Archive for April, 2012

April 26, 2012

portable property

even though we are tentatively planning on moving late this summer, i couldn’t bear the thought of a summer without tomatoes, which, if all goes as planned, would be  coming on just as we’re getting ready to leave.

i’ve heard through the grapevine that this could potentially be the summer for tomatoes.  the last two years in a row the weather here has been so hot, and the spider mites so bad, that few tomatoes were to be had. but this year, this year, could be… The Year.  and i don’t want to miss out.  i decided to plant them all in plastic buckets, so that, come time to move, we can bring them along.

i purchased a series of plastic five gallon buckets at lowe’s and husby drilled holes in the bottom  to allow for drainage.

           

i then loaded them up with soil, dug a little hole and added some egg shells for a calcium boost.  this was a little trick i learned  that helps eliminate blossom end rot.  it really does work.

           

i put in the plants,  labeled them….

           

set the cage around the plant, and placed them in the back of the yard where they should receive the needed 6-8 hours of sun a day.

in addition to one ancho pepper plant, i have two roma tomatoes, and four cherokee purples.  we decided to add some grape tomatoes, and i wanted to give something new and funky (for us at least) a try: a cream sausage tomato.

the buckets, along with all the other things i have in pots in preparation for the move, really make the yard look junkie, but, they are happily growing and i’m keeping my fingers crossed for homemade spaghetti sauce (the romas), and roasted tomato pie (the cherokee purples) prepared in our new kitchen late this summer.

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April 24, 2012

my kale has started going to seed.  we usually eat it up rather quickly.  but this spring i just haven’t been harvesting it as often.

who knew that red russian kale produced such pretty little blossoms?

who knew that this kale,

this cole crop, whose cooked “aroma”  hangs in the kitchen for days afterward,

when combined with blue batchelor’s buttons that have self seeded,

could be

so

pretty?

 

April 23, 2012

with tuppence, for paper, and string…

…you can have your own set of wings

with your feet on the ground you’re a bird in flight…

with your fist holding tight…

to the string of your kite.

let’s go fly a kite

up to the highest height

let’s go fly a kite and send it soaring

up to the atmosphere, up where the air is clear,

oh let’s go fly a kite!

(can we go home already?)

April 19, 2012

random thoughts on turning 40 tomorrow

~two decades ago i turned twenty wearing a red laura ashley sailor dress and long hair.  today my hair is shorter, layered, and showing some silver strands.  my housewifey wardrobe consists of cropped yoga pants and hoodies.  i confess though that i miss those pretty, feminine laura ashley dresses of the ‘90s.

~two decades ago, my mortal fear was that i would never get married.  today i am scared silly of developing jowls and a turkey neck.

~i still feel very much like a kid.  when my husband asked me what i wanted to do to celebrate my big day, i said  i wanted to go fly a kite.   i don’t feel any different turning 40 than i did turning 16, also wearing a laura ashley dress.  the first one i ever owned.   i still have it.   it is in the bottom of my cedar chest, tucked underneath the red sailor dress.  i’ve never been able to give them up.

~my husband suggested i whip out the sailor dress and put it on for old time’s sake, but….i’ve grown since.

~speaking of apparel, i still love the same sneakers and ballet flats of the laura ashley decade.  i will celebrate the arrival of middle age( ish)wearing floweredy sneakers.

~in the same cedar chest, to the side of the laura ashley dresses, lie  a stuffed teddy and three unused rolls of beatrix potter nursery wall paper.  life doesn’t always pan out the way you expect.  i thought by this time in our lives my husband and i would  have a busy household with lots of little people underfoot.  we don’t.  instead, our home and weekends are very quiet.  although this change has been an adjustment for both of us, we’ve come to value the quiet. life together is very rich.  if one looks for it, every cloud has a silver lining.

