Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Why I Watch...

Ok so I haven't blogged in awhile.  A long while.  The garden is wrapping up (although I need to pick okra and peppers sometime this morning.)  I've been cooking away as usual but nothing super blogworthy...so I'd like to take a few moments to discuss something near and dear to my heart right now. 

Here Comes Honey Boo Boo

Ok I know...many of you will be quick to dismiss my posting and throw me under the bus but I'd like to make a couple comments about the increasingly popular show.

First of all, don't knock it til you've seen it-at least three times.  I'll admit, the first episode I watched I was a bit puzzled/not that impressed.  A certain person who will remain nameless (but lives with me) watched it once and said he was never watching it again, the second time he was skeptical but he was hooked by the third show.

Why I Watch-

#1.  They are just so real.  I mean you really can't make that stuff up.  Between the walls of the dining room lined with rolls of toilet paper gotten for free with coupons to the processing deer meat from local roadkill-you wouldn't believe this stuff if someone told you about it but it happens.  People go to the VFW to play Bingo, well they do around here.  

#2.  They have a good time together.  From the above ground Wal-Mart pool that Sugar Bear (the Dad) spent a couple days assembling so they could swim to the "guess who's breath this is" game.  Everything they do is met with laughter and goodheartedness.  (Is that a word?)  They have fun as a family.  They seem to spend lots of quality time together. 

#3.  They love each other.  Sugar Bear puts up with a whole house of females, including three daughters who are not his own, yet he seems to work hard to support them and cares deeply about all of them.  When the new baby was born in the finale (yes to a very young teenager) the baby was born with an extra thumb (again you can't make this stuff up.)  But instead of being negative, June aka Momma aka the new grandmomma (who is younger than I am) said something to the effect of, better to have one extra finger than not enough.  Which leads me to...

#4.  They are always positive.  When Momma makes a batch of her "sketti" which is nothing more than noodles with butter and ketchup on them they all praise her, say it's their favorite food and tell he she's "the bomb".  Sure some of them are eating it out of recycled butter tubs on the couch, but they are all eating together and told Mom she did a great job.  When was the last time someone told you your dinner was "the bomb"?

I watch a lot of reality tv.  From Pawn Stars to Pickers to Survivor to Master Chef, the list goes on.  But there is just something endearing about this show.  I heard this morning they were paid $5,000 an episode for the first short season and that in renewal they will be paid $20,000 an episode.  They turned down offers from TLC of a bodyguard and a new house.  I hope they keep it real, save the money for college for those girls and continue to display love and caring for each other, because that's why I watch. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Caribbean Shrimp Tacos

A week or so back a friend on Facebook posted a quick and easy fish taco recipe and I had promised to post one back but feeling inspired I decided to cook them up this past weekend and take some photos for the blog.  Ok actually that is a lie this is not a fish taco recipe it's a shrimp taco recipe, but the original recipe called for Grouper, which is a little pricey so I substituted shrimp a couple years ago and haven't looked back.

This is actually a fairly easy recipe but it does have a few components, so it looks like a lot.  It isn't.  I promise.  Just make it in steps.  You will need the following to make tasty shrimp-y tacos:

Homemade Pineapple/Mango Salsa
Chipolte Sour Cream
Shredded lettuce (or cabbage)
Tortillas (corn or flour, crispy or soft-your choice)

So let's start with the salsa because it really is the most complicated part of the dish-I like to make it the day before so it has time to macerate (is that how you spell that word and why do I giggle each time I say that?)

Ok Salsa ingredients:
Actual recipe reads as follows...
1/2 large pineapple, peeled and cut into cubes
2 ripe mangos, peeled and cut into cubes
3/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbs. fresh chopped seeded jalapeno
2 tablespoons lime juice

