Thursday, December 31, 2009
In January, we planted the upper orchard. 16 trees and hours of digging later, the orchard was taking shape. These trees will bear the fruit of our future, I just wish I knew how long we will have to wait.
February brought life and near death of the seedlings for our first garden. It was this month that marked the groundbreaking of our Mandarin Grove. We are now up to 11 Owari Satsuma trees.
March was a busy month. I tried my hand a making homemade bread for the first time. Ironically, it started with an Amish Friendship Bread starter that I used in a different way. We planted a patch of blueberries and added 4 fuzzy friends to our household.
April brought a new home for the chickens as they developed feathers and personality. It also was the long awaited month when we planted the garden.
In May, fruit and vegetables were the main event. From tiny mandarins to tomatoes and pumpkins, this month was filled with excitement every time I walked around the yard. Our Meyer Lemons were used to make a wonderful lemon cake for Mother's Day and the chickens received a new feeder and waterer.
June was a month for retirement, chicken runs, and peppers. The flowers were out in all their glorious color and there was an epic battle with earwigs after they threatened our crops.
July brought us our first tomato. We made salsa with the bounty from our garden and enjoyed the yard in bloom.
In August, the chickens laid their first eggs. There was also an abundance of peppers so I made some mustard. Halloween came early and our first crop of pumpkins was harvested.
September was a month of hungry deer and the citrus trees were their meal. We added protection around the trees this month. I also tried my hand at making granola.
October was a quiet month as we continued to miss our chickens. I rediscovered rice cooker paella and have served it many times since.
November had beautiful weather and sparked a new heuchera garden and succulent container planting. I also enjoyed the many fall blooms and celebrating Thanksgiving with our families.
December was a month for making and eating all sorts of food. We had a wonderful time celebrating with our family and friends. We even had snow!
As 2009 draws to a close, I look forward to 2010 and all that it holds. Wishing you and yours a safe and happy new year from Loomis.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
This is one of the four beautiful trees my parents had at their house. I helped them decorate it and I take responsibility for the ton of lights! I decided to adopt it this year since our Christmas tree faced several challenges. We bought a small potted lemon cypress and I decorated it with lights. However, the lights were removed and used to keep two of our citrus trees warm during the cold spell we had earlier this month. A few days later the pot started showing some white fuzzy stuff, so outside it went. Maybe we'll have better luck next year.
We enjoyed some fantastic food this holiday season. My mom's prime rib was the best!!! I was pleasantly surprised with the lamb I cooked for Christmas Eve. I was the tastiest I have had in a long time. The sweet potato pie was also a nice addition.
To wrap up this Christmas post, I would like to mention that I am grateful for the many blessings we have experienced this season and the blessings still to come. Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
19 lb turkey
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1 large onion, peeled and cut into wedges
2 medium baking apples, cored and cut into wedges
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups fresh apple cider
5 sticks cinnamon (about 3 inch lengths) broken
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
2. Rinse turkey well and pat dry with paper towels
3. Season inside cavity with pepper. Rub 1 of the halved garlic cloves on the inside of the cavity
4. Place the garlic cloves, onion, and first apple in the cavity
5. Pull turkey skin to back and fasten with skewer
6. Tuck the drumsticks under the band. Twist wing tips under back
7. Brush turkey with 2 tablespoons melted butter and season with pepper
8. Place bird, breast side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan.
9. Insert meat thermometer into center of an inside thigh muscle without letting it touch bone.
10. Cover bird loosely with foil and roast until thermometer measures 160°
11. Cut band of skin or string
12. Once the turkey reaches 140°, bring apple cider and cinnamon sticks to boiling
13. Reduce heat and boil steadily for about 30 minutes or cider is reduced to about 2/3 cup
14. Add the 1/3 cup butter, brown sugar, and thyme
15. Heat and stir until sugar is dissolved
16. Remove and discard cinnamon sticks
17. Remove foil from turkey. Baste turkey with cider mixture
18. Continue roasting uncovered until thermometer reads 180°, basting every 10 min
19. Remove turkey from oven and discard cavity ingredients
20. Cover with foil and let stand 15-20 minutes before carving
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
1-2 cups seasoned mashed sweet potatoes (these were the leftovers)
1/4 cup milk
1 1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup raisins
1. Mash the sweet potatoes
2. Add the eggs and milk to the potatoes and mix until blended
3. Add the flour (I sifted it), baking powder, sugar, and oatmeal and mix
4. Add the raisins
5. Drop spoonfuls onto a baking sheet
6. Cook for 15 minutes in a 375 degree oven
7. Remove from oven and let cool
3/4 cup of powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons orange juice
1. Mix the orange juice in to the powdered sugar
2. Adjust amounts as needed until the desired consistency is reached
3. Drizzle over cooled cookies
These cookies were really good. My husband, who doesn't like yams, actually liked the cookies. It's a good thing that I wrote down the recipe as I went along. I will definitely be making these again.
