by Christine | My Garden
We’ve been planting for a few weeks now. Just added some zucchini, lemon cucumbers, more tomatoes, and some pumpkin seedlings that my dad gave me. Had to zap the zucchini and the cucumbers with organic bug spray (sounds weird, right?); hoping it works because I’m tired of my veggies getting eaten.
But before I show you the garden, here is my bulb bed – very happy with how it turned out!
The bulb bed…
The iris area the newest up. The daffodils are gone, as are the tulips; the freesia (red, in the foreground) seem to hang around the longest, and are definitely the most fragrant.
A spider daffodil (?).
Aren’t these sweet?
The hubs snuck some dainty tulip bulbs into my bed…pretty, isn’t it?
Here, though, is the star of the garden – the first to be picked for consumption, and the first to be done for the year.
Yep – it’s artichoke season!
See the baby artichoke, right below the bigger one? Yeah. We’ve got nine artichoke plants. Nine. That’s a lot of artichokes…
Below are the pumpkin plants my dad grew from seed. Not giant pumpkins, just regular ones – it’s gonna be interesting to see if we actually get some pumpkins this year!
Dad’s pumpkins, planted too close together. Oh well!
When they start vining, we’ll train the vines out into the yard.
The potato bed. Yum!
Potatoes are the easiest thing to grow. Once a potato in your pantry (or fridge, or wherever) starts budding, cut it up so each bud gets a chunk of potato, and toss them in the ground, bud side facing up. I planted these about a month ago.
Here’s a mixed bed that we planted last fall – kale to the left (the insects leave the kale alone), boysenberry in the back (though Tom tried to dig that out, it’s hard to dig berries out all the way), and beets in the front. Almost time to pull the beets, the berries haven’t started flowering yet, and I’m cooking with the kale right now.
So, that’s the highlight of the garden. What do you think?
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by Christine | Cooking
On the surface of things, Smashed Potatoes and Decadent Hot Chocolate don’t seem to have much in common. But if you delve a little deeper, you’ll find the connection.
Both mashed potatoes and hot chocolate can be made via the instant, just-add-water type. Which isn’t bad if, say, you’re camping. They can both be quite tasty, depending.
But when made from scratch, when you put the time in, so to speak, you come out with something indescribably delicious. A crispy, buttery-fluffy potato, and a rich, dark chocolate drink that is akin to what they must serve in Heaven. (Or at least in some nifty Paris bistros!)
If you need a side dish that is a step above ordinary, this is it. Hearty, filling, and a taste
Yukon Gold Potatoes
treat, it all starts, of course, with the potato itself. I use fresh, hard, baby yellow potatoes, or baby reds if I’m in that mood. They both work. Slightly bigger than the baby potatoes work as well; you just need to cut them a bit smaller. I’ve never used russets or baking potatoes for this; I assume if you peel them and chop them into similar-sized chunks, they’d work fine.
Ingredients: Baby potatoes, butter, sea salt (or Kosher salt)
Kitchen ware needed: One sauce pan, one baking pan with sides (either a jelly roll pan or a 9 x 13 pan), and one slightly smaller pan of the same type (or a cast iron skillet).
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Scrub the potatoes well. If they are true babies, cut them in half. If they’re a little bigger, cut them in quarters. Your goal is to get them all about the same size so they cook evenly. Put them in the saucepan, fill with water, and boil until they are fork-tender about 10 – 15 minutes. Drain.
Put potatoes, still steaming, into the jelly roll pan. Crowd them together in the center of the pan, as much as possible, so they’re all touching. Take your slightly smaller pan (or your cast iron pan – anything heavy that you can put your hands into) and make sure the bottom of the pan is clean – you might even want to lightly spray it with cooking spray. Set the second pan on top of the first pan (I put the pan with the potatoes on the floor) and, with all your weight, press down on the second pan so it “smashes” the potatoes to about half to 3/4 of an inch thick. Spread butter on top of the potatoes; sprinkle with sea salt or Kosher salt. Put in oven for 20-25 minutes. If your potatoes are done before the rest of the meal is done, just turn off the oven and keep the door closed. The potatoes will crisp more while you finish up.
Is this calorie-free? No. More butter makes it taste better. But it’s a fabulous side dish that you can wow your friends with. To make it fancier, sprinkle some freshly chopped parsley on top. Serve directly from the oven to your guest’s plates. They will thank you for it.
thanks to dancingbranflakes.blogspot.com for the photo!
Decadent Hot Chocolate
Perfect for the Holidays, or any day where it’s chilly outside, the powdered stuff will get you by. It’ll do in a pinch. But when you want to see how it feels to be Royalty, have your kitchen slave whip you up some of this bundle of delicious goodness, and you’ll feel your holiday stress melt away.
Ingredients: 1 cup high quality 60% cacao chocolate (I use Ghiradelli – but regular choc chips are fine) 4 cups milk, 3 Tlb powdered baking cocoa, 3 Tlb white sugar, 1 cup heavy whipping cream.
Put chocolate in a pan, and add just enough milk from your 4 cups to float the chips a bit. Heat until chocolate is melted through, stirring the entire time. Once melted, add the rest of the milk a little at a time, keeping the heat on medium (don’t boil!). Then add the powdered cocoa, one Tlb at a time, whisking it in. Do the same with the white sugar. Once that is incorporated, slowly add the 1 cup heavy whipping cream, stirring the entire time. Continue to stir until the chocolate is hot again. Then drink and be glad you are human!
This goes beyond mere hot chocolate. This will put you into Holiday Nirvana. Turn the Christmas lights on, put the carols on, and get the wrapping paper out – no chore is too much to handle when you’ve got a cup of Decadent Hot Chocolate by your side!
Again, not calorie-free. But sometimes, during the crazed holiday season, we need to treat ourselves. It is seriously rich – maybe start with a small espresso-sized cup. It also is a fabulous addition to coffee – say, half chocolate and half coffee. It also goes really well with cinnamon cookies that my hubby made – pure heaven! (But that’s another post!)
I hope you enjoy. To see the original post, and how we came to steal this recipe, please hop here…
Coming up: This Friday, I talk about affordable wines. More reds – three really good ones, and a chameleon wine…see you then!
Demon Soul is available for the Kindle and the Nook, as well as in paperback! It makes a great Christmas present, lol!