Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Garden Curiosity

Sunday evening, after a hard day of work in the garden, curiosity got the best of me. I've been wondering just exactly how the potatoes are doing and how big the onions are. So, I dug a few potatoes and pulled a few onions.
I washed everything really well; chopped it into big chunks (added in some yellow squash I'd picked earlier as well as some garlic), put it on a baking sheet, seasoned it with salt and pepper, added some olive oil and put it in the oven at 375 for a while (at least 45 minutes; don't stir it, just put it in and leave it alone). The roasted vegetables were great--the best part was, we grew everything but the garlic.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Warm Zucchini Bread

Last year I found this recipe for Warm Zucchini Bread on Food Network's site. It is by Emeril Lagasse. I made a few changes--pecans for walnuts and omitted the lemon zest. The kids and Nonnie really enjoy it. I make it in mini-loaf pans and leave the nuts out for the kids.
The best part is, in summer we always have zucchini on hand. You can grate and freeze the zucchini, but it becomes really watery when you thaw it, so you have to drain it.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I Made Cheese!

Earlier in the week, while visiting our family in Hico, my sister-in-law Jennifer taught me how to make mozzarella cheese. It was actually a pretty simple process.

Start with 1 gallon of milk--this is whole, raw milk that they buy from a local farm family.

Pour it into a large pot, place a thermometer in and start it simmering. When the temperature reaches 55 degrees, add citric acid that has been dissolved in water. Once the temperature hits 88, add part of a rennent tablet that has been dissolved in water. After that addition, you let it simmer until it reaches 100 degrees. At that point, remove the pot from the heat.

Remove the solid part (curd) and place it in a bowl. Drain more whey off and push/knead the curd to remove as much of the liquid as possible. You repeat the process of removing the whey three more times, placing it in the microwave for 30 seconds in between times. Once you've done that and removed as much liquid as possible, you begin stretching the cheese.

Sorry, I didn't get a picture of the stretching part.
When the cheese is to the consistency you like, reform it and place in plastic wrap in the refrigerator. You can keep stretching and eventually end up with a string cheese.
The cheese was very mild. Jennifer used it on homemade pizza the next day.

Very fun, educational and tasty!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Picture of Our Day

We woke up this morning to a nice rain and ended the day with a rainbow and a small shower. Not a bad way to begin and end the day. The rainbow was a full one and incredibly bright. (I guess if I had Photoshop then my picture might do it justice.) If you look closely, you can see that on one end it was a double one. T.S. said it stretched, "All the way to Grandma's."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Recipe of the Week: Italian Beef Stir Fry (or a great recipe for all that squash you have in your garden)

Every summer we have a bounty of squash (both yellow and zucchini). I don't recall where I found this recipe, but it is EASY and very good. I made it this week, but forgot to take a picture (sorry), but if you could have seen it, it was very colorful and eye-appealing.

Italian Beef Stir Fry
1 pound beef round tip steak (I buy whatever thin cut beef is on sale)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1 cup cherry tomato halves
1/4 cup Italian dressing
2 cups cooked spaghetti
1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Cut steak into 1-inch wide strips.
  2. Cook and stir garlic in oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 1 minute.
  3. Add beef strips, stir fry 1-1 1/2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Remove with slotted spoon; keep warm.
  5. Add zucchini to same skillet; stir fry 2-3 minuets or until crisp-tender.
  6. Return beef to skillet; add tomatoes and dressing.
  7. Heat through; serve over hot pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Cook's Notes:

  • I add some yellow squash in if we have it.
  • I use whatever tomatoes I have on hand
  • I usually use a little more dressing--use whatever your favorite Italian one is.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Some Thoughts

I don't know how many of you have clicked over to Clay's update page (by following the link on the right). But, I thought I'd let you know that he was released from the hospital this week--to the Ronald McDonald House--he still faces lots of therapy and multiple surgeries. Seeing how many people are now following his updates got me to thinking what a crazy, cool thing the Internet can be.

Who would have ever thought that something like a blog could unite so many for a common goal? Who'd have thought that hundreds (sometimes thousands) of people would read words a stranger had written, pray for the stranger, tell their friends about it and get them involved?

