I'll Meet You There ...

Tuesday, May 14, 2019


This recipe hails from Bob’s Aunt Vivian Smalley.

Vivian grew up on Altoona Road, once a fishing/cannery community on the mighty Columbia River, but she lived in Eden Valley after she married Bob’s Great-Uncle Oris Smalley – in the house his pioneer family built and where he was born (https://jeastofeden.blogspot.com/2019/05/a-sentimental-journey.html).

This picture of Vivian was featured in the Longview daily News in 1981 highlighting a few of her famous recipes ;-)

She was a quiet woman.

She was an excellent cook – people for miles around/out-of-State ... and even overseas ... ordered her specialty cakes; and she cooked meals in quantity for local bachelors to take home and freeze.

Vivian was a great lady. She is greatly missed.

Tonight with the rain falling so hard, I felt like whipping up one of Aunti VI’s comfort food recipes … eating 1 portion, and dividing/freezing the other 4:

This rain is very welcome; I can’t wait to check out my rain barrels! (https://jeastofeden.blogspot.com/2019/05/rain-has-arrived-d.html)
Lining the foil container with a sheet of foil, which was trimmed to slightly overhang the crimping edge.
Filled foil container with 1 Beef/Noodle Skillet Meal & a handful of homegrown French Fillet Green Beans, covered with a sheet of plastic wrap and topped with a plastic dome lid: plastic wrap cut to slightly overhang crimping edge.
Dome lid securely crimped in place over the plastic protected meal.
4 prepared Ready Beef n’ Noodle Skillet Meals wrapped and destined for the freezer: Beef/Noodle Skillet w-Vegetable Medley; w-homegrown Broccoli Florets; w- Peas; & w-a handful of homegrown French Fillet Green Beans.
4 Ready Beef n’ Noodle Skillet Meals bagged with Ziploc Freezer bags and ready for the freezer ;-)

This simple recipe is like Hamburger Helper, and it makes up very quickly.

It is also delicious ;-)


BASIC SAUCE MIX: ¼ cup Flour * 1 Tablespoon grated Parmesan Cheese * 2 Beef Bouillon cubes or 2 teaspoons Beef instant Bouillon granules * 1 Tablespoon non-fat Dry Milk crystals * 2 teaspoons minced Dry Onion * pinch of Garlic Salt

Mix ingredients together.

Enough for 1 Skillet Dinner.

SKILLET DINNER PREP: Brown 1 pound of ground Beef, & drain on paper towels to defat.

Stir in: 3 cups water * 1-1/2 cups UNCOOKED Noodles of choice (I used large Elbow noodles) * 1 recipe of Basic Sauce Mix

Stir and heat to boiling.

Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until noodles are tender – about 10 minutes.


I woke up to the sound of rain falling gently on the rooftop.

Man, was I excited!

And I smiled big and wide thinking of the raindrops sliding down the roof and running along the gutters to fill the rain barrels :-D

The veggie garden boxes are being thoroughly watered and the barrels are filling.

Full rain barrels mean satisfied, healthy vegetable beds … so I am not complaining about the falling rain today:

Slow rainfall - but it is raining! The barrels are filling; when the rain stops, I’ll lift the lids and pour the gathered water into the barrels … if there is room :-D

I padded down the hallway towards the kitchen to plug the coffee pot in for hot water for my morning tea, and caught this view from the alcove window off to my right …

I LIKE seeing that ‘For Sale’ sign planted on Ron's Space!

I am happy to see that sign waving in the gusts that blow off the river, but, WHY couldn’t Ron Cook have sold and beat feet BEFORE he killed my husband with his envy and petty ridiculousness’s?

5 months, 6 hours and 1 minute today.

It still feels surreal.

Shaking off the mental fog (aka: widow’s brain fog) that threatens to set in, I plugged in the coffee pot and padded back to the bedroom to make the bed and get dressed.

Plumping the bed pillows and glancing out the bedroom window, my eyes rejoice at the vigorous show of green growth in the Pea Garden Box:

On the left side of the Pea Garden Box, is Maestro Shelling Peas climbing the trellis, caged Patio Snacker Cucumber, & Cannellini Beans showing. Bonanza Marigolds are planted in the box also. The Green Bush Bean is not up yet.

