Monday, December 27, 2010

Overdue Garden Update

Well obviously the garden is long gone by now, but I never posted an update and several had asked me to so... here ya go.

After my first garden post, my plants seemed to be growing very well. Then, a tree near the garden decided to fill out with leaves (guess that's what happens in spring time?) and began to cast shade on the garden for too many hours than I was comfortable with. I think we ended up with only about 3-4 hours per day of direct sunlight on the garden. So we decided to move it. Which, with a normal garden, would have been all but impossible. But with raised beds, it wasn't impossible; just difficult. Do you have any idea how heavy a 4ftX4ft box, 8 inches high, filled with soil, is? Very.

We got the boxes moved to a sunnier section of the yard, but a few of the leg posts were sacrificed in the process. Instead of replacing the posts that broke, we were so exhaustingly annoyed that we ended up just ripping off the rest of the leg posts. So now as you can see, my boxes are sitting on the ground (which is ok with me).

We had great success with cucumbers and ground cherries, but everything else was just so-so. We only got one zucchini. We had a few Peacevine Cherry tomatoes, but my 2yo ate them all before they made it into the house. I only got one Rowdy Red tomato, and it wasn't very tasty (don't know if that's because it didn't grow very big, or if that's just how that variety tastes). The sugar snap peas did great until it got hot, but I think we ate most of them while working in the garden. We got enough beans for one serving for my 2yo. We had no Delicious tomatoes, and just a few scarce Green Grape tomatoes.

We got one good bunch of turnip greens. No okra, until it turned cold and 3 pods showed up. I thought to myself, what do you do with 3 okra pods? My 2yo answered, by gnawing on them. Oh and the Watermelons, don't get me started. We had one that looked like it was going to be great, but it stalled growing and I thought maybe it was ready, because it was a baby variety. Got trigger happy, picked it, took it inside to cut it open and it was white/green inside. Was so disgusted with myself. Not long after that the plant scorched and died. So, no watermelon.

We got a few jalapenos, but no banana peppers or bell peppers. The cilantro wilted, scorched, then bolted.

Things that were beyond my control this year were:
1. The flooding rains that we had earlier in the summer
2. The scorching heat that we had mid to late summer
3. (sort-of beyond my control) The shade that appeared a few weeks after planting, that slowed the growth of my plants at a crucial stage.

Things that I learned this year:
1. The soil needs to be deeper. Whether I raise the sides of the beds a few inches, or remove the plywood floor from my boxes and dig into the ground, my plants needed more room to grow roots. Deeper soil should also help keep the plants from scorching, which I believe is what happened to many of them.
2. Use more compost, and continue with natural fertilizers (fish emulsion and blood meal is what I used this year, along with some UCG [used coffee grounds] on plants that thrive in nitrogen rich soil)
3. I need to use some kind of pest repellant on my zucchini. Squash borers ruined my zukes this year, and I didn't realize what was killing my plant until it was too late.
4. Don't try to grow so many different things. Pick a few things, and grow lots of them.
5. The most important thing I learned this year is that I still have a lot to learn :)

Here are the tomatoes. See the 2 green Delicious tomatoes? They never grew bigger than that. I think Lilly picked them before they turned red, and I don't think I had any more to grow. Lots of flowers, but the fruit did not come to 'fruition' lol.

Watermelon, Basil:

Cucumbers (L), Beans (R):


Aunt Molly's Ground Cherries (We loved these, especially my Little Bug):

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Recipes 2010

♫ Christmas Time's a Comin... ♫

Just a few recipes for our upcoming Cousin's Christmas party and Christmas Day dinner.

Warm Spinach Artichoke Dip
2 - 10 oz box frozen spinach, thawed & drained
1 6 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts
1 small onion, finely chopped
8oz sour cream
8oz cream cheese
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded parmesan
1 cup mayonnaise
House seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic, whatever you like)

Combine all ingredients in a 4qt or larger crock pot. Heat on high 2 hours, or until bubbly, stirring occasionally. Serve with tortilla chips.

Thank you Erika for the inspiration

Pimento Cheese on Celery
8oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayo
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
1/4 tsp garlic
1 jar diced pimentos

1 bunch celery

Beat cream cheese with mixer 2-3 minutes. Add cheddar, mayo, garlic, and pimentos; beating after each ingredient is added.
Cut celery stalks into 3-4" long pieces; spoon pimento cheese into hollow of celery.

Sweet Potato Pie
If my Sweet Potato Pie tastes the same two years in a row, it isn't by design. It's about time I put a recipe in place and stick to it. Here goes!
2.5lb Sweet Potatoes
1 stick butter
1 can condensed milk
2 eggs
2 capfuls (2 tsp?) pure vanilla extract (NOT imitation!)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
2 rolled up ready-made pie crusts

Bake potatoes in oven til soft. Peel & mash in large bowl. Add butter to hot sweet potatoes, and beat with mixer until smooth. Add milk and beat until mixed. Beat eggs separately (can be done by hand); add beaten eggs, vanilla, and spices to potato mixture - beat until smooth.

Smooth pie crusts into 2 deep dish pie pans (I prefer glass...). Pour mixture into pie crusts. Place foil strips around exposed edges of crust. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes, removing foil for final 10-15 minutes of baking.

