Saturday, December 29, 2012

Raised Bed Gardening Step 1

I have been wanting to put raised beds along my house since I moved in. I have been keeping my eye on craigslist for cheap bricks, cinder blocks, wood, etc.

This week I hit jackpot! I found a deal on one of the facebook pages for 2-3 cubes of bricks for $60. A cube is 510 bricks. I was thrilled and made arrangements to get them ASAP.

After a long day and 3 loads to get it all to the house I was able to get 8 beds. I had enough to do 6 beds down the side of the house, 1 bed at the end of the house for my future strawberry bed, a nice bed around my blackberry patch, and enough bricks to make another bed probably tomorrow.

All that is left over:

The beds were done at different heights:

The rest of the beds and my future strawberry patch! If you see the white bucket under the AC unit I left a gap here to add a rain barrel to collect water and I will have a hose long enough to water all the beds throughout the summer.

Tease for future blog:

Peasant Bread

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Looking for motivation!

Here it is only a few weeks before Christmas and 70 degrees outside! I'm not blaming the weather, I rather like being able to work in a Tshirt or sweatshirt instead of my big heavy coat, but I find the Christmas spirit lacking this year. Is it because stores have been decorated for it since Halloween or is it because of the weather? Idk but I know I normally have almost all my resee cups done by now and this year I haven't even started. I have a LOT of cooking to get some in the next few weeks and also plan on doing more blog posts. I know I've said that before but I miss blogging.

Now the content of the posts might be a little cooking, gardening, chickens, or the vent of the week but there will be a post. Lol.

This past week I made the BEST chicken noodle soup I've ever made. The secret ingredient??? Country ham. Not a lot but cut into very small pieces made all the difference in the world.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Pressure Canner Day 1

I got a great deal on some fresh sweet corn from a friend. I was supposed to get 5 dozen ears but by my count it's closer to 8 dozen. I spent an evening shucking and washing them then borrowed a pressure canner from a friend so I could can the corn.

I sliced the corn off the cob and loosely packed it into pint and quart jars, covered with boiling water and into the pressure canner they went. I did 2 batches and ended up with 12 pints and 4 quarts with another 3 dozen ears still in the fridge. I am thrilled!!! I can't wait to put up food storage for the winter/rainy day.

I have ordered a pressure canner of my own and now have a LONG list of things I want to can. Peaches, pears, veggies, taters, salsa, bbq sauce, leftovers. Lmao I just watched a video on YouTube about how you can can BUTTER!! I can't wait for it to go on sale so I can try!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Terra-Fresh - I was wrong

I apologize for the lack of updates. I've been battling many laptops issues and a killer fungus in my garden that destroyed my taters and is found extensive damage to my maters.

My last post I posted pictures of the spring onions that showed the difference in the onions that weren't treated with TF vs. the ones that were treated weekly with TF. I posted it prematurely though. While the one TF onion WAS larger than the regular spring onions it wasn't an accurate example of the TF onions.

THIS is the REAL size of the rest of the TF spring onions.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Terra-Fresh Squash and Spring Onions

As I have mentioned in previous posts I've been experimenting with a wonderful fertilzer called Terra-Fresh. It all natural and so far what I've seen is VERY impressive.

I planted squash in 2 different places of the garden so I could fertilize one row but not the other. They were planted the same day. They've been watered the same amount. The only difference is that Fridays I fertilize one row with TF. Next time I take pictures to update with I'll bring a pencil, pen, dollar...something to compare the size.


NON-TF Squash: Coming in strong, good leaves, good growth from day to day, and generally looks great and developing on time for your typical Squash plant.

 TF-Squash Plant: I honestly don't think I need to say anything. LOL

Spring onions are one of my favorite summer treats. I'll go pull up a few before dinner to wash them, slice them in a bowl, add a little salt and pepper and really enjoy an awesome appetizer. These onions were bought together in a bundle and like the squash were planted the same day, rows apart, one row got TF, one didn't....


Non-TF Spring Onions:

TF-Spring Onions:

To compare:

I'm thrilled with these tests so far and can't wait to see the results from my maters, green beans, strawberries, etc.