I planted vegetables this year that are small and compact because my gardening space is pretty limited here. With an ache in my heart, I recall that Bob loved to eat peas right out of the garden, so for 40 years I have made sure to plant extra peas in my gardens so I would have some to put away for winter meals – now that is no longer a concern: I should have plenty of peas to harvest and freeze/dry this year. Maestro only grows 22 inches tall and probably won’t even need the trellis I staked to the box, but with the high winds that blow through here I thought a trellis would be wise.

I am going to miss seeing Bob standing in the pea patch shelling and eating peas where he stands.

Patio Snacker Cucumber is supposed to stay within a 24” – 36” radius, and vigorously pump out 7” long bitter-free fruits. I have never grown it before, so we’ll see ;-) 

I have never grown the Cannellini Lingot beans either, but many of the recipes I want to try are calling for it and I can’t seem to find them in the grocery stores here … so I decided to plant my own. This is a bush type bean that should top out between 22” – 26” tall. It is a drying bean, so will stay in the garden until it is dry enough to shell.

On the right side of the same Pea Garden Box, Snow Peas are matching Maestro for growth, and I see at least 1 Romano Purpiat Bean sprout peeking up over the box lip …

Snow Peas & Romano Purpiat Beans showing; the Yellow Wax Bean is not showing yet.

Little Snowpea White will grow twice as tall as Maestro, it’s 40” height will definitely need the trellis staked to the planter box. If the gusty winds get too brutal, I may even have to tie it to the trellis at intervals to keep it from falling over and breaking. This is a stir-fry pea. I make a LOT of Asian meals because my husband liked Asian themed meals. Bob’s lineage was {Black Finn}, meaning his Finnish ancestors had Mongolian DNA, which accounts for his strikingly handsome features; especially his eyes which had a slight oval slant to them and totally mesmerized me ;-)

When he tanned, as he did because he was an outdoorsy person; he tanned to a deep burnt chestnut, which some would consider ‘black’ skin. No doubt he got his height from his European ancestors, but the eyes – though Hazel with gold flecks around the iris  were pure Asian. His naturally tanned skin was beautiful. Our daughter would naturally tan this deep chestnut too:

Bob was a beautiful person – inside and out: an altogether handsome man. I feel blessed to have shared 44 years of my life with him.

The Romano Purpiat Beans are a bush type bean also – only 24” tall and compact. The plant is reported to have deep violet stems, showy lilac blossoms, and ‘lustrous’ purple pods: it should be quite striking in the garden among all that greenery! I have never grown this particular bean before, and I am pretty excited to see it in all its reported glory :-D

In the next garden box over, I can count 8 of the planted 16 Kandy Corn showing itself.

I have been growing Kandy Corn ever since it was marketed. Kandy Corn is a hybrid corn and I grow it because it is really the only corn that successfully grows to harvest in our region. The plant is not very tall – only about 7’ at maximum growth – BUT it packs a wallop in productivity, and is striking in the garden with its burgundy enhanced stalks …

The Spaghetti Squash has not yet pushed through the hill soil.

And next to the Kandy Corn Garden Box I can see from the bedroom window that the burgundy colored Mascara lettuce, and the bright green Tom Thumb & Little Gem Lettuces are starting to show themselves in the Tomato bed:

The Deer Tongue Lettuce may be up too, but I can’t see it as readily from the window as I can the others

Mascara is a dark red oak-leaf type of loose-leaf lettuce. I like it’s contrast coloration in my green salads, and it holds up well in the garden – even when the temperature spikes the leaves don’t wilt and the color doesn’t fade. It doesn’t readily bolt, and it doesn’t get bitter. What more could you ask of a lettuce?

I used to wear burgundy mascara (as well as Hunter Green) in my younger days: my husband was a good sport and wisely gave his teenage wife room to grow at her own pace. I was so lucky to have such a husband. I sure miss him.

I have grown Tom Thumb lettuce in my gardens since it was marketed too. It is a compact butterhead lettuce that is perfect for a single serving salad … and I am solo now, so it was a natural selection in several ways for my garden this year. This is a 2-tone green salad lettuce with lighter interior leaves and darker outer leaves. It is only about the size of a large baseball at maturity. It’s really cute in the garden, and almost a shame to harvest and eat it. LOL

I like a variety of lettuce textures in my salads. Little Gem lettuce is a miniature Romaine lettuce that maxes out at around 4” diameter & 4” – 6” tall. Perfect for a solo meal.

Bed made; and jammies switched out, I padded back down the hallway to the kitchen to get my first cup of tea; normally I have coffee, but today I feel like tea. I could not find Natra Taste Sugar Substitute I normally buy/use in any of the stores I grocery shopped this past week, so I had to settle for Stevia because that is ALL any of them had stocked. Seriously.

