12.29.2011

Another Year Gone By

I always get a little sad that the year is ending, but then I get SUPER excited for the next garden season. So with that thought, I give you a year in my garden... Now, next year I will do better at taking these photos at more regular intervals (I promise!)
April
May
June
July
August
September
November

12.28.2011

Tis The Season for Garden Porn

Yes, it is that time of year that we all covet... Garden Porn Season. Every year, I indulge myself by reading my seed catalogs over and over and over and over again, figuring out how to NOT purchase every tomato in existence. I am sure this year will be no different. I already have a list covering a sheet of notebook paper, and I need to figure out how to dwindle it down... So far I have gotten Seed Savers, Johnny's Selected Seeds, Baker Creek Heirloom, and something Momma Gardener sent to me... How is everyone's seed hunt going?

12.27.2011

Christmas Loot


I must say, this was one of my best Christmases ever! Not only in receiving, but giving as well. I was able to "pull" my BIL's name out of the hat for both family drawings, so I splurged and got him a BluRay dvd player, a couple of movies, and a gift card to get more. He hung on to that thing all night long like it was going to walk out the door! I love giving awesome gifts to people that I know will get excited. We all got my mom a new coffee maker (it's pretty darn fancy), some gourmet coffees, massage package, coffee cups, and some other various baubles. Not only was SHE stoked about he coffee maker, everyone else was too because they could drink it at Christmas breakfast! Happiness all around!

Now for me... Holy cow! I got an AWESOME pressure canner, cutting boards, kitchen utensils, a Victorio strainer (!!!) AND COVERALLS! Who doesn't need a good pair of those?! They are a little bit big, but will be perfect when shoveling my driveway with lots of layers on. LOVE EVERYTHING! What you see to next to me in the photo is the Welcome Home Center my mom made for my sister and her hubby, Row Family Farmers. Its pretty awesome... It has a place for each family member to drop their stuff in, like gloves hats, etc, and a place to hang book bags and purses. It will fit in their mudroom perfectly, and it even has a little shopvac to suck up all the mud and stuff from winter boots. Awesome!!! I hope everyone had a great Christmas!!! Now it's time to think of Spring planting :)

Coveralls AND Farmers Almanac!
~I also got sick, but am now nursing back to health with Punkin by my side :)

12.24.2011

Merry Christmas!

I am foregoing Oven Lovin Saturday this week due to the holidays. I am sure that everyone has much more important things to do than blog this weekend, so all I say is this... MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

12.22.2011

First Day of Spring! I Mean Winter

Wow! Yesterday was the first official day of winter and we topped out at 61 degrees! Holy cow! The Golden Girls were out enjoying the little bit of sun that still hits our yard and then we got a sudden HEAVY downpour. Now, I'm not complaining about the warmth, I know it will snow sooner or later, but could we please get the faucet turned off? Even with that being said, I think I'd rather have rain than snow, as rain will dry out faster... Oh well... Happy winter!!!
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