April 16, 2012

moving the maple

when we signed on with our builder the original plan was to start around the first of this month.  we’ve had some nasty weather however, and for that reason, things have been delayed by a few weeks.

meh.

i’m so excited about our new place, but decluttering, getting rid of things, putting everything else in a box, and moving it all from here to there – not so much.  in order to make the process easier i’m starting early and just doing a little bit at a time; sorting through and packing up the things we don’t use on a daily basis.

this includes some of my plants.

yes, i plan to take with me a few things growing in my yard.  one is a japanese maple given to me by my parents.  the other is a rose bush given to me by a dear friend.

i know it seems really crazy to try to bring these along when they are both pretty happy right now where they are, but they mean a great deal to me.  they have very great sentimental value and the thought of leaving them behind in the care of someone who doesn’t know what they are and why they are there is unbearable to me.  so they are coming along,  even though they may not like it.

we started last weekend with the japanese maple.

we located the largest plastic pot we could find, about 20″ and drilled holes in the bottom:

i put stones in the bottom for drainage:

we filled it with a small amount of potting soil:

and then we set to work digging her out.  well, my husband did that.  i took pictures.  here she is:

we worked, and worked around the base; digging and lifting in order to get a good sized root ball.

pause here for a brief look at the east side garden:

the majority (if not all) of these plants will stay here.  i’m still undecided about the siberian iris….

back to the tree.  we then lifted her out, and placed her in the pot.

we then added some more soil, some mulch, and with the help of a wheel barrow moved her to the back porch.  we have no pictures to document this little journey because i had to put down the camera and hang on to her to keep her from toppling out of the wheel barrow.

she made it though just fine, where we positioned her and watered her in.

i was pleased that she showed very little signs of stress and seems to have transitioned quite well.  so well in fact, i’m thinking we may keep her in a container permanently and use her for the outdoor seating area of the master bedroom we have planned for our future place.

isn’t she lovely?

 

 

 

April 11, 2012

zeke

my husband and i had just been talking that morning about how it was just a matter of time.  i had been saying that i felt much more comfortable with our “plan b” in inola, than the “plan a” in skiatook.  among other reasons,  it seemed less likely to me that we’d encounter a venomous snake on our grassy acreage, than in the woodsy, rocky terrain we had looked at previously.  nevertheless, we do have a pond; and the pond is home to frogs.  we also have tall grass, and the grass, i’m sure is home to rodents. since snakes eat frogs and mice,  it was just a matter of time before we encountered an unwelcome reptile.

i hate snakes.

i hate them with a passion.   they terrify me, and i, for some strange reason seem to attract them.   i ended up with one in my lap once.  i was preparing to  demonstrate the use of a pedal sewing machine to a group of central american ladies, when the little fella who’d been sleeping down in the well of the machine, crawled out onto my lap.  that experience wasn’t what gave me a mortal fear of snakes.  i had it before then.

so last weekend we took a drive out to the property to see how the water tap was coming along and we decided to explore the perimeter of the pond.

when all of a sudden husby exclaims: SSSNNNNAAAAKE!

to which i responded: omgomgomgomg.

but for some unexplained reason, instead of heading to the car, i had to have a look at it myself.  so i proceeded to omg over to where sweetie was standing.

sure enough, there curled up in the grass was a snake.

perhaps it was because it was just sitting there, nonchalantly, not seeming to really give a care that we were there that i decided to leave it alone. it didn’t budge, it didn’t bat an eye.  it just contentedly napped in the sun. under normal circumstances i’d have sought out the nearest blunt object and proceeded to hack it into a million pieces (i’ve actually done this to a large grass snake.  much, much easier said than done, in case you were wondering.)

to the best of my limited knowledge (the snakes of OK website) he is a graham’s crayfish snake (who is graham?), called so because he eats, well, crayfish as well as frogs.  and as far as i can tell he is not poisonous.  i know this, not because i looked at his pupils, but because he didn’t seem to match any of the “venomous snake” photos on the snakes of OK website.

so we’ve christened him “zeke” and for the time being, i’ve decided he can stay.  we feel he probably contributes to the natural ecosystem and that system is best left undisturbed.  should, however, zeke decide to explore my garden some afternoon, contentedly sleeping or not, he’ll meet the sharp edge of a garden hoe.

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April 9, 2012

the water tap part 3

the newest addition to our farmette:

…and it is the most beautiful ugly thing i have ever seen.

