Saturday, July 28, 2012

Gardening in July

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It is so hard to believe that July is almost over!! Where is the summer going? Sadly, a good part of July was spent indoors, hiding in the air conditioning for us. Through the heat wave, and the drought, I have managed to keep the garden going. There were lots of nights spent running outside to move the garden hose around. Amazingly I have only lost one flower plant due to the weather. Not to bad!!


Last year all the tomato cages I tried, were useless. The tomatoes grew beyond their capabilities. This year, I found old "cattle panels" laying around the farm. I had Truckin' Man stake them into the garden, and they are working perfectly! 
Now, if only the tomatoes would turn red! 

 The Cattle panels are working perfectly as a trellis for the pea's and beans, also!

This is my first year raising pea's! I'm so excited! All the pea's are eaten in the garden though. Maybe one day some will make it in to the table!


Peppers are coming along. Slow, but sure!

This is my third year raising pumpkins. Finally successful! I have pumpkins everywhere! I must have finally found the right variety, or the right location for them.


 All this mass of green is pumpkin vines! They are taking over!


Time to go pick more veggies!!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Frosted Peanut Butter Fingers

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I was flipping through a cookbook the other day and found this recipe that used to be one of my favorites to make. Somehow, I had forgotten about it. How does that happen to such a good recipe? Especially one with chocolate and peanut butter?! I was a little disappointed in myself for letting such a thing happen. 

I did of course, get them made, and was so happy. It is such a peanut butter delight! It was the first time for Truckin' Man to try these bars, and let me tell you, he was a fan! The oatmeal layer has a lovely texture, topped with the smooth peanut butter, and finally the chocolate frosting! Yum!



Frosted Peanut Butter Fingers  (Adapted from Taste of Home)

1 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. sugar
2 1/2 c. creamy peanut butter, divided **Please see note below
1 egg
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
2 1/2 c. oats (Quick cooking or regular)*
2 c. all purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt

Frosting
3 T. butter, softened
2 c. confectioners' sugar
1/4 c. baking cocoa
1/2 t. vanilla extract
3 to 4 T. milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars.  Add 1 cup of peanut butter, the egg, and vanilla; mix well.  In separate bowl, combine the oats, flour, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture.  Spread into a greased 15" x 10" baking pan.

Bake at 350 for 13-17 minutes, or until golden brown.  Cool slightly on a wire rack, about 10 minutes. Then spread with the remaining peanut butter. Now, cool completely.

In a mixing bowl, combine the butter, confectioners' sugar, cocoa, vanilla and enough of the milk to get the frosting to the spreadable consistency.  Spoon over the peanut butter layer, then spread. 


*Note: You can use regular or quick cooking oats, but I like the texture better when using regular.

**I have found a note on this recipe stating generic or reduced-fat peanut butter is not recommended for this recipe. I have not tested this, and usually use Jif or Planters Peanut Butter.


Enjoy :)

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Ladies

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 Good Morning! 



 We are FINALLY enjoying farm fresh eggs! Two of the ladies have been laying for the past two weeks. A third lady started laying this weekend!



My mom started raising chickens this year, also. She ended up having more birds than she wanted, so we took five of hers to add to our flock. 
They are Australorp's. They are so pretty, but so timid!!!


We tried adding this Auracana Rooster to our flock, but he did not work out with our free range lifestyle. 
We had to pass him along to some friends.

So, these girls will continue to rule the roost and keep everyone in line!

Have a great week!!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Simple Dinner Rolls

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It was challenge week for myself. The challenge? Baking with yeast. I have always been afraid of yeast, unless using it in my bread maker. I thought it was time to step up and give it a shot. I have seen so many yummy breads on my favorite blogs recently, that I really want to be able to try these and not be so panic stricken. I always end up walking away from the recipe, afraid to try them.

I dug through all my cook books and finally decided on a recipe. They turned out amazing!! This is a very forgiving recipe, as I know that I made several mistakes that would have ruined other recipes. The second time I made them (yes, twice in one week) I followed the directions exactly, and they were even better! They are light and fluffy, and fool proof! Truckin' Man loved them even more than I did. We both love our bread's so much, there is a whole new world of baking for us to enjoy with me no longer fearing yeast!

If you are new to baking with yeast, have no fear! Try this and it will help you conquer your fears! The other bonus of this recipe??? No kneading!



Simple Dinner Rolls

1 pkg. yeast
2 T. sugar
1/4 c. lukewarm water
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 c. sugar
1 c. water
1 t. salt
1/4 c. shortening, melted
4 c. flour
Cornmeal
Butter (optional)

Dissolve yeast and 2 tablespoons sugar in the 1/4 cup of lukewarm water.

In large bowl add eggs, 1/4 c. sugar, 1 c. water, salt, melted shortening, and flour. Add yeast mixture. 

Mix until all are combined. (I used the dough hook on my KitchenAid for this step.) 
When everything is well mixed, cover bowl with a towel, and let dough rise until double in size.

