I love life!

Hi, I am Jo and this is my blog about my life. Here you will find entries on cooking, gardening, food safety and the interesting things happening in my search for an inexpensive and healthy way of living. My home is located in North Florida and I am relearning how to take care of myself at almost 50. This is the deep South so my garden and season may be a bit different than yours. I look forward to seeing what you have to say as time passes. Read on and have a beautiful day!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hope in the Garden

Walking through the garden after work it was easy to see where parts of it were finished while others were just beginning to put forth the offerings of the season.

The Heirloom Serpentine vines are wilted and the frosts have not even begun. The dry weather has taken a toll and soon they will need to be pulled and will in turn become compost to nourish later crops.
Eggplant is still producing yet the harvest is slowing and the plants are no longer as vigorous as a week ago. The bright green has begun to fade and the lower leaves have begun to dry and wilt. The bean vines have long been dried with the dried tendrils still clinging to the trellises and swaying in the warm fall breeze.
Baby Broccoli
On the other end of the spectrum the broccoli s growing, the turnips are beginning to take shape and the kale is almost ready to be picked. The tomatoes are still going gangbusters as well as the arugula and the bright lights swiss chard.

In the garden the cycles of life are apparent. Always, something is dying as something else is springing forth. Rich thick compost is produced from the spent plants and becomes nourishment for those still thriving in the beds. It is a cycle that shows the balance of nature in an environment. Yet that is not the only lesson.
The lesson is that no matter what we do we can only extend the life of plants for a finite amount of time.  We can fertilize, water, coddle and prune. Yet that will only prolong the inevitable. Eventually, they too will expire and move on to another stage in the cycles that surround us.
So why garden then if all will eventually fade away? Hope. Planting a garden is a never ending belief that all will be well. This year the tomatoes will elude the horn worms. The squash bugs will not appear and water will be abundant- though not hurricane abundant. The veggies will thrive and the flowers will be awash in riotous blooms. It is that hope that keep me buying seeds, dreaming of bushels of produce and sweating in the sun.  

That hope in the garden translates into hope in other parts of my life filling me with joy and a feeling of expansion.

May you be hopeful and have a beautiful day!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Gratitude and Thanksgiving in the Garden

My garden in my place of refuge. When life is tough and the days seem to become a never ending relentless grind the garden is my quiet place and peaceful haven. My refuge from both the real and imagined tragedies of life.

It is in the garden that my mind can release my demons from the day or week. Those petty hurts, those mistakes made in haste and the painful frustrations of expectations not met. Those things that can   relentlessly eat at you all begin to dissolve into the warmth of the rich brown soil we have worked years to build. As the dirt runs through my hands a new beginning flowers and takes shape in my soul. For here I can have absolution and move forward into forgiveness of self and others and eventually into gratitude and grace.

The garden clears my head and puts the priorities of life into perspective. When issues seem tho have become intractable or so cloudy that there is no end in sight, no resolution to be sought, the garden offers clarity. The scents of earth and flowers or fresh dew and clean air can clear away the haziness of uncertainty. Answers slowly rise to the surface as if magically born on the tender leaves of the vibrant green plants.

The talks I have with the women who shaped me, my grandmothers, while digging and planting remind me of a loving childhood. I tell them of my day, how everyone is doing, ask them for help and then imagine the advice they would have given. A sense of oneness with those who have given their love to support me in the past envelopes me while working under the warming rays of the sun. Gardening for my grandmothers was part of life and survival and it makes me wonder if the garden gave them the same respite that it has afforded me through the years.

Gratitude. The garden allows gratitude to flow. The soil and sun give me an abundance of food and a place of comfort. It allows me a place to give thanks for beauty and to contemplate my life and the things in it that are cherished beyond all measure. My list changes as do the seasons and the weather. Yet my gratitude allways includes the love and forgiveness of my wonderful husband, the beauty of my grandchildren and children, the ability to see the grace that surrounds me every day and most of all the love of extended family and those that have left this earth and watch over me in the setting sun.

May everyone have a "gardening" place in their lives and enjoy Thanksgiving with those whom they love.



Monday, November 12, 2012

Pickled Peppers, Sauerkraut and Kimchi

Saturday was a busy day! After working in the morning the afternoon was spent making kimchi, 12 Quarts of pickled peppers and 4 pints of sauerkraut.

Could I manage to find my recipes for any of these items. Nope. Luckily, the Ball Blue Book worked for all but the Kimchi.

The recipe for Kimchi can be found at the david lebovitz living the good life in Paris blog. The address is here:  http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2008/02/a-kimchi-recipe/
Talk about a great post with awesome pictures!!! It is an easy to follow recipe and since there was no daikon in the fridge it was omitted.

It was awesome the same day and even better today. Thus my mom, who loves Kimchi, now has a quart finishing fermenting at her house. Though it must be admitted a small amount is stashed in the garage fridge.
The beer can smell the Kimchi but not me with my milk.

Sauerkraut is fermenting in the back room. Lovely, for hot dogs and pork later in the year.

The peppers, however, took 4 hours and a 15 year old food processor to make them happen. Let me just add 1 bushel of cubanelle peppers is A LOT!!! Latex gloves are a necessity!!!!

Plans for this week include starting dill pickles and bread and butter pickles.  Attempts for later this year include caponata ans spiced rum!


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Voting in Florida

Voting in Lee County

For those of you that do not know I live in Florida. Specifically, Lee County, Florida.

The one and only state where election time is chaos.This is my Florida and the situation is appalling.
My wait to vote was short. A mere 2 hours start to finish. It took less than 5 minutes of those 2 hours to fill out my ballot.

Seriously, it is Thursday and the count still has not been finalized and certified. Our county supervisor of elections, Sharon Harrington, did not plan for any contingencies.

According to the Ft. Myers News Press,50 count them, 50 voter machines in Lee County sat unused on election day. They had been programmed for training and for early voting and apparently Ms. Harrington felt they were not necessary thus did not reprogram them in time for the election. Collier County reprogrammed their machines. They had the highest voter turnout in S. Florida and maybe even the state and with minimal wait times! We had a lower turnout than in the 2008 election and several percentage points lower than the rest of the state.

Our polling station had ONE scanner. Roughly 3000 people in the precinct and one scanner. Polls were open from 7 am to 7 pm. It takes almost a minute to scan each ballot. That is 3000 minutes or 50 hours.  So if a large portion of the population voted early that would help, right? Wrong!
Even at 1500 voters that is still 24 hours needed with one machine. Even at less than a minute per ballot    it is still almost 18 hours in some places.

Basic math people!!! Get a calculator!!

Thus we had polls closing at 7 p.m. and people voting at 1:30 a.m.. Everyone who waited deserves praise! That is taking your vote seriously!

Sharon Harrington stated earlier today in a News Press article that she was not aware the ballot could be shortened by changing the format. Two things: 1) It is your job to know Ms. Harrington, and 2) You have been on the job 9 years. How could you not know?

I do not have proof to charge voter suppression and am just going to say that if that is not what it was then it shows the highest degree of incompetence. Though looking at the areas that had the most disenfranchised voters, mainly low income areas, it is an easy stretch to suppression. The rest of the state is not being addressed here - only Lee County.

This is not the only place where my views will be given and I encourage you to speak up as well. EVERYONE regardless of race, religion, political affiliation or income level deserves to vote. It is our duty to ensure that occurs.  

A very angry voter!