Falling into This Vlog Thing…

Im not sure if it is technically called a mini episode, introductory vlog post, or channel trailer, but it is now up on the A Slice of Southern Illinois YouTube channel!

The first vlog post features the crunching sound of fall leaves and a bit of the beautiful autumn scenery in Southern Illinois. Crafting with pine cones and leaves is discussed. There is a glance at the Events, Lodging, Shopping, Sites, and Tastes sections of the ASOSI app. An easy Pizza bread recipe starts the episode.

There are people, including friends and family, who read the blog from all over the world. I really wanted to share with people in climates that do not experience our four seasons a glimpse at what we sometimes take for granted.

I hope you enjoy the video. Please feel free to subscribe to the YouTube channel and share the link.

www.youtube.com/watch

Shrub Tasting

No, I wasn’t out chomping on landscape. Instead, I tried The Burning Bushes Shrub, one of the drinking vinegars, from Glacier’s End. I purchased some earlier in the season from them at The Marion Farmer’s Market. I had tried earlier in the year to get some at the Winter Farmer’s Market (Carbondale Community Farmer’s Market) in Carbondale, but it was always sold out by the time I made it to the high school to shop. That told me it MUST be good!

First, I mixed up a quick marinade for boneless pork chops and added about a tablespoon of the Shrub to it before I dried them off and breaded them…

Then I added a aplash to a vinaigrette for watermelon and arugula salad.

I threw it all together, drizzled on some marinade made by shaking it in a jar with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Then I tossed it  together with pieces of seeded watermelon, arugula, and queso blanco.  (Goat cheese, cotija, or feta would also have been good…) I would like to have added a bit of mint chiffonade for another layer of flavor, but I didn’t want to go out and pick it at the time…

I also mixed a healthy splash with some chilled club soda.

It was pretty refreshing. I decided I might like to add a bit of simple syrup for a bit of sweetness, but it was still good without it.  Adding a bit of white wine would probably work well too.

The Burning Bushes Shrub is a combination of elderberry, honeysuckle, strawberry, cayenne, and galangal.  I want to try Pearapple Rain next.  They actually make a variety of shrubs with unique combinations.

Links: 

Home

https://www.facebook.com/glaciersend/

You may wish to check the Glacier’s End Facebook page for updates and info on where to find the products. 

https://www.facebook.com/Marion-Farmers-Market-129111570446441/

http://www.carbondalemarket.com/

Please note that at this time, a new location for the winter market has not yet been announced. They cannot meet at the high school due to COVID-19 restrictions, but per their website, they still plan to return in December.

Mystery Solved: Those Pretty Pink Succulents

During my trip to the Marion Farmer’s Market this morning, I looked at all of the pretty succulents at The Potager Garden’s booth. I noticed that some had some pink on them.

Recently, there have been photos circulating on social media of gorgeous pink succulents. Friends and I have been trying to locate some. Searches have not really netted any results.

I decided to ask if there were succulents that just came pink, or if they could turn pink. Since I’ve bought several plants from The Potager Garden, I knew that the Christiansons were very knowledgeable of their plants and would have an answer. They did not let me down. Justin explained that sometimes succulents can get a bit of a sunburn that makes them pink. It doesn’t hurt the plant, but its color changes. The extra sun is necessary to “stress” the plant. I was assured that this type of “stress” is not hurting it though. Succulents with color beyond the basic green require more light to maintain vibrant. Otherwise, their color can revert back to green.

I decided to get a Pencil Cactus. Actually, I’ve wanted to get another since I lost my large one several years ago. I had one that grew to be a couple feet tall from a start my sweet cousin had given me on a trip to see family in Louisiana years ago. I was sad when I lost it.

In addition to the Pencil Cactus, I found some lemongrass and lavender–both for culinary purposes as well as the garden.

Unfortunately, I didn’t arrive in time to make it to every booth. Since we are still under many COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, what should have been a five minute ATM visit at the bank took about half an hour because the cars in line for the other lanes had blocked the ATM lane…

I was able to pick up some Burning Bushes Shrub, one of the specialty flavored drinking vinegars, from Glacier’s End. Although they had just sold their last container of coffee steak rub, I was happy to find Volcan, Costa Rican coffee beans, at Cold Blooded Coffee Co. Their lemonade was delicious too! It was much appreciated after walking around in a hot face mask/bandana. Even on a cooler day, those masks can really warm a person up quite a bit…

A Beautiful Day–to Drive Thru the Farmer’s Market

A multitude of well-behaved, socially distanced, people in cars paraded through the Carbondale Farmer’s Market this morning to shop local.

