My Garden

So this year I actually did it. I built and planted my garden! Now I only have all summer to keep it from drying out and dieing like my tomato plants did last year. I built a box out of 2×10 boards, filled it with dirt, laid out my grid, and planted my square foot garden. My box is 5×5 instead of the recommended 4×4 to allow room for a border of marigolds. Marigolds are pretty, and I’ve been told they keep the bunnies out of your garden. Now that we’re past the reasonable expectation of frost (although Columbus’s official frost free date isn’t until May 15 or something ridiculous like that), I’ll be getting the flowers in soon. Maybe next weekend. Or tomorrow. We’ll see. Currently my garden contains: peas, carrots, spinach, kale, and lettuce. I have two empty squares for tomatoes, and I’ll probably put two more tomato plants into the same pots I had last year, and hope for a better outcome. I also have four more empty squares. I’ll probably get some herbs to put there from the farmers market when it opens in May. I may also save a square for one of my neighbors to put in some beets. It is a community back yard, so the least I can do is share some garden space with my neighbors who have all agreed not to complain to property management about my garden box.

My peas are looking great!

My carrots are hard to see, because I just thinned them so they have all the space they need to grow big and fat and sweet. These will be dragon carrots. I thought the purple looked really cool. I may try another variety when these are harvested.

And here is my spinach. It’s also doing very well, and I just thinned it down to 9 plants in a square.

I’m worried about my Kale. So far, I don’t see anything in my two kale squares that looks like I planted it there. I may have to try again. My lettuce is looking good, but there are only 4 per square, and they’re pretty small, so I didn’t bother to take a picture. I’ll get more pictures as the plants get bigger, and hopefully share how much harvest I get from my little square foot garden. And of course my two biggest helpers:

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies, EVER!!!

Today I’m going to share my very own, completely made up by me, original recipe chocolate chip cookies. (If this is also your recipe, well then great minds think alike because I swear I came up with this on my own in my mothers kitchen)

I will update with pictures later if I can find my camera before the cookies are eaten.

The story:

Last September I was visiting family in Colorado. I had flown out with just the boys, since my husband couldn’t get the time off work. Our stay was extend by several days due to the unfortunate timing of a case of the chickenpox, leaving the boys and I stranded at my parents house while they took off for a vacation they had planned months ago to coincide with my leaving for home. So there I was with two sick kids, my mothers gorgeous kitchen at my complete disposal, and absolutely nothing to do. I decided it was a perfect time to make cookies. I got out the chocolate chips, read through the recipe on the back, and started gathering ingredients. Peering into the fridge, I encountered only a single lonely stick of butter. The recipe of course calls for two. What to do? I suppose I could have just made a half a batch of cookies, but honestly, at the time it never even crossed my mind. So I racked my brain and scoured the kitchen for something to replace that missing stick of butter. No, oil didn’t cross my mind either. However, my mom had about 5 bricks of cream cheese in the fridge, and I thought that would do the trick. The one other major modification to your typical chocolate chip recipe is that this one does not contain eggs. The reason for this is twofold. First, as I was baking and simultaneously tending to two sick kiddos, I forgot to add them in. The cookies came out great, and upon subsequent experiments I decided I liked the egg-free version better anyway. Second, the cookies are now bowl-licking safe for munchkins, and no salmonella risk to worry about. Since I’m sure very few of you really care how the recipe came about, thank you for bearing with me thus far and without further ado, the recipe:

Preheat oven to 350*
Using your stand mixer, cream together:
1/2 C (1 stick) butter
1 (8oz) brick of cream cheese
3/4 C granulated sugar
3/4 C packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla

In a small bowl, combine:
2 1/4 C flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Slowly add dry mixture to butter/sugar mixture, beating well after each addition. Stir in 1 C chocolate chips. Place by rounded spoonful onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 9 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Try not to eat them all at once.

My first attempts were with regular white flour and normal sugar, and they were delicious. I have since made the recipe substituting 100% whole wheat flour and Sucanat (unrefined sugar) for part or all of the flour and sugar in the recipe with terrific results. This most recent batch was all whole wheat flour and all Sucanat. My kids are used to eating whole wheat, so they didn’t even notice, but I bet you could sub up to half of the flour with WW without the munchkins noticing at all.


Great Expectations

Drum Roll Please!!!

I’m Pregnant!! That’s right, number three is decidedly on it’s way. Only 4 weeks along, I still feel fine. Two or three more weeks to go before the pukies set in.

My goal over the next few weeks is to menu plan and double batch so I can feed the freezer for days when cooking would put me over the edge. Things that double batch well:

Cassaroles (with GF pasta)
Soups: chicken potato
Beef and rice
vegetable tomato
bean and bacon
Southwest chicken black bean soup
Salsa slow cooker chicken
Pot roast
Beans and Rice

I also need to finish up the sweater and baby blanket I’m working on for my nephew (who’s two months old already!!!) so I can start working on things for this baby. I need to make:

about 2 dozen new born diapers
baby blanket (I’ll start this at 20 weeks when we know the gender)
soakers/longies for winter baby
I’d really like to knit/sew some outfits too.

Man, 9 months really isn’t long enough!!