Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Garden blog

Starting a log of when and what we are doing to the garden, for future reference.

February 15:Started seeds in seed starter. Note: No need to start marigolds or okra for three more weeks.

April 1: Transplant into seed start soil mix. Note: should have done about two weeks sooner, around mid March. Started bringing plants out to greenhouse when sun/heat were appropriate.

May 5: Planted Garden....about two weeks late but extreme rain delayed. Fertilized with naturesafe. Planted marigolds in and around garden for pest control.

May 10: Fertilized with Naturesafe. realized eggplants are being eaten and need to make garlic oil spray and spray them asap. Should have sprayed after day two of planting. Garlic oil spray recipe:

* Three to four cloves of garlic
* Mineral oil
* Strainer or cheesecloth
* Liquid dish soap
* Water
* Spray bottle

To make garlic oil spray, mince or finely chop three to four cloves of garlic, and add them to two teaspoons of mineral oil. Let this mixture sit for 24 hours. Strain out the garlic pieces, and add the remaining liquid to one pint of water. Add one teaspoon of liquid dish soap. This mixture can be stored and diluted as needed. When you need to spray, use two tablespoons of the mixture added to one pint of water in a spray bottle.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Garden Harvest

It's that time of year. Garden fresh vegetables are abundant. If we aren't growing a certain type of vegetable, we know someone who is, or can buy fresh local produce at the stores or even local organic produce from some farmers markets. We have green beans and hot peppers coming out of our ears. And we love it. What we don't eat we freeze or share, and others do the same. A friend brought me a bag of onions a few days ago. And I've given fresh basil, rosemary and thyme to everyone who steps foot on our property. I don't remember very many mid summer family get togethers, pot lucks, reunions, picnics or barbecues without someone bringing a big batch of cucumber, onion and tomato salad. Here's how I make it.

2 cucumbers
several tomatoes, I used five in different sizes and varieties
one medium sweet onion
Nakano seasoned rice (roasted garlic)
Bragg or other apple cider vinegar
Sea salt, pepper and sugar to taste

Slice cucumbers thin, halve onion and slice thin, Halve and slice toamotes. Add a 1.5 teaspoons of sugar, salt and pepper to liking, and pour most of bottle of seasoned rive vinegar over vegetables. Add a few tables spoons of cider vinegar and a quarter cup (or more to taste) of water. Cover and shake or stir gently so you don't break up tomatoes. Enjoy the taste of summer!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I'm back!

I have neglected my blog already, but now that a few crazy busy weeks are over I plan to be more diligent about my postings. I plan on posting a few times weekly though, instead of a big one once a week.

Sausage, potatoes and garden fresh green beans

This is a Midwest favorite comfort food dish served traditionally in the middle of summer when fresh green beans are plentiful.

One smoked or Kielbasa sausage, cut into half lengthwise, then in slices. Cook over medium heat in skillet until browned. Set aside.
One medium onion, chopped and sauteed.
One pound (we used 1.5) fresh green beans, snap off ends, snap into bite sized pieces, string if needed
one and half pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into large bites
Large container of chicken broth.

Cover beans and potatoes with broth. Bring to a boil then return to medium until potatoes and beans are just done enough. Stir in sausage and onions, allow to heat for a few more minutes. Serve immediately.

Creamy pesto chicken pasta with veggies

one container button mushrooms, quartered
one sweet onion, chopped
pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in halves
one zucchini, halved and sliced
7-8oz pesto sauce
2-3oz half and half or cream
3/4 - 1 lb linguine
one pound chicken breast cooked and chopped into bite size cubes (Omit or add vegetarian chicken substitute for a delicious vegetarian dish)
salt for pasta water

Cook pasta according to directions. Meanwhile saute onions, mushrooms and zucchini, adding mushrooms one minute after onions and zucchini two minutes after mushrooms. Set aside with tomatoes and chicken. In small sauce pan add pesto and cream or half and half to desired consistency and heat on low. Drain pasta when done, and toss all ingredients together. Serve with optional fresh shredded Parmesan cheese.

Day Three

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Week Five/ Camping

We are about to do some traveling and camping. I thought I should share a few of the super easy throw together things I am bringing.

A loaf of good bread. GO high fructose corn syrup free. It's worth the money. I am bringing a loaf of sesame poppy seed five grain. Mmmm.

Pasta noodles. I'm bringing cavatapi.

Jar of pesto sauce.

pre sliced grape tomatoes

Pre sliced cheese. I'm bringing co jack.

