Raised Garden 2015 – update

Well, as I’ve said before this is a work in progress, but here’s what it looks like now.

P1010355 It looks nice and full but looks can be deceiving….right in the middle it seems like nothing is growing very good. I suspect it’s because in the very beginning my husband didn’t realize I’d already planted seeds and then laid some extra pots in the dirt and kind of rearranged what was underneath the dirt – but I could be completely wrong and it’s something else.

P1010357 The peas are looking good…I’ve already started pulling the fat ones off and putting them in the freezer for later this year.

P1010356 We’ve planted Kentucky Wonder pole beans two years in a row now and they’ve been exceptional. I fresh froze them last year and fixed some for Christmas Eve dinner, and they were delicious. In my opinion they are a good hardy bean with full flavor even after being frozen for half a year.

P1010364 I planted the carrots in the exact same square as last years carrots (right next to the peas) and they’ve done really well this year again. I’ll be fresh freezing these too, for Christmas Eve dinner again.

P1010366 P1010365 Kale and lettuce. I planted these next to each other. I planted both of them in two squares each, but, for some reason only one square has done well the other kale didn’t come up at all and the other lettuce is up but not as “happy” (kind of started late and not as full).

P1010359 This is the second year I’ve planted “Sun Sugar” tomatoes also, and I just love these little guys. They are the prettiest color of yellow-orange, very sweet and perfect for eating raw in a salad, with cottage cheese, in a Caprese salad, or just as a little snack on their own. So healthy and deliciously juicy.

P1010368 Yay for radishes…Love these little guys too.

P1010363 P1010362 The Rosemary and Lemon Verbena are doing fantastic. I love fresh Rosemary, it has such a hardy flavor. I especially like it with baked chicken. My Lemon Verbena has really filled out too, It was one little stem when I first planted it.

P1010361 And lastly, but worth a mention, my Chive head, ha ha ha. I love a little whimsy and this would be it. They’re really frail right now but, in a few more weeks they’ll be a great addition to add to a fresh salad.

Happy Gardening~Bam

Lemon Rosemary Scones

I love, love, love lemon. It’s just one of those flavors I really love.

We have fresh Rosemary and Lemon Verbena growing in the back yard in some pots and I thought wouldn’t it be great to bake something with them. Here’s what I came up with.

Lemon Rosemary Scones

It’s an easy recipe. I basically mixed all of the dry ingredients in one bowl and wet ingredients in a smaller bowl and then they get mixed together. No stand mixer needed, it’s all done by hand.

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Flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, lemon zest, fresh rosemary, lemon verbena. Mix it around just a bit with a fork.

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Add cold butter, that’s been diced into small pieces.

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Take a hand held pastry blender and blend away until you have a fine crumb mixture.

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Add the wet ingredients – egg, vanilla, heavy cream, and fresh lemon juice.

P1010349

P1010350 Mix it until it forms a ball and then roll it out on a lightly floured surface.

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Bake at until they are a light golden brown.

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Here you have it…Lemon Rosemary scone with Lemon Chiffon tea. A perfect pair for an afternoon of relaxing.

Recipe: Preheat your oven to 350degrees.

In a large bowl mix:

  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 2 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 T. fresh chopped Rosemary
  • 1 T. fresh chopped lemon verbena
  • 1/3 cup very cold butter – diced into small pieces

In a smaller bowl mix:

  • 1 egg- beaten
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 5 T. heavy cream (may need more to get the texture you want)
  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice

Mix the liquid ingredients into the dry and then place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead about ten times until the dough is smooth.

Roll out the dough to about 1/3″ to 1/4″ thickness and then either make a circle and cut into pie shape or use a biscuit cutter and make biscuit shapes.

This had the perfect dry, flaky texture of a scone. Perfect for dipping in hot tea or coffee with very mild flavors of lemon and rosemary.

Enjoy~Bam

Square Foot Garden 2015

It’s been a few weeks since we actually planted the garden and I’ve been, over all, very happy with it. One thing does upset me though, and that is that some of our seeds didn’t take. I find this quite disturbing considering they came from the same packets and they were new seeds. We didn’t use left over seeds from last year.

In last year’s garden we only planted one square foot of green beans, one square foot of peas and one square foot of carrots. We didn’t really have very good luck with the peas last year, so this year I planted more peas hoping we would have enough to freeze and have them at least a couple of times this coming winter. Unfortunately, my thumbs don’t seem to be green enough to grow very many peas. We do have more than last year but really they just aren’t doing very good again.

I’m beginning to believe there is more science to growing a square foot garden than just planting seeds and watering them. Actually, I know there is a lot of science that goes into gardening.

I planned the garden out a little differently this year, considering last year’s garden and what worked well and what didn’t, and I came up with this.

