Friday, August 30, 2013

Spinach Basil Frittata - New Recipe #7

After my not so successful lentil dish last week, I thought it would do me good to try another new recipe and hopefully one that would turn out a little better.

I chose this simple Turkey Spinach Basil Frittata for One from Gabby's Gluten-Free and whipped it up for lunch earlier this week. I must say, it turned out better than the curried lentils did.

I didn't put any turkey in it, or any kind of meat actually, because I didn't have any. I figured it would still taste good though, despite the lack of meat.

I loved being able to use up our fresh eggs and veggies too. The only thing not ours was the spinach.

One of the best parts of this frittata, is how easy it is! You just mix together some eggs and spinach, let is sit, throw it in the oven and voila! Look at the fancy dish that was created in less than 10 minutes!

It tasted pretty good too, which was a definite bonus. My only complaint was that my tummy is too small to eat three whole eggs so I got full before the end of it. But it was a nice satisfying lunch.

 I even made one up for Dan a couple days later, adding bacon to his, and he said it was really good. If you like eggs, give this recipe a try, it's worth it.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What's Growing Wednesday?

Sorry this post is late getting up. I normally like to go out and take pictures of the garden first thing in the morning but it was so foggy when I woke up and then I had errands to run in town.

Better late than never right?

My garden is starting to look sad. This time of year is when things start to die off and harvesting picks up. My onions and potatoes are just about finished and need to be dealt with. Maybe this week.

Sad looking potato plants
But while some things are starting to look dead, others are still looking alive and well! Like my pepper plants, changing colours and almost ready to pick.

Our tomato plants aren't doing as well as we had hoped, but then again I blame that mostly on myself for doing a crappy job of tying them up and pruning them properly. Oh well. At least we're still getting tomatoes!

Our beets are getting bigger by the day and I plan on making pickled beets later this week. This is such a busy time of year, harvesting all the veggies.

But even though this time of year is crazy busy, it's also wonderful. I love being productive and I love being able to go out to my backyard and come in with a basket of vegetables. It's also nice to know that we will be enjoying these veggies all year round!

I'm going to be sad when garden season is over. Although I do plan on attempting to have an indoor herb garden this year. Any tips on that?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Knitting for Others

***I'm over on The Penny-Pinching Housewife today writing a guest post on how to save money by gardening, if you wanted to swing by there and check it out.*** 

Remember back in April when I posted about my non-slouchy beret I knitted myself? Well the hat was such a hit, that many of my friends decided they wanted one too. And when I say many, I really mean like two. But many sounds better so that's what I'm sticking with.

My awesome friend Tory, who came with her husband the middle of August for an epic 2-day visit, was the first to request one. I actually can't remember if she asked first or if I offered first but somehow it ended up with me knitting her a hat and a cowl. Which was totally cool and I loved doing.

I chose a pretty dark grey colour and started off by knitting the cowl, since I knew it would be the most time consuming. I originally thought that I would do both the cowl and the hat in the same grey but decided it would be too dark and dreary. So I used up some leftover yarn and made her a hat to match mine!

Me modeling Tory's stuff
She was completely delighted with her gift and wore them for a good chunk of the weekend. Although the chilly weather definitely helped in this decision as well.

Knitting for others is special and fun to do. The whole time I was knitting Tory's gifts, I kept thinking about her and how much she was going to like them.

I'm excited to get started on my next project for another friend. I plan on picking up the yarn tomorrow and getting started on it later this week. I'm so glad I got back into knitting, it's so relaxing and fun to do. If you haven't tried it, you totally should.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Simple Pleasures - August

I'm not sure if anyone noticed or not, but I forgot to post my July simple pleasures. Or more like I forgot to even do it and didn't take any pictures. Oops.

The good news though, is that I remembered for August! So never fear, here are this month's simple pleasures.

