Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gardening Update

I wanted to post some pictures of our fall garden, these pictures are kinda old so I'll have to take some more to here soon. We actually picked our romaine lettuce today (I felt as if it might bolt right in front of my eyes!
I can't remember if I told ya'll about our newest endeavor with gardening, so if this is a repeat my apologies, I tend to be a bit redundant. Our container gardens were a mixed bag of successes and failures and we were getting pretty frustrated with housings regulations. Luckily MWR offered raised garden beds to rent for the year so we signed up as soon as we could. We were lucky in that we were the first people to pick out a plot.

But with fall right around the corner we're pretty limited in what we can plant, this is my first cool weather garden ever.

So far so good! Things have been progressed extremely well, better than I thought they ever would! Want to know what we've got in the ground? Well, we planted a couple of different varieties of cabbage, kale, romaine lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, turnips, mesclun, and spinach. Like I said, so far, we've had great successes. The romaine lettuce is delicious and gorgeous, we have had zero pest problems and have used no pesticides or chemical fertilizers. I think I've fallen in love with cool weather crops actually. The only picture I have of our romaine lettuce "harvest" happens to be on my smart phone, but I will battle the technology monsters and figure out how to get it out here to share.

Gardening has been a fantastic family project, we've had the whole family involved and it's been a blast. The kids actually enjoy helping weed the garden (well for now anyway) and they also had a lot of fun planting some of our goodies. As you can see my husband does a good job of striking a pose while watering (shh don't tell him you see this haha), normally I use a sprinkler in the garden because the water pressure is crazy bad, one of the other plot owners has had exploding hose issues. The Broccoli should be the next thing ready to be picked, on our next weeding endeavor I'll bring the camera along to take another progress picture. I'm also working on a Blues Clues costume for my 2 yo son (I tried explaining Blue is a girl but he just isn't having that) that I'll post on here as well.

Oh...before I go...we did "harvest" one unexpected thing...a full brick. SO it's a good thing we didn't use a tiller and went old school, let this be a lesson to you, be careful! If you didn't fill your plot, find out who did and where the dirt came from. I haven't called the people in charge yet but now that I have my camera uploaded to the computer I think they'll be getting a brick through their email =).

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Still Here

Maybe I'm not cut out for this blogosphere stuff, I'm horrible with being consistent on posting. My apologies...again. Things have been a little all over the place here lately. Learned some life lessons about friends the hard way but such is life I suppose.

No pictures today, but I'll fix that over the weekend hopefully. We rented a garden plot and I've started planting our fall crop. So far we've planted kale, purple cabbage, green cabbage, savoy cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and romaine lettuce. I'm hoping the weather cooperates this weekend so we can put out mesclun, spinach, turnips and beets.

My youngest girl started Pre-K this year and it has been a blast to watch her go from being "that kid" (you know, the one that screams for an hour on the first day..) to absolutely loving school. I couldn't be prouder of my kiddos.

The weather has been a bit of a bully out here lately, going from ridiculously hot to a teasingly cool autumn feeling and back up to sticky, humid, nastiness. I'm ready for beyond ready for autumn. I want to go apple picking, pumpkin patch hopping, jam making, and cider tasting, all while wearing cozy scarves and hats. Patience.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

First "Harvest"

Here I am again, apologizing for my absence. Someone should just throw something at me! I can defend at least 7 days!! We finally took a much needed family vacation to the beautiful Puerto Rico. My parents celebrated their 25th anniversary with a fantastic vow renewal ceremony and I ate until I could eat no more. Bacalaitos, arroz con habichuelas, pulpo, chicharrones de pollo, the list goes on and on.

When we got home from vacation I was greeted by my garden, who in a lush show of green beckoned me closer. That tiny plant above with a small yellow blossom would be Audrey's watermelon, the only one to survive might I add.

Left is our two corn stalks that weren't carried off by our greedy backyard squirrels. As you can see (since I'm a horrid blogger and never provided pictures) the corn is growing out of the Miracle Grow Garden Soil bag. Since we live on base we're very restricted on what/where we can plant so a raised bed was required. A raised bed would be too much of a hassle so we opted for this method to see how it turned out. So far so good.

Everything has seemed to adjust really well to this method, it all had a very slow start and we worried a few times that they just weren't going to make it. We lost a few plants along the way but that much we expected.

This is our first garden here, last year we tried a container tomato plant that we purchased at Wal-Mart, I think it gave us 2 tomatoes and quit. This little green bean plant here is tiny but oh so mighty. It's produced a lot more beans than I had ever expected at it's size.

The tomatoes are doing really well too, and those were the ones we were really concerned about. The heat our here has been outrageous and I was just waiting for the morning when I'd walk out there and the tomatoes would be kaput. Instead I was greeted one morning to 6 tomato plants that seemed to grow a foot overnight. I'm really excited about putting these up. I will definitely blog about that process, might even throw a little canning party. We chose Roma tomatoes and beefsteak tomatoes, next year I'll up the ante to some heirloom varieties and see how that goes.

The one plant that I still have some worry over would be the summer squash.

They've got lovely blooms but we have something that keeps eating them, I'd guess it's little bunny foo foo. I'm open to how to keep them out if you have any suggestions!

The next few pictures are to show the set up so you get a better idea of what we did with the little space we have and the restrictions that we're under.

Two of the kiddie pools had different varieties of potatoes and the third is where our lone watermelon resides. We lined the rest of the bags up along the back fence where they get the best light and are out of the way of wild children. We pulled the potatoes today and are going to replant some more soon.

Here's what our little garden has produced for us so far :)

Yes. I am aware that the Roma tomato is green. This is what happens when you have a 2 year old who insists on "helping" Mommy and Daddy. Don't say you weren't warned. A green tomato here and there is nothing in comparison to the knowledge and connection your children will have to the Earth and their food. Don't worry if they pick a few things before their time, just be sure to let them know when it IS the right time. I will feel successful in parenting if my kids garden at all, even a tiny herb window box would make me happy.

Hopefully I'll have an abundance of pictures to share of our micro harvests.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mushroom Risotto=BEST MIDNIGHT SNACK!!

So there I was, sitting on the couch, glass of ice water in hand....watching Chopped on Food Network. I always get so excited when they reveal the ingredients in each basket as I try to come up with something they could make. This particular night I got those oh so joyous hunger pangs and decided it was time to make something soul satisfying.

Immediately I recalled the half container of sliced mushrooms in the fridge that was going to go bad if they weren't used soon as well as the countless quart jars of homemade vegetable stock in the pantry as well as the giant bag of rice in there that gets very little use now that the husband has gone caveman on me. Or should I say Primal...Paleo...well no...primal as he still partakes in the occasional dairy treat and some sweeteners.

Anywho enough about that...onto the good stuff. I made a delicious pot full of mushroom risotto. Oh my word it was so delicious, I've never had risotto before and had never made it as it's always intimidated me. There were leftovers (I did eat 2 bowls though) and so the next night I made arancini di riso to go along with dinner which is lovely balls of risotto with mozzarella cheese in the middle, rolled in bread crumbs and fried.

So how can you make this at home? Let's get down to business..

Ingredients:(this recipe is adapted from a Giada de Laurentiis recipe)

One and a half quart jars of homemade Vegetable/Chicken Stock
3 tablespoons butter
one onion finely chopped
handful of mushrooms finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 1/2 cups medium grain rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

First things first get that stock warmed through, pour into a seperate pan and bring it to a simmer, then cover it until time to use it.

Melt 2 tbsp. of your butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add in your onions and mushrooms and saute until tender, do NOT brown the onions. After they are nice and soft toss in the garlic until it becomes super fragrant. Add in the rice and stir it around in the veggie mix to coat. Add in the wine and simmer until the wine is just about completely evaporated, about 3 minutes or so. Start ladling in your stock, (the recipe calls for 1/2 a cup at a time, I did a ladle full at a time) and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue this process, adding in the broth until the rice absorbs it all and then adding in another ladle full of stock. You'll do this until the rice is tender but with a little bite to it and the mixture has a delicious creamy consistency, it took about 25 minutes for me. Take your risotto off the heat and then add in the remaining tablespoon of butter, the cheese and the salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and serve immediately!

