Tag Archives: Tomatoes

The vacation’s over

It’s a Sunday afternoon and a pretty good end to a vacation week. I’m sitting on our patio, under the oak tree by our pool, just enjoying a quiet summer Sunday afternoon.

The last three days of our vacation were uneventful. The weather was not ideal, generally cloudy and windy, with a few sprinkles.

This was a typical scene from our deck.

This was a typical scene from our deck.

Mrs. Poolman and I had a very nice anniversary (37th, thank you very much) dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, The Sundae Café. I had their Cajun shrimp and grits, and Mrs. P enjoyed lobster mac & cheese with broiled sea scallops. We enjoyed it so much, we went back for lunch the next day. Decadent, but hey, we’re on vacation.

The weather cleared up some on Friday and we got back out to the beach. But even on the cloudy days, we were totally happy just sitting on our deck with books in our laps. Enforced idleness is not bad.

We started moving stuff back to our house on Friday because I needed to be out the door early on Saturday morning. I didn’t want to leave Mrs. P with more of a load to move out than her own clothes and some of the leftover food.

On Saturday, I needed to assist my boss and his wife to take two couples on a visit to Wassaw Island one of our boat-access-only barrier islands. One of the couples had “won” the trip in a silent auction  that was part of a major fund-raiser gala for the University System of Georgia Foundation. We met up with them at 9 am and drove them to the south end of our island to meet our skiff and driver. The weather was cloudy with a few drizzles, but it wasn’t too bad. At least it wasn’t broiling hot with a ton of bugs. Our guests seemed to enjoy it. We saw nest with some juvenile osprey, a good size pod of dolphins feeding and more bits of nature on the island.

Our guide, Dorothy, in the hat, explains some of the island ecosystem.

Our guide, Dorothy, in the weird hat and blue shirt, explains some of the island ecosystem.

We did have the whole beach to ourselves.

We did have the whole beach to ourselves.

I was home by 4 pm and fairly tired.

Today I got the back yard and pool cleaned up and checked on my garden. I’m really happy with the way it is growing. After two previous unsuccessful efforts at growing tomatoes over the past several years, this little 4’x4’ plot seems to be doing well. Right now, we have more than 30 tomatoes in some form or another. None have turned red yet, but we are cautiously optimistic.

Grow, plants, grow!

Grow, plants, grow!

Hopefully these little fellas will turn red.

Hopefully these little fellas will turn red.

We also have two pepper plants that seem to be doing well. I’m really excited about tasting the first batch.

Back to work tomorrow. Sigh.

Let the summer begin!

We had a pretty slow, nothing-weekend, which was just great.

Both Mrs. Poolman and I had a four-day break –mine courtesy of two furlough days. The most exciting thing we did was to have some friends over on Monday for a pool-hamburger-and-brats “start of summer” party. We invited some folks who are not part of our usual group.  Mrs. P and I both agree we need to expand our social circle a little. We love our friends, but sometimes it seems we get into a rut.

I was talking with the husband of one of the “new” couples. His wife is another of our CCD teachers. They moved to Savannah two years ago and have not made friends as quickly as they would have liked.  We both agreed that it can be tough when you are our age (50s). In many cases, people who might seem like good prospects for friendship are already set in their social circle and aren’t really in the market for new friends. I seem to remember this being part of a Seinfeld routine at one point.

“Sorry, you seem like very nice people, but we really don’t have any current job openings for new friends.”

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On Tuesday, we did our good-deed of the week. One of our neighbor’s father broke his hip and is hospitalized. As Mrs. P says, “In the South, when there is a problem, we take food.” So I made up a double batch of chicken enchiladas and we took one casserole over to their house.

This is a pretty good recipe I blatantly stole from a flier attached to a can of El Paso Chopped Green Chilis. Muy bueno! We are eating our casserole tonight, so I’ll have photos of the cooked and served product. I’ll post the recipe tomorrow.

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And, it looks like my tomatoes might do well this year. Last summer’s batch really didn’t thrive, because (I think) they didn’t get enough sun.

Just getting started...

This year, I planted them in containers and can move them around as needed. It’s still too early to be getting any fruit, but five of the six plants are growing and appear health.

Our fingers are crossed.

Six-Pack Chili

The weather is cooling off a little, so it’s time to pull out some of the dishes we haven’t cooked since last spring.

One of the first meals I leaned to cook was chili. As a matter of fact, this is what I fixed for Mrs. Poolman when we first started dating and I invited her for dinner. (It’s not very romantic. I don’t know why she came back for seconds, but she did.) When I cooked it in college, it acquired the name “Six-Pack Chili,” because if you spice it up, you need a six pack of beer to wash it down. The trick is to make it tasty enough that you want to keep eating it, even though it has a kick to it. Of course, you don’t have to make hot. That is an individual preference.

