Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Why I need lists...

Seriously people. One time I brave the grocery store without a list and I BOMB it.

I haven't meal planned in cough cough a while so today on the way home from Sky View, I decided I could throw together Taco Soup easy enough. The only thing I would need at the store was tortilla chips. Well, you guessed it. Instead of paying $1.88 at the Lee's checkout stand, I payed $22.38. Grrrr...

Check out the picture. Its a nice assortment of CRAP food. NOTHING (besides the chips) to help me with a meal.

Here's the break down:
4 Pillsbury cake mixes (on sale at least!)
3 12-packs of pop (also on sale!)
2 bags Santitas tortialla chips
1 gallon of milk
1 jar Chad's raspberry salsa
...and a partridge in a pear tree...

Wait a minute.. Raspberry salsa??? What the huh? Okay, but honestly, they had a sample of this stuff and it is seriously to die for. I lost all ability to reason and HAD to buy the salsa. I'm calling the purchase research for next canning season.

I was also able to justify the pop purchase - next week Flint has finals so I'm calling it a Finals Week Survival Gift. Cuz I'm so nice like that :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Turkey Trivia Answers

Alright folks, here are the answers. Now go impress someone at your Thanksgiving feast with your amazing knowledge ;)

1. How fast can a wild turkey run?
25 miles per hour
2. A mature turkey has how many feathers?
3500 ...or so... :)
3. How many million pounds of turkey are consumed during Thanksgiving each year?
525 million pounds
4. What state produced the most turkey?
North Carolina
And last of all...
5. Can a turkey fly?
Wild turkeys CAN fly, but only short distances. Domestic turkeys canNOT fly. 

All information came from here:
http://www.baltimoremd.com/content/turkey1.html

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dinner Tonight: Spaghetti

Okay class, its time for the spelling bee.
Can anyone tell me what S-P-A-G-H-E-T-T-I spells?
Spaghetti? Um, nooo. Any other guesses?
Yes, that's right S-P-A-G-H-E-T-T-I spells EASY!
Great job and thank you!

During September I bottled tomatoes one day. It made a huge mess, was exhausting, etc, etc, etc... And then my tomato plants had the nerve to produce MORE tomatoes! How rude of them! Okay, okay, I was actually ecstatic with the abundant production of my four plants. But after making a huge mess one day, I couldn't justify making the mess over and over and over for just a few tomatoes at a time. So.... I froze them! Yep, I froze tomatoes. Have any of you ever tried this? I got the idea from good old Martha but changed the baking temp and time a little. Basically, you halve the tomatoes, arrange them on a oven-safe cooling rack and bake them at a low temperature for a long time to dry them. I am sure you could also just use a food dehydrator. I did mine at 250 degrees for about 2 hours. I also sprinkled them with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning - ready for spaghetti sauce! Once they are dried out (they still remain fairly mushy), throw them in freezer zip-loc bags and into the freezer! It worked out perfect for preserving my small batches of late tomatoes.

I used some of my frozen goodies tonight for dinner. Check it out! (They will take a little longer to cook than regular bottled tomatoes - they are frozen, people!) Add tomato sauce and you have yourself a meal!!! Have I ever mentioned how MUCH I LOVE EASY???


(Here's my un-attended sauce 15 minutes later. Perfectly lovely and easy. All on its own!)


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Turkey Trivia

The biggest FOOD holiday of the year is almost here! And to help us out with our Thanksgiving table conversation, here are a few fun facts about the big bird of the day! Actually, here are the questions. Any one know the answers??? Answers coming later this week!

Test your Turkey Knowledge!

1. How fast can a wild turkey run?
2. A mature turkey has how many feathers?
3. How many million pounds of turkey are consumed during Thanksgiving each year?
4. What state produced the most turkey?
And last of all...
5. Can a turkey fly?

Dinner Tonight: Stuffed Beef Round

Its 9:30 in the a.m. and my dinner for tonight is taken care of! Wo-hoo! Oh the wonders of a good crock pot!!!

This recipe is something that my mom makes every once in a while. And after this morning, I understand why. Its fairly labor intensive. So does it fall under the easy category? No. But its really fancy and (hopefully) will be delicious!


Stuffed Beef Round

2 large beef round steaks

Filling:
1 c cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 c chopped onion
3/4 c chopped celery

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again

I have been quite the slacker about meal planning over the past few weeks. Subsequently, dinner has not been much to write home about. However, today I rectified the situation and I am now back with the program - two full weeks of meals planned and shopped for! Yesterday I started filling out my 'meal marker board' but only got Monday and Wednesday filled in. Please refer to Exhibit 1.1 to see Flint's contributions to the cause.