Monday, December 7, 2009
The chickens were ok, but they seemed a little confused about the snow.
Next stop was the upper orchard. It was surprising how much snow had fallen. We decided to shake it off the branches so they wouldn't break under the weight.
Once all the trees were clear, we headed doen the hill to tent city, aka the Mandarin grove. Since all the trees are young, we put lights and sheets over them. The deer protection came in handy to make little tents over each tree. I was able to find this lovely array of sheets at the local Goodwill store.
As the day grew brighter, the scenes were even more beautiful. This is a view down our street.
There continues to be a mixture of rain and snow this morning and there is freeze warning tonight. Winter has officially arrived.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
In preparation for Thanksgiving, I decided to roast some of the pumpkins I'd cured from the garden this summer. I wasn't entirely sure what I was going to do with the pumpkin, but I proceeded to roast anyway. I searched online for different methods and ended up using this process:
1. Wash the outside of the pumpkins
2. Slice in half and cut out the stem
3. Scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff
4. Place pumpkins with the cut side down on a foil lined baking sheet
5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
6. Bake the pumpkins face down for about 10 minutes and flip
7. Continue to bake for another 20-30 minutes or until the flesh is soft.
8. Let the pumpkins cool to the touch, about 10 minutes
9. Scrape the softened pulp out of the shell and discard the skin
10. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a week or freeze.
The 3 small pumpkins I roasted yielded 4 cups of pulp.
In general the process was fairly simple. Scraping the seeds and strings from the pumpkin shells was the most difficult step. I took an extra step of saving the pumpkin seeds. Separating the seeds from the strings was pretty messy, but they came in handy as a quick snack before our pre-Thanksgiving dinner. I still have some pumpkins left, so it looks like I will be roasting again soon.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Amish Friendship Bread Starter (Part 2)
Homemade Dough Enhancer
Hot Cross Buns
Italian Flatbread (or Pizza Crust)
Whole Wheat Low Sodium Baking Mix
Banana Muffins with add-ins
Cinnamon French Toast
Healthy Cranberry Muffins
Spring Greens Frittata
Whole Wheat Orange Waffles
Chicken Noodle Soup, Low Sodium
New Year's Black Eyed Pea Soup
Savory Carrot Soup
Salads and Sides
Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Vegetables
Mujadara: Lentil, Rice, and Onion Pilaf (with Cilantro)
Oven Baked Potatoes
Sweet and Tangy Coleslaw
Gourmet Grilled Cheese
Apple Cider Glazed Turkey
Chicken Cilantro Enchilada Casserole
Garlic Studded Rosemary Lamb
Seasoned Fish Tacos
Cookies and Dessert
Chocolate Nut Cereal Cookies
Double Chocolate Cocoa Brownies
Lemon Yogurt Cake
Meyer Lemon Cake
Sweet Potato Cookies with Orange Glaze
Very Berry Cake
Canning and Preserving
Hungarian Hot Pepper Mustard
Peppered Citrus Jam
Roasted Pumpkin Pulp
"No Salt" Seasoning Mix
Low Sodium Chex Mix
Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
This little beauty was gift from my mom and dad (thanks mom and dad!). It sits just outside our front window so I can see it all day long.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
The chickens were hanging out by the back door when I was making dinner the other night. I think if the door was open they would come in.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Now we are left with only two hens, one white and one brown. They free range during the day and return to the coop each night where we lock them in (and predators out). My husband and I were both saddened by the loss of the other two chickens, but we are still enjoying the two that are left. We have even started talking about getting some more chicks next Spring.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3 tbsp flax seeds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup clover honey
1/3 cup unsweetened apple juice
1. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Stir the two together until the dry ingredients are coated.
