Monday, May 20, 2013

Prize for most neglected blog

Yeah, okay.....I know I have been not posting. I have been busy as hell the last couple weeks and I know I always say this but it is really true. It seemed every time I went to do something I was double booked with something else.

So what have I been doing? Aside from working a temp position I do twice a year, I have been cleaning up a whole season's worth of weeds and crap. Like I said in an earlier post I suffered from a major funk last summer and I really was not up to spending time in 100 degree heat to do a damn thing since nothing I planted grew anyway. Last year was the official "fuck it" year.

However, I have expanded on the post I did on my planters. Here is what my garden is up to.

I hate weeding. Really. I would rather let weeds do their best after plants are established than spend a day out there in the sun pulling out volunteer "damndelions". So I think I may have come up with a solution. Strawberries spread like crazy and I had these two in pots on the deck. This a a pic of one of my rose beds and I can't seem to keep it weed free so I thought this might be a good solution. Only time will tell.

 These two pics have nothing whatsoever to do with what I have been doing lately. With constant admiration, I will tell you I love this rose. The flowers are itty-bitty 5 petal pink and last all of a week. The plant itself is just so neat. It is an arctic shrub rose. The leaves and canes are purple!

I am very limited in space. I have .11 acres on a corner in a suburban neighborhood. I can't have any animals beyond my dogs and cats, and being on a corner I have restrictions on what I can put where. So I have to get creative with space. I am trying to put in things that are edible as well as pretty, but I won't delude myself to think that we could live on what I grow. Far from it. I try to grow things we can enjoy as a treat through the growing season and anything I preserve is from the farmers market. I do plan to do a canning party this summer...I WILL do this, I will have to write a post on that.

I always grow cucumbers. But this seems to be the year of the vine, and I have in the past grown them vertically on a trellis. Some years this is good, others have not been good. Well, I had my kids old sand box and thought it would do well to use it. I put in the cukes and had husband make me a cone trellis out of some wire fencing we had.

Here is the giant planter hubs built me. Like I said, it was a total pain in the ass to fill it, but we finally got it done. I also go a grape vine for Mother's Day and I planted it next to my fence as that one spot gets sun all damn day. This is of course after we took the time to re-paint that section of fence. 

These are pumpkins I started from seed. They are a french variety, and I can't wait to see how they do. I roasted pumpkins and froze them for the first time last year and the flavor was so amazing I have to do it again, except with actual eating pumpkins and not carving pumpkins I got from the grocery store. 

The other things if you look closely are lettuce. I don't think they are going to make it but if they don't I will replant. They were started indoors and really should have gone into the ground before I left for a week of work. That didn't happen and it looks like a gnome pissed on them.

Directly to the left of the planter is the GIANT wisteria that has climbed my deck pergola. I have to hack away at it every year or the house would be totally covered in the space of 2 years. The damn thing has never bloomed and I have tried all the "remedies" out there to no avail. But it provides shade so I guess it can stay.

Now to the greenhouse  This year we covered most of it with screening material in black. It has great heat reflectivity but it allows for airflow. We had a horrible time of it last year because it was all plastic. Due to the unseasonably warm temps and lack of rain and all that, the peas didn't even sprout despite multiple tries. The rest of the stuff withered and died or rotted because there was little air flow. 

This bed is an example of what they all looked like at the beginning of this year. When I say I did nothing last summer I meant it. This is the bed I actually won't touch this year, as it is my horseradish. I had to put it somewhere contained and it is already trying to sneak under the sides of the bed. 

To the left, is the celery. I did manage some late last year and it was hot enough for it to begin but then the warm fall and greenhouse gave me fresh celery until late november. I really was impressed with the taste of home grown over the grocery store. 

To the right of horseradish hell bed, it the back bed. It has brussel sprouts, and broccoli, volunteer shallots and peas (not in this picture because I am a nimrod and forgot to take a second picture)

Right across from horseradish bed is garlic, one zucchini and one yellow squash as they have a bush like habit, and would fit in this weird space next to my garlic. I don't plan my garden beyond my stomach so sometimes I get dip shit choices like this because the garlic is  just chillin in the middle. 

Now on to the deck. Pot gardening (and not the fun stuff) is something I have been forced into because I have, as I said , limited space.  So the three pots on the bottom are my potatoes, as I can't very well grow them in the garden. I have a mole problem. And there is nothing like waiting all season to harvest your potatoes and when you do, each one is hollowed out. Seriously, and I scolded the cat for this one. She likes birds and I told her to catch something useful for christ's sake. I already have stopped with a bird feeder because it is like baiting them for her.

I didn't anticipate this picture but it is a good one of the greenhouse  There are plastic panels on one side to provide heat. In the pots I have rosemary, sage, and the long pot has spinach that I will reseed several times throughout the season. It is perfect for this type of application. You pick it as you use it until it gets leggy and bolts, rip it out and reseed. in about 3 weeks you have spinach.