The Internet is a vast place, but I am currently following blogs written on each coast, in the middle of the country and even in Australia. I feel like I personally know some of the people whose blogs I read and would seriously consider possibly trying to meet them if I were ever in their neck of the woods.

Somehow this great big world seems a little smaller and more friendly when viewed from a computer screen.

Friday, June 12, 2009

One of these things is not like the other...

I had to buy eggs at the grocery story the other day (gasp). One of our hens became broody, so I decided to let her set. The problem is, we don't have a good set-up to let hens hatch eggs. The other hens kept laying eggs beside her and she kept pulling them in. To top that off, I have suspicions that the Reds are laying somewhere, but haven't had time to stalk them yet.
So, in order to be sure I had enough eggs for Sadie's birthday cake, I bought some. Robby cooked the kids scrambled eggs the other night and they were the most pale things I'd ever seen. I even questioned him as to what he did differently with them.
Can you see the difference in store bought and farm raised?
Home-grown (left) vs. store-bought egg (right)
I'm not a big fan of eggs, but I hope we don't have to buy anymore anytime soon.
FYI--I removed the eggs from the hen. We need eggs more than we need chicks. Maybe next spring I'll have the right set up.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What a Day!

Several interesting things happened around here today.

  • First, when I went out to collect eggs, I found this one:
It's hard to see in the picture, but it doesn't have a shell. After looking it up on the Internet, it is not uncommon for this to happen periodically. This is only the second one we've had. The little bump on the top of the egg is actually part of the shell. For whatever reason, it just didn't make. Some people say you can go ahead and use it--I think I'll pass. FYI--we do offer free-choice oyster shells, so it shouldn't be a calcium deficiency that caused the shell-less egg.
  • Next, the kids decided they wanted to earn their slip and slide today, so Sadie cleaned the office and both kids picked up the living room. Maybe the bean jar will work after all.
  • Finally, the kids and I have been observing a small, green orb (for lack of a better word) on the back-side of a leaf. We were pretty sure it was an insect egg, so we put it into a bug jar to watch. Tonight Sadie noticed that the egg was clear. Upon further inspection with a magnifying glass, you could tell that something had broken out of it. Unfortunately it must have been smaller than the holes in the jar, because there was no insect to be found.
Overall, it has been an exciting, educational (but don't tell the kids that) day.

I wonder what will happen tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Bean Jar

Last summer, I realized very quickly that when two kids who are not used to being around each other all day are, it can become very touchy (to put it mildly). My kids are huge fans of filling in charts for tasks and earning a prize when they fill their chart. T.S. is really hoping they have charts in Kindergarten. So, last summer we came up with "The Bean Jar."

Our bean jar is actually the jar Nonnie used to store her pinto beans in. I love the label. Please note the ironing hanging in the doorway in the background. I just wanted to point out that I am domestic from time to time.
It is really quite simple. We took a jar, drew lines at different intervals, assigned a reward for each line and then begin filling it with beans. When the kids do what they are supposed to do (without fussing) and are kind to one another, we add beans. When we don't quite meet expectations, beans come out.

Last summer, they earned:
  • a snow cone maker--which was probably one of the best investments we've made
  • a trip to Jump-N-Jive to bounce on all of the inflatable stuff
  • a trip to Wonderland--Amarillo's small amusement park.
This summer we are working towards:
  • a slip and slide for two people to race down at once (complete with boogie boards)
  • another trip to Wonderland
  • a visit to Mr. Gatti's or Chuck E. Cheese

The best part about the whole project is the kids learn to work together towards a common goal.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Notecard Winner

The other day I was clicking "Next Blog" and came across one titled "The Photo Seen." (Isn't that a cool title?) I found myself enjoying some very nice artwork and entering a contest. Well, I won!!
Mary sent me a set of ten "Tea Time" note cards (I'm afraid my photo doesn't do them justice.)
They are very high quality and I love every picture. I can't wait to use them.

I love it when I stumble upon an interesting site. Go over to her blog and enjoy her photography and from there go visit her Etsy Shop to see more of her work. Thanks, Mary!