Friday, April 30

Busy Spring and My Spring Has Sprung

Spring Means Get Busy!

With trying to get the gardens set up, replace a full section of fencing, plus gate, and just keep up with the other real world of mine, this has been a busy week. Editing of book two is in full swing and there are just so many hours...this is just a fast catch up.

Of course, I have to make another lasagna garden for my north side fern  garden. The vendor was very helpful and this is the order that seemed the best. I took pictures and did diagrams and made a footnote on the bottom of my shoe, so it should all work out -- if I don't walk through any puddles!  Am not going to show you the fence, until it's finished. Got the gate done yesterday and just waiting for an extra pair of hands to put it in place. I'm sure you'll be devastated to know that I have a splinter...

Tuesday, April 27

Solar Braised Radishes and Cucumbers

Solar Braised Radishes and Cucumbers

Here's what happened to my first radish harvest of 2010! Cooking radishes and cucumbers has not always been at the top of every American's menu when preparing vegetables for dinner. Well, thanks to the Food Channel, they're not just for salads, anymore. Be adventurous and check out these radish recipes. They're easy and will definitely get you started on a new cooking journey.

And, if you saw the movie Julie-Julia, you'll remember when she prepares braised cucumbers for her guests, so here's Julia Child's standard cucumber recipe to enjoy and expand on to your heart's content. 

Thursday, April 22

First Radish Harvest in Spring Container Garden

First Harvest of Radishes from Spring Container Garden

Oh, look how pretty. I knew they were ready but not this ready. Aren't they lovely...going to braise them and not share with ANYONE! "These are mine," says The Little Red Hen and I richly deserve them!

Tuesday, April 20

Solar Pepperoni Reversible Lasagna

Solar Pepperoni Lasagna Also Works for Vegans
Don't laugh. We've all either seen or worn those reversible coats, scarves, what-have-you. Well, take the pepperoni out of this lasagna and it's a perfect vegan meal! The veggies and sauces are binders without meat content to keep it versatile. This was a mix-match of last year's eggplant and tomato-pepper sauces and some fresh store-bought ingredients. Choosing your own meat content for this meal would change the name but that's okay, just make sure it's pre-cooked before adding to the lasagna.

Whenever you're going to make something that requires layering or using lots of ingredients, setting everything out before you begin (mise en place) keeps the chance of leaving a special ingredient out of your dish to a minimum. You want to be able to focus on the preparation without wondering if there's anything missing.  So, here's mine for the pepperoni lasagna. You'll see double-stacking because there's alot and I needed to get them all together for the picture. Besides, the point is to have the ingredients available.  Open solar oven for pre-heating.

Saturday, April 17

Spring Garden 2010 Update - Weeks Three and Four

Spring Garden 2010
18 Days Old - We've had such a spate of hot weather that it's going to be interesting to see what happens in the next week, when the weather is supposed to get sort of back to normal, again. Peas are just starting to climb the supports. Sage is full of new growth. Broccoli has firmly rooted and is putting out the shading leaves. Onions are over 6". Radishes are beginning to fatten up. Lettuce is still trying to decide what to do with this hot weather. Chives had flowers pinched after pix was taken.

This is my first year with strazzberries, that hybrid cross between a raspberry and a strawberry. All have been planted beneath my Cherry, Apricot/Almond, Peach trees, but only the strazzberries have shot up and started producing some berries. I've already picked off the flowers, once. The strawberries seem to know that there's going to be another cold snap and are waiting for the all clear!

Wednesday, April 14

Sunshine Blog Award for me? OMG!

OMG! I've been awarded the Sunshine Blog Award from one of my favorite bloggers, Terria over at Daily Good.  This lovely lady goes out of her way to find the best people doing the most incredible things to make our lives more fulfilling, self-sufficient, and show the giving spirit within. Plus, she's very much aware of those who don't have the benefits that many have and has taken all the work out of finding ways to give of ourselves, whether time or money, to the less fortunate. Well, she gave me this award, but it comes with it's own set of rules. I need to pass it on to at least 12 bloggers I want to share with you and they, in turn, have some small chores to do.  Terria did such a great job describing what has to be done that I'm just going to share what she sent me.

This award is traditionally passed on to those blogger's that inspire others and show positivity and creativity, so, in that spirit, I have picked my nominees from blogs that I visit regularly and are very informative and inspiring to me.   The rules for accepting the award are:

Tuesday, April 13

Solar Salmon Loaf with Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Solar Salmon Loaf with Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
It's been a great week for solar cooking and so much fun to take advantage of this energy-saving way of preparing meals. I broke down and bought fresh orange and red peppers and a few Roma tomatoes. I know. I know. I'm supposed to be cleaning out my last year's crops but, every once in a while, you just don't want to do it. But this turned out so yummy that, if you try it, I know you'll forgive me. Some canned salmon, a bit of this and a bit of that and dinner is served.