Exhibit 1.1: As seen here, Husband would like (undefined) food on Tuesday, strictly dessert (pardon the spelling) on Thursday and tacos on Friday. Very helpful.


Oh grief... I love that kid. He is truly hilarious.

PS: No, I am not feeding my husband drugs on Wednesday. "Sweet Pot." would be short for Roasted Sweet Potatoes :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November

Oh, November!
I love November!
Thanksgiving is everywhere and Christmas is waiting in the wings.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I mean, who could not love all that food??? :) My Thanksgiving favorites include mashed potatoes, coconut cream pie, green beans w/ bacon and french onions, and most of all, honey baked ham. Yum! My mouth is watering....

But more than the food, I love the emphasis on gratitude. I have memories of large family gatherings, where everyone present, even the small child, took a turn expressing what they were most grateful for.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dinner ...This Week

Well, its been somewhat of a hit-and-miss game.

Monday night: 
Short Ribs with Sweet Tomato Sauce
Made in the crock pot. Took a Pioneer Woman recipe and made it about 10 times easier. Was it as delish as hers? Probably not. But it was still pretty good. And Mondays I am gone until 7:30 at night, so this was about as good as it was gonna get. 

Tuesday night:
Ate dinner at my sister-in-laws house. I brought a measly green salad. Ha! She served steaks, mashed potatoes, brown sugar carrots and chocolate pudding cake. Thanks Cami! 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Life on the Ranch

I have never blogged about our lifestyle. Our meaning Husband and I. We both grew up on ranches. Both in the same extra teeny tiny community. Ironic, I know. Our families both raise cattle. The husband's family also has some sheep.

Ranching cattle is in my blood. And it will definitely be in my children's blood. My dad's family has been ranching cattle in our extra teeny tiny community for over a hundred years. Pretty awesome, if you ask me! I love cows.


I love everything about cows. I love new baby calves in the spring. I love going riding during the summer to move the cows to new feed. I love gathering all the cows and calves up in the fall. And I even love eating beef :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dinner Tonight: Beef Enchiladas & Homemade Crustos

Yesterday my mother-in-law was telling me about a new recipe she's going to try: Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas. Mmm! Sounds enticing! So after hearing about her fun new recipe, the only thing I can think of all day is enchiladas, enchiladas, enchiladas... This is definitely not a go-to-meal in my kitchen, but something I love all the same. I'm out of chicken at the moment and I am a bigger fan of beef anyway, so beef is what's for dinner! Plus a fun, spur-of-the-moment Taco Time knock-off treat!


Easy Beef Enchiladas 

This recipe is a combination of my mom's version, a version from allrecipes.com, and my own adaptations. Its very very very basic. I am a little apprehensive about some enchiladas, so this one is completely tummy-safe!

1 onion, chopped
1/2 lb ground beef
1 can (store bought) enchilada sauce, because its easier that way
1 can olives, sliced
~1 c shredded cheese
4 flour tortillas

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dinner Tonight: BLT

It has been a fairly busy day and tonight Husband and I are leaving for home. Thus, dinner is low on the priority list. I was busy making a salad for tomorrow (ever tried broccoli salad?) and was smart enough to cook a few extra slices of bacon.

Have I ever mentioned my undying love for bacon?? Oh how I love that greasy goodness...



Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Where was I? .... Oh! Dinner.... I am taking Easy Street and we are having BLTs. Mine will be in the form of a salad; Flint's will be a sandwich.

Side note: Have you ever considered what an oxymoron a BLT is? I have an idea! Lets take bacon, pretty much the worst food for our hearts, and eat it with tomatoes and lettuce, so that we don't have to feel so guilty about eating it :) But don't worry, I've never felt guilty about eating bacon, even without the LT added!

...I always love an excuse to take it easy - especially when it involves bacon :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Garden Gone

Saturday we pulled the final tomato plants from the ground and officially called the garden 'quits' for the year. It was definitely a sad day. This garden has brought me so much joy. I don't exaggerate when I say that it was the best part of my summer.

My top five six favorite aspects of the garden (in no particular order) :
- The adorable chicken proof fence
- Deliciously sweet cobs of corn for dinner
- Digging potatoes - can you say treasure hunt?!
- Watering my little plants each day - aka personal mediation time
- Freakin' amazing tomato plants that out-produced my wildest dreams
- Turning a dirty, leave-collecting, abandoned plot into something green, productive and beautiful 

So long, dear garden, til next year!