A garter snake sunning itself on my hostas

Onions drying on the front porch

Laundry drying on the line

Fresh garden veggies on my counter

My fabulous straw cup that inspires me to drink more water

Fresh peaches from a friend's peach tree
That's it for August. I'll do my best to remember to do it again in September, since I really do enjoy taking time each month to slow down and find the small things that make me smile.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Lentil and Spinach Curry - New Recipe #6

It's been a while since I last tried a new recipe. Or I guess it's more accurate to say that it has been a while since I last blogged about me trying a new recipe. In fact, May 16th was my last "new recipe" post. :::gasp:::

I really have to get a move on this if I want to complete my goal of trying 10 new recipes in 2013. I have a couple more months yet but I can't take a 3 month hiatus if I want to get this done.

Anyways, back to today's recipe. Last week, I was trying to make meals using ingredients I had around the house instead of buying a whole whack of groceries. So when I came across this recipe for Lentil and Spinach Curry, I knew I had to give it a shot.

Except for my camera isn't as nice as hers. And my lighting isn't as nice as hers. And my recipe didn't look as nice as hers. Oh well.

You won't hold it against me, will you?

I tried to take step by step photos of the process but they just look kind of gross, so I'm not going to post them.

I will give you my review on the recipe though. We decided to serve the curry lentils over rice, to give it that extra oomph and to add a different texture than just mushy lentils. And boy were they mushy. I'm pretty sure it's because I cooked it for an extra half hour (Dan was late arriving home for supper) so I won't be holding it against the recipe.

And the taste wasn't as amazing as I had expected. But once again, I blame that on my old curry powder. I've heard that curry powder doesn't have a long shelf life and I'm pretty sure mine has been on the shelf for a little too long.

Personally, I enjoyed the meal and even thought the leftovers were pretty tasty. I don't think Dan was in love with it though, but then again, he could do without most lentil meals.

I want to give it another shot and use fresh curry powder and not overcook it by 30 minutes. Then I will properly judge it. Because I think all recipes (unless they are completely inedible) should be tried at least twice. That way, the second time around, you can make any small changes you think would make it better.

So there you have it. Yet another recipe that didn't win me over completely. I think I'm just about ready for one that knocks my socks off. Anyone have any suggestions or recipes they want to share with me? Just remember, I can't eat gluten or dairy.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What's Growing Wednesday?

I keep harvesting more and more from our garden and it makes me so excited.

I even got out to work in my garden this past week, weeding between the onions, peppers and carrots. It had been over a month since I weeded and it desperately needed it.

My garden hat did a fabulous job protecting me from the sun.

But I have something exciting to share with you this Wednesday! Remember last year when I blogged about our barrel potatoes and how badly they worked? If you weren't around last year, take a moment to at least look through the pictures in that old post before moving forward to this next part.

We didn't put much effort into the barrel potatoes this year, since we ran out of dirt halfway through the barrel and then just kind of forgot about them. But earlier this week, we noticed that the plants were looking kind of dead and it was probably time to dump them out and see how we did.

After last years complete failure, we were prepared for the worst but were still secretly hoping to have done better.

We held our breath as we fished through the pile of dirt, pulling out potato after potato. We didn't do amazingly but definitely an improvement over last year! I had to have Dan pile them all into my hands instead of being able to hold them easily in one hand.

We plan on trying them again next year but trying to be a bit more faithful with putting new dirt into the barrel and watering it a little more often. So maybe next year we'll have a killer crop!

We enjoyed them fresh that night with our supper and even had leftovers. I call that a success.

And one last picture of me with our first two cucumbers from the garden. After the rough start they had to life (we had to replant them 3 times), finally getting cucumbers is pretty exciting.

See you next week for more gardening goodness!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Redneck Initiation

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned it before but we kind of live in the middle of nowhere. Well, that's not true. We are 20 minutes from a decent sized city and we do have neighbours.

But our road is a long private dirt road and we are surrounded by rednecks. Don't believe me?

Exhibit A:
This tree is located about three quarters of the way down our road and almost all of our guests comment on it. It's just that cool.

And basically all the guests that comment on it also ask if we have added a shoe to it yet. The answer has always been no, until today!

