I’m Back! Updates and Strawberry Freezer Jam..

Phew!  Time sure flies when you’re having fun!  It also flies when you’re prioritizing differently, doesn’t it?

Let’s see:  Since January lots has happened!

1.  Most importantly, we found out we’re expecting another baby!  I alluded to a big surprise in my last post, and had meant to update way sooner, so for those of you who were waiting with baited breath (ha!), I’m sorry!  I’m due in early September, and I have a whole separate post about what gender this little one is coming up!

Big Sibling Book!

Big Sibling Book!

2.  I stopped babysitting.  That was a hard decision to make, but it all kind of unfolded very quickly and smoothly…kind of like what happens when you start listening to God and obeying Him.  I was watching three little ones in addition to raising my own two girls, and then all three of us mamas got pregnant, which meant by the time my baby came, I’d have one 6-year-old, three 3-year-olds, one 2-year-old, and three infants.  I was going to hire my mother-in-law to come help me several hours a day, but even if that would have worked out (which it wasn’t go to) I started realizing that the hours she wasn’t there was going to be extremely hard on me.  So I asked one family to find another sitter (that was a hard decision!) and shortly after that the other mama needed to quit her job for the health of her pregnancy and decided she was going to stay home when her third arrived.  So it was an abrupt end to babysitting for me, but it has worked out nicely, actually!  I decided not to get back into it, because I’ve been enjoying it just being me and my girls again… plus I’m not superwoman… I think having a newborn and starting homeschooling 1st grade in the fall is going to be enough for my brain to handle!

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This is what my house looked like all winter

A rare day "warm enough" to venture out

A rare day “warm enough” to venture out

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It was pretty fun to have our own sledding hill!

 

3.  I don’t know about you all, but this winter took a toll on me.  I think the combination of not being able to take all the kids outside hardly at all, nor being able to leave my house…nor really WANTING to leave in the frigid temps…has opened my eyes to just how amazing this era is that we live in. I have a whole new appreciation for Laura Ingalls Wilder and the rest of the pioneers.

Can you imagine experiencing a winter like ours without whole-house heating?  Can you imagine having to try to feed and water your livestock during a blizzard?  Just trekking out to give my poor chickens water twice a day was brutal enough!  Can you imagine not seeing another soul outside your family for an entire winter?  Seeing my daffodils push stubbornly through snow this spring brought tears of sublime joy to my eyes.  I imagine Mary and Laura Ingalls felt that way, too.  Sending my children outside to run and play and GET OUT OF MY HAIR and opening the kitchen window to feel the breeze while I did dishes for the first time this spring made me close my eyes in ecstasy.  I imagine Caroline Ingalls felt that way, too.  I think we can all stand united, from this century to the ones long past, and give a big cheer for SPRING!

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Kitty TV! Cider on the left, Toopweets, and Pancake on the right.

 

 

 

 

4.  My chickens.  My poor, poor chickens!  I had a big learning curve with poulty this horrid winter.  For starters, I realized that even though we had one day with a -40 windchill, and FEET of snow out there, the hens could survive.  It was totally unnecessary to bring them onto my back porch to dirty it up with a shocking amount of poo in 12 hours.  It helped me sleep better, anyway.  Despite all my babying, the poor girls were picked off one and two at a time over the winter.  Desperation drove predators to this easy meal, and one clever hunter even figured out how to get into the coop!  The last two were likely carried off by coyotes…after the coop raid they were too scared to go back to the coop, so they hunkered down in front of the house for about a week before they were taken.  So, sadly, I am chickenless right now.  I haven’t replaced them yet because I’d like to sell my coop and get a different style.  I’m also torn between getting hens or chicks…votes?

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“Looks like running, Feels like walking” ha ha!

My big brother, Zach, and me.  Typical shot of us.

My big brother, Zach, and me. Typical shot of us.

5.  Over the weekend I ran a half marathon!  And by ran, I mean walked. :)  But still, walking 13.1 miles whilst 21 weeks pregnant is something to be proud of, which is why it’s a bullet point here.  It took me nearly 4 hours, but I had a book on my iPod and I had a good time!

Where is the next porta-potty??  Baby on the bladder, people!!

Where is the next porta-potty?? Baby on the bladder, people!!

I’m still a little sore, which tells me I need to do more walking than I have been doing!  I’d been training for this half and had intended on running it, but I ran 10 miles at 19 weeks and between then there was a lot of growth happening with baby and it just was not comfortable to run anymore.  But I still got to cheese over the finish line and get lots of bragging rights!

 

 

6.  This morning my oldest, Cozy, saw something on TV about making “jelly” and asked if we could make some.  We hardly ever eat jelly or jam…like, seriously, one jar can last a whole year in my house.  Consequently, I never bother to make it because it would expire long before we got to it.  But when you have a love for cooking and preserving that has been ignored for months and your darling blue-eyed 6-year-old asks you to teach her how to preserve… “Sure!  Sounds like fun!”  So I found a recipe for a quick and easy strawberry freezer jam and we had a lot of fun making it!  The girls washed the berries for me and then helped me mash them:

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We added gelatin instead of pectin because I have loads of it:DSC03699

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letting it cool before sticking it in the freezer/refrigerator:

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(I stuck the jar intended for the fridge in the freezer so it would hurry up and set before lunchtime)

 

 

 

 

 

Taste-test time! DSC03701DSC03707  Yum!  It’s a little runnier than I’d like jam to be, but the flavor is really good!  I’m ok with the runny consistency because I’ll use this in my yogurt way sooner than we’ll eat it on toast, so it will actually be easier to mix in for me.  But if you want this to have a better spreading consistency, I would either switch to pectin, or double the gelatin amount.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strawberry Freezer Jam (Makes 4 half-pints)

  • 4 cups cut strawberries
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 envelopes (1 1/2 Tbsp) unflavored gelatin (double for thicker consistency)
  • 1/2 cup cold water

1. In medium saucepan heat strawberries, lemon juice and sugar, about 5 minutes.  Crush (I used an immersion blender after the girls finished having fun smooshing).  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, 3 minutes.

2. In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over cold water.  Let set 1 minute. Add to berry mixture and heat, stirring until gelatin is dissolved, about 3 minutes.

3.  Let jam stand 5 minutes.  Skim off foam, ladle into jars.  Let jars cool before freezing.

Jam will keep for one month in the refrigerator and 1+ years in the freezer.

