Wednesday, April 14, 2021

GARDEN GROWING AND A TREE CASUALTY

The garden is growing nicely...


The "Early Girl" tomato is putting on blossoms, living up to her name, ha.  The "Better Boy" seems to be just about to bloom as well so he's not far behind.  


Both of the "Pickling Cucumbers" are getting larger.  Can't wait for them to take off and go crazy.  Hopefully in a couple of months we'll be asking for pickle canning recipes that taste great and are easy!

The basil is growing well and so are the eggplants.  I also planted the jalapeño and Thai basil, we'll see how they do over the coming weeks.


We do have one more casualty of the record breaking Winter storm; the peach tree!?  It was in full bloom just before the freeze so of course the blooms were killed but we thought that would be the extent of it.  Alas, it's mostly dead.  The branches are brown and crispy...


...and here is the base.  It is leafing out but as is often the case, when the new growth is coming from below the graft, it will most likely never produce fruit, and this is all from below the graft.  We can't wait a few years to see if this tiny bush will grow into some sort of tree and then see if it will produce fruit.  We'll leave it as is while we're looking for a replacement but then it will be removed and replaced.  This was a "Tropic Beauty" peach tree.  Odd that it didn't make it because they are supposed to be tolerant to below zero, but hey, we'll keep trying.  Might try a different variety this time, still something for our area of course.

You win some and lose some.  We win more than we lose so we'll take that.

Monday, April 12, 2021

ZEN MACHINE BACK AGAIN OH AND QUAIL

OK...let's try this again!


Got the Zen Machine back ($178 later, ugh) after bending a spindle shaft and snapping a drive belt.  In almost ten years of mowing, first time that's happened.  Not sure how, probably a tough branch or thorny one from a mesquite that got caught up in the belt.  At least it's back and THIS time, they cleaned it!


It was a normal time and distance (well maybe a bit longer) but the the weather was cool and breezy and it was a fun time like I enjoy.  I didn't solve all the world's problems but I came close, LOL!


Here's a different angle.  This is at the point of our our driveway meeting up with 2nd Family's driveway.  You can see our barn waaaay down there at the end.  This is still a few acres from the road (which is behind me from the angle I was taking the picture).  

And this was fun...at one point during mowing, I rounded a trail and was startled to see a covey of quail!

Texas Quail, image via pinterest.com

There must have been a couple dozen!  They were too quick to get a picture.  In all the years we've had the property we've never seen quail.  Oh sure, with the acreage we have, there are bound to be some since we're not there full time to see them but it was still a nice surprise.  They all flew off of course with the noise of the mower except for one that just ran everywhere.  As I rounded a corner, it would run in front of me, then I'd see it later, running down a trail.

Such beautiful and unique birds.  I know when hunting season opens, people love them but we'll be happy to just let them roam the property.  We need to find out what they like to eat and put something out to keep them around.

Suggestions? 


All in all, it was a good day, finally, back on the Zen Machine.  Remind me of this though come August when it's a struggle just to get out there in 100+ temps.

Tomorrow an update on the garden and other things growing.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

HOBART SUNDAY

Since we know you all love a Hobart picture, Sunday is always a good day for that...


...here is His Majesty, Hobart the Cat, laying on one of "his" window pillows, soaking up the sunshine.  Yes, he's black but as he gets older and spends time in the sun, his fur gets "rusted" around the edges.

He's such a crazy cat.

And since we all love food pictures, here is one...


...dinner, a Tex-Mex dinner for sure.  Sheet pan quesadillas (recipe coming soon) and then 2nd Man's Mexican rice, some refried beans, and avocado with pico de Gallo.  Yummy!

Hope you are having a good weekend.  Check in tomorrow for updates on the farm.  It was a good day.

Friday, April 9, 2021

LODGE CAST IRON BAKING PAN REVIEW

For our birthdays this year, we said we didn't need to exchange gifts because we considered the farm truck as our big present.  Since the truck will kind of be mine to drive most often, I couldn't let 2nd Man's day go by without a little SOMETHING for him.


For Christmas I had gotten him the pie pan and pizza pan so I decided to add to his collection and bought him the LODGE cast iron baking pan.  It's from their new line of baking cast iron.  This measures 10.5 x 15.5 inches and is about the size of a regular baking sheet.  Of course being cast iron, it is a bit heavier, so plan ahead accordingly.  No top shelf for these, ha.  When I saw this baking pan, the first thing I thought of was biscuits.  So the other day I said "can you make some of your biscuits on your new pan?"  He said sure!

So he made a batch (RECIPE HERE) to see how they would bake up on this new pan.  He had to keep an eye on them since this was all new but...oh...my...