Once dough is doubled, shape pieces of dough into rolls or buns. This is a very sticky dough, so I had my work area well floured.
Place rolls onto baking pan dusted with cornmeal.  I spaced them about 2" apart. Cover again with towel, and let rise until double.

Bake at 400 degrees for 7-15 minutes. The baking time will vary depending on the size you make them.  When removing from oven, brush tops immediately with a little bit of butter.

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Fishin'!

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Growing up, my family often went fishing.  I think at least a couple times a year. We didn't have much for fishing nearby, so a weekend trip usually included fishing. 

This is the last time I went fishing, which if memory serves correctly, was in 1984.
(That's me, 2nd from the right)


My family, met my aunt and uncle, on Bay Lake in  northern Minnesota. I remember the trip well, and was proud of myself for learning how to fish with minnows.
 I think my uncle even let me drive the boat on this trip.

Fast forward twenty eight years. Truckin' Man and I are trying to learn how to take time to relax and do something that doesn't involve working! 
We have talked about fishing since we met, and we finally went two weeks ago!

We got the bait - worms...

Truckin' Man bought the princess a pink fishing pole.

 We found the Mississippi

 Then, we fished.

We (he) only caught this guy, and had to throw him back. 
I thought he was pretty, so took his picture anyway.

Until next time.....

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

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Pinterest.... What am I going to do about you??? My baking schedule gets thrown out of alignment when I stumble across that new recipe that is just to intriguing to let go. Once sharing the link for these cookies on facebook, Jill over at GroO New York, asked for me to please test the recipe! How could I decline such a request? 

I really did not intend on posting this recipe to the blog, but it has been such a hit on facebook... at the office... at home...  I simply have to post it! I made just one little adjustment to the original recipe in adding some orange extract. I really think some macadamia nuts would be a lovely addition to the cookie too.... maybe next time!



Orange Creamsicle Cookies  (Source: The Girl Who Ate Everything )

2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
3/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 t. orange extract
2 T. orange zest 
 2 c. white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and creamy. Beat in egg and vanilla until smooth. Gradually add flour mixture until combined. Stir in orange zest and white chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8 - 10 minutes or until golden brown around edges. Do not overbake.  Cool for several minutes on cookie sheets before transferring to rack to cool completely. Store in airtight container.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Lilies

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I love Lilies. 


All varieties.


All colors.


They are so beautiful.


It's so fun to watch them grow. 



The splashes of color.


I love them.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Mexican Beef - Asado a la Mexicana

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Way back before the cooking blogs were so popular, I was reading and trying recipes from Yahoo cooking groups. There were groups for different cooking topics... Maybe they are still there even, I am not sure! I belonged to a crock pot group, ten years ago and got lots of great recipes. Namely this one! It never disappoints, and you can always dress it up more if you want, or keep it simple.

This is perfect for the hot weather we are having. Through everything in the crock pot and keep from heating up the kitchen! My favorite side dish with this is Cilantro Lime Rice, from Macaroni & Cheesecake. 





Asado a la Mexicana
4 lb. Beef Roast
4 Garlic Cloves, crushed
2 t. cumin
2 t. chili powder
1 c. fresh salsa
1 green pepper, cut into strips
1 onion, cut into strips

Place roast in slow cooker.  Cover with remaining ingredients.  Cook on low for 8 - 10 hours; until roast pulls apart easily.  Remove the roast from the slow cooker.  Shred beef.  With slotted spoon, remove veggies from crock and mix with beef.

Serve with tortillas, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, etc.


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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

It's a Hot One Out There!

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It's funny how things impact you differently depending on where you are in life. Record breaking heat today is a little different for me today than it was ten years ago. It has more personal consequences and the reality of how it affects life is a little more real.  Heat wave back in my "city days" used to mean getting to the river, to the mall, or just sitting back in the air conditioning. You would have to start watering your yard to keep up the pristine green of your grass. My pets were all tucked away indoors enjoying the air conditioning, without a care in the world.

My concerns about the heat today are completely different.  The yard is of no real matter, but the hoses are out watering the garden and trying to keep the vegetables producing. Water hoses then get drug out to the ten blue spruce tree's that were planted four weeks before the rain stopped and the heat began.


Bigger issues yet are on the crops. Corn is spiking due to the extreme heat. It does this to protect itself and conserve the moisture it has in the leaves and stalk. We have to hope that it rains soon. 


Animals are outside enduring the temperatures.  The dog will find a shady spot to hang out, and remains motionless most of the day. He tries to remain a guard dog, but all he really does is watch and oversee events until the temperatures drop in the evening. The barn cats tend to wander off and hide in the woods most of the day..... coolest place to be found!!  Our chickens are most at risk of heat related complications, but I have been taking them fresh water often, with frozen bottles of water to help keep it cool as long as possible.

The chickens "pant" to help keep themselves cool!


Of course, panting is part of this guys daily life!


It's nice to hear that there are local cooling shelters opening to help those who are not fortunate enough to have air conditioning. 
As of 3 pm on the 4th of July, we just broke a record set 101 years ago. I hope that everyone is playing it smart out there, staying safe, and staying hydrated!!

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