Food and Garden Dailies started as a way to record my family's favorite recipes. It has come in handy many times when I'm asked for a recipe. I simply email a link to the blog! But I couldn't just stick to recipes. The kitchen is tied to the garden in so many ways...and so I let you into my ever changing garden as well.

If you're interested in my all-time favorite recipes, check out this post first: My Favorite Recipes

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Salted Slugs

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It's been raining for a few days....odd weather for August in Oregon. But the sun came out late this evening (with a hint of blue sky). I went outside to weed, as weeding after a rain is sooooo much easier than weeding a dry ground. Anyway....what caught my eye was not the abundance of weeds (yes, they were there...they always are) but all the slugs creeping out from their hiding spots. They were everywhere.

So, I ran inside to get my favorite slug-killer of them all: table salt. Just a couple grains will do a slug in for good. They appear to melt, as they are being dehydrated.

Now, a lot of salt is not good for the plants, so I don't do this very often, and I'm careful not to get salt directly on a plant. I just dribble a few grains on each slug. It's quite satisfying to me as they cause so much damage to my plants.

For once, though, I'll spare you a picture...

Building UP

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The northwest region is well-known as a gardener's paradise. However, I've yet to meet anyone who can simply stick a plant in the ground and get great results. Many around here have hard clay soil that needs a LOT of amending. In addition to the clay, we face another challenge, as our home was built on an old rock quarry.

Every time we dig down to plant something we are guaranteed to hit rock. Some are small, but others are quite large. This one (about 12" long) is a sampling of what we find. Since our home was the last to be built on our cul-de sac, our side yard was used as a dumping ground for a lot of the rock that was dug up. Needless to say, you simply cannot dig into or till this part of the yard.

So, when it came time to landscape our side yard, rather than dig down, we decided to build up. I designed it to have 1 large (20' x 4') raised bed for veggies, and two smaller (4' x 4') beds on the shadier side. I also wanted a patio area with a table and chairs, as we spend a lot of time out front with neighbors. We had a retaining wall put in, and included steps from the driveway up to the patio.

We hired landscapers to do the hard work...build up the side yard, level it out, frame the patio (which we paved), build the retaining walls, steps, and raised beds. After that was done we got to work, completing it ourselves.

(As soon as the beds were ready, I spread perennial seeds in them. You see, after the side yard was completed, the next project was the front yard. While we worked on that, the perennials grew in the side yard beds.)

We did this in spring/summer 2006, and ever since, this has been one of my favorite areas. I feel free to add splashes of color, some yard art, and get a little funky.

Here's a tour of the side yard for you, from the beginning:

Sadly, I didn't take a complete "before" shot. But you can imagine a 12' wide sloped side yard (from the back fence down to the sidewalk) full of rocks and weeds. That's pretty much what we started with in May, 2006....


In the picture above, you can see some of the rocks we have come across as we landscaped other parts of the yard. They came in handy as fill!




The pictures above are the framework that we started with. This is what we hired landscapers to do. From this point, we started filling in behind the retaining wall, getting it level for paving.

We brought in good soil/compost and filled the raised garden beds. Next, I sowed perennial seeds...shady (in small square beds) and sunny (in the larger bed). These plants were all transplanted by the following spring ('07) and placed throughout the front yard.



The smaller, shadier beds were turned into shady flower beds with hydrangeas as the anchor. The climbing vine in the photo below is a Blue Passion Flower (Passiflora caerulea).



In the spring of '07, we started our first vegetable garden in these beds. However, a lot of dormant flower seeds also sprouted! I moved these to the front/back yards as they came up, though many stayed right there with the veggies!

Below are pictures of the front yard that is just below (east of) the side yard. These were taken in the spring and summer of '07:


To add interest to an otherwise boring gate/fence (yes, one board is missing!!), I started collecting and stripping the branches from our plum trees as I pruned them. I have a whole other post on this (soon to be written...) as it was a pretty cool process. I formed an arch, and started growing clematis on both sides of the fence. I can't wait to see what this looks like when the plants have matured!


To add to a more inviting gate look, I added this sign which I purchased at a local garden faire:


On the pavers, I'd hoped to be able to put a small table with four chairs, but it was really too cramped. So the original set that I'd purchased on clearance (end of summer '05) stayed in the backyard. I found this little set at Lowe's and it fits the space much better. Someday I'd really like to add a third chair though, as there are three of us in the family, and we do sit out here to eat and read.


Here's a close-up of the left side (a rhododendron bed). I planted evergreen creeping thyme between all the triangular spots between the retaining wall blocks, to soften the edges. Because this wasn't a perfectly square patio, we had a lot of little bricks custom cut to fit. You can see some of them in the picture below. My neighbor had a wet-saw and was kind enough to cut them for me.


And, below is what the side yard looked like this past spring ('08). The photo at the very top was taken in August '08.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Northwest Oregon Harvest Schedule

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Are you wondering when certain things are in season? Here's a general harvest schedule* for Northwest Oregon:

Apples: Aug-Nov
Artichokes: May-June, Sept-Oct
Beans, Green: July-Sept
Beans, Dry: July-Sept
Beans, Shell: Aug-Oct.
Beans, Wax: July-Sept
Beats: Jan, June-Dec
Blackberries: July-Aug
Blueberries: July-Sept
Boysenberries: July-Aug
Broccoli: June-Sept
Brussel Sprouts: Sept-Jan
Cabbage: June-Feb
Carrots: June-Jan
Cauliflower: July-Sept
Celery: Aug-Nov
Cherries, Pie: July-Aug
Cherries, Sweet: June-July
Corn, Sweet: July-Oct
Cucumbers: July-Oct
Currants, Black: June-Aug
Currants, Red: June-Aug
Eggplant: Aug-Oct
Garlic: Aug-Dec
Gooseberries: July-Aug
Hazelnuts: Oct-Dec
Kiwi: Sept
Leeks: Sept-May
Lettuce: May-Nov
Loganberries: July-Aug
Marionberries: July
Melons: Aug-Oct
Nuts: Sept-Oct
Onions: June-Oct
Parsnips: Sept-Feb
Pears: Aug-Oct
Pears, Asian: Sept
Peas: June-July
Peppers: Aug-Oct
Plums: Aug-Oct
Potatoes: Jan-Dec
Pumpkins: Oct-Nov
Quince: Oct
Radishes: May-Nov
Raspberries: June-Oct
Rhubarb: Apr-June
Shallots: Sept-Dec
Spinach: Jan-Dec
Squash, Summer: June-Oct
Squash, Winter: Sept-Feb
Strawberries: June-July
Strawberries, Everbearing: June-Sept
Tayberries: July
Tomatoes: July-Oct
Turnips: June-Jan
Walnuts: Oct-Dec
Zucchini: June-Oct

*source: Washington State University Extension Service

The Oregon WIC program also has a PDF document listing harvest times. Their times are similar, but not exact to the ones listed above.

And, yet another schedule can be found on Oregon Fresh's website: Fruit & Nuts and Vegetables.

Looking at a couple schedules should give you a good idea of when crops are usually available.

What if you're wanting to plant these crops in your own garden? Oregon State University's Extension service has a great monthly garden calendar that includes a planting schedule. It's a great resource for what to do and when to do it!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Garden Goodness!

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I went picking today...in my own garden. It's a small one, but I was pleased with my bowls of fresh produce! Ready today were pole beans, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, pear tomatoes, a hot pepper (not jalapenos...though they kind of look like it) and a bit of blueberries. Pictures like this give me plenty of incentive to enlarge the garden space!

Friday, August 15, 2008

McMinnville Area U-Pick Locations

Pin It For whatever reason it seems impossible to find a complete listing of local U-Pick places. So, I'm going to scour my resources and start compiling the list right here. If you have any to add, please let me know!

I'd like to get pretty specific: Name, location, dates and times open, approximate dates for produce picking, & costs. These details will be added as the information becomes available.

These U-Pick spots are all within 30 minute of McMinnville:
  • Draper Farms 11105 SW Baker Creek Rd McMinnville, OR (Just west of Hill Rd.) (503) 472-2358 Farm Stand Season is MAY 1 - OCTOBER 31 from 9 am to dusk daily
    U-Pick raspberries & tomatoes when posted or advertised. Call for availability.
  • Bernards Farm: 18755 SW Hwy. 18 in McMinnville April-Oct., 7 days, 8:00-7:00
    Contact: (503) 472-4933, mjbernards@onlinemac.com Bernards Farm has u-pick tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, (& more??) available.
  • Farmer John's Produce: 15000 SW Oldsville Road, McMinnville, OR 97128 (right along Hwy. 18 between McMinnville and Sheridan) 503-474-3514. Tomatoes (& more?) are available for u-pick.
  • Ore-Asia Farm: 4652 NE Riverside Dr., McMinnville 503-434-9766 Blueberries
  • Joe Dancer Park: free blackberries in late August/early September. OK...there are blackberries EVERYWHERE. This is just a particularly nice place to go, where there is easy access to an abundance of fume-free berries. There are no auto fumes, and the city doesn't spray them. Bring ladders and gloves! Directions from downtown McMinnville: Take 3rd Street east, turn left just before the bridge. Take your first right into the park. The blackberries are on your right, all the way up to the skate park.
  • Stephens Farm: 22480 SE Upper Island Rd, Dayton, OR 97114, (503) 868-7840, Open August-October. Apples: Gravensteins, Gala, Jonagold, Liberty, Cox, Melrose, Fuji
  • Jeff (and Jennifer)'s U-Pick - strawberries, raspberries
    18265 SE Neck Road, Dayton, OR. Phone: (503) 560-9275. Email: goddik@verizon.net. Open: Call for availability and hours before going!
  • Smith's Blueberry Flats: 22970 NE Hwy 240 Newberg, Oregon 97132 Located 1 mile northwest of Newberg on Highway 240 Blueberrries Season begins July 18th and ends approximately August 20th. Hours: 7:30 AM -8:00 PM 2008 prices-$1.25 per pound for U-Pick, picking containers available.
  • Viridian Farms: blueberries, raspberries, and prepicked produce
    18525 Se Lower Island Rd, Dayton, OR 97114. Phone: 503-830-7086. Email: info@viridianfarms.com. And for a map to our farm, click here. Crops are usually available in June, July, August. Open: Saturday and Sunday, 10 am to 4 pm. Please call 503-838-7086 or visit our web site for specific harvest/availability dates. Payment: Cash, only.

And, a little further out....
  • The Hood River Fruit Loop: Here's an article from the Oregonian about it. Click here to see the Fruit Loop map. From the map, you can click on each farm number, which will give you specific information about each farm. (And, if you're heading that way, I highly recommend a stop at Lost Lake, just out of Dee.)
    • Alice's Orchard: 1623 Orchard Rd. Hood River, OR 97031 (541) 386-5478 Peaches, nectarines, blueberries, blackberries, Yakima sweet corn, Gravenstein apples, cherries, pears.
  • Olson Farms: Just southeast of Salem, off of Hwy. 22. Strawberries, cherries, peaches, nectarines, raspberries, blueberries, & apples. Check out their website for specific dates, directions, etc.
  • Daum's Produce Farm & Garden: 8801 Wallace Road NW, Salem, (503) 362-7246. 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday; noon to 6 p.m. Sunday through October. Available: apples, apricots, beans, cucumbers, onions, peaches, potatoes, plums, squash and nectarines
  • G M Farms, Sauvie Island 15330 N.W. Sauvie Island Rd. July 15 to Oct. 31, Mon. to Sat. 8 a.m.- 6 p.m. (9-5 after Labor Day) (503) 621-3177 Take a left just after the bridge and you'll see signs for this expansive, picturesque farm. Great prices on U-pick vegetables all summer long. Red Haven peaches are now available (Aug '08) at 75 cents a pound.
Are you wondering when certain things are in season? Here's a general harvest schedule* for Northwest Oregon.

*This was originally included in this blog post, but I decided to break it into two separate entries, so the information would be easier to find.

