Thursday, March 31, 2011

Organic Vegetable Planting

What are the best organic fertilizers to use in a vegetable and fruit garden? My friend and I were talking about the organic gardens we're getting ready to plant. Her dad, an old-time farmer, said the best fertilizer is rabbit, then sheep, then chicken or cattle. He said rabbit fertilizer has a lot of protein, and sheep fertilizer is better than that from chicken or cattle because it's not hot. You have to wait on the hot fertilizer to set in the sun and rain, but the other that isn't hot can be used right away.

Rabbits visit my yard about every evening. They're so cute. The last thought I've had about them, though, is that they are good for my garden's fertilizer. Rabbit droppings, according to Backwoods Home Magazine, are nearly odorless. That is good for anyone living in a residential area.  I don't think I want my cute rabbit visitors visiting my vegetable garden once I get everything planted! They'll get the wrong idea that I'm planting all that good organic food just for them. So even though their continual droppings might be good for the vegetable plants, my husband and I are planning to fence the cute critters out. That's where the feed store will come in handy. You can purchase different organic fertilizers such as rabbit, sheep, and cow manure at feed stores.

My dad and my friend's dad grew up on farms and are both very knowledgeable about organic farming. Me? I benefited from the delicious home-grown vegetables for years but didn't do much of the gardening. I have to ask the pros and learn from others. I went on an organic fertilizer search to learn a bit more this morning. One of my favorite readings was the blog, In My Kitchen Garden, with the post about using sheep manure as fertilizer.This interesting blog article lists similar information like my friend's dad gave me yesterday such as the sheep fertilizer not being hot, which means it doesn't need aging. I think I'll need to visit Backwoods Home and In My Kitchen Garden blogs in the near future while I'm planting that garden. I'm not quite the farmer that my friend's dad and my dad were in their earlier years, but I enjoy trying my hand at it.

I'm planning a raised bed square foot garden for my vegetable planting this Spring. This weekend my husband and I are beginning the project. I've researched organic gardening, raised bed gardening, square foot gardening, and here are a few designs and photos I am impressed with:
Natural Yards

I'm anxious to get started planting!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Green Fresh Vegetable Salsa

Make green salsa from fresh vegetables. 
 Spice it up, or spice it down. Is spicy your salsa forte? Use as many serrano and jalapeno peppers as your taste buds can take. If you prefer a little spice, try one jalapeno or even no peppers. I like a bit of spice in my salsa. My husband prefers a bit more of spice. Last evening I began a salsa quest. I make my own salsa but never write it down, and I'm constantly changing what I use and how much I use of various ingredients. This salsa quest will help my other half and I choose our favorite salsas. I'm looking forward to experimenting with spices, seasonings, tomatoes, peppers and more fun salsa ingredients. To begin this quest, I've made Green Salsa.
Green Salsa
2 Serrano Peppers
1 Jalapeno Pepper
1 Red Chili Pepper
Roma Tomatoes
1 Bunch Green Onions
3 Tomatillos
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder
Tony Cachere's Original Creole Seasoning
Steak Seasoning
Chop and slice all vegetables and put in blender. Choose the grind, blend, and liquefy blender buttons. 

Salsa is ready to serve with chips, burritos, tacos or whatever you like salsa with.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Home Grown Food

Home grown or organic food is gaining more attention. No wonder. Have you noticed the increase of food in your favorite grocery store lately? The price of the bread I usually purchase went up about 14 cents in the last two or three weeks. My bread machine is stored in our loft, but I think I'll get it out and get busy making my own bread again.

I grew up around gardens. My parents and grandparents planted vegetables, fruit, and flower gardens. My gardening job was to pick the ripe fruit off of the ground or the lower fruit tree branches and the vegetables ready for picking. When the peas were ripe and ready, my parents would take my brothers and me to visit both grandmothers. Each of us was given a bucket of peas to shell. I'd be all excited to go see my grandmothers in East Texas but would leave exhausted with sore thumbs and fingers from the pea shelling. I'll never forget the first time my husband shelled peas the first time at my paternal grandmother's house. He grew up in southern California and didn't know anything about purple hull or crowder peas. Didn't take him long, though. I don't know what tickled my grandmother the best - having the family home to help her shell all those peas or seeing that California boy learn what pea shelling was all about.
It's always a good thing to go back to the basics. That includes going back to growing your own food. Whether you're a vegetable garden pro or a beginner, you can grow a garden and eat foods that will make you more healthy. 

