Friday, July 26, 2013


Our bedroom windows face east and south, which I love because it's bright in the morning. But I hate because it's bright in the morning (difficult to sleep in). 

I bought these curtains and the curtain rods at Target. The curtains are Eclipse Fairfax Thermaweave in Tan. They are supposed to be "black-out" curtains and block out over 90% of the light. After I got home, I read the reviews and was concerned that they might not actually block out that much light. The reviews on Target are really negative. 

But here's our experience:

Curtains closed

Curtains open
I don't know about you, but I'd say they work. There will be better sleeping in on the weekends.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Cherry Tomato Pie

I knew from the get-go that this year would not be a year of "tomato crazy", when tomatoes in the garden were so plentiful they were driving me nuts. This is the first year gardening at our new house, and we didn't have time to get manure from the farm before I started planting. (This fall though, is a different story. And hopefully next year's garden will be so bountiful I'm giving produce away!)

Even though I'm not growing tons of tomatoes, a good friend at work is, possibly due to the loads of horse manure she incorporated into her raised beds. So she gifts plenty of tomatoes to me and others at work. The August issue of Better Homes & Gardens has a recipe for Cherry Tomato Pie, which inspired my version. I'll note at the end of the recipe which changes I made.

Cherry Tomato Pie (my version)

Crust: (Pat in the Pan crust from Joy of Cooking)
1-1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp dried basil
1/2 c butter (1 stick)
2-3 Tbsp heavy cream

Mix the flour, basil and salt together. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender. Mix in the cream.

Dump onto a floured surface and need about 10 times. Then pat into a 9" tart pan, on the bottom and up the sides of the pan.

Bake the crust by itself for about 10 minutes at 375.

6 strips bacon, fried
2/3 c grated Parmesan
1 yellow onion, diced
1/4 c fresh basil, finely chopped
2 sprigs oregano, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 oz Chevre
1/4 c Miracle Whip
4 c +/- cherry tomatoes, cut the larger ones in half and leave smaller ones whole

Fry the bacon until crispy. Remove bacon from the pan to drain. Keep about 2 Tbsp of the bacon grease in the pan and use it to saute the diced onion until tender.

In a bowl, mix together 1/2 c of the Parmesan, herbs, salt and pepper, Chevre and Miracle Whip.

Arrange the bacon around the edge of the tart pan, as a second layer of "crust".

Then spread the herb-cheese mixture into the tart pan, then cover with the onions, and then the cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan on top.

Bake for 35 minutes at 375.

This is approved for breakfast, lunch,or dinner. Delicious when warm, but also chilled.

What's different:
1. The original recipe called for 2 layers of refrigerator pie crust instead of the homemade crust.
2. The original recipe called for 4 oz cream cheese instead of Chevre.
3. The original recipe used mayo instead of Miracle Whip (but I like the tangy zip!)
4. I added oregano because I had some fresh.
5. The original crust recipe does not have herbs.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Garden Report 7.16.13

I'm a little behind on posting photographs from this weekend....

I picked lettuce (a lot of which has bolted), pulled beets, carrots and a couple parsnips. There are still a lot of carrots and parsnips in the ground, but I pulled some to see if they were actually producing anything. Surprisingly they were, unlike the radishes that didn't have anything worth eating...

I also dug the potatoes. The tops had all died back and I was afraid there wouldn't be any potatoes, but we had about 3 -4 potatoes for every 1 potato that I planted. In their place, I'll plant some more sweet corn.

We stopped by the farmer's market on Saturday morning and I got a peck of peaches. I made 7 half-pint jars of jam, and a peach tart, and still have almost a whole box left. I've been eating a lot of fresh peaches and making lots of smoothies.