Stick of butter.

Pre shredded Mexican style cheese.

Small can of authentic salsa casera: hot.

Can of organic black beans.

Pre cooked sauteed onions, garlic, zucchini, and mushrooms.

Big burrito size flour tortillas.

Pre made chicken salad. I'm using this recipe: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Holiday-Chicken-Salad/Detail.aspx

Peanut butter


Baked potato chips

flat pretzels or crackers

pre made hummus

box of good granola bars. I'm bringing Cascadian Farms organic dark chocolate and almond.

fruit. bananas and apples travel well, and I have them already, so that's what I'm bringing.

coffee, sugar, water and percolator

This will make
two breakfasts for two people of fruit and granola with coffee
one lunch of grilled cheese and chips
one dinner of pesto pasta
one lunch of chicken salad sandwiches or wraps
one dinner of black bean and veggie burritos complete with cheese and salsa
snack of hummus and pretzels or crackers

I'm too busy packing to worry about writing out the rest for the week so you'll have to wait until we get back.

Have a Happy 4th of July!!!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Week Four

This will be a short week, we have some traveling to do. Yay for Six Flags with the family!

Day One

Pork sandwiches

Using the leftover pork from carnitas to make sandwiches. I'll use balillo rolls, muenster cheese slices, caramelized onions, and a bit of broth from roast the night before. I will also be serving this with asparagus- which isn't really fitting for the meal but it was on sale and fresh, so I had to have it. I will sautee the asparagus in olive oil with fresh garlic until just done.

Day Two


I am making chili tonight so that on Saturday, while Aaron and I are partying it up at our friends wedding, the kids and in laws will have a good leftover meal. This is usually the time of year where we don't make much chili. We had it twice monthly over the winter and are awaiting the taste of fresh tomatoes. Sometimes I make extra just to use for chili cheese burritos a couple nights later. I reduce it on the stove then process it into an almost paste like substance, add to tortillas with cheese, onion, sour cream and or avocado. I can't really share my recipe with you as I never actually measure. I just taste and add as I go.

1 lb ground turkey
2 cans organic hot chili beans
2 cans black beans
one large onion, diced
one bell pepper, diced
five cloves garlic, minced
four cans stewed tomatoes, diced
chili powder
garlic powder
black pepper
cayenne pepper
onion powder
dash of curry powder
minced hot peppers

I puree one can of black beans in a processor with most of the seasoning and garlic to make it thick and hearty. That's the way everyone here likes it: ) Cook all together and allow to reduce for at least an hour and a half. Serve with saltines, shredded cheese and or sour cream.

Day Three

Beef and shrimp stir fry

sugar snap peas
3/4 pound sliced beef
1/2 pound shelled and deveined shrimp
stir fry sauce
1 cup rice- cooked according to package directions

saute each of the first five ingredients one at a time until just done, removing and setting aside in a large bowl after each is done. Then cook shrimp until just done, remove. Repeat with beef. Add all cooked ingredients back together and mix with stir fry sauce. Serve over rice

Day Four

leftover chili
(I sometimes use the leftover chili to make chili cheese burritos)

Day Five


Day Six


Day Seven

Chili dogs

I know, I know, processed foods are poison, but sometimes you gotta give into cravings. I will use kosher dogs at least.

hot dog buns
shredded cheddar
hot dogs
premade hot dog sauce (or leftover chili, processed until pasty)

serve with

canned green beans

Day Eight (trying to minimize the grocery trips)

Chicken fajitas

1.5 lbs chicken, cut into slices
mushrooms, sliced or quartered
sweet peppers, julienne
two onions, halved then sliced thin
one fresh lime
ground cumin
ground chili powder
black pepper
shredded cheese
avocado, cut into slices
fresh salsa

cook first 4 ingredients until just done, season generously with cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper ( I don't measure, sorry). Squeeze juice from lime than add to mix. serve on tortillas with last three ingredients to garnish.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Week Three

I'm a little behind on this post as I have been dealing with other things. Sorry!

Day One

Birthday request from Aaron: chicken wings

Boil fresh chicken wings for about 5 minutes. Remove from water, place in strainer and allow to drain until mostly dried. Bread with half corn starch, half flour, seasoned to taste if desired. They can also be put in as is. Deep fry at 350- 375 degrees for 12 minutes. Serve with (T. Marzettis) Blue Cheese dressing and carrot and celery sticks.

