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Gardening Photos

2nd peach tree:

Potato patch made from old wading pool:

View of garden from front of house:

These were taken a few weeks ago. Will post more updated pictures soon. 


I built this bean pole trellis with various items I found around my home. Cost: $0. Time: about 1 hour.
1. Find several sticks about 4 feet long.

2. Dig some small holes in which to set the sticks. 

3. Set up the sticks in a tripod fashion. I used some old twine from a shopping bag and wire from some rose bushes I had bought a few days earlier to bundle them together at the top.  

Here are some additional photos:

And that's pretty much it as far as the trellis is concerned. Obviously, you aren't going to build one of these and not plant anything. As you can see, the soil is pretty poor, so I had to make a small raised bed. 

I planted some peas and runner beans, but later I decided to expand the bed and plant some strawberries. Here is how the bed looks now:

The plants haven't grown up enough yet to climb much, but this has stood for several months in spite of a few days of strong winds and heavy rains. 

Stop SOPA and PIPA

Okay, so I haven't posted much lately anyway, but I will be joining in supporting the protest against SOPA and PIPA on January 18th by not using LJ and several other non-essential sites. 

Let's have sopapillas! Not SOPA and PIPA! 

Shortly after my husband and I were married, he asked me to prepare his favorite dish: chicken with apricots. He described it to me and I said I would be happy to do it; all I needed was a recipe. He insisted that no recipe was needed: just stuff a chicken with apricots and currants and bake it. Of course, that didn't sound right and it wasn't. He insisted that I had done something wrong and I reminded him that I followed his instructions exactly. Because he was not yet properly trained, he didn't let it go and he had already pushed the boundaries by claiming the failure of the meal was my fault. I declared that under no circumstances would I ever prepare this dish ever again. Ever! You want it, then go home and have mommy make it, which is exactly what he did. Well, we both did. When we visited my in-laws in South Africa a few months later, his mother did prepare this dish. I told her about how her son had tried to get me to make it without a recipe and with the most basic of instructions and she laughed. Of course, I needed a recipe and she offered to give it to me. However, at the time, I was determined to stick to my guns and never make it myself. 

But it sure was good!

After a cooling-off period of nearly 14 years, I decided my détente with this dish had gone on long enough. It was time to declare a truce and give it a try. My mother-in-law dictated the recipe to my father-in-law who emailed it to me. 

It turns out the recipe was not South African at all, but my mother-in-law found it in a Belgian magazine when they were living in Amsterdam in the early 70s. Even though I followed the recipe as best I could, I could never quite get it right. It turns out that the bullion cubes I was using were wrong. I had been trying to use the rock-hard cubes you often find in American stores, but what I needed were the soft cubes that are probably more common in Europe. I tried using these and that made all the difference!

Okay, so enough about my nearly 15-year odyssey to culinary perfection and the lives of countless chickens whose lives were taken in vain. Let's cook! 

The original recipe called for using a larger bird like a hen or a small turkey, but I have always used a regular broiler-fryer chicken. Therefore, I have cut the recipe in half from the original I received and Americanized the terminology. Here is what you need:

1 whole chicken
1 7-oz package dried apricots
1/2 package Zante currants
1 large onion, diced
2 Knorr chicken bullion cubes
2 slices bacon
1/2 cup wine or other liquid

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Cut the apricots in half. Mix apricots, currants, onion, and crumbled bullion cubes in bowl. 

Prepare chicken as you normally would for roasting removing any inserts from the body cavity. Wash bird if you prefer to do so. Place bird in greased roasting pan or Dutch oven.

Stuff bird with apricot mixture. Any extra can be placed under or around the bird. 

Cut bacon slices in half and lay them across the breast. This will add flavor to the meat and help keep in juices. 

Pour wine or other suitable basting liquid in pan. Water is okay, but you might also try broth or orange juice. 

Cover pan with lid or wrap tightly with foil. 

Roast for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until meat thermometer reads at least 165 degrees in various places deep in the meat, including the stuffing.  If you want the bird to be nicely browned, you may want to remove the lid about 20 minutes before it's done and raise the heat to 425 degrees. 

Allow bird to rest at least 15 minutes before carving. 

Okay, so that's about it. Something else I did was to use a cast iron Dutch oven liberally greased with bacon fat and I felt that gave a very good result. I could probably write an entire post about my Dutch oven and probably will some day. 

A few things I will try next time are to sweat the onions first as some bits of onion were still a bit crunchy. I will probably also adjust the apricot::currant ratio as I found this to be heavy on the currants, but seeming to need more apricots. 

Heaven help me if I become like those people on Extreme Couponing like the woman who bought 134 boxes of couscous just because she could. She admitted that she had never had couscous. Hope she and her family like the stuff or they have the sense to donate it!

Anyway, I have started using coupons more regularly again and have been venturing into more advanced couponing strategies like stacking. Yesterday, I made 2 trips to CVS and was able to score some good deals by stacking manufacturers' coupons, store coupons, and Extra Care Bucks (ECBs).

Let's review one of my deals.

Okay, it's a pack of Band-Aids and a tube of Neosporin. When The Revolution comes, that's not going to help much unless The Revolution involves getting a bunch of paper cuts, but stay with me.

Here is the cost of the items:

Band-Aids     $4.69
Neosporin     $6.79
Total:            $11.48

Since neither items was on sale this sounds kind of pricey, but it gets better.

