Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Home made Salsa

I through this salsa together tonight and boy is it good
You will need :
2 cans diced tomatoes ( I used one Italian style with onion and garlic and one with green chili's I suppose stewed would work fine.)
1 large sweet onion
6 large cloves of garlic peeled
4 jalapeno peppers cut in a few pieces (seeds removed for a milder salsa)
1 medium bunch of cilantro, stems removed
7 oz can of diced green chilies
6 tsp ground cumin
2 Tablespoons of fresh lime or lemon juice
2 tsp. salt
4 tsp sugar
4 lb fresh tomatoes 4 large or 8 smaller ones

Place everything except the fresh tomatoes into the work bowl of a food processor.  Process until the mixture is as smooth/chunky as you like.  Transfer into a large bowl.  (This makes a bunch if you want a smaller amount you can cut this in half)

Cut the fresh tomatoes into chunks, and process in the food processor until as finely chopped as you like.  Don't over process you don't want tomato puree.  Stir the tomatoes into the remaining ingredients in the bowl.   

Monday, July 15, 2013

Here is a new store to ad to our comp savings

Sunfresh weekly ad I will be adding this store to my comp list.  you may want to take a look and see if there are any sales that you may want to add  to your list. ~ Ethel

Monday, July 8, 2013

July Gardening Checklist

  • Weed and Mulch! As the temperature rises and the summer dries out a little, the growth of the weeds will slow down some.
  • Finish up harvest of your cool season plants like peas, radishes and lettuce.
  • Prepare your garden for a fall planting of your cool season crops.
  • If you planted potatoes in March, you will be harvesting this month.  As plants yellow and die back, it is time to dig those potatoes. Otherwise, mulch the potato plants again and wait for the harvest.
  • Begin harvesting your summer crops such as green beans, tomatoes and summer squash.
  • There is still more time to plant another round of green beans, cucumbers, carrots and summer squash. This would be a good way to fill in the garden where the lettuce and peas grew.
  • Harvest and dry or freeze your herbs.
  • Keep your annual flowers dead headed and pruned to continue blooming.  Pull out and compost pansies and other cool season annuals that are dying back. 
  • You garden thrives with about 1 inch of rain per week.  As it gets hot and dry, you will need to supplement that with extra deep waterings. 
  • Inspect any new fruit coming on and look for any sign of disease or insect infestation.
  • Hand pick any pests and drop them into a bucket of soapy water.
  • Keep a basket with a loose weave in the garden and ready for harvest collection.  The holes in the weave will help to let dirt and debris fall through, while still holding all of your garden goods. 
  • After harvesting, be sure to eat or properly store your produce right away. Leaving them in a collection basket for any amount of time will promote mold and mildew growth, spoiling the goods you worked so hard for. 
  • Wash your harvested produce in a cool water bath with a splash of white vinegar.  It will safely kill any germs and help to remove the dirt and bugs. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Tip of the Day ~ Clover is Important

 Does you yard seem to be plagued with large patches of clover?  Well, don't run out and get a herbicide to take care of it. Instead, embrace it. Here is why.
These little guys love clover.  The use it to make clover honey, which is one of the yummiest delicacies in all of the earth.  Right now, honey bees are really struggling.  Their populations have been hit by many hardships and beekeepers are having a hard time keeping them alive these days.  They need all  the help they can get from us.  We can help by keeping the blossoms that they love in our yard and gardens.  Bees are attracted to blue, white and yellow flowers especially.  And, it helps to not spray you plants with pesticide. Instead attract beneficial insects or physically remove pests from your plants.    Many honey bees are killed when an apple tree is sprayed.
If you help the bees out, they will help you out.  They are excellent pollinators in your yard and gardens.  In fact, some plants will not fruit without the help of a pollinator.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Tip of the Day ~ Clean Your Garbage Disposal

Don't throw away those orange peels after you strain them out of your orange vinegar!
Run them, a few at a time through your garbage disposal.  Be sure to run cold water the whole time, just as you would normally.  The rinds will scrub your blades, and the citrus and vinegar still left in them will help to cut any grease or dirt away.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Banana Pepper Pickles

My banana peppers are almost ready to pick.  This reminds me of the lazy pickles I made last year and blogged about on my old blog. I thought it would be fun to share today.

