4.26.2011

Lemon Cake

I cook. I bake. This is what I do when I need a break from homework, aka, procrastination at it's tastiest! Today I made a lemon/ginger cake... It was barely gingery, and I will make it more so next time, but this is tasty nevertheless!
Lemon Cake and Glaze

1 stick unsalted butter, room temp
2 eggs, room temp
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
zest of 2 lemons
1 inch (more next time) grated ginger (candied or crystallized ginger would be nice too)
2 cups AP flour
2 tsp baking powder

Cream the butter and sugar together, then add the eggs, vanilla, milk (I didn't have any today so I used vanilla yogurt), salt, lemon zest, and ginger. Mix everything together well, and scrape the bowl. Add the flour and baking soda, mix just until it comes together. Pour the batter into a bundt pan and bake at 350 until done (honestly I didn't time it. I just kept my eye on it and did dishes. I would say check it after 25 minutes and see where you are at.)

Let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes (I did not do this because I have no patience when I am procrastinating, and it came out in pieces) and then flip it out onto your serving plate of choice, and let cool completely.

Make the glaze: powdered sugar and the juice from the lemons you previously zested. Again, I, uh, didn't measure, just mix enough of the 2 until you get a nice pouring consistency so it drips down the crevasses of the cake. Pour onto the cake and enjoy! DON'T make the glaze until you are ready to pour, it gets hard FAST!

Some Quick Pics Before the Rain

It is going to get all crazy stormy here in a short bit, and I wanted to snap some pictures of the growth in the yard so far... We still only have one bed in the back yard, so no progress there... The tulips are getting big, and I really really REALLY hope I don't miss them when they bloom. This is my first year with tulips, and I really love them, and I just don't want to miss the show! Both my hydrangeas are growing back. I have a fairly standard variety, and I also have the Invincible Spirit variety. Last year my Invincible Spirit seamed pretty, uh, well UNinivincible... I am VERY pleased that it is growing back, slowly but surely. The front yard needs a ton of work, the mulch needs to be raked off, 2 bushes need to be removed, the dirt needs to be turned over again this year, the wine bottle wall needs to go in, as well as my gladiolus bulbs, and the hosta need to be moved back a few inches to make way for the wine bottle wall... My rose bushes on the side yard are showing some CRAZY growth! My white rose bush is coming along slowly, but I have another variety (no idea what) that grows like it is on crack. It's truly insane. It only blooms once, and I am considering getting rid of it...


My Crack Bush

Soon to be Purple Tulips!!!

Lots of Hydrangea growth

My weedy front yard, and a stray wine bottle from the "collection"

4.24.2011

Happy Easter!

Easter, Lovingly brought to you by the kittens of my world. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday!!!









4.23.2011

Are You There Spring? It's Me, Tiny Gardener....

The weather is nuts! Yesterday, cold and stormy. Today, warm (supposed to be in the 70's) and sunny off and on through the day. I was wondering if maybe Spring was going to skip Cleveland completely, but maybe not! I will definitely take these current temperatures. Last week, we were able to put in one raised bed before the cold and rain got to us (and by us, I mean Hubby) and staked out 2 others still to be dug. Somehow, the measurements I had for the back yard were, uh, off... I am only going to be able to have 7 total beds instead of 10. That's O.K.!!! I will take it!!!

I bit the bullet and ordered a battery charger for the camera. I just couldn't take it anymore!!! I charged it up, and took it out this morning. I got pics of everything!


Hydrangea Growth

The back yard

Chives (I've been able to cut some!)

The Community Garden

Onions

Peas

Neighbor Gardener's Garlic

Elsie's Forsythia

4.17.2011

A Little Bit of A Rant

This might end up being kind of long, so if you aren't into it, I suggest going no further.

I know this is supposed to be a blog about gardening, but sometimes my life intervenes, and not in the best way. This morning proved to me yet again why I hate my job. I went to the airport to sit on alert just in case someone got sick last second for example, and they need a flight attendant to replace the sick person. Well, I went in only being good for one day, meaning, I had tomorrow off. Emphasis on the HAD. I got to work, and already had a FOUR day trip on my line. Now, let me just tell you, I didnt even pack a toothbrush because the odds of this happening are so slim, that well, I just didn't think to pack for a multi-day trip. I have my laptop and a pair of PJ's. So, I get assigned the trip, call hubby and shout and swear and say all kinds of horrible things to him that he didn't deserve, and went on up to the concourse where I continued to yell and swear at my crew, whom I later apologized to after the tears and anger were swept from my face. I think I must have cried 7 different times today. I cried to Hubby, to my crew, to Momma Gardener, and mostly to myself. I am even starting to cry now.

