Thursday, December 15, 2011

New Things

I took the girl to Crest for groceries tonight and found some fresh herbs grown hydroponically. I am hoping to keep them alive until spring. I had rosemary make it through the horrible summer and so far it seems to be doing well in the house. I guess we'll see. Hopefully I can set them and my pineapple plants out on nicer days.

I also like to buy mangoes on occasion but rarely do because they are such a pain to cut. Not any more! I found a mango splitter at Williams-Sonoma. I didn't get it there, but this was the first time I had seen one. Later in Target I saw they had them (and for less) soI picked one up. It is awesome and I will be buying more mangoes from now on!!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Honey Marshmallows

Someone asked for my recipe, so here is my foavorite.  I like it because it doesn't require you to keep an eye on a candy thremometer (But you do have to wattch to make sure it doesn't boil over) or an extra step of whipping egg whites.  It is a firm marshmallow, so it is good for roasting.  You also don't have to use as much corn syrup because much of it is replaced with honey.  But let's face it, we aren't makiing these for health reasons anyway ;-)

Enjoy!  It's the bonfire time of year!

Honey Marshmallows

2 ½ tablespoons unflavored beef gelatin

½ cup+ 3 tablespoons water (divided)

½ cup light corn syrup

¾ cup honey

1/8 tsp salt

3 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

Powdered sugar

Line a 9 x 13 baking dish with aluminum foil, slightly overlapping edges.  Spray foil with nonstick coating or use shortening, butter, or coconut oil.  Coat evenly.

In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water.  Stir and let stand.

In a heavy 3-4 quart saucepan over med-high heat, stir together sugar, corn syrup, water and salt until well blended.  When the sugar dissolves, raise the heat and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring.  Boil for 30 seconds then stir in the gelatin mixture and extracts.  The mixture will boil up a bit when the alcohol evaporates from the extract.  Cook and stir for another 30 seconds.  Remove from heat and stir until gelatin is completely dissolved.

Pour mixture into a large bowl being very careful, this is HOT.  Preferably with a wire whisk attachment on your mixer, begin beating mixture on low, slowly raising to high speed.  Beat mixture until stiff, white and very fluffy.  With a hand mixer this can take up to 10 minutes.

With an oiled silicone spatula, scrape mixture into baking dish.  Allow to stand uncovered for at least 6 hour or overnight if possible.  I put it in my microwave to keep the pests away or you could cover it with a dishtowel, but you want it to be able to get some air to it.

To cut the marshmallows, grease a pair of kitchen shears (or any scissors).  Turn marshmallow onto a cutting board covered with powdered sugar.  Sift more powdered sugar on the top of the marshmallow.  Cut to desired size and roll in more powdered sugar.  I like to have a zippered bag with some powdered sugar in it and just drop them in and shake them to coat.  Then take them and shake off excess sugar.  Store in air tight containers.  These freeze very well and are great for roasting.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fall is Here!

I know it has been here for a while now, but the trees are really in rare form this year in Oklahoma.  I don't know if it just my imagination, but the leaves seem to be so much more vivid this year.  Maybe it's because of the drought, or maybe it really is just me.

Just a test picture, but it is a weird looking pumpkin!

Since it had gotten below freezing a few times, I have had to bring in my pineapple and rosemary. I  trimmed the pieapple up a little both for looks and convienence.  It was a little big to walk around in the laundry room.  I'm glad I remembered to bring them in.  Last year I managed to kill all my pineapples and rosemary.  Hopefully this year I can keep them happy in the house.  They'll appreciate it next spring.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Habanero Jelly

Well,I finally have a moment to post something, and here it is. I got my first batch of habanero jelly made! I will make another this evening with apple cider vinegar. I made several batches of jalapeño jelly last week and I will get pics of that posted later.

I have not (and will not) try the habanero. Jeff says it's hot and sweet, like me! What a suck up! Anyway, the jalapeño strawberry jam is awesome, like him! Ugh, enough of that.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Hiatus Over

Well, it's been awhile, and I have several things to post. Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to get some pics up while I get some work done.

In the past couple of weeks I have picked over 50 pounds of peppers. They have been frozen, smoked, and turned into jelly and jam. More to be made tomorrow along with some bison stock. I don't really need more bison stock, but I do need the freezer space!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Waiting All Summer for This!!

What have I been awaiting?  Why my first decent cantaloupe of the summer(only the third overall) of course!.  Here is the picture and the cantaloupe is now sliced and chilling.  There are about 20 more out there that will ripen over the next week.  When it rains it pours.  Unless it really is rain and the year is 2011 in Oklahoma.  So, there is not a lot new to post today, but here is some of what I have done in the past week'

We mowed!  It rained last week and so what little grass there is left decided to shoot up.  I will say, there was a silver lining to the drought/heat wave.  No grass burrs.  They need water just like everything else.  The problem now is that they are sprouting up in a fury.  For two hours Monday night, Elijah and I dug up grass burrs.  I saw them in my sleep.