I have to say that I really love banana pepper pickles. Spicy or mild, I love them.  On hamburgers, salad or lunch meat, I love them.  So, this spring I decided that I was going to make some of my own.  Then I planted 8 beautiful pepper plants, and watered, and watered and watered and watered.  It's been dry here on the teeny tiny Stephenson ranch.

Well, my beautiful peppers grew and they grew and they grew, and my 5 year old boy picked them and picked them.  I found myself with a bunch of peppers and no idea how to pickle them.  Well, it just so happened to be baseball season, and I also had no time to pickle them.  So, I did something crazy.  This is what I did.

I got out my almost empty dill pickle jar. I ate the pickles left in the jar.
I washed my peppers.
I sliced my peppers.
I rinsed the little bitty seeds out of the pepper slices.
Then I plopped them into the jar of pickle juice.
The very next day, I had pickled peppers.

Then, I called my grandma.  I told her that I did this crazy thing.  She laughed and said that she has done the same thing before, too.  

Oh, and guess what.  It works with beets and bread & butter pickle juice too.  And, according to Grandma, it works with cucumbers as well.  

Tip of the Day - Let your kids garden

Give your kids an area where they can do their own gardening.  This year, my kids are growing sunflower houses.  Christina has been keeping hers completely weed-free.  Jack has just been trimming his weeds down with the garden tools.  Both are loving the project and learning a lot.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Tip of the Day - Lard Soap

A bar of lard soap is great for rubbing into stains before laundering clothing.  It is an all natural and very potent cleanser that is easy on delicate skin.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Tip of the Day - Nasturtiums

Plant nasturtiums in your veggie garden to help lure the insect pests away from your crops.  You can also harvest the leaves and flowers for a nice peppery addition to a garden salad.

Grape Salad

This is a perfect dessert for a hot summer night.  It is sooo yummy and very healthy too!
3 cups of grapes
1/2 cup of plain yogurt
2 oz. softened cream cheese
2 tbsp. honey
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup chopped pecans (walnuts would be yummy too)
 Stem your grapes and dump them into a large bowl.
 Combine yogurt, cream cheese, honey and vanilla in a separate bowl.  Mix together well.
 In the large bowl, combine your dressing with the grapes and nuts.  Fold together until well combined.
My kids could not get enough of this! Neither could mom and dad ;)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Tip of the Day - Cucumbers

Cucumbers can be grown down on the ground, or staked up on a trellis.  I like to stake mine up for easier harvesting.

June Gardening Checklist

June has nearly gotten away from me and I have not gotten the chance to go over my checklist. Yep, that means I have probably gotten very little done on the checklist, and you can tell by looking at my garden.  It will be fine though, a little bit of catching up and no one will ever know I was behind, not even the tomatoes.

  • Plant the rest of your tomatoes, peppers and basil if you haven't finished that yet.  There is still a bit more time. 
  • Plant another round of beans, corn and lettuce to keep the harvest going after the first round is harvested.  Put lettuce under the cover of a larger plant to keep it from burning up in the heat and sun.
  • Plant winter squash and start some seeds (in pots) for fall harvests of cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage.
  • Plant more cilantro for another harvest.
  • Mulch your berries.
  • Fill in any bare spots with marigolds, zinnias or dahlias.
  • Cover your potatoes with straw, soil or mulch.
  • Keep those tomatoes staked up.
  • Plant pumpkin seeds for a Halloween harvest.
  • Thin your peach and apple trees so that the fruit is about 6 inches apart.
  • Keep harvesting your lettuce, radishes and peas!
  • Weed anything that is growing too close to your plants, especially anything that has overtaken your veggies in size, or looks unsightly to you. 
  • Keep an eye out for pests.  Hand picking pests or dusting with wood ash or diatomaceous earth are great organic pest control options.  
  • Keep your flowers dead-headed and watered to encourage constant blooms.  
  • Pinch back the suckers on your tomato vines.
  • Turn your compost pile! During long stretches of heat and dry weather, water it down.  You don't want it to dry out.
  • Enjoy the beginnings of the summer harvest and start prepping your kitchen for the abundance that you want to put up for the rest of the year!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tip of the Day - Fooled You Peppers

If you love jalapenos but can't handle the heat, there is a wonderful little pepper that is a jalapeno with no heat.  The name of it is Fooled You.  I get mine a the greenhouse in Jamesport, MO.  I love to make jalapeno poppers to gobble up with the kids.

