Monday, June 11, 2012

Garden tour

I promised you a post in June. It's June. I am loving working 5 days a week! The hitch is that my husband left for 16 days of training to become an officer in the army starting on May 31. And with him gone, I've made 2 dishes so far this month. So instead of a recipe this week, you get a garden tour. I've put a lot of time and effort into my garden, so I'm going to share it with you.

Tomato row. There's at least 25 of them. Salsa here I come

Green tomatoes on the vine!

My sad, sad peas. Err, pea rather.


Chili peppers! Can't wait to eat them on pizza.

Big bertha! She was growing in my compost pile, so I transplanted her to the garden. She sprouted from the seeds of last year's jack-o-lantern. I hope she fruits.

My one and only apple. It's a honey crip.

I accidentally knocked a tomato off of the plant during its photo shoot. I gave it to the chickens and they fought over it!

It's mine! No it's mine!

Guess what. Chicken Butt!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Write something damn you!

Yeah, so writing. Other than emails and Facebook stati I haven't written anything for months. Good thing those count right? This isn't actually a real post, but more of an explanation.

My hydrangea bush in bloom.

I've been a bit burnt out lately. I've been working six days a week since August. I'm not actually working that many hours, they're just spread out over 6 days. Saturday is my only day off, so I've been trying to spend it with my husband. When I'm not at work, I've been putting together the garden. The massive patch of weeds that was once my back yard is now full of corn, black beans, green beans, oats, about 30 tomato plants of different varieties, about 20 peppers of different varieties, rhubarb, asparagus, watermellon, winter squash, zucchini, cucumbers, potatoes, garlic, yellow onions, spring onions, chives, lettuce, spinach, an apple tree, 3 elderberry bushes, huckleberry bushes, broccoli, cabbage, chard, sunflowers, sweet and carving pumpkins, peas, and lots of herbs. It was not an easy task. I'm still getting rid of thistles.

My apple tree in bloom. I planted that tree last fall and it already has 3 apples on it.

And we still have our chickens to care for everyday. Now that the coop is built, the fencing is done, and the roost and nesting boxes have been built, the everyday maintenance takes very little time. I'd estimate it's about 5 minutese of work a day now that the start up work is over.

Luna got so big!

I've intentionally chose a lifestyle that involves a lot of work. It's easy to go to the store and buy your bread and cereal (recipe coming soon), but it takes time to make those things at home from scratch. Is it worth it? Oh yeah, it's worth it to have bread without preservatives, to have eggs from chickens that spend their day foraging for bugs and greens in their yard instead of spending their lives in cages, and tomatoes that aren't covered in herbicides and pestacids. Yes, it's totally worth knowing that I'm feeding my husband food that's nutritionally the best. But it does take time and energy. And it got to the point where something had to stop so that I could have just a small amount of time for myself. And that something ended up being this blog.

But the good news is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I'm going to back to working 5 days a week starting around mid June. So I will have time and energy to put back into this blog.
Buckbeak always runs up to me when I come into the coop.

And my husband got me a professional Kitchen Aid for our anniversary, so you know I'll be creating all kinds of new recipes. The day I took it out of the box I made bread, cookies, and mayonnaise.

See you in June!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spring is here, and she brought tulips!

Actually, summer is here. We've had weather in the 80s already.
These were surprise tulips that came up right next to the door. Aren't they pretty?
These are the first tulips I've ever planted. They're in rings around the two trees in the front.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Baking with the girls

Not too long ago my two youngest nieces came over for a Sunday afternoon. Mom and Dad needed a babysitter and I was only too happy to have them over. It was one of those cold days at the end of February, and we were getting our last snow (finger's crossed). They brought some video games and books, but eventually got bored so we went into the kitchen to bake.

Proofing yeast in warm water and sugar.

Learning to kneed.

We baked bread and made a cake. This was one of those I-have-no-recipe-and-I-don't-care cakes. We had some apples to use up, so we made cinnamon apple cake with carmalized apples on the bottom. I thought it turned out well for basically making it up as I went. My husband devoured it!

2 cups flour.

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 egg. Look at how gorgeous that blue egg is. We've been buying our eggs from a local woman who raises chickens in her backyard. Someday that will be me!