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So, after I finished spreading the jam onto the toast, Cozy says in a disappointed tone, “I thought we were making jelly!”  This confused me, because while I know my kid is smart, there is NO WAY she knows the difference between jelly and jam, so I said, “Huh?  This is jelly!”  I half expected her to school me on what exactly constitutes jelly vs. jam, but she just said again, “No, I meant JELLY.  This is not jelly.”  And then it hit me:  she wanted to make Jell-O, not jelly!  Ha ha!  Poor kid!  Life is rough when your vocabulary is still young!

It’s good to be back!

 

Categories: Freezing, Journal | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

2013 in Review

 

This is too cool!  I’m still pretty new to blogging, so I was fairly wowed by these stats!  People from 91 different countries reading MY tiny little blog?  Over 8,000 views in one year?  It’s kind of amazing to me, really!  Thank you to everyone who has read posts here, and a special thanks to followers and those who have left comments!  I will be back again next year with a more personal review of 2013.  This has been a memorable year with plenty of highs and lows, and I have lots to share with you all… stay tuned!  More preservation recipes to come as well!

Thank you all so much, 

Chelsea Daniels

 

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,300 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Categories: Uncategorized

Freezer Peaches and Grandma Pat’s Pork Tenderloin with Peach BBQ Sauce Recipe

DSC02856I’m a peach girl.  I was actually born a Georgia Peach, although we moved to Ohio when I was two, so if it came down to any sort of loyalty battle, I’d claim Ohio as “my” state.  Regardless, my favorite pie is peach, and nothing smells as wonderful to me as a fresh peach!  Except maybe a baby’s head.  Or pizza.  Or french fries.  Ok, fine, lots of things smell wonderful to me.

Anyway, my Dad scored me some free end-of-harvest peaches at the local farmer’s market.  Out of three 5-gallon mostly-rotten peaches, I rescued about 4 tiny pints worth of delicious, very ripe peach chunks.  While I could have canned them, I have five little kids needing my attention today and I just wanted to be done with them.  So I packed them into freezer containers.  (Side note… I’m not all that impressed with Ball’s freezer jars – even their newest model.  They are just not easy to use because the lids on both models are so finicky!  And I can’t trust myself to freeze the glass canning jars anymore because I’ve managed to break three or four already, either over-filling them or putting them in the freezer while the contents were still hot.  What can I say? I learn the hard way.)  Instead of using syrup, which would have taken additional time to prepare, I just packed them with filtered water and stuck them in the freezer.  Done.

What to do with these in the future?  My Grandmother-in-law has a FANTASTIC recipe for a barbecue peach sauce that is served with pork tenderloin.  It’s a little involved, but it’s so totally worth it.  I would have just made the peaches into this sauce but I don’t have all the ingredients on hand.  And it would have taken more time.  And I wanted to be done.

This is an excellent meal for company, parties, or Tuesday night dinner!  :)  There’s two options:  one that prepares the meal to be served out of a crockpot (ideal for the party scene), and another one that uses the grill and make a more impressive centerpiece (ideal for company).  I’ve tried it both ways and found them equally delicious!

Grandma Pat’s Pork Tenderloin with BBQ Peach Sauce

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 4 oz bacon, chopped
  • 1 dried Chile de Arbol (halved)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 Tbs peppercorns, crushed
  • 2 small peaches, diced
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp (or more) lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce

Pork

  • 3lbs pork tenderloin
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 4 tsp pepper
  • 4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp garlic salt

Directions

For sauce: Saute bacon and chili in large saucepan over medium heat until bacon is crisp.  Add onion and garlic, saute 5 minutes.  Add Worcestershire sauce and peppercorns, stir 1 minute.  Add peaches, saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add orange juice, ketchup, lemon juice and hot pepper sauce.  Simmer until sauce thickens enough to coat spoon thickly, stirring often, about 30 minutes.

For pork: Brush tenderloin(s) with oil to coat.  Arrange park on rimmed baking sheet.  Mix pepper, salt, and garlic salt in small bowl to blend.  Sprinkle over pork. Bake pork at 350* for 30 mins.  Slice pork into 1/2 inch slices.  Transfer to slow cooker, add sauce, cook on low for 1 hr.

OR Grill tenderloin(s) until brown and meat thermometer inserted into center registers 140*, turning occasionally with tongs, about 18 minutes.  Brush pork all over with some of the sauce, about 3 minutes longer.  Transfer pork to work surface, let rest 10 minutes.  Rewarm sauce in pan.  Cut pork crosswise on slight diagonal into 1/2 inch slices.  Arrange pork slices on platter.  Drizzle with sauce, serve, passing remaining sauce separately.

Note: Chile de Arbol is a long, thin red chile that you’ll find in the fruit/veggie section of some grocery stores.  (I probably found mine at Kroger or Giant Eagle)

Next time I make this I’ll try to remember to take a picture of the finished result!

Categories: Freezing, Fruit, Pork, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Garden Update – Summer 2013

DSC02192It was such a promising spring… I had so much motivation, I planted nearly everything I intended to although there’s always a few things that I don’t get around to planting, like kale- boo hoo!  I was even staying on top of the weeds and I thought I was pretty clever with my inter-planting.  I’m not really sure what happened, exactly…but I really did not get much harvest this year!

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For starters, ALL my fruit bushes that started out as expensive sticks ended up as…expensive sticks.  I’m guessing they didn’t “take”.  Huge bummer!  I was really hoping to get them established this year so that soon I would have fresh berries from our own yard!  I’ll try again next year!

Arugula Seeded

Although my arugula came in quickly and was plentiful, I actually MISSED the harvest and it went to seed!  I just never had a chance to make my huge batch of Italian Wedding soup, which is really the only thing I want the arugula for.  I think I can still re-plant that though, so all hope is not lost.  We did have several fresh salads off the Romaine and spinach, though.  Yum!

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I planted two watermelon plants.  One was brutally murdered by the lawn mower, but the other is thriving nicely!

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I even have two watermelons already…although they are both quite small still.  This picture was taken mid-August.  I’ll have to get an updated picture soon.

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The basil was probably the healthiest crop in the garden.  This is amusing to me because I’ve tried to grow basil so often before and never had much success.  But I’ve made tons of pesto from this one plant, bruschetta, and sometimes I just like to go pinch off the flowers just so my hands will smell delicious all day!

