Winter Garden Veggie RoundUp

Last weekend when Peggy and I were pulling up the winter and spring plants that were finished growing, we came up with a pan full of assorted carrots, beets, and broccoli, along with a handful of green beans and asparagus, and even a few radishes.  We had bought a lb. of button mushrooms at the store on sale and decided to invite them to the party, along with a couple of onions.
The purple straw-looking things are stems of the beet greens. We like adding them to dishes for the interesting "visual" they provide, not to mention we like how they taste. Their greens didn't make it, not really, and the beets themselves...meh.

Everything got a sprinkle of our own Cajun spice blend, some Crystal hot sauce, Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce and a stick of butter scattered all over  the top of it. 
The whole thing got parked in our ol' BBQ pit,
along with a couple of 'spatched', marinated overnight chickens and a pack of 'brats' for snacking on.
If we were planning on serving the chicken and veggies at the same meal, then we would've waited to put the veggies on at the last 15 minutes, or so.  They cook fast and really absorb the smoky taste. If  they are left too long, the smoky taste is almost overpowering. Either take them up, or cover tightly with foil and move them to the "cool spot" to stay warm.
We smoked our chickens, but took them up before they were fully cooked, planning to cool them, then quarter and freeze them for future meals.
The veggies and brats made a great afternoon meal while we finished getting the yard ready for the summer heat.
  When we had spatched the chickens the night before, we didn't know what we'd get out of the garden, if anything; the broccoli looked rather sparse, we had no idea if the carrots were doing all that much under the soil, we had to hunt through the jungle of ferns to find asparagus, the beets actually amounted to nothing, but all in all, what with more of Sam's green beans ferreted out of the fridge, looks like we had a pretty good garden haul for one meal. Munching on smoked brats and veggies, we sat and daydreamed about future garden meals. Dat's what Cajuns do; while they are eating one meal, they are already planning the next, and how to make it even better. 


Getting Our Little Square Foot Garden Ready For Summer 2015

  May 16, Peggy and I, along with BeauxBear da bratty Bichon and assorted kitties headed out to 'play' in the garden.    We harvested our radishes, pulled up the broccoli, beets and carrots and other winter things.  I turned over all the squares that we had divided off by our strong white string, making each little plot a 12'' square; hence that's why it's a 'square foot garden.  We only worked on the squares that were recently vacated by the plants I had yanked out that were done for the season. Then Peggy raked it smooth.  I applied some organic fertilizer and added a couple of big bags of Miracle Grow garden soil we had scored on sale at Lowes.    Once Peggy had raked it all in and smoothed it out again, being careful around the plants that are still standing, we planted Yard Long Beans along each end of the garden, so they could take to the trellises, and then we put okra seeds in the other empty squares.
The bird netting you see on top, (if you can see it) is not to keep birds out, but to keep marauding kitties from scattering our carefully placed seeds.

No doubt about it, they are cute, but last fall the three of 'em got into Peggy's carefully planned and freshly planted herb garden and stirred all the seeds up and turned it into a real mess of stuff growing every whichaway.  Instead of getting mad though, we just let it all be and vowed to try to keep our veggies in their given places next time by blocking out the kitties with the bird netting. Peg did manage to get a lot of salads and herbs out of her garden, once it got established, but it wasn't all growing in the nice neat divided patches she had envisioned when she had planted the seeds.
 Just before I uprooted the cauliflower, I noticed that the little white vegetable heads were beginning to show, but then I got very worried about their survival this late in the season, what with the heat index climbing higher and higher each day. We're told they are cold weather plants, but...we got 'em when we got 'em, and planted 'em, hoping for the best. I was going to pull them up, but when I saw these babies peeking out at me, well, I thought, as long as they were willing to give it a try, who was I to stop 'em?
Thrilled to be growing them for the first time, but still worried about them in the steady climbing steamy summer heat, I consulted my friend, Sam, who comes from a long line of gardeners and is quite knowledgeable about such things.  He told me that in the old days farmers would cut the bottom leaves and lay them over the opening heads to shade them.  He said that it helped, but then the cut leaves would eventually rot in the steamy heat and soak into the white heads of the cauliflowers, making them hard to clean and not fit for market without a lot of cleaning.  So, they devised a technique of tying the leaves closed over the heads, which much more successful. He suggested that I just bunch the leaves over the heads and hold them closed with a rubber band, so we're giving that a try.
If it works, I'll brag to him about the late season Cauliflower that *I* grew.  If it doesn't work, I'll blame him for it. The poor guy can't win; how he remains putting up with us, I'll never know, but I'm sure glad he does.
 Time will tell how it goes and I'll let yall know.
Now, just this morning when I went out to play in the garden a bit and see how it's going, I discovered one of the kitties, who will now be knick-named Houdini and pronounced with a growl, had managed to get in around the bird netting somehow, and play around in the dirt there, himself. Never fear, we will not be deterred by a cat, we will find a way to keep him out!
Just as I was thinking that whichever kitty did this, couldn't be any more exasperating, as I was walking back to the house, I found one of those miserable birds that ruin our fruit, dead  plus a dead mouse nearby, and both presented to us on the front doorstep by one or all of them, as their 'contribution' to us, their pack. I suppose they think this totally redeems them. It does not, and I'm not buyin' the story that he had to get in there to fetch out the bird and the mouse. An' I think I'm telling Peg to pull up all their catnip; this is not funny!



