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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Quilty Pleasures Wednesday-A Christmas Tree Skirt

It's not finished yet, but I wanted you to see what's in the works. I know it's the end of August, but Thread Bear fabric store owner Ann wanted to do a "Christmas in July in September" sale and advertise some upcoming classes at the same time.

You should have seen me tromping around, trying to find just the right tree. Did you know that trees in nature have junk growing around their trunks? So I mashed down the grass and tossed the pine cones to get the skirt to lie flat. It's a good thing the neighbors can't see this place because rumors of my sanity would be flying fast and furious. (I know that's not good grammer, MBB. Want to be my editor?)

To make the quilt I used a 9 degree ruler made by Marilyn Doheny, length 18 inches. She offers ruler sizes up to 25 inches with an extension available to make it 35 inches long. The hardest part was cutting the wedges because it required utmost attention to be sure everything was lined up correctly. Plus, I didn't want the rotary cutter to stray.

Here's a detail of the fabric called Holiday Hoot Owls by Alexander Henry. I didn't fussy cut these because I wanted to be frugal with the fabric, but I like how the owls randomly show up here and there just to say, "Hi."

The skirt still needs to be quilted, which will be in the ditch, and bound, which will be scrappy. Because it's a circle, I will make this a bias binding.

I will not say, "Merry Christmas," just yet.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A New Mexico Newbee Roasts Green Chiles

It's chile harvest season in New Mexico and it's a big deal.  On street corners, in grocery store parking lots and alongside the roads are trucks and tables piled with bags and baskets of large green chiles, just picked and ready for roasting either at home or right there. Last year in Albuquerque at upscale ABQ Uptown mall, there were chile roasters there, too. No one is too fancy for green chile in New Mexico.

Plastic bags with just roasted chile, bags and baskets of fresh chile.
 Heck, even Wal-Mart sells chiles with a guy roasting them for you right outside the store.

 The smell of roasting chiles is a reminder that fall is coming and it's time, like squirrels do with nuts, to stock up on New Mexico's favorite food. There are lines of people waiting for their chiles and folks will roast them right there. Most people are going for a year's worth of chile and since chile is in or on most foods most days, that's a lot of green.

My mom and dad would bring home fresh green chiles from vacations, roast them in their broiler, and freeze them, but I never got into all that, content to be gifted some frozen care packages when I visited. I had a "grasshopper and the ants" mentality when it came to green chiles.

But I figured, what the heck, I might as well take advantage of all these fresh chiles, so I bought a basket of chiles for ten dollars and decided to roast them myself.

It was a splendid day for chile roasting: temperate weather and the rain had just stopped.

So I popped them on the Weber. I wanted to grill the chiles until the skin was blistered because that's how you get the skins off.

These were about ready. I didn't realize that they might explode, and a couple times I ended up breathing chile fumes from an explosion. Now I need respiratory therapy. Note to self: 1. Don't lean over the barbie and 2. Poke a knife in each chile before you pop it on the grill.

It took about 5 minutes for the chiles to be nice and blistered. From there I put them in a large bowl with a damp towel over the top so they could sweat. After I was all done roasting, I took the chiles to the sink where I pulled out the stems, shook out the seeds, and packaged them in plastic bags. Tom was upstairs in bed by this time. "What the hell are you doing down there? It smells like a chile factory!"

By the time I was done, there were 22 small and 2 large plastic storage bags filled and ready for the freezer. I think we have a year's worth.

And maybe next chile harvest season I'll have the guy with the roasting basket do it for me!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Green Bean, Tomato and Zucchini Salad

Who wants to cook when it's 100 degrees outside? If you're raising your hand and saying, "I do! I do!" then go back to the Trident gum commercial you escaped from. Summer is when my mom used to make a gigantic tub of macaroni salad in the morning which she served with cold sliced ham for dinnertime. Maybe we'd get a wedge of iceberg lettuce if she was feeling particularly health conscious, but it was about keeping it simple on a hot evening. 

Even though the temps here are more moderate in the summertime than in Southern California, I still like to make side dishes early in the day to reserve my afternoons for important stuff like sitting on the veranda, drinking wine and reading mysteries.

I picked a load of green beans from the growing dome a couple weeks ago along with some ripe, juicy tomatoes. At the farmers' market I bought some zucchini, both large and small, from a couple ladies who really know how to sell veggies.