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My cucumber vines were doing amazingly, and then all of a sudden dried up and died completely.

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I kind of suspect I may have overcrowded them.  Next year just ONE seed per square.  No one needs 4 million cucumbers anyway.

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The snap peas were AWESOME this year! (It’s hard to tell from this picture because the peas are sharing a bed with three kinds of potatoes and of course, weeds)  This was my biggest triumph because I LOVE snap peas madly, and have never been able to get a respectable harvest from them!  I finally figured them out though, and had as many as I wanted this year!

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The pea harvest is over, unfortunately, but I have no complaints there!  I did inter-plant potatoes in there, which I will not do next year.  I think it is fine, it just made for a lot of extra vegetation as well as made it a little harder to weed.  I have already harvested the white and red potatoes, but the sweet potatoes aren’t quite ready yet.

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The saddest part of this year’s garden to me is my tomato plot.  I have no idea what happened, but just like with the cucumbers, the plants completely dried up.  The green tomatoes still ripened, and at least on the cherry tomato plants I had plenty of tomatoes, but on all my canning plants there’s hardly anything.  Fortunately, my parents planted tomatoes this year and had tons of rogue plants come up and do well, so they’ve given me enough to stock my tomato sauce supply.

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One thing that did bring a smile to my face though was watching my Dagny-girl eat her cherry tomatoes straight off the vine.  The only reason I even planted them was for her!

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The cherry tomatoes did pretty well, and I’ve made plenty of “sun-dried” tomatoes (using the dehydrator) that will last me at least a year.

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The green bean teepee turned out so cool!  I’m so glad we did this, and the kids have loved picking beans off it.

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I’m going to plant something else on the teepee next year though because I didn’t really care for the stringy texture of the pole beans.   I’m going to stick with bush beans from now on.

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The asparagus patch did pretty well, albeit the constant fight against weeds.  Asparagus is supposed to take three years to mature, and enough shoots came up this year that I feel confident that in two more years I’ll be frying asparagus straight from my garden!

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One of the more unique-to-me crops this year was the cilantro.  I’d never  successfully grown it before, nor did I ever know that coriander seed was another harvest from cilantro.  Ironically, I didn’t use ANY of the cilantro.  I forgot.  I did, however, harvest fresh and dried coriander, which I’ll detail in a different post.  It was fun!

We only got a few strawberries.  Honestly, this has been mostly a weed patch all summer.  It seems like every time I go out there the weeds have doubled.  Three times now I’ve completely cleared the weeds and still they persist in returning.  The June-bearing berry plants kept getting uprooted by pesky chickens and I don’t think there’s even one plant left, but fortunately the ever-bearing plants seem to have survived and even sent out shoots!  I’m looking forward to that crop next year!

The pumpkin plant started off healthy, and then decided to drink coffee or something because it never hit puberty.  It looks like we’ll be buying a pumpkin from Pumpkin Pete again this year!  That’s ok, even though I really wanted to over-decorate with pumpkins this year, we had a lot of fun playing at Pete and Gwen’s last year!

All in all, it was rather unsatisfying.  I was kind of hoping that I would be a professional gardener by my fourth year of gardening, but still I persist in making mistakes.  My biggest mistake was fairly obvious, and that was using compost that I had thrown weeds into last year.  (Duh).  This year the weeds went into their own pile, and what little kitchen scraps and chicken manure I have went into a weed-free pile.  I’m not really an advocate for composting.  I’ve tried it several times and generally lose interest halfway through the season.  Anyway, next year, I’m going to return to Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening concept and make fresh Mel’s Mix to put in ALL my beds.  That made it so much more fun last year to hardly have any weeding to do AND get a nice healthy crop.  If the budget allows, I’d also like to do a little landscaping to “pretty up” the space.

Lastly, I’m also going to plant garlic in each of my beds next month.  (I’m going to try to remember, anyway!  Someone remind me!!)  I think that will help fight any diseases/fungus that may think has a home in my garden.

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Categories: Gardening, Journal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Dilly Beans and Drying Dill

DSC02203Depending on the maturity of your green beans right now, this recipe could be exactly the diversity you’re looking for with a surplus of beans… or it could be a few weeks late, as is the case with MY green beans.  Doh!

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Actually, as cute as this teepee turned out, I’ve discovered that I don’t love pole beans.  They seem a little stringier and tough than bush beans…anyone else feel that way too?  I will use the teepee next year for a different climber or perhaps even flowers, and plant bush beans.

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Anyone know the correct spelling of “teepee”?  According to Wikipedia, it can be spelled “tipi”, “tepee”, or “teepee”.  Spellchecker likes “tepee”, but I always thought it was “teepee”.

You know, once I spelled it out so many times, I don’t think any of them look right…

Anyway, fortunately for me, my in-laws planted more bush beans than the two of them could consume, and gladly handed me a large shopping back of green and wax beans!  (And I didn’t even have to pick them!!  Bonus!)  They also passed on a recipe I’ve been salivating over for a year now.  I’d never heard of “dilly beans” before I was given a taste last year, and WOW!  Mind. Blown.  They are like combining my favorite flavor – dill pickles – with my favorite vegetable – green beans.  What’s not to love?

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Nothing.  That’s what.  There’s actually a recipe for Dilled Beans (what a boring name!  Not nearly as country and cute as “dilly”!) in the Ball Book of Home Preserving.  I kind of combined Ball’s recipe with my in-law’s recipe, because Ball calls for red bell peppers, which I NEVER have at home, but also called for peppercorns, which I thought sounded like a nice addition.  I’m going to give you my combined recipe, and I’ll mention substitutions as we go along.

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Dilly Beans Makes 4 pint jars

What you will need: 

  • 2lbs green and/or wax beans, washed and trimmed
  • 1/4 cup canning salt
  • 2 1/2 cups vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (Here Ball calls for 2 small red bell peppers, seeded and sliced into thin strips)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, divided
  • 4-8 sprigs of fresh dill* (see notes below)
  • 12 whole peppercorns, optional

Directions:

Prepare canner, jars, and lids.  Combine salt, vinegar, and water in stainless steel saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve salt.  You can trim the beans to “jar-length” or into “grocery store style frozen cut green beans-length” like I did.  Personal preference trumps aesthetics!

