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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New Updates

Sorry I have not posted in a while!!! After the chickens were killed it took me a little while to get excited about the garden again...but I finally got over it!

I think the fall weather starting to settle in got me in the mood to get out there, and I've been a busy bee!  Not sure if I posted, but I've picked 2 pumpkins, have 3 more large ones that are almost ready to pick and I just found a lot more growing!!  We've also picked all of our corn and ended up with about 3 dozen ears!! They were spread out over 3 weeks, so it was a pretty good deal.

I've also been busy in the kitchen trying to use everything before it goes bad.  I've made about 6 quarts of tomato sauce...(All recipes will be posted at a later date), and canned whole tomatoes.

I had my first attempt at Jelly, and I used my 2nd watermelon to make watermelon jelly.  I also pickled watermelon rinds.  Those made our house smell like Fall!!!  My first attempt at pumpkin preserves was a bust.  The recipe was really confusing and I think in some ways incorrect.  I've found a few more online that make more sense, so I'm going to try it again!!  I'm also going to make pumpkin butter.  I can't wait to make more pumpkin seeds too...I made some last weekend but the cats knocked them off the table and ate them!!! But, they were so yummy and reminded me of Halloween.

Other garden updates:  I still have peppers growing - a lot of them.  I also have pumpkins, as mentioned above, and herbs.   Soon, I'm going to pick the remainder of the herbs and dry them.

Last but not least, CHICKEN UPDATE!!!  Annie (our sole survivor, and most likely the only one that will have a name) is doing great!!!! She's been in the house, but now Jeff bought us a variety of 6 more chickens and we are slowly introducing the group!!  All of the animals in the house really get along with her - even the cats.  For the most part, they're just curious and want to play with her.  Ann should be about a month away from laying eggs - YAY!!!  We're not sure if her schedule will be off though since she hasn't been around other chickens.  We will see.  Below are pictures and the new chickens/coop!!  Enjoy!

Annie says Hi!! : )

The new chickens in the coop!

Some of the new chickens including the large black one that reminds me of a crow and that I'm scared of.

Three of the newbies.

Annie!!!  Look how good she looks!!

The Silky may get a name too, because she's kind of dumb - and she was a runt.  The farm that we got them from, gave Jeff her for free because they were going to kill her. : (     

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sad news

So after a wonderful day with family and friends - and chickens (I actually had been picking them up and used to them), yesterday was the exact opposite.

I am sad to report that 5 of the 6 chickens have died.  A hawk got into their pen and stomped on them.  I saw some of it happen....I tried to run out there and scare the hawk away, but I could only get so far and then my fear of birds (not of chickens anymore) kicked in and I panicked.  It did end up leaving but not before 5 of the birds had died.  The 6th survived because it was underneath some of the others and she is doing ok - she still needs some warm thoughts, and attention because she is kind of still in shock.

Jeff is adamant that we're getting more chicks as soon as tonight.  They survive better in groups and our lonely chicken needs some new friends.  I'm not sure if I can handle something like this happening again, but I guess it's nature, it happens, and we move on.

That's all I can report for now - I'm sorry it was all sad news.  I'll keep you posted in the days to come.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Washington County Fair...etc....

Last week, Jeff treated me to the WashPa county fair!!! I've never been, and we had both been told that it was something we HAD to go to!!!  It inspired me.  Next year I'm going to submit some of my vegetables to the produce competition!!!  I saw some green beans, peppers, tomatoes and more...that won awards and mine look way better!!!

We also strolled along the horses, cows, pigs, sheep and chickens...I hope my chickens do not get as big as those suckers!!!!! OMG - I will FREAK out!!! haha.  We also saw some goats...which I'm toying with getting a few. Go ahead...roll your eyes...  I don't know...they kind of act like dogs, are cute, and they cut your grass for you.  And their milk makes one heck of a cheese!!  What do you think?!

I'm so excited - I've already started planning the garden for next year.  Definitely Hops - for my cousin Doug who likes to brew beer (They had it as a favor for their wedding and it was AWESOME!), an only Herb Garden...with more than I have this year, a pepper garden, and everything else I had this year.   Anyone else have any requests...and/or suggestions?!?!

Tonight I'm making Hot Sauce with Tomatoes from the garden...and hopefully a Tomato Sauce.  I'll post recipes and pictures at a later date. 

If you ever want to leave a comment, or send me an email - my email is!! : )

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Produce Update

This weekend I made BBQ sauce from scratch - no, not from ketchup, but from Tomatoes from the garden!!  I just need to can it, but I think it tastes pretty good.

Charred Pepper BBQ Sauce
courtesy of: Put 'em Up

1 lb chili peppers, grilled, with skins peeled and seeded
5 lbs tomatoes, peeled and cored
1 pound yellow onions, chopped
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 TBS ground allspice
1 TBS salt
1 tsp ground cloves

1.) Roughly chop Tomatoes and Peppers.
2.) Combine the chilies, tomatoes, onions, brown sugar, vinegar, garlic, allspice, salt and cloves in a large reactive saucepan.  Cover and bring to a boil.
3.) Remove the cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 1 - 1 1/2 hours, until sauce is thickened.
4.) Puree with a stick blender.
Refrigerate: - Ladle into bowls or jars.  Cool, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.
Can - leave 1/4 inch of headspace, process for 20 minutes.  Store for up to 1 year.

I have other tomatoes peeled, cored and ready to go for three items - ketchup, homemade tomato sauce, and homemade hot sauce.  I will have a lot more, so I think I'm going to make some sun-dried tomatoes and a Green Tomato Chutney.

I'm also planning on making some dill pickles - then I may be caught up a little bit on produce usage.  I also froze about 2 more pounds of green beans.  I still have tons more growing so I plan on canning some dill green beans.

I still have 3 zucchini to use - I'm thinking zucchini chocolate chip cookies and zucchini bread.  Also, some yellow squash.

See below for some recent harvests, and other items growing!!

oh yeah...and Oscar and a chicken!!

Part of the garden and Jeff's Kayaks

One of the it is double this size!

Harvest from a week ago
Banana Peppers

Bread and Butter Pickles

Part of the Tomato Harvest

The corn section

One of the jack-o-lantern pumpkins

Heirloom Tomato

Every veggie on these platters is courtesy our mini farm!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Chickens are a month old!!!!

So the chickens turned a month old this past Monday!!!  To celebrate, Jeff took them out of the brooder one by one to join the family for a few minutes in the living room.  There are some funny pictures of the one of the kittens going nose to beak with one of the chicks and Jeff took a few pictures of me holding them!!!

Oscar and one of the chicks

I did ok until Jeff refused to take one back then I started to have a minor panic attack and he had to come rescue me.  Of course, when he did - the one that was freaking me out pooped on my shirt!!!  Believe me, the shirt has been retired to the garbage can! haha

Sedona, of course, still thinks that they are her babies!!! She kept nudging them and wanted to be near them!!  It looked like she had a HUGE smile on her face the whole time - TOO FUNNY!!

Sedona and one of her Babies!! : )
We also started to plan for the chicken coop (no, we still don't have one ready) - but we know where we are going to put it in the yard and are going to build a pen for them to be in, in the meantime.  We (Jeff) moved them outside today so we could clean out the cage and start the process of them being able to be outside.  We still have yet to name them?!  Any suggestions? - we have 3 black and white ones and 3 brown ones...All girls! 

Here are a few pictures!!

Chicks finding their way home!
I think the black and white one in this picture is the "mother hen" - she actually went over to these two other chicks and guided them back into the brooder!!

Back safe and sound!!
Go on and shake your tail feather!

Monday, August 8, 2011


I was a busy bee this weekend...but I was having computer issues and Jeff was JUST able to fix it, so I wasn't able to post till now!!!

Saturday I woke up bright and early and FINALLY canned the pickles I made a while back.  I also pickled some banana peppers too.  Produce is ready for the BBQ Sauce, just have to cook it, puree it and can it!!

The garden is still going strong!!! I now have TONS of cucumbers (and I've given some away!!) Two red bell peppers almost ready to pick.  More banana peppers, more tomatoes, yellow squash and more!  There is a lot of ears of corn growing, as well as at least one butternut squash and one acorn squash...I have one pretty large watermelon (about a foot long!) and two more growing.  Some of the pie pumpkins have started to grow too!!

Canning is pretty easy, but it takes a lot of equipment, space, and time!  Most recipes will have processing times, but the basic steps are:

1.)  Wash the jars, lids, and bands with hot soapy water.
2.)  Sanitize the jars, lids, bands either in the dish washer, or boil for 15 minutes.
3.)  Bring a LARGE pot of water to boil, use a canning basket (I bought a whole canning kit with everything you need in it), or if one is not available, place some lids along the bottom. 
*you don't want the jars to sit in contact with the bottom of the pot)
4.)  Fill jars with recipe of choice.  Remove air bubbles (run a knife along the inside edge of jar), wipe top of jar with a damp paper towel. 
5.)  Place the flat lid on the top of the jar.  Lightly screw on the band - use your fingertips, once the jar starts to "spin" it is plenty tight!
6.)  Place jars in boiling water (make sure there are enough jars - empty or full - so that the processing jars don't tip).  The water may not boil, wait till it comes to a rolling boil and then complete next steps.
7.)  Cover and process for time stated in recipe.  Once time is up, remove pot from heat and let stand in the pot for 5 minutes.
8.)  Remove cans from pot (do not dump the settled water into the pot, as this could disturb the canning process.) 
9.)  Set aside for 24 hours.  Once 24 hours is up if lid does not "bounce back" when pressed on, the canning was successful.
10.)  Store in a dark, cool space.  (most are ok for up to a year!)

So a lot of steps, but still relatively easy.  The longest part is waiting for the pot of water to boil!!!  I'm willing to give lessons if anyone has a lot of produce that they need to use!! 

You could also just follow a recipe and store it in your fridge without canning, but items have a short life span this way.  I hope this helps!! : )

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Still Harvesting...

So I have about 10 lbs of cucumbers in my fridge (without adding in the 5 lbs of pickles that still need canning...), about 5 lbs of hot peppers.  10 Tomatoes, 2 Green Peppers....and tons more on the way!!

The watermelon I found yesterday has doubled in size - it's about 6 inches long and about 3 inches in diameter.  There is a 2nd one growing that I found today...too cute when they're "babies."  The two pumpkins I have are both 6-8 inches long and about 6 inches in diameter - I'm hoping they get MUCH bigger!!!  I found a pie pumpkin growing today too, but it's really little and I hope it makes it!!

Yellow squash is finally growing around the corn, and butternut and acorn squashes too!!  We have 4 ears of corn growing.

The chicks are getting SO big!!! I figured out what scares me about them - whenever they start to flap their wings...I freak out!!! Otherwise, they're pretty keeps "flying" to the top of the feeder!!  We've had the cats and two of the dogs join them in their brooder just so they get used to them.  The one cat turned tail and ran right out, the other cat and the dogs sniffed around a bit.  They're almost ready to move outside...They'll still stay in their current brooder for a bit.  We'll section of a part of the coop until they get big enough to move into the whole coop!!

I'll be sure to post pictures soon!!! (I need to tell my photographer - aka Jeff - what pictures we need done!!!  Either that, or I need a new camera!!)

Monday, August 1, 2011


My tomatoes are FINALLY starting to turn!!

I have about 5 Beefsteak tomatoes, tons of Roma's that are almost there, some Big boys that are close, and some cherries that have yet to start to color!  Tomato sauce, salsa, etc will be here soon!!  My red bell peppers are starting to turn red too!!  I have a few ears of corn growing too : )!!!

I haven't updated recently because I've been feeling a little under the weather, but hope to get back in the swing of things soon!!

More recipes to come!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

All about Zucchini/Chocolate Zucchini Cupcake Recipe!!!

Now not only do I have an over-abundance of herbs, banana peppers and cucumbers, but Zucchini have now been added to the mix. 

With one zucchini I made 2 dozen batter-fried zucchini last night, and I'm planning on making 2 dozen chocolate zucchini cupcakes tonight.  All with ONE zucchini.  One down - 2 left in the fridge - 3 more almost ready to pick in the garden!!!  I'm going to have to research more recipes!!!  I also am planning on making charred chili salsa and chili BBQ Sauce with my banana peppers sometime this week/weekend!!

I'm excited to try this Chocolate Zucchini Cupcake Recipe!!!

Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes
1 - 1/4 cups butter, softened
1 - 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 - 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup baking cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 cup grated zucchini
1 cup grated carrots (I'm going to try using more zucchini instead of the carrots)
1 can (16 oz) chocolate frosting
1 recipe cream cheese icing (optional - to follow)

1.  Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
2.  Add eggs one at a time, beat well after each egg.
3.  Stir in vanilla.
4.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
5.  Alternate adding to the creamed mixture: dry ingredients and yogurt.  Beat well after each addition.
6.  Fold in zucchini and carrots.
7.  Fill paper-lined muffin cups 2/3 full.
8.  Bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
9.  Cool for 10 minutes.
10.  Remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
**Optional - Hollow out about a TBS section of the cupcake and add a spoonful of cream cheese icing.**
11.  Frost with chocolate frosting.
12. Enjoy!!

Cream Cheese icing:
1 (8oz) package cream cheese icing
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup confectioner's sugar (powdered), sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1.  Cream together cream cheese and butter.
2.  Add in vanilla
3.  Slowly add sugar.
4.  Store in refrigerator.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Freezing Green Beans/Recipe

So today, instead of trying to can green beans, I decided to freeze them.  I had about 1-2 lbs of fresh green beans in my fridge, with TONS more growing, so I figured I better do something with the ones I had before they went bad.

Freezing Green Beans is pretty easy.  Cut the green beans to the size of your choice, then, all you have to do is boil them for 3 minutes, then shock them in ice water for 3 minutes.  Then package them in ziplock bags.  (I tried to do it in portion sizes) and then throw them in the freezer.    When ready to use, just pull them out of the freezer, throw them in boiling water and prepare to recipe of your choice.

Today's harvest: 5 cucumbers, 1/2 lb of green beans, a few sugar snap peas, 1 zucchini, 2 Green Peppers and 1 tomato!!!

The chickens have doubled in size since yesterday...I swear!!  haha maybe not double, but definitely have gotten bigger since yesterday, hopefully we won't have to worry about them fitting through the crate anymore!

Tomorrow I'll be making zucchini-chocolate chip cookies, and probably fried zucchini!!  I'll be sure to post recipes!!

I think for the next party or cookout I go to this summer I'm going to use the below recipe for a green bean salad!

Green Bean Salad
courtesy of (my favorite recipe site!!!)
1 lb green beans
1 (15 oz can) peas
1 (15 oz can) corn (maybe I'll have fresh corn I can use by then!!)
1 (4 ounce) jar pimentos
1 onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped (I have plenty of these)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons water
1. Combine vegetables in a large bowl. 
2. In a small bowl, mix together oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, and water. Pour over vegetables, and stir to coat. Refrigerate, covered, for 4 hours or overnight.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Making Pickles (with recipe) and having visitors!!!

I had my first two visitors to the mini farm today.  My friend Christina and her mom Bobbi came to visit the chickens and get a tour of the garden!  They were impressed by how little space the garden was and how much produce I've gotten so far!!!

We had a slight fiasco with the chicks.  They both wanted to hold them and when Christina was trying to grab one, one of the birds squeezed through the brooder/dog crate wall - and was LOOSE!!!!!  Then, when worried that it's wing would get stuck, I tried to get it to put it back in safely, it squeezed right back through!!  Looks like Jeff is going to have to put higher walls until they're too big to squeeze through!

I also cooked Bread-and-Butter pickle chips this morning while it was cooler.  They can keep in the fridge for a few weeks, so I'll can them when it gets cooler around here.

Bread-and-Butter Pickle Recipe
from: Put 'em Up! by Sherri Brooks Vinton
5 pounds cucumbers, ends removed and sliced into 1/4 in coins (I used my Pampered Chef mandolin with the zig-zag blade)
1 pound large onions, roughly chopped
1/2 cup plus 1 TBS kosher salt
2 cups ice cubes
4 cups distilled white vinegar
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 TBS mustard seed
1 TBS black peppercorns
1 TBS celery seed
1 TBS tumeric

1.  Layer the cucumbers and onions with 1/2 cup of salt in a large bowl.  Cover with ice cubes.  Set aside for 2 hours.  Drain and rinse in colander.
2.  Combine the remaining ingredients in a nonreactive saucepan and bring to a boil.  Add the drained vegetables and return to a boil, stirring to ensure that all of the vegetables are heated through.  Remove from heat. 
**Cucumbers will turn from a bright, Kelly green, to a brownish, olive green.**
Refrigerate: Ladle into bowls or jars.  Cool, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.
Can: Follow normal canning procedures, processing for 10 minutes.  Can be stored for up to 1 year.

**Once I begin canning items, I will post canning instructions.**

Friday, July 22, 2011


Seriously. I am being cooked alive by this heat!!!  It has put a damper in my canning/preserving plans, as I'm afraid to turn on my stove top and add to the 90+ degree temperature that my house feels like it's at. has been delayed until a little bit cooler weather.  Seriously - how did our grandparents can/preserve in the summer!?!?!  I couldn't even begin to imagine!!!  But anyway, I am going to get some of the cucumbers prepped and ready for canning as soon as it starts to cool down...

I'm picking another zucchini today, more green beans (of course), and lots more cucumbers.  Who likes pickles?  I'll have plenty to share!!  Too bad I don't have my dart team anymore so that I can pawn off produce every week!!! 

I'm happy to report that the chicks are in a new and bigger brooder.  and...guess who moved each one of them?!  I did!!!! I was panicking and had to talk myself through each move, but they ended up ok!!  The cats started pawing at them so we had to put them in a separate room.  The dogs just watched them, which was really cute, and I'm hoping they will continue to be such good "friends" as the chickens continue to grow.  Their feathers are starting to come in!!

Stay cool this weekend!! : )

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Picture Updates

Chickens 2 days old - wait to you see the 1 week old picture!!!

Me picking berries

2nd berry picking score - the first one is a little more than both of these bags combined and there's still more to get!!!
Last week's harvest for grilled veggies - Bell Pepper, Banana Pepper, and lots of Fresh Herbs

Today's harvest - 5 cucumbers, some green beans a bell pepper, 3 sweet banana peppers and some lavender flowers

The mini farm today!

whoa!! What a day!!!

So tomorrow I'm going to be making pickles!!!  I picked a total of 6 cucumbers today and they'll need to be pickled tomorrow.  Put 'em up! (an AWESOME preserving book) is going to help me along but it's going to be a HOT day in our kitchen with canning, etc, so it will get interesting!!!!

I also picked another Green Bell Pepper, some more Sweet Banana Peppers (which will need canned soon too!), MORE green beans, and some lavender flowers that I will dry and use in some cookie recipes!!

The garden needed a lot of grooming today - I had to tie back some of the tomato plants - I forgot how wide these grow - and I trained some more of the cucumber plants. The pumpkins are getting bigger!  I'm hoping I have a bunch so I can carve some pumpkins this year - and roast the pumpkin seeds - yum!

I'll take a picture of my bushel basket and be sure to post it soon!!  Wish me luck tomorrow!!! : )

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Great harvest today!!

Sorry I've been out of touch for a few days...

I still owe you pictures from my berry picking!!

Today was an awesome harvest!!
I picked about 9 sweet banana peppers and another 1/2 pound of green beans - I'm probably up to 2 lbs of them!  I also picked a huge zucchini that I'm planning on making beer-battered zucchini and maybe zucchini cakes with!

I'm going to pickle the banana peppers, and try to find some good recipes for canning the green beans.  I also will be picking a bunch of cucumbers (hopefully enough to make into pickles or relish).   Also soon to pick: more zucchini, more bell and banana peppers, and HOPEFULLY tomatoes!!

Did I mention?!?! - I now have a watermelon and about 5 jack-o-lantern pumpkins growing!!! I'm hoping the pie pumpkins start coming in too for pumpkin preserves and pumpkin pies!!  The corn is continually getting higher and the squash planted with it is coming in pretty good too!!!  More pictures to come soon!

If anyone wants to try their hand at pickling/jamming/preserving, let me know - I would love to show you (and have someone here to help.) 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Berries, Peppers, and Beef - Oh my!

So I was a busy bee yesterday and today...

Ended up picking berries last night.  I originally didn't think we would have time, but we did it!  We didn't get nearly as much as last time but still got about 3 lbs.  And there are still more ripening! : )  There are some great pictures and videos of me driving the quad, as Jeff's hand still isn't better!  I'll be sure to post those as well as others once we get them downloaded.

I also used my KitchenAid meat grinder last night and today too!!  We are going away for the weekend and I'm in charge of Friday night's food - Burgers and Dogs!!  We were out of ground beef from our 1/4 cow purchase, but I was able to make ground beef with some of the Chuck and other Roasts we had left.  The burgers smell great!!!

Wait till you see what I harvested from the garden today too!!  Again, we need to download the pictures, so they'll be in a later post but I had a great banana pepper and green pepper, and of course some more herbs.  I have about a 1/2 pound of green beans ready to cook and a few cucumbers and zucchini are almost ready too.  The corn is getting bigger too!!! I never realized how corn grew and it seriously is really cool.  The stalk is in a spiral and it makes the leaves kind of curly too! 

Since I'll be away this weekend, I won't be able to post - but I hope everyone has a great weekend!!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Chickens are still here!!! / Grilled Pizza Recipe!!

They made it through the first night!!!!  We had a slight mishap with the heating lamp, but all is good now.  We may need to build the replacement brooder sooner than we thought!

The chicks are feisty little things!!! We cleaned out the paper towels when I got home from work and then proceeded to clean their "vents."  It was kind of crazy!!!  After the first two, we realized we couldn't tell which ones we already cleaned - haha - so we had to get a separate box to put the "cleaned" ones in and they tried to escape!!!

I (who's afraid of birds) actually held a baby chicken for FIVE seconds!!! : ) then it started to move, I got nervous, and I put it back in the brooder very quickly!!!  We'll see how I handle things when they start getting bigger...

The kittens make me a little nervous around them, but for the most part, they just seem curious, like the dogs.  I'm hoping that when the chickens get bigger, the cats and the dogs will protect them when they graduate to the chicken coop outside!!

If anyone wants to bring their kids to see the chicks, let me know - we're going away this weekend, but the first week or two is when they are still in their cute phase - then they start growing really quickly...

No garden news today - just waiting to pick the peppers and no berry trip today...too much to do around the house...

Other note:
I strained the Basil Vinegar and Olive Oil today - and I think it worked!!!  The vinegar smells less vinegary and the oil smells terrific - I can't wait to use it in our next grilled pizza dough!

Grilled Pizza Recipe:
1 Recipe Pizza Dough (use Basil Oil Recipe in other Posting), or 1 can refrigerated Pizza Dough
Favorite Sauce (BBQ, Red, White, just oil)
Toppings, Cheese, meats (pre-cooked if needed), veggies, or fruits - for dessert pizza

1.) Cut pizza dough into 4 same size pizzas and stretch into personal size pizza doughs.  Brush oil on one side.
2.) On hot grill, place pizza dough, oiled side down.  Brush oil on new top of dough. Grill for 2-3 minutes until it easily comes up from the grill.  *GET YOUR TOPPINGS READY AND NEARBY!!*
3.) Flip dough to new oiled side.  Quickly put on sauce, toppings and cheese.
4.) Close lid and grill for another 1 - 2 minutes.
5.) Enjoy!!

**We love this recipe when we're camping!!!  People are always surprised to have pizza!**
**As mention before, try a dessert pizza - spread flipped dough with icing, honey, butter, etc then top with apples, peaches, or other fruits and finish as before.  Or try it with marshmallow fluff on the bottom, and top with chocolate pieces and graham cracker crumbs - Yum...s'mores!!**

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Chicks are here!!!

So the chickens arrived bright and early this morning and poor Jeff was the one to pick them up!!!  They were so traumatized and noisy that he couldn't fall back to sleep (at 6am)!!

All 6 arrived safe and sound and are now in the brooder in the basement!!  The dogs have been introduced to them and for the most part, seem to be adjusting well!! 

Look how cute they are!!!

Garden News:

I now have enough green beans to make a side, I have another green bell pepper that's almost ready to be picked and a few sweet banana peppers!!! Almost time to start the canning!!

We also haven't had a chance to pick more berries but maybe tomorrow after work!! : )

Monday, July 11, 2011

So sorry!!!

Sorry I haven't updated but it's been a very hectic 2 days....

There will be a large update tomorrow - because THE CHICKENS ARE COMING, THE CHICKENS ARE COMING!!!! : ) 

Also, the garden is going crazy, so I'm sure I'll have some produce updates and recipes as well!! : )

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Brooder is ready!!!

Well, today has flown by and I didn't get nearly as much done that I planned on (isn't that always the case).  But one thing is for sure - The chicken brooder is ready for the chicks!!!

Thanks to my buddy and co-worker Skot for loaning us Raising Chickens for Dummies and for encouraging us to get the chicks!  The brooder really is pretty simple and we made need to upgrade as the chickens grow, but to start - it's perfect.

Main components:
Large plastic storage container (clear if possible so you can watch the chicks)
Pine shavings for the bottom
Self waterer
Self feeder
Heat lamp
Screen lid (Jeff still needs to build this)

For the first week or so, it is to suggested to layer paper towels over the shavings so the chicks don't inadvertently eat too much of it.  The brooder should be about 95 degrees about 2 inches above the surface (where the chicks bodies are).

Pictures are to follow : )

Garden News -

I have some more banana peppers and green bell peppers that are almost ready to pick!! I've picked 5 green beans and just need a few more to cook! There are definitely both kind of cucumbers growing, lots of peppers, 1 pumpkin, some tomatoes, and a few zucchini!!  So there's definitely produce in the near future - I just hope that it hurries up!!!

Kitchen Tid-bit -

I'm lucky enough to have a Kitchen Aid mixer and some attachments.  We also bought a 1/4 of a cow this year and are out of ground beef.  I'm going to take some of the Roasts we have left and grind them with our grinder attachment.  We are going away this weekend and I'm in charge of grilling burgers and dogs Friday night!! Has anyone ever used this before and have pointers?!  I know some of the steps, thanks to work, but if you have any great ideas - let me know!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Not too busy today - Grilled Vegetable Recipe!!!

I'll have some days like these...where there's not much to do - but that means this weekend is going to be jam packed!!

Tomorrow I plan on making cookies, gathering more berries from the woods, prepping vegetables to grill for a BBQ (some from our garden with fresh herbs), and getting stuff for the chicken brooder!!

Sunday will be full of making and canning preserves and putting finishing touches on the brooder!

Grilled Vegetable Recipe:
Ingredients -
Any variety of vegetables that you like, sliced into 1/4 inch slices (I typically use zucchini, squash, onions, tomatoes, and peppers - tomorrow I'm just going to use 4 different peppers and onions, and maybe potatoes)
Herbs (Any variety of fresh herbs that you like, I use Basil, Oregano, Thyme), rough chopped
Garlic, minced or pressed
2 TBS olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
*Grill basket* - I got mine at

Instructions -
1.) Wisk Herbs, Garlic, Olive Oil, and Salt and Pepper.
2.) Place all vegetables into a ziplock bag.
3.) Pour olive oil mixture over vegetables, seal bag and shake!
4.) Grill in grill basket for about 10 min - stir a few times
5.) Enjoy!!

**I take this to any BBQ I go to - it's so easy and for the most part, you don't have to worry about veggies falling through the basket**
**We us our grill basket all the time when camping!**
**If you don't have a grill basket, you could always skewer the marinated veggies and grill - if using wood skewers, soak them in water first so they don't burn as quickly - you will have to turn these often to get even cooking!!**

Thursday, July 7, 2011

First Vegetable Harvest!!!

I picked my first Green Bell Pepper and a Sweet Banana Pepper this afternoon!!  Now just have to wait for a few more to pickle and/or cook with!!!

So I'm going to stick to the Basil theme for today, and it's going to be short and sweet - we are meeting friends for dinner tonight!!

For those of you that are mosquito bait...try cutting a Basil bunch, or place a basil plant in your bedroom or other areas that they bother you.  Basil is a natural mosquito repellent!!

Yesterday I made Basil Infused Olive Oil and Basil infused Vinegar - Really easy!!
1 bunch basil (about 15 leaves)
1 cup either Olive Oil or White Vinegar
1 - 2 Pint Jars
Pinch of Salt

1.) Pour either Olive oil or Vinegar into pint jar
2.) Submerge Basil leaves in liquid
3.) Top with a pinch of salt
4.) Shake everyday for a week and store in the refrigerator
5.) Once the week is up, strain the leaves, and reserve the liquids
6.) Can keep for up to 1 year.  (Vinegar - stored in a cool dark place, Oil - stored in refrigerator)

*When making pizza dough, or breads, substitute the oil for your flavored oil!!  It will add a surprising flavor to the crust/bread!!

*DO NOT store Basil Oil at room temperature, as it could create botulism!!!

On a different note:  Our chicks are due to arrive on Tuesday!! This weekend we'll be finishing the brooder and getting ready for their arrival!  Stay tuned for pictures and tips!!  Did I mention that I'm afraid of birds?!?! - This could get interesting!!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Harvesting and Storing Herbs/Basil Butter Recipe

While I don't have any veggies to harvest quite yet - some peppers are close - I do have PLENTY of herbs!!!  This posting will be about Harvesting and Storing Herbs, with, of course, a recipe added as well!!

Fun Facts about Herbs -
  • Dried herbs are more potent than fresh
  • When storing fresh herbs, wrap stem in a damp paper towel, seal them in a re-usable bag, and keep in the refrigerator, to use quickly
Harvesting/Storing Herbs -
  • Cut with kitchen or garden shears
  • When drying - do so in a shady, area:  Hang by the stem upside down - once dry, leaves should be removed whole and kept in tightly closed container.  Should keep flavor for several months
  • Freezing Herbs - wash and let air dry till wilted.  Cut or chop into sizes you would like and store in the freezer in a tightly closed container

Basil Butter Recipe
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 15 Leaves Fresh Basil
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper, Freshly Ground
  • 1 Cup Butter
1.) Place garlic, basil and pepper in food processor - process till garlic is chopped.
2.) Add butter and process just till mixed.
3.) Enjoy!!!

