Monday, January 31, 2011

The Winter garden

I am so thankful to live in south Texas! We have a year round growing season here (although it would be nice to see *some* snow each winter!). Cool season crops love it here and really thrive despite all the neglect they are receiving at my hands (thank you night shift!).

We have been harvesting brussell sprouts, collard greens, kale, broccoli, and turnip greens. Just a quick blanch in salted water, draining, and packaging in zip lock bags will allow us to eat these foods well into the summer.

My herb box is also growing well. I let the cilantro and dill from the summer set seed and now I have this fragrant carpet covering the box!

These beauties will go into the dehydrator because they will die off in the hot Texas heat this summer. Pictured below are dill, cilantro, and lemon thyme. I cannot describe how delicious this basket of herbs smell!

And for all you folks buried underneath mountains of snow this winter, I only have four words for you...


Friday, January 28, 2011

Meatless Fridays

I've been planting seeds this week and it has got me thinking about the summer garden! I thought this would be a nice little pick-me-up during this cold, dreary winter ~ a little taste of summer time!
This week's Meatless Friday meal is:

Zucchini Fritters

1 pound zucchini
2 eggs
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
oil for frying

Shred the zucchini using a food processor and put it in a big mixing bowl. Stir in the eggs, garlic, flour and salt and pepper and mix until blended. The batter may look a bit runny, but don't get alarmed. It all holds together once it hits the hot oil.

Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a heavy skillet. Drop the batter by tablespoons full into the oil and cook until browned - three to four minutes per side. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent paper towel.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hello, my name is JoAnn and I'm a gardening addict.

When last I spoke about my veggie garden, I thought about just letting someone else do all the work! We have some awesome local farmers markets to purchase vegetables from, and I wanted to concentrate on a hummingbird and medicinal herb gardens.

Well all of that has flown out the window!

Receiving seed catalogs in the mail and seeing seed displays in the stores has been like giving crack to a junkie! I am addicted and HAD to make plans for a vegetable garden again this year!

I decided to use last year's seeds in an effort to save money and before you knew it, I had filled up this:

Six varieties of tomatoes, three varieties of peppers, eggplant, and a few more herbs. What can I say? I have NO self control!

Now the kitchen counters are full of little seedlings and peat pots.
Here are some calendula for our medicinal herb garden.
Seeing these little seeds come to life just fuels my addiction!

I've gone so overboard that I had to ask Doug and Kyle to build me three additional garden boxes to contain all my plants! They built the first, and largest one, yesterday:

I filled it up halfway with leaves from the yard and will continue filling with compost and soil until we're ready to plant in March.

There's GOT to be a 12-step program for this type of sickness, right?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Not only are composters super fun...

...but so are the boxes they come in!

The big forty-deuce!

My forty second birthday was last week and what did I wish for?

New clothes?
A weekend getaway somewhere romantic?


I wanted one of these bad boys:

Yes, this girl wanted a COMPOSTER!

Nothing makes me happier than dirt! And not just any dirt, dark, rich compost for my garden is what makes me happiest. I'm totally giddy over this gadget!

Now I can turn leaves, grass clippings, and kitchen scraps into black gold.

Surprisingly, the boys are super excited about our "new toy" as well! They were more than happy to help me fill it up for our first load and they LOVE giving it a spin (which I encourage them to do often!). We should have quite a bit of compost to help start our spring garden - this baby has a 60 gallon capacity!

If you'd like to see the kids in action with the composter, check out their
You Tube Vlog video:

Compost Happens!
(and subscribe!)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Meatless Fridays

This is a nice winter soup for these dreary, frigid days. The leeks and cauliflower are coming in in the garden and this is a wonderful way to use them up! This has practically no carbs so it's a great meal for us diabetics!
This week's Meatless Friday meal is:

Cauliflower Leek Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
3 leeks, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large head cauliflower, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 cups vegetable broth
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup heavy cream

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat, and saute the leeks, cauliflower, and garlic for about 10 minutes. Stir in the vegetable broth, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 45 minutes.
Remove the soup from heat. Blend the soup with an blender or food processor. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in the heavy cream, and continue blending until smooth.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

We spent the entire day in Houston and...

...all I got was this silly picture of my husband!

We spent the entire day in Houston celebrating little Danny's birthday. We went to the Children's Museum, Discovery Green Park, out to lunch, and tour of Minute Maid Park (where the Astros play) and all I managed to capture was this crazy picture of Doug looking like he's going to the bathroom!

Welcome to my world!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pity Party - table for one, please!

Y'all...I am SICK!

Not just a little head cold, I am talking full blown body aches, hacking cough, and ungodly amounts of phlegm! I have been staving this off ever since Christmas but the virus has won and taken over my body!

I am totally blaming work for my predicament. Sick patients hacking in my face and then I never sleep right due to working nights. I try to do too much on my days off and I just can't function anymore. All the supplements and probiotics I'm taking can't combat the stress my body is under and so I've succumbed to sooo sucks!
Thank goodness for Doug and the boys. They are staying reasonably well and taking great care of me while I whine and moan!

