Category Archives: Summer

Sounds of Long Ago Summer Evenings

“Summertime is the time of sharpest memory.”
(
Ruth Sidransky, In Silence, 1990)

As I worked on writing projects today on the back porch,  I heard sounds of children playing outside. It’s August, and the new school year begins for them in a few days.

The happy sounds bouncing around in the sunshine turned my thoughts to past Summers days as a child.  I remember the last days of Summer as especially sweet, as we anticipated the start of school and the end of our Summer freedom.

 Sounds of Summer Evenings on West Virginia Avenue

Warm Summer evenings stir memories of sounds from long ago
evenings on West Virginia Avenue, and I listen and remember,
Chiming bells announcing the arrival of the ice cream truck,
Buzzing of a bee as it flits from flower to flower gathering pollen,
Gurgling Icy lemonade pouring from pitcher to glass, ,
Whirring clicks of the push mower cutting grass next door,
Bumping of a basketball hitting the rim and bouncing in,
Var-ooming of brother Ed playing with his toy cars,
Pattering rain outside an open window after napping,
Swishing of the water sprinkler on the front lawn,
Pounding feet on the driveway playing hopscotch,
Shouting children, “You’re it”, “My turn”, “I won”,
Rolling metallic sound of skates on the sidewalk,
Hammering by Dad who is repairing something,
Ch-chinging of the bell on the paperboy’s bike
Cracking of a ball on a bat from the vacant lot,
Chirping bird songs in the backyard trees,
Thumping on a watermelon to test ripeness,
Splashing water from the kiddie pool,
Twacking of a mallet on a crochet ball,
Barking of our dog Fluffy as he runs,
Crashing of a Summer thunderstorm,
Sizzling bacon for BLT sandwiches,
Cranking from the ice cream freezer,
Rustling of the wind in the trees,
Squeaking of the porch swing,
Slamming of the screen door,
Laughing and yelling children,
Mother calling,
“Sue, Nancy,
time to come in.”
Low voices talking
inside houses with lights,
at days end.
Sounds of my life
from long ago..
Musical memories,
stored for a rainy day.

Close your eyes.  What do you hear?

Sue Marquis Bishop, 2015

Saying Goodbye to my Summer Garden

As garden plants begin to dry in their last stages of growth and Summer flowers fade to sleep, I want to revisit one more time some of the lovely flowers in my yard this Summer.

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I look forward to the return of the colorful Summer flora next year.  I’ll add some new flower bulbs in the yard this month so they can rest in the Winter ground until time to add their voices to the Spring symphony in my garden.

Every season has it’s beauty.  As I see evidence of fading flowers and leaves, I know that Fall will soon burst forth in a dazzling and noisy display.

Sue Marquis Bishop 2014

What is Carolina Tomato Marmalade? A Delicacy of the Tomato Season

MAKING TOMATO MARMALADE is a richly rewarding way to approach the end of the tomato season.  AND… jars of this homemade jewel of a sweet treat make fabulous holiday gifts.  

WE HAVE ENJOYED EVERY DAY of the long tomato season this Summer with a bounty of tomatoes, from only eight tomato plants.  We have eaten our fill of bacon and tomato sandwiches, stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato salsa and chutney and more.  Today, I made a simple  lunch with tuna salad and tomato. 

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TWO YEARS AGO, when our daughter Heather spent a week with us in our cabin in the North Carolina mountains, she asked if I would show her how to make jelly or jam.  We had just purchased some large candy stripe tomatoes from the farmer’s market in Burnsville. The tomatoes were  mustard yellow, with narrow  ruby-red stripes that were, widely spaced around the tomatoes from stem to bottom. I hadn’t made any jellies or  jams for a few years and didn’t have any old recipes with me.  So, we created a new recipe using these wonderful tomatoes.

THE CANDY STRIPE TOMATO MARMALADE we made not only tasted fantastic, but the deep yellow and red colors in the jar were striking. We only made 6 jars and hoarded them for ourselves, bringing out a taste when company came.  Heather tried to take her 3 jars home on the plane and they wouldn’t let her board with them, so she mailed her jars to her house

I DIDN’T HAVE any candy stripe tomatoes this year, but did have several red varieties, so I used our same recipe with red tomatoes and named this version Carolina Tomato Marmalade. (The recipe can be doubled with good results. )

Carolina Tomato Marmalade

WASH AND STERILIZE jam or jelly jars.  Leave lids and rings in hot gently boiling water until use. Leave jars in hot dishwasher after washing until use or sterilize in boiling water. . 

  • 2 lemons, thinly sliced and seeded
  • 1 medium orange, thinly sliced and seeded (thin skin orange)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated gingerroot (peel and grate)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 cloves

CHOP EACH LEMON SLICE into quarters and orange slices into eight pieces. Remove white center segment and seeds. Then chop into thin pieces and add to saucepan.  Add sugar, orange juice, grated gingerroot, cinnamon stick and cloves.