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Place 3 peppercorns, 1 or 2 sprigs of dill (or 3…), cayenne (or one strip of red pepper), and one clove of garlic in each hot jar.  I wussed out on the cayenne here and only used a “smidgen”.  Seriously.  My measuring spoon says “smidgen”.  Isn’t it cute?

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Pack beans into jars to within a 1/2 inch headspace.

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Ladle hot brine into jars to cover beans, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles, adjust headspace if necessary.  Wipe rim.  Center lid on jar, tighten ring with normal pressure.  Do not over-tighten.  Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water.   Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes.  Remove canner lid.  Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.

A few notes:

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*Dill sprigs are the smaller “flower” of the entire dill head.  You can use scissors to cut the sprigs from the head.

I never seem to have enough brine, no matter how much the recipe calls for.  I went ahead and tripled this recipe because I had more like 5lbs of beans, but couldn’t fit all the pints into my canner.  So I simply refrigerated the last jar of dilly beans.  This worked, but give them a week to really pickle correctly!  I kept trying them every day, and by about 7 days the two remaining beans were nice and pickly flavored!  Ha!  I do think the flavor is best canned, though.

Drying Dill:

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If you were lucky to be given several giant heads of dill from your parent’s garden like I was, hang them up to dry!  Once the seeds are dry, you can harvest them and store them in a jar for future recipes!  I just store mine in an old “dill seed” spice jar because it’s already labeled, and it fits on my lazy susan.  So far I haven’t had an issues with molding, although if you store them before they are completely dried, that may happen.  In the above picture you can see the difference between a head of “completely dried” dill, and one that still needs a week or so.  In the meantime, it makes me look all productive and stuff with the dill hanging there, doesn’t it?  Ha ha!

For easier printing:

  • 2lbs green and/or wax beans, washed and trimmed
  • 1/4 cup canning salt
  • 2 1/2 cups vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (Or 2 small red bell peppers, seeded and sliced into thin strips)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, divided
  • 4-8 sprigs of fresh dill*
  • 12 whole peppercorns, optional

Directions:

  1. Prepare canner, jars, and lids
  2. Combine salt, vinegar, and water in stainless steel saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve salt.
  3. Place 3 peppercorns, 1 or 2 sprigs of dill, cayenne (or one strip of red pepper), and one clove of garlic in each hot jar.  Pack beans into jars to within a 1/2 inch headspace.  Ladle hot brine into jars to cover beans, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles, adjust headspace if necessary.  Wipe rim.  Center lid on jar, tighten ring with normal pressure.  Do not over-tighten.
  4. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water.   Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes.  Remove canner lid.  Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.

One more thing… great taste buds think alike, apparently!  Just yesterday, as I was working on this post, my favorite sister-in-law, Erin, posted this Japanese green bean stir fry recipe!  It looks DELICIOUS, and I think I’m going to go pick some beans this weekend at my mother-and-father-in-law’s garden just to try it!

Categories: Canning, Dehydrating, Pickles, Vegetables | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

“Miracle” Rice with Spinach and Parmesan – Just In Time For A Groupon Deal!

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Have you seen this stuff?  They’re called “Miracle Noodles”, and I’m inclined to agree that yes, they are some kind of miracle.  NO calories, NO artificial crap, NOT disgusting.  Wait… actually, they could be disgusting if you don’t prepare them correctly.

The first time I made them I was not desperate for a pasta substitute, and was only trying them because I was bending to the persuasion of my mother.  Brow-beaten people never read directions, so they turned out disgusting.

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But then I did this crazy strict diet thingy and for awhile couldn’t have any starches…and I was desperate for pasta.  Desperate people DO read directions!

I was determined to make these noodles taste good, and it turns out it’s not that hard to do!  As long as you follow the directions, of course!

You can buy these on Amazon.com.  I haven’t seen it in any stores near me, but there is another brand that I found at Meijer called NO Oodle.  They didn’t have the “rice” option in the store, but it’s a good way to try these noodles out without having to buy in bulk.

I have only tried the Angel Hair and Rice varieties so far, but there are a few others.  The Angel Hair is a very good, almost perfect, substitute for spaghetti noodles.  I think the Rice is closer to orzo than actual rice, though.  I haven’t tried using the Rice in rice recipes yet though, I’ll let you know how that turns out when I do!

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I did, however, use it to make an orzo-ish side dish a few months ago.  It simply consisted of things that sounded good to me, and what I had on hand, and it was delicious!

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Miracle “Rice” with Spinach and Parmesan

What you will need:

  • One 7-oz bag of Miracle Rice
  • Fresh Parmesan, grated (probably around 1/2 cup, more to taste)
  • 2 cups fresh spinach (you could also use frozen)
  • 1 tsp chicken base (I used Better Than Bouillon)
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Prepare the Miracle Rice using the directions printed on the package.  (Rinse, then boil for one minute, then rinse again).  They smell terrible!  Just hold your nose, I promise you will not taste that smell!
  2. Saute the spinach in a little butter until wilted.
  3. Add butter, chicken base, sauteed spinach, pepper and Parmesan to the rice, stir and serve!  Sprinkle a little extra fresh Parmesan on top for a nice touch.

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Coincidentally, there is a deal on Groupon right now for these!  $39.99 for 24 7-oz bags.  This makes each pack about $1.60; typically, they are around $2.50 or even $3.00 on Amazon, especially if you buy them one at a time.

DSC00841I forgot to take a final picture, of course.  But you get the idea, right?  It was good.  We ate it.  I’ll make it again someday!

Categories: Grain-free, Recipes, Side Dishes | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

A Tribute To A Fine Lady

Phew!  Sorry for the major downer post last time!  I admit wine was involved, but mostly I was just feeling really sad for my poor hubby.  He’s been doing pretty well, despite the occasional innocent insensitivity from one of the kids.  Dagny: “Daddy, Mica a cat-killer!” or, “Dat Pounce?” (Pointing to a different cat).  Cozy’s are more sophisticated: (Sighs) “I miss Pounce.  Does it hurt to die?”  Each question brings a tear to his eye, but overall he is healing.

