Wednesday, February 28, 2007

They that sow in tears shall reap joy. ~Psalms 126:5

That quote has new meaning for me today!
Yesterday we did quite a bit out in the yard and today my back and shoulders are paying for it!

Doug got the tiller out one more time and tilled a bed for me that will be our new Mary garden. It is located between the house and the garage and I can look out on it from my kitchen window. It doesn't look like much now, but I did plant four roots of pink and white 'Bleeding hearts' and two roots of Nikko Blue hydrangea.
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I also got my vegetable garden hoed and covered in black plastic. The plastic (hopefully) will keep me from having to weed and water so much this summer! I put down boards between my rows so we could walk and not tear the plastic. If you're thinking this garden is big....yup, it is! It measured 12X20!!! I know that is HUGE for a first time garden...but I've always been an over achiever!
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My seedlings have sprouted! I'm so excited!!!
After a few more weeks they'll be ready to put into the garden. I can almost taste that fresh salsa now!
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So for our out of town friends and family reading this, plan your visit for mid summer. I'll let you take home whatever you can carry!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Man does not live by bread alone.....but he might be able to with this one! ;-p

I just had to post this super easy bread recipe! It's SO easy that I'm letting Kyle show you how it's done. It makes the most wonderful loaf of bread. A nice chewy, crisp crust and tender crumb that is full of holes (just like a good ciabatta!) It looks like a rustic artisan bread, and your friends and family will be amazed...but it's up to you to tell them the truth that this bread is almost effortless to make!
The original recipe is from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery, in New York City. Link from NYT is here:


3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
1 5/8 C. water

Mix flour, yeast and salt together. Add your water and stir until it is all incorporated.
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Dough will be moist and sticky.
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Cover with plastic wrap and set aside on your counter. Leave dough alone for at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours. You know the dough is ready when it is dotted with bubbles. This picture is when the dough was 20 hours old:
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Turn your dough out onto a baking pan dusted with a combo of flour and cornmeal, it gives the bread a nice crunch using that combo! Loosely shape into a rectangle (dough will be very sticky!).
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Then fold over each end:
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Finally, fold in half:
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Leave the dough alone for two hours. During the last thirty minutes of this second rise, heat your oven. The hotter the better...anywhere from 450-500 degrees.
The secret to this great bread is the manner of baking. The article suggests a covered, enameld, cast iron baking dish. I don't have one of those, so I just use my Pyrex Corningware. Whatever you use, IT MUST HAVE AN OVEN SAFE LID! Put your dish in the oven to heat up as well. You want your dish to be screaming hot when you put the bread in!
Put your bread in seam side up, put the lid on and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and brown up to 20 more minutes.
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And voila, the finished loaf....wish you could smell it!
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I've tried variations on this recipe and it ALWAYS comes out great! We add chopped herbs (rosemary is our favorite!), cheeses, flax seeds, and different flours and we have never been disappointed. Although, if you do use a different flour, only substitute one cup of the three. For example, if you want to do this bread in whole wheat, put two cups white and one cup of whole wheat. Otherwise it's too heavy and you don't get that nice oven spring!


Thursday, February 22, 2007

" . . plant gardens and eat what they produce . . ." Jeremiah 29:5

Now that the garden is tilled, it's time to get those seedlings going! Today I started my seeds indoors in a "Jiffy Greenhouse" that I purchased at Walmart. It contains 72 little peat pots and a clear roof to keep the heat and moisture contained. It allows for the seeds to sprout, and be hardened off all in the same container and then transferred to the garden without disturbing the roots.
I started three types of tomatoes, Beefsteak, Big Boy and Roma. I do have some lovely heirloom varieties that I'll be ordering soon as well. I plan on starting seeds about every 3 weeks so that we can have a continual harvest of tomatoes all season long. I want lots to can as well as give away to our wonderful neighbors.
I also started seeds for an herb garden. I planted sweet and lemon basil, garlic chives, oregano, sage and dill. I'll purchase a rosemary, cilantro and thyme from the nursery.
The "greenhouse" is now sitting in my VERY sunny laundry room atop the dryer! It'll probably turn into a science lesson or two for the kids. The boys were amazed at all the different seed shapes, and I think they'll love seeing the plants grow and helping in the garden. If nothing else, I hope it makes them have more of an interest in eating their veggies knowing that they helped to grow them.....but knowing my kids....probably not!
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Sunday, February 18, 2007

For every thing there is a season...

I am SO excited today! Doug finally tilled up a garden for me! Ever since moving to the country I have been itching to get my hands dirty and make a huge vegetable garden and pumpkin patch. I have been pouring over seed catalogs for weeks and have finally made my purchases. I'm going to start my tomato seedlings in about two weeks so I told Doug I really needed my garden tilled soon. We placed it in sort of a "limbo" area of our yard. It is actually between the yard and the hayfield that backs up to our place. It'll be perfect because it's not a grassy place, and there are tons of organic matter all ready there! I'm going to journal my first gardening adventure here online, as well as the canning of the fruits of my labor...we'll see how it goes!
Here's a pic of Doug hard at work tilling! I'll make a country boy outta him yet!
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Also, here is a pic of my latest plantings. We were at Home Depot and they had their bare root roses for $2.99 and I got four. When I planted them three weeks ago, they looked dead! They have just come alive and are full of new shoots. They even survived the past three nights of freezing temps (well covered of course!) The roses on each end are "climbers" called St. Joseph's Coat. I'm hoping to train them up and over the clothes line polls to cover them up. The ones in the middle are standard white roses. I've also planted three blueberry bushes, they're pretty much just sticks at this point, so no pics included (I can't wait to make homemade blueberry pancakes for the kids!)
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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Trust in the Lord with all your heart...

My little Kyle has been so sick! For three days now he has suffered from nausea, vomitting, headaches, dizziness. Last night, while I was at work, Doug stayed up with him until 3 a.m. The poor baby was as sick as he has ever been in his whole life! After one particulary vicious bout of vomitting, he looked up at his daddy and said, "would you please pray a Rosary for me?" Doug said his heart nearly broke into a million pieces as he choked back the tears in offering his son the only comfort he could in praying for him. Those prayers worked and Ky managed to slip off into a quiet sleep.
When I got home this morning (from working the night shift!) Kyle said his ear hurt very badly. We managed to get him to the doctor who diagnosed him with a severe ear infection. It was so bad that it caused his equilibrium to be off and thus the nausea, etc... During the exam, though, the doctor couldn't see his eardrum due to wax build up, dirt, and all sorts of other goodies little country boys accumulate, so he had to wash out his ear. Now if you are faint of heart, just stop reading now! I'll spare you most of the gory details, but I will tell you that baby suffered more during that treatment than I suffered giving birth to all four of my sons! When his ear was evacuated, the doc was kind enough to put in some anesthetic drops!
When we got home, we loaded Ky up with antibiotics and a nice dose of Phenergan DM (thanks again to the good doc!) and he has slept going on 12 hours now (with the occasional bathroom break and popsicle or two!)
And through all of this, I gained a life lesson from the Lord.
In seeing my baby suffer, I cannot help but think about the Blessed Mother in watching her own Child suffer. Kyle was crying, shaking, and sometimes screaming while the doc was evacuating his ear, but there was nothing Doug or I could do but stand there and watch and hold his hand. The Blessed Mother couldn't even do that, she had to watch her Son being tortured from afar. I cannot even begin to imagine her sorrow....
I learned that through the suffering and pain, healing can begin. It's true for so many things in our life. Coming through that pain will help Kyle to be a stronger person, in the midst of his suffering he asked his daddy to go to the Lord on his behalf. He "walked with Christ" in his suffering for just a short time at the doctor's office. His brothers are learning a lesson in charity and servitude in helping their brother get well here at home. And I got a glimpse of a mother's love for her Divine Son.
Yes, trust in the Lord with all your heart! He is so good to allow us these lessons!

Friday, February 16, 2007

In the beginning...

I have trouble writing my own name, much less a complete thought, so this blogging journey will be quite interesting! I thought this would be a great way for all the family and friends to keep up with what's going on in our life instead of boring email updates. So feel free to read and comment...and write your own blog so we can keep up with YOU, too!