Dinner Tonight: Stuffed Peppers

Weekends don't count, so technically I'm not behind yet.

Tonight is an oldie but a goody.

Stuffed Peppers

Yum. I'm hungry already!

Friday, October 14, 2011

What's For Dinner Tonight

Its Friday night.
Start of the weekend.
I didn't think about dinner until 6 p.m.

So what did I come up with?
The easiest dinner know to man:
spaghetti

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Shantel's Suggestions

One of my college friends, Shantel, gave me some great suggestions to help with the question of "What's for dinner?". She gave me these ideas several months ago and I never shared...

Let me preface by saying that Shantel is pretty much amazing at everything she does. Really! She is a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher, owns her own wedding invitation business and still makes her husband dinner at night! Way to go Shantel!!!

Suggestion #1: Make a ten day meal plan. She does this on Saturdays and it is supposed to last from Monday through the next Wednesday. (Then she has a head start in case she doesn't get her next plan done in time!)

What's For Dinner Tonight

I love today.

Why?

I got a phone call from my dad. He's in town. And taking me us to dinner!

Celebrate Good Times! Come On!

:)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What's for Dinner Tonight

A new daily segment. Let's see how long I keep up for - ha!

Baked Sweet Potatoes
Have I ever mentioned how much I love sweet potatoes? Yum Yum Yum! So moist, sweet and delicious. If you are not a fan yet, give these wonderful tubers another try!
  • Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. Serve with butter, salt and pepper. Truly delish!
BBQ Stew Meat
Another Mom favorite. Stew meat must be boiled in order to get tender. But once boiled... Oh baby oh. I'm talking fork tender and mouth watering.

Corn, Tomatoes, and Furniture?



A few things that never got blogged about (in no particular order...)

I've taken up re-finishing furniture. Does this have anything to do with gardening? Nope. Cooking? Nope. But its fun! (PS: I'm thinking of selling some of the stuff I've been working on and doing commission. But this isn't an advertisement or anything. Cough Cough Cough.)
be-hind
 
1.at or toward the rear of
2.not keeping up with, later than
3.in the state of making less progress than
4.on the farther side of; beyond
5.originating, supporting, or promoting
 
 
 
Well, its true. I'm behind. That's what happens when you don't have the internet at your house for 30 days. Yep, 30 big ones. I survived. 
 
But this little blog didn't.
 
So, without boring you to tears, let me just say this: My summer garden project, although now over and done with, was the absolute BEST part of my summer.
 
Am I doing it again next year? 
YES!
 
I promise it won't be 3 months before I post again, so stay tuned ;)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

a few apricots and a whole lotta sugar

Yesterday was a canning day. But not an ordinary canning day. No, this was an out-of-the-ordinary canning day. I didn't spend the day in my mother's kitchen and I didn't spend the day taking directions from my mother. In fact, there was NO mother insight.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Monday, August 1, 2011

Confessions

Ok ok... I admit. I am NOT a consistent blogger. My apologies.

As far as whats been happening around here... My corn is now taller than my fence! Wo-hoo! I have several more zuchinnis and tomatoes showing up. And my potato plants are h.u.g.e! I am so loving loving loving my garden. Its definitely my favorite part of the summer.

Things I have learned... Weeds aren't the end of the world. 'Seven' dust keeps the bugs from eating every new leaf. My lilac tree creates way too much shade for the east side of the garden (this issue really must be addressed next year). And most important, I love to garden.

Food Wise...
Husband and I went on a little weekend get-away, so I didn't have to cook at all Saturday or Sunday :) :) :) :) :) However, before the get-away, eight o'clock on Friday night rolled around super fast and I was starting to feel that onery, panicky, stressed-out anxiety I get when I haven't made a plan for dinner (Does anyone else ever have these feelings???). Rather than lash out unreasonably at Flint, I opened up my recipe box and tried to find the easiest possible thing to make. (Not lashing out really was progress for me.) And boy oh boy did I ever succeed at finding the perfect recipe! Only seven ingredients and hardly any prep at all. And best of all, Flint loved it!!!

BBQ Chicken

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hello Sunshine!

As I turned on my garden sprinkler (just 10 minutes ago), I noticed (for the first time) these little beauties!!!
Ta-Da!!!

I knew that there had been blossoms on my tomato plants a couple weeks ago, but it seemed like nothing was happening. I was wrong! Granted, they are tiny... BUT, they exist. Period! I am curious to see if they do well or not (aren't tomatoes like the single hardest thing to grow?).