And then…

Two days after Pounce’s untimely demise a rowdy storm blew into our area.  After a tornado came through 10 miles from our house three years ago and destroyed entire neighborhoods and the front half of a local high school, I’ve been less than a fan of storms anymore.  Consequently, I pleaded with friends on Facebook to call or text me if the sirens went off, because we cannot hear them out in the country.  I also downloaded two different apps that would alert me as well.  (Oh, and my phone has a built-in storm alert…overkill?  Maybe.  Ironically, my basement is NOT stocked with emergency items or even somewhere to sit while praying for our lives.  I’m a conundrum.)  Anyway, my phone was going off in some capacity the entire night: alarms, texts, Facebook notifications, actual phone calls (remember those?).  The girls and I snuggled with blankets and bean bags next to the wolf spiders in the basement while Ty snoozed in our big comfy bed on the top floor of our house, far too unconcerned with staying alive for my taste.  We lost power for several hours, which was fine in the cool basement but rather steamy when we stumbled back upstairs to crawl back into bed once the coast was clear.  I wasn’t in bed more than 10 minutes before I got another text.  Heart pounding, I went back into survival mode but after reading the text my heartbeat changed to a different pattern.  The text was from my Mom, “Grandma just passed away.  Dad is heading over there.”

My Dad and Grandma at our annual St. Paddy's Day party last year.

My Dad and Grandma at our annual St. Paddy’s Day party last year.

That was a rough week!  While Grandma was 90 years old and we all knew she would be dying soon as she was fairly ill and had received the Last Sacrament, you never can truly prepare your heart for the inevitable, right?  Well, I had a big giant post about our cat, so let me share just a few memories of my Grandma…different tone though.  Grandma lived a wonderful life, and while we will all miss her, she is with her Father, her husband, and her oldest daughter.  She’s happy.

My father’s mother was born in 1923, and probably like everyone else raised during the Great Depression never could quite break any extreme frugal habits.  She married Grandpa and they tried for five years to have a baby, and finally ended up adopting a baby girl.  As is often the case, she became pregnant…seven more times.  My Dad was right in the middle, the second boy of three, with five sisters.  Together, they raised their eight children in a tiny 3-bedroom house that is still in the family.  Grandpa died before I was born, less than 60 years old.  Grandma never remarried, and never did tell me why.  I think maybe she figured no one could ever hold a candle to her Edward.

I was in the middle of her 30 grandchildren (15 great-grandchildren!), but she never failed to buy me new underwear for Christmas each year of my childhood and she always made me a homemade peach pie on my birthday, bringing some summer to the dead of winter, which, to this day, is still my favorite kind of pie.

Truthfully, Grandma scared the bajeebers out of me as a child.  She was a staunch Roman Catholic who raised 8 children and even several grandkids…this was not a woman who took any crap from any kids.

Wearing glow-sticks as earrings at a Christmas In July Ty and threw many years ago.  She had a good sense of humor!

Wearing glow-sticks as earrings at a Christmas In July party Ty and threw many years ago. She had a good sense of humor!

Plus she HATED my cat, Rikki, who was the love of my life as a child.  Once, Grandma was babysitting us while my parents were off doing whatever it was that parents do without their children (I’m pretty sure mine just held hands and missed us…) and she was putting me to bed and Rikki jumped up right next to Grandma’s head.  Grandma sat up, let out a screech loud enough to wake the dead and Rikki shot out of that room in a bright orange blur.  My brother and I laughed about that for days.

I gained a new appreciation for Grandma the older I got, as children do.  As time went on and I got married myself, and had some of my own children, my fear morphed into admiration.  I loved talked to her at family parties or playing Scrabble with her when we’d hang out.  She was a fountain of family history and amazing recipes.  We shared an unabashed appreciation for food and while I usually never could get a word in edgewise, I liked hearing about her favorite recipes.

I think the thing I most admired about my Grandma though, was how close her children all still are.  Several times a year my Dad’s side of the family gets together for big Irish parties and all the siblings come as well as most of the grandkids.  It’s always such fun, and beyond the parties they are really there for each other.  Grandma definitely left a legacy to be admired, and she will be greatly missed.

She cheated at Scrabble, though.

Four Generations

Four Generations, Christmas 2012

Stick with me, folks.  I have so many recipes coming at you!  Hummus, lemon basil pesto, canning peaches (and making them into pies in honor of my Grandma!), vegetable soup, miracle pasta…  it’s all coming soon!  And no more sadness if I can help it!

Categories: Journal, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , ,

A Sad Day

Today was awful.

Actually, it didn’t start out awful…  the kids were all great, practically all day.  Nothing drives me towards stress-eating or drinking faster than unruly children.  And since I am regularly in charge of at least four children during the day, it’s safe to say that most evenings I am indulging.

But today, miraculously, all four children were just normal, children-like kids.  Mischievous.  Happy.  Clever.  Funny.

Which is fortunate, because by noon I was completely pre-occupied with guilt, sadness and regret.

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You may or may not have pets.  That’s somewhat unimportant when relating to today’s events.  Even the most pet-less or uncaring soul can relate to the sad, twisted emotions of today.  (Note:  Pet-less does NOT equal uncaring.  Uncaring equals uncaring.)

Let’s begin: 

Toby, the boy-dog

Toby, the boy-dog

I have two rotten dogs.  Toby and Mica.  It’s no secret they drive me to the brink of craziness.  They steal food from little fingers:  food that I’ve carefully prepared for little FINGERS, not paws.  They pee and poop all over my carpet.  It’s not carpet I love, in fact, it’s disgusting carpet that I hate.  Regardless, it’s carpet that occupies my home, and until I win the lottery or until this blog starts earning me any income, it’s carpet that’s going to know the soles of my feet intimately for a LONG time.  (I also own a steam cleaner.  Coincidence?  Not.)

Mica, the girl-dog

Mica, the girl-dog

The only thing they do to endear me to them is hint at my protection.  I live in the country, and when my husband is out of town these two mongrels are my only safety.  I know without a doubt they would die to protect me.  This is a pretty big attraction for me towards these dogs, albeit the only one.

Scavenger (Taxi's sister), Domino, and Toopweets (our other boy-cat)

Scavenger (Taxi’s sister), Domino, and Toopweets (our other boy-cat)

I have five cats.  I used to have seven, once upon a time, in a much larger home.  Once, years ago, Toby chased and caught one of our more friendly cats, Taxi, and shook her viciously.  It wasn’t a proud moment of my life when I smacked and kicked Toby to let her go, but let her go he did.  Taxi never really recovered from the incident, and wisely never showed her face near the dogs again.  She lived in the rafters of our duct-work.  Safe in a world filled with mice and dust, high above the canine terrors.  Eventually we gave Taxi to my Mom, so she could live on the main floor again.

