Sunday, August 30, 2009

Our Fall Garden - 2009

This morning it was nice and cool so we planted a few plants for our fall garden. This fall, we expect to be harvesting tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, bell peppers, cilantro, jalapeno peppers and cucumbers. We are trying out a new brand of tomato plant called Sunmaster. We have had a lot of trouble with fungus in the past few years and this one is supposed to be good for that. We'll give it a shot.

We trimmed our overgrown wisteria back to give our herb garden a little more sun. Our rosemary and oregano is growing strong as well as the apple mint. We had some record heat and very little rain so we lost the basil, parsley and lavender. Our green onions are hanging on. I want to replant what we lost so a trip to my favorite plant store, Nelson Water Garden, is in order. I'm looking for squash plants and hope to find some in the next few days.

A friend told me that the old wives tale is that if there is extreme weather in the summer, we can expect the same in winter. I told her we were both old wives, so it was probably true!

Here are some signs of a hard winter from the Farmer's Almanac that made me laugh:

Thicker than normal corn husks. (haven't shucked any corn lately)
Woodpeckers sharing a tree.
Early arrival of the Snowy Owl. (none here)
Early departure of geese and ducks.
Early migration of the Monarch butterfly.
See how high the hornet’s nest, will tell how high the snow will rest. (and get stung)
Unusual abundance of acorns
Thick hair on the nape of a cow’s neck. (haven't gone up to any cows and squeezed their necks lately)
Early arrival of crickets on the hearth. (my friend Sarah just screamed)
Raccoons with thick tails and bright bands. (couldn't that be a sign of a good diet?)
Pigs gathering sticks. (what?)
Insects marching a bee-line rather than meandering. (do ants count?)
Early seclusion of bees within the hive.
Muskrats burrowing holes high on the riverbank. (ewwwww)
The squirrel gathers nuts early to fortify for winter.
Frequent halos or rings around the sun or moon forecasts numerous snows. (why in the world are you looking at the sun? a hard winter and blindness. It's not going to be a fun Christmas.)
Mice eating ravenously into a home. (you have more problems than just a hard winter)
Heavy and numerous fogs in August.
Spiders spinning larger than normal webs and entering the house in great numbers. (my friend Sarah just screamed again)
The wollybear caterpillar – A narrow orange band in the middle of the caterpillar warns of heavy snow; fat and fuzzy caterpillars warns of bitter cold. Also… a rough winter if you see lots of them crawling around, their movement is slow or you saw them crawling before the first frost. (how fast are they supposed to go? and how do you measure their speed? Teensy radar guns?)

Old wives and farmers. Apparently not a very reliable group. I'll just stick with the Weather Channel.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Her Majesty, The Chicken

One of my most favorite chicken recipes from the "Talk About Good" recipe book is Imperial Chicken. It's name says it all. It's rich and should only be cooked once in a blue moon because of it.

Here is the recipe:

Imperial Chicken

1 chicken fryer, cut up
1/2 stick of butter (the original recipe calls for a whole whopping stick, but it is way too much)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 c. bread crumbs (original recipe calls for two, but it is a waste)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 c. fresh parsley (you can also use about 2 Tbl. of dried parsley)
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350.

Melt the butter in a microwave safe dish. Add the garlic. In a plate, mix up the dry ingredients. Brush the butter mixture all over the chicken pieces. Roll and press generously into the crumb mixture. Arrange in a glass pan lined in foil or parchment paper. Make sure the pieces don't touch. I have to use two glass pans for a larger chicken. The recipe calls for a cookie sheet, but the drippings make a mess in the oven. Bake for 1 hour 15 min. Serve with something healthy like brocolli to alleviate some of the guilt!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Take a peek at our finished flooring...

The crew came and went quickly and I am so pleased with the job they did. They cleaned up after themselves and worked efficiently.

Here are a few shots of the finished rooms. We chose the Roman Stone Porcelain in Noce at Lowe's. We used a 10% coupon found in the change of address envelopes at the post office and saved a nice amount.

Here is the finished floor in the bedroom with no furniture.

Here it is with all the furniture.

And the sitting area...

And the closet and bathroom floors. We still have to do the shower and bathtub, but that will come later after we have saved up for them. We will tackle the kitchen next as the linoleum is badly cracked. It feels so nice to have new floors and know they are paid for.

Coffee Cake - a breakfast treat

Here is the recipe for an easy coffee cake that is sure to be a hit at your breakfast or brunch. I even use it for dessert when I need to whip up something quick. Coffee cakes tend to be a bit drier than regular cake which makes them perfectly paired with a cup of hot coffee or cappuccino.

Coffee Cake

Preheat oven to 375

Cake Batter:
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 c. milk
1 1/2 c. flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 c. brown sugar
1 Tbl. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon (I love the McCormick Saigon Cinnamon)
2 Tbl. butter
1/2 c. chopped pecans

Topping - Melt butter in a glass bowl in the microwave and add the rest of the topping ingredients and stir.

Cake batter - Combine oil, egg & milk. Stir in the dry ingredients. Put in a greased 9 x 9 x 2 pan. (I usually just use some parchment paper in the pan). Sprinkle the topping evenly and bake. Enjoy! For a bigger crowd, a doubled recipe fits perfectly in a 13 x 9 x 2 pan.


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