Tuesday, March 27, 2007

First day of spring...

I'm like a kid with a new toy! Gardening is making me absolutely giddy! My kids jokingly complain that I care more about my seedlings than I do about THEM (Bah, rotten kids! ;-P ) So here is an update to my gardening adventures. I planted my tomato plants and set seeds the 21st. Here it is the 27th and everything has sprouted. I still have peppers and eggplant in peat pots on the porch. It'll be another week or so until they're ready to join the rest of the garden. Now the battle begins to keep the critters away!
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
We have carrots, cucumber, pickles, green and lima beans, squash, zucchini, okra, cantaloupe, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.

My green beans and lima beans:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Life's a beach...

We took a little homeschooling "field trip" last week to see a replica of the Nina, Christopher Columbus' 1492 ship, which was docked in Matagorda harbor. It was an incredible little ship...and yes, I do mean little! It was approximately the length of five cars parked end to end. It's amazing that a ship that size could cross the Atlantic!
True to history, the replica ship was built entirely by hand — without using power tools — in Bahia, Brazil, by the Columbus Foundation based in the British Virgin Islands. The Nina’s seven-person crew works, sleeps and eats on the ship and has logged thousands of miles around North and Central America.
It was a great hands on history lesson for the kids!
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

We then went for a picnic lunch at the beach. The weather was wonderful, but the water was ice cold! There was lots of driftwood and seaweed on the beach from the recent storms, but that didn't stop the kids from having a great time!
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Saturday, March 17, 2007

More bread!

So many people emailed me about the bread recipe that I thought I'd post another one of our favorites!

Pita Bread

3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon sugar or honey
1 packet instant yeast (or, if from bulk, 2 teaspoons yeast)
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups water, roughly at room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil, vegetable oil, butter, or shortening

If you are using active dry yeast, follow the instructions on the packet to activate it. Otherwise, mix the yeast in with the flour, salt, and sugar. Add the olive oil and 1 1/4 cup water and stir together with a wooden spoon. All of the ingredients should form a ball. If some of the flour will not stick to the ball, add more water.
Once all of the ingredients form a ball, place the ball on a work surface and knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes. If you are using an electric mixer, mix it at low speed for 10 minutes.
When you are done kneading the dough, place it in a bowl that has been lightly coated with oil. Form a ball out of the dough and place it into the bowl, rolling the ball of dough around in the bowl so that it has a light coat of oil on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and set aside to rise until it has doubled in size, approximately 90 minutes.

When it has doubled in size, punch the dough down to release some of the trapped gases and divide it into 8 pieces (I do this with a pizza cutter!) Roll each piece into a ball, cover the balls with a damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and let them rest for 20 minutes. This step allows the dough to relax so that it'll be easier to shape.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If you have a baking stone, put it in the oven to preheat as well. If you do not have a baking stone, turn a cookie sheet upside down and place it on the middle rack of the oven while you are preheating the oven. This will be the surface on which you bake your pitas.
(Just a note here: You can buy unglazed terracotta floor tiles at Home Depot for under two bucks. They work just as well if not better than high priced baking stones AND you can just leave them in your oven all the time...we do!)

After the dough has relaxed for 20 minutes, spread a light coating of flour on a work surface and place one of the balls of dough there. Sprinkle a little bit of flour on top of the dough and use a rolling pin. You should be able to roll it out to between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. If the dough does not stretch sufficiently you can cover it with the damp towel and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before trying again.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Open the oven and place as many pitas as you can fit on the hot baking surface. They should be baked through and puffy after 3 minutes.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

That's it. They should keep pretty well, but we almost always eat them as soon as they come out of the oven!
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Good with homemade hummus:
Place the following ingredients in food processor and grind until smooth:
2 cups canned garbanzo beans, drained
1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste-on the Asian foods aisle!)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, halved
Some variations are to add artichoke hearts, jalapenos, black olives, or roasted red peppers!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

For thou hast been a refuge from the storm ~Isaiah 25:4

We have had quite a bout with storms the past two days, luckily the only damage we suffered was just a couple of fallen branches an a few hours with no electricity!
I had sent Ryan out to the van to retrieve some potting soil in between storms. Shorty, the neighborhood dog, ran out to meet him. All of the sudden there was a really bright flash of lightning and LOUD clap of thunder, before I knew it, Shorty made a B-line for the house and ran right inside! Poor thing was scared to death, shivering and wimpering. So we let him stay inside until the storm passed. I was busy potting my tomato seedlings into bigger containers, but I later found these two snuggled up on the couch:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
We haven't had a dog in the house since Mickey died, and I have to admit it was really nice to have him there! The kids cuddled and kissed Shorty, fed him breakfast scraps, and even put on the movie "The Shaggy Dog" for him!
When the storm was over, I had gone to our back porch to put out my seedlings for a little sunshine. Shorty followed me out, sniffed the air, and decided it was safe to leave...not so much as a "thank you" or "good bye!"
My seedlings are coming along nicely! Just waiting for them to get a little bigger to plant them in the garden! It's quite windy out there and they need to be able to hold their own, so to speak. I have about 28 plants (3 varieties) guess I was a little over zealous in my planting...but that's ok, I'm sure the neighbors will be happy to take some of these off my hands!
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Farmer Dan

Today little Danny and I got our hands dirty! The weather has been absolutely beautiful so we transplanted the herb seedlings into our big half barrel that we are using for our kitchen herb garden. So far we planted lemon basil, sweet basil, dill, oregano, sage and garlic chives. Doug purchased a cilantro and rosemary plant the other day, so we added those too (we go through a LOT of cilantro and rosemary!)
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
In the background of the picture, you can see my tomato seedlings growing as well as my "frugal greenhouse." This great idea came from this website:
My peppers are starting in there. I have a carnival mix (yellow, orange, red and PURPLE bells!), standard green bells, jalapeno and banana peppers. I'm still waiting for my shipment of hot Thai chili seeds to arrive!
Danny boy loves gardening! He was completely entertained with a garden trowell and a pot full of dirt for HOURS! When he was done playing, I showed him how to poke holes in the dirt with his fingers and put in a sunflower seed. His favorite part of the whole process was watering the seeds and making "nasty mud."
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
There's my little Farmer Dan!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

A little quiz...

A little quiz about 'how Texas are you?'
My result:

You Are 76% Texas

Well, knock me down and steal muh teeth! You're pretty darn Texan.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Just silly boys jumping on the trampoline...

...and can you believe we haven't even been to the E.R. once since we've had the thing! Their "jumping contests" aren't about who can jump higher or do the coolest maneuvers....it's all about who can make mom scream at them first!
My silly monkeys:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting