Saturday, December 31, 2011
It was a mixed bag. Manly was on blood thinners for half the year. We didn't find out that the blood clot had cleared until September. Finding out that he no longer had the blood clot was the biggest surprise blessing of the year. The doctors told us he would probably have it for life. We are so grateful this is over. The silver lining in this is that it made us truly appreciate our health and each other.
We also found out that all three of the boys and I have a weird type of diabetes called MODY2. Nothing to do for it but watchful waiting and limiting simple carbohydrates in our diet. My doctor does not feel that my blood sugar levels are high enough, at this point, to prescribe medication. There is no approved medication for children. Although this is not good news, it did cause me to make some major changes in my own life. On April Fool's Day, I changed my diet. I now eat mostly lean protein, dairy and vegetables. This keeps my blood sugar in a healthy range. Over the last nine months, I have lost 33 lbs. This is a very very good thing. This fall I also began jog/walking or wogging ;) and yoga.
The horrible drought took all the pleasure out of my summer and fall garden this year. We have had rain recently, so I am enjoying my winter garden. Here is hoping that this next year the drought breaks completely.
I want to focus on the good and not the bad. May 2012 bring more blessings and fewer stressful situations. I am going to forge ahead into the new year with focus and intent to parent my best, show gratitude for the love and support of a good man and create the best life I can for all of us.
Oh, and I intend to get my sense of humor back here on this silly little blog :)
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Handful of greens chopped
1 teaspoon chicken Better than Boullion
2 cups of water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Make chicken broth, wilt the greens in it, add the lemon juice and enjoy.
Now I will go outside and plant some Swiss chard.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
The volunteer plants are doing fine fine fine. I have lots of cilantro, endive and lettuces. The elephant garlic is about 18 inches tall and ready for me to eat some. I was really worried about the garlic because the bulbs stay in the ground dormant all summer. Because of the drought, I couldn't water properly this year. I was afraid they had completely dried out and died, but they are just fine.
I'm going to make an effort to be more of a presence here. I got so discouraged when Manly was sick that everything just seemed too hard. Then the horrible heat and drought of last summer sucked the life out of gardening here in Texas. I'm still dealing with a little apathy towards things I generally love. This too shall pass. The Monkeys are healthy, I am losing weight and Manly's blood clot has finally cleared. Count blessings.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Between the heat, drought and construction I sort of just gave up on the vegetable garden this summer. The only things that survived were the pepper plants. Everything else just died including my amazing tomato jungle. It has been heartbreaking.
We had our first major rain in months last night. We got at least an inch of rain, probably a little more. Unfortunately, I did not have all of my rain barrel taps shut and one of the barrels was blown over before it could fill up. All I managed to catch was 55 gallons in one of the tanks. STINKS.
The weather has cooled off considerably yesterday so I was back out in the garden full force. I payed for it this morning when I could barely get out of bed I hurt so bad. The cure for that soreness was more gardening of course. An hour of weeding and I am all loosened up.
As I look around our area I see so many dead trees and shrubs. It is going to take a lot to get our landscape back in shape. This is one of the reasons I am so happy that Michael Nolan and Laura Mathews started The Regrow Together Project. It is a worldwide effort to help gardeners who have lost or been harmed by our crazy weather be it from drought, flood, heat wave, hurricane or tornado. Obviously, my efforts will be to help those who have been harmed by our extremely hot dry summer. Please join us in helping gardeners worldwide regrow from natural disasters. We are all in this together.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Sunday, June 26, 2011
We have tomatoes, lots and lots of tomatoes. I wish I was one of those organized persons who weighed their harvest and could give you an exact amount on my tomato bounty. That's probably never going to happen.
I am turning the extra fruit into canned salsa. Finally read up a little on it and it turns out my sauce wasn't keeping because tomatoes are not acidic enough by themselves. That is why my previous attempts at canned tomatoes spoiled. It will be wonderful to open up a can of summer salsa in the middle of next winter.