I am usually so sick of harvesting by this time of year that I just start pulling plants.  Instead, we have made it through the heatwave (probably not the drought, thanks for the encouragement local weathermen) and I am just now starting to get production from the garden.  My peppers are still going crazy, but the tomatoes are just driving me crazy.  I am going to go out and trim them up today and see what they do before the feast.  After that, they will probably be pulled.  i did make some salsa the other day.  I had to use canned tomatoes from the store.  Tastes fine and is a much richer color, but it is still just not the same.

Jalapenos, garlic and onions
Same thing after grilling

Sam's contribution to my salsa

Easy way to chop

Just need jars now

Something else I waited all summer for, my morning glories to bloom.  I was a little surprised when they finally did  I was expecting a purple and white striped flower instead they are solid white.  That is at least the third thing I planted this year that is not what the labeling said it was.  Just a little annoying.  Well, they are still pretty.

I should have rotated this shot, but too late!  Okay, really just too lazy.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Lots of Things

With the heat and drought, there is not a lot going in the garden.  And what is going, is going crazy!  The jalapeno plants are loaded, but of course the tomatoes are not.  The okra is rearing is prickly head as well.  I picked a five gallon bucket of it today.  Some of it I was cooking up for lunch when the power failed.  I had to improvise at that point.  Good thing we like to camp.
Tomorrow I will turn the jalapenos into salsa!  Yes, it is supposed to be very cool over the next few days, so I can open the windows and turn on the canners.  Hopefully it will have rained and cut down the dust.  Last week I smoked a few for chipotles.  Jeff likes them so, I guess they turned out well.

With all the busy of Elijah's school work and mine (finally taking an AC online class!), I made time to help out Mrs. T. by showing the sophomores how to make marshmallows.  It was a lot of fun.  The mess may be the best part of the fun.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mini Chocolate Cakewiches

I found this recipe in Self the other and decided to try it out.  I seldom follow a recipe to exact specifications.  This one is no exception.  I will put the changes I made in bold, then you can decide for yourself.  They turned out really yummy! (According to the article, they fight fat as well.  It's the yogurt, but who cares!!)

Mini Chocolate Cakewiches
4 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
2 (3) tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (1/4 teaspoon each vanilla and coconut extract)
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (3/4 cup coconut flour)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 (1/4) cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 egg white (3 large eggs)
1/2 cup skim milk, divided (3/4 cup coconut milk, divided)

Beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth.  Add yogurt and flavorings and beat until well combined.  Spoon into pastry bag fitted with a number 12 tip, or a zippered baggie that you have cut one of the corners off.  Place in the refrigerator. 

Heat oven to 400 F.  Whisk flour, cocoa, and baking soda in a medium mixing bowl. In another mixing bowl, beat sugar and butter until well combined: add egg white (or eggs) and beat until thick and pale yellow.  Add half of the flour mixture to butter mixture; beat until just combined.  Add 1/4 cup milk and beat on low until combined.  Repeat with remaining flour and 1/4 cup milk.  (At this point you will add from the last 1/4 cup of the coconut milk if it is needed.  Coconut flour soaks up a lot of liquid and you may need even a little more, the batter will be thick but smooth)  Spoon this batter into another pastry bag or zippered baggie.  Use a large tip or cut a larger hole.  You will squeeze out between 48 and 30 lines of batter, 4-inches and 11-inch apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake for 5-8 minutes.  Cool on wire racks.  One half of the cakes, squeeze the filling and top with the other half of the cakes. Will store in the refrigerator for 3 days, or freeze to keep longer.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Return to Chaos-Sorta

Last week we were enjoying some wonderfully cooler weather in Colorado and New Mexico. Highs in the mid 80's and lows cool enough for frost to form. We were backpacking in the mountains and had no idea that Oklahoma was also experiencing some cooler weather as well. It's just that in Oklahoma the cooler weather was brought on by some very dramatic wind storms. While we lost a tree and a few large limbs, we lost relatively little when compared what some of our friends ended up losing. One nearly losing a home in a wildfire (whole nother topic, but at the same time). We were blessed to have only a cover to an attic vent come off the house. There was no other damage to our house, shop, or tree house!

The sunflowers caught a little wind, as did the peppers. The strawberries were narrowly missed by several branches that fell into a neat pile. We had a friend who was going to water for us and I thought she had piled them there. That's how she found them. And she had to do very little watering, along with wind, we got rain!

Our trees, for the most part will be fine. Elijah's very favorite tree to climb was untouched, but another came down. It grew at an angle and was very easy to climb. It was in my iris bed, so I guess they'll be getting a little more sun this next year.
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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

In the Kitchen

There's not been a lot to bring into the kitchen from the garden, but my Swiss chard is managing to stay alive.  i found a great recipe for a Swiss chard Crostata and thought i would share it with you.

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup grated Parmesan

1/2 cup mascarpone

Pinch kosher salt

Pinch cayenne pepper

1 stick cold butter, cut into pea-sized pieces

2 eggs


Extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, smashed

Pinch crushed red pepper flakes

1 bunch white Swiss Chard, stems removed cut into 1/4-inch lengths, leaves cut into 1-inch lengths

2 leeks, tough green tops removed, cut in 1/2 lengthwise and then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch lengths

2 to 3 tablespoons water

Kosher salt

2 cups fresh ricotta

1 cup grated Parmesan

2 eggs

Pinch cayenne pepper

Egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water



Combine the flour, Parmesan, mascarpone, salt, cayenne and butter in the bowl of a food processor and pulse, pulse, pulse, until it looks very dry and crumbly--what I like to call the Parmesan stage. Add the eggs and pulse until the mixture forms a ball. Remove the dough from the food processor, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.