Tag: I'm It! (and...the Tale of the Perfect Trash Can)

Pin It OK...I'm game! Kami from In A Cloud tagged me today. COOL! I'm happy to play!

Here are the rules:

1. Link the person who tagged you.

2. Mention the rules on your blog.

3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours.

4. Tag 6 following bloggers by linking them.

5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know that they have been tagged.

Okie doke...here goes...

First, Kami's blog is a food blog. And there are some pretty tasty treats within those pages, so check it out! A couple posts that have caught my eye are....Chocolate Covered Cheesecake Pops. I think I've died and gone to heaven! And, I have to admit, I want to try Kami's No-Fail Chocolate Chip Cookies, despite my feelings that I already have the greatest chocolate chip cookie recipe in the world. Seriously...I made LOUSY CC cookies until I came across the recipe I use. I've always wondered how Kami's recipe would compare. Someday I must try! Oh, and I have been eyeing the Hot Italian Rolled Sandwich on her blog. That looks ideal for making and bringing to an outdoor summer picnic/concert.

OK...onto the other stuff...6 unspectacular quirks about me. I'm going to keep them food/gardening related just so I feel justified to include this all here on the blog!

  1. I never wear gloves while gardening. I have them, and I hate them. I have to feel the earth. I have to be able to feel the conditions of the soil, and the delicacies of plant stems. I simply feel I have so much more control over what I'm doing with bare hands. (I do have a few prickly weeds out back that will need gloves. Sadly, they're getting a bit tall because I never have gloves with me as I pass by them!!)
  2. I've been hand-watering for years. I have an expensive, expansive custom watering system that I don't know how to hook up! When we put in our landscaping a few years ago, I had little remote watering stations put in throughout the yard. These are for custom drip irrigation systems. I bought all the tubes and pieces, and I know how to set all that up. I just can't figure out how to attach it all to the pipes! So I've been (GASP!) hand-watering for years.
  3. I love to weed. Seriously, I do. I feel very joyful upon filling a bag or bucket with weeds.
  4. I am quite anal about cooking with chicken. First the sanitary part....I control what it touches, touching as little as possible. I wipe areas with soapy paper towels and hot water. I spray it all down with a cold bleach mixture (Did you know that cold bleach water is more effective than hot?) afterward. Next, when cooking with chicken I MUST cut off all the gunk...the fat, the tendons...ALL of it. The trimming at the stores is generally not good enough. That is, until I found hand-trimmed breasts at Albertsons. They trim them right there in the store and for $1 more per pound, they do all the work for me. I've done my homework (actually weighing the gunk I cut off) and found it's cost-effective to pay more for de-gunked chicken breasts.
  5. I still use sponges. LOVE THEM. They get one single project use, and then they are tossed into the dishwasher. Upon coming out of the dishwasher, they go right into the microwave for 2 minutes on high (to kill bacteria). Only then do they get rotated back into the drawer.
  6. I'm a trash can snob. Yes, I am. This was decided a couple weeks ago when we were on a camping trip with some friends. My husband is a coffee and bean snob, my friend, Jen is a shoe snob. We determined that being a *snob* about something is deeper and stronger than just having a preference for it. You must truly be snobbish about it. So how am I a trash can snob? Settle back for a little story about my glorious trash can....
The Tale of the Perfect Trash Can

A few years ago, I was at my friend, Kay's home for her annual Christmas cookie exchange party. What caught my eye was not the array of scrumptious treats, but her trash can. Yes, I had trash can envy.

As soon as my little toe touched the pedal at the bottom, I was in love. All it took was a little tap...anywhere on the pedal. With most cans you have to put a lot of pressure on the pedal, or touch a specific spot. Not this baby. Just a tap...anywhere! The lid gently lifted (it didn't jerk backward like some). Inside were the rest of the trashcan treasures...

The trash bag does not show. Hallelujah! It has a simple hole in the back where you gather the excess bag, and TUCK IT IN! How novel!

