Wednesday, January 31, 2018


I've been really getting us into "sheet pan dinners". They are trendy now but of course, we're late to the game as usual.  Hey, better late than never, right?  This one is a favorite.  Sheet pan tacos, without the shell (great for low carb diets)!


2 1/2 lbs lean ground beef (90/10 works best)
2 cups shredded cheddar
1 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup taco seasoning 
salt pepper to taste
3 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
2 cups chopped tomatoes/onions/jalapeños
(we used an already prepared pico de gallo mix from the grocery store produce section)
sour cream (to taste)
avocados (optional)

Ground beef, onions, taco seasoning mix
We started with 2 1/2 lbs of ground beef.  We used 90/10 so that there would not be a large amount of grease.  We mixed the meat with 1/4 cup taco seasoning mix (a gift of homemade), 1 cup of diced onion, salt and pepper to taste.

It's sort of like mixing a meatloaf.    

2 1/2 lbs is just enough to spread into an even layer on the bottom of a standard size baking sheet.   

Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.  There will be shrinkage.  And fat.  We drain that off.  If you are careful you can angle the pan and pour it off without losing the meat but again, be careful!

Cover it with 2 cups shredded cheese, we used a cheddar blend and put it back in the oven.

Ground beef and cheese on a sheet pan
Bake for 10 minutes more or until the cheese is melted and bubbling.  Remove from oven.

Tacos on a sheet pan
Then you just sprinkle on whatever taco toppings you want.  The standard makings of a taco are lettuce (shredded iceberg), chopped tomatoes, onions and jalapeños.  You can put avocados on but we forgot them here. We did remember the sour cream though.  

Sheet pan taco dinner
Slice them up and serve on a plate.  It's just like you are eating naked.  Naked tacos that is.  Not you yourself.  Unless you like that sort of thing. 

Enjoy, they are really delicious and super simple!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018


OK, cute picture time.  So a couple weekends ago, I was roaming around the property checking fence lines mostly and I saw this black cow with her baby...

But as I got close to take a picture, a second one peered out from behind the safety of mama!

Two for the price of one!  

They walked further away from the fence, wary of this stranger with the camera.  THEY WERE SO CUTE!  But they stood there, staring at me for a bit...

...and then decided caution was the better option and wandered away.  This is a property of a few hundred acres that backs up to ours.  The cows have free range of the whole property and so when we have them by our fence line, we're always appreciative of their visits.  We find cows such interesting creatures. as they really do seem to be curious.  They do however, more often than not, remain wary of strangers.

We wish they'd just come to the fence line for a head scratching.  They have no idea what they are missing, ha!

Monday, January 29, 2018


This is something I've been doing this past season, and thought now that Spring/Summer/Fall are over, it would be interesting to see the progress: 

March - we still had the chives from year's past and the garlic in the back bed.  But nothing planted yet.  We think this year we will start planting in March instead of...

...April.  Here is when we first planted things last year.  All the beds had something in them.  They started slow but grew quickly and by...

...May, they were starting to fill in.  We were harvesting herbs and even a couple of peppers, and the cucumbers started but...  

...June is when everything went crazy all at once. We had herbs and peppers and cucumbers, lots and lots of cucumbers. Peppers and eggplants and zucchini.  But all good things must start to fade and so by...

...July, they were starting to fade.  Still herbs and peppers, lots of peppers, and of course okra was doing well for a bit.  The last cucumbers came in but the heat of...

...August was too much for most of the veggies and so we pulled them up.  All we had left were herbs and a few peppers and eggplants.  We used the month to clean the beds up and by the time...

...September rolled around, it was empty.  The weather in September was so crazy.  The month started with the epic floods from Harvey.  Then it was so warm after the rains that none of the usual Fall crops could be planted until...  

...October.  See them in the back beds?  Small but growing.  We decided to not do much since we got such a late start and there was other stuff to do so we just watered and waited and in...

