This is the name of the machine (one of a number that is available) for turning frozen fruit into something the consistency of soft serve ice cream.


We got the basic, and as neither of us like the flavor of the frozen bananas we leave them out of the mix, just freezing summer fruits and freezing some plain greek yogurt in ice cube trays to add to the mix.

With summer berries in season, I’ve been freezing mass quantities of blue berries, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, even grapes.  I’ll also be freezing some cantaloupe and watermelon as the season progresses.

I’m not a fan of frozen food of any sort, while He has not been eating fruit in general, and loves his ice cream.  So this way he’s getting his fruit and I can always let it melt and add to my morning yogurt.  This technique uses the ENTIRE fruit, and while one can do the same in a Vitamix, if you only want one or two servings, its the easy way to do it.

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garden update

On a general basis, the garden hasn’t done as well as I’d hoped and expected.  There are a lot of reasons for that, not the least of which is a lot of experimentation with soils, growing conditions, etc.  There was a problem with squash seedlings, that lead to a late start with my zucchini, only now starting to produce.  The winter squash seedlings failed and had to be replanted.  Still haven’t solved the problem with blossom end rot in both zucchini and tomatoes. pretty much all my potatoes failed.  on the other hand, the flower gardens (not pictured here) all did very well which kept the pollinators coming.  Notes below on mulch product I discovered.

garden1 garden2 two figs – one on left is store bought and showing developing figs.  The smaller one was a bare root tree purchased on line and delivered early in the year as a 3 foot tall naked stem with bare roots.  Nothing happened for the longest time, but I kept it going and eventually, new growth came up from the roots parallel with the original (now clipped off) stem.  So hopefully I’ll have two figs.  Since these will be container grown, do not expect HUGE crops, but there is only me and he.

garden3 First time I’ve gotten pole beans planted yearly enough, at least I hope this was early enough.  Also planted them in a more shaded area.  maybe they should have had more sun?  No, think they’re good but time will tell.

garden4 garden5 garden6 Blueberry bushes, added mulch recently.  Each bush is a different variety and growing in slightly different conditions.  On the left, shade, lots of new growth from the base. Middle gets strong sun, no new growth from the base, but some from the existing growth. on the right, strong new growth from the base, good morning and early afternoon sun, gets into shade earlier than the middle one.

garden7 the Kiwi vine.  Started in a bright sunny location and was doing poorly, moved it into a shady location, but the heat turned on and thought it was going to die anyway.  Now, new growth.  So we’ll see on this one.  It might take the heat better once its established, it might not and die next year when it gets hot again.

garden8 garden9 Winter squash finally coming along.  Too late to produce fruit before the frost? hope not.  On the left is a spaghetti squash, on the right is a butternut.  Female flowers starting to form. These squash are growing next to each other, but not planning on saving seeds so who cares.

Have started mulching my plants for the first time ever. Discovered new product that is made from chopped up coconut husks.  Now I’m not a fan of the coconut coir stuff that’s sold in lieu of soil.  On the other hand, with the explosion of coconut products on the market (coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut water), what is going to happen with all that coconut hull and fiber?  So these 4kg bags of compressed coconut coir are added to several gallons of water (they say 4-5 gallons, I’m finding more like 6-8), and suddenly this block is a wheel barrow full of mulch.  With as basic as our soil is, the increase in acidity will be welcome for pretty much everything!


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making Ghee

If you are uncomfortable with the idea of canning butter, make and can up ghee instead.  Basically glorified clarified butter, you heat the butter so the solids separate and let it continue to heat so the water is evaporated off. skim off the stuff that floats  (easier when the stuff has cooled off. then reheat and skin off what ever comes up, if anything), ladle the clear oil into hot dry jars and seal, and leave behind the mess at the bottom of the pot. No further processing is necessary.  Ghee does not go rancid, has a long shelf life, and gives butter flavor when cooking without smoking.  Some people use it as a skin oil (not me though, so no experience with that).   I heated the jars and lids in the oven rather than with water as the idea is to keep water out of it. This was five lbs of sweet butter.  You can also use salted, and expect a lot of the salt to remain behind with the solids.  When butter is on sale buy it up and make ghee.




