March 31, 2010

2 Day Spring Break

Adult spring breaks come in short little bursts of beautiful weather. These are our only chances to get out of the office and back under the warm sun. The past two days have been just that. Gorgeous clear, sunny skies that make all the tree buds pop open and flowers awaken, forcing even the most antisocial-ites outside to enjoy the weather.

Projects are in the works for landscaping the backyard. Most are small projects. I want to create two flower boxes and one raised area to plant blueberries. Then we'll dig up two woody bushes in the front yard and replace the area with hostas and indigenous wildflowers. I told my husband to leave the backyard to's my domain. There's also completely reseeding the dog area. The ex-dog (we had to divorce her, it was a bad relationship) destroyed it with all her pacing. It'll be a project, that's for sure.

Speaking of the hubs...I would have had pictures of everything to share with you, but he took off on a scooter ride and took the camera. I'm sure it'll be worth it. His videos and pictures are always great!

March 20, 2010

In The Garden

Oh how wonderful it felt to be out in the garden, even if it was only to complete a few tasks. The weather was warm, still the wind was a sharp reminder of March. I'm convinced that spring is here, in her infancy.

When I set out to the garden, my goals were to turn the soil and plant peas, radish, and spinach. I also took the onions out to acclimate them to their new environment. Once I stepped foot into the garden, I realized the soil conditions had changed. It went from a nice loamy texture to hard, wet clay. It rained for a few days prior and the dog had been running around, leaving mud-molded paw prints behind.

With a little effort, I was able to turn a row. By the fence, I noticed that the soil remained that loamy soil from before the rain. The sun always hits this side first, helping it to dry out faster. Easily, I turned this soil and prepared it for the peas. I spaced them about 4" apart in a long row. I decided not to sow the other seeds, dut to unfavorable soil conditions. We're expecting another rain now, so the next dry spell I'll go out and start again.

The onions did well outside for two days. It will be a few more before they return; I have to work. I bought potting soil and perlite at the store, ready to pot-up the peppers and herbs as they are setting their third set of leaves. I have lots of pepper plants. I hate to cull them. If I have room, I will pot-up and either give them away or sell them. But that's for another day, during nap-time.

I've also been busy changing the look of the website, adding new products to My Happy Kitchen and also adding a My Happy Kitchen facebook fan page. So many things to do and simply no time with a little tot running around. Then again, I wouldn't trade that for the world.

March 13, 2010

March 11, 2010

Barefoot Bloggers - Individual Meat Loaves

It feels good to be back with the Barefoot Bloggers. It allows me a(nother) good reason to make really great dishes from one of my faves: Ina Garten. Like I've said before, she writes recipes that are simple yet exquisite, often infusing French cuisine a la Julia Child. Today was anything but French. No wine, no butter, no herbes de Provence. Only good All-American food. Here's my tale of the mini meatloaf.

Recipe: Individual Meat Loaves

The first thing I thought about changing with this recipe was the meat. Friends at work have been raving about a turkey meatloaf which I've been meaning to try. However, after two straight nights of chicken, I was ready for something heartier. Ground sirloin certainly made it a leaner meatloaf, much better than the chuck I've used in the past. I cut back to two pounds for a total of four mini loaves.

Ina explicitly instructs the cook to soften the onions without any browning. I disagree. A bit of carmelization I feel is necessary to bring out the natural sugars and add a touch of sweetness to the meat, which the ketchup on top mimics. I also didn't have any fresh thyme to add, it's still in the seedling stage under grow lights. Instead, I utilized the pesto I made in the fall with ALL that basil. The rest went together as written and cooked in 40 minutes flat.

I made a side of redskin buttermilk mashed potatoes and brussels sprouts with shallot and balsamic vinegar. The meatloaf had a nice texture and held together well. There was little fat, yet remained moist even around the edges. My husband has expressed his pleasure with the meal, repeatedly. It's definitely one of the better meat loaves I've made.

There were these light green roses at the entrance to the grocery store today. I couldn't resist. They lift my mood everytime I walk by. Spring is in the air around here.

March 9, 2010

First Bloom

How delightful this early March weather has been! Mild, sunny, and just warm enough for my bulbs to send up their leaves. Today, while I was out playing with the tot, I noticed three bright yellow crocuses were awake, bowing their delicate heads towards us as if to say 'hello'.

I once read that when the first bloom appears in Spring, peas should be planted in the ground. The garden is not quite ready and rain will be hitting the area hard all week. My goal is by St. Patrick's Day. Along with the peas, I will sow chard, lettuce, beets, radishes, and bok choy along with setting out the already started onions.

Here's todays list of started seeds!

Matt's Wild Cherry(OP)
Green Doctors(OP)
Depp's Pink Firefly(OP)
Indian Stripe(OP)
Indiana Red(OP)
Granny Cantrell(OP)
Kellogg's Breakfast(OP)
Costoluto Genovese(OP)
Big Beef Beefsteak(F1)

Eggplant, Rosa Bianca

Hungarian Paprika

March 3, 2010

Mapped Out

It's funny how the old-school shit just works better.

I've been using online garden planning software over and over again to figure out what exactly is going where this spring. Tonight, after many frustrated attempts, I purchased plain ol' graph paper. In a matter of a few hours, the entire thing was drawn. I've made more room for tomatoes (12, if not 14), created succession/companion plantings, and confirmed that bush beans DO have a spot in the 2010 victory garden! Potatoes will be placed in bins along the south side of the house and herbs, except basil, will be kept in containers on the deck.

I've yet to figure out where to place the peas this spring. Maybe in the middle of the garden where the tomatoes will go...? A fall garden needs to be planned, too. I'd like to include cauliflower and broccoli. Again, maybe start seed between tomatoes to provide protection during the hot weather and as they grow, the tomatoes will be dying off. Or not. Timing is everything.