Previously, I've planted my vegetables the simple way - in the ground. But raised beds keep the weeds out easier I've heard. Another idea for planting vegetables is the square foot garden. To learn more about either of these, see my recent Southwest Cottage Designs post on gardening.

I find these websites helpful on home grown vegetable gardening. The information is helpful for gardening in your own backyard, gardening with kids, starting seeds and growing organic food.
Start your own backyard home grown garden and enjoy more tasty vegetable recipes such as this soup:
Hamburger and Vegetable Soup
2-3 lb. lean ground hamburger (or ground turkey)
1 red or yellow onion, chopped fine
1 bunch of green onions, chopped fine
1 tsp. fresh minced garlic (or fresh garlic clove to taste)
4-5 tomatoes (or 1 can Ro*Tel tomatoes and green chilies)
1 pkg. frozen corn (or 1 can corn)
Seasonings of your choice

Brown meat with onions and garlic. Add the remainder of ingredients. The nice thing about this recipe is that you can add just about any vegetable you like. You can even start out with a couple of vegetables and add more after a day or so. This type of soup can be frozen and saved for a busy day. If you're a vegetarian, it's good without the meat, too. Serve with crackers, tortillas, or rice. To make it real juicy, add a very large can of V-8 juice. That's one of my favorite ways to make it. 

I love simple recipes like this one. It's easy to be creative with this one. The best soup is the kind with all home grown or fresh vegetables.

Note: A couple of days after I made this soup this last time, my husband and I went to the grocery store. When we came home and were putting the groceries up, we got quite a surprise. The can of Manwich Sloppy Joe mix I had seen the lady in front of us put on the counter ended up in our groceries! I mixed it in with the soup, put some butter on my griddle, put slices of bread on top of the butter, put the buttered bread in the toaster, poured the now-called Surprise Manwich Sloppy Joe Soup over the toasted bread for open-faced sandwiches. WOW! That was an unexpected, delicious dinner. Never had I thought to mix Manwich Sloppy Joe with my soup. It's amazing what you can come up with when you get creative with food. I love it!

Tasty and healthy. 

Mouth watering. 

I'm linking to "this-weeks-cravings-linky-party".

Monday, March 21, 2011

Green Pea Caesar Slaw Salad

Spring has arrived, and it is time for planting flowers, herbs, and vegetables. When I planted my rose bushes and miniature rose plants, I learned that it's good to plant a lavender plant in between the roses because it's a good pest repellent. As pest repellent, it's good for planting near cauliflower and cabbage, too. Lavender can also be planted with herbs such as rosemary, basil, and thyme. These aromatic herbs provide an inviting garden of scents and can add flavor to your favorite recipes.

If you are looking for a refreshing spring garden salad but don't have access to fresh garden vegetables, use refrigerated packaged salads and frozen vegetables. The following Green Pea Caesar Slaw Salad makes a good Spring mix:
1 pkg. Spring salad mix
1 pkg. broccoli slaw 
Approx. 2 T. Feta cheese
1/2 pkg. frozen green peas, thawed
Creamy Caesar Dressing

Mix all ingredients, and serve with Ken's 0g carb Creamy Caesar Dressing. I cook my frozen peas in the microwave for two or three minutes with 1 T. sugar and a bit of butter before mixing it in with the other ingredients. I also like to use Mixed Baby Greens for this salad. Any salad greens will work fine.
I'm linking to Urban Homesteader Blog Party.
I'm linking to Tea Rose Home.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ro*Tel Chili

Any Ro*Tel fans? I am a huge fan of Ro*Tel diced tomatoes and green chilies. Before I ever knew the Ro*Tel history, I loved the spicy flavor. Last Sunday I made Ro*Tel Chili. I had the best fun making it. After the meat was done, I piled on a mountain of Ro*Tel tomatoes and diced chilies and then a pile of black beans. Mr. Fun and I both had our cameras ready for that one. I made tons so we would have left overs for the week. Served with homemade salsa and chips, it makes a very satisfying meal.
And here's the recipe:
1 lb. ground white turkey
1 pkg. Italian sausage
1 pkg. frozen corn with red and green bell peppers
1 lg. can (or 2 reg. cans) Ro*Tel diced tomatoes and green chilies
1 can black beans
Your favorite spices and seasonings

Cook sausage and turkey. It's best to cut the sausage links in small pieces, though I cooked mine whole and cut it just before serving. Add the rest, cook a bit, and it's ready to serve. 