P1010338 We planted more green beans, peas, carrots, lettuce and added kale and beets to this years garden. We still planted some radish, bell peppers, jalapeno and the usual herbs like parsley, cilantro, thyme, oregano and even some onions and leeks. I didn’t plant as many tomato plants this year because they just seem to take over the other half of the garden last year, even with trimming them.

P1010335 P1010337 We had the garden covered with a tarp over the winter, held down with some bricks. After uncovering it we raked through the dirt to fluff it up, and added a couple more bags of organic dirt to lift it up a bit and add fresh nutrients.

P1010336 Most of the herbs are already potted. I like potted herbs, rather than seeds just because we can start using them sooner. Waiting for seedlings to produce grown herbs can take a little longer than what I’m willing to wait and we can get a good supply of organic herbs from our local nursery.

P1010339 P1010340 Ahhh, the garden looks so nice and neat (for now). I love these little copper tags. I used them last year and they’re in perfect shape still.

P1010341 This year I planted some additional herbs in these pots, Rosemary, chives and Lemon Verbena (I absolutely LOVE lemon verbena).

I’ll write a post to update you in the next week.

Happy gardening~Bam

Super Easy Homemade Dog Biscuits

Yet again, my husband and I are making homemade dog biscuits. Brownie is a hefty dog compared to the Mini-Dachshund we used to have and he loves treats. He’s already in the habit of thinking he’s going to get a treat every time he goes outside.

Not only are store bought treats expensive, they are full of salt and other ingredients that I can’t even pronounce.

Truly these are the easiest treats we’ve made so far and with only three ingredients they are cheap, cheap, cheap.

P1010329 Whole Wheat Flour, one large egg, two jars of baby food (I chose one jar of plain banana and another jar of apple, banana and pear).

P1010330 Mix all of the ingredients together until their mostly mixed and then roll it out on a lightly floured surface to the desired thickness you are looking for in the treat, keeping in mind there is no baking soda or baking powder so they really don’t rise.

P1010334 And voila…another batch of tasty treats. Brownie can’t wait to try out the first one.

Here’s the recipe:

2 cups Whole Wheat Flour

2 4oz jars of baby food (I used Beechnut brand)

1 large egg

Mix all of the ingredients together. Roll out on a lightly floured surface and cut with a cookie cutter (or use a pizza cutter and cut out small squares).

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned.

The batch we made before this one was the same but we used sweet potato baby food. He really liked those too.

I really like this recipe for a number of reasons. It’s super easy, it doesn’t have a lot of crazy ingredients, they are low in sodium, and a batch only cost about $1.75.

I store them in a plastic zip-lock and put them in the fridge because they last a little bit longer that way.

Beefy Cabbage and Vegetable Soup

I love a hearty, homemade soup on a cold winter day. This is the best version of a copycat that I’ve been able to come up with for one of our favorite soups from Athens’ (a Greek restaurant in Franklin, Indiana). It’s full of vegetables and just really, really, good.

P1010324 I looks like a lot of ingredients, but it can be cooked in one pot, which makes for easy cleanup.

P1010325 I cooked the ground beef in a cast-iron skillet – my favorite to fry anything in. (This belong to my Grandmother. I love having her skillets, it brings back wonderful memories of her cooking every time I use one of them.)

P1010326 P1010327 Dice the carrots and onions in small pieces and the cabbage is diced into bigger pieces.

P1010328 This is the end product….DELICIOUSLY SCRUMPTIOUS.

In the pot of ground beef cook these ingredients together:

  • 1 lb Ground Beef (I used lean ground beef so it didn’t need drained -this would be good with ground lamb, or ground turkey as well)
  • 1 tsp Tiger Sauce (or other mild flavored hot sauce if you can’t find Tiger Sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste

Take your Ground Beef mixture and add:

 

  • 4 medium/large Carrots – medium diced
  • 1 medium/large Yellow Onion – medium diced
  • 3/4 head of Cabbage – large diced
  • 2 cloves of Garlic – finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup each frozen – corn, baby Lima beans and green beans (if the green beans are in large strands break them into thirds)
  • 1 can Northern Beans – rinsed and drained
  • 1 large can (1qt) Tomato Juice
  • 1 Beef Bouillon
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika (I have a current obsession with Smoked Paprika)
  • 1/4 tsp White Pepper
  • 1 large Bay Leaf
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Bring the soup to a boil then turn it down to medium-low and simmer until all of the vegetables are nice and tender, about 30 minutes. The longer it simmers the better the flavors meld so be patient…it’s worth the wait.

Enjoy~Bam

 

 

 

Real Techniques Makeup Brushes

I have a new obsession with makeup. I’m not really sure why, maybe it’s because I’m getting older and have decided I should do something to look a little younger. Maybe I’m just trying to relive some of my youth, but, whatever the reason I’ve discovered some really great application brushes.

Nicola and Samantha Chapman, Nic and Sam as they call themselves, are sisters and makeup artists and they’ve started their own line of makeup brushes – Real Techniques.

I’ve tried foundation application with my fingers and with those little bitty wedge sponge things, but, neither really work the foundation in so it doesn’t look caked on. Their brushes are synthetic, not tested on animals and 100% cruelty free. They don’t need anything special to clean them, just a little baby shampoo (don’t blow dry them though because the heat can melt the adhesive used to make them). These brushes are super soft, they don’t lose bristles, they have an engraving of what they’re used for on each brush, and they are really reasonably priced.

I was reading one of my favorite magazines – Real Simple – and they had these brushes listed. Which got me to wondering if they really were “that” good. Yep…they are. I LOVE theses brushes.

Real Techniques Foundation Brush

Real Techniques Core Collection Set
The Pointed Foundation Brush found in this set of four Face brushes with a travel case along with a  Detailer Brush,Buffing Brush, and a Contour Brush.

My skin just isn’t as elastic as it used to be and these brushes really do get all-over facial coverage. I’ve found the Buffing Brush that comes in the collection is really good on the lower jaw and upper neck area to blend the foundation perfectly into the skin. It really helps me to get a more natural look. I’m so afraid I’m going to end up with the “old lady” look. You know the one, the foundations just a little too dark and really looks out of place  compared to the lighter skin on the neck and chest area.  I’m not anywhere near that stage in my life and I don’t want to look like I am either.

I also bought the Travel Essentials Set which has Essential Foundation Brush, Multi-Task Brush, Domed Shadow Brush and the Real Techniques Starter Set for you eye makeup application. This set includes: base shadow brush, deluxe crease brush, accent brush, fine liner brush and a brow brush.

Then I discovered they sell them in the Kohls stores (also on-line but the minimum free shipping it too expensive – I think) and bought a few single brushes.

Blush Brush, Stippling Brush, and lastly on of the coolest things ever, their silicone liner brush.

I absolutely LOVE this eye liner brush. It’s made from one single piece of silicone with a very small but very soft point to it. You can have a eye line very close to the lashes or you can continue to build it up all with this one little brush, and it wipes completely clean after each use.

These girls have a fantastic web site also. The have all sorts of videos of different application techniques using their brushes along with their favorite makeup. They do a great job of making everything very simple and explain why they’ve chosen certain types of makeup for specific applications. They even have a section for Halloween or Costume makeup styles. There website is very clean and organized which is another reason why I like it so much.

If you’re looking for some new, fun makeup brushes I hope you give these a try~Bam

(I used Amazon.com’s links for these brushes – but they are sold at Kohls and several other on-line retailers as well)

 

 

 

Apple Crisp

There’s nothing like warm, apple crisp right out of the oven. The smells of cinnamon, and baked apples just make my mouth water. Yum-Yum!

We were given a fruit basket for Christmas and had an over abundance of apples. I don’t like wasting fresh fruit and debated on what I could make. Apple cake, pie, or crisp. Crisp won out, it’s easy and quick to whip up. I wanted to make it a little healthier than regular crisp that’s full of flour and sugar and here is what I came up with. I used almond flour instead of all-purpose flour and molasses instead of sugar – almond flour is gluten free and molasses is sweet and offers some nutritional value.

P1010313 Golden and Red delicious apples, pecans, almond flour, flax seed, molasses, quick cook oats, sugar, salt, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg, butter.

P1010314 All of the apples are peeled and then diced.

P1010315 This is the crumb mixture. I chopped the pecans to small into pieces (if you like your crisp a little crunchy feel free to leave them in bigger pieces).

P1010316 The apple mixture goes on the bottom of a lightly sprayed baking dish. The crumb mixture goes on top of the apples, and lastly I added some small, diced pieces of butter before putting it in the oven.

P1010317 Apple Crisp with frozen vanilla yogurt – absolutely scrumptious!!

Here’s the recipe:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray a pie dish with cooking spray (or for a richer flavor you could butter it – but that adds more calories).

Apple Mixture

6 medium apples (I used 4 golden delicious and 2 red delicious)

1/2 heaping cup of Almond Flour

1 heaping Tablespoon dark Molasses

Mix this together, pour into your baking dish and set it aside.

Crisp Mixture

2 Tablespoons ground flax-seed

1/4 cup oatmeal (I used quick cook plain oatmeal)

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 Tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

Mix the crisp mixture and pour it on top of the apple mixture. Dice up 2 Tbsp of cold butter and sprinkle on the top.

Bake for about 35 minutes or until the apples are fork tender and it’s hot and bubbly.

Enjoy some fresh baked crisp!!~Bam