Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Our very dear friend and gardener extraordinaire, Lawrence L., sent us some heirloom cucuzzi seeds in the mail the other day!

I was very excited to receive these but had no idea what they were! Doug knew right away about this squash, his wonderful Italian grandmother used to cook them frequently. After doing a little research on the net, I am super excited to try this new variety in our garden. The boys are going to flip out over a three foot squash! I'll have to conspire with Doug's mom to see if she remembers any of her mother's recipes.

Thanks, Lawrence!
I can't wait to plant these!

Check out this YouTube video on cucuzzi...I think I'm going to have to get some more trellis material quick!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Soughdough Starter

Y'all know I loves baking me some bread!

I've cut way back on doing it since being diagnosed with diabetes, but every now and then you just have to have a warm, crusty loaf of the stuff (slathered in butter and honey...but I digress).
I thought it would be fun to make a sourdough starter with the boys. Ryan and I did this many years ago when he was studying a unit on Alaska. We made bread like the gold miners did, by capturing the natural yeast in the air!

Making your own starter is very easy. You simply put one cup of unbleached flour and one cup of warm water (not tap water) in a glass or plastic container. Stir with anything non-metallic to combine.

Every day for the next 4-5 days, pour your starter into a clean container, wash out your old container, and "feed" the starter. You feed it by taking out half of the mixture and replacing it with fresh flour and water. So we started with one cup flour/water and we'll take out half a cup of starter and replace with half a cup of flour and half a cup of water.

When the thing is bubbly and smells like sourdough, you're done! Place the starter in your fridge and feed once a week. To bake bread with your starter, you'll make a sponge with a portion of the starter. There are some really great recipes out there, just do a Google search, everything from loaves, muffins, tortillas, pancakes, pizza, even cookies! can almost smell that bread, can't you?

It's Lent, and if your going to fast on bread and water,
it might as well be really good bread, right?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Garden update

When the septic guys dug up the yard, I had to move my new garden boxes to the back of the property. We lost a lot of dirt during the process (thank goodness I hadn't planted anything yet!). We've not had the time, energy, or finances to replace the lost dirt, and more poor little garden plot looks so barren right now...

I have tomato, pepper, eggplant, and medicinal herbs galore ready and waiting for a new home! Hopefully by next week they'll be in the ground along with seeds we've already bought: cucumber, cantaloupe, green beans, beets, summer squash, and zucchini.

I couldn't wait to get my hands dirty so I went ahead and planted some more garlic and some red onion bulbs, about 25 of each.

I love the satisfaction that comes from growing our own food and am constantly amazed at how much life is contained in these tiny seeds and bulbs.

It also gives me such peace to get out there and dig in the dirt!
It's truly food for the soul.

So Doug, get me some more garden dirt QUICK!
It's cheaper than the cost of therapy!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Meatless Fridays

This week's meal could not be simpler! Put all the ingredients in a crockpot and forget about it. The longer you cook this sauce on low heat the thicker and richer it will be! If desired you can double (or triple!) the recipe, this sauce freezes very well! I also puree mine at the end for a smoother texture. Keep a couple of ziplock bags of this goodie in the freezer for meals in a pinch.
This week's Meatless Friday meal is:

Crockpot Marinara Sauce

1 (28 ounce) can whole Italian-style tomatoes (cut up and undrained)
2 large carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 stalks celery, diced
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic (can use more)
1 large bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 cup water
2 -3 teaspoons brown sugar
2 -3 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning (rubbed between fingers to release the flavors)
2 -4 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes
1 large bay leaf
salt and black pepper

Place ALL ingredients in a minimum 4-quart crock pot, mix well cover and cook on low heat for about 8-10 hours. Uncover and cook on high heat for the last 1-1/2 hours. Season with additional salt, pepper, and fresh herbs to taste.

(If using fresh herbs, always make sure to add them at the end of cooking. Otherwise they turn brown and sometimes bitter!)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

An old shed gets a lift!

When the new septic/sprinkler system was put in they had to move our storage shed. I've been so upset about all the changes to the garden and yard that my sweet Kyle made a beautiful (and functional) piece of art for the yard to lift my spirits.

He took some of our concrete pavers, busted them up, and made a beautiful mosaic "porch" for the shed.

I think it is rustic and stunning, best of all, it's made with love!

Thank you, my precious boy.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sugar Buzzzzzz

My little buddies are back to the Texas Gulf Coast from their migration to South America over the winter! I had all my feeders full and ready for them and I saw my first Ruby Throated Hummingbird yesterday!

I absolutely love these little guys and the whole family gets a kick out of their antics at the feeders.

To find out more about the hummers in your area, check out:
World of Hummingbirds

And fill up those feeders!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Yard of the Month

This is what happens when you have a crack in a septic pipe:

Apparently, you can't just fix the pipe.

The whole #@%**+%#^ yard needs to be ripped apart,
including tearing down two pear and one (really big) fig tree.

The Powers That Be (i.e. Wharton County) state this is the way it has to be done.
Waste water has to be recycled these's the law...
even if you don't want it!

The only one that seems to be enjoying all of this digging is my little Dan.
The foreman calls him "The Boss".

Dan says, "I'm not the boss, my dad is!
And my mom is going to be really mad you tore up her grass!"

You tell 'em Dan!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Meatless Fridays

I'm baaack!
Sorry to be MIA for so long, but it was a much needed break!

Well, we are smack dab into the season of Lent and I really love to have a simple, humble meal on Friday nights. I work weekends so it's nice to be able to prepare something early in the morning and let it simmer in the crock pot all day.
Trust me, try this soup and you'll never go back to that crap in a can again!
This week's Meatless Friday meal is:

Cream of Mushroom Soup

1 pound fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup butter
4 green onions, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup light cream
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

Thinly slice the mushrooms, discarding any of the tough stalks. Melt the butter in a heavy-based pan and cook the green onion, garlic and lemon thyme, stirring, for 1 minute, or until the garlic is golden. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the mushrooms just soften. Add flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute.
Remove from the heat and add the stock, stirring continuously. Return to the heat and bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Whisk the cream into the soup, then reheat gently, stirring. Do not allow the soup to boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and garnish with the chopped chives.

(You can puree this soup in the food processor if you or your children have issues with the texture of cooked mushrooms)