Only thing I altered was that my ratio of onion to jalapeno is about equal-I like a lot of kick, and I actually don't think it was overly spicy.
I like to cut everything for this salsa very small, more like a dice than a cube really, which can be tough with the pineapple and mango but I do think smaller is better.  By the way just in case you haven't worked with one the best way to do the mango is to cut off the peel like this...
Then cut each of the 4 sides off so you are left with the hard pit part at the end.
So basically just chop everything, squeeze some lime over the top and mix it up and you are good to go.  Add salt if you would like but really it may not need it. 
Finished product will look a bit like this:
Put it in a plastic container and let it hang out in the fridge for a day.
You can also prep your sour cream--here's what you do.  You get a small tub of sour cream and you add some chopped chipolte peppers into it (around 2 plus some of the sauce from the can.)  You then squeeze in some lime juice and stir it up.  Easy peasy right?
Ok so I forgot to take a picture until I had dumped the chopped peppers into the sour cream.  I also usually seed my chipoltes, I think the seeds can be a little tough to chew sometimes.
So the day you wish to eat the tacos here is all you do...get some shrimp.  Actually for this recipe smaller ones are better, peel them, devein them, (or save your self the trouble and buy them that way.)
 See that red stuff?  That's some more sauce from the chipolte pepper can.  It's optional.  I also squeezed some more lime in there-also optional.  Now just cook the shrimp.  It really doesn't matter how.  Grilled can be good, I did mine in this basket (which by the way is a pain to clean.)
You can just as easily cook the shrimp in a pan on the stovetop.  Just get them nice and pink and cooked.
I also tossed my tortillas on the grill this time, but that is also optional-just fix your taco vessel however you like.
So then just lay everything out-tortillas, shrimp, salsa, lettuce (oh yeah I forgot to mention, shred/chop some lettuce or cabbage for crunch) and your chipolte sour cream.
That large cup is not full of beer, it is full of milk-really!  Ok see that sqeezey bottle?  It has the sour cream in it, I think for tacos you always need the sour cream in a squeezey bottle.  Problem is though with this sour cream with the chopped chipoltes in it, the peppers get stuck in the nozzle, so you have to squeeze extra hard.  And then when it pops out it sort of makes a big blob of stuff on your taco, so your taco is not as photogenic as it should be.  But then again this isn't a photography blog so...you get what you get...
The recipe sounds weird I know, but you are going to have to trust me on this one...the flavors all work together perfectly!  Happy taco-ing!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Garden Update

I bet when you woke up this morning your first thought was, I wonder how Janet's garden is doing?  Oddly I woke up with the same thought!
For the most part things are now doing well.  I think the tomatoes grew about a foot over the weekend after a good 2" of rain.
There are some small black spots on some of the bottom leaves so I think I may spray with some fungicide later today or tomorrow, it seems a little early for this but it's been such a strange spring weatherwise.  The green beans are doing exactly as they should and working their way up the stringers.
Usually with just a little training they move right up the correct string.  I tried to really thin them to one plant per string, anything else just gets too heavy mid-summer.  I'm also impressed that my lines and stringers have held up amazingly well over time.  I knew the horizontals would hold up since I used some coated heavy duty wire, but the plain string verticals I thought for sure I would have to re-do each year.  Other than some minor repairs they have held strong for 3 years.
Most of the squash and zucchini are doing well, I may need to thin them one more time as well.  I'm hoping to avoid the squash vine borers this year with an early application of some sevin dust on the stems but they have hit me every year so far so all I can do is going into it with crossed fingers.

My poor pitiful homegrown from seed peppers just aren't doing well.  They are so tiny, getting eaten by some sort of bug and just don't seem to have any staying power compared to the store bought plants.  Here I thought buying seed from one of the foremost authorities in peppers (New Mexico State Univ agriculture dept) was a good idea but now that I think about it, these seeds were probably bred/created to grow in that area and not here.  I'm hoping for just one of each of the 4 varieties I grew possibly survive.  This is down from about 20 plants each.
The store bought pepper plants on the other hand are doing quite well.  You can see in most of these pictures that I am now using an entire system of soaker hoses instead of a sprinkler.  They say this is much better for the garden and it's a LOT easier as well.  I have a total of 5 hoses and one splitter so watering the entire garden is as easy as turning on the hose and going out one time to flip the splitter.

Finally I introduce you to Copernicus...
Sort of freaky isn't he?  I rescued him from Leslie's parent's shed where he was doomed for garage sale-dom.  I think he's perfect for guarding the garden when I'm not around.  Although so far he isn't doing a great job.   We have a new resident coyote who seems to come by most days and tear at least one thing up...I'm working on rounding up another garden mascot soon-stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Planting Complete!