They have treed several of our cats before.  Even though we had three cats when we adopted the puppies nine years ago, the brother-and-sister dogs never really understood their role as SIBLINGS.  They were brother-and-sister pups, first and foremost.  They didn’t really adapt well to our feline household.  As we added cats we figured they would get used to it.  But small cat-terrorizing events over nine years eventually added up.

Our dogs are cat-killers.

I think it’s the German Shepherd in them, truly.

A flashback:  {When I was fifteen, my ten-year-old tabby was killed by our family dog, a German Shepherd mutt, while I was at summer camp.  I’ll never forget my Mom walking with me through the Confederate graveyard on Johnson Island after picking me up from Camp Patmos and explaining to me what happened.  I was devastated, in the way only a 15-year-old who had never lost anyone other than an aunt could be.  I cried every night for a year over Rikki, my beloved orange tabby girl who followed me everywhere and let me dress her up as a baby and push her in a pram.}

Today, it was my husband’s “Rikki”.  His name was Pounce, and Ty had received Pounce as a kitten 13 years ago from his mother.  Pounce came onto Ty’s scene three years before I had, and was already a Crotchety Snob by the time I made my debut.  By finally marrying Ty and making good on all my teasing, I eventually won Pounce over.  It took him at least 6 months into our marriage – he wasn’t one to blindly trust – to let me pet him, and probably two years to actually give me a kiss.  This cat had serious loyalties.  He was Ty’s Cat, through and through.  Over the last ten years of our marriage, Pounce won his own place in my heart.  He was still Ty’s Cat, and reserved certain greetings for Ty, but he condescended to cuddle me in the middle of the night sometimes, and would even allow a “goopa” (kiss) or two every now and then.

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All day today, the dogs kept barking up trees in the backyard.  (I had let them out at 4:30 AM a few days ago because Toby was whining and I figured if I didn’t get up now to let him out, I’d be cleaning up poop in the morning.  {PS.  Mica had already pooped on the carpet.}  They immediately ran aggressively through the yard, chasing some idiot animal that thought our fenced-in back yard was a good place to scavenge. )  So, I figured they had treed a coon or a possum, both fairly popular in the country.  I kept yelling at them through the kitchen window, and thrice let them into the house to give their vocal cords a rest.  I put them back out during meal times.  (By the way, I have four kids, 5 and under, during most days of the week.  There are 300 “meal times” during the day.) Each time they went back out, they’d run back under the trees barking at whatever was treed.

Let’s cut to the chase.  It was Pounce.  My favorite Person-Earth’s-Favorite-Pet-That-He’s-Had-Since-Way-Before-He-Even-Met-Me.  Those idiot dogs cornered Pounce under a thick blanket of pine trees.  I had no idea… I just thought they were being their usual idiot selves.  It wasn’t until my 5-year-old daughter, Cozy, came running into the kitchen crying, “I think the dogs killed Pounce!” that I had an inkling of what had happened.  I’m ashamed to say I even put her off for a few minutes while I finished the dishes, saying, “Oh Honey, it’s a raccoon”.  She kept insisting it was Pounce though, so I finally abandoned the mound of dishes and followed her.  Before I even opened the slider I saw she was right.  There was nothing raccoon-ish at all about the long short-haired skinny body on the ground, and with my tongue pressed to the roof of my mouth all I could do was pray it was a stray cat as I walked towards him.

Pouncer

There wasn’t much blood.  Only one dog with enough sense to be sheepish and another idiot dog with misplaced pride standing near the poor cat.  It looked like Pounce.  The same white-tipped tail, the same clawless front paws.  The same black-and-gray tabby stripes.  But a closer look at his face and I saw those were NOT Pounce’s insolent eyes.  Those were a strange cat’s angry, unbelieving eyes.  I felt a glimmer of hope…  maybe this was a stray.  Maybe I wouldn’t have to tell my Love that his kitten was dead.  Maybe I could just feel sad over the spent life of a poor soul that tragically wandered into the wrong yard.  Dig a grave for this Unfortunate…I could do that.

I called for Pounce.  In the garage, in the front yard.  He didn’t come, of course.  Eventually I had to face reality that our dogs killed our cat.  It was Rikki all over again, plus fifteen years.  Fifteen years of role-change, where suddenly I was the Giver of bad news instead of the Receiver.   I was dreading Ty’s return home.  What was I going to say?  Should I just hand him a shot of whiskey and straight-up tell him?  Should I let him greet the dogs with his usual love and affection and then tell him before he hated them forever?  Should I call him now at work?  Should I text him?  Should I let him tell me about his day first and then tell him?

Not a shot from today, but a similar expression of the seriousness in her blue eyes.

Not a shot from today, but a similar expression of the seriousness in her blue eyes.

First, a conversation with Cozy.  When we discovered it was, indeed, Pounce, she cried.  Hard.  I was impressed, honestly.  I mean, we have two dogs, five cats, one goldfish, and six hens.  That a 5-year-old attached any importance to someone who’s been there ever since she could remember made me crumble.  After I had found a suitable box and towel to wrap the poor cat in and finally came back inside to deal with human tears, I wrapped my arms around her.  (The other three small girls were blissfully ignorant of any sadness.)  Cozy spoke wisely through her tears, “Will he be going up the stairs now, Mama?”  (She’s referring to a scene from a family favorite movie, It Came Upon The Midnight Clear, where Mickey Rooney’s soul climbs from his corpse up stairs to Heaven).  After I confirmed this truth (Hey…  there’s no way animals aren’t in Heaven.  Why create them on Earth if they aren’t going to make us smile up there?)  She asked to pray with me.

It was one of those rare moments in parenthood where I felt a calmness:  despite ALL my failures, she’s learning the important things.

It was a rough few hours until Ty got home.  Ultimately, I just sputtered it out, as soon as he greeted me.  I couldn’t think of a better way.  We’ve lost a son together, our first-born.  We know loss.  Losing Pounce – although certainly not the same – is hard on Ty.  He’s a friend to him, someone he’s protected, fed, and most recently shoved thyroid medication down his throat, not to mention cleaned his litter box for 13 years.  Ty has an attachment to Pounce like I had to Rikki many years ago, and to lose him to the ultimate betrayal of another pet is the worst way to say goodbye to this longtime friend.