I have a few varieties of tomatoes that came from the seed swap with Monica Milla of Garden Faerie's Musings. This first mistake I made was misreading the varieties and making up new names for a couple of the tomatoes. Avivvi is actually Aviuri and Ladano de Panicchio is actually Ladino di Panocchia. Found my errors when looking up my varieties and on Tatiana's Tomato Base. There is one that has not been identified yet. It is round and flat, barely lobed and orange mottled in color. I can't for the life of me figure out what it is. Nothing Mons has suggested sounds like any type of seed I've had. Wonder if something crossed. The second mistake I made was labeling them with wooden markers, which faded. Why, oh why can't I remember to just label the containers with a grease pencil or china marker.
The best producer so far has been Gajo de Melon, which has given me lots of cute, pink, cherry tomatoes. The next best seems like it is going to be the mystery tomato, although it does appear to have an issue with blossom end rot. The Aviuri, Green Zebra and Turks Mutt are all giving me enough fruit to make it worth my time to plant them again. Better Boy and Early Girl both are doing okay, but nothing special. Who was that crazy man who compared heirlooms tomatoes to losers? Of my ten tomato plants, four of them are hybrids and they are producing the scrawniest yields.
The Monkeys have been eating tomatoes whole with a little sprinkle of salt. At first I was afraid they were going eat them all before I could make salsa. I caught the Teenage Monkey with one of the first big ripe tomatoes in his room. That's right, my kid was sneaking a tomato.
I can't praise the container in the ground method of growing tomatoes enough. If you want to see how, go here.
Happy Summer Everyone
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
My squash is doing fine as well. Usually the squash bugs get them, but this year the pumpkin vines have worked great as traps and I've been able to manage the bug situation. The vines really are just beginning to produce, but The Best Boss in the World has plenty of squash now and she is sharing.
Today I ate yellow squash and Noonday onions sauteed in butter again. Yummy. It is so simple - just saute the onions in a little butter on low heat until they are slightly brown and add the squash. Cook until the squash is tender and eat it up.
I am also making zucchini with tomatoes again. Saute the onions add zucchini and tomato sauce as well as a little brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Cook until the zucchini is tender and again, eat it up.
More recipes to follow as the squash rolls in :)
Saturday, May 28, 2011
The pumpkin leaves seem to confuse the squash bugs. They are mostly laying their eggs on top of the leaves instead of safely underneath. I've just been cutting off the infested leaves and throwing them in fire pit to be burned. One clutch of eggs did hatch. I just lifted up the big leave and sprayed them all down with soapy water. They were very dead very quick. I'm hoping this activity will give my actual squash plants a fighting chance.
I remember making fried squash blossoms last year and they were yummy. Because of the diagnosis of MODY 2 diabetes, I have been on a very strict ADA diet for the past nine weeks. I decided to try to fry the pumpkin blossoms with beaten egg whites instead of breading them. The results tasted good, but were far to greasy. I may make them with breading for Manly and the Monkeys, but I'll keep out of it myself.
A better alternative for me was pumpkin blossom soup. Just chicken stock, chopped up pumpkin blossoms and a little lemon juice. Easy peazy. I will put the soup through the food processor next time to smooth it out. The texture of the blossoms was a little too spiky.
Today I made a Noonday onion, pumpkin blossom, pepper, cheese and bacon frittata. It was extra yummy. The pepper and blossoms were from my garden, the eggs were from local chickens and the onions from Noonday, Texas. The only things not local were the bacon and cheese. I think I can find local sources for those for next time :)
Anybody else eating out of the garden yet?
Saturday, May 21, 2011
I'm having a wonderful year in regards to tomatoes. In past years, they have been hit or miss because of the weather and rainfall. This year, I switched the back half of the vegetable/flower garden to three large raised beds and two smaller side raised beds. One of the side beds has large pots of citrus trees sitting in it instead of being planted. We are in the middle of a deck demolition and I needed the storage worse than the vegetable planting space.
I read and saw pictures somewhere on the interweb about growing tomatoes in containers sunk into a raised beds. I've tried every which way I can think of to keep the water near the roots of my tomato plants instead of running off somewhere useless. There were a bunch of abandoned 3 gallon plant containers junking up my potting bench, so I decided to give the sunken container contraptions a shot.
