Lotion in the Kleenex

I would like to dedicate this blog post to the person who invented putting lotion in Kleenex.  May God bless you as if it weren't for you, my nose most likely would have fallen off.  The gasket to my sinuses you see is currently broken and I have a constant, relentless drip. Thank you for preventing the onset of dry, red crusty nose, even though inevitable, you make it manageable. 

So here's to you lotion in the Kleenex man...or woman!

Vertical potato box final update

Well I can't say that my experiment with my vertical potato box was a failure.  I can say that I will have to try a different approach next year.  You can find my series of updates here.

Things I learned:

1.  My fill needed more compost and dirt.
2.  The potatoes growing out of the side of the box faired better than the ones growing straight through.

I decided over the weekend it was time to tear apart my potato box.  The plants were starting to die off and any day it could snow.  It is Iowa after all.

This is a top view of the box. 

As you can see, the once lush plants have died off.

I tugged at one of the plants and this came out.  I see that fill did work a little in that potatoes were growing the entire length of the plant.

However they were fairly nasty looking.
So I started to dig, and dig and dig.  
Only to find nothing but a portion of a Hershey bar wrapper.

And then it appeared. Towards the bottom of the pile I found a potato!

And another one!

Some of the potatoes were small but some were what I would consider a fairly good size.
In the end, I didn't get the 100 lbs that I was hoping for but for a $2 experiment, I will certainly try this again next year. 

In regards to Wilsons experiment, I haven't heard how his has turned out but promise to update as soon as I do.

Pickle Wraps, three ways

These are a favorite appetizer around my parts...although they are called something a little less politically correct.  Regardless, they are delicious and never last. 

There are about a gazillion ways to make this.  Some suggest you use your favorite lunch meat, I will be using beef. (Original recipe calls for a jar of corned beef but I use Carl Buddings sliced beef as it is less expensive.) 

Recipe 1

Things you will need

1 package of sliced beef or a jar of corned beef
1 package cream cheese, softened
Dill Pickles, sliced or whole

(I used homemade sliced pickles for this recipe.  The most outstanding recipe can be found at Gardening in the Boroughs of NYC)

Remove the slices of beef and separate them.  Pat them dry.  Spread a layer of cream cheese on a slice of beef.  If you are using a whole pickle, simply roll the slice of beef around the pickle and secure with a tooth pick.  Using pickle slices, line them along to cover about 3/4 of the slice of beef.  Starting at the pickle side, start rolling and secure with a tooth pick.  Arrange on a plate and stick in the freezer for about 10 minutes. This will help cut the rolls into bite size pieces.

Recipe 2

Follow recipe 1 but add 2 Tablespoons sour cream to the cream cheese and mix well.

Recipe 3

Pickle Wrap Dip

The most time friendly out of the bunch.
Things you will need

1 package of sliced beef or a jar of corned beef, diced
1 package cream cheese, softened
2 T. sour cream or enough to make the cream cheese creamy.
Dill Pickles, finely chopped

Mix all of the ingredients together and eat with crackers.

Feel free to experiment.  You can add hot pickles, extra dill, or even try ham or turkey.  The possibilities are endless but I promise they will be a hit.

I love friends with big toys

Over the growing season, Ms. M, owner of the farm and I have been completely overwhelmed with weed situation at the farm.  Not wanting to spray, our gardens were over come with the weeds that grew at mutant pace.  Eventually we resided to the fact that 1) we would either have to spray or 2) we need to find someone with some big toys to come in a mow the weeds down.  The ground was incredibly full of rivets and was so uneven our rider lawn mowers or worse yet, push mowers were no match.  The lawn mower eating ground disabled two riders in a months time.

During the same period time, we started talking to a neighbor of Ms. M. Well he lives 2 miles a way but in the country, that is a neighbor.  Both of us has known him for years and he has known my husband even longer through darts.  Bless his heart, after my asking how much I could pay him to come by with his big toys and mow the pastures down, he agreed.  The cost...cucumbers.  I will have to grow cucumbers for him next year. Um OK.

Not only was he going to mow the place, but he was going to disc my garden area to prepare it for the spring when he would TILL.  Oh my goodness, there are not enough cucumbers in the world to thank him. 

He mentioned Saturday night that Sunday looked like a good day to disc and to give him a call when I get out there.  About 5 minutes after I arrived, I could hear the sweet sound of a tractor rumbling down the gravel road.  Sweet sweet music to my ears. 