...they rose up and browned so much more evenly than on a standard aluminum baking sheet and came out to biscuit perfection!  Much like the Lodge pizza pan reviewed HERE this was just absolutely perfect for what we will most often do with it, biscuits!


Look at the bottom of these!  They are evenly colored, just as you'd want them and the pan was not greased, no parchment, no foil, no cooking spray, nothing...they were heavenly.  Even heating, no hot spots, no warping at high temperatures, it's very substantial and quality. 

This pan cooked just as well as any cast iron pan they make and cleaned up just as easily.  He's going to try cookies next.  Maybe a focaccia too.  Ironically we had planned on using the pizza pan for our biscuits and/or cookies but of course didn't know we'd own one of these pans.  So we'll save the pizza pan for pizza (or maybe a loaf of bread) while this has instantly become our new go to biscuit pan. 

Darn.  Now I want biscuits...
And sausage gravy...


Wednesday, April 7, 2021

EASTER 2021

Easter 2021 is in the books.

Better than last year, that's for sure.  Last year the world was a very dark place at this time.  2nd Man was unemployed.  I was working from home.  We had stocked up on food and supplies and didn't leave home for weeks at a time.  This year things are definitely looking better this time around.

I bought us these two Lindt bunnies, a milk chocolate one for 2nd Man and a white chocolate one for me.


And 2nd Man found this fun sign for me.  OK, so our truck doesn't look quite like this but hey, it's Easter!


We sort of have an annual Easter dinner tradition of ham, homemade mac and cheese and roasted broccolini.  It's such a great combination of flavors and it looks pretty nice on the plate, ha.

Hope you all had a great Easter holiday!

Monday, April 5, 2021

NANKING CHERRY BUSH

 Several weeks ago, in fact the weekend I got the Zen Machine stuck in the mud, I picked up a couple of plants for the extra two spaces in the raised bed area.  We know we've mentioned a few times that we had something special for the two empty rings.

Well, here is what we got:

CHERRIES!

NANKING CHERRY to be exact.  It is from the same genus as cherry trees are but has a different growth habit.  Instead of a tree, it grows into a large bush form.  When we were trying to find another fruit variety to grow in the orchard area, we thought about cherries.  Of course those do NOT grow down here.  But after some research, we found out about these.  They are heat and drought tolerant (once established of course) and are freeze hardy down to a little below zero.  We got close recently but hopefully we'll be safe from ever having THOSE temperatures around here.

There should also be two to ensure good pollination and since we have two empty spots, these just seemed to be the perfect choice for our needs.


The only way we could find them here was in the form of bare root plants.  Since they were too small to put in the raised beds we put them in potting soil in clay pots and watered them well.  We've kept them this way and have let them grow bigger until it's time to transplant them into the raised beds...that way they have a good strong root system going.


And indeed, here they are a few weeks later after being in the clay pots and soil.  Bigger leaves, new branches, and taller.  So far so good!  We're going to give them a couple more weeks before we put them in their new homes so that they have the best chance.

Nanking cherries, image via wikicommons.com

This is what they will (hopefully!) look like when ripe, usually the second year.  They are smaller than regular cherries with larger pits but have the same cherry flavor and most of the sweetness.  They can be made into jams/jellies and (from what we've read) an amazing cherry syrup and cherry liqueur.  Hoping there might be some cherry pie in our future too.

If we can get these cherries producing, add in the newly planted blueberries and then we have the wild dewberries that are growing all over the property, the possibilities for desserts will be endless, ha.

Triple berry cobbler anyone?  


Saturday, April 3, 2021

FARM FRESH EGGS

We went to the farm yesterday instead of today.  Since we were off work and rain was in the forecast for today, we decided to have a rare weekend just to stay in town, rest, read, catch up on some TV, napping, etc. And sure enough, it's raining right now. We definitely made the right decision.

The day at the farm yesterday went much better than last weekend, ha.  I'll have more of an update later.  One nice thing is that 2nd Family gave us a dozen fresh eggs from their hens.  Well, eleven hens and one duck, ha.  They said they are laying like crazy.

Free fresh eggs?  Yes please! 

Hope you are having a good Easter weekend.


Friday, April 2, 2021

CUTE OR CREEPY FRIDAY FUNNY

OK...so I saw these at the store the other day...

 We love a soft boiled egg on occasion and we have a couple of regular egg cups.  I thought these were really cute but I didn't want to make a purchase until I showed 2nd Man.  So I took this picture and when I got home, I showed him.  He said "no way they are too creepy".  When I asked why he said "because you're spooning into an egg to eat the top half of it while the bottom half has the feet of a chick sticking out like it's already partially hatched. 

I never thought about that way.  I just thought they looked cute.

What do you say?

CUTE or CREEPY?