One of the people, whose card we lost, is our friend, Carol, in NYC. (Thanks Carol, for sending us a most beautiful Christmas card, so now we, at least have your address back again). And Robin, and others. If we didn't send one, please let us know for next year. Until then, here's a copy for you, and also for our readers...a little late. We hope you had the most wonderful Christmas ever. I was spoiled rotten this year...rotten I tell ya, and I loved every minute of it.
Sparky and I started with our little 4'by4' herb garden and once I explained to him what we were doing, we put in some parsley, green onions, and dill to go with the peppers, oregano, and horseradish that was already growing there.
I sprinkled on a lil Miricle Grow plant food.
Gave the garden a good soaking.
Then took a "ta-da" moment and went to work the next morning, worrying my poor wife to death by demanding garden update reports every day. Well, here it is November 7th and I am happy to report, though late, our little garden is again off and running.
The Herb garden has little green onions, and parsley coming along and a wonderful surprise for me; DILL! Very strong aromatic smelling stuff that I had forgotten we planted. I guess Sparky did it while I wasn't looking.
In our "big" garden, the pole beans are vining up the trellis and that's carrots in the foreground.
The big leafy section here is daikon radish.
They get really big, but I also like them when they are small like this. In this stage they are very strong flavored.
This section we refer to as our salad bar. On the left is romaine lettuce, and on the right is a leafy salad mix called muscalin. We cut what we want with scissors kinda like trimming the grass and it produces all the salad we can eat all winter long.
I think I 'met' Joby even before I 'met' Cappy in the Cooking Room on Yahoo. Since I was such a newbie online I was always having technical problems, so Joby, as he did with others, patiently talked me through all the mazes. And it was amazing; so much so that I began calling him "Jobyson" as though he were my sensei, and I was the 'grasshopper' who had much to learn. I never was able to be good enough to 'snatch the pebble from his hand', but because of him, I learned to at least be able to navigate online and know where to go for help. Whenever I'd thank him and say, "Thanks again, good-bye", he'd say, "Nooooo, Boo, (he called lots of us, "Boo", as it's a Cajun term of endearment)....Nooooo, Boo, don't say 'goodbye', that sounds too permanent, like you'll never see me again...say 'Cya' ". He also introduced me to real Cajun music. He sent me ("pirated" Cappy would say) CD's that he'd burn of his favorite music. WONDERFUL stuff! One of his screen names in the Cooking Room was "They Call Me the Breeze". I asked him where he got that name and he said it was the title to one of Lynyrd Skynyrd's songs. Believe it or not, 'til then I'd never heard of ol' Lynyard's band. (I'd led a very sheltered life). He also requested that I learn a song called "Lola Lola Lola Don't Go Out to Bingo" to play on my accordian. Which I did, and played for him at one of our family jambalayas when I moved down to South Louisiana. That made him happy. I'm glad I did it.
Now there was a reason Joby was in the Cooking Room; the man could cook! I have printed out so many of his recipes and tried them and they are fantastic. Most every year he would come to our family jambalaya and bring a dish to pass and a special surprise for me that was celiac friendly...no wheat or gluten carefully prepared so as not to have any cross contamination, which is a hard thing to accomplish. Every year the family would wait in anticipation to see what he would bring. LOL...I think it almost hurt Cappy's feelings sometimes because Cappy was working so hard on the main dish, either the seafood courtboullion or the jamalaya, but everybody kept talking about Joby's dishes. No matter how hard Joby tried keeping my food separate, 'the buzzards', not content with what he brought for the crowd, always swept down on the aluminum covered container clearly labeled, "Peggy's Special Food" and began grabbing with both hands. It was so funny to watch. I actually got some of it...deLISH.
We just loved the big guy. We hadn't heard from him in awhile, tho...at least I hadn't; I guess Cappy had. He had undergone a lot of upheaval in his life of late; had intestinal bipass, and when we were all wondering where he was for the family jambalaya this year, we learned that he had gone off and gotten remarried to a beautiful woman, so was honeymooning . aha, that explains it. Today was his birthday, so yesterday as I do every year, I went to BlueMountain ecards and sent him a card with a note saying how very happy he looked in the photos we saw of him on Facebook, and that we HAD to get together SOON with him to meet his lovely new wife.
Then last night Cappy called and said that he had heard that Joby had died last Friday. No way. We would have known...somebody would have called us. We didn't believe it and thought it was a mean practical joke. Cappy called Joby's cell phone and told me to look and ask around online. Since Joby is one of my friends on Facebook, I went there and saw...
Sighhhh...then I went to the link that took me to the funeral home on Canal Street in New Orleans. We just can't believe it.
This morning my plans were to go to New Orleans to see the ship USS New York depart with much fanfare to leave, going down the River before heading north toward New York City. This is the ship to which Cappy spoke about in an earlier post, which has been made of steel and materials from the Twin Towers in NYC. Today's departure commorates the birth of the United States Navy. October 13, 1775. The ship was to pass two big Navy vessels that prominantly sit in the River in New Orleans. Joby was responsible for those two ships. Joby worked for the Navy making sure these two supply vessels were well-equipped and well maintained. He would have been there today. Cappy and Joby had a running joke whenever they'd talk on the phone. Joby would always address Cappy in his deep booming voice, "HEYYYYY Coo-zan!" and Cappy would say something like, "Hey ya ol' pirate, how ya doin'? I just passed by your two old rusty buckets sittin' over there in the River the other day". And they'd joke back and forth, laughing raucously. sailors.
