Sunday, July 21, 2019

Italian Zucchini Crescent Pie

 Jim, my barber, gave me one solution to all the zucchini I'll probably be harvesting this summer: an Italian "pie".

 I made it into more of a casserole (because I don't have a 10" pie pan) but the idea is the same.

 The zucchini/onion mixture is delicious with all the Italian seasonings. I think it would be equally good with potatoes. Tom said the recipe could serve as a vegetable pot pie and that essentially is what it is. A coupe of negatives: it is hard to serve (even with a flat serving spoon) and I found the crescent roll dough on  the bottom to be a big soggy.

 I added about a minute of the broiler on high to brown the dough on the sides but it really wasn't necessary.

 All in all, it's a good way to use up zucchini and that was the purpose after all.

 Here's Jim's hand-written recipe:

Meet Teacup

 Anyone who knows Tom knows his one true weakness is cats. He has two - Yoko and Mothra - and the names of those in his past seem almost endless. Tom's motto is likely "what's life without a cat?"

 Saturday morning Tom and I had breakfast in Germantown with Bob and then, per usual, came back here to play a hand of cards. When Bob left Tom stayed in the house and I walked out with Bob. I heard Bob say "Is that a cat meowing?"

 I told Bob it was likely a catbird. I hadn't heard it but catbirds are common here and their mewing is uncannily cat-like.

 But when Bob approached his truck he saw that there was a kitten in my garage. It wasn't there when we left for breakfast nor when we returned. It must have arrived while we were playing cards.

 Talk about good luck for the cat. It was a combination of right time, right place.

 I opened the back door and told Tom "there's a cat out here". He was outside almost before the words left my mouth. If cats are a weakness, kittens are kryptonite.

 At first the kitten would not come near us. It rain towards the barn and kept its distance. While I went in and did dishes, Tom got some dry cat food out of his car and began enticing the kitten towards the house. The cat was thin and probably starving and took the bait.

 Pretty soon I saw Tom sitting on the back porch, the cat at his feet allowing Tom to pet it. Yet another glance out a few minutes more and the cat was on Tom's lap.

 Tom figures the cat is about a month old. It's pure black with white feet. It looks a lot like Yoko.

 I sent a note to our nearby neighbor, Carla, to see if the kitten was hers. She has quite a few cats. But no.

 I took a bowl of water out but the cat would have none of it.  Later, when I began filling a bucket to water our plants, the kitten came and watched closely as the water filled the bucket. Clearly it recognized the sound of  water and wanted some. When I sat the bucket on the ground, the car crawled up the side and balanced itself on the lip, drinking delicately but long.

 Tom stayed on the back porch all afternoon. It hit 92° with high humidity. I could only take it half an hour at a time. But Tom would not leave the cat and began making plans to take it home. Late in the afternoon Tom drive to the grocery in New Lebanon and bought food for the cat. I became catsitter. The entire time Tom was gone the cat curled up under a chair and slept ...

 Tom's calling the cat Teacup for its diminutive size.

When Tom got home he sent me a note. We had placed the kitten in a large cardboard box and crimped chicken wire atop. "T tried to bust through the box and chicken wire before I got to the end of the road," he wrote. "I got her quieted down and she mostly slept with little protesting till we got to 275."

 "Then she found her way through the taped chicken wire as I predicted she would. I had no choice but to pull her out and try to hold her in my lap."

 "But she insisted on my neck and shoulder and that's where she stayed till we pulled up in front of the apartment."

 Tom placed her in an empty laundry tote and took her in,

 "Yoko initially didn't bat an eye," Tom said, "but now has resorted to hissing and sulking. Mothra has slunk off under the bed."

 Tom showed "T" the litter box and she used it. He praised her and he showed her the water bowls.

 Tom's note came at nearly 9 pm after a long day. "She has napped ever since," Tom wrote. "She's between my legs right now."

 He gave his cats a catnip treat - Pinehaven grown - and wet food, a real treat for them.

 "All is well and quiet," Tom  said.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Welcome Home, Neil

 This is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. We were on vacation (such terrible timing!) and I remember taking a small battery-powered TV with me and turning it on every now and then. As Armstrong landed on the moon, Dad had pulled into a grocery store's parking lot (near the corner of County Road 600 and Michigan 31 in Bear Lake, Michigan) and I watched intently ... what I could see on the postage-stamp sized black and white screen.

