Monday, January 27, 2020

CITRUS FREEZE PROTECTION PLAN DIY

Recently, I took advantage of a rare nice Winter weekend and got all the stuff together for any impending freeze that would affect the citrus trees.

This was a test run to make sure it all went together and worked like planned out.


The reason we planted the citrus behind the house was so it would be close to watering for the Summer and electricity in the Winter, so I did some planning and bought the following to make sure we were ready if/when a hard freeze comes:

12 steel stakes (got these at Home Depot)
Bungee Cords with Hooks (2 for each bed)
and finally,

(Links are from Amazon where we ordered them)


These are 6' tall plastic coated steel core garden stakes.  There are three beds to protect (lemon, orange and lime) so we needed a dozen (four per bed).  What would we do with these?  Well, we also needed some tennis balls...


Huh?  I cut an "X" into each one and shoved it onto the end of the stakes...


...so each one looked like this.  Then I shoved them into the soil on each corner of the raised bed.  More on the reason for that in a moment...


Next I took the C9 outdoor Christmas bulbs (1 set will be for each tree) and wrapped it around the tree and plugged the end into the extension cord...


At the back of the house, I plugged the timer into the outlet on the house and since there are three places for plugs on the timer, each of the three extension cords can be plugged in.  Instead of a digital version we opted for mechanical so as not to worry about batteries failing if we're not around, etc.

Then the Ag Fabric freeze cloths were placed over the tree and bed...


And now THIS is why the stakes are there and have the tennis balls on top.  This keeps the fabric from touching the trees in a freeze and the tennis balls keep from poking holes through the fabric.  


Lastly, I stretched the fabric (bought large for future expansion of tree height) so that they were taught on all four corners and then used the bungee cords that we already had to stretch around the base of the bed and hold the fabric down and in place.

I flipped on the switch and it worked great.  Lights came on and all seems like it should work.  Now we won't know how it will work in the first actual freeze until it's put to the test but when we don't live there full time, we have to think outside the box for freezes and do the best we can.  Since there is a timer we can schedule them to come on and off through the night/day and the C9 lights will generate heat that should stay inside the ag fabric and keep the trees warmer than the outside air.  The fabric is breathable so it shouldn't get too hot inside but just in case, bulbs can be removed if we need to use less.

We guess we'll find out on the first freeze.  Of course, this Winter, knock on wood, we've only had the one (prior to us getting these) and we're coming up on February.  We'll see how it goes!



Friday, January 24, 2020

LARGE DRY ERASE BOARD TRASH TO TREASURE

Regular readers know that I have a favorite place to look for bargains...our downstairs trash area!  Our building has trash chutes on every floor and they feed into a separate room, but for boxes and other things that people can't put in the chute, there is an area (indoor) near the loading dock where people can put the things they don't want.  

I've found several cool items over the last couple of years.  Here is one of the latest!


I've been saving up to post about the recent items and here is one of them.  A large dry erase board!


And by large, it's large...3' x 4'.


And as if free didn't seal the deal, well the frame around it is a whitewashed/distressed farmhouse-y kind of look.  2nd Man couldn't believe our luck.  


It doesn't look like it's ever even been used and on the back is still the original little bag stapled on that has the hanging hooks that were never put on.  If it was used, it must have been on an easel or some similar way of standing it up.


For now we have put it in the barn at the farm.  It will eventually be in the house, whatever kind of house we end up with out there.  We can imagine all sorts of uses for a dry erase board in the house.

Sure in this day and age of smart phone apps, tablets and digital assistants, actual WRITING on something is rare but hey, we're old school like that, ha!




Wednesday, January 22, 2020

RAMEN NOODLE CHICKEN BROCCOLI BAKE RECIPE

Here's something new we cooked that we found online.  It sounds weird but wow it came out so good we thought we'd share.

It's a sort of casserole/all in one pan dinner.


You'll need six packages of chicken ramen noodles (at the local grocery store I found them on sale for 6 for a dollar!  Ah the staple of college dorm food, ha).  But you'll only use THREE of the seasoning packets.  You'll also need an 8 oz container of cream cheese with chives/onions and 3 cups milk.