I know I showed you these planters but my hops have come up. I am very excited about these! Mostly because I love beer, but HEY, the plant is pretty too!

 Then I have tomatoes. They really love the deck as it gets so hot in the blazing sun.

On the railing above the tomatoes are marigolds as they are preventative bug repellent to things that eat tomatoes. Honestly, I couldn't remember what they were but I have always done this, so screw it. They are planted with tansy. I can't wait to try this out once it grows in a medicine or something. Really into that hippie crap. 

Here I have my 2 Lemon verbenas. I had these last year and over wintered them inside. They are coming back nicely, and I am going to repot later.

More marigolds and something I use a shit ton of...thyme. I use it in everything, so I have to grow it as it gets expensive to try to buy it all the time.

So all this in the space of a short time interspersed with things like work and being away a week. I have busted my generous ass, and so has hubby I can't forget to say, to get things in order.

Now I have to find a place to put a watermelon, and some catmint and catnip....this could prove challenging, but I will win out over my garden. This is only the beginning, as I have a whole other side of the property to deal with...and the grass is currently up to my knees and there is dog poop everywhere. *sigh*


Thursday, May 9, 2013

MMMM....Ribs good. OOOOO....pretty flowers!

First of all let me apologize for missing writing for you all. The seasonal and proverbial shit has hit the fan around here, so I have been busier than an unneutered terrier in a room full of dancers.

Anyway, I did something recently I thought you all might be able to do yourselves. I made ribs in the damn crock pot.

*AND I PROMISE TO DO RIBS THE NORMAL WAY THIS SUMMER* I have had more requests for that than anything else.

Let me preface this by saying that I don't think they are 100% perfect, because they are not. If you don't cook them over an open flame the taste will reflect that. I wonder if  a little liquid smoke or kitchen bouquet (or both) might improve the flavor some.

That being said, the ribs are still very yummy, and very tender. They strike me as something you could do sometime in the dead of winter, say February here in Rochester, when we are sick of the weather being cold and crappy. It might just soothe the need for a little summertime taste.

Here is the recipe:

2 racks Baby Back ribs*
Teriyaki sauce
Salt and pepper
Malt vinegar

*I say baby backs here, as that is what I used. You could use St. Louis style if you prefer them, just keep in mind the meat is usually more marbled which will result in more fat cooking off, and making them almost too tender to serve. If you use St. Louis style, shorten cooking time by 2-3 hours, and finish them under the broiler.

Put your ribs into the crockpot on their side and kind of coil them in on themselves, like I did. You could cut them and then put them in layers. I have never done it that way, so give it a shot. If you do, leave a comment and tell me how it went.

These pictures are really crappy...I gotta work on my lighting.

I sprinkle a little pre-made spice mix on them, drizzle honey, teriyaki sauce and malt vinegar. This is totally to taste, but this is the basic recipe in most BBQ sauces without the tomato paste and high fructose corn syrup. 

Turn it on low for 8 hours. 

You might need to adjust your timing a little, so they they are not so overdone that they turn to rib meat soup. 

I took mine out and then stuck them under the broiler to crisp up the outside. 

I apologize about the quality of the pictures. Lately when I am cooking something I just want to get it done and over and the dishes done so I can go relax. I spent most of last summer inside in a seasonal depression so my garden got little to no attention. I am now paying the price. I spend a good chunk of the day weeding, only to get up the next day and find the weeds have come back. I think I need to kill a goat or something to appease the dandelion gods.

I will have more gardening stuff for you very soon. Husband built me a set of really nice planters for my hops and a big honkin' 4 foot deep one where there used to be rotten fence to plant lettuce in for the summer because it only gets half shade. (I plan to put in real carrots this year in it too because there is actually something other than clay under an inch of topsoil) These will be short posts but I will share them with you along with pictures of my garden as it progresses. The goal this year is to remove things that die that are ornamental and replace them with edibles or medicinal plants. Luckily for me most of my ornamentals are rugosa roses that I make rose petal jelly from, and rose hip tea in the fall. However I did plant my potted strawberries in the bed, in an effort to keep weeds down. Did I mention I hate dandelions?

The lilacs are gorgeous this year and just in time for the annual Lilac Festival here in Rochester. Martha Stewart came a few years ago and since has ordered Lilacs from the city's horticultural groups every year. As much as she is a shitty business person and probably a total bitch, that bitch knows her stuff when it comes to plants.

 If you live even remotely close, there are hundreds of lilac varieties to see....along with all the normal festival stuff like wine/beer tastings, artisans and crap vendors. There is a FREE concert series to boot, with groups like Rusted Root coming to perform. Sadly for me, I will be out of town on work that week. So if you can go, especially if you have never been, for GODS SAKE make time and go. It is really a wonderful time and there is something for everyone. Go for me, buy a plant and have a local beer in my honor.