I'm linking with Dining with Debbie!
I'm linking up to the Iron Chef Challenge. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Orange-Garlic Lo Mein Chicken

Love chicken? Gotta love it with orange sauce and garlic. Mix in Lo Mein vegetables, and you're all set. You can even wrap it in a tortilla and call it China-Mex. Want the recipe? It's FREE! 
  •  Chicken Breast cut in strips
  • 1 pkg. (from frozen section) Flav-R-Pac Quick'n Easy Combos Lo Mein Stir Fry
  • Iron Chef Orange Sauce Glaze With Ginger (approx. 1/4 of bottle or to taste)
  • Fresh Garlic to taste or 2 tsp. minced fresh garlic from jar
  • 1-2 T. Olive Oil
Cook on griddle or in wok or whatever works for you. Season chicken strips and cook with garlic and olive oil. Add Lo Mein vegetables. Pour Orange Sauce Glaze over all. When done, serve over rice or place in a wrap or burrito, and you have a quick meal.

Enjoy cooking and savoring this tasty meal!
I'm linking to:

Tasty Tuesdays,  
Delectable Tuesday
Tuesdays at the Table,
Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays
Hearth and Soul.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Kitchen Appliance and Furniture Creativity

Have you considered a mini fridge for your man or woman cave? The fixer upper that my husband and I purchased only came with a stove. Though we have our RV with a fridge and stove on site, we are staying in the little house until the walls come down for remodeling. In the meantime, it would be quite handy to have access to a mini-fridge in the house. I’ve been checking the Penny Saver and other places for mini-fridge prices lately. Chili pepper red goes with my kitchen/patio right now, and I noticed a couple of red mini fridges at a site recently that were quite attractive. Have you ever seen the USB Mini Fridge to hook up to your computer? It has the capacity for one soda. How sweet and handy for the blogger or writer who doesn't want to run to the kitchen for a soda. I love it. But for my kitchen/patio I need a size larger. However, I couldn’t help but mention this little snazzy USB Mini Fridge for only $19.99.

Appliances and furniture we normally use in the kitchen can be used for other purposes. My cabin came with very limited cabinet space, so I've picked up a baker's rack with a built-in wine rack. Curious to know what other uses the wine rack could be used for, I went on a search and found these thrifty ideas:
Love these photos from

  ...and check out this site for the Bath Towels...

Of course, you can always use the wine rack for wine. The same site where I saw the cute little USB mini fridge has many wine racks, wine photos, and other wine items you may be interested in.

The other thing I desperately needed in my fixer upper kitchen was a pantry. The cabin came with an antique store counter which I use as a pantry. When we were throwing out the trash outside, I noticed a book case in the trash pile. I grabbed it and stashed it so it wouldn't get thrown in the trash pile again. I'm so glad that I did. Now I use it as an open pantry. I love looking at home and garden websites and magazines for pantry ideas. It's amazing what you can come up with even in your own home and yard. That's part of the fun of decorating a fixer upper.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Quick Zesty Tomato Soup

Need a quick meal? Try Quick Zesty Tomato Soup:

1-2 cans tomato soup
1 can Ro*Tel tomatoes and green chilies
Cheddar Cheese

For one person, use one can tomato soup. For two to three people, use two cans soup. Stir in the Ro*Tel tomatoes. 

Add as much grated cheddar cheese as you like. Serve with your favorite crackers or grilled cheese sandwich. 

This recipe is so good and makes a quick and easy meal when you don't feel like cooking!

Follow Us Monday Morning Blog Hop is a great place to get to know more bloggers, and today this blog hop asks about the easy meal you always go to when you don't feel like cooking. I thought, "Soup!" Whichever soup I have on hand will do for an easy meal, but this Zesty Tomato Soup is my favorite.

I am linking with Follow Us Monday Morning at Frugality Is Free.
I'm linking to All Things Heart and Home.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Tea Time

Looking for a Victorian tea house in Southern California? Visit Barbara's Tea House for a treat.
My friend, Karen, at Barbara's Tea House
My friend, Karen, has a birthday this week. Her husband, John, asked me awhile back if I could take Karen somewhere on Saturday, March 5th - all day. Karen loves tea and tearooms. I took her to Barbara's first for a tea from 10:00 a.m. until noon. First we were served potato soup, then quiche, then a blueberry and lemon scone. Devonshire cream, raspberry jam, and lemon curd were served along with the scone. Mmmm!
Blueberry and lemon scone with Devonshire cream
Lemon Curd
Every taste was delightful! And that was only part of it. We still had tea sandwiches, fruit, and cookies to eat.
Delicious Fruit

Cucumber Dill, Chicken, and Tomato Tea Sandwiches, Juicy Chocolate Covered Strawberries, Tasty Cookies
Of course, we brought some of it to go to snack on later. The day was fun and relaxing, and Barbara, the owner, was delightful as she set the tone for our big tea day with her huge beaming smile!
Barbara, owner of Barbara's Tea House
Barbara has many hats, flowers, vintage and tea items for sale in the gift shop.
Hats and Tea
We enjoyed a lengthy visit at Barbara's then went to a British tea shop with British teas and food for sale. I found a jar of the best lemon curd there and brought a bag of raisin scones home. After this visit we headed over to an antique shop for a bit. By 6:15 pm we pulled up to Karen's house where about 40 guests were waiting to surprise Karen for her birthday.

I'm linking to Tea Rose Home.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Organic Coffee Beans

What is organic coffee? Usually that means chemicals and no artificial fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. I like to use chemical-free detergent for dishes and clothes, chemical-free bath soap, and even chemical-free soap for the dog. So why not use organic coffee, free of harsh chemicals? When I read that I can win 3 lbs of Barista's beans organic coffee, I got all excited. That's not only because I like to use natural products. I'm almost out of coffee beans! 

When I was a little girl, I loved the smell of my mother's morning coffee. So one day when nobody was paying close attention to me, I climbed onto the kitchen cabinet and searched for the coffee. I hadn't yet learned the technique of making coffee, but I tried. I sipped it the way I'd seen Mother do. Spitting and spewing, I got rid of the nasty taste before I could even swallow the first sip. It was awful. It cured any coffee craving for me until I was in my 20's. Even then I wasn't too fond of it. Twenty years later I acquired a taste for coffee, and now I love the smell of coffee beans being ground and the taste of hot flavored coffee. Mmm. I love my morning coffee. Whether at home, at Starbucks, or strolling through my favorite antique shop, I enjoy my morning coffee.

Morning Coffee    

Did you have your coffee today? If you're out, you might visit the Barista's beans organic coffee giveaway.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Paula Deen Cookbook Giveaway Winner

Today is the Paula Deen Cookbook Giveaway drawing, and the winner has been chosen! Stay tuned...
I asked the special lady over at Beatrice Banks blog, Mrs. Tammy, if I could borrow her Prince O for my Paula Deen cookbook drawing today. He impressed us all with his charm at Mrs. Tammy's last giveaway drawing. She checked with Prince O, and he has agreed to assist us once again in his charming way.


                                                                  Number 15!                       
Uh-oh, that's Mrs. Tammy! 
Yes, Prince O drew his mom's name, Mrs. Tammy from Beatrice Banks blog. However,
before she asked Prince O to help with the Paula Deen cookbook drawing,
she had already opted out of the drawing because she and I are cousins as some of you bloggers have already learned. Though it would have been perfectly in order for her to join in the giveaway contest, she felt it would be best not to. That's the kind of person my sweet cousin from Beatrice Banks is, always thoughtful of others. Go on over and visit her blog if you haven't yet. You'll love her elegant and beautiful style.  So now the person that became Number 15 and the winner is..........

Ann from On Sutton Place

Congratulations, Ann! 
Thank you for joining the Paula Deen Cookbook Giveaway contest at Kitchen Hospitality.

A special thank you to each one who entered the contest. It has been a delight to read each funny cooking story, one of the ways to enter the contest. I am blessed to have each of you as a follower and new blogging friend.
Now I want to honor those who entered funny cooking stories. These are hilarious! 