April 7, 2012

lovely lettuces all in a row…

from back to front: red velvet, yugoslavian butterhead, and amish deer tongue.  i’ve worked on these since february.  we’ll probably consume them in about a week.   i definitely need more space….

April 5, 2012

menu for a spring luncheon

ginger marinated pork tenderloin

french potato salad

sesame seed asparagus

angel food cake with strawberries

the original inspiration for this meal  fixed for a recent family dinner was from a cooking class i attended some years ago.  i particularly remember this class, sitting on a stool at a large counter feeling much like a dumpy housewife, when in swept a rail thin, beautifully dressed middle aged woman with a designer bag.  as the class progressed,  i felt so intimidated.

until she opened her mouth.

the instructor was stirring something with a simple wooden spoon.  thin lady asked: “so, this spoon, is this something all good cooks use? and are they very expensive?”  i just about fell off my stool.  she obviously thought this was basic cooking 101.  i mean really.  a wooden spoon???  it was all i could do not to holler “oh my goodness madam. yes.  we all have one.  i have six. and they each cost more than your bag.”

while the class wasn’t general cooking, the menu presented wasn’t terribly difficult either.  i make it often in the spring, and even made it once for easter dinner using chicken instead of the pork.    while the potato salad is served warm or at room temperature, it can be made a day ahead, and the pork can be marinated overnight. you then have time to finish cleaning the house, decorate, and set the table.

once the meat is put in the oven the day of the meal, all that needs to be done is the asparagus and the strawberries for the cake, which i confess, was store bought.  if you want to make an angel food cake from scratch then, yes, a bit more effort is required, and (in my honest opinion) more power to ya.

french potato salad

the red and white potatoes are optional, but they add a very nice touch. i used mini yukon golds instead of white and they were wonderful.

1 pound of small white boiling potatoes

1 pound of small red boiling potatoes

2 tablespoons good dry white wine

2 tablespoons of chicken stock

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon of dijon mustard

2 teaspoons of kosher salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

10 tablespoons of olive oil

1/4 cup of minced scallions; green and white parts

2 tablespoons minced fresh dill

2 tablespoons of minced fresh parsley

2 tablespoons chiffonade of fresh basil leaves

bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  add the red and white potatoes and cook for 20-30 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork.  drain in a colander, and place a towel over them to steam for an additional 1o minutes.  when cool enough to handle cut into halves or quarters (if the potatoes are large) and place in a medium bowl.  toss gently with the wine and chicken stock.  allow the liquids to soak into the warm potatoes before proceeding.

combine the vinegar, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper and slowly whisk in the olive oil.  add the vinaigrette to the potatoes.  add the scallions, dill, parsley, basil, and salt and pepper and toss.  serve warm or at room temperature.

serves 4-6

ginger marinated pork tenderloin

1 cup of honey

3/4 cup of soy sauce

1/4 cup of minced garlic (about 12 cloves)

1/2 cup of fresh grated ginger root

3 pounds of pork tenderloin ( i used two; 1 1/2 pounds each)

combine the honey, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger.  pour over the tenderloin and cover.

allow to marinate overnight.  remove pork to foil lined baking sheet.  if desired, pour some of the marinade over the pork and discard the remainder.   bake at  375 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until pork reaches desired internal temperature (mine is 160 degrees).  do not overbake.

serves 4-6

sesame seed asparagus

1 pound of fresh asparagus

2 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds

2 teaspoons of sesame seed oil, plus more as desired

salt and pepper to taste

lightly steam asparagus; drain, and arrange on serving platter.  season with salt and pepper.  sprinkle with sesame seeds, and drizzle with the sesame seed oil.   serve immediately.

serves 4-6

angel food cake with strawberries

make the strawberries earlier in the day so the juices have time to release.

1 prepared angel food cake

8 oz. of strawberries

2 tablespoons of sugar

1 cup of whipping cream

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

slice cake and arrange on serving dish or platter.  wash, hull, and slice strawberries.  sprinkle with sugar and set aside.  pour cream into mixing bowl.  add powdered sugar and vanilla.  whip just until stiff peaks form.  to serve, spoon berries over a slice of cake and top with the whipped cream.

