Thursday, February 28, 2013

Farm Fresh on Our Table

For any aspiring cook who feels hopeless in the kitchen and claims "I can't even boil an egg," please don't judge your cooking/baking abilities by that endeavor. The other day was my first time perfectly hard-boiling a batch of eggs. I was so proud! Although my mama uses the 20 minute simmer method (after bringing the eggs and water to a boil), I haven't had the best of luck. So this go-round, I went for the boil and then remove from heat, with lid on for 15-20 minutes method. I even stirred the eggs midway through to better distribute the yolks. And look at these beauties! 
 Thanks to our lovely girls out in the Chicken Palace (who molted and had a drop in egg production--but are back to giving us 3 eggs a day again). I made the boiled eggs to top our supper salad that evening. 
(P.S. Black the look, not the constant battle with trying to keep them halfway clean).

Levi loves helping in the kitchen (so does Mason, my almost 3 year old, but he was napping). He was equally proud of our job boiling the eggs because he remembered my effort a few weeks ago where I thought the eggs were ready and they weren't so they ended up in the trash. He did a great job peeling the eggs, too. 

I'm still learning to love eggs. Growing up I barely ate a bite or two of scrambled eggs. And I'm still iffy at trying eggs cooked any way but scrambled or hard-boiled. My favorite way to eat them is as egg salad. 

Tonight's minestrone featured three things from our garden: zucchini (from the summer--I shredded it and froze it in 1 cup bags), kale and tomatoes (well, the tomatoes are actually from my mama because she's the tomato canning machine--eventually I'll have to learn how to do that but for now, I get to enjoy her hard work). 

This minestrone is very tasty and satisfying--perfect for the tail-end of winter. I basically follow the Bush's Red, White, and Bean Minestrone recipe that I pulled from a magazine several years ago. Levi insisted that his Captain America cup be featured in the picture, by the way. Happy last day of February!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Hearts and Bunnies

Valentine's Day has always been a special holiday for me because my mama went into labor to have me on Valentine's Day (but I didn't actually arrive until the day after). I grew up having redhot hearts and conversation heart candies at my birthday parties. It never bothered me that my birthday fell after a holiday (though I always wished I could have had a pool party like my friends with warm-weathered birthdays!). This year we had Ashley's family over for a Valentine Waffle Supper so I had fun adding some heart decor to our house. 

Ashley's mom made me this simple burlap wreath that is hanging about the woodstove in our living room. I cut out a few felt hearts and added them to the wreath (no glue or sewing needed!). 

Last year I saw this cute heart garland on Pinterest and decided to make it one afternoon. Very easy and festive across my dining room window! 

Remember my parents surprised me with a birthday visit on Friday and we spent part of the afternoon weaving on my porch. Papa made a wreath and Mama encouraged me to make my wreath into a bunny (she's an expert basketweaver and always says she may not have been the most creative person but she certainly encouraged and inspired my brother and I). 

Here's the bunny making a very early appearance beside our door (I'm usually against holidays crowding each other but I can't help sharing this!). 

One of my boys pulled one of the pansies and I added it as a nose. 

We got a skiff of snow last night. Not really enough to take a picture of but it was special all the same. Happy Sunday afternoon to you!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Perfect Day for Muscadine Pruning

It's a beautiful Sunday here in South Carolina and we've been outside enjoying the weather. While Ashley worked on the garden irrigation, I pruned the muscadine vines.  Because I'm usually taking care of the baby, it's harder for me to help with heavier work outside. But since it was a nice day, I pulled out the outside mat and the little people enjoyed the day while I worked. 

We consulted several web sites to make sure we pruned correctly to help our vines grow and produce a lot of grapes this summer. February is the ideal time to prune muscadines. Here is one of the vines, pre-pruning. Notice all the branches shooting off all over the place. The main focus on pruning is the tendrils--they need to be trimmed back so that only 2-3 buds remain.

Ah, someone notices! He's perfecting the art of sitting up. So far, he's the biggest boy we've grown yet--at his 6 month check-up, he weighed 22 lbs and was 28 inches long (98th percentile for both). 

So here is our bunch of unruly vines, although Ashley did train them last year to have a single trunk and make the necessary T split into 2 cordons. These vines are fast growers and need pretty severe pruning to keep in shape for the years to come. 

Now here's the row, all pruned up. Naked, as Ashley put it, after I finished my work.

Here are the vines "bleeding." It's completely normal for the vines to drip sap for a few weeks after pruning. And no, they won't bleed to death.. 

 Little Man was impressed :o) 

I have always loved pruning, pulling weeds, getting things in order (as long as it's not hot and humid). Last winter I made some vine wreaths from some vines growing in our woods. This afternoon I wove these three with our muscadine vines. They're not perfect but it's neat knowing I made them with materials grown on our land. Now to figure out additional decorations for the wreaths.

Part of me feels like I should apologize for not posting in ages but you know how it happens. I really did want to post the past two months but just haven't been able to. Between my trusty Canon PowerShot going on the fritz to the holidays to more rounds of winter illnesses, I just haven't made the time to add anything here. I do hope to post regularly again--and with the spring coming, I know I'll be motivated. Today Ashley plowed up part of our garden to get ready for our spring planting--and we're excited to try new things and some of our past favorites. Happy February to you!