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Archive for February, 2011

How exciting! A few hours’ work together, and we have a beautiful garden (and a healthy dose of vitamin D, to boot!).

We planted sweet corn, peas, yellow beans, green beans, spinach, zucchini, and yellow crookneck squash. My mouth is watering just thinking about it all. =09

At the end, on the left, is a row for the muskmelon and tomatoes.

We used Just Natural organic compost and garden soil from Lowe’s to amend our sand. It really made it rich and beautiful. We also got two trays of marigolds from them to use as a pretty visual border and natural pest control.

Keep your fingers crossed for us!

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Sticky Chewy Messy Gooey, by Jill O’Conner

 

I recently tried making my first homemade almond milk. The almonds I bought wanted nothing to do with becoming nakey, however, even after soaking them for a full 48 hours. I had to peel the skins off like too-fresh boiled eggs. It took forever, but the almond milk itself was a delicious success. Until I ruined it with too much honey. Typical. Note to self: measure next time, and use simple syrup.

Anyway, I kept the leftover almond meal in the fridge with the ultimate goal of finding something yummy to bake it into. Then, last night karma was kind. My friend and I were looking for something yummy to make for dessert, so I pulled this cookbook off the shelf and we started drooling through the recipes. Imagine my delight when I turned to the recipe for Almond Brown Sugar Pound Cake, AND I had all the ingredients!

This morning, after saying good morning to my little plant babies in the garden, I assembled the ingredients and set to work.

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted before measuring
1 1/4 cups almond meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
…all got sifted together into a medium bowl and set aside. Then…

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened

…were creamed together until whipped and fluffy. Then…

2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons homemade vanilla extract

…were gradually added and whipped again until fluffy. Yes the double addition of vanilla is thoroughly decadent, but the recipe called for 1 tablespoon each of vanilla and almond extracts. I don’t have almond extract, and I didn’t want my cake to feel slighted in any way. And it IS homemade extract, after all. So there. Then…

6 eggs, at room temperature

…were added one at a time and each addition was mixed thoroughly for at least a minute. Then…

…I folded in the flour mixture by hand with a rubber spatula until all the almond flour was completely mixed in. I then poured the batter into a greased and floured Bundt pan and baked in a preheated 325° oven for 65 minutes.

I let it cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then turned it out onto the rack. I used my doneness-testing-wooden-skewer to poke holes in the cake for the glaze. To make the glaze, I added…

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup water
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

…and 2 teaspoons homemade vanilla extract to a small saucepan. That part wasn’t in the original recipe, but what kind of butterscotch glaze doesn’t have vanilla in it? Seriously? The situation had to be remedied. (Yes, Jill O’Conner, there is such a thing as a vanillaholic.)

The recipe suggests boiling the glaze for about five minutes, but I like my glaze thicker, so it boiled for about 10 minutes.

I moved the cake from the rack over to its final resting place on my cake server. In retrospect, I’d have left it on the cooling rack and put parchment underneath it to catch the glaze as it poured over (then reuse the glaze). I had to use a silicone pastry brush to thoroughly glaze this lovely cake. It worked, but I think the other method would be less messy. On the other hand, I got to scoop the excess glaze off the edges of the cake server and give them the required taste testing.

Oh. my. goodness. This cake is amazing! I found the cake itself to be a tad sweet (not that that is a crime, by any means), but hubby disagreed. The butterscotch glaze is amazing, and I love the texture that the almond meal adds to the cake. I was also pleased to discover that this cake has that crunchy-sweet bottom that is essential to any good pound cake.

This will definitely be making routine appearances in our kitchen.

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muskmelon

tomatoes

winter squash

buttercrunch lettuce

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Adam and I were talking about how we can make the food storage more convenient to…well…store. We don’t want to use shelves because we want it to be portable. So, for now, everything is in three Rubbermaid-type containers with lids and two of his old footlockers.

Adam had an idea — which, as usual, I grumbled about initially until I saw how good it was — that we should put a few complete days in each box rather than separating in categories.  Fortunately for me, my wonderful husband knows that he only has to put up with my grumbling for a few minutes or so. Yes, dear, you are right. Sigh…

But on to the boxes…

I have not been able to invest yet in mylar storage bags (which I’d really, really love to), so I’ve started to separate the dry goods into 1 and two day supply rations. They take up much less space, and I don’t need to have a big open bag of starch ready to pour out all over the place to get ruined. This herculean effort has become my new project. Caroline likes it, too. (insert parental eye-roll here) She’s not nearly as helpful as she thinks she is, though.

Here’s my progress so far:

My nice, organized box has fallen victim to a new organization scheme!

This is what my boxes look like after having to stash things away to discourage Caroline from reorganizing them…again.

I managed to get one complete box done, containing 4 days worth of food. Astonishingly, considering how much food there is, we only have those four complete days. Is there enough to survive on for a month or two? Yes, of course. But not thrive. To me, true survival means having access to complete nutrition over the course of a day (or at least spread out over a week).

The Complete Box - Four Days

I don’t think I’ll be keeping the drinks in there; they’re really heavy. The box itself will be easy to transport and relatively weather resistant. The only trouble will be how many boxes we’ll need! I mean, we’re feeding six people, here! If I stash 4 days per box, I’m looking at about 22 boxes! Even if I break it down further into 5 days per box, I’ll have 19 boxes. That’s a heck of a lot of storage!

With the two different types of storage boxes I have, two boxes contain one week’s worth of food, which, if you think about it, is pretty amazing for six people!

And…here are some links to a few more articles that help explain WHY we are doing all of this:

2011 Tipping Points

Top 12 Countries Most Likely to Go Belly Up

Governor: Florida Could See Wisconsin Style Protest

 

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...how does your garden grow?

Just in the nick of time, we’ve finally been able to start our garden!

The kids and I went on an expedition to Lowe’s yesterday to get soil and additional seeds. We were pleasantly surprised by their organic seed supply! So, after ringing up our supplies at Lowe’s, realizing that the baby had removed my wallet from my bag at home, driving back and forth to retrieve it, ringing the items up a second time, actually paying for it this time, and driving one final time home (after essential trips to Starbucks and Publix) – we got down to business!

We triple checked our references (for the record: Farmer’s Almanac, Month-by-Month Gardening in Florida, and Vegetable Gardening in Florida), triangulated their advice into a gardening plan, and located as many mostly-portable-and-temporary-planting-units as possible.

After much digging, mixing, planting, teaching, and learning…here is our itty bitty first garden.

Day One…

Our Motley Crew of Planting Vessels

Day Two…

The Nursery

The Squash Stronghold!

It was really hard to convince Caroline that this was no longer a sandbox. 🙂

Carrots and Romaine!

The kids even decided to make their own "garden".

We all had a great time starting our itty bitty garden – especially Kaitie. She was glued to my side, loving being in the dirt. 🙂

 

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