Mix the seasoning packets, milk and cream cheese in a bowl.  I forgot to take the picture but while the original recipe called for 4 cups milk we used 3 cups milk and 1 cup cream.  No one ever said this was fat free, ha.  It's not something to eat every other night but as one of those comforting casseroles every once in a while?  Perfect.  


Get a 9x13 baking dish that fits the six squares of ramen noodles.  We have another pan and I tried ti fit them in and I guess because the sides were sloped they didn't fit.  So I tried another and they fit perfectly.  I suppose if you needed to break some to make it fit you could.  This is just easier.


Next pour over the milk/cream, seasonings, cream cheese mixture.  I should have warmed the milk so the cream cheese would melt into it but I spread it around on top of the noodles and that worked.


Next take some rotisserie chicken and shred it up.  About 2 cups meat or the meat from one chicken.


Scatter the chicken on top of the ramen noodle and liquid mixture...


Now, scatter the frozen broccoli on top of the chicken.  It doesn't need to be thawed, though this sat out while I did the chicken shredding and mixing the sauce up.  It's hot enough to thaw and crisp up...


And lastly, scatter the cheese on top of it all...


And bake in 400 degree oven until the cream sauce is bubbly and the cheese is browned, about 35 minutes.


It looks good from the top...


And creamy noodle-y goodness underneath.  

Ingredients:

  • Six 3-oz pkgs chicken flavored ramen noodles, reserve 3 of the flavor packets (discard the others)
  • One 8-oz pkg chive cream cheese
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 1 large bag frozen broccoli florets
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese


For step by step, see photos above...

Enjoy!

Monday, January 20, 2020

NEW YEARS FOOD TRADITIONS

Late post for this but at least we're still in the same month, ha.  New Year's day eating traditions...


All over the country, there are traditional things to eat on New Year's Day for luck and prosperity in the New Year.  Here in the South it's usually greens and black eyed peas.  

I took this picture at the grocery store in the days before New Year's Eve to remind me to post about this.  Mustard greens, collard greens, black eye peas and out of camera view, chunks of ham, all neatly organized together for convenient purchasing.  They know their market, ha!  

2nd Man doesn't like black eyed peas (I love them) but fortunately we both love greens (and have grown them in our Fall garden for several seasons) so we did have sautéed greens on New Years Day.

We were curious though, what other food traditions are there that you all have out there?



Thursday, January 16, 2020

OUTHOUSE YARD DECOR INSPIRATION THURSDAY

Every Thursday we like to post a picture of something we've found online that inspires us to do something similar at the farm. Sort of our own blog bulletin board so that we can eventually look back and someday, hopefully anyway, recreate it...enjoy!



This is one of those odd things.  I've always thought it would be cool to have something like this tucked away in a corner.  An outhouse.  Non functioning of course but just the look of it like it's old and has been there for years, would be fun to have as a focal point.

Of course 2nd Man said "um, it looks like a place for creatures to live..."  

Be inspired!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

NEST FRESH EGGS BRAND

We get nothing for this post (though if NestFresh is reading this, email us, LOL) but wanted too share this great brand of eggs that we found. We love it when we can get farm fresh eggs from either 2nd Family or the local farmers market, those are about as fresh as you can get.

When we can't though, we found these.
  
NestFresh heirloom eggs
It's hard to find fresh eggs at the grocery store that are just as good as farm fresh but these are pretty darn close.  Nest Fresh heirloom eggs.

Nest Fresh eggs in Temptations egg carrier
They are sourced from family farms that raised their hens humanely, sustainably and without all the nasty stuff.  As you can see above, the eggs are also from various breeds of hens.  You can get brown, blue, speckled, olive green, beige...it's a regular Easter basket, ha. 

We love them for their rich yellow/orange yolks.  They are more expensive than mass produced brans of course but we definitely think they are worth it.

Anyone know of any other great brands we should seek out and look for when we can't get them fresh from 2nd Family?

Monday, January 13, 2020

WEATHER EXTREMES


Friday night we had some very severe weather blow through.  Most of the worst parts stayed to the North and East of us but it was pretty scary for a bit.  There were a few tornado warnings on and off for a couple of hours, a lot of lightning and wind and about an inch of rain at the farm.