First thing - Cut the bottom out of the containers. This is hard. My trusty Felco pruners got it started, but I ended up have to saw them out with a serrated steak knife.
Second thing - Dig a hole inside of the raised bed and sink a pot into the hole leaving about 3 to 4 inches of pot above the soil level. Repeat until all pots are buried.
Third thing - Plant tomato seedlings in the pots with potting mix and compost.
Forth thing - Water each individual pot. Repeat as needed.
Fifth thing - Fertilize once a week with liquid fertilizer. I'm using fish emulsion this year, but prefer Hastagrow. (Hastagrow doesn't stink as much).
The results have been stunning. My tiny seedlings planted April 1st have already outgrown my very large tomato cages. I've already eaten two ripe tomatoes. The plants are healthy, disease free and covered in blooms. The water stays right in their root zone and I believe the containers are helping keep soil from splashing up on the leaves of the plants.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
The real stars of the show were the carnivorous plants. I can’t say that I remember the particulars about each variety, because the information was coming at me fast and furious. The man knows his flesh eating plants. Baby Monkey was mesmerized. I don’t think I have ever seen him that still and focused. We were lucky enough to come when some of the pitcher plants were blooming. The blooms are very interesting. They are shaped in a way that forces pollinators to come into them wander around a little, get pollen on them and then get back out, sort of like bug a maze.
Paul has graciously agreed to come speak to our young library patrons during our Summer Reading Program. After watching my little man completely enthralled by the descriptions of these fascinating plants, I know Paul will be a big hit with the library kids.
The purpose of my trip was actually to pick up a bag of bat guano. Bat guano is excellent plant fertilizer. It also smells funny. I am told it is a very bad idea to inhale any of the dust, so I won’t. Paul volunteers at Bat World, and scooped me up this bag of crap there. I’ve never been more grateful. Look at the print on the bag, cute right?
Friday, April 22, 2011
The first thing I did was explode half a bar of Zote soap in the microwave. This was very fun and much easier than shredding it. Next time I will cut it into several smaller pieces to speed up the process.
The dishwasher powder was 1 cup borax, 1 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup washing soda and a few drops of orange oil shook up together in a Mason jar. There is no actual soap in this recipe. Worked great on my first load of dishes. I do put white vinegar in the rinse aid dispenser in the dishwasher door. This keeps the glasses and such from looking cloudy. Love some sparkly wine glasses :)
The liquid dish soap was about a cup of exploded Zote soap 1/2 cup of borax and a tablespoon or so of washing soda dissolved in boiling water. Next time, I am going to make it a little thicker. It worked great, but I am going to get used to the lack of suds.
The laundry powder was the rest of that bar of exploded soap, 2 cups of borax and 1/2 cup of washing soda all mixed up with a blender. I put a little vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser. The laundry came out nice and clean.
What kind of earth friendly cleaners do you like?
Happy Earth Day
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Friday, April 15, 2011
I recently visited my grandparent’s chicken farm in Dallas, Texas. It was an exciting adventure that I would like to experience again. The chickens were a riot that weekend! I can’t get enough of them.
The names of the chickens are- Star, tepee, Sam, Bugger, and Wingding.
All of the chickens have their own personality in many different ways, just like people.
Star is the oldest chicken in the bunch and is also the dominant chicken. She tells the other chickens what to do by pecking order. Pecking order is like dog domination in chicken form. And how do they do this? You guessed it! Pecking. Now think of Star as the boss of them all. She decides everything.
Tepee has her own little story. It all started the chicken farm. Here’s how it goes. My cousins were out at the end of the small property when they found two chickens Star and Tepee. So, both of them took the chickens to my Grandparents. They looked for the owners, and didn’t find them. They thankfully decided to keep them. And they got more chickens. That’s how the farm was made.
Tepee does have a health problem. She is blind in one eye. But, that doesn’t make her unhappy. She is just like any other chicken.
Sam is the newest chicken at the farm. She makes a good addition to the farm. But, she refused to use the nesting boxes. I guess she wanted some privacy. So, one day my Granny caught the chicken in her tool shed! In return she got her own privet nesting box in the tool shed. It was a weird compensation but it worked out nicely.