April 2, 2012

my travel diary

as i have said before my husband travels extensively with his job.  i knew this when i married him.  it was part of the deal.  normally though he would just travel once or twice a month, so the time away was manageable especially since he offices from our home; so when he is home, he’s home.  lately though,  his time away has increased to every single week.  this isn’t as doable for us so every so often i  tag along in order to spend more time together.   i love tagging along.  it gives me the chance to see where he stays, where he works, and the restaurants he frequents so that when he comes home and talks about these things,  i can better visualize where he has been.

last week i tagged along.   i had the wonderful privilege of spending five days in hurst, tx with my sweetie.  hurst, in case you didn’t know (i didn’t), is a suburb of dallas. now, i’ve already done the dallas thing the last time i tagged along: neiman marcus, sixth floor museum, and all that.  so this week was a bit more, how can i say, low key.  which was lovely because, truth be told: i’m not really into shopping and sight seeing.  i hate to shop unless it is for groceries or plants; and my idea of sight-seeing is to look at restored older homes.

so without further ado: these are the hilights of my trip; i present to you my humble  travel diary:

day 1:  arrived at hotel.  i then ummmm….took a bubble bath and finished my book.   had dinner at my husband’s monday night haunt.

 

 

 

day 2:  ran moday night’s dinner (veal parmesan) off while on the treadmill.  decided i love the convenience of a treadmill.  began figuring out how we can have a treadmill on our farm…battled the dallas traffic to get to central market where i had lunch outside while reading up on keeping chickens.  shopped.  bought, mushroom flavored finishing salt and tea biscuits, among many other fabulous foodie things.  battled the traffic to get home, and was nearly caught in a wreck.  was so traumatized i spent the afternoon at the hotel watching tv.  we don’t own a tv, so we don’t obviously watch much.  it was the first time i’ve ever seen paula deen in action.  i was mesmerized by this woman with big eyes and a molasses thick southern accent, using prolific amounts of butter.  i still……can’t get over it.   had an absolutely beautiful candlelit dinner with my sweetie at a french bistro: complete with escargot and floating island for dessert.

day 3: ran tuesday  night’s dinner off while on the treadmill.  still want a treadmill.  still traumatized by dallas traffic.  so much so that i seriously considered skipping the dallas arboretum.  gathered my courage, and my gps, and mapquest directions, prayed hard, and went to the arboretum.  i. was. floored.  it was amazing.  took dozens of photos and decided that we will not keep chickens and plant vegetables, we will have ten acres of amazing gardens instead.  now to figure out how to assemble a staff….. purchased some texas wildflower seeds to see how they will do here in oklahoma.  had barbeque for dinner at another one of husbie’s weekly haunts.

day 4: ran wednesday night’s dinner off while on the treadmill.  come hell or high water we are getting a treadmill.  and a tv. and cable.  so i can watch the food network while burning calories.  spent the entire day “off” working on my cross stitch while watching (you guessed it) paula deen.  and occasionally ina garten whom i am coming to admire almost as much as julia child.  made a brief excursion out to a cupcake bar where i ordered nothing more than one chocolate cupcake with chocolate buttercream and one vanilla with chocolate buttercream.  my only adventurous ingredient was reeces pieces sprinkled on top which i regretted.  what can i say?  i’m a purist.  had a lovely dinner sitting outside where i discovered blackberry mojitos. omg ya’ll (said with a southern crack like paula deen).  i now have a new favorite cocktail.  move over pomegranate martinis….

day 5: ran thursday night’s dinner and mojitos off while on the treadmill.  contemplated where to shop for our new treadmill and where to put it in my tiny barn-cottage.   showered, packed, crammed my central market groceries into my suitcase.  decided on one final fling: lunch at the new in and out burger across the street.  in and out was closed: not to open for another eight days, so i spent an hour trying to find something else, getting lost, panicking, battling traffic, and getting lost again.  ended up very frazzled at starbucks where i settled for a “bistro box”.   met up with husbie and made our way to the airport for home.  uneventful flight where i caught up on my chicken garden book.  spent the evening on the back porch, looking at our overgrown yard,  and planning the upcoming week.