And I have to say, I do NOT like it at all!

Stevia is really sweet – too sweet for my liking. It leaves an aftertaste too that I don’t like. I still have another 190 packets to suffer through; I hope and pray the stores go back to stocking Natra Taste again …

Stash Tea is a pretty strong tea – even the decaf tea, which I have to drink because caffeine makes my heart race. Just a third of one of these little Stevia packets is enough to sweeten a cup of tea: for me, anyway.

Then I walked into the livingroom with my hot cup of tea warming my hands cupped around it to survey the Veggie Garden Boxes at the front end of the house; and am rewarded with more warm and fuzzy gardening blessedness as I see those flourishing gardening boxes:

11 ct of the 12 ct Painted Mountain corn showing - this is corn for the birds. No joke.

Eleven of the planted 12 ct Painted Mountain Corn is up: I planted this corn primarily for the birds. The brilliantly colored Painted Mountain Corn is field corn. Some people like to eat it … I do not. I may dry some of it and grind it into a rough flour to thicken my Winter stews with, but on the whole, the bulk of this harvest will be dried and roughly chopped in my blender to add to wild bird feed for the bird-feeder this Fall/Winter. The stalks of this corn are quite short, topping out at between 4’ – 5’, but they will still be taller than me because the garden box is about 18” tall and that will add to the stalk height in relation to my height. I don’t think the harvest of this corn will be very significant as  EACH STALK only bears {up to 2 narrow 7” cobs}: that is not a very high percentage of gleanings.

The up-ended forks in all the gardening boxes are to keep the neighborhood cats from using my garden boxes as their personal litter boxes.

Last, but not least, the 3 Onion Garden Boxes are all showing growth very nicely. Each garden box holds between 28 ct to 30 ct onion starts ...

This particular Onion Garden Box is filled with 30 ct. Red Wing Onions doing well. The 1 box of Walla Walla onions, & 1 box of Ringmaster onions are doing well also.

At the beginning of last summer, before Ron Cook and Candy Scott’s hellish ridiculousness changed the course of our lives, I had planted several Hens & Chicks around the base of the ornamental maple tree out front. I later learned that these succulents are edible. Who knew? They have always just been an outdoor ornamental to me and everyone else I know.

So, I am going to give eating it a try this year and see what all the excitement is about ;-)

Hens & Chicks - or ‘Houseleeks’ as they are known in Europe: http://rawedibleplants.blogspot.com/2012/04/common-houseleek-sempervivum-tectorum.html

Tea drained, and my warm and fuzzy gardening euphoria sated for the time being, I padded back to the kitchen to make/eat a Cheese Omelet w/homemade White Bread Toast breakfast; after which I set out bread ends for drying: when completely dry as a bone, I will crush them.

Bob and I used to save the bread ends to throw to the ducks along our Dike Hike, but I really don’t feel like doing that at the moment.

It will take time to get back into the swing of doing things solo that we used to do together, I know. But right now, I just cannot do the Dike Hike without him.

So, these bread ends will be crushed to make homemade bread crumbs:

And I added yesterday’s dried coffee grounds and tea leaves to the dried grounds I will spread in my garden boxes to keep the worms happy so they keep working for me ;-)

While I can garden here at the Park, which I am thankful for, and for which Bob lovingly designed and built me these gardening boxes …

Bob designed and built these garden boxes for me as soon as we started setting up house here at Heron Pointe Park. My husband knew me so well, and understood my style. The plan was for 14 boxes: he designed and built 5 large boxes and 8 small boxes – the 9th never got built because he was killed before he could get to it.

… I have to be careful of how I garden. For instance, I can compost – but not with veggie garden refuse: flower garden refuse only, and paper shreds. That kinda hampers my composting abilities here.

But I understand why.

I don’t want rats scavenging my Space here either.

So, I will be a good girl and stick with the flower bed refuse thrown in my Veggie Garden Beds along with the shredded paper waste to break down and enhance my soils: it will take longer, but it will end a lot of bitching too.

And bitching needs to be kept at low levels.

Over excessive, and ridiculous bitching by the Park morons last summer, is what directly led to my husband’s death.

And I don’t want to give Ron Cook or Candy Scott ANY reason to start bitching again this year, though I don’t think they could top the outcome of their bitchfests last year. Just sayin’.

((((Thank YOU Babe)))) for the gardening boxes – I will do you proud :-D

Love you Babe.