Vendors sold out of some things early. There were gorgeous flowers, plants, spring veggies, meat, eggs, and fur baby treats to buy. You could even pick up coffee, tea, baked goods, or some delicious-looking hot dogs. Even when forced to operate as a drive thru during a pandemic, the farmer’s market continues to be a treat for the senses. It operates on Saturdays mornings from 8:00 a.m. to noon at 2001 West Main Street in Carbondale, Illinois.

Warm Thoughts…

These were some of the first videos posted on YouTube by A Slice of Southern Illinois on the Slices of Southern Illinois channel.

It was a few summers ago, extremely hot, and as usual, the AC didn’t work in the house we were renting. The oven may or may not have been working, but when it’s already about a hundred degrees, who wants to add heat? So, we tried to make the best of it.

Yes, there is a learning curve to making videos. We are still somewhere on the bendy part…

Sundried Tomatoes Part One

Sundried Tomatoes Part Two

Ribeyed Fries

The New Carterville Farmers’ Market

Last Sunday, I finally made it to the Carterville Farmers’ Market in it’s new time slot. Since it now runs from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Sundays at Cannon Park, there was plenty of time to walk around and grab lunch at the market after church.

Although it was a pretty hot afternoon, I enjoyed looking at all of the different things and chatting with some of the vendors. Dee Ann Hammack, who manages the market, had invited me to come out and see the changes since my last time there. She explained that a few of the regular vendors were absent due to the 4th of July holiday, but there was still a good variety. Some of the items I saw were local honey, fresh veggies, artisan-crafted items, kettle corn, plants, live music, and even a chuck wagon with picnic tables.

Dee Ann and her husband, Mike, also operate the Thunder 5 Ranch Chuck Wagon, a farm to fork culinary experience that also sets up at the Johnston City Farmer’s Market. The rib dinner that they prepared for me was wonderful: ribs, corn, and zucchini and onions. I also really liked the special edition 4th of July bib custom made by Nammers Crafts for the chuck wagon. Super cute. The T5R Chuck Wagon menu may vary a bit from week to week based upon what they have ready in their gardens.

The market does accept EBT/LINK and Debit/Credit for transactions. EBT/LINK purchases are limited to items allowed by law such as produce, pre-packaged food, and plants that produce food. If you enter Cannon Park from Greenbriar Street, you will drive on around to the little drive/road just past the skate park that turns toward the market and park in the grass behind the vendors (unless directed otherwise.)

Mmmm….kettle corn

Thunder 5 Ranch Chuck Wagon

BBQ Ribs!

Zucchini & onions on a custom-made bib by Nammers Crafts

Did somebody say funnel cake?

Nammers Crafts

The Potager’s Garden

Music by David Campbell of Lamp Lighter Farm

Fresh veggies

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Since I had spent the past year kicking cancer’s butt, I didn’t grow as much fresh produce or herbs as I once did last summer. However, I did grow a few of my beloved San Marzano tomatoes (plants from the Carbondale Farmer’s Market,) basil, a bit of oregano and rosemary– and a lot of mint. This gave me some flavorful options: salsa, pestos, gazpacho, and more.

Above: San Marzano Tomatoes and Thai Basil

Below: Herb Pesto and a bit of Pico de Gallo sauteed with mushrooms.

So far this season, I have a little lettuce, thyme, oregano, parsley, basil cilantro, and an expanding mint patch. I still need to finsish areas for tomatoes, peppers, onions, lots of basil, and hopefully even watermelons…. and more flowers. I am a fan of edible landscape.

Mixing herbs and flowers and veggies can be a good thing. Consulting a companion planting chart might be wise if they will share soil. Essentially, some have researched the Native American practice of planting certain plants together that support each other’s growth. Tisquantum, also known by many as Squanto, acted as a lifesaving liaison to the pilgrims. Without his assistance and sharing his knowledge of companion planting and organic fertilization, food would have been much more sparse. What is referred to as the Three Sister’s Method involved planting corn, beans, and squash together for successful growth. Squanto also taught the new immigrants to plant fish with corn as natural fertilizer. People now also may use other organic material when planting such as egg shells and shrimp shells.

