We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog post…

In the midst of all my gardening, cooking and crafting dabbles going on I’m now taking on the challenge of going wheat-free :/  long story short, I’ve been dealing with some issues that just weren’t going away no matter what I ate or didn’t eat so my dr ran some allergy tests and boom, there it was – high allergy to wheat, low allergy to corn, eggs, dairy and soy. The dairy I pretty much suspected so that’s not so difficult to not eat/drink. But 2 eggs on top of wheat toast with a slice of cheese is my all time favorite breakfast…not to mention pasta and corn chips and taco shells and crackers and and and – talk about a shift in my universe!

I know there is hope and I have been quite sucked into the abyss that is google and pinterest lately, all my other dabbles are feeling neglected (like the pile of fabric that is to be a ladybug table mat)  I have dabbled in eating the Paleo way so I’m not feeling completely lost I just need to be more strict with following the guidelines.  I did almost fall off my chair this morning though when I read that coffee is on the “no” list. But after a few articles I found that eliminating it for 2 weeks and then adding it back in allows you to see if it’s a trigger. This might have to wait as a last resort since I’m having to give up my normal breakfast…

More dr appointments coming up to determine if it’s celiac disease, in the meantime I’m experimenting with gluten/egg/dairy free baking – so far my main problem seems to be under-cooking which is so weird because my oven runs hot so I typically bake things 10-15 minutes less than a recipe will indicate.  And with the wicked hot weather we’re having here I could probably start baking food outside!

TGIF 🙂

One Potato, Two Potato

Going to combine two topics in one post today – garden and coffee roundup. Coffee first, as always!   Happy to report we have used up two of the nine bags of coffee – the Jamaican Blue Mountain dark roast and Gevalia Dark Gold Roast.  This week I’m aiming to get two more down – Green Mountain Coffee Co Vermont Country Blend and New England Coffee Co Hazelnut Creme (which I’ll probably have in the afternoons as hubs isn’t a huge fan of the flavored stuff).

Now to the garden – my experiment with growing potatoes in trash cans was a success!

33potatoes

I likely harvested them a little early as the plants were wilted but still green, I was worried any potatoes that might be in the cans would rot as every week we are getting inches of rain.  I expected to find potatoes growing at all levels of the buried stalks…but all of these were at the bottom which was a relief to find out.  33 total potatoes, “All Blue” and “German Butterball” I’m excited to taste them tomorrow 🙂  I will definitely grow these again, they were pretty easy to take care of.  I may take a few of these, let them sprout eyes and re-plant them for fall harvesting.  Now that I am thinking ahead though, I might utilize one of the trash cans and plant pumpkin seeds…

The rest of my garden is doing great, I really think the whole cover-crop and rototilling made a huge difference. Plus the hay mulch is really keeping the soil from drying out on our 90+ degree days.  I have one spaghetti squash happily growing in size and starting to turn yellow, cucumbers are vining up my trellis and have picked 4,  jalapeno’s are showing up and the tomato plants all have at least one green tomato.  The container summer squash is doing ok, have two squash now but noticed one of the vines rotting (did I mention it has been raining inches here every week?) so pretty bummed out about that; the zucchini plant in the garden is also doing ok but certainly not where I expected it to be by now, I had to pull up the radishes as they were monstrous and going to seed but I have yet  <knock on wood>  to see the dreaded squash vine borers.  I planted a few more zucchini seeds and some corn last week, fingers crossed!

Every year I’ve lived here we have had a sewing machine spider in the yard somewhere, they are biggest spider I’ve ever seen in the wild!  Last year we had TWO! We called them  Garden Charlotte and Pool Charlotte. I don’t expect a Pool Charlotte this year as we moved the huge grass by the pool pump that she was making a home in last summer, and wasn’t sure I’d have a Garden Charlotte as I dug up the rosemary bush that she was using for her home.  Normally we don’t notice them until they are really big and obvious, but yesterday I saw TWO baby ones in my garden, yay! Of course this one in the picture was on the potato plants so I carefully cut the plant branch and placed it in the garden, the other is on the spaghetti squash vine.

potatocharlotte

Looking forward to watching them grow along with everything else in the garden 🙂

The Coffee Roundup

A few weeks ago I did an experiment with eating sort of “prepper” style with using mostly what we had in the pantry already and buying very few fresh ingredients.  We used up some of what we had on hand and this gave me the idea to do the same thing with our coffee “stash”.  We enjoy coffee possibly more than the average person…such that we have NINE bags of ground coffee in varying amounts hanging out in the cabinet and freezer.  I’m not even going to count the k-cups (let’s just say if the zombie apocalypse happens, I will be well caffeinated!) So this week I am going to try to refrain from using the Keurig (it’s sooooo fast though) and use the drip coffee maker instead.

For Monday we have Jamaican Blue Mountain dark roast that we bought in Jamaica on our vacation last year.  It’s all measured out and ready to go, just have to hit brew in the morning 🙂 Happy July 4th!