So the place went from this

To this

The beautiful dirt in my garden space for next year.

So to our friend with the big toys, we thank you from the very bottom of our cucumber growing hearts. 

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

In my opinion anything with bacon is good. Ok great. Others must agree with me as I made these appetizers over the weekend for my husbands birthday and they were the first to disappear. 

I will include a couple versions of these poppers.  The first being my favorite.  By the way, I do not have exact measurements as I know what ever I don't use, I will use in something else.

1.  Thin sliced bacon works the best but regular cut will work as well.  DO NOT use thick sliced bacon.
2. You can use any hot pepper of your choosing.  Again, bacon makes everything great.

Bacon wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

1 lb Hickory smoked bacon or bacon of your choice. Preferably thin sliced.
Cream Cheese, softened
Jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded

Options: Brown Sugar, your favorite BBQ sauce.

Prepare a cookie sheet with raised sides preferably with a sheet of aluminum foil for easy cleaning.  Preheat oven at 375 degrees.

Slice bacon strips in thirds or half depending on the size of your peppers.  You want the bacon to cover the pepper from one end to the other.  After halving and removing the seeds from your peppers, fill with with cream cheese.  Starting at one end of the pepper, start wrapping the bacon slice around the pepper, overlapping as you reach the other end.  Be sure the bacon is snug around the pepper.  Secure with a toothpick. 

Line peppers on the cookie sheet about 1 inch apart.  Either leave plain or top with a thin layer of brown sugar.  Bake in the oven between 20-25 minutes.  If you are using BBQ sauce, brush sauce on poppers after about 15 minutes.  Bake an additional 5-10 minutes. 

Tip: You may want to drain the bacon fat out of the sheet about 1/2 way through to help crisp the bacon. 

Remove from oven when bacon reaches your desired crispness. Drain on a rack or a clean cloth.  Enjoy.

Jalapeno Poppers
(Again, I do not have measurements as we just go along until we run out of jalapenos.  About a lb will use 1 block of cream cheese.  Use your personal taste with this.  Add more bacon if you choose or more shredded cheese.  Play around with it to find your favorite combination.)

cream cheese, softened
shredded cheese of your choice, (mexican or taco is our recommendation)
Jalapenos, halved lengthwise and seeded

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Crisp bacon.  Once cooled, crumble.  In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, between 1/4 - 1/2 cup shredded cheese and desired amount of cooled, crumbled bacon.  Fill the seeded and sliced jalapenos with cheese mixture.  Line in a cookie sheet with raised sides side by side, top with remaining shredded cheese.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Top with remaining bacon. 

Allow to cool and enjoy!

I promise these will be a hit.  Hope you like them!

Homemade Bagels - Bread Machine

Last Saturday, I began the morning by making homemade bagels.  My daughter loves these and calls them "backles" (like pickles).  She tries to sneak them before bed, is the first thing that she thinks of when she wakes up and sits in front of the stove watching through the window until they are done.  Waiting for them to cool is nearly impossible. 

I use a bread machine to mix the dough.  Life is so much easier with a bread machine. But if you insist on working your biceps, feel free to knead away.

Things you will need:

1 cup warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons of white sugar
3 cups bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

Once dough is complete:
3 quarts boiling water
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoons cornmeal*
1 egg white

*The cornmeal I consider to be optional.  It is used to help release the bagels from the pan.  I'm not a huge fan of cornmeal and use a non stick cookie sheet. The bagels release with no problem and now cooking spray.

1.  Place the first 5 ingredients into the bread machine in the listed order.  Water, salt, sugar, flour and yeast. Select the dough setting or start if you choose, start kneading away.
2.  When the cycle is complete, let the dough rest on a lightly floured surface.  Meanwhile, in a large pot bring 3 quarts of water to a boil.  Stir in 3 tablespoons of sugar.  (I have found that if I let the dough rise longer than the complete bread machine cycle, the dough responds better.  The dough should be pliable and just barely sticky.)
3.  Cut dough into 9 equal pieces, and role each piece into a small ball.  Flatten balls. (do not actually flatten them flat. Just pat them down until the top is level.)  Poke a hole in the middle of each with your thumb.  Twirl the dough on your finger or thumb to enlarge the hole, and to even out the dough around the hole.  Cover bagels with a clean cloth, and let rest for 10 minutes.
4.  OPTIONAL, Sprinkle an ungreased baking sheet with cornmeal.  Carefully transfer bagels to boiling water.  Boil for 1 minute, turning half way through.  Drain briefly on clean towel.  Arrange boiled bagels on baking sheet.  Glaze tops with egg white and sprinkle with your choice of toppings.  (Poppy Seeds, onions, garlic, etc, or just plain)
5.  Bake in a preheated 375 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes until well browned. (If you like an almost hard outside let the bagel get a nice rich golden brown.  We prefer ours to be lightly brown and a little soft.)

