old Columbia River Highway in places)
Part of the Old Columbia River Highway. One part of the old road leads you up to the Vista House--HIGH above the river where you can see spectacular views! Been there and done that; not this time though!
Hope you enjoyed a quick trip in the Gorge! More to come:)
Blessings, Aimee
Links of interest & more photos:
This post only - photos © 2009 R Blessings (as noted above) and A. Blessings (all other photos)

Walks in His Gardens--Washington State

I am still up --itch, itch -- and waiting for the medicine I put on the bites to stop the itch; normally it does that fairly quickly. Since I am up with little to do---here are some photos from around the Pacific NW. The first ones are from Washington state. These are mostly scanned images of photo prints I took years ago.

Ferry--on this ride there were some musicians that were playing for the passengers. One of them reminded me of a High School friend. The Puget Sound is a beautiful waterway...

Seattle--I LOVE this place:) When I lived there I liked the U of W area (go Huskies!), Space Needle, Golden Gardens, Alki Beach and Woodland Zoo -- besides other areas. Now, of course, the traffic is worse and getting around is a bit difficult at times. Still it never fails to thrill me to go there...

Hurricane Ridge -- this is part of the Olympic Mts and you can access it by a fairly short drive up (and I do mean UP) from Port Angeles. It is worth your time if you love mountains and amazing views!! And as long as you are in this area, you might as well drive to Crescent Lake when you are done up here. I LOVE the Olympic Peninsula!

This is my son, years ago, in the Hurricane Ridge area. See--all of us LOVE animals!

And here is the famous, totally awesome National Park lodge at Longmire in the Mt Rainier National Park. If you go here, you have to walk the Trail of the Shadows (and tell me what you think of it) and then visit Narada Falls, Paradise Valley & Paradise. Actually everything is worth seeing in the park so have fun and spend some time there! For a photo of Paradise, in late spring, see the post here. Still need to find my other photos from Mt Rainier--the Paradise Valley was amazing in the snow!

OK--itching subsiding and I am really, really tired so night all!

Blessings, Aimee

04 August 2009

In the Garden--again

Have hopefully learned my lesson about being out too late in the garden. Some apparently ravenous mosquitoes found me there--yesterday-- as we were working on tying the climbing rose to a new trellis. Let's just say they have left their somewhat memorable, but thankfully temporary 'mark' on me (itch, itch)..
Climbing rose bouquet.
Either New Dawn or White Dawn.
Another hot day here but the NW is gradually cooling down. The ground is quite parched and desperately needs a heavenly watering as does our NW forests; some fruit is also showing the effects of the days of intemperate weather here, and in some areas NW natives are talking in almost reverential tones about the possibility of showers and more normal temperatures.
And now--
a few more garden photos before I head off to 'sleepland'...

Tolerated the high temperatures better then I thought it would but produced flowers in the last day or so.
Nosegay of herb blossoms: chervil, orange mint, lemon balm and two types of english lavender.
Visitors on the lavender.
Aimee--AKA Mosquito Bait

Of Plums & Figs

Right on the heels of the 'Great Apricot Freeze' & eating frenzy, it looks like I will be undertaking the 'Great Plum & Fig Preservation' campaign. YIKES!
The Shiro plums are ripe and ready to go...

Since my freezer is really getting full, I am thinking of making some jam out of the plums but not quite sure yet. I found a recipe for a Golden Spice Plum jam that sounds good, but
am not sure how much time I will have so may end up freezing these for a later processing too. OH--and I can't seem to find a current canning book in the stores....argh!

Some of the Desert King figs are ready to go and there are countless other figs growing their way into maturity. Double YIKES!

I don't even want to think about the Satsuma Blood plums that are close to being ripe nor the Asian pears, pears, apples and other fruit ripening in the next month or two. And I am back to longing for apricots again....
if you are friend or family
you are hungry for some nice, no-spray, FREE plums
and maybe a few figs too;
just let DH, AKA 'Farmer Boy'
his wife
that you want some of these


Did I say please?
Blessings all!

Shiro plums
Desert King figs
Satsuma Blood plums
(both the Shiro & Satsuma are Japanese plums)

Walks in His Gardens--For My Little Friend!

Hey there! I am SO sorry this is later then I promised....hope you still like it though!
It was fun having you along! Please tell your mom & dad thanks for letting you come with your grandma & I:)
Hope you enjoy the photos Little Friend (and your grandma too)!
"I'm watching you!"-- per Little Friend's request
(Did I get the caption right?)
You know maybe this looks more like a dinosaur then a bird like I first thought.
What do you think? It's pretty eerie in all the wonderful, cool, autumn-like fog we had at the beach.
TY Little Friend and...
I love you too!

The photos of the eagle weren't good enough to post, but it was exciting to see it and hear its call. Here is the photo I took when we parked along the bay in order to watch the eagle.

And down the road aways--kind of blurry because we were driving but the flower colors are nice:)

And one more--just because I never get tired of this area.
Well I hope you liked the photos--
Have a good night!
Blessings, Aimee
For those who may want to see more views of coastal regions in the NW just click here...
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