12.17.2011

Oven Lovin Saturday

Ok, so I am trying to make bread.... Not just any ole bread, but tasty, awesome, filled with air bread. This week I made Pugliese, and no, the recipe is not mine. I got it out of The Bread Baker's Apprentice, Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread. Now that being said, I know I promised a double feature... However, the second type of bread I made sucked and went straight out to the chickens. The pugliese however, AMAZING! Be warned, this bread take a day and a half or 2 days.... I said tasty, not quick!
Pugliese
 This recipe starts with a fermented over night in the fridge biga
Biga
2  1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
1 package active yeast (I modified this amount because the author uses instant yeast, and uh, I can't find any)
3/4 cup room temp to warm water, plus 2 T to 1 cup water as needed
~Mix everything together as if you were making a normal bread dough.... mix the water and yeast, allow to foam, add the flour, knead until it forms a smooth and elastic dough. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, spray the top with oil, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge overnight. Or even a few days for the best fermented flavor.
Recipe
2 cups of the biga at room temperature
1 cup semolina flour (very fine ground life you would use for pasta)
1  1/4 cup unbleached bread flour 
1  1/2 t salt
1 package active yeast
1/4 c mashed poatato (I just popped a little one in the microwave, cut it open, and mashed it up)
1 c lukewarm water 
Here is where it gets time consuming
1 - mix the water, potato, yeast together, allow yeast to get foamy, then add the flours and salt. (I would mix the flours together first and then add them together
2 - add in the biga (cut into small pieces to make this easier on your mixer or hands)
3 - Mix the dough until it forms a wet sticky ball
4 - pour the dough out onto a floured counter top, and stretch the dough into a long rectangle, then fold over as if you were folding a peice of paper for an envelope. Mist the top with oil, cover loosely with plastic and Allow the dough to rest 30 minutes. Repeat 3 times.
5 - Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl, spray with oil, and allow the dough to rest and rise for 2 hours.
6 - gently pour ot the dough anto a lightly floured surface (this is a sticky dough, and you want it to stay that way) and divide into 2 equal pieces. Place the dough balls gently into a proofing bowl. I used a mixing bowl with a towel inside dusted with flour. Allow the dough to rise for an additional 90 minutes.
7 - place the dough onto a baking stone or pan dusted with semolina meal or cornmeal. It should look like a big blog pretty much.
8 -  Put the bread into a 500 degree oven with a cast iron pan with water inside. THen lower the oven to 450. Bake for 15 minutes. Rotate the bread if necessary, and bake for 5 - 10 minutes more until golden brown.

EAT!!!!!


12.15.2011

A Recap of the Year

With only 2 weeks left in the year, I thought it a good idea to go over my list of goals from last year....  I am not a resolution person... I usually do better with goals... Lets see how I did!

HOUSE:
1 - Finish all bedroom doors and actually hang them (3 to go....)
2a - Knock down office wall, create new dining room
2b - purchase and install new window in new dining room (nope....)
3 - Purchase and install (or have installed) the new pellet stove (YAY!!!)
4 - Remember to turn off the basement light more when doing laundry (my worst overall bad habit STILL)
5 - Get the new office room in order with a desk/table thing, shelving, file cabinet, and a HEATER (this room was added as en extension and is friggin freezing!!!)
6 - Finish all the trim work that has yet to be painted, or even sanded.... (oy... we didn't even start that)
7 - Install the remaining 2 windows we already have purchased... Might need help with the upstairs bathroom window... I am afraid of heights... (Still one to go downstairs)
8 - Paint porch railings and floor
9 - Purchase, install, and finish the shower in the upstairs bathroom so we and our house guests can actually use it... Oh and install the fan (already purchased) for the shower... Might need help with that too, I am not an electrician (This is a budget thing... Someday, we will use the upstairs shower)

GARDEN:
1 - Build raised beds and fill them with dirt and compost
2 - Actually keep track of the stuff we produce in terms of weight/numbers/etc...

3 - Remember to get the plants in the ground on time, and NOT kill them before doing so (I started too early and ended up having to buy tomatoes and peppers... whoops! New goal for next year!)
4 - Dig up the 2 spindly spiny plants in the front yard (they seem to want to climb my brick wall) and replace them with something more useful, like herbs or something of the like...
5 - Build the wine bottle retaining walls (I will make a post on this later, but we are starting to look like alcoholics)
6 - Pull all the weeds that grow along side our house on the side with the vacant house (why is it that we always have lived next to a vacant house? Do we smell or something?)
7 - Im sure I will add to this list as the year goes on, but thats all I can think of right now...