Ray Robin's Rosy Red Radish Relish Recipe

...And to think, the commercial makes "purple pepper sauce" hard to say.  This post is a tongue twister of a title for sure.  (Actually, it's not 'our' recipe, but we're stealing it and makin' it our own by changin' it a little. Apologies to the originator of this relish.)
  We harvested the remaining radishes from our li'l garden to make room for our summer crop: okra and 'yard long beans'.     Once we got these hot little radishes harvested, we weren't sure what to do with them, so we went to the internet for inspiration and discovered several recipes for the relish; all with good reviews.  We waded through several versions and decided on what ingredients we would use and what ingredients we wouldn't use. Doesn't that kinda/sorta make it our own? (???)  Well, anyway, here's what we came up with:

3-cups of diced radishes
2-large ribs of celery
2- medium red onions
2-tsp of Kosher salt
1-cup of sugar
1-tablespoons of mustard seed
1 cup of red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons dill seed
1/2 teaspoon celery salt

Most recipes also called for 2 tablespoons of prepared horseradish, but our li'l French Breakfast radishes are fiery enough without it.  I suggest ya bite a chunk outa one of your radishes, see how hot they are and then decide how much, if any "horsey" ya need to bring to the party.
Wash and cube ya radishes. (Our French Breakfast radishes are about 3/4 red outside and 1/4 white. The relish mighta been more rosy if they were all red on the outside.)
 Then run them through your choice of chopper.

Whack up your celery and onion
and grind them up to look "relishy."
Add everything together in a bowl with the spices, sugar and vinegar, cover and let sit three hours at room temp. so the flavors can marry.

Three hours later, when it has become a pleasing pink  slurry, put it in a pot bring it to a simmer for 10 minutes, then once hot enough, go ahead and can them. (Peg insists on 212 degrees, at least for ten minutes, making sure it's that temperature, through and through!) 
We hot can everything and have for years.  The relish is simmering away over 212 degrees, the lids and rings, canning funnel and tongs are simmering in boiling water, the jars are in a 250 oven, and have been for over an hour, just to be sure.  Everything is hot. (This simple, but safe process can be seen in our "Fig Day at Our House" video  on youtube.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbomJwdnn4w     It's simple, and in all the hundreds of jars we have canned, we only had one failure and we think it was because we accidentally used a lid that had already been canned with. Not supposed to use them twice. Somehow, it had apparently gotten into the mix of lids.)

Anyways, here is the rosy radish relish.
If somebody wants to come and dispute our claim to this recipe, and knock out a tooth over da deal, we won't argue with 'em, but we sure wouldn't relish that happening.


Are We a Pair or What?!