PS: Yes, yes, yes, I know. My pictures stink. Real bad. But you see... My cord that connects camera to computer is lost. Forever. And so I am stuck using my dinky phone for all photos. Lame-o. My apologies.

Monday, July 18, 2011

I think I just died...

...and went to heaven!
You MUST go check out this recipe from "How Sweet it is" 
 ---- it looks TOO DIE FOR ---

literally

Chicken, Cheese & a Carter!

Yay! We have our FIRST guest blogger here at the Emerald Gardens! Let me introduce you to 

Mrs. Kelli {Carter} Meyer
 
I know Kelli as a Carter, so its hard for me to remember the Meyer at the end! Kelli and I grew up together and have always been good gal pals. Specifically when I think of Kelli, I think of showing steers. She and I were always county fair buddies and did lots of 4-H/FFA stuff together. The Carter family women are great cooks (who love spicy food!) and Kelli's mom makes the best fudge to be found :) Kelli is now forever away, living in Missouri, doing great things with her life: husband in vet school while wife in nursing school - you guys rock!).

Kelli sent me a few recipes. Today I am sharing a chicken dish. Sadly I couldn't make it for dinner because I don't have Stovetop on hand (...and the grocery store in 80 miles away...). However, I am grocery shopping on Thursday and Stovetop will be at the top of my list! Once I've made it, I'll give my review :)

Bruschetta Chicken Bake

Friday, July 15, 2011

Everyday Food

That sounds like my exact goal. I want 'everyday food.' Ingredients that I have on hand. A recipe that doesn't take eternity. And NOT a sinkful of 1000000 dirty dishes.

I signed up for the Everyday Food Blog weekly newsletter (thanks, Martha). It is supposed to come every Tuesday and give me some fun ideas. I will update you once I get my first couple newsletters and let you know whether its worth the 'inbox-clutter."

(Even though I love to watch Martha on TV, sometimes her recipes really aren't practical, and that's why I'm a little spectical about this newsletter. Hopefully the old gal proves me wrong!)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Rachael Ray v. Mom

The other day I was watching Rachael Ray and she made this Tex-Mex BBQ Turkey Tamale Pie which I thought looked SO good. I spent the rest of the day wishing I had polenta on hand so that I could try this new recipe out. Well, somewhere during that day, I realized that I grew up eating a recipe that is almost identical. Ok, identical might be pushing it. But similar? Yes Very very similar. They are in the 'family.' So, here is the Mom version (aka easier, cheaper, and more likely that you have the ingredients on hand version) of Rachael's fancy skillet dinner.

Cornmeal Topped Sausage Pie

1 lb sausage
1 1/2 c green pepper, chopped
1 chopped onion
1 can navy beans (I used pinto!)
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 can tomato paste (I was out of this as well, so I substituted tomato sauce and cut back on the water)
1/2 c water
1 t sugar

Sharing is Caring

I have a love/hate relationship with the creation of meals. I mean, I love to eat. I love to provide my husband with a good dinner. I love being domestic. I even love wearing an apron.

But I hate choosing what to cook everyday. I hate grocery shopping. I hate dishes. I hate dishes. I hate dishes.

And I have a sneaking suspicion that some of you out there feel the same way. Anyone?

King Me, Please

Remember my fun red chair?