Several days later I happened upon the green beans and zucchini in the produce drawer and since I didn't have any lettuce and wanted a salad, decided it was green bean salad time. I wanted the salad to be my main dish, so hunted around the internet and found a green bean and chayote salad recipe which was the inspiration for this one.
It tasted so good the first time that when we were invited to dinner at the neighbors' yurt I made it again. After we came home that evening I realized I had forgotten the cheese, but people happily ate it cheeseless, so it's a keeper, cheese or not.

Green Bean, Tomato and Zucchini Salad with Queso Fresco 


2 medium zucchinis, diced into 1/2″ pieces
8 oz.  green beans, chopped into about 2” pieces (about 2 heaping cups)
2 ripe tomatoes chopped (I used a mixture of yellow and red tomatoes)
A handful of chopped cilantro or 2 T cilantro pesto
1/4 cup crumbled Queso Fresco or feta cheese

Vinaigrette (This is optional)
3 T. apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 t agave sweetener, honey, or sugar (taste the dressing and if it needs more, add another squirt)
3 T. olive oil (use only 2 T if you are using cilantro pesto)


1. Fill a medium saucepan with water and set it over high heat to boil. While the water is fixing to boil, fill a large bowl with water and ice cubes. This is to blanch the green beans and zucchini.

2. When the water in the saucepan is boiling, add the green beans and a teaspoon or more of salt.

3. Once green beans have boiled for three minutes, add the diced zucchini and cook for another minute or two. Taste a green bean. It should be tender-crisp and still bright green. Remove the veggies with a slotted spoon, and place them in the bowl of ice water. Let sit for at least five minutes to stop them from cooking further. This will make those greenie beanies nice and crisp. Drain the veggies.

4. Place drained green beans and zucchini into a serving bowl. Add the diced tomatoes, cilantro (or cilantro pesto) and cheese. Mix until well combined. Add salt to taste.

5. If making the vinaigrette, combine all ingredients and add the oil last. Whisk quickly until the oil and vinegar look fully mixed. Pour vinaigrette over the salad, a little at a time. Don't let it swim in dressing like I did the first time. A little goes a long way. You may have extra dressing which makes an excellent steak marinade.

Enjoy your veggies, peeps!

Thursday, August 25, 2011


For our friends in  Oklahoma, Texas and Southern California: We can't send you cooler weather, but here's a photo guaranteed to lower your temps at least a little bit.

Salman Ranch Gardens

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Quilty Pleasures Wednesday-Cottage Curtains, Stripes and Christmas is Coming

Sorry for the odd blog post title, but this week was a decidedly non-quilty one. Instead, I made curtains for MBB the MFA who has moved to a riverfront cottage on the Iowa River.  The pieced curtains for her bedroom have been mailed and received, but she still needed curtains for the living room and the kitchen. So I did some shopping in the fabric stash and found stuff that didn't exactly match but at least they came from the same color family.

On the right are the living room curtains,  peachy coral. One set wasn't long enough, so I added an Asian print to the bottom. On the left are the kitchen curtains. I absolutely love that yellow paisley print but hadn't found the right quilt idea, so yellow paisley has been languishing in the stash for about six years. It was time for that fabric to be put to use so I bit the bullet and made curtains. There's still some left, so someday a quilt will be made using that luscious paisley. Curtains are in the mail, winging their way to Iowa City. I hope her cottage doesn't look like Peewee's Playhouse after all the curtains are hung.

I went a little crazy and got these stripes at Thread Bear in Las Vegas, NM after seeing an awesome quilt (the top one) on Melody Johnson's blog, Fibermania. Actually I love all three of the quilts shown and find them truly inspiring. I hope to start playing around with all this stripey goodness in the next few weeks.

Yeah, I went a little nuts.

And yes, I know it's not Christmas yet and most of us don't want to be reminded right now, but I picked up some fabric for a tree skirt. It's for a class I will be teaching at Thread Bear and we needed a sample. The tree skirt needs to be done pretty soon, so hang on a bit and you'll see it here when it's ready. Take a look at the fabric I chose:

If all goes well, there should be some actual quilty stuff to look at next week. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday Sunrise at The Nickel and Dime Ranch

 Ms. Pearl decided we should go for a sunrise walk this morning and I was all up for it since the sun peeks over the rimrock around 8 am-ish. That's not too early, is it?