 But as with all bad weather, it cleared up on Saturday and turned into a beautiful weekend.


There are weeds creeping back into the raised beds in the garden.  The weather has been so mild this Winter things are happening earlier than normal.


However, the moderately heavy freeze we had a few weeks back seems to have take a toll on the citrus. This is the lime tree.  Branches still have green and they are flexible and not crispy brown so hopefully that's a good sign.


This is the lemon tree, again, all leaves gone and some branches that look questionable but again, when I scratch them, they are still green inside and flexible.


And lastly this is the orange tree.  Even though it's entirely without leaves, it looks the best believe it or not.  Branches are all still green.  

We're hoping for the best, that in the Spring they'll leaf out and green up and we'll have another year of growth before worrying about freezing again.  Of course we know it's only mid January, we may have another freeze so we've purchased some items to prepare them for it just in case.  More on that in an upcoming post.


We mentioned the weather was unusually warm and sure enough, the yard is greening up in some spots.  Can't let our guard down though, it could flip to Winter in a matter of hours this time of year.

Hope you had a great weekend!


Friday, January 10, 2020

CRANBERRY SAUCE FOOD DEBATE

It's time for the "Friday Food Debate" where we tackle some of the burning questions of the culinary world...LOL!

This week, the burning question is:



This was suggested by a wonderful person in the comments a few weeks back.  We thought it was a great one to ask and so before we get too far removed from the holidays, here it is.  

We realize that there are those that do not like cranberries but for those that do, there are two camps when it comes to the ubiquitous side dish.  Chunky whole cranberries in sauce or the jellies that slides out of the can with a plop.  

We like it in all forms actually but if we had to pick a favorite, we're both team jellied.  Maybe it's because that is what we grew up eating at the holidays.  I always enjoy slicing it using the convenient "can lines", ha.  

So...which do you like, solid jelly or whole berry sauce?


Wednesday, January 8, 2020

GREEN CHILE CHICKEN ENCHILADAS RECIPE

This is not a unique recipe, everyone probably makes some derivation of this but this is the one we make (my Mom used to make a similar one all the time) and we really like it.


Two cans of green chili sauce (the other is off camera, ha) and a can of diced green chiles.  This particular day I bought whole by accident so I just chopped them up myself.  It's easier to have them already done so that things move along quicker. 


Next, take all the meat off a rotisserie chicken or a chicken you roast yourself.


Place it in a bowl and mix with the diced green chilies, 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce, some diced onion and cilantro (for those who don't like cilantro; you can of course leave that out).


To that, add sour cream and 1 cup shredded cheese (we use a cheddar blend).  Mix it all together.


Next you take a flour tortilla, spread some of the mixture in the middle of the tortilla and add some sour cream (we love the new Daisy sour cream that is in a squirt tube, makes this part so easy).  Probably a TBSP or two, again it's really all to taste.

I do pop the tortillas in the microwave for about 15 seconds just to make them soft and pliable.  If you use corn tortillas, you heat the sauce and dip them in the sauce to soften them too.  Extra flavor.  


Fold over once, fold in each end and then roll closed.


It will look like this when done.  This recipe makes about eight stuffed enchiladas.


Spread another 1/4 cup of sauce on the bottom of a 13x9 baking dish.  Place them seam side down.

This size usually fits in the dish perfectly with two rows of four.  We have another 13x9 baking dish with sloped sides and they don't fit like this in that one.  Go figure.


Take the remaining enchilada sauce and pour over the top.


On top of that spread the remainder of the cilantro and onions (or onions only) over the top of the sauce and finally...


...spread the remaining 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheese over that.


Pop in a 375 degree oven and bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes or until golden and bubbly.


Here they are just before diving in.  So delicious and real comfort food.  This can be adapted to just about anything...corn tortillas (smaller of course), other seasonings, some people use cream cheese instead of sour cream, you could use turkey of course, add any type of other vegetables, different cheeses etc...

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 8 flour tortillas (we used large size)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 2 cans green chile enchilada sauce
  • 1 small can chopped green chiles
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For step by step, see photos above...

Enjoy!