I finally got around to the table and in the process, came up with my

BEST IDEA EVER

Really. For reals. Best one. E.v.e.r

So the table is black and the chairs are red. And it sits on a picturesque 'Mayberry' porch. Any ideas?

~~~~ Drumroll ~~~~



Knee High by the... 14th of July?

My mom always used the adage 
"Knee High by the 4th of July"
for a gauge of whether the corn was doing well or not. 

Well, my corn stalks weren't quite knee high on Independence Day, but they are DEFINITELY knee-high now! Check these guys out! I am so pleased with this corn patch!!! (Notice that my beans are not doing so well...)


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Apple Goodness

I haven't posted a recipe in eons. Okay, okay, I haven't posted ANYTHING in eons. Nonetheless, here is one of my all-time favorite muffin recipes. In fact, I made them just yesterday! Super moist, tasty and even healthy!

(Another Mom classic...)
Lemony Apple Oat Muffins
1 1/4 c flour
1/2 c brown sugar
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1 egg
1/2 c evaporated milk
1/4 c oil
2 T lemon juice
3/4 c quick-cook oats
1 c finely chopped oats
1/2 c chopped nuts

Monday, June 20, 2011

Wheats Up

Farley Family Reunion anyone???

My little garden is growing great! With all the cold weather, it took a long time to sprout, but everybody is doing great now! Wo-hoo! Pictures to come...

The Wonders of Spray Paint

I must say I'm rather addicted to the stuff lately. Its just so dang handy though...

As part of my yard appeal, I have just begun re-doing some old old old old old chairs and a fun little table. These pieces were found by my hubby and m.i.l. in some old old old old old abandoned houses. I screamed with delight at the hidden potential and made a list of jobs I had to complete for Flint before I could start my newest project. Well, all my tasks have been checked off and today I tackled chair nĂºmero uno. Once I get the other chair and the table done, they will be living happily on my porch :)

BEFORE:
(The before picture clearly explains the 'shabby' in the phrase 'shabby chic')

The "Chicken-Proof" Fence

Most fences in my neck of the woods are built to be cow-proof, or horse-proof, or deer-proof. But not my garden fence.

Its main purpose is to be CHICKEN-PROOF...

Wow.... How funny and weird all at the same time :)

However, I do absolutely love this quaint little fence my dear hubby is building. He's a keeper.

So, the fence... Its a pole fence with willows attached every three or four inches. Flint saw fences like this in Africa ---and naturally we thought 'If you can't visit the jungle, bring the jungle to you!' :)


Thanks Hubby!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Update

First off - I have no pictures, so this is going to be a BORING blog. Alas, its my only internet opportunity, so I'm taking it...

So here's the update:
The yard is coming really well!

Demolition Completed
  • rock piled moved
  • fence tore down
  • trees cut down
Construction/Planting Completed
  • 4 out of 7 posts planted for the new (chicken-proof) fence
  • corn, beans, sunflowers, potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkins, carrots and squash are all planted!
I really love seeing progress and improvements made. Our progress has been slow, but steady and its starting to look alot better around our place :) Also, the mystery plant in my flowerbeds is going to bloom! My MIL calls it a money bush and tells me that the flowers are dark purple with white centers. Fun!

Happy June everyone!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Things that make me smile...

1. blossoms on my strawberry plant
















2. this Gerber daisy my mother-in-law gave me for Easter





















3. the smell of fresh cut grass outside my window
4. the husband and I move home in one week and one day

:) :) :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Where are you Mr. Sun?

I miss the sun. And more importantly, my plants are desperately missing the sun.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Oh Wow... Applesauce Gone Bad

Just tried making homemade applesauce.

Wow

WAY to strong on the cinnamon and brown sugar. Yikes yikes yikes!

Does anyone have a good recipe to share?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Why garden?

I have dedicated a lot of time this spring to thinking about gardening. And I have been tempted to ask myself:

Why?
Why garden?

I have never been too interested in gardening until this year. I don't even totally know why the sudden change. For my own sake, I am going to try to pinpoint a few reasons, though.
  • With the recent disasters in Japan, my husband and I have looked at each other and said, "Are we really prepared for what could happen?" The obvious answer was no, which is frightening. We both come from families that value the idea of self-reliance. I guess I'm thinking gardening falls into that category.
  • Having recently married, this summer will be the first time ever that I have my own yard to take care of. I don't know why its different and you suddenly care more when something is your own, but you do.
  • I love to eat. And this summer the grocery store will be 80 miles away. Yes, I just said 80 MILES.
  • Flowers are pretty. Need I say more?
  • My mom does it. And I really like my mom. She's cool. I want to be like her.
  • I have had a severe case of Spring Fever. Its true. Ask my doctor. And he said plants were the only cure.