I, Peggy, am guilty of not contributing to this blog, of late. I'm behind the scenes editing the wonderful posts Cappy writes and 'waving hello' to you, but not writing much else here at Cappy and Pegody's World. I FaceBook sometimes, but mostly I've been busy co-authoring our book. Cappy's got his part finished and it has been so, since December, but I'm still busily working away on 'my side of da deal'.
   Today, as it is Mother's Day, and since we started this Blog way back ten years ago, primarily for our kids, who live so far away, we thought I should write them (and you) a post.
  Cappy said, tho', that before I did, I needed to post an updated photo of us. Well, since he wanted a photo of both of us, we decided to try our very first attempt at one of those dreaded "selfies" everybody is always talking about. A simple task for most everybody...but us. Here ya go. Cappy took the first five tries and this is the best of those. 
I tried the next five or so times, and this is what I came up with:
No wonder they call them 'selfies'...Cappy took himself, I took myself. Finally, he took another batch that he decided wasn't all that bad, considering the day was wastin' away. And here that is; the end, done.
So now ya know what we kinda/sorta look like from the neck up...thank you for that.
  I wrote the little story that follows that's just another fine example of how we operate on a daily basis...well, in this case a nightly basis. (I guess I need to preface it with: #1 a nurse on FaceBook, who's a friend of ours was having a difficult time getting to sleep so I wrote this for her. #2 People on FaceBook said it was funny. #3 Today, Mindy, who works at Dollar General said she laughed  when she read it, saying she could just picture us doing this. Those three reasons made me think I should add it here on our Blog just for you! Now you can picture us, too. Hope you like it.)
A Bedtime Story for Suzanne:
Not sure why, but sometimes I wake up hollering...LOUD! I used to teach my kids how to enunciate and speak or sing Loudly enough when they sang or spoke publicly. "Put each and every word wayyyyy over on that far wall...LOUD!" And so they did...and maybe still do.
I know how to do it.
The other night, I slept by myself out in the camper in our yard to get some rest because the dogs wake me up some nights. It was an experiment. I had the windows open out there enjoying the night air with my face practically on the screen, as I slept soundly. About two 0'clock in the morning, I was dreaming that I was out in the yard in the dark by myself (which I was, actually) I dreamed I saw this lady in the dark yard next door.  She was looking in a mirror, so I said, "You look nice."
I turned to go across the lawn into our house, but only got three steps when the lady, in reality was a man who grabbed me! I yelled loud enough for Cappy to hear me in the house, "HELP!!!" the yell even woke me up. It woke up our dogs across the driveway, in the house, on the far side of the house. Cappy said they 'exploded', barking at about two a.m., but he didn't know why. I thought, "Uh oh...the neighbors coulda heard that." About eight minutes later, a patrol car cruised through the dark neighborhood.
About a month ago, I woke up punching the daylights out of one of my pillows, but I don't think I hollered that time. From what Cappy sez, I have a lot of nightmares and yell a lot. "Scared the crap out me and da dawgs!!"
   This morning I dreamed I was letting our dogs into the house one night.  MarkyBear was almost in the house, but a pack of coyotes was right on his heels. I wanted to scare them, so I barked LOUDLY at them and kicked at them. When I pulled my foot back in under the sheet, I realized I was dreaming and woke up.  
I laid there quietly...the dogs were apparently still sleeping...Hah! I got away with it this time; no hollering.
Cappy calmly asked, "What was that??"
(Dang...busted) "Uh...I was trying to keep the wolves out." (I was still half asleep) 
Silence, then ..."It's working," he said.
"Huh?" I asked.
He repeated, "It's working."
"Whaddaya mean?" I axed.
He said, "...there's no wolves here in the bedroom."
"Uhm...did I talk out loud?"
"No, you BARKED! Scared the HELL outa me and BeauxBear; he jumped about a foot off the bed and dug my belly when he did. ROOF!!! ROOF!!! like that! I wondered what. in. the. hell. YOU were barking at."
I told him, "Well, at least it wasn't as bad as the time you woke up with me walloping you on the head yelling, "Knock it off, Joe!"
Now Suzanne, if you are still awake, GO TO BED. "soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur, happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr purr ROOF ROOF!"
Well, kids, there you have it. I must be out of practice...I can't make the paragraph indentations right today. Just one more example of 'how we roll' around here. We are a pair, aint we?
Happy Mothers Day, Yall
and Happy Others Day, Yall!



Play in the Yard Weekend, May 2015

Last Saturday morning dawned clear and cool; the perfect beginning to our official "play in the yard weekend".  I stepped out the house with my cup of coffee and a big pan of marinated chicken hindquarters that had been parked in the fridge overnight, marinating.
I filled the charcoal chimney with charcoal then tore strips off the bag to light it with.  My  tip for this post is that the thick bag that the charcoal comes in is great starter to put under the chimney. 