Top with fresh made butter and enjoy!

Our adventures in making bagels

My 3 year old insists that a well flattened bagel is the way to go.

Holed and twirled bagels ready to be boiled. Notice my daughters hole less bagel.

Boiling the bagel.

My daughters hole less bagel. 

The Food I made Saturday

My husbands birthday was last Friday and to celebrate, he wanted to have two of his close friend over Saturday evening.  I certainly couldn't let the guys go hungry so I got up early and started my day in the kitchen.

I will be posting these recipes throughout the week.

I began the day at 6:30 as I needed to wake early to make homemade bagels.

Then I moved on to make an enormous batch of Green Tomato Salsa Verde.  8 lbs of green tomatoes to be exact.

I ended up canning this for later as I know we will use it.  The left over was used for dip later on.

Next were the homemade cupcakes and frosting.  These did not last long at all.

Using homemade pickle slices, I made pickle rolls.  These were a hit.

Not as much of a hit as the hickory smoked bacon wrapped hot and jalepeno pepper poppers.

These didn't last either.  Holy cow these were good and thankfully we still have peppers growing in the garden as we used those. 

Anyway, watch for recipes throughout the week. I feel as if I need to go diet now.

Another One Bites the Dust

Click above to turn the music ON
Every time I look at my garden, this song goes through my head. Usually it stays there for a good couple hours after the initial loop. I can almost always depend on my daughter to break the loop by her ever repeating songs. Her songs of choice? You spin me Round and Barneys, I love you. The I love you song is usually accompanied by a kiss and a hug so not only am I grateful she broke the looping song in my head , but that I received some love as well.

But as the leaves start to die...

and random night frost becomes my plants grim reaper...

my winter hobby begins.

When I first met my husband, he was involved in about every activity that was available to him in our town. Softball, bowling, darts where his favorites. If I haven't mentioned before, I am not very coordinated. My hands and feet do not work well with my brain. So in order to spend time with the hubs, I decided to join a bowling league with him. Who knew that bowling took so much cooperation between my feet and hands. Needless to say that was short lived.

So with the prompting of my cousin, I decided to try darts. In darts my feet stay put and only my right arm moves. It takes concentration and strategic plays. I fell in love with it. So much so, my cousin and I decided that we needed to compete at the state level last year and what do you know, we placed 5th! Granted we were in the lowest level but for the first year and her being 8 months pregnant, we did awesome.

So as my plants bite the dust, I will begin my next fun endeavor.

Wonderful Green Tomato recipe

I have been experimenting with recipes that involved green tomatoes to use up what is left in my garden

I came across this incredible recipe for green tomato salsa verde and had to share. http://moderncomfortfood.com/2010/09/green-tomato-salsa-verde/

I made this salsa verde to accompany the tacos i made for dinner, right before my daughters dance class. Her instructor, Ms. M., owner of the farm immediatly came over to me after class and asked me if I was cooking something before we arrived. She mentioned that my daughter smelled delicious. It never occured to me that we would smell like the dinner we cook and consume. Good thing dinner smelled so good! I was able to share in the olfactory delight when I returned home only to find myself having to resist the urge to lick the walls.

So if the urge to lick the wall (which I did not do) is any indication as to the deliciousness of a recipe, this one is is at the top of the list.

Hope you like it as much as my family and Ms. M. do.
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Long time, no post

So both my husband and a coworker have mentioned that they are getting bored with my old post.  Yes, I know, I have been slacking.  I have a whole slew of post ideas, I just haven't gotten around to posting them.

I think it is the cooler, dry, fall weather that makes me want to make comfort food and just veg on the couch.  Having my favorite shows on tv doesn't help much either.