PERSONAL STUFF
1 - We decided that it would be a good year to see if we can go an entire year (from right now) without purchasing any new clothes. We decided that undies and socks and the like will not be included in this. Losing weight to fit into the clothes we already have is a number one priority in NOT spending any money. However, if we are given gift cards, we will gladly spend them :) (Ok, here we did good... Until about August... Then this one was shot to Hades...)
2 - Use our bicycles A LOT more... Gas is silly expensive, and bikes are no impact on the environment... Plus we can lose weight and fit into the clothes we have and save money! (M ASSIVE failure... I think I just heard my bike laugh at me from the garage)
3 - Eat at home. We have a tendency (especially in the winter) to eat out. Its too expensive, makes our waists fatter and our wallets thinner... It should be the other way around! (Our waists are NOT smaller however...)
4 - Stay motivated for school. This one is just for me. I am in school trying to finish my degree which was started when I was 17 (eek! Eight years ago!) and I never finished due to a lot of reasons. I dont need to explain those to adult students, everyone has their own reasons... But anyways, I never know what is going on with my company since we are in the middle of a HUGE merger, and I just don't hold any seniority, so I need to have a backup plan. (I am still in school, have all of my courses mapped out, and I have a backup job in the works... Please pray for me on that one!!!!)
5 - Work on the backup plan for goal number 4
6 - Be a better wife (I wish I could remember the terms on that one... )
7 - DO NOT adopt more cats... Even though I want to, Hubby might kill me (Oliver's appearance and joining of the family only weeks after creating this list pretty much killed this one... However, I think he is Hubby's favorite....)


So, I think I am going to call this one a success.... My weight gain has by far been my biggest downfall. Even though I am not talking about major poundage, gain is not good. I hope that my half marathon training will help me out there... We shall see!  I guess I should go and work on next years list!

12.13.2011

Just a quick shout out

Just wanted to give a quick shout out to those who posted last weekend for Oven Lovin Saturday! I hope everyone is getting prepared for another week! Only 12 days until Christmas, so I know everyone out there is getting their kitchens ready for cookie baking! The semester for me is officially over, so I will be bringing another double feature... Hmmm... Wonder what it could be?? Is that yeast I smell??

12.10.2011

Oven Lovin Saturday

This week I am bringing you a double feature! Dinner and Dessert! For dinner one night, I made Fake Fried Parmesan Chicken and Roasted Potatoes, and then later in the week, I made The Best Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. Yum!

Fake Fried Parmesan Chicken

4 chicken breasts (mine were 4 oz each, boneless, skinless)
LOTS of garlic (I used a whole head)
1 onion, chopped in quarters, or whatever... just chunky....
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
~Marinate the chicken in a ziptop bag with the garlic (just peeled and squashed, don't bother chopping it up), onions, salt, pepper, and enough olive oil to cover. Let marinade over night for the best results... Now for the breading...


1/2 cup bread crumbs (if you use pre-seasoned, skip the herbs I include next)
big sprinkling of dried parsley, dried basil, and dried garlic
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
~Mix all of the dried ingredients. Drain the chicken away from the marinade. Dredge the chicken in the breadcrumb mixture, place on a baking sheet, and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until brown and crispy. Time will vary depending on the size of the breasts.

Roasted Potatoes

Enough potatoes to feed your family. Use your favorite potato... This will work with what ya got. (gosh, I am really specific aren't i?!)
2 sprigs of rosemary, chopped fine
5 cloves of garlic, chopped fine (we like garlic in this house...)
Olive Oil (you can use the leftover oil from your chicken if you want to... Its gonna get cooked anyways, so don't worry too much about bacteria)
Salt & Pepper
~Cube up the potatoes into bite size pieces, and toss all of the ingredients together. Roast at 400 degrees along side your chicken.... These will take about 40 minutes, so plan accordingly... Maybe put these together before the chicken so the meat isn't sitting around...




The Best Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
~This recipe comes courtesy of Alton Brown over at Food Network... I made some alterations, so here is my version
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter 
  • 1/4 - 1/3 cup peanut butter (smooth or creamy, your call... just use a nice healthy spoonful)
  • 12 ounces bread flour (I never have this on hand... A.P. works just fine for me)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 ounces granulated sugar
  • 8 ounces light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk  (Ok, here is where I screwed up... I forgot to add the extra yolk... Whoops! They still taste good!)
  • 1 ounce heavy cream (thats what I had on hand... The original calls for whole milk)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (The original calls for 12 ounces)
  • 1 handful of crushed walnuts (these are not included in the original)

Directions

Melt the butter and peanut butter in a 2-quart saucepan over low heat. Set aside to cool slightly.

Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda onto a paper plate. Pour the butter into your stand mixer's work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar and beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the whole egg, the egg yolk, milk and vanilla extract in a measuring cup. Reduce the mixer speed and slowly add the egg mixture. Mix until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds.

Using the paper plate as a slide, gradually integrate the dry ingredients, stopping a couple of times to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Once the flour is worked in, drop the speed to "stir" and add the chocolate chips and nuts. Chill the dough for 1 hour.


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and place racks in the top third and bottom third of the oven. Scoop the dough out onto parchment-lined half sheet pans. I just used my tablespoon measure and squashed the cookies a little flat before baking. Bake 2 sheets at a time for 15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. (If this works for you, great! I burned the first pan on the bottom... I found it works best for me doing one pan at a time for about 8-10 minutes.) Remove from the oven, slide the parchment with the cookies onto a cooling rack and wait at least 5 minutes before devouring.
Note: I did not take this picture... I can't find my camera battery!

12.09.2011

50!

Oh. My. Gawd! I have 50 followers! This is awesome! Thanks everyone for following my blog! I hope you stay on board with me, even through the cold and boring winter! Thanks again! Yay!!!!!!

12.05.2011

Harvest Monday & Post #200!!!

Do groundhogs hibernate? I ask because this week, I was actually able to harvest a whole bowl full of poc choi! The little bastard groundhog actually stayed away long enough for me to get a greens harvest! It only took 5 months... Bastard... Is it wrong to wish death upon a groundhog? I think not!

Anwyays, I didn't weigh the greens because I had considered anything harvested beyond like, October, a bonus. I didn't really know what to do with it, so I sauteed it up like I would spinach, and then the rest of it, I tossed in some soup. It was pretty good in the soup, but I am just not the kind of person to eat sauteed greens... I like kale and spinach, but everything else I find is just too bitter to eat on its own... Maybe in a stir fry??

Wow! I have 200 posts!!! I wish I had something profound to say, but alas, I am at a loss for words... Oh well... Happy 200 to me!

12.03.2011

Oven Lovin' Saturday

This week I made bread... Kind of a baguette type bread, only 1 rising required... I had my doubts about it, but it turned out pretty good... Especially hot from the oven with butter!

1 Rise Baguettes

2 cups warm water
1 package yeast (I used rapid rise for this one)
1 T sugar
1 and 1/2 t salt
As much flour as you need to make a moist yet not sticky dough (I used just over 5 cups)

Mix the water, sugar, and yeast and allow to foam...
Mix in the flour and salt and knead until the dough becomes elastic. Than cut into 4 equal pieces and roll them into logs. Twist 2 of the logs together to form a loaf, place on pan, and allow to rise about 30 minutes.
(these haven't risen... I seem to have left that picture out)
Place in 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until golden brown
Enjoy!!!!
  What did you use your oven for this week?

12.01.2011

My Week in Review

No garden happenings... No, that is a lie... I got the 2012 Johnny's catalog! My first issue of garden porn this year! I love it! I have been pouring over it, over and over, and starting to circle things I want...

Work was fine this week, except when I lost my badge... Just in case you are wondering, you cannot work as a flight attendant without the appropriate identification! So, here I am, sitting in my hotel room in Newark, NJ just waiting for the morning so I can go replace my badge and rejoin my crew on Saturday morning... Oh yeah, I will have to call my supervisor tomorrow so she can "discipline" me for being human and making a mistake... I don't so much care about that part as much as I care about the poor stew who had to replace me for 2 days or how I feel like I abandoned my crew, even if only by accident. The really sad part? I know exactly where my badge is... It is on the plane that went to Cleveland from Newark at 6pm... Ugh...

What else? Not much really... I hope everyone has a post for Oven Lovin Saturday! I have mine all ready to go! I really hope this takes off!

So in conclusion, I leave everyone with another cute cat picture... This would be Punkin and Chicken Stalker...