Bugger is a Red Cochen that is at the moment is brooding. Brooding is when a chicken lays a clutch of eggs, and sits on them for twenty two days. This is a disaster for chicken farmers. So, on my visit all of us tried to let the other chickens nest while she couldn’t. It was complicated but, it all worked out. Bugger also has a crocked beak. She goes to the vet every month to get her beak trimmed down so she can eat.
There is not much to say about Wingding. She is a Blue Cochen chicken, and she is a wonderful fluff ball. Very kind, gentle, and great with people!
The Hen House is where all chickens do almost anything. They eat, sleep, and lay eggs! Where they sleep is very interesting. All of the chickens sleep on roosts on the higher ends of the house.
What do they eat? Many types of feeds, grass, and worms. The three types of feed my granny gives them is scratch, laying pellets, and shell.
My experience was amazing. Knowing what the chickens importance and purpose helped me know a better understanding of these little fluff balls. Now my best idea of taking care of chickens is: IT’S ALL ABOUT THE CHICKENS!!!
Friday, April 1, 2011
While setting up to take this picture, I noticed some icky greasy mess on the back of the stove top. I have asthma and cannot use harsh smelling cleaners or anything containing ammonia. Baking soda with orange oil has been the primary cleaner in our household. Recently, I discovered that baking soda and any liquid soap will clean just as well as baking soda and orange oil. This is good news because orange oil is expensive. Now I only use orange oil when I want the place to be clean and smell good - you know, company clean. Anyway, needing to clean the stove up quickly and take the picture, I just sprinkled some baking soda on a damp towel and started wiping the surface down. The baking soda basically erased the greasy mess. Aunt Debbi - doing more and more with less and less :)
Saturday, March 12, 2011
You have taken custody of several plants before it is time to plant them. They are four heirloom tomato plants, several eggplants and a cucumber. I know the weather is very pretty, but if you plant them in the ground now, you take a risk of them either being killed by a late freeze or stunted by cold weather. They are also too tiny to put in the ground yet. They should double or triple in size before it is time to plant them.
The nursery staff that are already selling tomatoes and peppers are laughing behind your back because you will probably be back to buy more when your plants die from the cold.
Please wait until April the 1st to put them in the ground. At that time, check the forecast and make sure it is not supposed to get down into the low 40’s. If it is, wait another week. In the meantime, continue to let them grow in the containers and bring them inside at night if the temperatures dip down into the low 40’s or colder. Keep them in the sunshine otherwise. Make sure the potting soil stays damp, but not soaking wet.
The tomato plants are the heirloom varieties Green Zebra, Ladano de Panichio, Turks Mutt (not a dog) and Avivvi. The only one you might find in local nurseries is Green Zebra. They are all indeterminate, which does not mean they don’t know if they like boys or if they like girls. It means that they will continue to produce fruit over the season rather than making all of their tomatoes at one time. This also means they will be vines rather than bushes, so give them plenty of room and support. These are not going to make big tomatoes. They will make small, sometimes flattened, often weirdly colored fruit. The Green Zebra tomatoes are ripe when they are green with yellow stripes. They all taste fantastic.
The cucumber vine variety is Armenian cucumber. The cucumbers are going to look a little funny, sort of freakishly long, but that is never a bad thing. These cucumbers sometimes twist into odd shapes. Last year, mine produced a cucumber in the shape of the number 6. They are light green with thin but firm skin which helps keep them from getting easily bruised. They will keep for several days after being picked. I have never tasted a better cucumber.
I can’t remember what variety of eggplant I started. The fruit will either be short and fat or long and skinny. Pick them early and often unless you like bitter, seed infested eggplant.
You can save the seeds from all of these plants and grow your own next year, or just wait for me to do it. I always do.
Debra, Your Rogue Master Gardener.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Sugar Snap peas are little vines that to grow massive proportions. They give off a lot of veggies that can supply you with enough food for weeks, depending on where you live.
