April 25, 2009

The Great Sunflower Project

It finally arrived in the mail!!!
Visit HERE to learn more.


Last time I mentioned the garden I was a little disgruntled. My spirit has been lifted the past few days. The weather has been warm, although extremely windy. It's a strange combination. It's as if a storm will break out any moment, then it stops suddenly and you begin to feel the sun bear down on your skin. This nice break in weather has given me an opportunity to be out in the garden. I've removed dead leaves, I've watered, I've loosened soil, I've reseeded, and I've planted.

Out of the original 16 tomato plants I seeded, only half remain. My lack of careful watering during those crucial sunny days a week ago cost me dearly. All of the Opalka and Husky Gold tomatoes withered and died. I've reseeded roughly 10 new plants, including two new varieties: Pork Chop and Granny Cantrell. Here are pictures of some of the survivors:

All of my hot peppers bit the dust as well. I reseeded some of the Hot Pepper Mix as well as some very hot peppers from a friend of ours: Black Pear, Yellow Mushroom, and White Habanero. I don't have anymore jalepeno seeds. Hopefully I'll get some out of the Hot Pepper Mix. I couldn't differentiate between the seeds in the packet.

Out in the garden today, I stripped the plants of withered and dead leaves. Almost all of the original leaves I set the plants out with have died, mostly by breaking (we've had some pretty strong winds lately). Fortunately, almost all of them had serious new growth. Even the dill has put on it's true leaves and I've found new parsley. I dug out a 5' by 3' section of a bed to plant potatoes. I dug down as far as I could, planted the seed potatoes "chits" up, and covered with about 3" of soil. On the other side of the bed, I made roughly four 48" rows and planted carrots, loosely covering them with soil. After I cover the potatoes again, I'll most likely plant some radishes or beets in the center section of the bed. I also directly sowed lettuce in the planters.

Sweet Matina Butterhead

Jericho Romaine Lettuce

Diablo Brussels Sprouts

Red Seed Potatoes

Tomorrow my husband I put together the watering system.

April 22, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Croque Monsieur or Madame?

Oh boy. Oh boy oh boy oh boy!

I have been waiting for this day to come and now that it has, I feel I have lived a fuller life for it.

I distinctly remember watching Ina make this recipe on her show, slightly drooling and zoning out at the thought of all that cheese! When she said you could make it with a fried egg in honor of a woman, I was sold. I love eggs. So thank you, Kathy of All Food Considered. You hold a special place in my heart (and tummy).

You can find Ina's recipe here.

Results: I looooooovvve the ooziness of the sunny side up egg, mingling with the sauce and toasted bread. The perfect brunch recipe. Easy to make. Gruyere is a bit expensive at $7.99/8 oz. What would be a cheaper substitute? Fontina? Emmentaler? I used Italian bread sliced on the diagonal and smoked deli ham. I halved the recipe and one was quite filling. I can even imagine small open-face baguette rounds as an appetizer, if you fuss with the presentation a little bit.

Final Grade: A+

April 17, 2009

Too much of a good thing

The weather was perfect yesterday and again today. High 60s, blue skies, and lots of sunshine. I set out all the seedlings yesterday to let them soak it all up and harden off a bit. When I brought them in last night, the tomatoes (which have been radiant and green) were leaning with a slight wilt to the leaves. This morning they looked good and ready for more bright sunshine. By the time I was ready to transplant them into bigger containers, they looked pathetic: leaves turning yellow, wilted and leggy. I went ahead and transplanted them all, except two Opalka seedlings. Hopefully a night in the house with some fresh soil will amend their problems. I also noticed some (for lack of a better word) fuzziness on the bottom of the peat pellets. Maybe I overwatered them, overfertilized? I've been using fish emulsion, very dilute. I've noticed the same fuzziness on the inside of the cap before. I don't really know. I hope they survive. Otherwise I'll have a very late start to the season.

I made two beds in the garden today. They are roughly three feet wide. I planted the Brussels sprouts and broccoli in one. I wanted to put the potatoes in the ground, but I ran out of energy and time.

The lettuce I planted on the side of the house is looking rough, too. I'm becoming very discouraged.

April 12, 2009

Easter Surprises

The Easter bunny visits Jacob and Karleigh

I feel like this is the right time to transplant a few of my indoor starters. The weather is warming, with nightly lows f0rcasted in the 40s over the next 10 days (after Easter). Dandelions are blooming. And, I see other local gardeners preparing their gardens. I've been worried, though. It is difficult to decipher information about setting out lettuce and the brassicas. Most information regarding broccoli is aimed towards a fall harvest. Lettuce is supposed to be planted in early spring, but some sites say it grows the best at 60-70F. What? We're no where near that here. I happened upon my old timeline for planting. Sure enough, setting out broccoli and lettuce were on the list for 4/12. Go figure. Hopefully I can get the lettuce out tomorrow before Easter dinner.

I was barbecuing chicken for dinner when I spotted two little sprouts in my deck planter. The dill! It survived the kitty cats using it for a bed a few weeks ago.

I made potato salad as a side. I think I've nailed down the recipe for my tastes. I've tried so many, and I keep messing with the ingredients, but I'm finding the basics really make it a proper potato salad. I'm happy to share my recipe, but know that I have not done exact measurements. Like anything, parts can be adjusted for personal taste.

Kim's Potato Salad

2# baby yellow gold potatoes, diced
1 small onion, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/4 cup bread & butter pickles, chopped
2 eggs, hard boiled and chopped
1- 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1 tbsp yellow mustard
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/8 c sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp celery seed

Boil potatoes until in water well salted until fork tender. Drain and dry.

In large bowl, combine mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, and celery seed until well combine. Adjust to taste. Add onion, celery, and pickles. Gently toss in eggs and potatoes until well dressed. Allow to sit for 1 hour before serving, if possible.

April 9, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Chinese Chicken Salad

It has been declared salad week in my household. I made the decision last week for various reasons: hoping to help the weekly grocery budget and my reclaimed weight gain after the breastfeeding ceased. Naturally, I was very excited that McKenzie of Kenzie's Kitchen chose the first recipe this April: Chinese chicken salad.

I did make a few changes:
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Green pepper instead of red
  • Omitted sesame oil
The recipe was ridiculously easy to follow. I baked off the chicken earlier in the day and allowed it to cool before assembling the rest. The green bell pepper didn't deter from the flavor, but rather made the whole dish less appealing to the eye. Too much green. I tried toasting the sesame seeds but they seemed to clump together rather than toast. I left out the sesame oil due to budget constraints - $8.99/bottle! I did add just a teaspoon of a new bottle of 18 year old balsamic vinegar. I did feel 1/2 cup of vegetable oil was a bit much. I would have been satisfied with 1/4 cup. I served this up with a hunk of freshly baked bread.

Results: My husband and I loved it! The only thing that was missing was some good crunch. Perhaps some fried wontons, chopped peanuts, or even broken up ramen noodles would suffice. I think the dressing alone was good had I reduced the amount of oil. A jalapeno would have added nice spice. I can see this fitting easily into our weeknight rotation for an easy fix. We have most of these ingredients on hand all the time.

Final Grade: A-

(now if the Croque Monsieur will be so figure friendly....)

April 1, 2009