Friday, April 9

Herb Bed Lasagna Garden

Lasagna Garden Made for Herb Bed
This is the step-by-step lasagna garden I'm making for my herbs and some veggies. If you keep your eye on the white skirting around the craft shop, it's a good measurement to follow. I'm only doing two series of layers for this garden, although all my others gardens had their layers repeated three times, until the height was around 24".
This is where the garden will go.  Pick a spot on your property. Just remove anything that sticks up and will get in the way. This is a great garden for rocky soil. If it's covered with rocks, you'll probably want to repeat the layers several times the first time you build your garden. Don't worry, it'll work itself down to about 8" in six to eight weeks. The white skirting is 15" high.

Tuesday, April 6

Solar Sous Vide Sirloin Steak with Spicy Fried Potatoes

Solar Sous Vide Sirloin Steak Just Like Eating Out
If you've ever wondered how restaurants get their meats cooked so evenly from side to side, it's because they use a pre-cook method called sous vide. Although I'm sure it will happen before long, right now, using this method at home can be very expensive. The equipment can run up to a couple of thousand dollars and using other home techniques requires constant vigilence and alot of fossil fuel energy. Unless, of course, you're using a solar oven and you follow my solar adaptation of sous vide cooking. For sides, please remember that I'm still trying to use up all those vegetables in my freezer from last year's harvests, so combinations are going to be very interesting for the next few months! Here we have a sirloin steak, quick-fried potatoes, green pole beans, and chard.

Sunday, April 4

Fennel, Carrot, Rhubarb, Almond Amish Friendship Bread

Dressed up Basic Amish Friendship Bread
What I love about Amish Friendship Bread is that it's so versatile that you're not always making the same sweet bread. And, it's friendly. My variation is less sweet but still tasty. Keeping in mind that you are adding only 1 cup of either nuts or fruit or a combination of both, this is what I did. 1/4 cup each of finely chopped Fennel, 1/4 cup finely chopped carrot, 1/4 cup chopped rhubarb, and 1/4 cup chopped almonds. I dry-roasted the almonds with 1/2 teaspoon Fennel seeds and 1/2/ teaspoon Anise seeds until the almonds just started to brown at the edges. Remove from heat to cool.
In a large mixing bowl with balance of Amish Friendship Bread starter, I added the following: 2/3 cup oil, 3 eggs, 1/2 tsp. salt (optional), 1 tsp. vanilla, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon mint leaves, 1 cup sugar, 2 cups plain flour, 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. baking soda. Blended, then beat, the mixture by hand; added the chopped fennel, carrots, rhubarb, and toasted almond mixture. Decided to try out my new non-stick Bundt pan and did not grease it. Did grease one loaf pan with butter and sprinkled it with sugar instead of flour.

Saturday, April 3

Spring Garden - Ten Days Old

The Spring Garden is Ten Days Old
Just a short post to keep you up-to-date on the garden. It's hard to believe that it's only been ten days since I planted the spring garden. But, here's the proof! And, I've slipped in a later picture taken on the 31st! What's so great about the garden is that it stays pretty warm, even through the winter, and is ready to go. Peas are almost reaching their string supports and the broccoli has settled in for growth. You can just see the onions, radishes, and chard peeking through the ground.

We had a nice rain on the 30th and this is what I found in the morning!
And, here are some herbs waiting patiently for their garden to be prepped. Cabbage at top is going under some fruit trees as both decoration and food to come! The herbs are going next to the craft shop. Just waiting for a few more days to let everything settle in before doing the transplants. It's just too hot! For some reason or other, the powers that be decided to skip spring and bring hot summer weather to this neck of the woods. Aaarrrrgh.

Friday, April 2

Happy Easter, Everyone! These Are My Pysanki!

Just thought I'd share some of my pysanky eggs with my fellow bloggers. It's been a great season and they've been well-received. If you'd like to see more, check out my other site.

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 1

12-Bean 5-Grain Turkey Medley

12-Bean 5-Grain Turkey Medley
This is the kind of meal that looks like it should be served on a tin plate but is oh, so, good! Remember that I always double the amount when I reconstitute my dried beans to have some ready for other recipes? Well, there I was in front of the freezer, extra beans in hand, when I spied the leftover Thanksgiving turkey and stock and -- voila! -- an idea began to form. Don't even ask why but I had several different grains on hand, as well, and decided to just throw the lot together to see what might happen. This turned out so good that, if you were a vegetarian, you could simply leave out the turkey and use vegetable stock for the liquid.
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