  • I grew up on a ranch and we grew hay, too. Being outside and growing things is in my blood.
Here is some more food for thought from Paul McKenzie (a horticulture extension agent in North Carolina)

What about you? Why do you garden?

Crock Pot + Fresh Veggies

If there is one thing I love, it is crock pots. Throw some ingredients in and leave all day. Come back to a delish dinner. Its like magic. Almost like perennial flowers!

This recipe comes from my mom's repertoire. And most of the ingredients could come fresh from the dirt.

Sunday Crock-Pot Stew
  • Cut cube or round steak into thin strips. Dredge in seasoned four and brown in saute pan (doesn't need to cook all the way).
  • Slice carrots, onions, green pepper and celery into crock pot (large chunks work great). 
  • Add meat.
  • Add canned tomatoes (unless you are really awesome and can grow something that difficult) and tomato sauce to get a good 'stew' consistency.
  • Add 1-2 cubes beef bouillion.
  • Cook throughout the day and serve over cooked rice or boiled garden potatoes!
Yes, the proportions here are very vague, but that's how Mom rolls. She's just cool like that. And its in the crock pot. So no matter what you throw in, it works out!

Another Berry Breakfast Idea

If you have a berry bush, try this delicious Raspberry Coffee Cake from Taste of Home. I even tried it with a combination of raspberries, black berries, and blue berries. Yummo!

PS: Still try it even if you have to buy the berries from the grocery store :)

Comfort Cookin' - Strawberry Style

I bought a new strawberry plant! And this time, I will guard it very carefully!

Here is one of my favorite strawberry recipes. It is a topping for roll-up pancakes. Ok, ok, crepes.... (The name of that particular food item is a major fight between my husband and I...)

Strawberry Topping
12 oz strawberries, stemmed and sliced
¼ cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
1½ tsp lemon juice

Onions, Peas, and Weeds, Oh My!

one Saturday of beautiful weather 
+ husband with a free half hour 
= Planted Onions and Peas!!!

My big garden plot still needs some construction (we have a fence and some bushes to tear out). But that didn't stop me! I decided to let my peas and onions be flower bed fillers. I planted four short rows of onions (~100 bulbs total) and 3 short rows of peas (I didn't count these).

(I chose peas and onions to plant because they are frost hardy.)

The ground in this flower bed was so nice! It hardly took any major digging. The downside of such soft good soil was that the weeds had already invaded. There were hundreds of the one-inch-tall-annoyances. Grrrr!
______________________________________________________

My short little rows. (I love onions!)


Here are a few of the onion trenches. I poured some water-soluble Miracle Grow fertilizer in the bottom of each trench. (Was that a good idea?) The onion trenches were ~2 inches deep.


And here is part of one of the row of peas. The trench was only 1 inch deep - not as deep as the onions. 



This was a great great great day!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Sprout!

One zinnia has sprouted! Yesterday there was nothing and this morning -- an inch tall sprout!
Wa-hoo!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Strawberries












Last year I killed a strawberry plant.
It was sad.
It was very sad.
I loved the little thing.
I won it at a department banquet.
My mom took care of it for me all summer long.
(I was pretty well completely preoccupied.)
(With getting married.)
So after a summer of TLC, Mom turned the little gal over to me.
After just a few nights outside, a deer ATE it.

Planning My Flower Beds

Soon Hubby and I will be moving out of College Town and back home. Once home, I will be able to plant my flower beds. I cannot wait!

The flower beds I am working with already have a few things growing. Namely, two rose bushes, lots of tulips and lots of daffodils. Yay for perennial flowers! The tulips and daffodils are already growing like crazy. In fact, I'm afraid I might have already missed the grand blooming of the daffodils --- they were extremely close when I left Monday morning. Hopefully they hold out until the weekend for me!

Perennial flowers -- whats not to love?
They come back. Every year. On their very own!
Its like magic!

The Faith Flower

Approximately fifteen years ago, on a bright sunny spring Sunday morning, I sat dressed in frills, listening to my Sunday School teacher explain the concept of faith.

"Faith is like a little seed," she said to the class. "If planted, it will grow!"

After the lesson was completely, our handout for the day was a small potted flower. No bigger than a couple inches.

"Remember, like this flower grows, your faith can grow too!" the teacher recited, handing every child a plant.

To say I worked really hard to keep the little plant alive might be an exaggeration. I am sure my mother did all the work at the beginning. But, boy, did it ever pay off.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Growing Peppers 101

Since I really really want big beautiful peppers this fall (so that I can make this recipe), here is what I've been learning about growing peppers successfully...

Pepper(s):
  • like sun
  • need good drainage soil
  • need deep and frequent irrigation
  • should be spaced 18 inches apart from each other
  • that flower during hot temperatures are more likely to abort fruit
  • can be placed under hotcap or plastic tunnel to protect from cool weather