1/4 cup of oil.

1 tablespoon vanilla

And not pictured is a 1/2 cup of milk.

"Aunt Lisa, I want to stir!"

"No, I want to stir!"

I chopped 3 apples and added them to the bottom of my buttered baking dish.

On top of the apples I sprinkled 1/4 cup of brown sugar.

Then we dolloped the batter on top and spread it out using the back of a spoon. This went into a 350 degree oven for about 35 minutes.

This was a very old fashioned cake to my palate. It was good with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and lasted well in a covered dish on the table. Not that it lasted long with my husband in the house.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

As promised, the girls!

We have chicks!

They are super cute!

And super fast!

We use mason jar style feeder and drinkers, which is why you can see glass jars in the corners of most of these photos.

They don't all have names. For the most part we're sticking with Harry Potter themed names to go with Albus and Lupin the cats. Not to mention Fred the apple tree. Foghorn Leghorn was the first one we named. She's the loudest. Then there was Umbridge. She wasn't very nice that first day. Luna is the one with the whitest wings, and Buckbeak likes to peck the sides of the box. She will escape!

There are 6 altogether, so we need 2 more names.

There's usually a heat lamp on at all times. It needs to be 95 degrees F in the box for the first week. I had to shut it off for a few minutes to snap these as it casts a red light. I took these very fast so forgive me some sloppiness.

They are so cute when they act like grown ups. They scratch their faces like dogs. They learned how to stretch Friday night. They stick out one leg and one wing. It scared me at first. "What's wrong with that bird's leg?" But once one chick learned how to do it, they all started doing it. It's the cool thing to do. They also love to scratch and peck at the wood shavings.

And sometimes each other. That's how the establish their pecking order. Someday we'll have an alpha female.

They're also learning how to roost. We didn't have anything very appropriate in the house for them to roost on, so we went into the yard and brought in some sticks and stuck them through the sides of the box.

Luna's the only one who wants to practice roosting right now. And she doesn't like to do it for long.

My sister's kids have been over this weekend. They adore watching the girls. I love to go in with my morning cup of coffee and just stare at them. They're always up to something interesting or cute.

Monday, February 27, 2012


Today was the day my chicks were supposed to come in. Today I was to be a mother. A mother chicken, but still. I have a box with wood shavings and a heat lamp. I have feeders and waterers and a gallon of chick gatorade in my fridge with yogurt ready to be mixed in. I was going to colonize their digestive tracts with good bacteria!!! They did not come in today, and it's all your fault. If you would have just forgotten about this post on the stinkin' sourdough starter, we could have moved on to posts full of cute chick pictures. You could be basking in their downy fluff right now, but instead you're going to read about bad sourdough starter and YOU'RE GOING TO ENJOY IT!

I was not kind to this starter. I was gone for 5 days in the middle of it's life and I only fed it once. But at the end of 2 weeks, it was not moldy or smelly. In fact, it smelled kind of good. Not as yeasty as starter that I used real yeast with, but still fragrant.

I used the entire jar of starter. To that I mixed 2 cups of flour,

about 2 tablespoons of olive oil,

and about this much salt and garlic powder.

I plopped it on the lightly floured table and gently kneeded for a few minutes.

I formed it into a ball and greased the bowl. This is the size of the dough before rising.

After a 2 hour covered rest in a sunny spot, it rose this much.

So not at all.

But I was not to be swayed easily. I was 2 weeks down this trail and I was trekking on! I rolled out the dough and transferred it to a pizza pan. (I sooo, wish I had a pizza stone.) (I sooo just added a pizza stone to my Amazon wish list.)

This was prebaked at 350 (350 for a chewier crust. 450 for 4 or 5 minutes for a crispy one.) for about 8 minutes before adding the toppings.

We had leftover roasted chicken, so this is a chicken, mushroom, and caramelized onion pizza.

And the pizza was AMAZING! But the crust was eh. It was bland and the texture was fine. But the chicken and onions were delicious. Even my husband said so. Without me pestering him to complement me on my food. I pester him a lot.

I so wish I had chicks right now. I'm going to go make mac and cheese.