Coat a large saute pan generously with olive oil. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and bring the pan to a medium heat. When the garlic has become golden brown and is very aromatic remove it and discard, it has fulfilled its garlic destiny. Add the Swiss chard stems, leeks and 2 to 3 tablespoons of water and season with salt. When the water has evaporated and the stems and leeks are soft, add the leaves. Season the leaves with salt and saute until they are very soft and wilted. Remove from the heat and allow the Swiss chard to cool.

In a large bowl combine the ricotta, Parmesan, eggs, cayenne and the Swiss chard mixture. Mix to thoroughly combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed (it will). Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

To assemble:

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let warm up for about 10 to 15 minutes, this will make it really much easier to roll out.

Dust a large clean work surface with flour and roll the dough into a large circle about 1/4 to 1/8-inch thick. Transfer the dough to a large sheet try lined with parchment paper. Lay the dough out flat, don't worry about the overhang on the sides. Put the filling in a large circle in the center of the rolled out dough leaving a 3 to 4-inch border of dough along the outside edge. Fold the dough up around the filling to make a "free-form pie". Brush the top of the dough with egg wash and bake in the preheated oven until the crust is firm, golden brown and shiny, about 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing, this will allow it to up for easier slicing.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

We had it with baked chicken and then again the next morning with fresh fruit and cheese,

This was better than I thought it would be, and I thought it would be really good.

I also wanted to make some chewy granola bars but had trouble finding a recipe that you didn't have to bake.  I am trying not to cook as much as possible.  Here is what I came up with.

Chococonut Granola Bars

1/2 cup cashew butter
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup each shredded coconut and semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat in a heavy saucepan the cashew butter, honey, and oil together just until melted and smooth.  Remove from heat and add vanilla.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Line an 8x8 cake pan with plastic wrap and pour mixture in, leveling it out.  Allow to cool to room temperature.  Then chill until firm and cut into desired size.  Wrap and store in refrigerator.

Ingredients-I make my own cashew butter

heating, still pretty lumpy

add vanilla

Oats-I had quick oats but I think old fashioned would be better

chocolate chips and coconut

Line your pan

That's a wrap

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Last Straw

Here it is...

Okay, there is actually one more bale, but I don't imagine that there will be much to buy this next spring, so I will be stingy with it.  I went ahead and added this bale of hay to the tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and strawberries.  It won't help with the heat but maybe it will help keep the soil from drying out.

It is 10:45 a.m. and already 100 degrees. YUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!!!!!!!!!!  I've been back in the house for 15 minutes and can still feel the sweat going down my back.  For all those that complained about May/June 2010 being too wet and this winter being too cold,  I sure hope your are happy now!

Flower Beds

Along with everything else, the flower beds are just not what they should be.  They aren't dying, but they aren't thriving either.  I considered fertilizing them more, but then that would mean more watering.  The one in the front looks the best.  Most of my potted plants have died.  Just seems I couldn't water them enough.  I lost my last lime tree too.  I guess if I want to grow citrus I will need to move to Florida or some tropical isle.  Right now, that doesn't sound half bad.  It would be cooler at least.

Dried and dead

trying to stay alive

The rosemary looks good and what little basil the grasshoppers haven't eaten

Front flower bed

One of my many, dead potted plants

Monday, August 1, 2011


When it rains it pours.  Unfortunately that is not a literal statement.  As I type this, it is 10:45 a.m. and it is already 100 degrees.  It isn't even noon and I've already brought Elijah in the house for the day.  Also I had hackers in my gmail account so starting Aug 12, this blog will go private :-{  If you are interested, just leave your email in comments.  They don't go on the blog until moderated, so I will just email you and delete the comment.

Our well seems to be holding just fine, but we have cut way back on our watering.  The grass seed we put out earlier in June is now just brown and dead grass.  We may try again this fall, but if we don't get some decent rain, that will not be done.  we put soaker hoses on everything we want to try to save for the fall, but even that won't keep the blister bugs from decimating what is left.  I lost one tomato plant to a horn worm,  This worm is as long as my ring finger and almost as big around.  YUCK!!!  They will be having a date with Sevin this evening!  I don't like to use it, but I will not lose my garden to these creepy little bugs.  FYI, a blister bug won't bite or sting you but if you crush it and get the fluids on you it will cause blisters and if these break, they will spread.  Death to blister bugs!

One of the biggest I've seen

Cicada in my dead grass

black blister bugs and all their mess

So, right now the garden is looking okay.  Here are some pics.  I have lots of yellow squash and acorn squash if any one would like some.

Well, we have squash.

Sweet potatoes

Morning glory

still looks fine

Sun flower

they aren't a big as they should be

dead yard

They're hanging on