...November, well, there wasn't much happening, ha.  It was growing, but not fast.  Again, might have waited too late and of course our weather was still warmer than usual.  Our first official harvest though was in...

...December.  We harvested collards.  The cabbage was still growing.  And we had our first light freeze.  And snow!  And then a hard freeze.  But by...

...January, well, we have had another hard freeze and ice.  Garlic is coming up great.  The cabbage is growing but not sure if it will produce before Spring planting comes.  We are still cutting collards.  

The weather forecasters are telling us not to plant anything in February, because some models show a hard freeze or possibly two.  So February will be planning month to decide what we'll grow and get it all ready for the first of March, instead of April.  

Come on Spring!

Friday, January 26, 2018


So Hobart was sacked out the other day partially under the comforter in the bedroom.  

An all black cat. Black fur, black whiskers. Which direction is he laying we wondered? 

Is this his head buried in the comforter or is this his butt end?  After taking a few pics, we called his name...

OOPS!  There are his the OTHER end.
(click to enlarge)  

We have to laugh because he'll be sitting in a darkened room, his eyes closed, and we can't tell if he's facing us or has his back to us.  It's just a black fur outline of a cat.  Sometimes he'll just appear at your feet when the lights are off.  We're not quite sure if he's trying to trip us.  HA!


Thursday, January 25, 2018


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!

Outdoor tree lighting, image via Pinterest
We've posted other times on Inspiration Thursday about lighting ideas in some of our outdoor areas.  Many of them are elaborate and wrapped around every branch of a tree.  But when we saw this, it made us realize there are other options.

Sometimes simple is elegant.  We like the way this looks and the impact it has.  It's almost magical in a way.  Of course we'd have to find the perfect tree!

Be inspired!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018


OK, so a few weeks ago, blog friend Texas Rose posted this recipe in the comments.  It sounded good and best of all easy.  So I baked a loaf.

End result: WOW on BOTH parts.

2nd Man was impressed.  I had to confess to him that it was very easy. 

Beer bread ingredients
Here are the ingredients.  Yep, that's it, only four!  And one of them (the butter) you melt and only use right before it's finished.  

In a medium size bowl, mix 3 cups self rising flour with 1/2 cup sugar.  

Then add one can (12oz) beer.  We used Shiner Bock because we happened to have that.  The alcohol cooks off of course but it does impart a bit a flavor, more like a good yeasty bread flavor.  We're sure that if you used a good Guinness stout it might be a heavier tasting bread.  Light beer just the opposite.  It will be fun to experiment with that.  Oh, and for best results, let beer come to room temperature.  

Beer bread dough
Stir to combine.  It's a wet, sticky dough, so just stir until mixed.  At this point there is an option, that we have yet to try but will:

You could add just about anything you wished.  Cheese.  Peppers.  Sausage.  Veggies.  Seeds/nuts.  

Grease a standard loaf/bread pan.  

Put dough into the pan and place into a 350 degree preheated oven.  Bake for 45 minutes.

Get your melted butter ready...

Beer bread baking
After 45 minutes, take it out and pour the butter all over the top of the loaf.  Place it right back in the oven for 15 minutes more. 

It should be golden brown, but to sure it's done, use a toothpick. When inserted, it should come out clean.  

Beer bread
Let the bread sit in the pan for about 5 - 10 minutes and then turn out onto a cooling rack.  Allow to cool for about 15 more minutes, if you can wait that long.

Sliced beer bread
Slice and enjoy!
It was so good.  

Beer bread toast and jam
The next morning we toasted some slices and ate it with homemade peach jam and strawberry jam sent to us by a dear friend.  It makes wonderful toast too!  The great thing about this recipe is that you can mix together a loaf of bread and have it in the oven to bake in mere minutes.

Nothing like hot bread fresh from the oven, 2nd Man has already asked me to make it three times since I took these pictures.  It's now in regular rotation!