No one this good-looking should be so sad

No one this good-looking should be so sad

Please pray for Ty’s grieving, and for his forgiveness of our idiot dogs.  They won’t be any easier to forgive then my idiot dog from my childhood, but ultimately, they are just animals, acting instinctively.  This is why we are the superior race, so that we can fight OUR instincts.

We already miss you, Pounce.  You were the best cat ever!

We already miss you, Pounce. You were the best cat ever!

Categories: Journal | Tags: , , , , ,

A Very Lengthy Tour of My Garden

DSC01182(First of all, don’t those clouds look like something from The Simpsons? HA!)

My garden is mostly planted and I am just so pleased with it!  Last year, I tried Square Foot Gardening for the first time and loved it.  I learned a few valuable lessons regarding over-crowding last year, and I think I made the right adjustments this year.  This is the straight-on view of my entire garden.  On the very left up against the fence is a new addition, an asparagus patch!

DSC01185Nothing to see yet, really.  Asparagus takes three years before you can harvest it, and then it grows prolifically as a perennial, apparently.  I’ve  never had asparagus straight out of a garden before, so that will be a real treat!

DSC01183Right next to the asparagus patch is something else that is new to my garden and my experience:  Raspberry bushes!  I planted two red bushes and one golden, just for funsies.  I doubt I’ll get a harvest this year, but hopefully next year?  I’ve never grown raspberries before, so I’m really not sure when I can expect to harvest.  I know my girls are going to be all over them, though!  They are berry-crazy!  (Ha ha)

DSC01184It’s alive!  The other two bushes just look like expensive sticks that some crazy person planted, but this one actually has a few leaves!  (Doesn’t take much to excite me…)

DSC01181Behind the raspberry bushes is a raised bed.  Last year I grew pickles, basil, beets, cilantro and two kinds of heirloom tomatoes in this bed.  They all did fairly well here, so I didn’t change much.  I planted basil, cilantro and cucumbers this year.  I have room for more, but haven’t decided what to put there yet.  I will probably put cherry tomatoes in there once my seedlings are ready for transplant.  I decided not to grow beets this year, even though they were lots of fun, because I pickled and canned them up, and no one ever ate them.  I also decided not to grow pickles, because it was too frustrating to me that there was never a batch ready at the same time for pickling.  This year I’m just going to order pickles, and that way I’ll get all my pickling done at once.

I took these pictures the same day that I took the chicken pictures, as is evident by Dagny’s outfit.  See my big helper?  (There used to be basil seeds in that square…I’m guessing that they aren’t there anymore…)

DSC01186

I did start my basil this year from direct-sow seed.  I’ve never done that (successfully) with basil, so it wasn’t too surprising to me that most of them didn’t come up.  I ended up buying a healthy-looking plant just to guarantee I would get some basil this year.

DSC01187It looks like at least one seed worked, though!  This is definitely not a weed!  Exciting!

DSC01188I also started cilantro from seed, and there are three seedlings that sprouted!  Aren’t they so cute?  I will probably still buy a larger plant though, because it’s getting to be salsa season and I need cilantro, dang it!  On a related note, you probably already knew this, but I’m still a beginner in the gardening world and this was new information to me.  Did you know that coriander is actually the seeds from cilantro?  I’ll definitely be learning more about harvesting coriander once my cilantro goes to seed later this year and posting about it.  Interesting, isn’t it?

DSC01199The next raised bed, which was all corn last year, now is my lettuce bed.  I decided not to grow corn because I tried it three years in a row, and although I did finally get good corn last year, I just decided it’s cheap enough in season that I don’t need to waste space worrying over it.  So this year I planted Romaine, spinach and arugula, just like last year.  I still want to plant kale, as well, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.  I might have missed the window… not sure.

DSC01200It is my opinion that arugula is the EASIEST vegetable to grow.  It is as talented as a weed and nearly as invasive!  Last year I used my arugula in my Italian Wedding Soup and also made arugula pecan pesto.  It was delicious, and I kicked myself all pesto-less winter for not making more! In fact, I went through a lazy streak in the crucial week before the arugula went to seed and didn’t preserve it at all!  (For shame!  Boo!  Hiss!)  I was definitely regretting that over the winter, because arugula isn’t something that shows up in my grocery stores.

DSC01201Spinach is so cute as a baby.  Aww, wook at da widdle spinach weaves! So sweet!  (I may need help.)

DSC01202Romaine is cute too!  The wood chips are about the size of my thumbnail, just for scale comparison.  Aren’t those leaves tiny?  Someday they are going to be crunchy chunks of deliciousness drenched in Caesar dressing.  Sniff.  They grow up so fast!

DSC01190In front of the lettuce box are the snap peas.  I’m not exactly proud of this contraption.  There are probably 10 different ways to encourage these climbers that are snazzier and more efficient.  But I’m saving my landscaping budget for more important things and this was made with things I already had.  Plus it’s WAY better than my original design, which involved a collapsible drying rack and was far more embarrassing.

DSC01192I think this will work.  This is the most promising batch of snap peas I’ve grown yet.  The first year I planted them too late and only got ONE pea.  The second year my garden was consumed by weeds and I was too scared to enter it.  Last year I foolishly planted the peas behind the tomatoes, which were foolishly planted behind the cucumber, which were foolishly planted to receive ALL the sun.  The tomatoes and cucumbers were amazing, the most amazing crop I’d ever grown.  But the peas?  Oh the peas.  Nary a one was able to even see the sun, and they were quickly completely consumed by the larger plants.  This year looks to finally provide me with all the peas I can consume!  Once the plants are happily climbing, I’m also going to interplant this box with red, Yukon, and sweet potatoes.  (This was the potato box last year.)

DSC01193I am, however, REALLY proud of this!  I saw this on Pinterest and had to do it.  These are just bamboo poles tied together so that pole green beans can grow up it.

DSC01194(Isn’t this a cool picture?)

As a little girl, I was always infatuated with fairies and tiny forts.  I would have loved something like this as a little girl – a “secret” hide-out in the garden where the fairies were sure to be spotted.