Next, the trash can has a little shelf inside. This is so the hard plastic trash can liner can lift out of the can and rest upon the shelf as you change the bag. Once it's on the little shelf, the trash bag actually comes out of the liner with ease. It doesn't get stuck at the bottom (You know...when you tug and tug, and tear the top of your bag because you can't get the dang thing out??!). Easy release...love it! And, it uses regular ol' large kitchen trash bags.

Also...there is no metal handle to get in the way of removing the bag. The liner has discreet tab handles that let you lift it out. I always HATED those metal handles!

Oh, and the shape of the can. It's a semi-circle which allows it to be placed flush against a wall. No wasted space like the circular cans.

Customer service: OK, I'll admit...The hinges on our lid broke. I duct-taped them together and it worked, but it wasn't a long-term solution. So I called Simple Human and they are sending out a replacement lid at no cost to me. The trash can comes with a 5 year warranty. (But did I save the receipt that long?...sadly, no.)

And, to top it off, aesthetically it simply looks nice in the kitchen. It looks nice enough to have it out. They have newer models available which are made with a fingerprint-proof stainless finish. If I ever get another one, I will get that. The smudges are the only drawback (but I can wipe those away).

So, upon finding this glorious trash can, I put it on my Christmas wish list. It arrived wrapped with a bow on Christmas morning! I was truly, honestly, head-over-heals in love with my trash can! (Thanks, honey!!)

Now, onto tagging I go....Let's see whom I'll choose...hmmmm....

Notes From A Cottage Garden,
Dustpan Alley,
We Do It the Hard Way,
Garden Gnome Wanderings and Mom's Cafe Home Cooking (by the same blogger)
A Thousand Words

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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What I LOVE about this recipe is how easy it is. And, other than the carrots (I usually buy the baby carrots for munching), I always have the ingredients on hand. Once the carrots are finely shredded (and with a food processor, that takes just a couple minutes!) this cake comes together very quickly. It's not a fussy cake.

The presentation is spectacular when you make a three layer cake. However, out of simplicity, we usually just make it in a 9 x 13" pan. A square piece doesn't look as great, but the taste is all there!

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
(San Francisco a la Carte)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 3- 8" round cake pans.*

Finely grate:
8-9 carrots to make 4 C of grated raw carrot

Thoroughly stir together, and set aside:
2 C flour
2  C sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 TB cinnamon

In a large mixing bowl beat:
4 eggs until frothy

Slowly beat in:
1 C canola oil

Gradually add the dry ingredient mixture, beating until smooth.

Add, and blend:
4 C finely grated raw carrots

Pour into the prepared pans. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick entered into the center comes out clean. (In my Pampered Chef 9 x 13 stoneware pan, it takes about 45 minutes.)

Cool cakes completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Blend well:
8 oz softened cream cheese
4 TB softened (NOT melted) butter
2 C powdered sugar
1 tsp real vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon extract

Spread some frosting over each layer, also sprinkling with:
chopped pecans

Assemble the layers and decorate the top with whole or chopped pecans.**

*Or 2 round pans, or one 9 x 13 baking dish.

**While I prefer the nuts, my daughter does not, so I made this cake nut-free.

Lemon Peach Fizz

Pin It A few years ago we had lunch at Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery. While the food isn't anything to rave about (it was fine...just nothing extra special), I had a non-alcoholic drink from the menu that was fabulous. Thankfully the ingredients were listed on the menu. It was so good that I asked the waitress if she could tell me the proportions. She was happy to do so!

Now, I don't recall what the drink was called, but I have named it Lemon Peach Fizz. This particular drink is no longer on their menu, but a similar drink with mint leaves has replaced it. I tasted that one recently and it was a little sweeter than the original...not as much to my liking.

Because we frequently have college students over for barbeques, I started serving this when they come over. Kids as well as grown ups love it. And, for the over-21 crowd, it's pretty good spiked with vodka too!