 That evening, as Armstrong stepped onto the moon, I joined the Studybaker's at their cottage and we watched on a full-size TV (but still black and white). I remember walking back to our cottage in the dark, looking up at the moon above a power pole and thinking the world would never again be the same.

 Fast forward to September 6, 1969 ... just 48 days have elapsed since the moon landing - and I am in Wapakoneta, Ohio celebrating Armstrong's safe return and a welcome home celebration at the fairgrounds.

Neil Armstrong,  39, speaks

 I took 31 slides that day, long ago an outdated media, and I've always wanted to see them again. Trouble is, my slide projector is broken. But many years ago Tom gave me a slide scanner, a way to get the slides into digital form. The scanner's resolution is just 3328 x 2216 but I'll post each slide, along with the captions Sheryl Clever (who I attended the celebration with) penciled onto each slide all those years ago.

The homecoming parade that day was estimated to have been attended by more than 80,000 supporters.Included in the celebration was Ed McMahon (Tonight Show), Bob Hope, Dr. Albert Sabin (polio vaccine) and Ohio Governor James Rhodes.

 Armstrong, of course, was born in Wapakoneta on August 5, 1930.He died August 25, 2012 in Cincinnati.

 Here are the slides and their original captions:

 It's hot - not raining!

Armstrong Homecoming - Getting Ready! 

Double exposure - My poster 

TV networks - from this truck 

Before parade 

Sheryl Clever 

Before parade 

Almost ready 

Oh, it's hot! 

Blimp coming - first pass 

Armstrong arrives 

Armstrong arrives - somewhere! 

A good parade float 

Blimp passes over 

Blimp passes overhead 

Comedian Bob Hope 

Ohio Governor Rhodes speaks 

Table - Left to Middle
Mr. Armstrong, Mrs. Armstrong, Jan and Neil 

Neil speaks 

Neil Armstrong speaks -
The Man on the Moon! 

Armstrong speaking 

Gov. Rhodes - left
Neil Armstrong - right 

Neil walks to edge of stage 

Neil speaking - and crowd (over 100,000) 

(left to right): Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong and Neil 

Armstrong (r) and son 

Neil Armstrong (r) presents plaque (photo of Aldrin on moon)
to Governor Rhodes 

Bust of Armstrong presented

Neil, father, mother with bust

Neil leaving 

All images Copyright William G Schmidt

Wednesday, July 17, 2019


 With almost two acres, mowing is a summer fact of life. And with all the spring rain, I've been averaging a mow every five days. It's critical that I have working mowers and a five gallon can topped with fresh gas.

 A few weeks ago I was mowing alongside the meadow, edging into it to cut the weeds and purposely expanding our lawn. That's when I hit a stump. My beloved John Deere (self-propelled walk-behind) stopped with a sickening thump.

 Tom was nearby burning logs and must have heard the commotion. I pulled the mower onto a cut area of the lawn and started it again. It started, all right, but it vibrated so badly I could barely hold the handle. And it ran at a speed I'd call "all out".

 So I called my mower repairman, Jay. We dropped the mower off (thanks to Tom's Prius; it won't fit in the trunk of my Cruze) and waited to hear back. Jay said the crankshaft was bent and he straightened it as best he could. A replacement part would have been $175 "You might be able to use it the rest of the season if you can stand the vibration," he said..

 Well, no I couldn't. And the high speed of the engine drank expensive gas at a frightening rate.

 After mowing a few weeks with it I found that my hands seemed to still be vibrating long after I switched the mower off. Gloves didn't help. The mower was simply unusable.

 Last weekend we looked for an inexpensive replacement. I opted for an entry-level Toro,

 I haven't mowed with it yet. It's been too rainy and now it's too hot.

 End of story? Nope.

 For the past few years I've noticed the Huskee lawn tractor misses and coughs some days when I'm mowing. I never quite figured out what the problem was. But this year it seemed to coincide with the hottest days. Last Saturday I was mowing ... again while Tom burnt limbs and logs ... and the mower started sputtering ... and quit.