DSC01195My oldest girl was named Cosette, after a character in one of my favorite musicals.  (Name that show!) We nicknamed her “Cozy”, which completely epitomizes her personality.  She is a lot like me in the way that she loves to create forts and is more than happy to hunt for fairies in tiny spaces.  My plan is to try to train the beans up the poles in a weaving fashion, so that the fort will be completely covered.  If any grow higher than the 6-ft poles I will try to encourage them to hang over the “door”, to complete the entrance to the hide-out.  I’ve never grown pole beans before, so I’m not totally sure what to expect.

DSC01196This is the first year for pumpkins for us, too.  I tried to grow them my second year of gardening, but the weeds and the heat wave won that battle.  My plan is to just let the vines go across the right side of the yard.  Can you see the seedling in there?  It only took like 3 days to sprout like that!  It totally shocked me.  (I shock easily too, apparently) I’m not planning on leaving the tomato cage over it, I’m just a little distrusting of my chickens, so I’m leaving the cage there until the vines can fend for themselves.

DSC01206Likewise, on the back fence, is the watermelon.  I haven’t grown that successfully yet, either.

DSC01205I planted this the same day as the pumpkin, and look how wussy the seedling looks compared to the pumpkin!  It took longer to sprout, too.  I’m going to let these vines take over the back of the yard, too.  I tried to grow watermelon up that chain-link fence last year.  It did work, and I did get one melon – that I prematurely harvested because it was about to frost, anyway – but I have a big enough yard that it doesn’t really matter.  The back end of the yard is only used for compost and my husband will be grateful to not have to mow it anyway.

DSC01203The long back bed that was Romas and arugula last year now is the strawberry bed.  I planted both Ever-bearing and June-bearing berries.  The chickens have destroyed two of the June-bearing plants.  I’m not really sure what the method to their madness is… why only two?  Why both June-bearing?  It’s a puzzle.  I put a tomato cage in one end, hoping it would creep them out enough to stay out.

DSC01210This isn’t in my garden.  It’s actually on the back of my house.  This is from last year’s pitiful strawberry efforts.  (News flash, strawberries like FULL sun, duh!)  I was happy to see two plants return.  It kind of vindicated my salty feelings from last year.

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This is the view from the right side of the garden.  Stage left, for you theater majors out there.  The box closest to the camera is mostly empty still.  I have two banana pepper plants given to me by my generous in-laws.   They also gave me a jalapeno plant, but the chickens had their way with it.  More tomato cages to the rescue!  The rest of the box is going to be filled with beefsteak, Roma and cherry tomatoes.  I bought all the seeds for these, but only started the seeds a few weeks ago.  The seedlings are only about 4 inches tall, and I’m not sure that is far enough along.  I might just buy plants to get in the ground now, and plant the seedlings I started later when they are stronger.  That way if they don’t produce until late fall it won’t be a big deal and I will have already been able to can up some tomato products.

You can see that I have two big helpers, staying busy digging in the dirt for Mama!

Behind the chain-link fence to the right, on the other side of the strawberry patch I planted sunflowers.  I had started the seeds in decomposing pots and then planted the pots after the seedlings were about an inch tall.  I then took some practical precautions and protected their row with chicken wire.  A day later, the seedlings were all gone.  In some of the pots there was even a broken sunflower shell, just sitting on top of the dirt, mocking me.  Crafty birds.

So I replanted the seeds, but I don’t have much hope for their survival.

DSC01209The last thing I planted this year was a blueberry bush.  I planted it by itself in a very empty space where a tiny propane tank used to live behind our house.  It also just looks like a stick in the ground, but hopefully next year or in a few years we’ll have fresh blueberries!

I still have a few things to get in the ground, including a blackberry bush.  I’m not sure where I’m going to put that yet, though.

If you have any tips for some of the things that are new to me (berry bushes, asparagus, pole beans, sunflowers) I would greatly appreciate it!

Categories: Gardening, Journal, Vegetables | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Wood County

DSC01218I love my “girls”.

Back in the fall of 2012, the daughter of a friend of my father-in-law’s (phew!) gave me an entire chicken coop as well as 5 older hens.  Some of the hens still lay (well, of the four that figured out how not to get eaten by hawks, that is...) on a consistent basis, but I was really only getting one or two eggs a day.  My family eats eggs practically every day, so I decided it was time to add some younger hens to our little flock.

Meet the new girls!

DSC01215This is Savannah.  I have no idea why I named her that, it’s just the first thing that popped into my head.  I was born in Peachtree City, Georgia though, so maybe my heritage was shining through in those crucial 10 seconds.

DSC01212And this is Sunshine!  Cozy named her, and it impressed me that she picked an appropriate name that “goes” with Savannah.  Not sure how to tell them apart?  Sunshine has a white butt.

Incidentally, Sunshine could actually be Savannah.  I didn’t notice the white butt until after both birds were named, and then decided Ol’ White Butt should be Sunshine.

EggsThe new hens haven’t figured out where to lay their eggs yet.  For about 4 days after I brought them home I thought they must have still been too stressed out to lay.  But then out of the corner of my eye I spotted their “nest”!  Once I removed these eggs though they stopped laying there and now I have no idea where they created their new nest.  Somewhere in my yard or in the cornfields there must be about 30 eggs!

Mother's Day 2013I love these girls, too!  We read the cutest book the other night called The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County by Janice N. Harrington.  It was darn funny.  We laughed the whole way through it (the girls and I were laughing at the little girl’s determination to catch a certain hen, and Ty was dying over my imitation of a southern little black girl’s voice.)  It’s definitely showing up at Christmas!  Ever since then, Dagny has taken on a new life goal.  She wants to be the Chicken-Chasing Queen of Wood County.

DSC01220Minding their own business, looking for delicious ticks.  (Ew.)

DSC01221“Run!  Here she comes!”

DSC01224 “Ack!” (Dagny is wearing a ballerina tutu with tennis shoes.  Pick your battles, folks.)

DSC01225“I git you, Shunshine!”

DSC01223Look at those thighs.  I’d run too if those were chasing me!

DSC01227Into the coop you go!  Dagny has become a pro at helping me get the new hens into the coop at night.  They haven’t developed the habit of going in there themselves like the black hens do every night.  (On the left side of the picture is one of the little girls that I babysit during the day.  Aren’t her blond ringlets adorable?)

DSC01217“Can we come back out now?  It’s only 11:00 am!  There’s still ticks to eat!”

DSC01216Sure!  But Dagny the Chicken-Chasing Queen is still on the loose!

Categories: Chicken, Eggs, Journal, Poultry | Tags: , , , ,

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