Chili Web

Chili with some chopped onion and grated cheddar cheese

This recipe is very easy, which is why it’s a good beginner dish.

The key is in the chili powder and sugar, and cooking it long enough that it all melds together. We like to cook it down long enough so that it thickens and you can practically eat it with a fork. If you overdo it, just add some water. This amount will serve 2-4 people. Double the recipe for a larger crowd.

What you’ll need:

  • One large can of tomatoes
  • Two small, or one large can of kidney beans.
  • App. 1.5 lbs of ground beef.
  • A bunch of chopped onion.
  • Chili powder
  • Crushed red pepper.
  • A few spoons of sugar to taste

1. Brown the ground beef.

2. Pour the tomatoes into a bowl and smash them with your hands.  (Lot’s of fun, but watch out, they squirt.) Alternate plan – puree the tomatoes in a blender or food processor.

3.Drain the ground beef.  Add the tomatoes, onions, and beans.  Pour a liberal amount of chili powder to the mixture and begin to cook.

4. Add a small amount of crushed red pepper. You can add more later as per your taste.

5.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer uncovered, but you might want to put a lid half-on just to keep down the splatter. It will start out very soupy. We like to cook it down until it is fairly thick.

6. Continue tasting and adding chili powder and pepper. With a little practice, you can tell the right amount by the color of the brew.  It should be a rusty brown, not red.

7. Check for bitterness. Add sugar to reduce the bite and bring out the flavor. (Sugar in chili? Sure! I know people who actually use chocolate. The idea is to diminish the tang created by the tomatoes and allow the base flavor to be the beef, beans and spices.)

You can serve as-is or with chopped onions, grated cheese and/or hot sauce to spice it more.

“Bend over,” a treasure trove found, and a small success

I had a physical exam yesterday. There was nothing wrong, just something you need to do from time to time. My family physician is woman in her 30’s. As I am no longer a youth, of course the exam included the dreaded prostate exam. Prostate 3I guess most guys would rather die a thousand deaths than have a prostate exam, let alone one by a woman doctor. Actually, it didn’t concern me much one way or another. My doc does have a sense of humor though. As she was gloving and lubing up, she said.

“You know, there are advantages to having this done by a woman. I have small hands!”

Ha! She was right.

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Both Mrs. Poolman and I are avid readers. I read fiction for entertainment and occasional non-fiction, usually history or politics, for knowledge and stimulation. The problem is that I am basically cheap. I want to read the new bestseller, but I hate dishing out $30 for a new hardback. My solution is the library. We have a branch of the county library system around the corner from us. I won’t say I’m there often, but when I do walk in the door, the librarians know me by name. The problem is that the county library has only a very limited selection of what you would consider popular selections. Usually you have to order them and get on a reserve list. You can’t really “browse” like you might in a Barnes & Noble or Borders.

In the past few days, however, I have struck readers-gold. Library aI discovered a community library near where I work that is stocked with tons of the popular authors. Some background – the research lab where I worked is located on a coastal island, most of the rest of which is taken up by an upscale, gated golf community with roughly 8,000 residents. This community library is located in the little shopping area near their front gate. I believe that most of their collection is comprised of books donated by the community residents. And it is well stocked. For example, our neighborhood library may have three or four volumes of John Grisham’s novels. This library has more like 30.  Plus, they have a great selection of audiobooks on CD which I like to use on road trips.

I think I’m in love.

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We have finally achieved tomatoes! Tomatoes aThree and a half months after planting them, my tomato plants have finally put forth some edible fruit. There aren’t many of them and they are small, but they are fresh from the garden. Next year I really do need to find a planting spot that will get more direct sun.

X-rated gardening

I have to confess. I have not been faithful to my wife. I have been spreading the pollen around to ones other than Mrs. Poolman. Funny thing – she doesn’t mind. The secret is out. I have been having sex with my tomato plants. Tomato 1

It’s been more than 20 years since I had a serious garden, but this year, I thought I would try some tomatoes. I planted these babies in mid-May. They have had plenty of water and fertilizer. I think I’m still missing two key ingredients. The first is enough strong sunlight. I thought I picked a good place to plant them, but I may have been wrong. Too much shade. Right now I’m looking at five plants, all a leggy five to six feet tall, but with only a few blossoms and maybe six small, green tomatoes.Tomato 2

The other thing that is missing is bees. We haven’t had a bunch of them this summer. I’m not exactly a horticultural expert, but as best I understand, the tomato plants need the bees to cross pollinate the plants. Otherwise, you get all flowers and no fruit. That’s where the tomato sex comes in. I don’t know if it actually works, but the idea is that you use your finger to rub the flowers from one plant to another, spreading the pollen among the plants as you go. Tomato 4

I hope it works, because Mrs. Poolman and I dearly love home-grown summer tomatoes. She’ll even forgive the temporary unfaithfulness for a fresh tomato sandwich.

Was it good for you my darling?