Well after three back breaking intense days the garden is all in!  Ok...well...all but two plants that I have yet to find this year (a white and Japanese eggplant.)  Here is my little OCD garden chart for this year.  I highly recommend a chart so you can remember what varieties of each item you have planted.
I did a few things differently this year.  First up instead of newspaper under my mulch between rows I used a "gardening fabric."  It looks like plastic but is a fabric-y material that came in 3' widths 50' long.  This was beneficial for a couple reasons.  It was easier to handle than the newspaper (I tapped it in with pegs as I went so there wasn't an issue with blowing breezes.)  It also helped me with my row spacing.  Person I talked to at Home Depot said I "should" be able to lift it back up at the end of the season which would make getting the mulch up WAY easier than raking.  He said I should be able to re-use it for between 3-5 years.  We shall see if it was a good long term investment but it wasn't too expensive and was MUCH easier than newspaper.
Also last year I planted everything at once and then went back over the course of around 3 weeks time and laid all the paper and mulch.  This year I just didn't want to drag it out-I planted a row, them mulched a row.  By Sunday evening after two days and still not being done I wondered if this was the smartest way to go about the task-but by last night when I was DONE DONE-I was pleased I had just decided to knock it all out.

I'm a little worried all my transplanted pepper plants that I started from seed are just not strong/healthy enough to make it outside.  They are so tiny and already appear to be being eaten by something...
I moved all my herbs back outside and was happy that most of them made it through the winter, I have added a new basil plant, some flat leaf parsley and a new thyme plant.
As a side note, if you like keeping potted plants inside but have white carpet like I do (who puts in white carpet?) you should get a couple of these tubs that are supposed to sit under a washing machine.  I took a picture of this nasty one on purpose so you could see how they saved my carpet this winter!  I also used one under the seedling containers.
So I leave you with some tomatoes-nice, pretty, healthy plants. 
83 actual plants planted, 5 more rows of seed, 4 cages of seed and with everything mulched and ready I can get back to my real job-oh and The Hunger Games series!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Getting Ready for Planting...

Well folks, it's about that time...that's right...time for planting.  Actually I thought last weekend would be planting weekend but our local weather guru Ken Cook (a fellow gardener who lives very near here) said to hold off and he was right.  Lows in the 30's predicted for tonight!  We got some trees cut down to provide for more sunlight in the gardening area (by got them cut I mean Leslie cut, I tugged on the rope, he cut it up and split it and I loaded it.)  So as a plus we are set for wood for awhile!
We got it tilled up (by that I mean we borrowed a tiller, Leslie tilled and I stayed out of the way.)
So now the watching and waiting game starts.  I'd like to get some things planted this weekend, but we basically haven't had any rain for almost a month and the plants I need to purchase are not on sale.  The plants I am raising inside are doing fairly well.
 Someone mentioned to me that growing them indoors might cause them to be "leggy" and they were right, I think it is because they are reaching for the sun from the windows.
All the pepper varieties from New Mexico State University are growing well, while two packs of older seeds I had leftover from last year didn't germinate at all.  I'm glad I tested them inside before planting directly.
I'm going to watch the sale ads that come out tomorrow and decide if it is time to go ahead with everything or not.  It looks like it is going to be a nice weekend for planting...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Growing from Seed

Long time, no blog...it says September, 2011.  Wow that is a long time.  Well it's that time again folks-time to start thinking about the garden.  Poor dormant, mulch covered garden.
This picture is older, I actually have about 80% of the mulch raked back now.  I decided instead of raking it into a big pile on a tarp which took FOREVER just to rake it back to each side.  I think I lost more mulch in the process and I won't have as much to re-use but dragging it by the bucket full over to another area of the yard just wasn't very appealing to me.  Also thinking if it isn't in one large pile for months on end maybe I won't have that little spider issue I had last year.  Waiting for the annual Home Depot mulch sale to replenish my stock.

So this year I am trying something different and starting some items from seed.  Often I start some plants from seed in my garden like these-squash, cucumbers, beans etc.
This year I ordered some special pepper seeds from New Mexico State University's agriculture program.  They are a variety of hybrid species that I hope will really kick up my pepper production.  So I picked up some little Jiffy Greenhouses and set to work.
I decided while I was at it and since each of these trays holds up to 72 little plants I would go ahead and plant some additional peppers, some carrots and some watermelon from seed as well.  I also went ahead and planted a few squash and cucumbers because I had leftover seeds from last year and wanted to be sure they would germinate when I plant the bulk of them outside.
The tray/seed planting was actually a little tricky.  You pour water into the tray and the little soil cubes puff up, then you have to peel back a small amount of netting from each cube, rake the soil back (note my fork, plant the seed/s and smoosh some soil back on top of the seeds.
I also decided quickly after I started that I would need some kind of labeling system-I ended up just making a blank Excel table and writing in what I planted in each spot.  Make sure you somehow label the tray as to top and bottom.
So we shall see what happens, I planted these about a week ago and am already seeing some sprouting.  I'll update in a few days...