Lemon Peach Fizz (adapted from Rock Bottom Brewery)

In a 16 oz. glass:

Fill with ice
Fill 70-75% of the glass with Sierra Mist
Add lemonade until the glass is nearly full (leaving some space at the top)
Add 2 squirts of peach flavored syrup*

In a 3 gallon jug:

Fill with ice & add:
1 can frozen lemonade
1 liter water
2 liter bottle of Sierra Mist
1/4 cup peach flavored syrup*

(Adjust flavorings as needed)

*You can find peach flavored syrup in the coffee aisle, along with all the other flavors (vanilla, raspberry, etc.). The Torani brand seems to be widely available in grocery stores. Not all stores have peach, though! I had ours special order it for me.

Another source is a local coffee place, though the price is likely to be higher. Torani and Monin are both brands readily found in coffee shops.

Monday, August 11, 2008

BBQ Chicken

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Having lived all over the US, I've learned that the term "barbeque" means very different things to different people. Growing up in the west and southwest, "barbeque" was usually a verb describing how something was going to be cooked. It was also an noun/event, as in "We're having a barbeque." Most barbeque sauces I knew of were tomato based, and usually made by Kraft. How little I knew...

When we moved to South Carolina "barbeque" took on a whole new meaning. It was a specific dish...usually shredded pork and was no longer tomato based, but vinegar based. Sometimes it was mustard based. The low country South Carolinians took great pride in their barbeque. I was never a fan of it, but my husband most definitely was. But I did learn that there was a whole lot more to barbeque than grilling with Kraft.

While we were in South Carolina, we came across a small chain of southern restaurants called Sticky Fingers. I had THEIR barbequed chicken for lunch one day and was in heaven. It was the best I'd ever had. I was thrilled to learn that they sold their sauce in their restaurants and online. Even now, after living in Oregon for 7 years, I still order my BBQ sauce from them. MY favorite is the Memphis Original, although we usually order a mixed case of all their sauces. It's nice to have a variety on hand!

So, it is with this favorite sauce that I made up a batch of shredded BBQ chicken when I had my "Eat the Meat" event (from the "Great Thaw of 2008"). I had a bunch of thawed cooked shredded chicken that needed to be eaten ASAP. I needed something quick and easy to make, and so I took a bottle of my Memphis Original from the pantry, mixed it in a pot with the cooked chicken, heated it up and served it on buns. VoilĂ ! A new quick and easy staple to make in minutes!

"What is oozing out of our ground?"

Pin It You know, this wasn't happening 20 years ago....



My husband, the chemistry professor, sent me this YouTube video. I was shaking my head the whole time. Thankfully, it does have a garden theme to it (aren't we all concerned about what is in the ground, affecting our plants???) so I am able to share it here.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream

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This is a chemistry project that my husband and his college students do in the elementary schools each year. Kids of all ages love it. Our neighbor, Emilee, was absent the day my husband came to her class. So, today, he brought home the ingredients and we invited her (and a few other neighborhood kiddos) over to make ice cream!

The nice thing about being married to a chemist is that he has access to cool stuff. One of the coolest is liquid nitrogen. Not only can you burn off your own warts, you can also dip stuff into it (like this hydrangea blossom) and then SMASH it on the counter. The liquid nitrogen hardens the flower, causing it to shatter upon impact. The kids (and grownups!) love this.


But liquid nitrogen is also great for speeding up the process of making homemade ice cream! Yes...you can make it in minutes!!

The recipe is a little rough. Basically, it's an eyeball recipe. If you don't have enough of one thing, you add a little more.

Ingredients:

-Liquid Nitrogen (welding places can be a good source for this)
-styrofoam cups
-plastic spoons
-milk (we used skim)
-vanilla w/sugar or vanilla syrup (like you'd put in coffee)

First we gave each child two 8 oz. styrofoam cups and a spoon. They doubled up their cups (better insulation). Then we poured milk in each cup, filling it about halfway. Next we put in a few (3-4) squirts of vanilla syrup.

While the kids mixed this together, Brian poured some of the liquid nitrogen into another cup. From this cup, he poured a little into each of the kids' cups. The kids stirred and stirred, scraping the sides continuously.

If it's too liquidy, add a little more liquid nitrogen. Keep stirring!!

Once it gets to a slushy state, and the liquid nitrogen has evaporated, you can taste it to see if it's to your liking. (I added more vanilla syrup at this point!)

