Saturday, April 30, 2011

Happy May Day!

Cute May Day Baskets from peat pots!





Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bread, En français s'il vous plaît


Love of Loaves

I love a good chewy crust and meltaway center of the perfect baguette. I've tried a few recipes for French bread and my old fave was great for same day eating. Now I'm armed with a new recipe that makes a fantastic french bread for melting the butter in a just out of the oven way that keeps well for days beyond. I like a recipe that can be thrown together in the bread machine for mixing, kneading, and for the first rising and this one suited me perfectly.

I baked this recipe on Monday to serve with pasta and marinara. It had a golden chewy crust and perfect center. On Tuesday, it made great bread for dipping in our turkey-barley-spinach soup and today (Wednesday) I shared my favorite 'school lunch' of Italian Dunkers with my girls. They were fans! I even have some bread left that will make excellent croutons. I think this bread would make a great french toast, as well.

Some variances I made to the recipe include having it rise on a row of corn meal after I'd rolled and formed the baguettes. I then transferred the loaves onto my pizza stone for a non-stick trick and it worked perfectly! Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Here's the link to the recipe:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Treasure Hunting

Easter Sunday.  Kids went hunting for eggs.  We went hunting for garden junk!
In our woods we have a few old dump sites from, I am sure, original owners of the property. 
Below are a few things we found. 
What will we do with them all?
That is next weekends project!





Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hoppy Easter, Bunny!

Little Bunny Foo Foo and Crew, Too

I am not a real crafter. I am a person who likes thinking she's a crafter. An impostor, if you will. Hence, I begin projects, accumulate necessary supplies and consequently do not finish projects. This spring season, I went looking for a bunny craft I could create using previously mentioned supplies. And I found this adorable website and accompanying free pattern:


I made a prototype as a gift for my new niece, but failed to take a picture. Now, I've successfully completed three more to assist the over-worked, underpaid Easter Bunny for the lil' peeps in my life. I used a bell for the tail in place of a pom-pom. Also, I used reproduction fabrics left over from a quilt I made for my little sister's graduation. I even used blocks left over on the yellow bunny. Here are the pictures of my first foray into the world of stuffies:



And here is a link to a gallery on Flickr that shows off a lot of 'wee bunnies':



Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Starting Seeds Indoors

*Original post from 2/11/11*

One way I like to do away with winter time blues is to start some seeds inside.  I can't tell you what it does to your mind to stick your fingers in dirt in February!  To smell the dirt.  Then to have the seedlings turn green while the outside is white or maybe brown(if you are lucky enough to have snow gone). 
Right now I have started some peppers inside.  I am no expert at this.  I more or less do this to stay sane during these long winter days.  I have been trying seed starting for a few years now.  Every year I learn something new, every year we get a little bit better.  I do end up producing from my plants I start.  Even if they don't always look the best.
     One thing I have learned is I do not like transplanting seedlings.  Maybe transplanting is something I need to accept and move on.  I am stubborn though.  I have had luck planting the seeds in bigger containers and leaving them there.....just don't go on vacation and expect your teenager to remember to water them ; )  Going from the success I had last year, minus the lack of water, I will try planting in bigger containers again.
I found that you definitely don't need to start all seeds at the same time.  Peppers seem to take the longest, as do some flowers.  After that tomatoes are good to start.  Since we have such a short growing season up north here, it's nice to get a head start on melons and maybe some pumpkins.



Seed starting in pop bottles

This past summer, a customer was raving to Travis about how they were done processing all their tomatoes.  Bragging it was weeks before everyone else up north.  His secret he claims was starting his tomatoes seeds early in pop bottles.  Making sure you have nice full plants when it was time to transplant them to the garden will give you your tomatoes sooner.(Considering I usually end up picking green tomatoes at the last possible minute I will take the "normal" picking time for up here.) 


I washed the pop bottles out and cut the top 2/3rds to 3/4s off.  I did not cut the whole way around.  I left a little left so the top would stay attached.  I did read where someone cut the top all the way off and made slits for the top to fit back on the bottom.  (There is no right or wrong way to do this.) 
When seedlings start to emerge I will have Travis hang a light from the curtain rod.  I know, not your fanciest interior decorating, but oh well.  The small plants need more light than the sun can provide right now.