For more information, check out my source:
USU Extension fact sheet "Peppers in the Garden"

Because they lived...

In honor of my pepper plants surviving the crash, last night for dinner I made fajitas. Mmmm!

Fajitas
3 large green bell peppers, sliced into long strips
1 medium onion, also sliced into long strips
3 large chicken breasts, cooked and sliced into long strips
Fajita seasoning packet
Tortillas
Cheese, salsa, sour cream, ranch dressing, etc...

After cooking chicken, saute peppers and onions in a small amount of oil until tender. Return chicken to pan. Add contents of fajita packet* and a few tablespoons of water. Once chicken is reheated and seasoning is stirred throughout, you are ready to eat! Warm tortillas over stove or in microwave. Enjoy!

*I don't always use the entire packet. I usually start with half and go from there.

 Serving Size: Last night this fed 4 adults. However, there wasn't much left over. I was wishing I would have added one more chicken breast.

Can't wait for the end of the summer when I can use my own green peppers for this recipe!

Monday, April 11, 2011

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Disclaimer: I am dreading writing this post.

What a morning. As I mentioned here, my impatiens were not doing so red hot at the beginning of last week. However, over the course of the week, I saw small improvements and was feeling encouraged. Even thinking I might resurrect more than half of the impatiens plants.

Well, it would seem fate had other ideas...

This morning, as we do every Monday morning, my husband and I awoke at 6:30 a.m. and hit the road. Back to school. We spend our weekends at home and weekdays here in College-ville. Because my plants have been so small and have needed daily watering, I have hauled them back and forth every weekend for almost two months. Do you think this is convenient? No. So back to this morning...

About 15 minutes into our hour and a half journey, a DEER jumps out in front of our car.

Can you guess where this is going?

Yes, we hit the deer. Dumb animal. It didn't even die. (Please don't turn me into the humane society for that comment.) Thankfully, Lucy (my car) came away from the collision with only minor damage: passenger side mirror broken. It could have been much worse.

However, remember, my small plants were inside the car. You have this figured out by now, right? Yes, the plants went FLYING :( 

Not much was left. Only a backseat full of dirt :(

Once we made it to our destination, I picked through the remains. I was able to salvage all 14 peppers plants and 1 measly zinnia. I repeat, ONE. Out of approximately 20 plants. As for the impatiens, this little accident was the straw that broke the camel's back. They were completely ruined.

This picture shows my garbage can. However, it doesn't even do justice to how awful the poor little guys looked.

So... what have I learned?
  1. If you plan on transporting your seedlings on a regular basis (which I would not recommend), peppers are the only deer-collision-proof plant.
  2. This probably was not the best spring in my life to start plants indoors.
  3. I have determination. (Just in the last few hours, I have already purchased new seeds, soil, and potting carton thingy-es, and sowed my new seeds.
  4. Maybe you could call #3 stupidity?
  5. I will never again start impatiens from seed. Totally not worth it. They took almost a month to sprout. Grew slowly. Almost died from a few hours of fresh air. And did not survive the crash. Not worth it.
A few other irrelevant observations...
  1. Not all zinnia seeds are the same. I had a few left from before that I planted today (Burpee's Bright Border Mix variety) and the new seeds (Fruit Smoothie Mix variety) were much larger than the oldies.
  2. Jiffy Seed Starting Mix has a much finer texture than Miracle Grow Seed Starting Mix.
  3. A little TLC goes a long way. My impatiens had almost recovered.
When the damage was first surveyed, I was very disheartened. My husband actually had to talk me into starting seeds again. But now that I've had some time to mourn, I am trying to optimistic. Seeds are a new beginning. My last set had so much potential. I just made a few mistakes. But now I know --- stay away from cold weather and deer!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Spuds

Potatoes from the garden! Such fun! As a child I was fascinated by the idea of throwing a potato into the ground and coming back at the end of the summer to a mound of new potatoes! Amazing!

When I can finally plant my (outdoor) garden, potatoes will definitely be part of the game plan.

(Don't mention this to my hubby, but I always dreamt of marrying a potato farmer. Yes, I am fully serious right now. What a silly little girl I was. A spud farmer? Really? That was the most exciting man I could dream up???)

This simple and easy recipe (from Bon Appetit) is delicious and utilizes not only your garden potatoes, but also any rosemary you have growing.


Potatoes Roasted with Rosemary and Sea Salt
1 lb red potatoes, each cut into 4 – 6 wedges
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp coarse sea salt or other coarse salt (we will use kosher salt)
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary (or ½ tsp dried)

Preheat oven to 400F. Toss potatoes with oil, salt and pepper in a bowl to coat. Transfer potatoes to a baking sheet and roast 20 minutes, stirring once.