Above: Cayenne peppers

Below: Japanese Eggplant

Listed below are some common companion planting groupings:

Tomatoes/basil

Corn/squash/beans

Mint/peas

Onions/garlic

Garlic/roses

Some No-No’s/Plants that Don’t Play Well Together:

Dill doesn’t go by tomatoes, rosemary, sage, onions, peas

Tomatoes don’t go by corns, peas, beans, cucumbers, squash

Fennel doesn’t go with onions, parsley, asparagus, cucumbers, carrots, nasturtiums, marigolds

There are also some functional benefits to landscape gardens beyond beauty and food. Marigolds have been used for many years as a detourrant to wildlife eating gardens as well as mosquitoes when used as a border.

Below are a few plants and what they are known for repelling:

Marigolds- plant lice, mosquitoes, rabbits.

Above: Marigolds

Chrysanthemums- Ants, Japanese beetles, roaches, bed bugs, spider mites, silverfish, ticks, lice

Mint- spiders, ants, mosquitoes. (Will spread and take over an area quickly. Planters or separate patches are best.)

Below: Fresh Mint

Below: Basil-mosquitoes, houseflies

Citronella grass- mosquitoes and flying insects

Lavender-Gnats, mosquitoes

Chives-Japanese beetles

Petunias-beetles, leafhoppers, aphids, tomato worms

Above: Petunias

Bay leaves- flies, roaches

Garlic-beetles, root maggots, carrot root flies, moths,aphids

Rosemary-bugs

Above: Rosemary

I’m also a fan of repurposing or using unexpexted items as planters. A few things, usually at least tomatoes, tend to go directly into the ground when possible, but that also increases the prospects of weeds. I have previously turned old door frames and box springs into raised garden beds for more shallow-growing plants like my oregano, lettuce, and green onions.

In Southern Illinois, we are blessed to have a climate that allows us to grow many things. I am thankful for that opportunity.

It’s Porch Season

Spring is here, and throughout Southern Illinois, people are looking for excuses to be outside in the warmer weather. One way to do this is by making some easy updates to your outdoor living space.

I recently decided to tackle a few improvements to our front porch. My kids, and even my daughter’s boyfriend, helped do some editing and pitching of things that accumulate when it’s too cold and gloomy to do much on it. Granted, a power washer would do wonders, but that is yet to come. I hope…

Meanwhile, I decided that a few plants would bring some life and coziness to the space.

Fortunately, I saved my hanging baskets from last year to be reused. The Carbondale Farmer’s Market has already had a great selection of flowers and plants this spring. I’ve started filling the baskets with wave petunias from a local farm.

I also rescued some impatiens from a clearance rack at a local store. They really just needed to be dead headed and watered. Last year, I had painted my little bistro table chairs sea green and covered the table with a lemonade-ish colored thrift store cloth. Amazingly, I found a trendy striped trash “can” at a thrift store this spring that perfectly matches the chairs and tablecloth. So, I lined it with a plastic bag to protect the interior, added rocks for drainage, and planted the impatiens. It is now the living floral arrangement on the bistro table.

A goal is to make a cozy spot to paint on glass (or whatever I feel like doing to relax) when there is a nice breeze on the porch. Once upon a time, people spent more time relaxing and socializing on their front porches. We tend to hear more about decks now, but both are valuable outdoor living space. I hope to deal with our deck soon too, but at least one space now has a few fresh updates. I’m picturing a glass of refreshing sun tea poured over ice on the bistro table now…

A Community Tradition of Harvesting Memories

The Carterville Lion’s Club Free Fair kicked off this Wednesday in Cannon Park with the Farmer’s Market and runs through Saturday, September 8, 2018. This year’s theme is 105 Years of Our Tradition: Harvest the Memories. The Free Fair is a family-friendly event where many gather each year for some good, clean fun.

Friday evening features a 5K Twilight Glow Run and Poker Walk as part of the event festivities. Jackson Junction will be performing from 8:30 pm – 11:00 pm.

Saturday’s lineup includes a parade at 10:00 am, the Lioness Cake Walk, and Stride Pro Wrestling. Debbie Browning is this year’s Parade Marshall. Some of this year’s free events are a pet fair, children’s eye screenings, Identi-Kid services, Emery Brothers Roller Skating, a Ping Pong Avalanche, and hands on healthy snack and eating demos from the Carbondale Neighborhood Co-op Grocery.

Carnival rides, games, and bingo will be operating Friday evening and Saturday. Arm bands are $24 and single tickets are $3.

Additional info is available on the event’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/FreeFairPageant/