1. I made my first batch of mozzarella cheese yesterday. I'm very disappointed and whiny about the whole thing. I wasted a whole gallon of really good organic raw milk that I drove a good distance to acquire. The people who say cheesemaking is much easier than yogurt-making are wrong and they should have to write that on the chalkboard 110 times, RIGHT NOW. And the directions in the little booklet that came with the cheesemaking kit I sent for are terribly ambiguous. Worse, they are gleefully described on the package to be SO EASY A 7-YEAR-OLD can do it, exclaims one testimonial.
Well, I suppose that's me and Sarah Palin: Not smarter than your average 7-year-old. I can never figure out what so-called universal symbols are supposed to mean, and I can't make mozzarella like any old 7-year-old should be able to do. Let me see if I can remember how to tie my shoes... hm. I'll have to get back to you on that.
(Take out a colander, it says, but then doesn't have an instruction in which you use a colander, for example.) (Add the dissolved rennet, stirring in an up-and-down motion. WTF does THAT mean?) (Drain the floating whey off the top. But if you try that, the curds go down the drain with it.) (Ladle the curds into a bowl. They had not said to take out a ladle, but a slotted spoon -- and chasing the little curds with the slotted spoon in all that whey is like trying to get guppies out of a 100-gallon murky fish tank using a salmon net.) I finally said $%#&* *^&%##% (come on; are you surprised?), and poured it into the colander that the instructions had TOLD me to take out, but without telling me what to do with it, to drain the whey off the curds. And when it comes to the addition of salt, the quantity specified (1 T.) MUST be wrong, because that cheese is so salty I can hardly eat it. VERDICT: Mozzarella-making is fiddly, MUCH more complicated than making yogurt, and though I will probably try it again someday, I will not jump to make it again tomorrow. I'll use my good milk for yogurt or ice cream and just buy my freakin' mozzarella.
2. Yesterday was July 1, and Mr. Jefferies had had a haircut the day before. Poor l'il dude was shivering so much yesterday afternoon (high temp in the mid-60s F) that I had to put his alpaca sweater on him. That's just not RIGHT.
4. The strawberries I planted seem to have been asleep, sitting dormant, not doing anything, looking like they are not thriving, but just (barely) BEING. I felt it was probably a pH problem, and since my soil is often on the acid side (though this soil is the bagged MooDoo potting soil, so I really don't understand why it would have a pH imbalance, but there you go) last week I gave most of them a little feeding of lime. They seem to have perked up a bit since then -- some of them, anyway. But they are still not bursting out with a joyful rendition of "I Feel Pretty!" as they should be.
Ditto for the peppers. JUST.SITTING.THERE. I thought I gave all of the peppers some lime and bone meal last week, but as of yesterday three have sort of taken off and three are still JUST.SITTING.THERE looking anemic and pathetic, like they are out on the frigid corner of a building in January for a smoke break, rather than sitting in the beautiful peninsula garden of expensive soil and sun I made JUST.FOR.THEM. Ungrateful snots. I guess I need to get out there and give them some lime, too. And perhaps some fertilizer. Maybe all the rain has leached out the nutrients from the soil; I don't know.
5. I've spotted my first Japanese beetles. Gardengeddon.
6. I have planted bush beans four times. It is not a good story.
If they deign to germinate, they either seem to rot at the base (or something is eating their roots) or get eaten by something when they are in the cotyledon stage. These are the few that are hanging on so far, but they don't look well.
I'm having my usual unimpressive results with pole beans. Sort of like the people who yelled that cheesemaking was EASY compared to yogurt (Yes, I'm bitter; why do you ask?), the people who shout out that pole beans are superior to bush beans because they produce all season are just plain WHACKED.
They just SIT there and SIT there. Slow growth, and I do mean S-L-O-W. This is always the case with me and pole beans. They just don't LIKE ME. I'm starting to get a complex. The gardening books say these things start producing right away and produce all season as they grow up the pole, and Jack will be climbing the beanstalk and bring me back the golden ticket from the chocolate factory. Wait. I think I'm mixing up my stories a little bit. But those people and their pole bean fairytales are JUST.SO.WRONG. Pfffffft.
7. I fear that I can see the telltale early signs of the squash vine borers, and I'm sick about it. Freaking moths. I'm hoping it's just my imagination and I'm holding my breath. What a shame if we managed to keep away the beetles and the bugs, and yet our squash still got ruined by the borers. Gahhhhhhhhhh.
8. My sinuses are taking a wee bit of umbrage with the level of dairy eating I've been doing. They are my own little "off" switch to stop me from overeating the ice cream, so I can't just sit and down those incredibly complex and delicious and adventurous flavors all day.
But there is some good news!
1. Not one cucumber beetle has been seen, nor squash bug, except the one cucumber beetle I killed. The nasturtiums have worked WONDERS in that regard.
2. Is there anything cuter than a baby cucumber in bloom?
3. We're eating delicious broccoli!
And beets and radishes and asparagus and lettuces and onions and black raspberries and Swiss chard. It's really more than two people can possibly eat. I've been giving some to my mom and the neighbors. Soon the many cabbages I planted are about to take center stage. I don't have any idea how we're going to eat them all. Please do not suggest kimchi or sauerkraut. I do.not.like either of those, even though I would love to love them. I love the idea of them, and I could totally see myself wasting days and weeks and months (or however long it takes to make that smelly crap) making it, only to throw it away because I can't tolerate it. So it'll be fresh or braised or cooked with root veggies and corned beef or something, and SHARED. A lot of it will be shared.
4. See #8 above. The sinuses are keeping me from overindulging in all the most amazing flavors of ice cream I've been making. OK, it's only been two. I made two batches of orgasmic rose petal ice cream and one batch of orgasmic strawberry-basil. You want my honest assessment? ORGASMIC. But beyond that, the basil ice cream base BEFORE I put in the pureed strawberries, was OR-GASSSSSS-MIIIIIIIICCCCCCC. Next time, I'm going to forget about the strawberries and just make basil. I know it sounds strange, but you have to believe me: O. I'm not even kidding.
But, thank goodness for my screaming sinuses. Otherwise I'd gain back all the weight I lost over the winter, and PLUS have to work out 13 hours a day.
So see? It's all good, even the bad.