 It's 56 degrees cool so let's put on a sweater and some trail shoes. Official hiking attire is optional: I'm wearing what passes for pajamas: a UC Berkeley tee and some old pj bottoms. Here. Check it out. Living in the boonies is great! I could wear these p.j.'s all day if I wanted.

 The Buddha is waiting for a visit this afternoon. Time to start a new book.

 Sounds:  A truck rattles down the road. Benjamin, Paul, and crew are up on the mesa a couple miles away, their whining chainsaws thinning trees and brush for a neighbor. Sound travels far.

I'm walking up the driveway toward the gate to see if The Angus Boys are there. No luck. I'm no hat and no cattle this morning.

Although it's still pretty dry, recent rains have encouraged wildflowers, which is good for the bees and little animals.

The Enchanted Forest looks pretty good and from up here I can hear the creek running.

The clouds don't look too substantial. Come on, rain! No cows here, so let's head back to the house. Let's drop by the dome for a minute to feed the fishies and survey the crops.

The cucumber plants are taking over, attaching themselves to the inside door hinges. Let's see what we can find. Lately it's kind of like shopping. Produce for your picking, madame.

I guess those Wal-Mart bags are good for something.

Let's see what we got. That's the fabric for MBB's kitchen curtains under the produce.

We can probably figure what Tom will be doing this afternoon.

It's getting hot outside now. Sun's up and letting me know it's time to go inside.  I don't need the sweater anymore and I forgot my sun hat, so it's time for breakfast. Have a great day, friends!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Patchwork Curtains

What to do when your daughter needs curtains and you don't have enough of any one fabric to make them?

You patchwork them, that's what! She wanted the aqua blue and green dots, so the first set of curtains I made were just those two. After that I realized she needed curtains for two more bedroom windows and I didn't have enough of either of those two colors. So I improvised, going shopping in my fabric stash for something that would harmonize.

I had leftovers from her spiderweb quilt, so that's what she got. At first I was having a fit about these curtains, but then I looked again and realized they look like something one might buy at Anthropologie, like this tablecloth.

So I figured what the hell. Keep on sewing.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Zucchini Brownies

 Last week the stars must have been aligned just right, because I posted a zucchini recipe and figured I'd post another one today since it's zucchini season. But what recipe? Oh, the trials and tribulations of a retired person!

So Friday afternoon I drove to the Mora Valley Farmers' Market to pick up some freshies and have some people interaction since we have been hermitting here at home and I didn't want to get too weird and desocialized.

At one table were two ladies selling veggies, including some rather large zucchini. I rarely buy big zucchini; I like the little guys.  I must have looked skeptical because one of the ladies opened a plastic container and said, "Want to try some zucchini brownies?" They looked awesome and I'm a sucker for any kind of free baked delicacy, so I daintily accepted a brownie and instantly was transported into chocolate nirvana. Moist and chocolatey, just like brownies should be. No, I couldn't taste the zucchini, which was there to add moisture.

"That big zucchini there is just the right size for this recipe," she said as she whipped out a photocopied Zucchini Brownie recipe. What a saleswoman! Anyway, I figured what the heck and bought the giant zucchini, made these brownies, and all is well with the world. The recipe includes directions for chocolate icing, but I  decided to save that for another day. The brownies are good even without the icing. And no one will know there's zucchini in there if you don't tell. Just click on the link to find the recipe.

Zucchini Brownies from

A Note: I used dark chocolate cocoa for my brownies so if yours look lighter, they are okay. Note 2-When I mixed up the batter, it was really dry and I was worried. Don't give in to the temptation to add water or an egg. The zucchini adds moisture as they bake. But you might find yourself pressing the "batter" into the pan more than spreading it. If you truly want to add an egg, the brownies will be more cake like, according to the comments on the website.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Study in Skull-et and Yaks Lost and Found

I swear, Tom's like a little kid,  returning from his daily meanderings with pockets full of treasures. Yesterday I walked with him and the day's theme was "Nails and Wire." In West Texas language that's pronounced "Niles and Wahr." We encounter quite a few Texans in our part of the state and it's good to know their lingo.

In 40 minutes he found at least 10 nails, 6 baling wire clippings, and a strand of barbed wire. Since most of this stuff was on the edge of our driveway or embedded in the driveway's dirt and gravel, it was good he found these hazards, though I had to tell him he was like that special ed kid who used to walk me out to the faculty parking lot, the kid that could home in on a stray coin a hundred yards away even though his eyeglasses were an inch thick.