I am NOT technically savvy, just the opposite in fact, so I have no idea how to post a picture taken with my iPhone. If any of you know and would like to let me in on that secret so I can give you a picture to look at of this deliciousness please TELL ME! hehehe

Tomorrow I'll do my best to post an update on the garden.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Is it really MAY already?!

Wow, so time flies when you don't pay attention to the Calendar. My inbox was inundated with recipes for Cinco de Mayo and our 2 week menu plan I put together has us eating turkey kebabs, hummus, naan and tzatziki. Ahh the joys of motherhood. Although...none of us are Mexican so it's not even really a day for us right? I always find that funny, we're all honorary Mexicans on the 5th of May so we have an excuse to drink a pitcher of margaritas regardless of whether it's a Monday or a Saturday.

Anyhow, this post isn't really going in any certain direction but I know it's been awhile. I'm afraid I've caught the couponing bug. Yep, not TLC style but I've got a binder. I'm cheap...what can I say? If someone says I can get free products or reduce my grocery bill then hell yeah where do I sign up?!

I will try to be better with this though. I was contemplating waiting up to watch the Justified season finale but I'm exhausted. It's been a loooong day. I think tomorrow I'll do an update on the garden so I can show you it's progress so far...and the rest of the garden for that matter. Oh and how our compost pile has turned into a mini garden of it's own. Guess that means the soil was good right?!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Under the Weather

Well this blog post will be lacking in pictures. Not in the drap and drop mood right now and can't get Microsoft Word to acknowledge my blogger account so that I can just publish from there. Grr. If anyone can help a technically challenged gal out I'd greatly appreciate it. I've wanted to blog every day but after hours of, "mommy..mommy..MOMMY!" that desire seems to fade pretty fast, as all I want is my head to hit the pillow. But anyway. The weather out here has been all sorts of cracked out this week. First it was 80's all last week and now..well let's see, at this moment (according to the app on my phone) it is 48 degrees Fahrenheit. Lame. Absolutely. 100%. lame. We actually had a frost the other day which of course scared me silly since the plants are still tiny buuuuut they seem to have survived pretty well! I'm proud of them. Oh would you look at the time! It's that time again, off to school we go! Hopefully I won't be so sapped of energy that I can't post again this evening. I guess we shall see!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pizza Bar = Kids Lovin' Veggies

Have really picky veggie eaters like every other parent? Here's a way to get your kids to eat some veggies and actually like it! You can't argue with these faces now can you? Well..I guess you could, but I warn you...they will argue back.
Okay so on to my new found, not all that new really but shh don't tell, secret to get kids to eat more veggies and have a blast while doing it.
PIZZA!! What kid does not LOVE some pizza? Not only that but it that pizza crust is a blank canvas for just about anything your heart desires. Hell you can even cross out the typical pizza crust and go nuts. Dessert pizzas are really good, and a lot of fun too.
So here's what we did.
I made a huge batch of pizza crust, I don't have the recipe on hand to share. Sorry! But I have used Bobby Flay's flat bread recipe over on and it's really good. Remember to plan ahead when working with yeast doughs so that you have proper timing. I can't tell you the number of times I've wanted to make something with yeast and then looked at the proofing times to see it just wasn't happening. (It's 10:00 a.m. let's have cinnamon rolls for breakfast!! it)
I know a lot of you will look at this next part and question my sanity but trust me.
Let your kids help you.
It gives them ownership of they're meal and lets face it, things always taste better when you make it yourself. Remember the first time you made some Mac n cheese? I do. 7th grade. FACS class. It was the best macaroni and cheese from a box I had ever tasted.
Little hands will love the task of rolling out the dough into their very own mini pizzas. I even let my son join in and he caught on fast. You are never too old or too young to get in on kneading/rolling a ball of dough.

Be patient with the kiddos too, it will take them longer to get it rolled out. Step in and help them by getting it started a good bit of the way so that you aren't baking pizzas at midnight.

With little man I let him roll out the dough until he was sidetracked by something flashy and noisy. Same with Ms. Cheesin, so it might not take all that long before they're on to something else.

Since you took the time to make some homemade crust, take a break and use a canned sauce. Even better, use a jar of sauce you canned yourself back in the summer. wink wink. Don't worry there will be tons of canning fun on this blog as well. Like I said..self sufficiency.
Come up with an array of veggie toppings but make sure you have some indulgent ingredients as well.

We decided on a red sauce (a white sauce would be great too) and our topping choices were crisp crumbled bacon, fresh broccoli florets, sliced mushrooms, sliced onions, sliced sweet peppers, roasted garlic cloves and baby spinach. Make a big space to let them top their own pizzas or you can always top them but let them tell you what they want on it. We set ours up on the dining room table so they could get to it easier.

They all had bacon (I knew that was coming) but they also had a ton of veggies! I mean they used all the broccoli! It was fantastic. I was so very very proud of them.
We topped them off with mozzarella cheese and some Parmesan cheese as well then baked them up and voila. Healthier personal pizzas. The kids devoured them. So fast. They even ate some of our leftover parental veggie and bacon pizza.
The oldest lady even asked if we could do this every week. It will become a weekly event, which also is a bonus because it clears 2 nights out of my 2 week menu planning.
Go out on a limb and try this with your (little/big) kids and you might just be surprised at what they make. Get your kids into the kitchen with you as often as you can. Even if it's you cooking but walking them through it like their very own food demo class.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Livin'

Good Evening! My apologies for not coming back and introducing the garden, tomorrow seemed to take a little bit longer than the conventional 24 hours.

Well in all reality we had guests over for burgers and with 6 kids running around and conversation flowing it was difficult to break away to join the blogosphere, but I'm here now! Does that count for something?
On to the garden. Tonight will only be a part of the garden, I haven't photographed our bag garden just yet. (Hoping for some green to come through since we replanted after the unexpected cold destroyed the seedlings.)
We live on base, therefore we have strict rules to abide by when it comes to changing anything (some of it's a bit ridiculous, don't worry I have a rant for you coming up later) The rules for having a garden are that it must be on a raised bed. If you do the railroad ties and piles of dirt method you have to somehow get rid of all of that prior to moving out.
Or you pay for them to get rid of's always an astronomical fee.
I'm cheap. Always looking for a bargain or a deal, hell that's part of the reason we wanted to garden to begin with! It's cheaper for us, we use a ton of produce and I love to can/freeze/dehydrate, so whatever we don't eat will be preserved for later use. So my clever husband came up with a solution to our raised bed garden blues.
Kiddie pools. Those cheap-o flimsy blue plastic kiddie pools that every child has played in at some point or another. (If your into the aesthetics of the garden then this isn't for you) I was hesitant at first. Worried about how the backyard would look's the backyard and I want a garden and this is how it's going to happen. So you know what?! I had to suck it up and deal...ahh the lessons of life.
The hubby, with his handy dandy knife, slashed a number of holes into the bottom of the kiddie pools to give the soil adequate drainage. They were then filled with a mix of vegetable garden soil and fertilizer.
The shanking of the kiddie pools was a bit traumatic at first with the older kids. They thought they had a pool for each of them to play in. But they got over it pretty quick when it was obvious they were going to get dirty. I definitely recommend having your kids get involved, it's very important for them to know where they're food comes from. If you think they know, you should ask and check.
I sent my then 15 year old younger brother into my garden on summer with the then 2 year old daughter to go get some onions for me to use in whatever it was I was cooking at the time. They come in, my brother comes into the kitchen and hands me what is NOT an onion at all. He gave me a GREEN TOMATO!!! Ah I could have died from laughter. He defended himself saying the 2 year old told him that the tomato was an onion. Oh brother. Literally.
Back to the gardening.
So here we have our 3 garden tubs, now what did we plant in these?
In the first tub we planted some Yukon Gold Potatoes, in the second tub we planted some Purple Potatoes and at the request of the 3 year old, the 3rd tub contains watermelon seeds. Don't worry I'll take progress pictures along the way, I'm curious myself to see how container gardening the potatoes will turn out. We've got quite a few breaking through the surface as it is right now.
Since these pictures were taken we bought quite a few bags of vegetable garden soil, stabbed the bottoms for drainage and cut holes out of the top to plant our tomatoes, peppers, green beans, corn, squash, green onions, and herbs.
Oh and a word to the wise. If you do have more than one child offering their help always keep an eye out for their fun quirks. The oldest loves the idea of a garden but wasn't too keen on getting dirt in her nails, the boy wanted nothing more than to use the shovel and the youngest little lady turned into a pint size foreman.
Just looking at this picture I can hear it all again. "You need more dirt; Daddy it needs water; I want to see my watermelons; Harper is touching them!!!!!"
Always fun.
After we did our container gardening in the backyard we took our strawberry plants to the front yard. Each child has their own plant to watch over, which gives them a little responsibility and they thought it was the coolest thing to have their very own strawberry plant. We learned really fast that someone/thing else on the block is really excited about our choice to plant berries too.
Every time a flower comes up, within the day it's gone. So today we purchased a hanging pot to plant them in so hopefully they'll do much better.
I'm not sure if it's the squirrels or the rabbits but something was chomping on them. If you have any ideas let me know! (We can't trap them or anything, against the rules for housing.)
Oh yeah, that reminds me. The rant. Soooo I called the housing office the other day to ask about having a few hens in the backyard in a coop, I think I was the first person to ask because they had to investigate and call me back. I had already ready through the lease and the rental agreement rules and there was nothing in their addressing chickens. We can't have snakes, rodents, horses, pit bulls, but nothing about chickens. Well the answer was an astounding no. No farm animals. Really? I was ready to argue the benefits of chickens and how, if kept properly, there is no smell issue, no rooster=minimal noise, they're less noisy than a dog, less destructive to property, etc. I was tempted to just do it anyway considering everyone and their brother has a pittie on base. (Not a slam on the breed, I think they're gorgeous dogs and can be family dogs if raised right) So not only do I have to be extra creative garden wise but I can't even have 2-3 hens. Lame. Really, really lame.
Anyway. It's about that time, the time when I get a bit of evening freedom as the kids get ready for bed. So I say goodbye for now as I trade the keyboard for sponge bob pajamas and bedtime kisses.
What's coming next? A post about a fun dinner that your kids can help cook, might even get them to eat more veggies too.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wine Anyone?

The day is slowly winding down, and by slowly I mean my 21 month old son who is fighting sleep like a champ. Come on baby boy, just give in already! He's squirming and talking himself out of it with a vigor. It's definitely a glass of wine kind of night.

Before I forget, Happy Saint Patrick's Day! We celebrated with corned beef and cabbage for supper, gave the husband a Guinness float to wash it down with. No worries, the kids got Coke floats. We all had green of some sort on as well.

Today was decently productive. Added onto the compost, fixed the landscapers horrid mulch dumping, (yes...piles of mulch dumped...right on top of my strawberry plants don't ya know!) along with all the other fix ins of an average day in this household.

Ah. He's still awake...but barely, Daddy has rock-the-baby-to-sleep-duty tonight. That's normally a Mommy job. Hoping he nods off soon. I've been craving a slice of this citrus olive oil cake I made earlier in the week with some fresh strawberries..maybe mashed into some sort of goopy sauce.

Oooh speaking of baked goodies. I made the cinnamon-sugar craisin swirl bread that I talked about in the previous entry. See the delicious pictures...ah if only they smell-o-vision. Breakfast is sure to be an A+.

How can you make this? (yes...yes you can!...remember..the little engine that could? you can too.)

I adpated the recipe from a fantastic book titled How to Bake Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day. If you love to bake and want to bake bread you need to get this book. Mine is covered in flour marks and grease stains where dough was stuck between pages.

The dough recipe makes three 1 1/2 pound loaves. The batch of dough gave me 2 beautiful loaves of sandwich bread and one sexy loaf of breakfast deliciousness. So let's dive in.

