Sunday, February 26, 2012

Garden planning!

Can you believe gardening season is almost here? I just got some kale seeds to start this week, and i'll be starting sugar snap peas as well.

I'm going to do things very different this year. Last year I had, in this order:

melons - beans - blank space - tomatoes - peppers

The melons didn't do so well, and took up a lot of space, so i'll be getting them at the Green Market instead. The beans were great, and a good buffer between the peppers & tomatoes, because they are shorter. I was expecting the tomatoes to take over the blank space, but instead they grew over the peppers, and robbed them of the sun. I got 2 peppers from them all summer. It was all a great learning experience.

This year, I will grow:

bell peppers - beans - tomatoes, in the raised garden, and sugar snap peas in pots. Maybe i'll do another pea tent, but this time on the patio.

I think I might not buy any tomato plants, but instead i'll use my "volunteer plants". Last year I had a bunch of tomato plants spring up where I didn't plant them. I was very excited about them, and asked around. Apparently theses are called "volunteer plants". We should have plenty of these next year! I let all the half eaten tomatoes fall to the bottom of the garden, so there should be lots of seeds in there!

Last year we mixed in our compost with soil from the garden center. This year, we only need to add compost, so the plants should flourish.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

cooking, cooking, cooking

It's been a while since i've posted anything! Lately i've been cooking up a storm. I do not enjoy cooking, but this is in preparation of spring & summer, when my son & I are constantly busy & on the go. I like to cook in large batches and freeze multiple meals, so when we are busy I can just thaw them out and heat them up. We are all getting bored with my usuals, and though Jack is not a picky kid, dinners are the most challenging meal, so I have been trying some new stuff. I am making a lot of stuff with ground beef, because we recently bought some grass fed beef in bulk. Here are some recipes that i've tried (and tweaked... I can't leave a recipe alone!) this week (pictures are all from the recipes' sites)...

Debdoozie's Blue Ribbon Chili from This was a hit with my family (the last chili I tried wasn't :( , so it's not just a chili thing), and I will be making this again for sure. Tweaks: I skipped the black pepper (none of us are fans of black pepper), and I used real garlic, instead of garlic salt. I don't know if the brand of salsa makes the difference, but I used Trader Joe's.

This Mac & Cheese I found on Pinterest sounded cool, because the pasta is cooked in the milk, which forms the base for the sauce. I tried this as a lunch for me & Jack, but it wasn't a hit. It might have been because I used extra sharp cheddar, instead of a mild cheddar. I will try this again with regular cheddar.

Sloppy Joes, again from This was a huge hit. Everyone had seconds, including Jack! He proclaimed it "as good as the ones from the Green Market", and those are made by a chef using fresh & local ingredients! My tweaks on this recipe: I skipped the brown sugar (totally unnecessary in my opinion), used twice the amount of green peppers & onions that it called for, skipped the black pepper, and used real garlic instead of powdered. I think next time i'll use whole grain dinner rolls, instead of hamburger buns, so they are mini.

I also tried these cookies I found on Pinterest. The title alone made me want to try them, "Hippie Cookies {that don't suck}", lol. My tweaks: I used sweetened coconut (I couldn't find any unsweetened at the store), and I used craisins instead of dried cherries (much cheaper!). My opinion? If you would have told me they were muffin tops, I would have said they were delicious, but as cookies, they are a bit bready and not as full flavored as a regular cookie. Jack said they were ok, but he kept asking me for more of them, so he must have really liked them. What would I do differently? I would use twice as many craisins & chop them up, so they were in every bite. The bites with craisin in them were very yummy, but the bites without were bland. Would I make these again? Yep!

I'll try to post more recipes as I make them.