Bacon N Mater Sammich

While I normally try to have decent grammar the title is the APPROPRIATE way to say/spell this sandwich. When the weather starts to warm and I get to do yard work and feel like I've accomplished something, when everything turns green, the sun is warm, and the breeze is cool....I CRAVE Bacon N Mater Sammiches.

This year I wasn't able to wait on my own maters so I bought some from the Farmer's Market in Raleigh.

The "proper" way to make this:
-Cook your bacon. When cooking bacon make sure you let it rest on the counter until room temperature. It cooks better this way. I personally like my bacon crispy...I'm not a fan of floppy/chewy bacon. I cook a pound at at time and once it cools I put the leftovers in a ziplock baggie in the fridge for sammiches later. :)

- Next you slice a ripe mater and prepare the bread. For the best taste use thin, white, sandwich bread. Real mayonnaise goes on one side with a liberal amount of pepper. I don't add salt because of the bacon.

- Maters go on next to the mayonnaise so they get plenty of pepper....then add a few pieces of bacon.

Grab a handful of chips or do what I do and eat it so fast it doesn't need anything with it!

Enjoy this Southern Summer Sammich!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Fabulous Strawberry Pie

This is by far one of my favorite recipes of ALL time. Years ago I took a family trip to northern Indiana and was introduced to the world of Strawberry pies. My mother has made attempts to replicate the unique fabulous pie we had in Indiana and I have tried multiple pies but up until now we haven't come CLOSE.

I had a new friend give me this recipe casually as a fruit pie and as I thought about the tastes this would provide I got my hope sounded like it might be close.

I think the final piece I'm missing is the homemade crust....don't worry I'll be working on that and post as soon as I have the perfect combination.

I have adjusted the recipe after the first one I made. Because of the speed in which this is cooked I was unable to get any cooking pictures. Hopefully the next one I make I'll have someone there to take pictures for me.

-1 Cup of Sugar
-1/3 Cup of Cornstarch
-1 PACKET of Knox plain/flavorless gelatin
-1 Cup of water
-4 Cups of Small pieces of fruit or 3 1/2 Cups of Large pieces of fruit
-1 Deep dish pie crust

- Cook pie crust to instructions on the back. I didn't want mine super crispy so I cooked it for 1 minute LESS than what the package recommended and it was perfect.
- Mix the sugar, cornstarch, and gelatin in a large sauce pan.
- Turn the heat on medium and SLOWLY add the water making sure everything dissolves
- Bring to a boil stirring QUICKLY. It heats up FAST and you'll need to stir fast to get it thick and it will go from a white color to a opaque/clear color.
- Take off the heat and fold in the fruit.
- Place pie into the fridge to cool for a few hours. It will set up fast.

Enjoy! Please let me know how yours turn out.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Next Chapter in Life - Foster Care

I've fostered in my life. I've always thought that it was something I could offer a dog or horse. A stable environment until they were passed on to a permanent family. I have had countless over the years and most weren't from an organization. The times they spent with me ranged from days to years.

I've never had the mother gene. I don't look at babies and think "Awwww I can't wait to get married and have some of my own" thought process has always been "Awwww cute....don't want one"

That being said I do like children but prefer older children. I am at a point in life where I'm happy, stable, have a good job, when I finish school I will have more time, and I have space.

I filled out my application to become a foster parent in my county a few weeks ago. Today I talked to my contact who stated that everything looks good and I will be added to the licensing class in the fall. Its 30 hours and afterwards they will do home checks and I'll be added to the foster parent list.

I have 1 spare bedroom with 2 twin beds so I will be able to have 2 girls or 2 boys. I plan on starting with ONE though. I have support from my family and think that with the horses, cat, dog, chickens, garden, yard, lack of TV, and microwave it will be quite a shock to stay with goal be to provide a stable environment until they are placed back with their family or adopted.

I'm really looking forward to it!!

Ugh Frost

My garden is growing leaps and bounds even with the 2 nights of frost warnings we had last week. I tried to cover what I had with straw but I had too many plants and not enough straw. The good news is that I planted early enough that the plants were strong enough and were unaffected.