THANK YOU TEXAS ROSE for the recipe!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


We're late on this post but wanted to share.  2nd Man and I spent the long Christmas weekend together instead of with family.  We had a good time and just being together in the quiet of home, no worries about work, was gift enough.  

Of course we DID have to get a visit from Santa, I mean it WAS Christmas after all, ha.  We usually try to just get two or three items each so that we have something to open.  We also try to be practical in things that we can truly use.  For me, almost always something related to the farm and gardening and for 2nd Man, it's almost always cooking related.

2nd Man remembered that during the Spring/Summer, when I'm mowing in the sun, I tend to get the back of my neck sunburned.  

So he found a fabulous hat for me:


OK, so it's not THIS hat...though this hat IS indeed fabulous!

Instead, he found this one!  It's awesome, has a wide brim, mesh around the head to let out heat, vent holes and of course a really substantial flap portion that covers ears and the entire back of the neck.  It will DEFINITELY be used this year.  

Then he remembered that I was always talking about listening to music on my iPhone while in the garden. 

So he found a great solution:

No, not this DIY lifehack speaker with stand, ha! 

Instead, he got not one but TWO of these for me!  They are wireless stereo speakers, waterproof and made for outdoor use.  Not to leave outside all the time but if they are in the garden and get dirty when I pick them up, or covered with grass clippings, or water splashed on them, there are no worries. 

They are rechargeable and bluetooth.  Now I can have one in the garden and another on the porch (or the barn/shed).  As I walk from place to place with my phone in my pocket, the music will follow me to each speaker via bluetooth.  

Nosey cows
It's going to be interesting to see how the neighbor's livestock reacts to the new sounds coming from the garden they are always so fascinated with.  I think I've heard that cattle like music?  

2nd Man got a new piece of Le Creuset to add to his collection (it's his favorite brand) and a couple of personalized items, a baking themed t-shirt and hat with his name on them.  Oh and speaking of cooking, a couple of cookbooks he had been wanting as well.  I always say his gifts to him are a win for me.  He gets a gift for cooking, I get the end result. 

Hope you all had a great end of year holiday season and got everything you wanted!

Monday, January 22, 2018


It was a warmer day and overcast when we got to the farm on Saturday.  But it smelled like rain (side note, I love the smell of coming rain).

Everything is brown and lifeless now.
16 degrees will do that.

The cabbage is still growing.  There are heads in the middle but not sure if we'll ever get any.  We're willing to wait, until it's time to use the bed for Spring planting of course, ha!  

Come on cabbage, we're rooting for you!

The citrus.  Ah...the citrus.  Well, I took the covers off and checked them.  Some damage but I see green branches.  This is the orange tree.  The lemon was the same.

We are holding out hope for those two...

...but this is the lime tree.  It looks a little worse for wear.  I do see some hint of green though.  We'll see in the Spring.  Does anyone have advice on them?  Do we pluck off all the leaves or just let them fall off naturally?  Wait till Spring?  Water regularly or let rain take care of it?  What to prune off the obviously dead branches? 

Alas, HERE is a definite casualty of the freeze.  Forgot to take the top of the birdbath and flip it upside down.  It filled with rain and then when it froze, well, let's just say we'll be needing a new one.  

Lesson learned.

On the good news front, 2nd Man was worried about his Bay Laurel tree, it was fine.  We harvested some leaves to bring back and use in cooking. 

Also harvested a basket of collard greens.  Brought them back, washed and cleaned them, chopped them and they are in the fridge awaiting use.  

Forgot to post this picture the other day with the freeze post.  2nd Family left a tub of water outside and at 16 degrees, it didn't take long to become solid.  They chipped down into it and it was about 3 inches thick.

We're hoping these major freezes are done for this year.  We might have another light freeze in February (we usually do) but there have never been any hard freezes after January.

Of course until this year, there had never been three snowfalls in one season either so...