One of the best things about this, is it's easy, fun, and soooooo cool when the condensed water from the liquid nitrogen surrounds you!

Safety Tips: Have a grown up handle the pouring of the liquid nitrogen. Don't allow it to touch skin. Remember when I mentioned it's used to burn off warts? Well, that's because liquid nitrogen is cold enough to burn skin. So keep it away from skin! Also, make sure the liquid nitrogen has completely evaporated before eating.

Barbecued Herb-Mustard Chicken from Sunset Magazine

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This recipe has been in my husband's family since the 70's when it was first published in Sunset Magazine. I was introduced to it in the late 80's when I was dating Brian and he brought me home for dinner. Ever since then it has been one of our favorite meals. It's the first thing that comes to mind when I have to prepare food for company...whether it's one family or 30+ for a party. It ALWAYS turns out great, and is gobbled up.

A year or so ago when I started getting into freezer meals, I tried this as well. I am happy to report that the raw meat and marinade freeze well, and taste just as great as a freshly made recipe. So, now this is a staple in our freezer as well! Having it on-hand makes it so easy to get dinner on the table in 20-30 minutes (that includes defrost time!). I simply place the frozen bags in a sink of hot water for about 10 minutes. While it defrosts, I pre-heat the grill, start the rice, and chop up any veggies for the shish-kebabs. If we don't have grilling veggies on-hand, I skip that step and just serve it with salad. You can freeze the veggies, but they are a bit mushier than fresh ones.

Anyway, while I've posted about this recipe in other posts it truly deserves its very own post. It is THAT special.

Barbequed Herb-Mustard Chicken (Sunset Magazine)

Combine:
Family Size
½ C dry white wine
2/3 C canola oil
3/8 C white wine vinegar
2 T onion, finely chopped
2 tsp salt
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
3 cloves garlic, crushed
½ tsp pepper
1/4 C spicy brown mustard (I HIGHLY recommend Grey Poupon's Country Dijon mustard. I've made it with other mustards and it's just not as good.)

(Group Size....the quantities above X 4)
2 C
2 1/3 C
1 ½ C
1/8 C
2 T, 2 tsp
1 T, 1 tsp
12 cloves
2 tsp
1 C

Chop into 1" cubes: 4-6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (16-24 for the Group Size)

Marinate the chicken in the sauce at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Place on skewers, alternating with chunks of:
peppers (red, yellow, green)
onion
cherry tomatoes
mushrooms
zucchini
asparagus

I freeze the uncooked chicken with the sauce and add the veggies fresh.

Cooking Gadgets: One of my favorite new gadgets are the measuring cups that allow you to look into the cup to measure liquids. It is soooooo much faster and easier than using your traditional Pyrex cup, waiting for the liquid to level out, squat down and look at the line. I bought the complete set from Pampered Chef (including the little bitty one that is sold separately). I now use them exclusively for liquids.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Garden Growth

Pin It It's fascinating to look back at pictures of the garden. I love to see the season to season growth as well as the year to year growth. Here are some changes from May to August:

First is my new clematis pot. Who knew the white petunias would get so big? You can't even find the marigolds.
















The strawberry pot. We're still getting a few strawberries each day. Hopefully next year we'll get more.


















Our front window. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the baskets I buy each year at Schmidt Farm. They get so full by this time of year! Close up they look a bit scraggly underneath, but the pics on the right were taken today. These take a LOT of water. I also have one in my backyard as a focal point. I place them on heavy duty wrought iron plant stands. I find that it's MUCH easier than trying to hang them. (Plus, they're so heavy, I've torn out some of my siding before!)

The four mounds of shrubs beneath are viburnum. I'm not sure what variety they are, as they were here when we purchased the home (one of the few things I kept). They are deciduous, and though I'd prefer something evergreen in this spot, I love the neat little mounds of this plant. We've been here for nearly six years, and I've never had to trim or shape them.






























Our front side yard is truly my favorite place in the yard. It's where I give myself the freedom to add a little yard art, more color, etc.