When I made my first trip to CVS, I used the coupon dispenser and received several coupons, two of which I later applied to this scenario. One coupon was for 30% off the entire purchase, but that did not apply to sale or promotional items. These items were full price so no problem there. I also had a store coupon for $3 off any first aid purchase of $10 or more and a newspaper coupon for $1.50 off of these two items when purchased together. Here's the breakdown:

MFR coupon:  $1.50
store coupon: $3.00
store coupon: $3.33
Total:                $7.83

Now for you math wizards out there, you are probably thinking, "hey, 30% off of $11.48 should be $3.44, not $3.33". My guess is that their policy is to apply the manufacturer's coupon first, which would bring the price down to $9.98. Regardless, it's still an excellent deal and here is how much I ended up paying:

$11.48 - $7.83 = $3.65

I also did not figure tax into the scenario or the 2% earned toward ECBs that can apply to future purchases. This was also not the best deal of the day, which was getting Zyrtec on sale for $5.99, then using a $5 coupon, and getting $5.99 back in ECBs. On this deal, the item was free and I actually earned $5! When I went back to CVS today I used that ECB to apply toward buying the remaining items I needed to earn a $10 gas card. I used some MFR coupons and bought several items on sale. In the end, I paid $11.87 for the items and netted the $10 card. What this amounts to is paying $1.87 for 5 boxes of cereal, 5 small bottles of dishwashing liquid, and 5 bottles of Sprite. There's nothing special about the number 5; it just worked out that way.

Now, of course, if I had been an extreme couponer, I would have gotten most of the items for free and the store would have been giving me cash! But I am not that skilled yet. Baby steps and all that.

shutterfly project

5x7 Folded Card
View the entire collection of cards.

French Bread

I make my own stock from chicken and turkey bones, but I really do not make a lot of soup. Therefore, I usually have quite a bit of stock on hand and am always looking for new ways to use it as well as ways to sneak in extra nutrition. You could also use commercially prepared stock or broth, but be mindful that those might contain sodium, in which case you will want to reduce the salt in the recipe a bit. Or you could just use water and it will turn out fine, but not taste as rich.

I use a bread machine for this recipe and use the dough setting, but  you could probably make it the traditional way as well.


1 1/4 cups chicken stock (70 to 80 degrees F)

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups bread flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup rolled oats

1 1/2 teaspoons (1 pkg.) active dry yeast

1 tablespoon cornmeal


1 egg

1 tablespoon water

2 teaspoons sesame or flax seeds, toasted (optional)


1.            In bread machine pan, place the first seven ingredients in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select dough setting (check dough after 5 minutes of mixing; add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or flour if needed).

2.            When cycle is completed, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Roll each portion into a 10-in. x 8-in. rectangle. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seams to seal.

3.            Sprinkle a greased baking sheet with cornmeal; place loaves seam side down on prepared pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 20 minutes.

4.            Whisk egg and water; brush over loaves. With a sharp knife, make four shallow slashes across the top of each loaf. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks. Makes about 12 servings, depending on how thick you slice it.


Nutrition Facts



  12 Servings

Amount Per Serving
  Total Fat1.8 g
     Saturated Fat0.4 g
     Polyunsaturated Fat0.7 g
     Monounsaturated Fat0.6 g
  Cholesterol13.9 mg
  Sodium234.7 mg
  Potassium119.2 mg
  Total Carbohydrate34.5 g
     Dietary Fiber3.4 g
     Sugars1.1 g
  Protein6.1 g
  Vitamin A0.4 %
  Vitamin B-120.5 %
  Vitamin B-62.2 %
  Vitamin C0.1 %
  Vitamin D0.4 %
  Vitamin E0.7 %
  Calcium1.4 %
  Copper6.9 %
  Folate11.3 %
  Iron9.7 %
  Magnesium7.5 %
  Manganese41.1 %
  Niacin11.2 %
  Pantothenic Acid    3.1 %
  Phosphorus    10.2 %
  Riboflavin10.1 %
  Selenium15.1 %
  Thiamin19.7 %
  Zinc5.2 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Nutrition information courtesy: http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp


Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Waffles

For the past several weeks I have been making waffles for breakfast on Sunday morning. This recipe is very hearty and filling. I use a Belgian waffle maker and I find that baking spray, rather than ordinary cooking spray, really helps to keep the waffles from sticking. Enjoy!


2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 ½ cups milk

5 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 apple, finely chopped


1 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup whole wheat flour

1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

In large mixing bowl, mix together eggs, milk, butter and brown sugar. Mix in apple. In separate bowl, stir together flours, oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add flour mixture to wet mixture; mix until blended. Allow to stand 3-5 minutes to allow oats to absorb liquid. Waffle maker can be heating during this time. Spray waffle iron grids with baking spray or non-stick cooking spray. Spread batter onto grids. The mixture will be very thick, like prepared oatmeal. Bake according to manufacturer’s instructions or 6-7 minutes.


Nutrition Facts



  4 Servings

Amount Per Serving
  Total Fat20.1 g
     Saturated Fat11.4 g
     Polyunsaturated Fat2.5 g
     Monounsaturated Fat6.0 g
  Cholesterol92.2 mg
  Sodium670.0 mg
  Potassium352.2 mg
  Total Carbohydrate96.5 g
     Dietary Fiber9.4 g
     Sugars17.9 g
  Protein13.7 g
  Vitamin A13.8 %
  Vitamin B-122.3 %
  Vitamin B-65.5 %
  Vitamin C2.6 %
  Vitamin D13.3 %
  Vitamin E4.1 %
  Calcium38.6 %
  Copper23.3 %
  Folate30.6 %
  Iron35.0 %
  Magnesium30.0 %
  Manganese176.7 %
  Niacin18.7 %
  Pantothenic Acid    11.6 %
  Phosphorus    45.9 %
  Riboflavin22.8 %
  Selenium30.2 %
  Thiamin56.0 %
  Zinc19.1 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Nutritional information courtesy of recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp