Posts Tagged ‘Gardening’

Herbal Gardening Bits and Baking

Spring is here, but I can’t really tell by the weather. It snowed the first day of spring and it’s been cold all this week. When it was warm a few days a couple of weeks ago, I started working on the small herb bed. Many of the perennial herbs are already coming back : catnip, peppermint, oregano, sage, chives, thyme, and rosemary.

The sage looks like it needs some trimming, but I wasn’t real sure how to do it properly. Of course, the quick and easy way for an answer is to look it up online. I found an article at¬† Jim Long’s Garden with an explanation and pictures of how to trim sage plants. I’m going to try to do this soon, but while it’s cold I’ve been spending more time baking.

I’ve found a chocolate chip cookie recipe I LOVE over at apple a day blog. In fact she calls it Best-ever chewy chocolate chip cookies and I’d have to agree. I’ve now made the recipe 3 times and it’s never failed. The recipe doesn’t call for chilling the dough and I really wouldn’t as these cookies hardly flatten out. It’s that simple, mix ingredients and start baking cookies. ūüôā

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I usually end up changing recipes a bit, but this one I’ve truly just left alone. There are only two things I’ve done a little different in the process. After using my scoop and putting the cookies on the cookie sheet(I always use a stoneware pan), I lightly flatten the tops a bit with my fingers, because I wanted my cookies a littler flatter than they were coming out.

The only other thing I did, was bake the cookies between 11-12 minutes, which is probably just a difference between ovens. The recipe calls for not baking over 10 minutes and at 10 minutes my cookies were still too gooey. These cookies are so delicious that the only hard thing will be trying not to eat too many. ūüôā

Every now and then I have to make something none chocolate as not everyone in the house likes chocolate as much as I do, so the other day I made lemon crinkle cookies. These turned out great! They have a light buttery lemon taste and are a nice chewy cookie. It was from a recipe I found online at LDS Magazine(no reflection on my faith beliefs).

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Maybe it will warm up soon and I can get to gardening. Till then I’ll work on baking and some crochet projects. I’ll leave you with a picture of some of my tomato seedlings…roma and beefsteak, which I’ve already transplanted to some bigger pots. I started them out in one of those little seedling cell trays. These are proof you can often use older seeds with good results.

Tomato Seedlings

Tomato Seedlings

Share any thoughts or projects you’re working on or maybe your favorite thing to bake on a cold day?… ūüôā

Renewal and New Additions

I’m planning to renew my blogging on Kittrell Country Life with vigor. It’s been a busy winter around here and I’ve hardly had a chance to slow down, but life is settling some. We’ve had some new additions to the barnyard arrive last week. My daughter and I bought four hens from Walk Ahead Farms in Youngsville. I’m looking forward to having fresh eggs again.

Chickens(Lydia, Lacewing, Rose, & Georgette)

Chickens(Lydia, Lacewing, Rose, & Georgette)

Another Picture of the Ladies

Another Picture of the Ladies

Another nice arrival this month was the snow, for the first time all winter it finally snowed more than a few flakes. It was beautiful and we were glad to make snow cream to eat, but I’m ready for spring. It’s right around the corner, less than one month now. As usual about this time of year, I have some seedlings growing in the house.¬† The top of the dryer near the back door and the kitchen window sills get good light and turn into my nurseries in the spring.

View of Snow Through Kitchen Windows

View of Snow Through Kitchen Windows

The only plants I’ve started so far are roma tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, and dark beauty eggplant. I’m planning to start more real soon. In case you’re not much of a gardener and didn’t know, you can use older seed. I’ve had pretty good results, better than 50%, but it’s best to plant at least 2 or 3 seeds per spot if you’re using seed older than a couple of years as some may not sprout. Some of the seeds I used this year were four years old.

Gardening is just one small part of homesteading I do. Homesteading is a lifestyle, which involves becoming more self-sufficient. This means being able to provide more for your own needs without having to rely so much on outside sources. Usually, most of us aren’t capable of becoming fully self-sufficient, but I figure the more I’m capable of doing, the better. Just don’t look for me to start making my own nails or homemade paper any time soon. ūüôā

As I continue to learn more about homesteading, I’ll share about things as I go along. There will definitely be some recipes and links to recipes coming soon. I’ve really been doing a lot of cooking from scratch and baking. Trying to be more frugal to save money in this economy is good incentive to learn to do things for yourself you may never have done before. I’ve even become pretty adept at making homemade bread.

I have several boards on pinterest if you’d like to go take a peek. My favorites are the Gardening board and the Favorite Recipes board. Both have a lot of ideas I’d like to try and some I’ve already attempted. I try not to spend too much time on pinterest, but I do like being able to pin ideas so I can find them easily.

 

 

 

Squash, Zucchini, and Projects for the Day

Flower of the zucchini plant.

Flower of the zucchini plant. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We finally had some much needed rain last night.¬† Some time after supper it began raining and it rained for hours.¬† I could hear it just pouring outside.¬† This is wonderful for the garden and I won’t have to water the garden today.¬† It’s also cooled it off nicely outside.

As you probably know, I planted the garden a little on the late side, so we haven’t had a chance to enjoy much from it other than a few salad greens and some herbs.¬† Well, we are finally getting a bit more from the garden.¬† Last night we had fried squash and onions with squash fresh from the garden.¬† It took a few days to get enough squash, but it was worth it.¬† There will be tomatoes and jalapenos soon too.

I have a couple of zucchini, which we decided not to fix in with the squash.¬† I’m thinking about making zucchini bread.¬† I love the taste of zucchini bread, I’ve just never made any.¬† This means finding a recipe and grinding some wheat.¬† The recipe will be easy and I’ll probably end up modifying it.¬† I usually do.¬† The wheat will take a bit more work.

I am blessed to have an electric mill, but the thing is so loud it sounds like an aircraft taking off.¬† It also spews flour dust in the kitchen even though I’ve changed the filter.¬† I’m not sure why it continues to do this.¬† The solution I’ve come up with to take care of both these problems is to grind the wheat outdoors.¬† I just plug the mill up to an extension cord outdoors and lug a pail of wheat out too.¬† It’s not so loud since it’s not in an enclosed space and who cares if you get a little wheat dust on the grass.

So I guess I have at least a few projects to work on today.¬† I’m going to add to the list, because I’ve realized I need to do a bit of garden research to answer some questions.¬† As I was doing my usual morning garden walk around, I thought of a few things I didn’t know the answer to.¬† One, would be if carrots and onions grow in the ground, how do you know when they are ready?¬† I’m also wondering how long do eggplant plants take to reach maturity?

If you’ve read some of my past blog posts, you might recall that the big garden is a bit of an experimental garden.¬† I’ve been playing around with companion planting and trying to grow some things I’ve never attempted to grow before, such as watermelons and pumpkins.¬† I’m going to try to keep notes, so I know what worked and what didn’t.¬† For example, I know in our garden dirt, beets and bunching onions don’t seem to like it.¬† Neither would grow this year.¬† One of the things I thought interesting about Thomas Jefferson was learning he kept journals about his gardens.

P.S. – How’s that for easy?¬† Found a couple of zucchini bread recipes(found below) as I was finishing up this post.

What’s your favorite thing you’ve learned while gardening?¬† Any experiments in your garden this year?…

Garden Vegetables…Fresh Produce Begins…

The garden is not producing a lot right now, but it’s beautiful.¬† Thought I would share some photos. I just came in a little bit ago from checking on the garden and doing a little weeding. Luckily I have not had much deer or rabbit damage this year.¬† Something nibbled a few leaves from one zucchini and one okra plant, but the plants look like they’ll be fine.¬† Here are some of the vegetables I picked this morning, a zucchini and a couple of squash.

Zucchini and Squash

Zucchini and Squash

This is the first year I’ve tried to grow watermelon and I’m so excited.¬† There are a few baby watermelons on the vines.¬† Here is the largest baby “sugar baby” watermelon in the garden. It’s about the size of a half dollar so far.¬† You can also see how hard and rough our soil is, but at least some things still manage to grow and feel at home in it.

A Baby "Sugar Baby" Watermelon

A Baby “Sugar Baby” Watermelon

Tomatoes are my favorite in a garden.¬† This year I planted roma and beefsteak tomatoes.¬† Here are a few of the roma tomatoes getting a little bigger.¬† I’ve been enjoying tomato sandwiches with greenhouse tomatoes from our favorite farmer friend, but I can’t wait to eat some with a fresh tomato straight off the vine.

Roma Tomatoes

Roma Tomatoes

 

 

Catching Up and Chocolate Oatmeal Drop Cookies…

It has been a busy couple of weeks, so I’ve been a little lax in my blogging and my gardening.¬† I’m back from a good trip to my mother’s.¬† My daughter and I went for her retirement ceremony.¬† She’s retiring after teaching school for about 12 years.¬† We had a good visit and it was nice it was just us girls.¬† No guys.

Now I’m playing catch up, which seems something I’m always busy doing.¬† I was very happy to find out this blog was nominated for a blog award from a fellow blogger.¬† I will try to do another post for it later today.¬† It’s on my ever growing¬†“To Do” list.¬†

This morning I got busy with the hoe and weeded four rows in the garden while it was still cool.  The big garden is coming along nicely with a minimum of deer damage.  The little shade bed has some beautiful bright pink impatients, which are in bloom.  The smaller herb bed, with a few vegetables mixed in, is doing nicely and needs some care.

As the weather continues to warm up some, hopefully there will be more fresh produce soon.  The small amount of peas I had planted are done and I need to plant some more.  We continue to have some lettuce and of course lots of fresh herbs.  I used some fresh chives the other day to make scalloped potatoes.   

Making Cookies

Making Cookies

Here is a picture from last week I had wanted to share.¬† It’s my daughter finishing up making some chocolate oatmeal drop cookies.¬† It’s a cookie more like a candy that we love.¬† Most of the time they set up, but sometimes they end up being spoon cookies(meaning so soft you have to eat them with a spoon).¬† The cookies did good this time.

It’s a good quick cookie, which can be made in a hurry.¬† We usually always have these ingredients on hand in our house.¬† Make sure to gather your ingredients before starting.¬† The peanut butter and oats should be measured out and sitting on counter ready to add when needed.¬† Prepare a flat surface (counter or kitchen table) with at least 3 feet of wax paper rolled out for cookies.

Put 1 stick (1/2 c.) butter in a pot and melt over medium heat.¬† Add in 2 1/2 c. sugar, 3 Tbsp. cocoa powder, and 1/2 c. milk.¬† I stir this continuously, bring to a boil.¬† After it’s boiled for 1 minute (often I do just a bit over a minute), take it off the burner.¬† Quickly stir in 1 tsp. vanilla, 1/2 c. creamy peanut butter, and 3 c. whole oats (uncooked).¬†¬†Quickly drop¬†by¬†tablespoon onto waxed paper.¬† Makes about¬†3 dozen.

I say quickly a couple of times, because if the cookies are doing properly, they will set up¬†rapidly.¬† If the cookies start to harden up, the¬†ones you do towards the end will not be as glossy looking and will be harder to drop from the spoon.¬† It does not take long for the cookies to cool down and they should peel up easily from the waxed paper.¬† Love to eat a couple while still slightly warm with a glass of cold milk.¬† Yum…¬†

 

 

Warning : Labels are Essential!!!

Grass

Grass (Photo credit: Daniel R. Blume)

Just when I have a day it looks like the sun is peeking out from behind the dark clouds, havoc rears it’s ugly head.¬† It started out great, but by now I ought to maybe know my over optimism is getting the better of me.¬† My husband had¬†picked up the used riding mower we bought and brought it home yesterday evening, so I thought I’d¬†cut some grass early this morning while it was still cool enough.¬†

Lawn mower fired right up.  One plus as usually me and machinery do not mix so well.  Got to cutting grass, some of which had grown rather tall.  Lawn mower was cutting it well.  Second plus for the day.  So far things seemed to be going fairly well.  Went round and round several times, then the lawn mower cut off.  Well, I thought maybe due to the tall grass choking it up, but a quick look under the gas cap revealed it was out of gas.

Okay, I thought.  No biggie, just go get the gas can, tote it way in the back where the lawn mower ran out, and fill up the gas tank.  My husband had told me we had one container with three gallons of gas in it.  Well, there are several gas cans around our yard.  A couple of red ones and a couple of yellow ones, though I thought we only had one yellow one.  While walking in the back yard from way far back I spotted a yellow gas can, grabbed it(felt heavy enough), and went to fill up the lawn mower.

Gas tank full.  I tried to crank it.  Nothing.  Tried again.  Nothing.  At this point, I thought maybe I had flooded it in my overzealous attempt at cranking it.  I waited a few minutes and tried again.  Nothing.  Well, I pulled out my handy dandy cell phone and called my husband.  I ask him what else could it be, you know in case I was doing something wrong or needed to try something else.  I told him it was just spinning round and round, but not hitting any.

Well, short tragic story short, I had messed up major and he was not bashful telling me such.¬† The yellow gas can from back was full of water, which his now deceased son had used to flush the tractor last year.¬† He hadn’t put the water there, but had known it and not labeled it for whatever reason.¬† Neither of them had labeled it.¬† Needless to say, I left the house for a brief¬†break after my harsh scolding.¬†

Yes, maybe I should’ve sought out the other gas can in the front, but I didn’t and I made a mistake.¬† The whole point is this would have been an avoidable tragedy if someone or anyone had followed the golden rule and LABELED WHAT IS IN THE CONTAINER.¬† I even label spray bottles with my homemade household cleaners when¬†I make them up.

Okay, sorry so long.¬† Done with my rant.¬† Very long day with good intentions.¬†¬†Don’t usually have allergies either, but guess due to the over tall grass had allergies flair up too.¬†¬†Not usually a medicine person, more of an herbie, but have had three doses of allergy medicine and allergy eye drops.¬† All in the name of being able to see and breathe easier.¬† At least the day’s well that end’s well.¬† My eyes are no longer swollen and¬†I can breathe.

Any machinery mishaps in your midst of late?…Do you label?…¬†