My sister Cora was here for a quick overnight and we told her that before she left, we had to add a shoe to the tree for her "redneck initiation". And for mine too since I'm so obviously not a redneck. Notice Dan didn't need to be initiated?

It was actually a lot more fun than I thought it would be, standing on the hood of Dan's truck, hammering a shoe onto a tree at 8 in the morning with my awesome sister.

I'm excited to say that we have been initiated.

 Don't we just look like rednecks?

So there you have it, our contribution to the sole tree. It's the small black flat in the middle of the tree, in case you were wondering.

Bet you wish you could join the redneck club too, eh?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Freezing Our Veggies

As I have mentioned before, we freeze or can a lot of our produce from our garden. It's just the smart thing to do, putting away food for the winter and using vegetables that we know the source and trust. Plus, it's much cheaper to grow your own beans and freeze them than buying fresh all year round. I guess I could buy frozen ones but they just don't taste as good.

And so I freeze things. More specifically, I freeze beans. Not all vegetables freeze well but I really don't mind the taste of thawed beans during the winter months. Maybe it's because I grew up on them and am used to the softer texture.

Freezing beans is super easy and fast and I'm here to tell you how to do it. I usually save up two or three pickings worth so that I can get more done at once. To do this, I just put all the beans in a bag in the fridge until I have enough to freeze. Then I take them out, take off the ends and chop them into 1-inch pieces.

Next steps, bring a pot of water to a boil, throw in a handful or two of beans and then wait for it to come back to a rolling boil. Once it is, set the timer for 3 minutes. This blanches them so that they are mostly cooked and will basically just need reheating once removed from the freezer.

Once they are blanched, you need to cool them in cold water immediately.

And then put them in portion sized baggies! I use old milk bags because they're free and are nice and thick.  But you Americans would need to use Ziploc bags or something, since you don't get milk bags. :P

Once you have bagged all your beans, you put a twist tie on each bag and then throw them in the freezer for future use!

Something new I tried this year is freezing our jalapeno peppers. We had one plant and it went crazy producing peppers! Since we can't use them all up right away, we have given freezing a try. According to Google, you can either freeze them whole or chop them up first.

We opted for freezing them whole. So I washed them, dried them and then popped them into two freezer bags.

Then I threw them into the freezer and we will have to wait and see how they work this winter!

That ends my post on freezing veggies for today, but I'm sure I'll be back at a later point with different vegetables. Do you freeze veggies or fruit in the summer to use during the winter? Or do you buy fresh or frozen from the grocery store? Do you think I'm crazy?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Peach Overload

I love peaches. They are just so juicy and good and I may eat a significant amount of them at this time of year. But since I like peaches at all times, I like to store some away for winter use.

So last Sunday I picked up four 3 litre baskets of them at the grocery store, since they were on sale for $2.97 each.

But on Sunday, I couldn't do much with them because they were all really hard and I wanted to give them time to soften up.

Except by the time Jeff and Tory left on Wednesday, they were way too soft and some of them were going moldy. It's amazing how fast they can turn! Tuesday night they looked fine and then when I got up Wednesday morning, they needed to be dealt with immediately. So as soon as our fabulous guests said adios, I got right down to business the peaches.

I started off by making peach jam. First I had to wash and peel the peaches and put them in a food processor.

Then I pulsed them up into a nice puree and dumped them into a pot to boil.

From there, I added peach juice and sugar (I got my recipe from the book Putting Food By) and then boiled until the jam was at the "tear off the spoon" phase. Except for a I suck at knowing when that is and didn't cook it quite enough. So I have slightly runny jam. Oh well, it tastes pretty darn good!

Once the jam was done, I still had about half the peaches left to deal with. So I washed and cut up the remaining ones and spread them on a cookie sheet to freeze.

I put the sheets in the freezer overnight and then bagged them the next day.

Although I'm thinking I may need to go buy more to freeze. Four small Ziploc bags doesn't seem like enough to last me the winter.

How about you? Do you love peaches? Do you buy them fresh and devour them all right away or do you find a way to savour them all year long? Have you ever tried making peach jam?