Honorable Mentions, the funny cooking stories :

Beverly at How Sweet the Sound said: 
My funniest cooking story involves not me cooking, but my mother. You see, I was only four years old, and my mother was going to bake a pound cake. She had borrowed our neighbors tube pan - you know the kind where the bottom comes out. Well, I put the pan over my head, but then I couldn't get my head back out. My daddy had to cut it off with shears, and they had to replace our neighbors pan. Trust me - I learned. I no longer put pans on my head.

liberal sprinkles said...
my funniest cooking story happened when i went away to university. the only cooking i had done before that was to boil an egg so i'd say my kitchen experience was about zero.

i put rice into a pot, put it on the stove and turned the fire on. then i waited. and waited. and waited...and i couldn't figure out why it just wouldn't cook.

well, i hadn't put any water in the pot! strangely enough it didn't burn although i must have been watching the pot for at least 15 minutes. i laugh about it now but it was pretty depressing then. not only was i hungry, i was homesick. i'm only glad i didn't quit school then!

Donnie at New Blessing Everyday said:
My story revolves around chicken too. Newly married hubby asked for chicken noodles like his mom made. She's a country gal & I'm a city gal. I bought a can of chunk chicken, egg noodles and chicken broth and threw them all together. Voila...His mom would boil the whole chicken, pull the meat off and make from scratch egg noodles and it came out like a chicken & dumplings. He ate it but said mine was not quite like mommas. Good thing he married me for my years ago.

Abramyan Avenue said:
Ok... the first time I ever cooked for my husband, we had been dating a few months. I baked a chicken for him, made mashed potatoes and corn and placed a 3 liter of Dr. Pepper on the table. I never cooked for anyone before, especially not someone I had dated and I didn't really know the proper way to set the table or his plate. So, I just set everything out on the table in front of his plate. That night he ate the entire chicken, all of the mashed potatoes and most of the corn. AND he downed most of the Dr. Pepper. We still laugh about that. I didn't know what the heck I was doing and he didn't know if he was supposed to eat all of it or if it would insult me to leave some left over, so he just ate it all. It still makes me smile to go back and think about that evening. We were both so young and had so much to learn!! Lol!

Teslaca said:
When I was young, I wanted to make pudding. I followed the recipe, but didn't notice that it called for corn flour/starch. I didn't know that was different from corn meal, so I used corn meal thinking it would dissolve as it cooked. The pudding was tasty but very gritty!

I once made a trifle dessert which had pudding layers, when we had company for dessert. The problem was, I forgot to buy milk. I had almond milk in the cupboard and I figured it would work just as well. Wrong! The pudding didn't thicken. I started serving the dessert to guests and realized it was still runny! A quick switch to berries and yogurt saved the day.

Elisabeth said...
The first time when I learned how to cook rice is over the phone. I was still a teenager, and wanted to surprise my parents to make chicken and rice for them.

Of course, the fried chicken was a take-out, and the rice, I got instructions from my aunt over the phone. She told me to use half a box of Uncle Ben's rice and double the water. She said to use a medium saucepot, which I did, but I did not mention to her that our rice was the large box. I did everything to her instruction...the rice just kept bubbling up, and over the pot, all over the stove, until I had a mountain of rice all over the stove, and the floor.

Did not tell my parents until a few years later...they already knew, but did not want to make me feel any worse than I did. It just was horrifying at the time, but they all laughed at it, and so could I much later!

Diann said...
Funniest cooking story:
years ago my hubby was a truck driver and I often went with him. On one trip to vermont, a major blizzard came through and everyone had to get off the road. We found a small truckstop and were lucky enough to find one parking spot left. The blizzard got so bad that the truckstop was closed because no one could drive. On the second day of being stranded, I cooked some polish sausage and sauerkraut in the truck. We had a fridge and a cooker specially designed for semi trucks. Well, you know how intense the smell of sauerkraut is. When I opened the door to head to the bathroom, the scent of the food went out the door as well. Most of the other truckrs hadn't eaten in a day. the next thing we know 8 drivers are standing around our truck asking if they could buy some dinner from us! Fortunately, I had brought along 3 packages of sausages ad several cans of sauerkraut (this is one of our favorite meals while out on the road). So, I ended up cooking up everything i had and handing out small bowls to all the other drivers. No, I didn't charge them anything. LOL

Such funny cooking stories. Sometimes our cooking stories aren't so funny at the time, but they do bring lots of laughter later. It was delightful to read these lovely ladies' stories. 

Thank you again for entering Kitchen Hospitality's Paula Deen Cookbook giveaway.