Sunday, January 31, 2010

Garden 2010 - Return with a vengeance!

Some of 2009 Harvest. Looks nice, but this was probably all the edible potatoes we got!

Last year we had a so-so gardening year. Probably because we were so busy planning the wedding and getting our yard ready for 100 family and friends, tent etc. This year, we are returning with a vengeance! Even more than usual, I feel the need to know where my food comes from, to not eat anything that didn't grow from the ground or had a mother (sorry, vegetarians!). I'm done with putting preservatives and chemicals in my body, or I at least want to do that as little as possible. So, what better way to do that then to grow the food yourself?

We were lucky to receive some great plants as wedding present from friends: blackberry bushes, raspberry bushes and a persimmon tree. I am going to find out if I can grow black and red currants in SC too. I'm so used to having these berries from Sweden, and I miss making jelly, jam and juice from them. I've ordered frozen berries from NY state, but I want to have some of my own.
This year our strawberry and blueberry patches should start producing as well. Can't wait for that.
We found some EMF on Craig's list, bought some garden fabric and are planning low covered tunnels this year to start our planting earlier and extend our season to all year around.

Here's a complete list of seeds/plants we are planting this year (take a deep breath):

Potato, All Blue
Potato, All Red
Potato, Carola
Potato, German Butterball
Potato, Yellow Finn
Tomato, Hungarian Italian Paste
Tomato, German Pink
Tomato, Costoluto Genovese (inspired by Inadvertent Farmer's tomatoes!)
Tomato, Riesentraube
Tomato, Yellow Pear
Sweet Potato
Sweet Pepper, Tolli's Sweet Italian
Sweet Pepper, Sweet Banana
Sweet Pepper, Carolina Wonder
Hot Pepper, Wenk's Yellow Hot
Hot Pepper, Serrano Tampiqueno
Hot Pepper, Ancho Gigantea
Squash, Yellow Crookneck
Squash, Black Beauty Zucchini
Squash, Waltham Butternut
Pumpkin, Musquee de Provence
Pumpkin, Connecticut Field
Beans, (yard-long) Chinese Red Noodle
Bush Beans, Provider
Pole Beans, Genuine Cornfield
Pole Beans, McCaslan
Pole Beans, Dean's Purple Pod Bean
Pole Limas, Violet's Multi-colored Butterbeans
Carrots, Chantenay Red Core
Corn, Pennsylvania Butter-Flavored
Corn, Golden Bantam
Corn, Stowell's Evergreen
Cotton, Red Foliated White
Cucumber, Boston Pickling
Cucumber, Homemade Pickles
Eggplant, Black Beauty
Sunflower, Cucumber Leaf
Sunflower, Selma Suns
Aragula, Aragula
Parsley, Dark Green Italian
Spinach, Long Standing Bloomsdale
Swiss Chard, Ruby Red
Swiss Chard, Rainbow
Herbs, Mammoth Basil
Herbs, Sweet Genovese Basil
Herbs, Cinnamon Basil
Herbs, Wild Bergamot
Herbs, Borage
Herbs, Bouquet Dill
Herbs, Oregano, Greek
Herbs, German Winter Thyme
Lettuce, Amish Deer Tongue Lettuce
Lettuce, Tennis Ball Lettuce
Lettuce, Thai Oak Leaf
Snow Pea, Mammoth Melting Sugar

WOW! Are we going to be busy or what?

In addition, my friend YD asked me if I wanted some asian seeds that she did not want anymore, so I'm getting some
Komatsuna, Mibuna, Chinese Kale & Thai Yellow Egg Eggplant. Last year I traded some seeds with my friend Jeff at the office, and hopefully we can do the same again. It only takes one tomato seed to have a different kind of plant! I urge you to swap seeds with friends, it's fun to get some different varieties and then you can compare how your plants succeded (or not, lol).

Happy Gardening! Now I'm off to make some Inadvertent Farmer's Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread. Great smelling house alert in 3, 2, 1......

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Felted Purse

Over the holidays, I made a simple knitting project for a felted purse. My aunt in Sweden has sheep and a wool/spinning/coloring business and she showed me how to do needle-felting one time when I was visiting. She also gave me a few bags of colored wool to do my own felting. I wanted to try to knit something and found this cute pattern online. I found some felting yarn at the store, and started knitting. It took almost no time at all to knit, and felting it was even faster. I threw it in the washing machine, hot water, a little detergent and a pair of jeans. It was done in about 5-7 minutes. Kinda cute, isn't it?

When I took the picture, I used a wine bottle to show the shape...and I suppose it could be used as a wine bottle giveaway bag as well! :-) Next I'm going to embellish it with some needlefelting and maybe a few beads. Then the best part - give it away and watch a good friend light up with a smile! :-)
We had some snow and ice come down last night so I leave you with this picture of Kane running around in the backyard. He always gets extra energetic when it gets cold. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

It's their fault

I knew when I saw this recipe for Chocolate Truffles with Sea Salt, that I was in trouble. Bad kind of trouble. The kind of trouble that goes right to your thighs. At least in my case they do.

However, don't be scared. I urge you to go forth and conquer and make these. I know the holidays are over, but maybe you have someone's birthday that you should celebrate. Maybe there's a dinner party to attend? A potluck in the office? Maybe your husband did something wonderful? (Mine does ALL the time! Yup, we're still newlyweds!)
The best part about finding something as delicious as these chocolate truffles is that you can give them away.

My modifications to this recipe are as follows:

I used 3/4 semisweet chocolate (Ghirardelli) and 1/4 Dark Chocolate (Hersheys, it's what I had in my pantry) for the actual truffle. I'm sure the mix that Pioneer Woman uses is just as good. Use what you like. I'm more of a milk chocolate woman than a dark chocolate woman anyway.

Some tips:

After you melt the chocolate and the sweetened condensed milk, you can split the mix up and flavor differently if you want to. I added a few (3-4) drops of peppermint to one batch and that tasted great.

Smaller is better for truffles. I made my second batch about 5/8" in diameter instead of 3/4".

I left my truffle mix to sit out on the stove to cool. The first batch was put in the fridge overnight, and I then had to remelt it in order to get it to working form. Play around with what works for you.

When covering the truffles with melted chocolate, I used a fork with wide prongs and several toothpicks. I would throw 3-4 truffles into the chocolate, use a spoon to heap chocolate on them, and then fish one out and use the toothpick under the fork to swipe away the chocolate that drips through. (Are you salivating yet?)

Recipe can be found here: Pioneer Woman's Chocolate Truffles with Sea Salt

Let me know if you are going to be blaming these truffles like I am.
Back to the gym...