Sweet Potato Casserole
by CMOORE1946 as posted on
4 cups mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup chopped pecans

In a mixing bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, sugar, eggs, milk, salt, 1/3 cup butter and vanilla. Mix together and pour into a greased 13x9 inch baking dish.

To prepare the topping, combine in a separate bowl the brown sugar, flour, 1/3 cup melted butter and pecans. Mix together and crumble over sweet potato mixture.

Bake uncovered at 350 for 35 to 45 minutes.

My beautiful girl

I haven't posted in a while, so here is something to make up for that - a photo of my beautiful Little Bug. She is 27 months here (2 and 1/4)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dorito Chicken Casserole - Tastes better than it sounds

In a way, I guess I dared myself to make this last night.

I cooked a whole chicken all day in the crock pot yesterday, intending to shred the meat for a yet undecided casserole, and to freeze the broth for future culinary endeavors. When I got home from work I went to the computer to search for a recipe, based on ingredients I already had. What I found instead was... a nasty computer virus! Plan thwarted.

I resorted to my thin collection of cookbooks. My glossy hardcover cookbook only had a few recipes using shredded chicken, none of which I had (or could afford) all of the ingredients. So I opened up a cookbook my aunt gave me long ago; a collection of recipes put together by the ladies of her church. Good old fashioned home cooking. Or so I thought.

Every single casserole recipe in the book called for cream-of-something-or-another soup, which is not something I normally keep on hand. I was about to put the book away when the word 'dorito' caught my eye. I love Doritos. I haven't had them in a loooong time, since, you know, I'm trying to live a healthy lifestyle. (Some of you who know me are laughing at that last sentence, but really, it's true!)

The recipe was for a Mexican chicken casserole using Doritos chips. I knew I shouldn't, but my curiosity (and my desire for Doritos, and the fact that I knew they were on sale at Winn Dixie) got the better of me, and I rushed to the grocery store for crap-in-a-can and Doritos. Being the excellent chef that I am and all, I adapted the recipe for my own tastes. To my pleasant surprise, it turned out pretty yummy! My husband went back for seconds. My toddler cleaned her plate, which is unheard of lately.

Here is my recipe for what I like to call "Dorito Chicken Casserole". It makes 1 extra large pan of casserole, or 2 small pans. I made 2 small ones.

1 whole chicken, deboned (or 6 large chicken breasts)
1 large 16oz bag nacho cheese flavored chips (like Doritos®)
1 small can black olives*
2 cans tomatoes & green chiles (like Rotel®)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup milk
1 large onion
6 banana peppers**
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp chipotle chile powder
1 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
1 1/2 lb shredded cheese

**alternately, you could use a bell pepper, or jalapenos if you like it really spicy

Boil the chicken however you like to boil chicken (I like to use a crock pot and cook it on low all day). Remove the chicken to a bowl. When the chicken has cooled enough that it won't burn your fingers, shred it with a fork. Not too fine though; we're not making baby food.

Chop the onion and peppers. Saute onions, peppers, and garlic in olive oil, until the onions are soft and translucent. Set aside.

Mix together tomatoes & green chiles, cream soups, milk, olives, chipotle powder, and salt & pepper in a saucepan. Heat on medium until it thinks about boiling (don't let it boil).

Spread a single layer of chips in a casserole dish. Then layer chicken, sauteed mixture, soup mixture, and cheese. Repeat layers, starting with the chips again.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, or until cheese lightly browns and bubbles. Serve with a salad to redeem yourself for all the calories you're about to eat.

Enjoy :)

Monday, April 19, 2010

My Square Foot Garden 2010

After several years' worth of failed attempts at vegetable gardening, I did quite a bit of research and decided to try organic container and square foot gardening this year. My wonderful husband built some nice boxes for me to use, using scrap 2x6 wood that we already had, and some plywood that pawpaw gave us. The trellises are sheets of rebar. I shopped all over Alabama for my soil components, and am eager to begin a compost and leaf mold as soon as my wonderful husband builds the containers for them. The princess did her fair share of work hammering nails and helping me mix up and spread the soil. She also helps me water the garden.

So far I've planted beans, peas, cucumbers, turnips, zucchini, okra, and watermelon from seeds. I've also planted a jalapeno plant that I bought from Home Depot, and started some seeds in the house for several heirloom tomato varieties, bell pepper, banana pepper, cilantro, sweet basil, lemon basil, marigolds, and ground cherries.

This is my tomato and okra box. It is a 5x3 box, divided 4x3 to give my tomato plants a bit more room. I'm growing peacevine cherry, Clint Eastwood's rowdy red, delicious, and green grape. I'm also going to put a roma in a separate container.

This is my zucchini and pole bean box. I can't wait to see the zucchini take over this box, while the beans grow upward over the trellis. I've also planted some nasturtium in the corners of the box to help ward off pests and make it pretty.


The final square foot box will have peas and cucumbers growing up a trellis that I have yet to build. Right now they're on the edge against the arched rebar trellis. I think Scott's plan was for the beans to grow up the left side, and the peas and cukes to grow up the right side. I don't think there is enough room on that trellis for all of them; the beans will take up the whole thing if I'm successful. The next 4 squares are for turnips, and the rest is for 2 bell pepper, 2 banana pepper, 1 jalapeno, 1 cilantro, and 2 ground cherry plants.

Watermelon box, roma container and basil container

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