Garden 2013

I posted my plans for my garden awhile ago, I thought I should post some pics of how it is doing.

The salad greens garden is doing AWESOME.  The used pallet is really working well.

The salad greens garden is doing AWESOME. The used pallet is really working well.

image

This is the greens and tomato garden, all are growing really well and the greens are being harvested regularly.

image

This plot has cucumber, eggplant and peppers in it plus one volunteer tomato plant. oh yeah, and onions.

image

Wider view of the garden. The pallets you see are squash and zucchini.

How my garden grows

I am throughly enjoying the dirt in my backyard!!  Not even the high temperatures and the beating sun can keep me away from the fulfilling work of growing my own food!  Here are some pictures of what we are doing this year:

The big bushy stuff in the background is our huge raspberry patch. We also have two tomato plants, cilantro, onions and parsley planted here.

Beets, lavender, onions and snap peas are planted here.

The back garden; sorrel, french sorrel, lettuce, jalapeno, thai hot, 2 variety of sweet pepper, onions, chard, green zebra tomato, cherry tomato, borage, blueberries, corn, fingerling potatoes and lemon verbena.

Sorrel

Borage

French sorrel

French Sorrel is absolutely awesome!!  It has a lemony flavor especially when you get to the stem part.  An excellent addition to your salad or to just pick from the garden and munch on.  This is one of Anwen’s favorites, she is always eager for our visitors to have a taste.

Corn

Ewan picked out the corn since we love to eat sweet corn during the summer.  We cook our corn right in the coals of our grill, husk on and not soaked.  It is so yummy that no butter or salt is required!

Fingerling potatoes

This year a bunch of what I am growing is in containers because I did not want to rush to take stuff out of the grow before I knew what it was.  Next year I hope to know what it worth taking out so that I have even more growing space.  Nothing tastes quite like home-grown food!

Gluten-free/dairy-free pizza crust

For as long as I have been gluten-free I have seriously missed pizza.  I mean I really miss eating pizza and when I serve it to my family I am really jealous.  They are eating something wonderful and I am eating something much less wonderful.  Sad for me.  😦

I have tried many recipes for GF/DF pizza crust but have not been happy with most.  They are to puffy and sometimes kind of cakey, if that is even a word. Last week I made yet another recipe and I think this might be the one!!!  It is really simple which I love and it makes a crust that is so good that I made it again last night as bread and for the first time in years dipped bread in olive oil!!!

My "new crust" pizza!

Here is the recipe, it will also be in the What’s Cookin’ section of the blog.

What you need:

  • 1-1/2 cups of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour
  • 2 tsp Xanthan Gum
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp. agave nectar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • Rosemary, basil, oregano to taste

What you do:

  • Combine yeast, sugar and water in large bowl and let stand for about 5 minutes.
  • Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
  • Add the egg to the wet ingredients.
  • Combine wet and dry ingredients together.
  • Mix with a blender for a minute, when the flour starts to move up the beaters you should add some more flour, just a little at a time.
  • Knead the dough like you would with regular bread and add flour until the dough is no longer sticky to the touch but is holding together well.
  • Press out dough onto a slightly oiled pizza pan.
  • Add your toppings and cook for 15-20 minutes at 425.
  • If you want to use it as bread cook it at 400 until is starts to brown on the top a little.

Enjoy your dipping bread/pizza!!

Morning mayhem

Mornings at our house start at 6:00am and sometimes earlier.  Ewan or Anwen awake and wake the other and then come into my room and wake Brian or I and Esu as well. They still have not quite gotten the concept of playing quietly until we wake up.  One of us gets up with the kids and starts breakfast, this morning it was me, Brian had to work late last night.

I stumble into the bathroom to try to get myself awake and then out to the kids who are thankfully not arguing yet.  For about 15 minutes I wonder around our 10×10 kitchen wondering what to make for breakfast.  This is a little ridiculous since we only have three options, oatmeal, eggs or cereal, I am just really tired. I make coffee for myself and clean up a little from the night before, then I start on breakfast.  It is going to be cereal this morning, thank goodness we have milk in the house, which is often not the case.  The kids argue over who gets what chair and who gets what cup and I try my best to ignore it, sometimes I am successful but most of the time I am not.

I serve the kids there cereal and sit down for a little peace while their mouths are full and they cannot talk to me.  It lasts meer minutes and they are done, my kids are speed eaters.  They are once again surrounding me and talking at me about who knows what, as I am still quite tired and only taking in every few words.

I start to make my own breakfast which takes me longer than it should and I am not sure why, I am probably distracted by something.  I get my coffee and toast and I look for a place at the table that is not covered with milk and cereal as well as for a chair that managed to remain untouched by cereal spills.  I sit down and take a breath, I sip my coffee and start eating my toast.  For a second it is quiet and I am sitting in the dining room alone.  Then it starts, the parade of children chasing each other through the entire house dining room and all.  They are squealing, and romping, they are laughing and stomping all around the table that I am sitting at.  I though am sipping my coffee and staring off into space, I am untouched by the mayhem because I am in my breakfast bubble, if only for a few minutes.

2010 Garden

This gardening season marks the thrid season I have gardened with the North Park Village Garden Club.  This year I am going solo with my garden, for the past two years I shared with a friend.  All the work that we have put into the garden these past two years is really paying off, the soil is easily cultivated and we have a number perennials that are flourishing.  It has been pretty easy so far to work the garden alone, but not as much fun.

Yesterday I took the kids to the garden where we met my former plot mate and her children.  It was really nice to be gardening again together, and watching the kids play together around the garden.  We installed a rabbit fence around my Swiss Chard to keep the bunnies from nibbling it, I am glad that Deb was there to help because it was more difficult than I had anticipated.  You can see the fence we made at the front of the garden.

This is one of our collard greens plants, we have three in the garden this year.

The tall plant behind the collard is a rhubarb plant, I think it is green rhubarb.  We planted this last year or maybe even the year before but this is the first year it has gotten big and full.  I am sure that each year it will get bigger and better.

Herbs and Swiss Chard

Here is my swiss chard before the fence was finished.  There are also some onions, lavender, chives and iris bulbs that have not come up planted in the area.

If you are thinking about planting a garden swiss chard should be on your list on veggies to plant.  It is easy and you will get chard through the fall.  For every stalk that to take if you snap it off from the very bottom another stalk will grow.

I love swiss chard!!

Herbs

This is at the front of the garden plot and this is where most of my herbs are.  Many of them came up from last year.

There are also two asparagus plants behind the log that is standing upright.  They are very wispy looking so they might be hard to see.  I planted those last year and so this will be the first year we will get asparagus.  Yeah!

In the space in front of the asparagus I think we will plant something really easy like radishes or beets.

Kale and onions

At the front of this picture you can see the asparagus better.  The patch of dirt here will be planted soon but I have to decide what to plant first.  Behind the patch of dirt I have about 10 kale plants and some red onions.  There is also a pot in the back that the kids got me for Mothers Day which has strawberries in it.

Ewan is my garden helper!!

Ewan has wanted to turn the hose on from the moment we got to the garden.  He was really happy when I was finally done working and he would be the watering man.  He did a great job and I had a blast watching him work in our garden!

New routines for a new year

Routine is not a strong point for me, I have to work really hard to form new habits and to stick with them.  The funny thing about this is that I love being organized and being in a routine, the hard part for me is getting there.  I have known for sometime that the larger my family grows the more routine I need in my life- for myself and my children.  I have been planning new ways to organize my life for some time and now that we are in a new year it is time to start implementing my plans.

Some of the things below were started in 2009 but in a sort of testing phase.  The meal calendar is one thing that I am continually changing to meet our needs, I have been in the “testing”phase with this for a while.  Here are a few of the things that I am doing to form routine and get my life organized.

Family meetings:

Every Saturday morning while the kids watch cartoons Brian and I have a family meeting.  We talk about what is going on in the coming week and we also talk about what we need to do over the weekend.  We check our calendars against each others and make sure that we are both on the same page about how the week is planned out.  Saturday morning works really well for us because I am awake and ready to plan the next week.  When we were trying to do family meetings during the week in the evening it was not working at all.  I could not stay awake- whoops!

Meal planning:

Saturday mornings I sit down at my dining room table with a cup of tea and a stack of cookbooks and I plan out our meals for the week.  I usually have two meals that are no brainers, for example- tacos and pizza, two meals that are slow cooker meals and the rest are your standard preparation type meals.  Once I figure out what meals I want to make I write all of the ingredients I will need to buy for the meals on my meal calendar.  My meal calendar also doubles as my shopping list for the week, this is very handy.  When I shop this way I think that I spend less and what I get does not go to waste.  There is also something nice about looking at my meal calendar while I am shopping and knowing what each day looks like.

This is my meal calendar- if you click on the image you will see a larger version- feel free to print it if you like.

How I fill in my meal calendar:

For breakfast I just write in all the things that we use to make breakfast each week, I do plan breakfast but it is more basic than my planning for dinner.  Breakfast might say- juice, eggs, fruit.

For snack and lunch I do the same thing as breakfast.  I since I am using it as my grocery list I write down all the things we eat as snack or have for lunch and that is how I know what to get at the store, and what to make during the week.

Dinner is where my real planning takes place.  For each day I write the meal I am making at the top of the dinner section.  Under the meal I write everything I need to buy for the recipe, sometimes it is an entire recipe.  When I am done figuring out the meals for the week I can easily make changes to what day something is going to get made since I have the ingredients I need for everything on the calendar.

I know that this may seem like a crude way to do meals but so far it has done wonders for my evenings.  I love knowing what to expect and when I make slow cooker meals I do the prep work in the morning so my evening is free.