We haven't been getting much rain here lately so I've been watering twice a day if I can. This was the last time it rained:

The lack of rain means I've been doing tons of planting and when I went to Dad's this past weekend he loaded me down with volunteers from his house. I'm going back this coming weekend and hope to snag some more.

He gave me a hydrangea that wasn't happy at his house....I'm not sure why his other one is over 9' tall. The lambs ear beside it came from him too. He is sick of it and says you can't kill it with roundup...I was all over it. It will cover up all the rocks and stumps I'm growing in my yard!

This is an oak leaf hydrangea he gave me. Its having a rough transition but hopefully it will spring back.
I got some volunteer Wax Myrtles from him too. I potted them to baby them some but 2 of the pots aren't doing well. I plan on snagging more of these this weekend. They get huge and are beautiful.

A friend of mine swapped plants with me and brought me this HUGE hydrangea that is doing great! She brought me some astilbe, coneflower, and peonie? I suck at remembering the names but I'll get pics of those too.
I think at least one of my broom bushes will go out front with the hydrangeas.

The grapes in the back yard are REALLY taking off and I'm thinking next year I might need to move my garden to that part of the yard. In the mean time I think I'm going to start planting some other plants in front of that area to create what my dad calls a "natural area". Basically blanket with weed cloth, plant what you want, cover with mulch. LOL

On to the veggies.....

My first maters are growing FAST:

This is on my Abe Lincoln plant:


Cukes, I know they are bunched together but I prefer to plant them that way....I train them to climb up a mater cage instead of running on the ground.


Taters will be given another tire this weekend:

Finally got all my chicks outside to brood so no more peeping in my house. YAY.

Rascal says he is tired of hearing about gardening!

Frito Pie

This recipe is from my awesome Aunt Kathy. We were comparing pictures of food on their short visit and she shared this recipe with me.

- 1lb of ground beef and 1 chopped onion browned in a pan. Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.

Brown and drain. Mix in the Taco seasoning. 1 can of cream of mushroom soup and 1 can of tomatoes with green chilies(do not drain) 14oz can.

Stir well until heated, do not boil.

In a 9x13 dish layer the bottom with a bag of Frito corn chips. I didn't have a 9x13 so I used a pie pan and another pan that was small enough to take to work.

Layer meat mixture on top of the chips and top with 2 cups of shredded cheese.(btw I used the mexican shredded cheese and I NEVER measure cheese)

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes:

My Aunt serves hers with shredded lettuce and sour cream on the table. I decided to use some of my left over flour tortillas to wrap it in. It was delish!!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Cookout and Chicken Day

This past Saturday was a GREAT day. A friend of mine came over and brought her 5 kids. She also brought me TONS of chickens.

The boys of course had tons of energy and I bough hotdogs and marshmallows to roast over a we needed a fire pit. I gave them a shovel, hoe, and post-hole digger....I had this in about 15 minutes:

Then they gathered TONS of wood and piled it up, twigs, and rocks to line the fire pit.

Sadly I can't post pictures of the kids but we had a BLAST. I can't wait for them to come back for a visit in another 2 weeks or so.

Now its chicken time:

Adorable babies first. These are by Blue Sex-Links and other chicks.

Then she graciously loaned me 2 Barred Rock hens to hang out with Mr. Tank:

Tank was my only rooster with a name so I had the kids help me name the rest of the roosters.

This is Lance and his girls:

I also got some Serama mommas. These 3 girls love to go broody and raise babies, once they get all settled in I'll be giving them eggs to hatch. Their pretty boy's name is Humperdink:

The kids named this young rooster Prince Charming and brought me 2 young girls for him. They will be a STUNNING trio when they are all grown:

Finally we named Wesley...he is the father of all my Blue Sex-Links.

So after all the excitement of new friends left promising to come back soon.

When I was out feeding the coops Lance decided to slip out between my legs. Pepper LOVES her chickens and is very sweet with them. She was wagging her tail and giving him a sniff when Lance decided that was NOT ok.....

I laughed and laughed and laughed. Lance was gently put back in his coop with his girls. I was very proud of my girl for not retaliating.

I'm REALLY looking forward to having these friends over again soon.