For dinner on Sunday, I sauteed potatoes, and another pan of potato and parsnip "fries". Everything tasted so great - possibly even better since it was home grown.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Garden Report 7.7.13

 Saturday I picked several more peppers.
 Check out the pepper plant on the far right. It used to have leaves. All the other plants around it have leaves.  I don't see any animal tracks or bugs. Strangest thing ever.
 This was an experiment this year. The tomato on the left I planted in the garden from seed at the same time that I set out the tomato plant on the right. I started several Dinner Plate tomatoes inside, but only one survived. I want more of them. We'll see how it measures up to the transplants.
 The first green beans are appearing!!!There are at least two in this photo (Where's Waldo?)
I started buying herbs directly from Frontier Coop. When I lived in Springfield MO, the organic store there sold these spices in bulk - you scooped out however much you needed and they sold by the ounce. There is a health food store here, too, and I would like to keep my tax dollars local. However, when I can get the herbs and spices shipped to my door for less than what I can buy them locally, I have hard time justifying. Even after shipping, it was cheaper to buy them online. I bought a pound each of: Himalayan Pink Salt, Ground Cumin, Cinnamon, Chili Powder, Garlic Granules and Onion Soup Mix. The salt, cumin, chili, and garlic will be gone in less than 6 months. We eat a lot of Mexican inspired dishes...

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Music to my Ears

This afternoon I spent some time at the farm. (Of course) Playing with Freddy. And picking blackberries.

Freddy likes to play in the cow pond. It is a rather muddy pond, full of catfish, and sometimes water snakes and snapping turtles. But today Freddy and the cows in the adjacent field were the only wildlife to be seen. My brother throws the tennis ball in the pond and then Freddy belly flops into the water after the ball to retrieve it. He steps out of the water and drops the ball inches from the edge (most of the time it rolls back into the water) and then positions himself for another fetch. Most of the time today was spent with his leash on, since the cows were nearby and he likes to take off after the cows. Then the cows moved on and we decided to try without the leash. Although Freddy was not up for that. We disconnected the leash and threw the ball and he would just stand there on the shore. Not sure if he liked having the leash as a safety-net or what, but if we reattached the leash he would fetch the ball. Next time I need to video the whole fetching, because it is quite hilarious.

Then I picked blackberries and had 8 cups of fresh berries. I brought them home with the intention of making Blackberry Slump and then decided I should preserve them instead. I now have 6 pints of blackberry jam cooling on the counter. (Couldn't find the half-pint jars - they are still packed in the garage somewhere...)

This year I bought a jar of pectin instead of boxes. Which was a great idea because I can make whatever size of batch I desire, but the directions were all on the back of the label and the label did not want to cooperate. So I had to find directions online. This is the coolest website ever. You select what type of fruit you're preserving, whether it's jelly or jam, and what type of pectin you're using. Then it gives you a chart of how much fruit, sugar and pectin is required for X number of jars. No math required!
Dear friend Mr. Water Bath Canner  - I look forward to seeing you A LOT this year!
Nothing better than the sound of can lids "popping" closed right after being pulled from the water bath canner.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Garden Report 7.4.13

Well this is a little late for an update, but better late than never.

Last week our taco night did not go as well as planned. Turned out the Hubs bought the wrong cut of meat, and even though the marinade was delicious, the meat was almost too tough to chew. Luckily we also grilled a tri-tip roast and deer steaks, and those served as taco fillings quite nicely. We used the chewy meat in breakfasts for a few days - cut up in very small pieces and mixed in with fried potatoes, topped with an overeasy egg. And I wonder why my cholesterol is high...? At least that's not my "everyday" breakfast - during the week my breakfast is whole grain cereal with fresh fruit.

The peppers and onions that were sides for the tacos included the above pictured peppers, fresh from the garden.

While some plants in the garden seem to be doing really well, others are stunted and looking a little sad. Turns out the corn and potatoes needed phosphate, and the beans need potassium. I fertilized the corn, potatoes and root vegetables with phosphate, and gave the latest planting of beans and corn a dose of the 10-10-10 fertilizer. I really hate using fertilizer, but I also realize the plants need to eat like I do. And since the garden is brand-spanking new this year, and we didn't get any organic matter (translation: cow shit) mixed into it yet, fertilizer will have to do.

These websites have been very helpful in diagnosing garden issues:

Last weekend I planted an azalea. I incorporated peat moss into the hole, and fertilized with the Root & Bloom fertilizer, and Sulfur. While I had the sulfur out, I gave a dose to the blueberries as well.
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