Friday, August 26, 2011

Sunflowers...does a Body, Mind and Spirit Good!!

I can't help thinking that sunflowers might be the most versatile plant out there. Not only are they beautiful, and make just about anything brighter in their presence, but they are great providers for us (humans) and critters alike. Bees get pollen for their hives, squirrels and chipmunks and birds for their nests. Such a wonderful plant!

My dog kept barking today, at what must've been the wind, because everytime I looked out there was nothing...or nobody. After she barked again, I looked out and this time I saw something...these gorgeous sunflowers outside my window just waiting for me to appreciate their sunny, carefree smiles. So it became clear, sort of, what the dog had been making all the noise about.

This cute fella (the honeybee on the sunflower) doesn't have a care in the world...he's 'nectar drunk' gathering all the pollen his body will carry for his queen.

I kind of look at this picture as two old time sisters on a breezy summer day saying 'Let you hair down's gorgeous out here today. Race you to the swimming hole!' Okay, I'm thinking 'Little House on the Prarie" here. These girls actually sit atop the tallest sunflower that has ever grown in my yard (I think)...about 14 ft. tall!

A 'mutant' flower? One central flower bud with two distinct 'halves'. The twin flower? Or is it saying: 'Hey baby...want to hang out?' Sorry, I have a weird sense of humor. Sometimes I just can't help myself, but hey, I enjoy my flowers!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Homemade Lasagna...Noodles and All

I'm learning, that the fresher the food, the better it tastes.

This is a picture of homemade lasagna noodles I made for dinner last night. Whole wheat noodles at that! I thought my hubby would sneer at that thought, but he had seconds and thirds, and said it was good! That's when I told him it was whole wheat flour, he still didn't mind.

Awhile ago, I got a great, very good quality pasta maker from Goodwill for $5.00...actually $4.99. Every time I pull it out, I thank the bride and groom who decided they didn't want the great gift that their Aunt Lucia gave them! (It's great, and I also thank my Mom for introducing me to homemade pasta when I was a kid, otherwise, I would've never known what a pasta maker looked like.) Homemade pasta is easy and fun to make, a great thing to do with the kids. Not too messy, but just messy enough for them to have fun! And it's definately worth the effort.

Every year, we grow and can tomatoes and sauce. It's so good! Nothing I've bought in the grocery store has ever come close. These are fresh 'Long Tom' heirloom sauce tomatoes...their like Roma's that had seconds and thirds at dinnertime! A great sauce tomato.

Oh, and the basil, parley, oregano, and chives are from my herb garden too. Fresh herbs right from the garden to the table...yum.

Add a salad and a glass of ice cold milk, and dinner is served, and it was good!

I'm also learning that cooking a tasty and fresh meal has more to do with desire than natural cooking ability. Keep trying and it will turn out!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

For the Love of Zucchini

Great zucchini cornbread I made tonight: Super easy, sweet, with a surprising taste of cinnamon. Here's the recipe:

1 box Jiffy Cornbread Mix
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 small or medium zucchini ~ about 2 cups. (you can remove seeds if you prefer)
2 T butter

Cinnamon/Brown Sugar topping:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup butter ~ cubed (keep cold)
1 t cinnamon
1/4 cup rolled oats ~ uncooked (optional)

I like to cook this (or any cornbread) in a cast iron skillet.

Chop zucchini, do not peel, and remove seeds if desired. Cut into about 1 inch pieces and place into baking pan with 2 T butter. Place in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for about 5 minutes. (Just enough to melt the butter and start to soften the zucchini). Mix cornbread mixture according to package directions, set aside. Mix cinnamon/brown sugar topping ingredients with a fork until crumbly, set aside. Remove zucchini from oven and pour cornbread mixture over top. Sprinkle with cinnamon/brown sugar topping and bake for approximately 15- 20 minutes or until golden brown and top does not give upon touching center. Let cool about 5 minutes and serve.

My hubby took a bite not knowing it had zucchini in it...he thought it was apples. This tastes surprisingly good. Yum.

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I really like zucchini. These are hybrids... 'Ball Mix' and 'Camoflauge Hybrid' from Burpee Seeds, a bit more pricey than other varieties, but the secret here is longevity ~ if not bruised and stored properly, they'll keep for months, no refrigeration needed. Last year, I grew 'Green Tiger' also, and had great tasting zucchini until December! I'm pretty sure they cross pollinate them with pumpkins to get the nice shapes and stripes...the longevity is a plus!

The great thing about this one, is I think it cross pollinated with a nearby pumpkin, (on top of what they do at Burpee) and is almost totally orange...except the cute dark green collar. It kind of reminds me of Batman.

All shapes and sizes helps keep zucchini from getting boring to quick!

Hybrids Can Be So Good !

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Ugly Heirloom...

This is my ugly tomato.

It's an heirloom, but I don't know what kind. I think it's a 'lucky cross'. 'Lucky' because it tasted delicious with dinner tonight, and 'cross', because I'm not growing anything that should look like this! Pretty daughter wants to save the seeds!

We had deli turkey, ham, and tomato with nice italian bread along with this delicious homemade soup my girls and I made. It turned out to be wedding soup with barley...delicious and filling ( I think it was filling due to the barley...I love barley!) All in all, we used quite a bit from our garden for this dinner. Zucchini, basil, oregano, onion, and parsley in the soup, and of course, the tomato and romaine lettuce on the sandwiches. The chicken and ground beef were local, so all in all, a pretty fresh meal!

Here's my daughter slicing our little piece of heaven! So good! Even the kids liked it. Eating the first tomato of the season is like...well, it's really nice!

We entered our ugly tomato into Relish Magazine's Ugly Tomato Contest!! Check it out at Enter your ugly tomato picture there too. It's fun! I hope to have a few more entries to submit.

It's time to rest after eating our delicious dinner. Till next time, be happy!!