5. Bake at 350 degrees, stirring occasionally with a spatula (every 5-10 minutes)
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
The first round of pumpkins were harvested yesterday. After doing some research, it is recommended that they be cured in order to have a longer shelf life. Today I started to cure them using the following steps:
- Washed them in soapy water with 1 part bleach to 10 parts water (this is a rough estimate - I didn't actually measure)
- Dried them with a dish towel
- Tried to find a place that will stay around 80-85 deg F, I picked the laundry room
- Set the pumpkins on top of the dryer with space between them so air can flow (Note: We do not use our dryer so there isn't any chance that the pumpkins will get too hot as a result of the dryer being on)
- Let them cure for 10 days
That's it. Hopefully they will cure well and last the two months until Halloween.
To make room, I cleared two rows of plants from our Summer garden. Only 5 of the squash plants and the herb patch remain. For this planting, I decided to try the Square Foot Gardening method. I thought this would come in handy since I had limited space and an assortment of seeds to plant. The new crops are in the lower two rows of the garden diagram.
If the Square Foot method works well, I plan to use it for the Summer garden next year. The prospect of fewer weeds makes me smile.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Here is the adapted recipe I used:
~50 Hungarian Wax peppers (enough for 5-6 cups blended)
1 quart vinegar (1 cup Apple cider, 1 cup white, 2 cups red wine)
1 quart prepared mustard (I used French’s classic yellow)
3 cups sugar
1 cup flour mixed with water to make a smooth paste
Red Cayenne Pepper powder (if more heat is desired)
- De-stem the peppers and removed the seeds/membranes if desired (use gloves – the pepper oils will make your skin burn)
- In small batches, blend the peppers until smooth
- Cook peppers, vinegar, mustard, and sugar in a stockpot and cook over medium heat (add Cayenne pepper to taste)
- Add the flour paste, stirring constantly (mine was clumpy so I pulled out the hand blender and smoothed out the mixture)
- Using a jar funnel, I ladled into hot jars and sealed.
- Process in a boiling water bath for 15 min
- Remove using a jar lifter and let the jars cool in a draft free location (you should hear popping sounds as the jars seal)
The mustard is a nice bright orange color since most of the peppers I used were orange and red. It is quite spicy (enough to make my lips burn), but I think a little will add a lot of flavor.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
All four chickens are still very friendly. They will come running over to me and stand next to my feet. One even walked under my leg when I was sitting in a lawn chair. It is fun to see them run, even if it is more of a waddle with an occasional burst of flight.
We went on vacation a couple of weeks ago. It was that week that the brown chickens laid their first eggs (at 20 weeks of age). By the time we got home, there were several. They are a greenish blue color.
My husband decided to eat some, and the first one he opened was a double yolk.
Over the last week, they have been laying nearly every day. I kept wondering when the white chickens would start. Today I got my answer, our first brown egg:
At least we know one of the white chickens is laying (at 22 weeks of age). Maybe there will be another brown egg tomorrow.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Today I saw them again. First thing this morning I saw the family walking across the street heading for the garden. Again I tried to get a shot, but they excel at hide and seek and I missed out a second time. Finally, this afternoon as I was sitting here working, they came walking across the front porch. I was able to snap a few shots before they disappeared again.
The cute baby quail living in our garden (and taking occasional strolls on our porch).
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Last month I highlighted some of my marigolds. They continue to flourish. Mixed in with the marigolds are some sweet basil and parsley. They are cheerful greeters to the rows of tomato plants. On the lower right is our German Chamomile. I dried some last week (but haven't had a chance to post it yet). If you are interested in my results, check back soon.
Moving away from the vegetables, I discovered that another one of our citrus trees is blooming. This one is the Midknight Valencia Orange. The harvest season is late spring which is why it is lagging the other citrus blooms.
This flower is from an aloe plant. It is nearly finished blooming, but the hummingbirds have been enjoying it's sweet nectar for almost a month. The plant is just outside our kitchen window so I have caught several glimpses of the hummingbird land and drink from the flowers.
To see other blogger's July Blooms, head over to May Dreams Garden.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Peppers (can be mild or hot)
There isn’t a fixed quantity of each ingredient. Tomatoes are the largest contributor (tonight augmented our homegrown with 6 medium store bought), followed by equal parts peppers (1 bell, 1 med, 1 hot) and onion (6 small ones which are roughly the equivalent of 1 medium), a few cloves garlic, cilantro to taste and lemon juice to bring out the flavor in the mixture. Dice everything up and put in a bowl. Stir to combine.
The salsa can be served right away or chilled before using. It will keep in the refrigerator for 1-2 days in a covered dish (although ours rarely lasts that long). In addition to tacos, this salsa can be added to a salad, served like bruschetta on toasted bread, or over pasta.