So I called ahead to the hotel and arranged for the shuttle to drive me to WalMart so I could replenish my necessities, all of which I have at HOME with my multi-day luggage. I got underoos, pantyhose, toothbrush, shower stuff, etc. Now let me go on with my food rant. Why is it so hard to find FOOD??? Like, unpackaged, unsugared, unsalted, uneverything food. Honest to God FOOD! I didn't fare so well on the hunt and ended up with canned soup, craisins, an orange, an apple, a couple of bagels, and individually packaged cream cheese. Oh and yogurt and blueberries. The blueberries took me forever to find and I think were the only fruit they had that wasn't already cut and washed and packaged up.

I was not even smart enough to pack my homework. I will be so far behind this week, it won't even be close to funny. I am dreading my days off, considering I won't even be able to touch the garden. 

Sitting outside at the WalMart in my pj's and flipflops was just a cherry on the pie of my day. I have never felt more alone and more depressed in my life. Even when I was going through my divorce. Now, I have never mentioned that before, but yes, I was married before Hubby and I met. Long story short, it was a short one, and ended terribly, and I am happy it is over with. But since then, I never thought I could feel so low. And today I felt like the scum of the earth. I treated every one around me like total garbage, and they all forgave me. Mostly I treated Hubby like garbage. I have been a total bitch (and uh, I don't want you to take that lightly... I mean a TOTAL B) and have treated him like everything I hate is his fault. It isn't his fault. It's mine. It is my fault that I am getting closer to 30 every day, and have no degree, no real career, not even any good prospects, and am stuck in a job that makes me so miserable I just want to fall off the face of the earth. I don't know if Hubby will ever forgive me for the way I have been acting, but I sure hope he does. I hope that he doesn't resent me. If it weren't for him, I couldn't do half of the things I do, especially my garden, school, and having such a wonderful home to live in. If anyone is a failure lately, it is me.

Now what is the point of a rant? Just that, to rant. To just get it all out, even if no one is around to listen or give you a shoulder to cry on. Just a way to get whatever it is that is bothering you off of your chest. Thanks for listening to my rant cyberspace.

4.13.2011

Its Been Nearly A Week!!!

I have been quite the absentee blogger. My sort of a sore throat last week has manifested itself into a full on cold, and it sucks! I made a batch of chicken stock today, since I am sure I will be making soup for the next few days... The garden plans have been on kind of a standstill, with me being sickly, and the weather being well, you know. It was gorgeous today, but I found myself at home working on my home work, and then had to trek to the university to actually take my exam. I think I did O.K.

No pictures, since we can't seem to find the battery charger for the camera. I'm still coming up with a plan on what to do if we can't find it. I would LOVE to just go out and get a new camera, but that just isn't going to happen. With the home renovations and garden start up costs, there just isnt a whole lot of extra money laying around to spend on whatever.

I did check on my peas and onions, and they all seem to be sprouting just fine. Thank Goodness! The herbs are all getting huge, and the tomatoes are getting leggy. I absolutely MUST NOT start my tomatoes so darn early next year. And we have decided that we need much more table/seedling/light space to start all of our plants next year. So the plans for that are already underway. The eggplant and peppers are doing well also. I have to admit, I have been in a gardening fog lately, and I have no idea what I need to tackle next....

Momma Gardener is coming for a visit at the end of the month! I am so excited! We are going to have a Royal Wedding Party! I don't know what the mystique of the whole thing is, but I am sucked into it, big time! I am going to make all kinds of British food... I haven't decided on the menu, but it will be fabulous!

4.07.2011

Chicken Stock

Jody over at Spring Garden Acre asked me about the chicken stock I make and use in soups, stews, etc... It was a little too long to put into a response posting, so here it is. The easiest chicken stock you will ever make, you will never buy store stuff again!

Chicken bones (either one whole roasted chix carcass or the equivalent in leg bones, wings, etc. You could also make beef stock this same way, just roast your beef bones in the oven so they have some good yummy color on them)
3 carrots, choppped up however (I dont even peel them, just make sure there isn't any dirt)
3 celery stalks, chopped up
3 or 4 onions chopped up (I leave the skins on, and my onions are usually fairly small, but more onion is not a bad thing!)
1 whole garlic head (just chopped in half across the cloves, no need to take off the skin here either)
About 10 whole peppercorns
Salt to taste, about 1 Tbs
About a good big handful or 2 of fresh herbs (I use whatever is on hand, rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley (if you dont have fresh, just use dried herbs, no biggie... You would want about 3 or 4 Tbs, although more is just fine too)

