Sunday, March 27, 2016

My spring flowers...

I know it isn't April Fools yet, but the joke is on me.

March came in like a lamb and out like a lion.  Hope everyone had a Happy Easter.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Back to the grind...

Well, it is snowing again.   I'm back to indoor tasks like cleaning house, re-organizing the pantry, and planning the garden.  I enjoyed watching the deer.  They don't seem any happier about the snow than I am. 

I did get one project done.  My two wayward  tomato plants were extracted from the rosemary plant and are now snug in their own little pots.  They are getting huge.  I am anxious to see if they will make it to see the summer sun. They didn't have much of a root system, but I buried them deep and they seem content.  

I hope everyone is enjoying better weather.  We are supposed to get more snow on Wednesday.   

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Food and fun...

Ok, the food part is true; fun is in the eye of the beholder.  I actually enjoy cleaning the flower beds and raking the yard.    I cleaned the pine needles out of the rose bed.  Despite the 60 degree weather I will not unleash the roses until the end of May.  
 The veggie beds are cleaned.  The onions look good and I see the garlic peeking out.  I have big plans for this year's vegetables.  Last year I let the slugs get the upper hand.  I will be better prepared this year.  There was also the small issue of confusion about seedlings.  I still haven't found a good idea for labeling seedlings.  Any advice is appreciated.  

My German Chamomile is already making progress.  I keep it in an old wash tub in the greenhouse during the winter.  As you can see below, the temperature in the greenhouse is a balmy 80 degrees.  Last week I planted lettuce and spinach.  I think the lemon thyme (a zone 5) made it.  I'm not positive, but I thought it would have a good chance in the greenhouse.  

My flower beds look good.  So far it seems like everything survived.  My only concern is my Miss Kim Lilac.  I tried to re locate it into the new raised bed in front of the house.  It isn't looking positive.   
 I also spent a lot of time in the kitchen this week.  I found some great recipes on pinterest that I was anxious to try.  One is a copy cat Texas Roadhouse Roll recipe.  I ate there for the first time a few weeks ago and fell in love with the rolls.  I couldn't wait to try.  The recipe was perfect.  I am a sucker for bread.  I honestly love it more than chocolate.  The other recipe is a Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta.  Another good choice.
 Texas Roadhouse Rolls

2c. milk
3 T. butter
1 T.  active dry yeast
1/2 c. warm water
1/2 c. sugar divided
1/2 c. honey
7 1/2 c. flour
2 eggs
2 t. salt

-Heat milk in sauce pan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil and remove from heat.  Allow to cool slightly.  Melt 3 T. of butter and cool.
-Combine yeast, warm water and 1 T. sugar in a mixing bowl and allow to bubble.
-Add remaining sugar, honey, milk, and 3 1/2 c. of flour to yeast.
-Add melted butter, eggs, and salt.  Mix well.
-Add additional flour 1/2 cup at a time until dough begins to separate from the sides.  
Let rest.
-knead dough for about 5 minutes.
-Add dough to a greased bowl and let rise until it's size has doubled.
-After it doubles, punch it down, roll out into a big rectangle on a floured surface, until it is 1/2 inch thick.
-Fold it over onto itself so it is about 1 inch thick and roll a bit more.  
-Cut into 2 inch squares and place in greased baking sheet.  Allow to double in size.
-Bake at 350 degrees for  15-20 minutes.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta
1/2 lb penne pasta cooked
8 slices of cooked bacon
1 T. butter
2 chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces
2 T. flour
1 pkg. ranch dressing mix
2 c. milk
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
-Cook pasta as directed.
-Cook bacon, drain, cool, and crumble.
-Use fat from the bacon and use it to brown the chicken.
-When the chicken is cooked add flour and ranch dressing.  Coat evenly then stir in milk.  Cook until thickened.  Add cheese and half of the crumbled bacon.  
-Heat until cheese is melted.
-Serve with remaining bacon crumbled over the top.

Both recipes were perfect.  It made for a wonderful Sunday dinner.  I also bottled my Prairie Chokecherry wine.  We also took our traditional spring Sunday walk.  We were lucky enough to see the bighorn sheep.  They weren't close enough to get a good photo, but they were fun to see.  The weather is supposed to get cold again, so we enjoyed the outdoors as much as we could this weekend.

Do you have any weekend traditions?  How do you label your seedlings?  What is the best thing you have cooked or baked lately?

Sunday, March 6, 2016

De-fencing and de-seeding...

Finally, something to do outside besides shoveling.  We talked with our neighbor and decided to add to the alfalfa field on the prairie property.  To do that we needed to take out about 200 yards of fencing.  
 Talk about memories.  As a teenager, I spent one summer rolling up barbed wire on a farm Dad leased.  I remember showing up for the job the first day in shorts and a tank top.  In an hour, I went back to the house for jeans and boots.  You learn quickly barbed wire and shorts don't mix.  I had the radio blaring and would cajole that old rusty wire into a roll under the hot sun. There was an aged dump truck that I had to throw the wire in.  That project was probably only about a week, but seemed to last all summer.
I was able to use my earned expertise and after several hours we had four nice rolls of wire and a pile of steel posts for other projects.  Those tall weeds next to the wire is actually wild asparagus.  I'm very excited about that.  The whole time geese were flying over.  It made for a wonderful day.   There is still too much snow at our house to do much of anything.  It was nice to get out and work in the sunshine.  We enjoyed a picnic lunch by the river after the project was over.  Then it was back to our snow filled world.

 The weather is so nice we were able to start our Sunday walk tradition.  We were amazed to find our favorite Whitewood Creek road melted off.  I was also excited to see some bittersweet vines growing in the canyon.  A few falls ago my father pointed them out around the prairie.   Here they are growing in the hills.  

 After our walk, I started the process of cleaning the seeds I gathered last fall from the various annuals.  It was great sitting out on the picnic table with a hot cup of coffee.  It is a job best done outside in the sunshine, as it is a messy process. 

To the right are wild sunflowers and below are lemon sunflower seeds.

 My favorite are AJ's Black Eyed Susans.  They were given to me by a neighbor and I always gather about half of them in the fall to give to friends.  They are a pain to remove, but worth the effort.

I ended up with plenty of seeds to sow this spring.  Just 2 more months:)  What seeds do you save?