I think the blog has been a little too girly for Tom lately because he photographed the skull collection and suggested I post the pics. So for all the non-girlies, here is Tom's skull collection. I know what some of them are, but not sure about the others. If you can identify any, comment at the end of this post so we can learn something.

There's a treat after the skull photos, something cute and girly. I couldn't resist.

A recurrent collecting theme is Bones and Skulls. While poking around the trees and rocks here and there, Tom has amassed a small collection of skulls, some old, some kind of fresh.

The one below freaks me out. Is it a badger?

On a happier note, our neighbor reports that his missing yaks have been found. They disappeared several weeks ago, climbing up the rimrock to the plateau behind their ranch, through rocks and ledges. Their Himalayan ancestors must be proud. There had been yak sightings, and one rancher was amazed when a yak came right up to him for a little petting. That must have been Lily who had been taken on daily walks by her previous owner. She's a people lover.

The yaks were found on a neighboring ranch that is 200 square miles in size, so it was understandably hard to locate them. While on their travels, the herd increased from 10 to 12 with two mommas taking some time off to give birth. The owner shot a photo of the new guys. No word if they are back home, yet, but I don't think the yakboys will want to take them back the way they came.

Congratulations to the new mommas and their babies.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Quilty Pleasures Wednesday: Another Finish-I Spy Quilt

This will be a quickie since you've already seen this quilt top a while back and who wants to see the same stuff over and over again? (I'll tell you a secret: I do! I have many quilts bookmarked so I can gaze upon them over and over again.)

This is an I Spy quilt, a collection of novelty fabrics, each square different and chosen so a baby/toddler and his older siblings can have a conversation that goes like this: "Where's the violin?" "Is the duck taking a shower or a bath?" What squares are blue?" You know, important and heady back-and-forth repartee designed to someday save the world. (And who knows? That verbal ability we are encouraging with this quilt might do just that.)

I just had to use this shot because the sky was pretty and those purple flowers needed their moment.

It was hard deciding on a binding fabric because there were so many colors here, so I squinted my eyes at the whole quilt and saw more blue and red than anything else. It doesn't match the back, but let's not think about that right now.

The binding was fussy cut from this fabric. I wanted the checkerboard but not the stars.

I've been machine quilting small quilts and this was the third one so far. It's ironic that I like straight line quilting after purchasing the Bernina machine with the stitch regulator, but there will be time for more loop the loops in the future.

I found a quilting pattern called Big Diamond, Little Diamond, using blue painters' tape for the first diagonal lines. After that, I discovered the stitch guiding tool in the box holding the walking foot. Shazaam! That thing works!

I watched three Hell's Kitchen episodes while quilting, which is not therapeutic.  Too much yelling and drama. And I can't stand Elise. She would have been out of my classroom in a New York minute with that attitude. Talent or not, there's no room in this world for jerks!

I machine stitched the binding on this quilt, too. It's become my modus operandi, but if a quilt is going to be washed a lot, it makes sense. That's lavender in the background and the bees are loving it.

I hope Mikey likes this quilt and ends up taking it to college.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Summertime in Northern New Mexico

We've been hanging close to home, Tom cutting wood every day. He discovers more dead oak each time he goes for a walk and the woodpiles keep on growing. I think it's his idea of wealth, kind of like the hoard of Trudy's meat pies in the freezer or the idea that all will be well if there are enough pork chops and rice.

 I actually found some wildflowers on my walk yesterday, not as many as last year, but enough to be encouraging. Rainfall is still below normal so we are thankful for any drops that fall.

Inside the growing dome the temps usually run in the low 90's,  perfect for our summer veggies: tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, chile peppers, zucchini and green beans. When I mentioned to one of the farmers at the Mora Farmers' Market that I have been picking green beans for a month and a half, she said, nonplussed, "What? How long? How did you do that?" I had to admit that I cheated, growing them indoors. She looked relieved.

Growing tomatoes and zucchini outdoors last summer was a dismal failure, the nights too cool and the wind beating the crap out of the plants. So I am grateful for the dome.

Here are some beauties I picked the other day. How does your garden grow?