 I've found that if I let it sit fifteen minutes or so I can usually get it started long enough to drive it back to the garage. I've had Jay look at it a few times but he didn't have success in finding the problem. I had him pick it up again.

 He mowed his own yard a couple of times with it. He took the cowling off so that he could quickly diagnose the problem when it quit. It didn't, so he called Huskee to see if they had any ideas. They said it was likely heat-related and removing the cowling kept it cool enough to prevent it quitting.

 There's nothing to do for it, Jay said, but mow with the cowling off. He sent me this picture:

 It looks a little like something you'd find in Dogpatch. But since it kept running for him, I suppose I'll mow with it configured that way. He returned it and didn't charge me a thing.

 So here is my current mowing equipment parked in the barn. One brand new mower and one on it's last legs. Can I get through the rest of the season now? Only time will tell.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

July 4 Picnic

 It's become a tradition here at Pinehaven to have a picnic of sorts on Independence Day. This year was no different, other than owing to the hot and humid conditions (91°) we had the main part of the meal indoors. Later in the day we went outside to the picnic table to enjoy our watermelon.

 And we had our picnic on July 5 as the holiday itself produced rain.

 I made Quorn veggie burgers in the microwave and melted half a slice of American cheese atop each. Tom picked fresh lettuce and chopped an onion for garnish. I slathered mayonnaise on both buns and added ketchup and  mustard to Tom's.

 Tom picked up four ears of Georgia corn from Aldi's on the way here and we each had a single ear. Tom loves real butter (unsalted) but I added both salt and pepper to mine. Delicious! I can't wait until we have locally-grown corn.

 Tom also picked up a watermelon from Aldi's and cut it with his special cutter. It produces "petals" of watermelon which are just the right size to handle. We shared the middle "core" which often turns out to be seedless. By the way, Tom prefers the taste of melons with seeds (to me it just adds to the work).
 Last year's round melon offered us ample seeds to plant and we have plants just now beginning to develop melons at the edge of the meadow in our new garden space. Maybe they'll be ready for Labor Day?

 Here's a side view of the slicer. We sliced half the melon at a time.

 Dessert? Tom brought a cheesecake sampler and we topped our slices with fresh cherries from Oregon.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Panko-breaded Oven-baked Zucchini

 Ah, here we go again: zucchini!

 It's better to be prepared when you plant these things. Is there a more fecund member of the plant world than zukes?

 This year, to save garden space, Tom and I opened a new area just east of the henhouse where we planned to grow just zucchini and watermelon. Let them spread! We had the whole of the meadow ready to accept their creeping vines and elephantine leaves.

 A couple of months ago we planted seeds in peat pots and egg cartons and transplanted them to the new area while still tiny things. But not for long. Soon the plants expanded and began their green colonization. Soon enough I watched the yellow blooms fade to green fingerlings and those tiny fingers expand to adult zuccinni almost overnight.

 June 30 produced this first zuke. I took it to Lois yesterday. "Oh, I'll take all you don't want," she said. Dangerous words, those! And I have Jarred, too, who says he can down a whole zucchini at one sitting.

 Today I found the second ready so I picked it and brought it inside for lunch, I made quick Panko-breaded oven-baked slices which certainly hit the spot.I ate three slices raw as I worked and baked another dozen.

 The recipe is this: combine Panko bread crumbs (maybe a cup) in a bowl with a couple of teaspoons of flour and a handful of shredded mozzarella cheese. I beat two eggs in another bowl for a wash (it actually serves as glue). I dipped each slice in the egg wash then dropped it into the dry ingredients, covering each slice, front and back, with my fingers.

 Any leftover breading should be spooned atop the individual slices (placed on a non-stick cookie sheet). I also drizzled the rest of the egg wash atop each. It makes for a crispy coating.
 I then salted and peppered each slice before baking. Italian seasoning would work well but I opted to keep the recipe as simple as possible. Bake at 450° for about 15 minutes.

 The resulting slices have a delicious crunchy coating atop. The zucchini don't become mushy in 15 minutes but they're clearly done. I had only four slices left for tomorrow's lunch. They'll heat nicely in the microwave oven.

 So, two down ... and surely a hundred to go before first frost.

Riches [Quote]