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end of june

Not the garden I’d hoped for this year, but, this year is far from over

garden2Rhubarb looking good.  The plant on the right was struggling, but has bounced back

garden3Flower garden doing better than ever.  I like the flowers as they attract pollinators.  Unfortunately, did not include a picture of my Bee Balm which is doing very well

garden4Guess this is some kind of Poppy. and there are a several other plants in this picture, including some Hyssop

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no picture update

Trouble with my zucchini and spaghetti squash seedlings equals poor plants.  And before the zucchini had a chance to recover, we zoomed into the upper 90’s / low 100’s.  Plant growth shut down.  Did plant some additional seeds, 5 or 6 to be exact.  3 sprouted, and one was eaten.  as I saw it was being attacked, fenced it in, but the fence was dug under and the plant eaten completely.

Of the 4 spaghetti squash seedlings, only one survived.  Planted 5 more seeds there, but only 2 sprouted.

Meanwhile, neighbors are keeping me supplied with summer squash. First gardening season, planted it all at once so they are swamped now and it will be over before they’ve frozen one piece!  yes, I’ve told her to FREEZE since she doesn’t can.

Second planting of chard hasn’t shown one sprout, so while we were out and about running errands, tried to find some chard seedlings.  No luck, but did find some butternut squash seedlings.  Pulled out my snow peas and planted the squash.

My third planting of bush beans is sprouting nicely. My pole beans are climbing their poles. The Wet spring gave us a very generous yield of purslane, we’ve been eating it twice a week. Today cooked some for the first time in a cream sauce with penne and grilled chicken.

Was given several pounds of apricots.  Gave some away along with instructions on how to make freezer preserves. While this is the first year I’m not the only veggie gardener in the neighborhood, I am still the only canner . . .  I seeded the apricots, added cherries and some apple puree to make fruit leather.  Unfortunately, let the mix burn so carefully poured off what I could, but that meant I lost a lot too.  Still a few apricots left.  If no one wants them, will just dry them.

Clouds this morning and there is talk of rain by next week.  Monsoons don’t usually hit here until early/mid July.  I’m working through what is in my water tanks, so it can’t come too soon for me!

My B’day present is here http://www.amazon.com/Patriot-Products-CSV-2540H-Gas-Powered-Shredder/dp/B001Q518XG/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1435091810&sr=8-7&keywords=patriot+chipper+shredder

No more putting our clippings and trimmings in the trash!  Clean up from our wood gatherings for the wood stove.  Mulch for the garden beds!!  I’m so excited! 

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garlic and shallots


garden1 not a lot of garlic, but there are only two of us and some of these are pretty decent size. Despite the weird color shift on the photo and lack of reference, the bigger bulbs are about 2” diameter and are from garlic purchased at the farmers market in the fall.  The small ones on the right are from Seeds of Change, Persian star is the variety

garden2Why grow onions when you can grow shallots.  From 1/2 lb purchased at the health food store two years ago, have 5lbs.  The first year’s growth was to create the starts that grew into this harvest.  This spring, bought some for spring planting, there were 8 good bulbs from the package of 12, and I’d say I’ve got enough “starts” out there for 20!  They’ll be this fall’s planting for next spring’s harvest.

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from cool and wet, to upper 90’s – literally overnight.  Tapping into the rainwater to take care of the garden.  Found this little sweetie among the purslane this morning.  I say it’s a gopher snake, someone I know disagrees, says it’s a night snake.  Notice it is NOT night!  Besides, I know this baby’s Mama.  It’s a gopher snake

garden1             garden2

Best year for purslane EVERY!  Last year was good, but this is insane! Remember, this is hot and dry AZ, not the moist forests of the NE or SE.  unfortunately, I let the morning glory be and last night clipped some of the purslane for our salad, and while chopping it up, realized there was a morning glory leaf in there too!!

meanwhile, the rhubarb is looking good, beans are forming on the first planting of bush beans, tomatoes and zucchini are forming. Something is eating the potato plants, just bare stems sticking up instead of lush foliage.  Neighbor gave us SEVEN summer squash the other day, and supposing some of our other neighbors got similar bounty.  This is the generous neighbor’s first garden, and they planted a lot all at once, no staggering the plantings.  Will they be surprised when its all done in a month and they have none in the freezer or anything.  Oh well, that’s how we learn

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