So today, Joby's birthday, Oct 13, also the birth of his Navy, and sadly, was also the day of his funeral. When I went out to my SUV to head over to New Orleans, I found my back passenger side tire flat. Well, that's about right. Too late. I wasn't about to unearth Cappy's Jeep, Tinker Bayl and head over...oh yeah, she'd like that for sure; it was thundering and lightening and pouring rain again today.
I wanted to go over and tell our Joby good-bye. It's strange, but all day it just felt like Joby was around. The only way I thought I could stop 'puddling' up tonight was to come back to the computer where I found him,... or he rescued me, and tell him "Cappy and I will dearly miss you old friend"...so..."Cya Jobyson".
The fish came off the pit with a wonderful smokey flavor. If you ever get the chance, you really need to try this. It's truly wonderful. We just lightly season the fish and baste it with butter, lemon and seasonings. As usual, a pan of our smokey bbq beans always seems to show up whenever we light the pit.It was a wonderful afternoon filled with good food, and good friends, and of course, the football. Our son, Dan called from western NY because that's where the Saints are today, playing the Buffalo BILLS up there in Buffalo, and Dan is the BILL's favorite fan. We're sorry we 'spanked' ya, Dan. The whole time I've been off work, it's been raining, so my time off has been pretty miserable, but to make up for it the the Saints won!! and their defense stepped up in a very big way, making me think for the first time ever, well.... maybe.....jussst maybe...but uhm, I don't wanna say it out loud.
...do plumbers even do that sort of work? So I waited til poor, excited, unsuspecting Cappy got home. His wide smile turned south the minute he heard, and who could blame him.
So, anyhow, that's what he's been working on for the last few days. Yesterday he called one of our neighborhood good guys, Mr. Dennis. He's always right here when we need him. Unfortunately because our little town doesn't have public sewage systems, Mr. Dennis has to be here more than we'd like him to be...even as much as we like him. Cappy called him late in the day and, even tho he had plans to be busy all day, he was here bright and early with his big ol' truck and hose, which we call the 'honey wagon' and got the toilet flushing perfectly again.
I wish he could suck up all the other problems life has been handing us of late, as well. ChangeChangeChange...we've got change alright, along with a lot of Americans. A lot of change has been going down the toilet as well as all the other stuff. One of our friends who suggested that I have a tendency to write more pessimistically when Cappy is on the boat, will take note that Cappy is home and I'm still writing in low-tones. Ahhh...it's like this...I say if God closes one door and opens a window, I aint gonna throw the baby with the bathwater out that window. (Oh Lord...she's flipped ;-)I'll just find something else to be happy about. Like YAY...looks like I'll be getting a new camera cuz the one I have just broke!!!grrrr >:-(
Presently Cappy is sound asleep, happily sawing logs, peaceful knowing that he fixed the toilet problem and all's well in the world, for the most part kinda/sorta...til he wakes up in the morning and coffee cup in hand reads this..."surPRISE". And now, despite the fact that it's supposed to rain most every day that he's home, and our neighbor, Old Man Kelsie's pond and lake turn once again into Old Man Kelsie's Ocean, draining slowly, I hope Cappy finds some kind of way to have FunFunFun, til it's time for him to go back out on the boat. Poor guy, if things don't stop going downhill soon, he'll probably feel like RUNNING back out to his boat. An' this time I'll wanna go with 'im.
Cappy thinned out our okra garden, but it's tall and very productive.
The flowers for each okra stalk start out as a gorgeous flower. The flower only lasts for a day, then falls off, then to replace the flower, comes the okra.
I just hauled in this colandar load today. A lot of people use the regular short dark green okra, but Cappy and I grow what is called "Long-horned" okra, which has been the tradition in his family. The bigger ones have a more mild flavor. Personally, my choice is.....either:-)
What I usually do after I pick them, is to wash them, slice them and put them in bags in the freezer. Slicing them takes a little bit of time, but I spend that time dreaming of the dark, rich gumbo it will be making. When we've got a TON of sliced okra accumulated in the freezer, we take them out and 'smother them down', using Cajun sausage, the usual chopped vegetables, like onions, garlic, etc. and our own blend of Cajun seasoning spices. Cappy spent time smothering our okra, savoring the experience when he was home last time. His Aunt Gussie, after she found out, kinda/sorta scolded Cappy for using a black iron pot, because it turns the smothered okra a dark color, having leeched iron from the pot. Last year we used a big aluminum pot. Either way, once the smothered okra becomes a main ingredient in the dark brown gumbo, it tastes Wonderful! Smothered okra, on it's own tastes pretty darned good as a side dish as well. When people are going through all the stages of making the smothered okra, I think their thoughts are far in the future months, to the 'cold' weather when they will be savoring their gumbo made with the okra they are "smothering" in the present. (Just thinking about it right now is making my mouth water.) The pot starts out with crisp veggies, then after tending to it for quite awhile, it becomes a pot of moosh. Smothered Okra. Yum-eeeee!
This year we have to give credit to Mr. Ed, our good friend from Rochester, NY, whom the ol' guys from our town Forum call "Winchester". Mr. Ed taught us a technique for canning that is so amazingly easy. So, with that in mind, we took our freshly made, hot and steamy smothered okra and canned it. Now, whenever we open our pantry, besides all the jelly we've made, we see future pots of smoked chicken/andouille gumbo sitting there in rows looking for all the world like so many jars of mysterious greenish brown mush. It might not look all that appetizing, but I can tell you, it's the stuff dreams are made of.