The not-so-cute-anymore bunny

After the recent “slug-fest” I was relaxing a little, preparing to do battle with the evil squash vine borers (SVB) in a few weeks. BUT. I walked out last Friday morning to find my 6″ pea plants devoured 😦 they were just starting to curl around my trellis netting and so green and vibrant! And apparently delicious. I neglected to think that the baby bunny that was born in our front yard would squeeze through the gap in the fence and get to the raised boxes. I suspect he/she also snacked on my corn shoots <sigh> thank goodness I still have time to start them over.

The potato plants have stopped flowering, so will watch for them to start wilting/yellowing as a sign to harvest those.  I am blown away by my yellow summer squash I’m growing in a container! I probably should have culled this to just one plant but they are both growing so fast how to choose?  And one teeny baby squash has started on each vine, woo!

summersquash1  summersquash

In contrast my zucchini plant which was started at the same time in the garden, is barely 4 inches tall. I am babying the one in the container though – moving it out of the sun when it gets too hot, keeping track of the soil moisture, etc.

zucchini

Those are sacrificial radishes growing around the zucchini, supposed to help in keeping the SVBs away (we’ll see!).

 

Prepping week, Thursday

This experiment has actually been so fun I decided we are doing this again next week! Of course how bad is it that I have enough freezer/cabinet food that this is possible :/ but I did look at some of the expiration dates on the food and we are cutting it close so that makes it a good thing, yay! Plus I can replenish my stock now, bring on the couponing (I sense another blog post…)

Tuesday menu was tacos but I ended up not using much from the pantry as I had some yard work to do after work and since the chicken was in the crockpot all there was to do was heat up taco shells.
Tuesday dinner: crockpot chicken tacos
Used up: frozen chicken breasts, envelope of taco seasoning, remaining 1/2 bag of shredded cheese, 1/2 box of taco shells, husband used up a bottle of hot sauce.
Bought Fresh: 1 tomato
Review: tacos are one of my favorite foods, is there anything else to say?!

Wednesday dinner: we ate out.

Thursday dinner: at home Chinese dinner
Used up: frozen PF Changs frozen Mongolian Beef dinner, 1/2 box Kahiki Thai Basil Chicken stix, 1/2 box Kahiki Korean Style BBQ Pork stix, 1 cup brown rice.
Bought Fresh: nothing for this meal!
Review: Meh. The Korean Style BBQ Pork stix were really good, don’t know if I’d buy the PF Changs frozen dinner again.
ThursdayChinese

We usually eat out on Friday nights so this concludes my experiment for this week!  Next week I’m also thinking of getting out the trusty drip coffee maker and using up some of the ground coffee in the cabinet and freezer – since we got a Keurig,  I have opened bags of coffee galore (we are big coffee drinkers!).

Prepping Practice, Day 2

I totally forgot to take pictures of my gyros, bummer!  They were wicked good!

Monday dinner: meatball gyros
Used up: 1/2 bag frozen meatballs, 1/2 bag frozen french fries
Bought Fresh: Tzatziki sauce, 1 tomato, flatbreads
Review: not like the real Greek ones but close enough. I’ve tried making my own tzatziki and it just never comes out the same, but now I’m left with 1/2 container of it so I’m going to be looking for another recipe to use that up (maybe in egg salad?)

Tuesday dinners are ALWAYS tacos (thank you Lego Movie) so the plan is to jazz them up a little with frozen corn and canned beans of some sort…

Prepping Practice

This week I’m doing an experiment – meals only from what is in the freezer and cabinets, sort of a prepping practice (you know, for the zombie apocalypse!).  I have a tendency to see yummy recipes on Facebook/Pinterest/etc and I’ll have maybe one ingredient already so my grocery list grows or I see a great deal on something (buy one get one free is my nemesis) and suddenly my cabinets and freezer(s) are overflowing. So aside from just a few fresh veggies, dairy and meats I kept my weekly grocery list to a minimum.

Sunday dinner: spinach/ricotta stuffed shells with garlic thai peanut chicken breasts.
Used up: 15 large pasta shells, frozen creamed spinach, can of diced tomatoes, two 1/2 bags of shredded mozzarella cheese, garlic thai chicken mix.
Bought fresh: chicken breasts, ricotta cheese.
Review: using creamed spinach in stuffed shells, why did I never think to do this before? Yum! The chicken mix was definitely more garlic than peanut but made a nice crunchy crust.

On the menu for Monday night: gyros!

Slugs 1, Gardener 1

The slugs may have won (?) round 1 but this Gardener has won round 2.  The cornmeal in cups worked the best, I didn’t try the beer since it continued to rain almost every day, and I did resort to putting down commercial pellets in a ring around all my new seed plantings.  So now I have beautiful sprouts – cucumbers, peas, and 3 kinds of squash – and my tomatoes and pepper plants are no longer losing leaves.  Phew! I went ahead and planted a spiral of corn in the middle of the squash hills, I have never had any luck with growing corn but I read about growing them in a spiral pattern so into the ground they went. And now that the sun is out for (fingers crossed) at least 4 days in a row I should see some rapid growth out there.

