Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What's the Dill, Pickle?

I've found a new favorite herb - DILL! It's growing fantastically, and I know the hot weather will soon take its toll. This past weekend I made some herb butter to go on hot french bread. It was delicious! There was some dill left over, so I put it on my turkey and swiss sandwich - used it in place of lettuce. Wow! Like a party in my mouth! Unfortunately the dill will be long gone by the time the pickling cukes are ready, so I'm going to try freezing some to use in the pickles. We'll see how that works out.

Here's the "recipe" for the herb butter - doesn't get any simpler than this. You should try it. Home grown dill works best, so holler if you need some. Looks like I've got plenty! 

Herb Butter:
Soften 1 stick of butter
Rinse, dry and chop fresh herbs of your choice
Blend butter and herbs just until mixed
Refrigerate in covered bowl or butter mold
Impress your mother-in-law and friends!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Dewberry Season!

It's dewberry season here in Jackson County. All that winter rain we got made all the difference in the world. We're dewberry rich! Big John and I picked for a little while yesterday, and then I picked again today. This is my haul from a couple of hours "work." (It's not much like work - more like a lot of fun!) I'd call it a successful weekend - enough dewberries to make the first cobbler of the season - almost all gone at this point, and several quarts to freeze. AND NO RATTLESNAKES!! What was it Teddy Roosevelt said? "Speak softly and carry a big stick." Well, tread lightly and carry a big stick - works for dewberry pickin' too. Just one more reason to live in the suburbs of Francitas! Home sweet home.

Date Night at the Fire Pit

After 16 years together, Big John still takes me on a hot date every now and then. I have to say, this was the best one in a while!

 Last weekend, we made sure to finish up early so we'd have enough energy to sit out by the fire pit, cook some supper, and enjoy the cool evening. We don't get many of those before summer sets in. Big John lit some oak in the fire pit while I went inside and got all gussied up ... NOT! It's been 16 years - there ain't much "gussyin" left!

I put together some cream cheese stuffed jalapenos wrapped in bacon and sliced some red bell peppers and poblanos. Big John got the skirt steak and chicken thighs seasoned up, and we were set. We even heated the tortillas over the fire! La comida era muy deliciosa! I tried a version of s'mores - all the right ingredients, just not the right proportions. The graham crackers were a bit toasty (burnt), but edible. I'm a country girl, not a girl scout. I'm still not sure how you make s'mores - I just know it's not like this!

Once again, no "after" pictures were taken of the meal - or even thought of - until after it had been devoured. Trust me, it looked as good as it tasted. And it tasted damn good.  That Big John is one hell of a cook. That's another reason I love him so!

We relaxed by the fire - here's a rare photo of Big John smiling. He doesn't smile too often for pictures. (Tick smiles all the time!) And me - yes, I'm awake, but 2 sips of that wine cooler was starting to do me in. When did I get so old I can't even drink a wine cooler without falling asleep? Man, that stinks! (Tick's still smiling!)

This time we managed to stay awake until it got dark - sure takes a while to get dark this time of year. We were worn out, but it was worth it. Sittin' out by the fire, listening to the chickens' pillow talk, hearing the hoot owls callin' each other and one lone cow bawling for her calf. That's why I live in the country - and always will.

Thanks for a wonderful evening Big John. I had a blast! Let's do it again real soon!


An "aerial view" of the garden ... from the roof of the chicken coop!

(If you climb on top of the chicken coop to get pictures of the garden ... you just might be a redneck!) Big John, hold that ladder - I'm comin' down!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Big Blue

Really ... have you ever seen a more beautiful kitty? I just had to share this picture for you to enjoy!

Big John's Fire Pit

Imagine: a cool spring night after a long hard day's work, the smell of beef sizzling over oak, and a big tall glass of sweet tea ... nothin' better! Big John made good on his promise and built us a fire pit! We bought a huge piece of pipe - 30 inches in diameter (that's 6th grade math talk!). He cut off a big chunk of it and did some amazing cutouts. There's the Ducks Unlimited duck, the Texas Trophy Hunters' buck, and a little star, horseshoe and Texas for me. If he'd thought he could get away with it, I'm sure Big John would have put a CCA redfish on there instead! He engineered a bar across the top so we can hang a cast iron kettle over the fire to cook up some chili once it cools off again. Man, life don't get no better than this! We laid some leftover flagstone in sand and set that fire pit right on top. Perfection! I can't wait for those summer evenings by the fire. Relaxin'!

KitchenAid Success

Margherita Pizza with garden-fresh basil, home canned tomato sauce, and homemade pizza dough (courtesy of my new KitchenAid mixer!) Forgot to take the "after" picture until only a couple of slices were left - it was just as delicious as it looks! Wonder how many miles on the treadmill this will cost?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Garden Update

It's been a while since you've seen the progress on the garden. I wanted to show you what's been happening out here. Spring has arrived!

Everything has come up but the carrots, and I'm afraid they may be a lost cause this year. I've read more about them and realize we probably need to be tilling their rows a lot deeper. Apparently carrots grow in the path of least resistance - that explains some of the "sideways" carrots we got last year! We have managed to fill up every square inch of the twice-expaned garden, even without the carrots. It sure is hard to walk past all those pretty plants at Lowe's, the feed store, the nursery, knowing we have no where to put them. There is still talk of a greenhouse, but those sure are expensive. Shoot, I could get 2 or 3 KitchenAid mixers for that price!
Today, Big John had a super idea. He's thinking of taking the garden the full length of the yard fence and putting the melons there. (Remember my ultimate goal of enlarging the garden the full length of the yard? Am  I good or what! Fifteen years of marriage taught me a thing or two. And it was all his idea. Take notes, ladies!) The only problem is that means more fence work. It builds muscles - and character. And I'm sure my chiropractor needs a new car or a spring vacation!

One more bit of exciting news on the horizon: I think I've got the makings of a Farmer's Market in town. Things are starting to rock and roll - there are LOTS of interested buyers, so I'm working on drumming up enough vendors to fill the demand. Good thing we expanded the garden! Once the hens gear back up to full speed, I think we'll be in business!

Enjoy the weather. I hope it's as beautiful where you are as it is here! Summer is just around the corner!

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Look what the Easter Bunny brought today! Actually it was UPS yesterday, and that's a whole 'nother hilarious story - saved for a rainy day when I have nothing better to post!

So I finally caved in to the Kitchen Aid craving and bought one. I've been coveting the copper pearl 6 quart Professional 600 stand mixer for many years now. I just couldn't justify the price - I'm by no means a "professional" baker - and I wasn't about to "settle" for the smaller versions, even though those are probably plenty big for me! But a couple of weeks ago, I tried using my little SunBeam mixer to make some pizza dough. That was a disaster. It was then and there that I made the decision. It's just like Loreal - and I'm  worth it!

I've got three days off ahead of me, lots of garden work and hopefully a trip to the scrap yard. I know I'll be making some time to bake - we'll probably have homemade pizza again in the next day or two. I'll try to send you some pictures of baking successes, courtesy of my new baby - my very own KitchenAid! For now, eat your heart out.  You know you want one!