Sunday, August 14, 2011


This year has been a tough year for hummingbirds, nectar drinkers who must drink  2/3 to 3 times their body weight in food each day just to keep alive. Less rain this year equaled fewer blossoms for the hummers to drink from, so we've been happy to keep the bar open at the Nickel and Dime. We have two feeders, but the birds seem to like this one better. They will empty this feeder before they use the other, probably because the perches are more comfy.
I've counted up to ten at this feeder, some hovering behind their drinking buddies, waiting for their chance. Tom was able to capture seven in this photo, shot through one side of his binoculars. 

Next month we are supposed to quit feeding them. If the hummingbirds hang around too long drinking at the Nickel and Dime bar, it might be too late to travel to their winter homes. Editor's note: A comment from a reader north of Ocate gave me a heads up to a hummingbird website which says it's not necessary to stop feeding when it's migration season. They will go no matter what. In the comments section is a link to an excellent site about these mighty mites.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sauteed Zucchini, Sweet Red Peppers and Onions

For many of you with summer vegetable gardens,  neighbors who grow veggies, or a farmers' market just up the road, it's zucchini time. Yeah, I know you can buy zucchini year round at the supermercado, but really, let's be honest: those out of season veggies travel thousands of miles to get to your market and compared to an in-season, just picked zuke, they're as boring as Kevin Costner's voice in Peggy Sue Got Married: "I love you, Sue."

Of course, as the summer zucchini season wears on, people avoid each other if we suspect they are going to offer us (more) zucchini because we have run out of ideas for cooking it. What to do with bags of giant squashes that look like those pods from Invasion of the Body Snatchers? Well, there's always zucchini bread, and I saw this awesome recipe for Zucchini Chocolate Brownies I will have to try.

But I'm talking about early-in-the-season zucchini, around 6 inches long. I sauteed some of these fresh zukes with red bell peppers and onions and they worked nicely as a side dish to the grilled steak, sauteed mushrooms,  baked potato, and sliced yellow tomatoes I served for dinner last night. Yum.

Here's the recipe:

Sauteed Zucchini, Sweet Red Peppers and Onions (4 Servings)


3-4 medium zucchini, each around 6 inches long, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 small sweet onion, sliced
1/2 large red bell pepper, sliced lengthwise
2 T olive oil
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t seasoned salt (I like Goya Adobo salt, found at well stocked markets in the Mexican food section but any kind will be just fine)
1/2 t freshly ground pepper

Optional additions: Half a minced fresh jalapeno pepper added with the other veggies, or a chopped tomato added just at the end of your cooking time, heated just enough to warm the tomato through.


1. Heat a skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and swirl it around to cover the pan.
2. When the olive oil looks shimmery, add the zucchini, onion and bell pepper. Season with the garlic powder, seasoned salt and pepper.
3. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes. Some of your onions and zucchini will get brown and that's good. Don't overcook because you want the veggies tender but not mushy.

And that's as easy as it gets. If there are leftovers, save them to scramble with your eggs the next morning!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Taos Shopping Day or Whatsa Poona Kheera?

Taos, New Mexico is our go-to town when we want to buy groceries somewhere other than Wal-Mart, so yesterday we shopped at Cid's Health Food Market mainly for meat for the freezer, Smith's because they have a better selection of beer and wine than just Bud Light and Boone's Farm, and at the Red Willow Farmers' Market for veggies grown at Taos Pueblo. They had a sample of a cucumber called a Poona Kheera, originating from India. I heard a young farmer say, "They're Indian. Not us Indian, but India Indian."

 Sliced, it looked almost like an Asian pear, brownish skin with bright white flesh. A touch of sweet added to a distinct cucumber flavor plus a juicy crunch equaled a sale. I bought just one because I have cucumbers growing at home, but wish I had bought more than one of these India Indian cucumbers because it was that good, the kind of cuke you could eat right out of hand. I see they are (usually) for sale here, but currently sold out. I'm going to search for these seeds because I am absolutely cucumber smitten.

Before I went veggie shopping and fell in love, we stopped to eat at Orlando's which is quickly becoming my favorite place for New Mexican food. We ate outside and even with the cars rushing past just on the other side of the hedge enclosing the patio, it felt peaceful.

