Saturday, August 1, 2015

Well, Hello!

It's been nearly a year since I've posted here and I just couldn't let the year mark pass without stopping in for a chat.

A lot has changed since last we met.

While we still have our dilapidated little farmstead in northern Arizona, it's no longer our primary residence. We returned to Gilbert, in the Phoenix Metro area, where I'm working at my old PR & marketing agency. I won't bore you with the why's and wherefore's -- we're here, we still have the old farm, we're all doing great. You're caught up.

We have lots of good things in our life here in the Valley (Valley of the Sun, for those who aren't Arizona natives), and we're glad we're here. This is a good move for us. What makes it OK for my heart and soul is knowing we've kept our little farmstead up north and are going to continue to love and nurture it so it will become a verdant little sanctuary for us and our future grandkids to enjoy far into the future.

What we don't have in Gilbert? Chickens, ducks, a garden, farm dogs, stubborn goats, grapes, honeybees, pigs, asparagus patches, fruit trees, lilac bushes or a clothesline.

We don't have our old horse Buddy in the neighbor's pasture.

We don't have fresh eggs.

What we do have: our old dog Sadie and two of our farm cats, Peter and his mother, Ophelia.

Awwwwww. This is Sadie in her younger years. 

She's 10 now and is showing signs of age. She's the reason there is a U Haul moving blanket path from Tanner's room to the back door, since she slips on the wood floors. We're going to be getting her booties that are used to protect dog paws from hot Arizona sidewalks, to see if that helps her get a grip. Then, she'll be able to move freely about the cabin, and I'll be able to see our beautiful floors again.

What we do have that helps me connect to our old life? My aprons!

I still love my aprons. This is one my Aunt Carol gifted me for my birthday one year on the farm. I wore these for countless canning marathons, wheat grinding and bread baking sessions, and general gardening and cooking. Donning them here in the Valley makes me feel connected to home.

The other link to our old life that brings me joy?  Farmers markets!

I just went this morning to the year-round (yeehaw!) Gilbert Farmers Market. It's a fantastic market, with produce, baked goods, scads of locally made food products, and an arts & craft market across the way. The whole shebang is under a water tower downtown. I love this market.

Food trucks line up at the market. I love the niches these truck vendors decide they're going to commandeer. Whether it's waffles, wings, or gourmet soups, there's always a great selection of offerings.

These little guys were at the market this morning sporting their Home Depot aprons.

They had all kinds of ideas about what their dad should pick up. He took their advice and went away with a nice haul.

Wrapped in those plastic bags are my 2nd favorite thing about this time of year -- fresh roasted green chiles! I may have been born on the shore of Lake Erie, but I've lived in Arizona since the summer I turned nine and green chile is now part of my DNA. Seriously. I think if someone looked closely, they'd find a chili molecule on my DNA strand.  

Tell me, who doesn't salivate when this is going on in their cast iron skillet?

These are the chiles I brought home from the market this morning, along with the fresh roasted garlic I bought from the same farmer.  And the already sauteed market onions. I wish I could share the aromas.

This is the farmer who was selling the chilis and garlic. (Don't mind me; I'm just going to keep toggling between chile and chili until I decide which spelling I prefer.)

I don't know his name, but I was glad to take some of his produce off his hands. 

Here is my little haul from this morning:

My pan and oil were already heating up on the stove so I needed to hurry and catch a photo then get right down to chopping veggies, which is my excuse for this poorly composed and blurry photo. Sorry about that. I'm a little out of practice.

This turned into a quick batch of green chile for huevos rancheros, and I also made fresh salsa. (My trusty blender died on me a few months ago, so I had to blend up these veggies with my stick blender. It was a little clumsy, but it worked.)

Remember how I said chiles are my 2nd favorite thing about this time of year? Well, here's my very favorite thing -- homegrown tomatoes!

I love just picked tomatoes. They are so flavorful and nothing like what you get in a store. We're heading up to the farm next weekend to water our trees and bushes and I'm hoping to score a couple bags of tomatoes that I can bring home and can. I can't express how much I miss our canned crushed tomatoes. While store canned tomatoes are good, again, they don't begin to measure up to home canned. 

As soon as I finish this post, I'm slicing up the squash, onions and garlic to sauté for dinner.  The tiny melons in the upper left corner will be chilled before we each get a few bites from them. We haven't tried them before but they smell wonderful, so I expect they'll be good.

I don't do it often, but I took photos as I made my green chile so I may post the recipe later. I'm not going to do it now, because I don't want my first post after our long hiatus to go on for six miles. Nope, I'll end it here. 

It's good to be back. I've missed hanging around these parts. I'd like to promise that we'll finally update my 64-year-old masthead up at the top of this blog, but I don't want to make promises I can't keep. For now, it'll have to sit still.

Hope all is well with you, and that we'll see each other back here again soon.

Love from the city,