*If you have a better system or know of a better meal calendar please share what you know with us.*

Chore Calendar:

Once I am sure about what the weeks meals are going to be and when they are going to be cooked I write them on my cute calendar hanging in my kitchen.  I also write on my kitchen calendar what chores need to be done each day.

Monday- Bathroom, and Ewan helps me with collecting the garbage from all the garbage cans.

Tuesday- Dusting

Weds.- Laundry ( Brian does that):)

Thurs.- Wash floors

Friday- Vacuum

And everyday I sweep, on top of the other chores I am doing.

I started this in 2009 but was not very organized about it.  The problem was that I never wrote the stuff down, I just had it in my head- which did not work.

Personal Planner:

Last year I started using a planner in the form of an appointment book- I used to be a PDA user.  I found that writing things down stuck in my brain better than typing them out- and I like being able to look at a whole week or month at one time.  This is the planner I am using this year:

This planner has tear-out grocery lists and meal lists for each week and it has a lot of space for your to-do list each week as well.  The only down side I see to this planner so far is that you cannot look at a full month.  I like that feature in planners but I think that I will be able to manage without it at least for this year.  So far I really like my new planner- and it is pretty cute too:)

Hopefully these changes in my life will help things feel calmer and more organized.  If not you’ll know about it because I will be writing about the changes I make;)

My favorite kitchen gear

Last night I was standing in my kitchen cooking dinner and asking myself the question- What are my favorite kitchen items, what do I love to use the most in my kitchen?  Here is what I came up with:

Cast Iron Skillet

My set of three cast iron skillet’s are not fancy and they were not expensive but they are awesome!  My largest skillet is 10″ and it sits on my stove top, all the time.  I don’t even bother putting it away anymore because I use it so much.  When I first started using cast iron all my foods stuck to the skillet and it was quite frustrating but I seasoned it again and decided that it needed more use to become really well seasoned and now it is better than non-stick.  My food cooks more evenly and does not stick and cast iron does not cause cancer at least not yet.

Mortar and Pestle

My mortar and pestle is probably the thing in my kitchen that provide me the most enjoyment when I am using it.  I love the experience of using a mortar and pestle, working the food by hand, in a way that has been done for a really long time.  I have two mortar and pestles one that is  small and one that I can easily make a batch of guacamole in.  The smaller one is good for herbs and spices, the larger one is good for, well, larger things:)

Vintage Le Creuset cookware

My Le Creuset cookware is vintage and was purchased on Ebay by my dear husband one year for Mothers Day.  Mine is lemon yellow and came with a large dutch oven, two sauce pans, and two skillet’s.  I love my Le Creuset, and it loves me!

  • It does not stick to my food.
  • It is easy to clean off even after having been hot and boiling with food for a long time.
  • It cooks my food evenly and faster than less sturdy cookware.
  • It does not have that nasty non-stick stuff on it, so I can use any utensil I want in it:).

New Le Creuset cookware is expensive but used is not so bad and even if it is more than you would normally spend it is really worth the money, you will be handing it down to your kids kids:)

Serrated peeler

I don’t know why I love this I just do.  I guess it is because things that used to be hard to peel are not hard to peel anymore.  I can peel fruit with relative ease and even peeling potatoes is easier.  It is a small pleasure to own this gadget.

Wustof Knives

This was the knife that rocked my world!  I was given this knife as a gift from my cousin and his wife for Christmas one year.  I had never own really good knives so I had not known what I was missing out on, the this knife changed everything.  I know have 4 Wustof knives- yes I am collecting them slowly as they are really expensive.  Cooking with good knives is an amazing thing- It makes cooking easier and way more fun.  If you are cooking a lot it is worth the money to get good knives even if it is only one a year;)

Electric Hot Water Kettle

For years I had a conventional hot water kettle and I liked it and it served its purpose but because the water took a while to boil I did not use it very often.  I use my electric hot water kettle everyday and least a few times, we heat water for oatmeal in the morning, tea and coffee.  Anytime we need boiling water this is what we use, it is very handy and time-saving.

Wooden spatula

I use wooden spoons and spatulas every time I cook, and they are something that I feel I can never have too many of. Brian thinks I am nutty when I get excited about a wooden spoon or spatula but thats ok, I am ok with being a little nutty about somethings:)

Rice Maker

The rice maker is a recent addition to my kitchen and I am glad to have it!  Since I cannot eat gluten, rice is a popular dish in my house and having the rice maker makes it easy as 1-2-3.  My rice maker can make 20 cups of rice and it will make all different kinds of rice as well with different settings for brown and white.  It will also steam veggies, I have not done that yet but if I ever wanted to apparently it will do it for me.  I really loathed making rice on the stove because it would never cook fast enough and it always boiled over.  The rice maker makes my life easier if only in this one small way, with 5 people to cook for I will take what ease I can get.

Previous Older Entries