Thursday, February 12, 2009

February 12, 2009

[Early spring gardens-click to enlarge]

Today I have spring fever. I have been in the midst of this for a time...the temperatures around these parts have been strangley un-February like. lol Today is the mid-fifties. It has been high sixties. It is stunningly gorgeous out there.

I have a rose of sharon clump that is in dire need of trimming and needs to be done soon., before the poor confused branches start to bud out. This is a problem this time of year...the global warming sets things in motion, the (peach trees blossom early , for instance, and then there is a typical freeze that kills all the flowers and then there are no peaches.) You can see the problem. I just finished reading that the Arbor Day Foundation (you know them, right? The free tree planting people??) has reconfigured the hardiness zones based on the last 10 years of changing weather. I am sooo pleased to report that we have been upgraded from a Zone 5 to a Zone 6 !!! All that really means is that we can plant a little earlier and maybe not have to buy only plants normally for Siberian temps. lol

Mostly gardening is a trial and error thing anyway. You plant something. It grows, or it doesn't. Or it produces or it takes so long the frost kills it before the food is ripe. We have a pretty long growing season here in the southern midwest. Gardens start going in in April late and we harvest sometimes until Novemeber, and always into October. So, that's long enough (if you have the energy) to put in a couple of staggered plantings of beans and greens and some other things. That's almost half a year of growing time. And with things being the way they are these days, I am glad for all the time to grow all the things I can. I have 2 small freezers, one an upright and one a medium sized chest. Both are pretty full and I am in the process of inventorying and organizing them both, as well as my dry pantries. I have 2 large walk-in closets, one in this room that I use for the office and one in the guest bedroom. Both have shelving I have put in and are lined with jars of garden foods I have canned, as well as dry goods like beans and flours and rice and stuff. Jars of olives and artichoke hearts that I find on sale. Catsup. Bouillion. You know...indispensables. lol I want to buy a dehydrator this year too...I used to have a small tabletop one and when I didn't use it for several years in a row, I sold it at a yard sale. That and my (OUCH) Champion Juicer. It must have been a moment of insanity...
Well, better get back to my initial endeavors. I love to garden and plan to expand the herb garden this year as well. I have dried parsley, oregano and sage in the closet now that needs to come out an be packaged. So much to do....

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

February 4, 2009

Here in the midwest, we are careening back and forth between bone rattling cold and mild heat waves. It makes my head spin.

Today was still in the BRC category, never making it above 20 degrees, and feeling even colder because of the wind. It's 12 right now...

So, for supper I decided to make one of my all time favorite comfort foods, and one of hubby's favorites too. Chicken Pot Pie. (And NO--none of my chickens were harmed in the making of this food. lol) It's an easy dish to prepare, it's pretty healthy and very filling. And I make a big batch of it every time so that there are leftovers for hubby's lunch and maybe one more meal.

I forgot to take any pictures of it. BooHoo. It was a beauty to behold.

So--here's my recipe for Chicken Pot Pie.

To make this dish, you'll need:

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 tablespoon of Olive Oil

Garlic granules and black pepper and salt to taste.

1/2 chopped onion

2 ribs chopped celery

3 cubed carrots

3 cubed potatoes (I like red best, but tonight I used russets, because that's what I had ).

1 can of sweet early peas (OR--you can use green beans)

1 TBSP dried basil

~~Corn starch to thicken

~~ 2 boxes ready made piecrusts (the ones that are rolled up, they come 2 in a box, and for the 9x13 baking pan I use here, it takes 2 boxes). OR--you can make the piecrust yourself, if you're a real purist. Enough for 2-2crust pies.

Cut the raw chicken breasts into 1/2 inch cubes. Put it into a large skillet with the olive oil and season with the garlic, salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until the chicken is pretty done. While it's cooking, chop the onion, celery, carrot and potato. Add it to the cooking chicken pieces. Put a lid on this skillet and cook these things until the vegetables are tender. Put about a half cup of water in so it doesn't burn, and stir occasionally. Add the basil. This mixture will need to cook for about 20 minutes.

While it's cooking, unroll the piecrusts and fit them into the 9x13 baking pan. Arrange them so they are covering the bottom and you can have them up the sides of the pan. At this point, put the can of undrained peas or green beans into the bubbling skillet. The mix the cornstarch with some water and pour that into the skillet, stirring well. Sometimes I use a little Kitchen Bouquet in it to give it a rich color. If you don't know KB--it's a caramel based food additive mainly for gravies and soups. It just makes it look pretty. And be warned--a little goes a long way, so use it cautiously. lol

As soon as it starts to thicken, mix it well and turn off the stove. You are now ready to pour this concoction into the pie crust. Put the other 2 piecrusts on top and pinch the edges to make a nice pie. Cut some slits in a starburst pattern on top.

Bake this bad boy at 425 degrees for about 25 minutes. Serve it up hot with a salad if you're so inclined.

It's tasty,

it reheats well,

AND---you get a lot of bang for your buck.

Bon Apetit!