Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Hello, Spring....uh...spring ? Are you there ? is the first day of spring, but spring is hiding out somewhere, because it is 27 degrees with a wind chill of 13.  I just went out to feed the chooks and let them out, and they looked at me like I was crazy.  The wind is howling out there, and it is COLD.  This is a picture of those persnickety hens around this time last year. They look so raggedy right now from moulting and being winter weary that you wouldn't recognize them. And of course, they're fully grown.  

 A few years back (maybe 3)  I took pictures  out back on the first day of spring. There was about 4 inches of snow covering everything.  At least there's no snow today, lol. 

 Yesterday was a bit warmer and actually was sunny all day and the temps got up to 47.  I spent most of it on a whirlwind cleaning tour. I can actually see the top of my desk.  I still have some things left on my list from yesterday, and I may or may not get those done today.  I need to go out for a bit and leave the comfort of my warm house, but I'll be quick and efficient about it and get myself right back here.  

 I need to bake bread today.  I need to plan a supper that will give me some portable leftovers for tomorrow night, since I have PT and we have discussion group at 7. Not much wiggle room there.  Last night we had leftovers for supper, so I freed up some space in the fridge.  Tonight I'll fill it back up again. lol


  We don't waste much around here. Every now and then, something gets lost in the back corner of the fridge and turns into a mysterious science experiment, but not often.  When that does happen, it just goes straight into the compost bin. We don't eat much meat, although consumption has been on the rise this winter. It just feels more...necessary in the winter time. (And believe me, I know that is not a fact. lol )  That will change as the weather gets warmer and the produce starts pouring in from the garden.  It seems to be a part of our cycle. In the summer, although we will randomly have some bbq'd ribs on the grill, and  eat a little more fish from our pond or the local park, mostly we will eat a plethora of veggies and veggie combinations, cold soups and mega salads.  Cold soba noodle dishes fit right in there too. Any vegetable stuff that starts getting a little outdated I re purpose into soup or I feed it to the chickens or I just compost it. Nothing wasted.

  It's starting to look like the beginning of a new canning season. My cupboards and pantries are starting to show bare spots where food jars USED to be, lol. This is good. I was just thinking too, I need to check the butternut squash in the back room. Maybe that will be supper tonight...a thick stew made with butternut, red onions, black beans,  and kale.  Served over fresh cooked quinoa (because I don't have any leftover) with a nice slab of warm buttered bread on the side, fresh out of the oven.  That stew and quinoa will make a nice wrap for tomorrow's portable supper.  Add a little peach salsa to it and maybe a  drizzle of sour cream (not much though).  Voila !  2 meals in one. 

  Ah, garden time. I can't wait. Here are most of the things we'll be planting this year :

   Kale, beets, spinach, chard, carrots, potatoes (3 kinds), tomatoes, edamame, cabbage, lettuces, radishes, onions, garlic, cucumbers, squash (3 kinds), green beans, sugar peas, sweet potatoes,  lima beans,  lemon grass, rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme, parsley, basil, purslane, anise hyssop, cilantro, jalapenos, bell peppers ... is that all ??   lol  Maybe, maybe not.  Will we put some melons in this year ??  How about strawberries ?  We have a time with those and the rabbits and deer, who sneak in at night and help themselves.  The Irishman says --where?? where will we possibly put them ???   LOL   You know my answer to that question.


  Okay, I need to get busy. Plenty of stuff to do today, and plenty of time to do it. Make a little bread, cook up some dried black beans, polish a few household things, and whip up a little culinary magic. Oh..and don't forget to leave time for that new book I'm reading !!  Afternoon tea and feet up time !  That's a winter / early spring luxury...before long there'll not be time for that.

  Happy Spring Dreams, wherever you are.

Bon Apetit!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Braised boneless pork chops and peach salsa

 Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of this meal plated. We were rushing around and the Irishman needed to get going (a 2.5 hour trip to southern Illinois) and he dashed off with the plates before I could get the camera.  lol  So, this was the leftovers, which he took with him. With 2 slices of bread, saying he'd have a pork chop and salsa sandwich for his supper.  Gotta love that man.

Remember this ? I canned about 8 jars (I think) of peach salsa, not knowing if we'd really like it for much. O.M.G.  Was I mistaken !  It is incredible with meats, especially pork and chicken. It's almost like a chutney, but not really.  It's really good with tortilla chips, as a dip. I think it would be good with cream cheese and crackers too.  Our peaches were plentiful this past year and I have lots of them in the freezer still. I made a couple of dozen jars of jam and froze the rest. I will definitely can this salsa again. It's really tasty.

  I hadn't eaten any of the canned, although I saved some back and ate it fresh and really liked it. It's even better canned, after the flavors have had a chance to meld and mellow. It was easy to make and is a great thing to have on hand to take to other peoples houses--it wows 'em. 

  I served these chops with a rice dish made with leftover Thai Jasmine rice, sauteed crimini mushrooms, sliced almonds, onion and baby edamame. It was delicious. Took maybe half an hour tops to fix.  Definitely a meal I will make again.

 It's that time of year to start thinking about the gardens of 2013. We spent a couple of hours last weekend going through our old seeds and looking over the garden journal. We're pretty set as far as seeds go, need just a couple of things and seed potatoes. Oh, and sweet potato slips. Trying to decide what to plant again and what to forego. I really would like to plant cabbage this year, because I need to make kraut again.  We've planted it here a couple of times and not had much luck. Time to try again.

 Time to get seeds started too.  I know some people have been doing this already, but I don't. We have a nice long growing season here (last year, I didn't think it was EVER going to be over !!!!!) and I rarely put any garden in until the second week of May.  Too much of a gamble for me. I'm like the tortoise...slow and steady. It wasn't always like that. lol 

  The Irishman finally got out yesterday and planted his Valentine's Day blueberries. I got him 4 pots and a bag of organic sulfur.  :)   He came in and said, "I don't see how I can plant them anywhere but the front yard" and I said--"So ?? Plant 'em in the front yard. Grow food, not lawns!!"  He looked at me like I was crazy. I have always harbored a secret fantasy of having a whole front yard full of cabbages. We already have planted 5 fruit trees in our front yard. 1 garden bed in the side yard. And blackberries all around on the fence perimeters.  More garden, less yard, I say.

  It's beautiful out there right now, after a morning of rain. The sun came out and it's currently 59 degrees. I spent some time outside, and swept the front porch and cleaned the rocking chairs and the front door. Mud splatters and dog prints everywhere.  Such is my life.

  No real recipes for you today, just a lot of jibber-jabber about life on Honeysuckle Hill.  I am lucky to have this life, to be blessed with a man who loves me, loyal and faithful canine companions, and sunshine. Just for today.

Bon Apetit, Baby.