When the plants start to grow out the top, cut that part(of the pop bottle) off. Your plant then will fill out instead of just growing up. For this year I will give this a try and see how it works out. I have used pop bottles, juice bottles, and so far one 1/2 gallon milk jug. 
(We might try this out at school too, but with the smaller soda and water bottles.)

Hopefully I can post updated pictures of seedlings and plants!  Peppers will take about 2 weeks to germinate, so it will be awhile.



2/19/2011 A seed sprouting!
                                                     


3/15/2011  One of my pepper plants!



 *update 4/19/11*
One of my tomato plants 4/17/2011.  We cut the top of the bottle off a few weeks ago.

New leaves below the plastic.  That means we need to cut the bottle off that far down.

My grow light...aka Travis's shop light.

Now if the snow would leave for good and the warm temps come back!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Is Your Rhubarb Ready?

(Made my first batch of the year today 5/23/2011)

Rhubarb Ruminations

Each June brings the annual Rhubarb Festival to Leif Erickson Park in Duluth, my fair city. It involves a scary rhubarb-man, an outdoor stage, a recipe contest, a biggest leaf contest, crafts for kids and... the best thing? Rhubarb-Lemonades, each complete with a skinny rhubarb stalk that has been peeled into strings on one end and dipped into sugar. Oh, I can feel that tangy sweetness in the back of my throat just thinking about it. Making the key ingredient of this delight, a rhubarb concentrate, seemed like a great way to use our plethora of rhubarb.

The real red rhubarb works best for this as it gives your concentrate a nice color. I make a large batch and have two quarts of the concentrate in the fridge. It is amazing added to iced-tea(black tea), or you can just mix it with ginger ale or soda water for a nice fizzy drink. Serve it with a couple o' mint leaves and it approaches summer perfection! I find the concentrate keeps in the fridge for about 2 weeks, but I've also frozen it in ice cube trays and then transfered the cubes into ziplocks for freezer storage for out-of-season reminders of the loveliness of summer. You could also preserve this concentrate by canning it. Enjoy! (I'll add a photo after my rhubarb is up and running and I get my first batch cookin') (Done!)

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 12 cups rhubarb pieces
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 orange
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar

Place rhubarb pieces and water in large pot. Add water and grated rind of the lemon and orange. Bring to a boil. Boil 10 to 15 minutes, until rhubarb is a thick mixture with no chunks left. Remove from heat. Strain.

Add the juice from the lemon and orange. Rinse the pot and put rhubarb juice into it. Add sugar. bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Turn off heat.


Rhubarb Pie


Pie:
3 egg yolks(save egg whites)
1/2 cup half and half
1 cup sugar
3 Tbls. flour

Mix until creamy

Add 2 1/2-3 cups chopped rhubarb

Place mixture in 9 inch pie shell.

Bake at 375 for approx. 45 minutes.

While baking make topping.

Meringue Topping:
Egg Whites(saved earlier)
Dash of salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

Mix on high adding sugar a little at a time until stiff peaks form.

Add to baked pie.  Bake at 375 until peaks are golden brown.

Enjoy!




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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Spring has finally come at our house and I am SO glad!





Chicks! 


We got some white egg layers, brown egg layers, Americana's("Easter egg chicken")

and boilers.



Rhubarb...we saw this and Paige says "I just love dad's rhubarb pie".  That recipe is coming next.....
 
Mud boots!  Make playing in the puddles so much fun!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Natural Baby Powder:


Natural Baby Powder:

1/2 cup corn starch

1/2 cup arrowroot powder

1 tbsp dried ground chamomile

1 tbsp dried ground lavender

1/4 cup finely ground oats

Blend ingredients and place in shaker.

Ground oatmeal, lavender, and chamomile.


*Arrowroot powder can be found in the health food section or at your health store.  It has the same texture as cornstarch, but is a bit more expensive.  I did not use it in this first batch.  You could also use only arrowroot if you wanted to stay away from corn.

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