Here is the easy part. Just chuck everything into a big stock pot (mine is 12 qts), cover with water, turn on the heat, and let her go all day. Bring it to a boil, and then turn the heat down to a nice gentle simmer. Repeat, GENTLE SIMMER. You don't want the veggies to break up and get gross and mushy. SO anyways, after it has cooked for hours on end (seriously, like 8 hours), the chicken bones should easily break in half. Use a small bone for testing, such as a wing bone. Leg bones will never break apart. Strain the solids out (if you have one of those fancy pasta cooker inserts for your stock pot, that makes everything A LOT easier to get out.) After all of the big particulate matter is out, I pour it through a fine mesh strainer just to make sure all of the herb leaves and peppercorns are out. I usually get about 4-6 quarts, depending on what the solid-liquid ratio is inside the stock pot. I store my stock in plastic containers in the freezer.

***Note*** DO NOT try to strain this stock while it is hot... I learned that one the hard way. I usually just let this sit out for a day until is it cooled. Bonus if it is winter and snowy, you can just set it outside for a couple hours until is it cooled.

4.06.2011

Chicken Soup for the Gardeners Cold

Yesterday, I did end up working outside. It got sunny, still cold, but I just couldn't resist. I cleared out the spaces between the garage and Bianca's garden, and the area between the garage and the backyard neighbors fence which holds in their garden. As I was raking out old weeds and clinging evil plants that I promise to take a picture of later, I noticed that the entire area between our garage and Bianca's garden is covered, and I mean COVERED in parsley. I will never have to grow parsley again, since uh, it is EVERYWHERE. The backyard neighbor with the pool who doesn't garden, well, I need to have a talk with her... Or Hubby does... I want permission to take care of the area behind her pool because she does not. I cut down as many wayward branches and pulled as much out as I could reach over the fence. It is a hot mess back there, and It just grows over into my yard with weeds and vines, and it sucks. It needs some serious attention, if just to keep the budding trees to a manageable size.

On actual garden notes, we went and purchased MOST of the wood needed for our new raised beds, and we still need 3 more pieces of 2*10*12 to finish off the stockpile, but they wouldn't fit in the car, so I will have to go back and make a separate purchase. Here is how silly we looked last night...
I also went down to the community garden (on my bike!!!) to check on the progress of things. The onions are starting to sprout, and so are the peas! Thank goodness! I was really worried about them rotting or freezing to death. I also saw some crocus flowers down at the bocce ball court, and took some pics of my herbs that are coming back.
onion sprouts

peas!

tarragon

chives

crocus (I think)
SO for the chicken soup... I woke up this morning with a little bit of a sore throat, and am trying to avoid a cold. I made some chicken soup with homemade chicken stock, noodles, and onions, garlic, carrots, and brussel sprouts from the market (I didn't have any celery on hand) and topped it off with some grated parmesan cheese. Yum!

4.05.2011

Will It EVER Get Warm?!

The weather was forecast to be in the low 50's today... It hasn't gotten a hair over 39... I think the weather people are on crack. They are in denial. They get my hopes up, and then my bubble it burst. I wanted to go to the store and purchase supplies to build the raised beds and put the compost bins together, but it's cold out, and I just don't want to work outside in the cold. I am instead staying inside and doing homework... The story of my life... And when I do homework, I get to daydreaming, about the garden, the stuff I have to do, and I can't help but drift off to the thought of, WILL IT EVER GET WARM??? I have been happy with the fact that at least today it is sunny, but uh, I need some heat *grumble grumble*

4.02.2011

The Dirt on... Dirt?

Ok, so as I was daydreaming about the garden, how I can't wait to dig in and get dirty, I was struck with a thought. Uh, I have no dirt! I haven't got a clue about where to find it. I know a landscaper would be an obvious choice, but I am worried about the price. Where did all of you with raised beds find your dirt??

Today I made 32 seed mats using the tutorial from Granny over at Annie's Kitchen Garden. It really is simple to do, relatively quick, and I am definitely down with the not wasting seed thing. I would like to waste as little as possible, considering the costs going into the garden start up this year (yikes!) Anyways, I made mats (4 each) of Purple Haze carrots, Danver's Half Long carrots, Rainbow carrots, Javelin parsnips, and several lettuces, Black Seeded Simpson, 4 Seasons Red, Lolla Rosa, and Tetue De Nimes (all are leaf lettuces, I still have to make mats for the romaine lettuce.)

The Plant-Eating-She-Devil Punkin and her sidekick Miss Scaredy Pants Charlotte (no pics because she is so elusive) have been feasting on my kale and broccoli plants (which will now need to be replanted from seed), and have succumbed to the dreaded over eating syndrome - cat puke. It's gross, but they never seem to learn their lesson, do they?