My potato-in-a-trashcan experiment appears to be going well. This is about 2 weeks after planting the seed potatoes:

potatoes1

And this is at 2 months:

potatoes

I noticed this morning there are some blossoms coming on one of them which I hope is a good sign. I didn’t expect them to grow this fast, I thought this would be a months long project…after the blossoms fade and the plants wilt/yellow – which from the internet looks like maybe 3 weeks from now –  it’ll be time to check for taters!

 

Slugs. Ugh.

A week after my last post I planted my garden – two tomato, two pepper and a spaghetti squash plant which I bought and a bunch of seeds (cucumber, peas, zucchini squash, butternut squash). I also planted 5 marigolds around the peppers and tomatoes. Trying something new, I’m keeping the hay as mulch as it seems to be keeping the weeds down and the soil from drying out. Which was fabulous at first, we had some nice warm sunny weather for about 3 days…then it turned into this damp, rainy, chilly place. Since I started gardening a few years ago my biggest enemy to my garden nirvana has been stink bugs and squash vine borers (SVB), but I have discovered the weather we have been having for 2-3 weeks is apparently a perfect environment for slugs. Ugh.

Last weekend I was starting to get worried because NONE of my seeds had sprouted. Well, my radishes did but those are sacrificial to ward off the SVB. But no sprouts anywhere, and I noticed the leaves of my pepper and tomato plants had holes in them and the spaghetti squash leaves had pretty much been chomped off. And the marigolds looked like they had been beheaded.   A few of my near-ripened strawberries were also used as a snack, but I’m pretty sure that’s birds or squirrels.  Initially thinking it was a slug problem, I took my frozen crushed up egg shells and spread them around each plant.  This seems to have deterred them off my existing plants, but as I found out this morning I probably should have done this around where my seeds were because in fact my seeds did sprout, but before the little leaves could barely unfold out of the dirt they are being devoured by the slugs – checking early in the morning allowed me to see the slime trails. So war it ’tis. I’m not a huge fan of using chemicals when it can be avoided, later this morning I am off to the store for cornmeal and some cheap beer – the cornmeal I’ll put in jars on their sides around each plant, and the beer will go in a cup buried to be even with the soil around my soon-to-be-replanted seeds.

In better news my potatoes in the garbage cans are growing like crazy! Today I’ll finish filling the garbage cans to the top with soil, and crossing my fingers the drainage holes were enough to keep them from rotting with all the wet weather.

I’ll post an update on the slug-fest as soon as it stops raining… :/

 

Late to the garden party?

Normally I would have my garden planted by now (almost mid April). This year I am making myself wait. And then wait a little longer.  Having lived in the North (New England) for most of my adult life I get over anxious in the fact that there is no snow on the ground here in the South (Virginia Beach) in March, and throw my garden in the ground around St Patrick’s day for the past 3 years.  And then when there’s a (many) frost warning I’m out there like a mad woman covering everything and fretting about how low the temperature goes.  So I decided THIS YEAR is going to be different. My garden boxes are sitting idle with a lovely covering of hay mulch.

Well, not so idle – my asparagus came up two weeks ago and we have harvested a few spears (ooh my, soo buttery!) and the strawberry plants have blossoms.  My experiment with growing potatoes in trash cans (“All Blue” and “German Butterball”) has started off well, they have sprouted through the first few inches of soil!

I grew lettuce in a large bowl-like container last summer (“Heatwave Blend” if I recall correctly) and it did great, was super easy to go out to the deck and just snip a few leaves, so those seeds went in about a week ago. I’m trying again to grow carrots (“Kaleidoscope Mix”) in a container, last year I just had too many plants and while the tops were all nice and green and pretty, the carrots (what few there were) were only about an inch long – I was more careful about how many seeds I started this year so hopefully will just thin a few and have more success.

The most frustrating part of gardening is the evil Squash Vine Borer (SVB). Those who have experienced this little devil know what I mean!   I absolutely LOVE zucchini and yellow summer squash, I remember having them all the time from our family garden when I was growing up. And having sooooo many zucchini’s that we were trying to give them away to anyone who drove by our house.  But this SVB here is a dream killer – I have never gotten more than 2-3 squash off a plant before it dies from the SVB eating the vine. I’ve tried all kinds of tricks – last year I even wrapped the seedlings in a knee-hi nylon covered toilet paper roll. This year I’ll try aluminum foil around the base of the plant (it’s supposed to confuse them by being shiny?) and set my alarm to go out every hour and look for the wasps to try to kill them before they lay eggs. Maybe being late to the garden party this year will mean I’ll have some squash to share with my neighbors.

Next week I’ll have an update on what’s been planted 🙂