Add garlic and rosemary to potatoes and toss to coat. Continue roasting until potatoes are just tender (approximately 10 minutes).

Lovin' the Free Advice

Twelve Gardening Tips

Check it out!

Emerald... With Envy

Here in my neck of the woods, it was SNOWED all day long.
Meanwhile, Pioneer Woman has already planted her garden.
I'm jealous.
And inspired.
I love P-Dub. Check her out.

Fertilizing Continued --- What about my seedlings?

As shown in this post, I have some little seedlings right now. As I was working on this other post, it dawned on me...
My little baby plants are probably due for some more plant food. I know that the seed-starting soil I used had fertilizer in it, but that was over a month ago. My preliminary internet search is suggesting that it is probably time to re-fertilize. I think I better head on over to my local gardening store and get some advice.
Stay tuned and we'll find the answer together.

Homemade Marinara Sauce

Let me be frank.
Bottled spaghetti sauce and bottled pizza sauce will NOT do. There is no comparison. Homemade marinara supersedes the stores' fake-wanna-be sauces at all levels. Especially if the ingredients are fresh from the dirt.

Homemade Marinara Sauce
This recipe comes as an estimation. Last night I used the following proportions to make a spaghetti sauce for myself and my husband. We were left with oodles of leftovers. 
3 small to medium ripe tomatoes
1 large onion (or equivalent in small ones)
tt salt, pepper and garlic powder
tt Italian seasoning (or even better, fresh oregano, chopped! Hopefully by the end of the summer mine will be usable for this recipe!)
* 1-2 small cans of tomato sauce

Heat small amount of oil (<1T) in large saute' pan. Chop tomatoes and onion(s) to small dice and saute' until tender. Add seasonings.

*Adding the tomato sauce: For spaghetti sauce I typically use two cans, but add one can to start with and add the second can slowly,  using only the amount that you think necessary to achieve a good consistency.  For pizza sauce, 1 can or less is generally sufficient.

Simmer on low to allow flavors to blend. If making spaghetti, brown ground beef and add to sauce.

Delish!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Baby Steps

Follow the Yellow Brick Road,
Follow the Yellow Brick Road,
Follow, Follow, Follow, Follow,
Follow the Yellow Brick Road...

This spring I took my first baby steps (What about Bob, anyone?) down the Y.B.R.

Here is my small indoor garden on Day 1. I planted zinnias, impatiens, oregano, and (not pictured) green bell peppers. You can also see a small container of tulip bulb sprouts, a gift from my mom-in-law.













Spice Up Your Vegetable Intake

Nothing compares to perfectly ripe and sweet garden corn. While simply eating it off the cob is usually my favorite way, this Southern dish incorporates some of your other garden produce and has just the right kick to spice up your day.

Maque Choux 

6 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, small dice
1 green bell pepper, small dice
1 Roma or plum tomato, concasse
10 oz corn kernels
1 tsp black pepper
tt cayenne pepper
1 ½ – 2 cups milk

The Wicked Witch is Alive and Well

My little indoor garden has experienced a few causalities this week.
My zinnias were in desperate need of some real outdoor sunlight so I put everyone outside for a few hours on Monday. Big Mistake. My impatiens were clearly not ready for the extremities. They are slowly wilting more and more each day. I anticipate a funeral in the next forty-eight hours.
Oh that mean awful witch...

Garden Plot Prep Work - Part 1 - Fertilization

Time to start planting is nearly upon us (or so I'm told), but before throwing the little helpless seeds into the real world, I need to do a little work on my garden plot. Anyone else? Oh good...

Today's post will cover fertilizer. This is something very tricky. On one end of the spectrum, you can have soil with too few nutrients and thus, plants that grow very poorly. On the other hand, if you use too much, you can get your soil too 'hot.' This is a very technical term that my mother uses to describe the infamous horse manure incident. Good ole' Dad was sure that his pile of horse manure had sat and composted for enough years that is was ready for garden use. Mom was not so convinced, but Dad persisted. The composted horse manure was incorporated into the soil of one flower bed, and the plants literally burned to death from the heat of strong, not-yet-fully composted horse crap.

It was not pretty.

The end.

So, how to choose fertilizers...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

First Recipe - Stuffed Green Peppers

During my numerous daydreams of beautiful gardens, I ponder the fresh produce I could incorporate into my dinner menus. Thus, included amid my gardening attempts will be a few recipes to wet the appetite (quite literally) to the advantages of having a produce garden.

Today's recipe is a classic from my mom...
Stuffed Green Peppers
1 lb ground beef, browned
1/3 c onion, chopped
tt salt and pepper
1 (16 oz) can tomatoes (crushes or petite diced)
1/2 c water
1/c c uncooked long grain white rice
1 t Worcestershire sauce

6 green peppers, tops cut off and seeds cleaned out
1 c cheese

Following the Yellow Brick Road

Gardening, and the love thereof, is a long standing tradition in my family. That said, you could call me the black sheep of the family. In other words, my thumb is not green. This blog will document my difficult journey down the illustrious Yellow Brick Road.