30 August 2011

Garden Blessings

Today I want to share what some of my garden looks like. Finally I have tomatoes! I am also really looking forward to what looks like a bounteous harvest of acorn and butternut squash. I have more zucchini to blanch and freeze, and lots of basil. As always, here at 6000 feet above sea level, I feel blessed that my garden grew (and still grows).

I couldn't resist showing you some of my flowers too.  I start the clematis from seeds I save every year. I cut it back and keep a bunch of the pods. I put the pot in the garage over winter. In the spring, I shake out seeds from the dry pods into the soil and set it out in the sun. In late spring and early fall the flowers are amazing. In the pots on my front porch I replaced the dying annuals with mums. They will be pretty way into October - or at least until it snows a couple of times. Fall is coming, you can see it in the edges of the leaves in some of our trees. Pretty soon we'll drop below 60 degrees at night and they will start to turn. I love fall. I just wish it lasted longer.

26 August 2011

The Backyard Tent


The back of our house is west-facing and gets pretty hot in the afternoon. In fact, when  we first moved here (Colorado) from Portland, OR, I wore my sunglasses in the kitchen to cook dinner. It was so bright! Even with the addition of some nice large trees, a sunny backyard can be too sunny. I wanted to make some shade for my kids. Something they could move around if they wanted to. I Googled and Googled, and this is what I found:

I hate to post a not-totally finished project, but I am still working on the cover. I want to make a nice one that really fits the frame and flaps that close. Meanwhile, we just toss a thrifted sheet over it. This week has been less than fun (car repair, endodontist...) and I haven't been able to do much sewing.

It was super easy. You need PVC pipe. I bought 3 (1 in. by 10 ft.) pipes for $2.99 each. Then I bought 2 of the three-way pipe connectors. I had to get kind of creative, because my Home Depot didn't have three-way in the 1 inch size. They had a three way that was 1 inch, 1 inch and 3/4 inch. How frustrating! So I bought a screw in piece that had a 3/4 inch end and a 1 inch end.

 I cut the pipe into 5 foot lengths, fitted them into the three-way connectors, and we had a frame.

Toss over the sheet I mentioned above, maybe use a little packing tape until you get your awesome cover made, and you're all set! The whole thing cost less than $15.

23 August 2011

Strawberry Chiffon Pie

Strawberry Chiffon Pie from Betty Crocker's New Picture Cookbook

2/3 cup sugar
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 cup strawberries, thoroughly crushed
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream

Blend 2/3 cup sugar, gelatin and strawberries in a saucepan. Cook to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Place pan in cold water; cool until mixture mounds slightly when dropped from a spoon. Then fold into a meringue made from egg whites, cream of tartar and sugar (recipe follows). Carefully blend in whipped cream. Pile into a shortbread crust (my little shortcut - I prefer the short crust over the pastry for this pie). Chill several hours until set. Serve cold.

Meringue: Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until frothy. Gradually beat in sugar, a little at a time. Continue beating until stiff and glossy. Do not underbeat. Beat until sugar is dissolved.

No - it is not a diet food. Yes - it is worth it. Go on, take a bite.

21 August 2011

Weekend Book Review -

What a fun book! Our whole family has enjoyed this series. My husband (not a big reader) was so in to these books, we couldn't get him to come to dinner. Great for ages about 7 to 107. 

Chronicles the adventures and misadventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III as he tries to pass the important initiation test of his Viking clan, the Tribe of the Hairy Hooligans, by catching and training a dragon. 

18 August 2011

A Little Knitting Update

Today I'm joining up with Goodbye City, Hello Suburbs and A Bowl Full of Lemons to share something I've been working on. Maybe you remember the UFO post from January? I am excited to say that I have made significant progress on the old 12 -year sweater. It's blocked! 

I know. You were thinking I was going to say that it was finished. It's not. It is blocked though. Before I blocked it I had to weave in about a gazillion ends for all the stripes and fix a little hole in the neck area that happened when I wasn't looking.

Amazingly enough, this is the first time I have actually blocked something (translation: don't look too closely). I have been knitting for awhile, so I think it's kind of pathetic. That said, I don't really see the need for blocking scarves. Socks, maybe yes, and I'll start doing that tomorrow. Really.
All that's left is the seaming and finishing - oh - and the two buttonholes I sort of forgot to include. Here's where we say "hooray for Elizabeth Zimmerman - because adding buttonholes are no problem." I hope.