We have had unbelievably incredible weather for the past 2 weeks. We are still wearing short sleeves and flip flops where as last year, at this time, there was a foot of snow on the ground.  That snow didn't go away until almost April of this year. 

So I have been taking it easy and slowly but surely cleaning up the garden. My daughter helped me remove about 10 of the 74 tomato plants from the home garden.  We removed the green tomatoes and are going to experiment with salsa.  While doing this, I came across 2 volunteer tomatoes.  Can you believe that.  Just goes to show how warm our fall has been.

I have about 100-200 lbs of potatoes left in the ground at the farm but with the onslaught of weeds, digging has been a bear.  It takes about an hour to dig approximately 20-30 feet of ground.  So I have been taking it easy. Just one row every couple days.

These were fresh from the ground if you couldn't tell.  I will be leaving the dirt on them while I store them in my basement for the winter. My neighbor Wilson mentioned that this helps to keep them longer. 

While I was out at the farm, Ms. M. showed me a passion flower off of her beautiful vine.  Mine didn't make it this year due to either too much rain or simply not enough sunlight. 

This has to be one of the most unique flowers I have ever seen.  Just simply beautiful. 

While out in the country, I was able to witness one of the most beautiful sunsets that I have seen in at least a week.  Sunsets and clouds seem to be plentiful this year.  Not that I'm complaining.

I promise I will be more diligent about posting more often. 

Off for now!

Fantastic weekend

I honestly do not think we could have asked for a better weekend.  My husband is one panel away from completing the greenhouse.  We ran out of screws and tape so we are waiting for that to arrive.  We had close friends over, went to an Octoberfest in a small German settlement town, and watched football.  This weekend had to be one of the most relaxing weekends I have had in a long time.  For some reason, fall has the ability to sooth, slow things down a bit, and helps us enjoy the things and friends around us. 

Saturday, we took my daughter to Octoberfest in the Amana's.  The Amana's is a series of historical towns first settled by Germans in the eastern part of Iowa.  Honestly it is pretty much a tourist trap anymore but who can resist Iowa made wines, authentic German family style eating, polka music and beer from the brewery.  With the Octoberfest, all of this was in full force along with the constant smell of roasted beef, good German brats, and sauerkraut lingering in the air.  It was awesome.

The clouds were amazing on the drive over.  They took over the brilliant blue sky.  Unfortunately the pictures from my droid did not do them any justice.

When we arrived, we v-lined to the brewery where they had a live polka band playing.

Millstream brewery is the oldest Microbrewery in the state of Iowa...as you can tell from the sign.  This is where my brother got his start as a brew master and where he won one if not two awards for his recipes.  I also worked for them for a short period doing beer and root beer demos at grocery stores all over the state.  That was an awesome job and I always surprised people that I could demo alcohol.  Plus I was able to keep the left overs...bonus! Anyway, their root beer is incredible.  We had to pick up a 6 pack before we left and since they had a booth set up, we got a small sample for my daughter.  She has never tasted pop before.  It is something we simply do not drink and it isn't in the house.  But their root beer had to be experienced and she loved it.  We let her have a 1/2 a cup as a treat that day.

Beer games were being played in a field while we were there.  Keg rolling and plank walking is what we witnessed.  The gentleman in the middle is walking the plank with what I believe two pints in his hands.  Oh what fun.

My daughter couldn't get enough of the polka music.

This gentleman yodeled like no one else.  This intrigued my daughter to the point she had to get out and bust a move. She couldn't take sitting still.  She had to shake it and there was no stopping her.  We took her to the dance floor and off she went.

 She danced so hard she bounced the curls right out of her hair.

The only thing missing that day was my son.  He was spending the weekend with his dad so I suppose we will need to take him next year.

The next day, we cleaned the house.  My mother stopped by and spent some time with my daughter which of course both of them loved.  Friends stopped by throughout the day and I even was able to pick 8 lbs of tomatoes that I turned into our dinner for the night...chili.

Nice thick, stick your fork in it chili.  I used my bloody mary mix and added chili powder.  My son the taste tester absolutely loved it.  In fact he said "Whoa, this is good." I rarely get that response so I was satisfied.  But what made this chili extra special is that we had friends visit that hadn't been over in a long time.  Being able to spend time with them made our day.

I hope everyone else had an equally as great weekend as we did.  I'm hoping the weather will continue so we can have more.