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Bring to boil and reduce to gentle simmer until liquid is reducd and lemon and orange slices are translucent, tender and “candied”.  Stir often to prevent burning.  Remove from heat.  Remove cloves, cinnamon stick and discard.

WHILE LEMONS AND ORANGE MIXTURE is simmering, prepare tomato mixture.

  • 5 cups tomatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 Tablespoons fruit pectin
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter
  • 4 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

WASH AND IMMERSE TOMATOES in boiling water for 30 seconds to loosen skins so they will peel off easily. 

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DISCARD PEELING and cut tomatoes in 4-8 pieces. In large pan, add tomatoes, butter and pectin and stir to mix well.  (Use of pectin will decrease amount of foam to be skimmed off later.)  Leave pan off heat for 10 minutes.

STIR TOMATO MIXTURE again and place on medium high heat.  When the mixture hits full rolling boil, add sugar and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly

TURN HEAT TO MEDIUM TO MEDIUM-HIGH.  Add candied lemon and orange mixture from small saucepan. Add 1/2 cup orange juice, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground allspice and black pepper.  Let it boil (low boil) until it begins to get thick, about 20-30 minutes. (We found it took longer to thicken in the high altitude of the mountains.) You can check how it is thickening, by adding a teaspoonful in a small dish and cooling it, or seeing it flow off the spoon in a thicker sheet (as opposed to a single drip).

WHEN IT BEGINS TO THICKEN, remove from heat and skim off foam on top with a metal spoon. 

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FILL JARS leaving 1/8 inch at top.  Wipe sides and top edges of jar to remove any spillage and tighten lids and rings.  Move jars to deep pot on stove and till with water 1-2 inches over the tops of the jars.  Place cover on pan and bring to boil.  Boil for 10 minutes.

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THIS CANNING POT allowed the lowering of the jars into the water on a rack.  When we made it in the mountains, we did not have a canning pot, but used a deep pan.

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SET PAN OFF HEAT and allow to cool. When jars are cool, check lids and rings.  Lids are sealed when center of lid is pushed down and will not release up. The Carolina Tomato Marmalade was a deep burgundy color with pieces of yellow lemon and orange rinds visible among the tomato seeds.  Lovely!  

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I PREPARED A SIMPLE dinner of  ham, mashed potatoes and green beans,  and made biscuits for dinner, so we could enjoy the new treat.  My Dad so loved tomato preserves. As I put the biscuits in the oven, I thought of how Dad would have enjoyed this dinner, ..and I remembered the day my daughter and I created the tomato marmalade recipe.  Such warm memories make my life that much richer.

Sue Marquis Bishop 2014   

Ducklings Rescue at Spring Park Pond

On a warm Summer Day, a family of resident ducks went for a stroll. This duck family needed help from the Fire Department before the day was done.

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Our new neighborhood has a community pond that has been adopted as a home base for several families of ducks.  Some are mallards with their beautiful green necks.

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Some are domestic ducks.  They come in all color combinations.  The black ones with white necks and chests remind me of penguins as the drakes waddle along, typically in a group.

One of the black hens with white markings we named Henrietta.  Every day, she brought her brood of ducklings to rest under the red maple beside our sunroom.  We had a front row seat to watch the ducklings grow from day to day.  We gave them fresh water, but took feed to the pond each day.

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The ducks wander about during the day throughout the streets of the community when they aren’t swimming at the pond.  Ducks are monogamous during one mating season, but  may choose another mate the next season.  When the ducklings are very small, the drake stays nearby for a short time.

After a duck was killed by a car, the homeowner’s association installed speed bumps in the neighborhood to slow down the traffic and they moniter speed to keep our community safe for children, walkers and ducks..

Some of the ducks have markings like abstract paintings with varied patterns of brown, tan, cinnamon and white stripes… some have a formal looking tweedy vest, and some have black  polka dots on their white chests.

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Some of the brown mature ducks have a navy blue stripe on the sides of their  wings. The baby ducklings are various shades of black and white and brown….with tiny black bills.  Some have yellow on their necks and upper breast when they are young.

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Occasionally mixed into with a large brood, there are 2-3 butter yellow baby ducklings with orange bills and orange  webbed feet.. They are storybook gorgeous.  My husband names them Marilyns.  They seemed to be the first to disappear.  I wonder if large predator birds or turtles can see them easier?

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Mother ducks would never be accused of neglect.  Ducklings stay with their mothers for 6-8 weeks, trailing along after her.  When they are small, they gather under mother’s body, so 18 or more can be completely hidden.

As they grow in later weeks, the mother hen hustles to stay up with them, but she keeps them together.  They continue to sleep a lot when young and to sleep in a heap touching one another.

I noticed that only a small percentage of the ducklings tended to survive …. maybe 5 or 6 only from large litters of 18 and 21.   An internet check revealed that this is typical for wild ducks.