For the Dough: (Note: this recipe is for 3 loaves, if you only want one loaf you'll need to reduce your measurements)

3 cups of warm water
2 packets of yeast (make sure you aren't using expired isn't as reliable)
1 1/2 tablespoons of salt
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 stick of unsalted butter melted (you'll additional melted butter to brush on top of the loaf)
7 cups of flour (I like to use KAF's Unbleached All Purpose Flour)
one beaten egg and one tbsp of water
1/3 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons Saigon cinnamon
3/4 cup craisins

1. Grab yourself a mixing bowl that holds at least 5 qts. (I use the my Kitchen Aid Mixer's bowl). Pour in your water, sprinkle the yeast on top then add the rest of the ingredients (yes flour goes in all at once).
2. Mix everything until all of the flour is incorporated. If you are using your stand mixer make sure to use the dough hook attachment.
3. Cover and let it calm down for about 2 hours.
4. Unless you plan on using your dough immediately, now is the time to refrigerate the dough (its easier to work with when it's cold)
5. We're going to pretend you're not refrigerating it. Take out a melon size ball of dough and sprinkle it with flour. Shape into a ball and smooth the top over to the bottom turning as you go, the bottom will look all bunched up and weird but trust me it all smooths out here in a second.
6. Grease a loaf pan with a neutral oil like canola or vegetable.
7. Sprinkle the countertop with flour and bust out the old school rolling pin, dust that baby with flour as well. Get to rolling. Roll your dough out into a rectangle (mine always looks like a circle who wants to be square). I do mine to about a 1/4 inch thickness.
8. Now it's time for some egg wash. Take a beaten egg and mix it with a tablespoon of water. Now brush the surface of your dough all over with it
9. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon and evenly distribute on top of your egg washed dough, now add the craisins again be sure to evenly distribute them.
10. Here's the fun part. Take one end and slowly roll your dough up like a jellyroll then pinch the seam and ends and fold the ends under.
11. Place your dough into a loaf pan to proof again(if using fresh dough let sit for 40 minutes if refrigerated give it an hour and 40 minutes)
12. 5 minutes before it's done preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, then bake your loaf for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. When I pull mine out I like to rub a tablespoon of butter all over it and let it all melt beautifully.
13. Let it cool COMPLETELY!! I stress that because if you try to slice it while it's still warm you won't get very pretty slices.
and BAM. homemade delicious bread. Not to mention the bonus aroma your house is filled with! Hours later I picked up the oldest from school and as soon as she walked in the door "Mommy...what is that smell?? Did you make...CINNAMON ROLLS?!"

It's so worth it. And you know what's going into your bread, no worries about crazy preservatives.

Yes. He's finally asleep. It's cake and wine time. My apologies for the less than splendid picture quality. Microsoft Words publish feature was not being friendly last night. Any techies out there want to give a girl a hand?

What’s in store for tomorrow? Eh, I think I’ll introduce you to our little garden. See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Grand Hello

So, you've stumbled upon Floured. A quaint little blog just getting on it's tiny blog feet. Why Floured? Simple. Why not?

What is Floured going to be about? A little bit of everything. If I had started this bad boy up a couple of hours ago I would be sharing with you the loaf of fresh sandwich bread that I just pulled from the oven and lathered in thick, rich, melted unsalted butter.

Don't fret. Tomorrow's going to be just as luscious, if not more. Tomorrow I'll be making cinnamon craisin bread, and yes...there will be sharing. and recipe sharing. Maybe if you're in the neighborhood I'll toast you a slice.

"Ah, but I'm not a baker...what else do you got for me?"

Well, I have what I like to call crafting ADD. I see a project and instantly go for it, nevermind that I might not finish it for a few months or it might become a forgotton pile of fabric scraps stuffed into the box with the rest of my crafting supplies. However, when it comes to polymer clay..those are projects I normally have finished the same day.

Not only that but we just got our vegetable garden for the year started and I would be honored to share it's victories and defeats with all of you. Maybe you'll learn from my mistakes!! (know your zone. ugh I couldn't stress that more. See...a defeat already prior to the blog)

I would love to help other Stay at Home Moms and Dad's find their independence in a world of legos, Nick Jr., sippy cups, and soiled diapers. It is possible!!

Stay tuned =)