*You can also place butter on a sheet of parchment paper and roll it into a cylinder.  Then, place in refrigerator and cut pieces as needed.
*Herb Butter is easily freezable.  Let stand in the refrigerator for a few days for the flavor to spread, then place in container and freeze.
*Herb Butter is great to add flavor to vegetables, baked potatoes or pasta, try rubbing it under the skin when roasting chicken, place it atop your favorite grilled steaks just after grilling, or simply use it on  breads and rolls!!

I made this recipe today and am looking forward to having it on fresh baked Italian Herb Bread (with some of my dried herbs) - recipe to follow in a few days!!

Also - coming attraction - Basil Ice Cream!!! (All I need is an ice cream maker - which I plan on getting soon!!)

**A few notes about the above recipe:
1.) This recipe actually makes a lot!! You can easily cut the recipe in half and still have plenty!
2.) Use any fresh herb or combination of herbs in this recipe to create a variety of Herb Butters!
3.) It makes it easier when the butter is room temperature!
4.) Herb butter is also known in the culinary world as "compound" butter!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Today's Produce - Basil

So, as I was reading my newest Food Network had a section on Basil!!  My basil was growing like crazy and starting to flower - which I was hoping I could cultivate the seeds from for next year...

Little did I know...when Basil flowers, it stops growing it's leaves!!! So I went out to the garden, cut off the flowers and had about 4-5 cups of Fresh Basil leaves to use up.  I saved the flowers to dry and try to use the seeds for next season...but what to do with the Basil leaves?!

I made Pesto, of course!  Below is the recipe that I used - Enjoy!!!

2 cups basil leaves, packed
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts, chopped
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano Cheeses, freshly grated
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste

1.) Combine basil and nuts in a food processor and pulse a few times.
2.) Add the garlic, and pulse a few more times.
3.) Slowly, in a constant stream, slowly add olive oil while the food processor is on.  Scrape sides as needed.
4.) Add cheese and pulse until blended.
5.) Add salt and pepper to taste.
6.) Serve with pasta, or spread on toasted baguette slices.

**If freezing - leave cheese out - add in when ready to use.

* When freezing (like I did today) use an ice cube tray!!  They make perfect portions for one.  Once frozen in the tray, remove and store in the freezer in an airtight container.
* Because my food processor broke : (...I used a blender on a pulse setting.  I had to scrape the sides more, but it worked out fine!!
* You can always can the pesto too - stay tuned for canning instructions and tips!

I still have a few cups of cut basil leaves left - and TONS more growing...stay tuned for more recipes or uses for this fragrant herb!

Garden Layout


Tomatoes, Zucchini, Beans, Peas, Pumpkin

Corn, Squash

This year in our garden, I've planted a lot of new items, but some favorites from last year!!

  • Bell Peppers (Green, Red, Orange, and Yellow)
  • Banana Peppers (Sweet and Hot)
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumbers (Pickling and normal)
  • Green Beans
  • Peas
  • Eggplant
  • Yellow Squash
  • Corn
  • Watermelon
  • Strawberry
  • Tomatoes (Beef Steak, Cherry, Roma, and Big Boy)
  • In our woods - Wild Raspberries, and Blackberries
  • Basil
  • Lavender
  • Chives
  • Thyme
  • Peppermint
  • Oregano
  • Pumpkin
  • Pie Pumpkin
  • Acorn Squash
  • Butternut Squash
Most of the plantings were originally started from seed, but once planted we had a wet early summer, and the garden was flooded.  I was lucky enough to find seedlings from our local garden supply center and also from a supplier with my company.  Most are in our two raised beds from last year, but the corn and some squash are in a different section.

A few fun facts:
  • Plant corn in groupings - they pollinate each other, so you have to have more than just a few!
  • You can plant Corn, Squash and Peas all together - squash act as ground cover, corn grow and act as a bean pole!
  • More to come!
Yes, we are getting chicks!!  I can't wait to have "mini farm" fresh eggs for baking!!  They should be here a week from today - Tuesday, July 12!!! Eggs should start coming in late fall - I'm sure we'll have more than we need - so let me know if you're interested in getting "mini farm" fresh eggs from me!!

Contact me if you would like to come see our Mini Farm!!  I will also take growing requests for next season!