But I am hankering for a Poona Kheera right now.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Quilty Pleasures Wednesday-Unplanned Community, A Freddy and Gwen Inspired Quilt

Today it's a guest post by sis-in-law Pattie, quilter extraordinaire, the person who inspired me to start quilting. A couple years ago we went to an Empty Spools Seminar at Asilomar, California, for a class with Gwen Marston and Freddy Moran.  I'll let Pattie tell you the rest of the story:

 This quilt is a product of a Gwen Marston-Freddy Moran collaborative quilting class I took 2 1/2 years ago.  My quilting history has always been as a traditional and conventional "interpreter" of quilt design...i.e. I just copied a pattern and added my own fabrics, usually civil war or other 1800 repos.

Taking a Marston-Moran liberated quilting class was a huge step out of the box for me, so huge, it took me 2 years to complete the project.  Deciding on what 'parts' to use and how to arrange them without any absolute design threw me into creative anarchy: Anything goes....nothing is wrong...everything matches...there are no wrong choices....all colors and fabrics go together...the more the merrier.  There was only one rule: use some black and white to rest the eye once in a while.

In truth, I didn't feel very "liberated."  I felt like I had to make decisions based on my preference,  but what was my preference?  How do you build a quilt without dictated shapes, sizes, borders, measurements?

I had a plethora of block designs from Freddy and Gwen to choose from...houses, wonky stars, trees, pinwheels, four patches and even some really cute chickens!   I loved them all!  No fabric was left out; everything went together!

 Each time I sat down to sew I experienced a mixture of frustration and angst combined with manic euphoria. Over the course of 2 years I tenaciously struggled with my new found "liberation" and finally completed my "Unplanned Community," called that because there are lots of houses:) and because the only 'rhyme or reason' was mine.

That's the back of the quilt

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Growing Dome Update-So Far, Not Too Shabby

The Growing Dome has been up and running since the first week in May when I planted our inaugural crop of veggies. We chose the 18 foot diameter dome which is appropriate for a family of 2-3, but the dome people didn't account for hungry beef cattle who stick their heads into the side vents for a little snack. That's why some of the stuff I planted had an early demise.

This should be remedied soon, though, since we bought the posts and cement for a fence to keep out those living lawn mowers we call The Angus Boys. The plan is for an outside garden area along with a bee yard,  surrounded with a 5 foot barbed wire fence. When the bees arrive, Meg the Beemaster suggests electrifying the fence at night to keep out hungry honey hunting bears.

Even though there have been Angus Boy raids on broccoli, green beans, pepper and cucumber plants, I still consider the garden inside the dome a success. Come on in and I'll give you a tour.

Inside we have added a layer of shredded bark mulch to the floor, which is over a layer of metal mesh hardware cloth and weed barrier cloth. Makes it homey, I think.

I have the Earthboxes in front of the water tank. The tomatoes in there haven't done as well as the ones in planter beds along the perimeter. Could it be because I didn't follow the replanting instructions and forgot to add fertilizer? Nonetheless, we have had a supply of cherry and yellow pear tomatoes and all the cinnamon basil I want. I'm making pesto this week. On the right side are jalapenos and an Early Girl tomato plant that grew so big I had to prune it at the top and sides. Next year I will have taller tomato cages.

We've had a steady stream of these Early Girl tomatoes for the past month. I've had one of the big yellow tomatoes on another plant and more are ripening. I'm starting some arctic-cool weather tomato plants this week. We'll see how long I can extend the tomato season. I know I am insane to try this, but why the heck not?

This variety, Big Jim chile, is in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the largest pepper, growing to 12 inches long. They are mildly hot but aren't ready yet. So I can't tell you how hot that really means. I'll bet they will be awesome stuffed with a picadillo mixture of some sort.

These are the last 2 or 3 cucumber plants (and we've had a couple cukes a week), covered with blossoms and flowers. The other cuke plants were to the right until Mignon, the midget marauder, stuck his head in the vent. In front are the purple green beans, which we have eaten every which way. They've been producing for the past month and a half and I think this week I will pick the last of them since they are getting tired.

We have new green beans coming up for the next go-round on this side and its opposite. In the back are carrots. I just broadcast the seeds instead of making neat little rows.  I won't do that next time because it's too chaotic and the tops are a tangled mess, even though I thinned them. There's a new zucchini plant in there, too, along with two remaining yellow pepper plants. Earlier some cilantro grew there and now it's pesto, in the freezer.

The dome's water tank keeps it cooler, and since Tom hooked up the solar water pump, there's a peaceful sense of tranquility. Nothing like water therapy to make a body feel good.

Especially after you've had plenty to eat and drink.