17 August 2011

Yummy Summer Drinks - Whole Juices

Sorry again about the photos. I don't have to tell you - beautiful sunny 90 degree day turned cloudy and windy just as I went to take photos. It is time to build that light box...

It has been so much fun making all the drink recipes and sharing them with you. I hope you found some that you can use and love! For our last post together, I am going to share 4 recipes - three I've made and an interesting new one that I have not made. I dare you to try it and let us know what you thought!

All of these recipes have been formulated for blending in a BlendTec Blender or other similar blender. If you don't have one, be cautious. Chop your fruit and veggies smaller and use a little more liquid, add ice last and any other strategy you have for preventing the burn out of your blender's motor.

The Jolly Green Giant (adapted from a BlendTec recipe)

2 -3 cups washed green grapes
1/2 cup fresh cucumber, with or without peel (I peel it)
1/2 cup fresh zucchini, with or without peel (I don't peel it)
1/2 cup frozen sweet peas
1 stalk celery, cut in 3" pieces
1 cup spinach leaves, washed

Place ingredients in blender in order listed. Secure lid and blend. On the BlendTec, use the "whole juice" button. I like to freeze the extra in ice cube trays and use the ice cubes in fruit smoothies. The kids will never know they're getting a serving of veggies.

Optional add ons: 
1/2 cup broccoli
1/4 of a medium avocado, peeled
1 oz. wheat grass or other sprouts (equivalent to 2 lbs. green veggies)
1/2 cup tofu
sweetener, to taste

Strawberry-Melon Cooler

1/2 cantaloupe, sliced
1/2 cup pineapple, with juice, chilled
1/2 banana
1/8 inch slice of lemon, with peel
5-6 strawberries
1 Tbsp. honey (optional)
3/4 cup ice cubes

Place ingredients in blender in order listed. Secure lid and blend. On the BlendTec, use the "whole juice" button.

Citrus Carrot Cocktail (a favorite we found on the Vitamix site)

 1 cup pineapple with juice
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
1/8 inch  slice lemon, with peel
1 cup ice cubes

Place ingredients in blender in order listed. Secure lid and blend. On the BlendTec, use the "whole juice" button. I have to run the pulse button a couple of times on this one at the end just to be sure all the lemon peel and carrot is blended well. This is another one that I freeze in ice cube trays to add to other smoothie recipes.

Last of all - here's one for you to try. I have the ingredients, but didn't get around to it today.

Key Lime-Kiwi Smoothie

Kiwi is the star of this smoothie and Vitamin C and fiber are the antioxidant headliners. Fiber is essential for heart health and weight control and there is a long list of health bonuses for Vitamin C, the immune-boosting, bone-protecting, anti-aging, disease preventing super power.
2 medium kiwi, peeled
1 large ripe pear
1 tablespoon key lime juice or 1/4" slice of lime with peel
2 tablespoons agave nectar or honey
1/4 cup water
1 cup ice

Place ingredients in blender in order listed. Secure lid and blend. On the BlendTec, use the "whole juice" button. 

You may also enjoy:

16 August 2011

Camping - the Good and the Bad

Today, I am freezing summer squash. It has finally got beyond even my affectionate ability to eat it all fresh. I am cutting it in large-ish chunks, blanching for 3 minutes, cooling in an ice bath and then freezing in quart size Ziplocs. They will be perfect for stir fry, soup and spaghetti sauce. Hooray!

Over the weekend, we went camping with a bunch of people from church. It was a lot of fun. 

The Good:
Camping with a bunch of people you know is great
All our kids had friends to run around with
The men made a fantastic breakfast

The Bad:
Our kids had a bunch of friends to run around with

Specifically, the 12 year old. All the big boys decided to sleep under the stars on a great big tarp. This seemed like a good idea until 1 am when they were still going strong, and then again at 3 am when they were still going strong. Honestly though, speaking from the point of view of the Mom who didn't want to be the one to spoil all the fun, I was really grateful for the dad of younger children who finally went out at 3 am and ever so kindly told the boys it was way past time to be done. I am serious - he really was very kind. You may be wondering why one of the moms of the noisy boys didn't go out there. We chatted about it the next morning. It seems we were all on the same page. As long as they were just noisy, but not socially unacceptable, we wanted them to just have fun together. I hope all the parents of younger children will forgive us. We promise to return the favor.

That's my boy - or at least his foot - in the middle. 
Do you think it proves the existence of Bigfoot?