So I'm going to go drink about half a bottle of NyQuil now and crawl back under the covers...see you when this passes (or I pass! Whichever one comes first!)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


OK, I am totally inspired by my niece and nephew's You Tube Channel Vlog that I wanted to do one of my own. Our home life is way too boring for anyone to care so I thought it would be fun to make a vlog about our family garden. JP and Danny LOVE to help out in the garden so I thought I would give them a vlog about their adventures in gardening. I'm calling it:

Country Kids Garden Vlog

You can find the You Tube Channel HERE.
You can find the blog HERE.

And we already have two videos:

Planting potatoes

Planting horseradish

I'll be posting for Dan & JP about twice a week so be sure to
subscribe and leave them some comments!
They would LOVE to hear from all of you~

Monday, January 10, 2011

Plantin' Taters

I've wanted to plant potatoes for the last year or so but didn't want to sacrifice any of my vegetable garden space to do it. Well, I found a great way around that!

This year I'm going to grow my potatoes in old tires!

It all starts with "potato seed" which is not actually seeds, but sprouted potatoes. I would suggest getting real seed potatoes and not using potatoes from the store. Store bought potatoes are sprayed with a chemical to prevent sprouting (not that that ever prevented them from sprouting in MY pantry!)

Next come the tires. Tires can be had for FREE! They're everywhere! Just go to a gas station or tire service store and they'll practically load them in your car for you to keep from having to pay the disposal fee for them. Make sure you give them a good washing when you get them home.
You are probably wondering, like me, if tires are safe for growing food. From the research I've done, the answer is yes. Chemically speaking, tires are crazy stable! They do not break down which is why they are such a problem in landfills and such. They will not leach chemicals into your soil, except for zinc, which is a necessary mineral anyway. I feel completely and totally fine with growing our potatoes this way (YMMV~no pun intended!).

Place a tire on the ground and fill with hay, dried leaves, and dirt (I used compost from our bin-FREE!) and place 4-5 seed potatoes in the mix. Cover with more leaves and dirt to make the tire level. In a few weeks you'll see sprouts! When the plants get to be 8 inches above the soil, place another tire on top and fill with dirt until just the top of the plants are showing.

And when that sprout reaches 8 inches above the soil, repeat the process until you have 4 or 5 tires stacked. That's it! During late summer the plants will die back and that is your signal to un-stack the tires and collect your harvest.

You can harvest them all at once or you can just remove one tire at a time and use them only as you need them.

I am very excited to see how this works over the summer and very excited about the possibilities of growing other vegetables this way.

Now, if I can just keep the boys from climbing on the tires....

Friday, January 7, 2011

Meatless Fridays

It's still the Christmas season for us Catholics and so we don't fast from meat on Fridays during this time. But I did find an interesting recipe that I want to try. I thought we'd take a trip to the Children's Museum and the Houston Zoo for little Danny's birthday and have a picnic at Hermann Park. This looked like a really good sandwich spread to take! We LOVE humus around here and so I think the kids would enjoy this stuffed inside pita bread (or stuffed inside a hollowed out tomato for me!) So this week we have a lunch idea! This week's Meatless Friday meal is:

Vegetarian Chickpea Sandwich Filling
(courtesy of

1 (19 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
salt and pepper to taste

Drain and rinse chickpeas. Pour chickpeas into a medium size mixing bowl and mash with a fork. Mix in celery, onion, mayonnaise (to taste), lemon juice, dill, salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Why, yes, my family IS that awesome!

Besides being wonderful parents to their four cute kiddos, my lovely niece and talented nephew have a very entertaining vlog on You Tube!
It's simply their everyday life, and you should totally subscribe to it!

Take a peek:

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Already thinking of Spring

Soon the garden stores will have out their spring bulbs and seed displays, and seed catalogs will start arriving in the mail. It's a wonderful time to dream....

I need a new project like I need a hole in the head, but I just can't help it! During the wee hours of the night shifts I work, there is usually a lull between 2am - 4am. Lately I've been brewing a cup of hot tea and sketching out plans for a hummingbird garden.
Last summer I had set out a few feeders in hopes of seeing one or two of the buggers. We saw some alright....en masse:

And now I'm obsessed with them! They leave yearly in October and migrate to South America. They make their way back to the U.S. in March, and I'm going to be ready! I have several feeders cleaned and ready but I wanted a habitat for them...I want hummingbird babies! So I'm planning a garden island in the middle of the backyard for them. During January I will be preparing the soil and starting seeds. In February, I'm going to work on a water feature and some garden art (not that hummingbirds need any garden art, but I want it to be pretty!) and then we should be ready to plant after the last frost date in March.

I'm really excited about this little project and I even think it will take precedence over my vegetable gardening this year...we'll see!
So fire up that tiller, Doug, we've got some work to do!

Monday, January 3, 2011

The best medicine

John Paul and I caught a little Christmas cold. Having our own personal bed warmer and bum cozy sure made lying around all the better.

If only I could train her to fetch me a cup of hot tea....

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

OK, I'll admit it, I was asleep before midnight on new year's eve!
My partying days are definitely a thing of the past!
We plan to spend the first day of this new year lazing around, watching football, and eating lots of this:

Black eyed peas and collard's a southern thing!

Wishes for a blessed new year for all of you!
Be lazy today, watch football,
and don't forget to eat your black eyed peas!