One  afternoon this Summer,  Ethyl and her brood went for a fateful stroll… The ducklings veered off the sidewalk  to the edge of the street, and one by one, followed their siblings  down the sewer drain.  An alert neighbor called the fire department and Engine 28 responded…our heroes to the rescue.

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I snapped a picture of one of the fireman with his arms and torso stretched down inside the drain as he searched for the ducklings..

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Success!  He kept at it until he retrieved all but one of the ducklings.. and they were pulled out to safety and an anxious mother duck..

The duck family was  soon on its way back to Spring Park pond, apparently none the worse for the experience in the sewer.

The neighbors expressed their gratitude to the Fireman for the rescue.   I sent them some tomatoes from the garden, with a pound of bacon, to make bacon and tomato sandwiches for their lunch in the Firehouse .

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And the ducks went on their way back to Spring Park Pond.

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Sue Marquis Bishop 2014

 

 

Tomato Peach Salsa Takes Talapia, Chicken or Pork Roast to a Starring Role on Your Table

The bounty of luscious and plentiful fruit and vegetables of warm Summer days stimulate creative days in the kitchen.  Today was such a day when I used available foods and spices to make a tomato-peach salsa.  Sooo good with a meat entre for dinner!!

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Our tomatoes are producing generously this year.  We are enjoying our fill of bacon and tomato sandwiches, tomatoes stuffed with tuna salad, sliced tomatoes drizzled with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, as a side dish of breaded tomatoes.  The best is grabbing the salt shaker and eating a freshly picked whole tomato warm from the Summer sun…tomato juice dripping through our fingers, as we hold our heads over the sink..

Today, I noticed two peaches sitting on the kitchen counter beside the basket of tomatoes we had just harvested.  The thought occurred that I might develop a salsa recipe that we could use with the pork roast I had cooking in the crock pot.

The first step was to wash the tomatoes and cover them with boiling water for 30-45 seconds so the peelings will  come off easily. One of the features in our new house that I love is the boiling water faucet in the kitchen (Thanks Peggy, for including it in the kitchen remodel!.).

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And, it really works too.  So much easier than trying to peel the tomato skins off.

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When I am creating a new recipe, it’s a little of this and a pinch or splash of that.  So, I will share the approximate measurements.  You may want to adjust several of the ingredients for your own tastes.

The salsa I made today includes peeled and quartered tomatoes (about 5 cups), two peaches, lemon juice (about 1/4 cup),apple cider vinegar (about 1/4 cup), honey to taste (1/2 cup), 1/2 diced green bell pepper, 1 tablespoon minced basil, 1 tablespoon  minced gingerroot, 1 medium diced onion, black pepper, red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon allspice, 2 tablespoons butter and 1/2 cup raisins.

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Cook at gentle boil until thickened, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

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The tomato-peach salsa was processed in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes to seal canning jars.

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The crock pot pork roast was tender and juicy and ready for dinner when the salsa was done.  The meat-salsa combination was delicious… spicy and sweet-tart.

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We munched on turkey sandwiches on sour dough rolls for lunch the next day.  The tomato-peach salsa made the sandwiches extra special with icy orange-ice tea.  I’m so glad I made enough for another day.

Sue Marquis Bishop   2014

Fried Green Tomatoes? How About a Baked Recipe to Love?

If you love fried green tomatoes as much as my family  – have I got a recipe for you. It’s fast and easy and uses less fat to prepare. They are baked – and they are delicious.

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My husband would be happy with a large dinner plate full of fried green tomatoes for dinner and not want anything else. This recipe for using the oven instead of the frying pan is husband approved.

Parmesan Green Tomatoes

Wash and slice firm green tomatoes, Dry each slice by blotting with a paper towel.

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Dip each slice in a mixture of tomato vinegrette and cover well..  I used Newman’s Own Tomato Vinegrette.

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Shake each green tomato slice in a bag filled with Parmesan Shake and Bake until the slice is fully coated. Lightly grease a baking pan with olive oil and arrange slices separately in pan.

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Drizzle some olive oil on the tops of the slices before baking.  Bake at 375 degrees for 30–45 minutes until golden and crisp and soft to piercing.  Sprinkle baked green tomatoes with freshly grated parmesan.

Serve with catsup or your favorite remoulade.   I vary the ingredients for the remoulade from time to time, but include some of the following ingredients to taste: 1/4 cup mayo, squeeze of lemon juice, 1/2 cup catsup, 1 Tablespoon mustard,1 finely minced garlic clove, 1 Tablespoon minced onion, Cajun seasoning, pepper, 1/2 teaspoon horseradish sauce

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We have found a new home that has space for a small garden.  Our last home of  20 years was on a wooded lot and there was too much shade to have a garden.  I have missed the opportunity to have a vegetable and herb garden since we moved from Indiana a number of years ago.  Our tomatoes are producing like crazy.  I am in heaven.

NOTE to online friends of my blog. We have found just the perfect place to make a new home.  I’ll share more about that later.

Sue Marquis Bishop