Day Two

Bruschetta and salad

Soon I will be able to make my own bruschetta when I have tomatoes.... very soon. Until then I buy the jar of bruschetta topping from Trader Joes. Toast slices of French or Italian bread and toast until lightly brown. Add bruschetta to each slice. Top with fresh mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Broil until cheese is melted and bruschetta is hot. I will also serve with a living lettuce wedge salad consisting of lettuce, carrots celery, green onion, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber. Top with favorite dressing.

Day Three

Tuna Casserole

Home made shells and cheese, cream of mushroom soup, two cans of drained albacore tuna, and fresh black pepper mixed and put in a hot skillet until bottom is lightly browned. I will serve this with green beans. Nothing fancy, but the kids love it.

Day Four

Grilled Swordfish, our favorite broccoli, and African wedding rice

Cook rice according to package instructions. (I can't give you the recipe for African Wedding Rice as I don't know the spice ratios or contents. A friend of mine spent 6 months in Africa and brought me home a BIG BAG FULL OF SPICES!!! (And fabric. What a GREAT friend! Thanks Jon!!) In this bag was a packet of wedding rice seasoning, that is traditionally eaten at weddings. So good!
Rub swordfish steaks with olive oil. Season steaks with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Grill until medium well. Saute broccoli florets over medium high heat with a tablespoon of olive oil, a half tablespoon of butter, three tablespoons of water and a few tablespoons of honey. Salt to taste.

Day Five

Coconut Curry chicken. I follow this recipe:

* 1/2 cup coconut milk
* 1 tablespoon red curry paste
* 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut in bite-sized pieces
* 2 cups coconut milk
* 3 tablespoons fish sauce
* 1 tablespoon brown sugar
* 3/4 cup bamboo shoots, drained
* 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
* 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
* 1/2 orange bell pepper, sliced
* 3/4 cup fresh Thai basil leaves
* 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice


1. Bring 1/2 cup coconut milk to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Whisk in the curry paste and cook until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the 2 cups coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, vegetables, bamboo shoots, and basil; simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Pour the lime juice over the dish and remove from heat. Serve warm.

Day Six


* 4 tablespoons seasoned salt
* 4 pounds pork butt or shoulder cut into 2-inch cubes, some but not all of the fat removed
* 1 cup water
* 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
* 1 medium onion, quartered
* 5 large garlic cloves
* Warm tortillas, for serving

Sprinkle the pork with the seasoned salt.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Put a roasting grate at the bottom of a roasting pan and pour 1 cup of water into the bottom of the pan along with the liquid smoke. Arrange the pork on the grate and top with the onion and garlic. Cover the pan with a lid or aluminum foil.

Bake for 2 hours, then remove the cover and bake until the pork is fork tender, about 1 more hour.

When cooked through, transfer the pork to a large bowl. Shred the meat and stir in the pan juices. Serve with warm tortillas or use when making tacos, tamales, etc.
I'm using it to make corn tortilla tacos with shredded Monterrey cheese, lettuce, avocado and salsa.

Day Seven

Mama's not cooking. Fend for yourselves.

Monday, June 7, 2010

My favorite food

Many times I have been asked "What is your favorite food?" and every time I feel like a deer caught in headlights. This is not a question I feel I can answer. If I were asked what my favorite dessert is, or maybe breakfast I feel I could actually answer the question. But food? I can't pin that down to one thing! I can't even decide on a favorite five coarse meal. It depends on my mood. And the weather. And what's in season. Who I'm eating with. Am I out of town? If I'm in Chicago it would be between a Chicago Pizza and a Chicago hot dog. In Pittsburgh it would definitely be a Mineo's pizza. If I were on the right coast it would be crab. In Kansas or Tennessee it would have to be BBQ ribs or pulled pork. At home in winter it would be a toss up between hot and spicy chili and chicken and dumplings. Mid summer it would be between garden fresh tomato basil bruschetta, or fried green tomatoes topped with Gorgonzola and broiled until bubbly. Or maybe grilled burgers topped with fresh jalapenos and cream cheese. But over the past few days I have decided if I HAD to pick one food to be my favorite it would be cheese. It's great on most of my favorite foods. It's comforting. And delicious. Goat cheese, jack, cheddar, Gouda, brie, Gorgonzola, Parmesan, buffalo mozzarella, feta, cream, Mexican style, I LOVE IT ALL. Except Limburger, which I have never tried. Can't get past the smell.
Anyway, above is a picture of tonight's meal, covered in goat cheese and Parmesan. I also added some chiffonade basil since the garden is now producing for us.