  You will note that our beloved water pitcher BBQ mascot, "Pourky the Pig" was forced into retirement when his belly rusted out and he could no longer hold his water. He has been retired from the 'playing field' and has become 'the coaching staff', residing on the far end of our BBQ table, where he's turned facing da pit so he can watch the whole proceedings. So sad; gone, but not....gone.
  Our new mascot was given to us by a friend of ours, Susan, from Texas.  This Robin water pitcher, that we call "Smokey Robin-son" brings an accurate stream of water from his beak when the fire in the pit gets too hot. It's not the wide spray that Pourky's snout used to contribute.  This makes for more accurate flame dousing. (Those of you who know us will 'get' the name.)
  While the charcoal was getting lit, I wandered out to Peggy's new shade garden.  So new it aint very shady yet, but a fun work in progress.  I noticed the crowd had already gathered under the yum-yum tree.
Often folks will ask us, "With all the cool li'l critters yall have, why haven't yall got any Gnomes??"  The answer is easy.  The gators or watch frogs eat em.
While wandering around, I noticed the charcoal was lit, so I poured them in our ol' pit over on the side where the air intake is.
I added a few more coals from the bag, and while they 'took', I continued walking around this new shade garden bed.  One pleasant surprise was the butternut squash vines that sprung up unexpectedly and almost took over her whole new garden.  I guess the seeds were hiding in our compost pile when I transferred a couple wheelbarrow loads of the dark rich compost soil over to the shade garden.  We noticed them growing and decided if they wanted to volunteer, we would let them; what the heck.  We love butternut squash, and though we have never formally planted any, we have harvested several "volunteers" over the years.  They are very easy to grow, that's for sure; they just spring up and dang near take over. Last year, two of these surprise volunteers crawled up and over the top of our grape arbor and presented us with a couple of very fine suppers.
The new "squashy and not too shady yet shade garden" just kinda fits right in to the jungle that is our backyard play area and we can't wait to see what new surprises and treats it has in store for us. (A few times it brought us cats and kittens.)
In this picture you can see our new hummingbird feeder.  This year we went with the cheap dollar store version and decided to make our own sugar water mixture for it.  We use 1 part sugar and 4 parts warm water from the tap.  Shake it up to mix it and once it has cooled a bit hang it up.  The hummers seem to like it. In years past we invested a lot of money for fancy feeders and expensive food, but for some reason they were total failures, not letting the birds get the nectar. Who knew cheaper would be better?
By this time I wandered back to the patio, the charcoal was all lit, so I parked the chicken on the grill.
Al E.Gator and Smokey Robinson stood guard over da pit, 
protecting it from several pets who might be watching for accidental snacking opportunities:
Beaux da Brat seemed more interested in the goings on by the fire pit.
As you can see, looking back at our house, over by the BBQ pit the gardenia is in full bloom with the jasmine vining above it adding its scent. The combination of all these scents, the bbq pit, the firepit, the florals made for a wonderful chubby Cajun aroma therapy.

You can also see in this smelly corner a canna lilly being the first of its kind to bloom.  After about an hour of reflection and relaxation, I stopped, went and mopped and flopped and mopped the chicken again. Not too daunting a task.
This is not BBQ sauce; it is a basting sauce made from the marinade the chicken spent the night with in the fridge, then we added a stick of butter and a cup of wine in this little pot.  We always bring this to a simmer because the raw chicken had been sitting in this marinade for quite some time before we put it on the stove. This basting sauce ensures good juicy pieces of chicken. 
 So, while the chicken in da pit continued roasting, I wandered around some more and spotted a lady bug eating aphids that were munching away on one of our volunteer squash leaves.  "Good girl!  I wish ya had brought a couple hundred sisters with ya." Not fond of aphids. (Peg said I did not "spot" the lady bug...never mind)
 I also noticed that our lacy flowery ligustrum shrub was buzzing with bees.  Honey bees,
as well as some big bumble bees!
The yard was  also full of dragonflies by the hundreds!  Us Cajuns call them mosquito hawks.  When Peggy first moved down here she was, and still is fascinated by them, loves them and enjoys watching them up close.  I used to grin when she forgot that we called them "skeeter hawks", but she excitedly referred to them as mosquito jets.  I picked at her about it, but now we both call them ' mosquito jets' as an inside joke.
 I got a picture of this one sitting on the antenna of my Jeep.
The lemon tree is full of baby lemons.
Below, except for very fragrant flowers, you can see a history of this years crop of our grapefruit. A new batch of baby fruit is coming along,  there's the heavy cluster of mature fruit, which is at it's sweetest and juiciest right now. Below under the tree are the fallen and decomposing, which are adding nutrients back into the soil under the tree.  We have learned that if you pick the outer hanging fruit first, the ones in the shady cool central area of the tree will stay good, on into Summer.  This is a wonderful tip for you citrus growers.  The oranges were devoured in the Fall, but the grapefruits, taking longer to ripen, hang in there longer...literally.
After two hours, the chicken got mopped and flopped and mopped again. I took up several of the smaller pieces that were done, and that made room for some of our Cajun-style burgers.
While they all introduced themselves in da pit, I sat and enjoyed the view across our yard. The round 'fella' there is the fig tree, which has a lot of little green figs. Made my mouth water while I was sitting there making plans for the dark sweet ripened crop that should be coming along soon.
Our garden boxes in the late afternoon sun. 
As the shadows lengthened and the evening wore on, it sure was nice looking out at our li'l piece of paradise.
The chicken was amazing and the burgers passed the Cappy taste test with flying juices.....er colors.
As the sun set, Peggy and I sat hand in hand by the dying fire giving thanks to the Lord for the amazing 'play in the yard' day we had.
It was truly a prayer come true, this wonderful relaxing 'stay vacation' play day. We had enjoyed the day to the fullest, then sat and listened to the fire crackle as the sun went down and the first stars showed up, followed by a huge orange full moon peeking over the grape arbor between the large banana palms. We were enveloped in the hush of the darkness, and as the morning had dawned bright and cool, so began the glorious moon-bathed evening.