Donna's Caramel Popcorn

Last week, we unexpectedly lost my Aunt Donna.  She was one of the sweetest souls ever to walk the face of the earth.  Earth's loss is Heaven's gain.  This is a recipe that she shared with me while I was studying home economics in middle school.  Every time I make her popcorn, I remember her sweetness.  This post is in her honor.
2 sticks butter
1/2 cup white syrup
2 cups brown sugar
1/4 tsp. cream of tarter
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
6 - 7 quarts of popped popcorn

Mix butter, syrup and brown sugar; bring to boil for 6 minutes and keep stirring.  Add cream of tarter, salt and baking soda. Stir until foamy; pour over popped popcorn. Spread popcorn on large cookie sheets after mixing well. Bake for 1 hour in 200* oven. Before the popcorn cools, dump it into a large paper bag, close the top and shake to break the caramel popcorn apart.  

Monday, June 24, 2013

Light and Tasty Chicken Salad

Light and crunchy, sweet and savory, this chicken salad is wonderful as a simple sandwich on whole wheat bread.  It would also be perfect dressed up on a pretty roll.
Here's how you make it: 
4 cups of cooked chicken, chopped
1/2 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 cup grapes, halved
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped pecans

 Chop up your chicken into smallish pieces.  This is a great opportunity to use up some leftover chicken.  You probably don't want the chicken to be all dark meat, but a mixture would be fine if that's what you have on hand.
 To the chicken, add the grapes, onion (I used a green onion, but any kind would do), celery and pecans.

Mix well.
 In a separate dish, combine the yogurt, mayo, garlic, salt, pepper and lemon juice.

 Mix the dressing well and then pour over the salad.
 Whoops, I forgot to add the cranberries...add the cranberries and mix well.
 Chilling this for a couple of hours would be great, but not necessary.
Slap some between two yummy pieces of bread and have a little lunch!
This is great for a make-ahead lunch or a picnic!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Line Drying Your Laundry

Hanging your laundry out on a clothes line as one obvious benefit of saving you money on your gas/electric bill, but let me tell you, it has many other benefits as well.  Line drying doesn't wear out your clothes as quickly as the dryer does.  The sunshine helps to kill any germs that may have gotten left behind after the washing machine has done it's job.  Sunshine also helps to lighten or even remove some of those stubborn leftover stains as well.  Line drying also makes your clothes smelly truly fresh.  This is freshness that you don't get out of a bottle, it's the real stuff!  Here are a few tips for line drying your laundry.
1. On your washing machine, set your spin cycle on low.  Leaving a little more moisture in the clothes helps with the wrinkles.
2. Use 1/4 cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle and don't over do it on the detergent, more is not better.
3. To whiten whites, add 1/4 cup of lemon juice to the rinse cycle of whites.
4. Hang your shirts and pants upside down.
5. Take your laundry off the line when it is mostly dry, but not entirely dry.
6. Fluff the laundry in the dryer using the low or no heat option, for about 5 minutes.  Of course this is totally optional.  If you have hung your clothes out on a particularly breezy day, the wind may have fluffed your clothes for you.

If you don't have a clothes line set up in your back yard, don't worry, there are other options for you.  While I wait for the hubby to put my clothes line up, I am using some ropes attached to the awning on my back deck.  It is working well for now.  I have also used camping clothes lines.  These are very inexpensive and have the added bonus of being easily moved.  You can simply wrap them around a pair of trees, fence posts or deck posts, clip the line to the clasp to tighten and you have an instant clothes line.  You could also use a folding drying rack.
 My absolute favorite thing about line drying is how my laundry smells afterward.  Right now, my laundry is being scented by the roses and honeysuckle that are growing nearby.
Before the roses and honeysuckle, it was honey locust blossoms and lilac before that.