To plant the seeds you want to use a good fine potting soil in a small container flat. When planting the seeds you want to plant them about a half an inch down. Afterward you want to water them until the ground is damp, be careful you don’t soak them.
Caring for the seeds
You want to water the seeds every day, and they will come up in about a week’s time. In a few more days the seedlings will sprout ,and you want to move them to a larger containers with gardening poles in them.
What they look like when they sprout
When they sprout they look like green little weeds with leaves. You want to move them over as soon as you see a sprout because these little suckers grow fast. As they keep growing they will look like little green strings with leaves
What should happen next
The seedlings will grow into vines and start to produce the little peas that can be eaten raw or cooked. Make sure that they are growing on the poles or else they will try to wraparound a fence or something.
As they grow they should go up the pole in the transfer pot because they are vines and they will grow to be happy healthy plants as they continue to give off these peas that can be eaten raw or cooked
If you do all these steps you should find that the plant will grow fast as well as, feeding you with some fantastic peas.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
We cut everything back and hauled off all of the woody stuff to the burn pile. Then I got the bright idea to put the leaves in her fancy compost bin. Opened that sucker up and it was dry as a bone. I managed to pull out a little compost, but it needed brown, green and wet.
We loaded up the leaves and green stuff. When we added water it ran right through. Something was wrong. Mom asked, "Could a little cow poo help?" Well yes. My dad has a herd of about 5 cows. They live in a couple of acres behind my parents home. So here we go out into the pasture to collect some cow crap. Mom had a little garden scoop type thing. I had my gloves. I picked up way more poop with my gloves than she picked up with that scoop thingy.
We went back added to poo to the compost pile. Mixed it together added water, which did not run through, and I think she may have an active compost pile. Of course, when it gets cold next week and she wakes up to a steaming monster in her yard, she may not thank me very much.
Friday, January 7, 2011
1/2 large onion
2 cups chopped broccoli
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 cup creamy type cheese (I used Velveeta because I didn't have the melty kind of queso blanco)
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese shredded.
2 cups or more whole milk (if you want a thick soup use less. For a thin soup use more)
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock (I used Better Than Bouillon chicken stock)
A pinch of curry powder
Saute the onion in a tablespoon of butter. Add the stock and broccoli to the onion. Continue to cook on medium heat until the broccoli is completely cooked - about 10 minutes. In the meantime, saute the mushrooms in a little butter and set aside.
Adjust the heat to low and add the milk. Be careful, it is easy to scald milk and that would taste horrible. Use a wand blender to smooth out the onions and broccoli. Add the cheeses to the broccoli, onion and milk and stir continuously as the cheeses melt. Add the chopped mushrooms and just a pinch of curry powder, stir and eat it up.
I didn't feel like this soup needed any extra salt or pepper.
My friend Tony Tolentino suggested I serve my soup with crostinis. Here is his yummy recipe
12-18 sun dried tomato slices
1/2 cup Italian salad dressing, olive oil or your own vinaigrette
1/3 to 1/2 loaf of French bread
Preheat oven to 350
Marinate tomatoes in the dressing for 30 minutes
Cut bread in 1/2 to 3/4 inch slices and brush both sides of each slice of bread with dressing
Roll up basil leaves and slice
Bake bread until golden about 3 minutes per side
Top each slice of bread with a tomato slice and continue to cook until the tomatoes are heated about 4 minutes
Top with basil slices.
What is your favorite kind of soup?
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Saturday, January 1, 2011
1. 1/2 pound of dry black eyed peas
2. 12 ounces sliced salt pork
3. 1 can of Rotel with lime and cilantro
Place the peas in your crock pot and cover with water. Let them soak for two or three hours while you celebrate New Years Eve. After midnight add more water covering the peas completely with about an inch of water over the level of the peas. Add the salt pork and set the crock pot on low. Let them cook all night long. In the morning, add more water if needed and stir. They will be ready by lunchtime. Stir in the Rotel just before serving. Yummy Yummy Yummy. It you want it to be Hoppin John, serve it over rice.
Don't forget to turn on the crock pot. I almost did.
Happy New Year.