Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sun Dried Tomatoes in the Oven

I had a couple of bowls of tomatoes left from the gallons and gallons I picked. So this morning I had time to research a recipe and jump right in. It was super easy and as they are cooking right now, they smell totally awesome!

I found this page through Pinterest with an awesome how to video:

Sun Dried Tomato video

That was my starting point. I washed my tomatoes and cut off the flower end. Then, I cut the tomatoes in half. I then took the seeds and juice out of the halves with my thumbs...much easier than using a spoon. Next, I covered each of my cookie sheets with tin foil. Then I proceeded to lay the tomatoes side by side barely touching and filled the whole cookie sheet.

The herbs I sprinkled over top were salt and pepper, garlic and oregano. I sprinkled sparingly for my first try because the tomatoes shrink at least by half and the spices are going to be more concentrated.

I then took some extra virgin olive oil (organic) and drizzled over all the tomatoes. The tomatoes were then popped into the oven at 200F. They cooked there for almost 5 hours. I turned off the heat and opened the oven doors and let the tomatoes cool.
 Next, I took out some small canning jars and packed my cooled tomatoes into the jars, packing as I went. To release as much of the air pockets as I could, I took a dull table knife and gently went around the inside of the jars releasing the trapped air. Then, I covered the packed tomatoes with more olive oil. I screwed on the lids and Voila! they were ready for the freezer!
I did have to rescue some from my husband as he was busy taste testing them before I could get them into the jars. Lots of mmmmmmm and "These are good" going on. Not everything I've tried gets those kinds of reviews!


Monday, August 5, 2013

My new varieties of Summer flowers

Just thought I'd share my new flowers growing in my flower garden!

These are all perennial flowers and bulbs I picked up this year at the greenhouse. Wonderful selections to add to my gardens!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Growing Mint

Mint is an invasive plant. I still love it, but I'm careful with it because I learned my lesson a few years back. Now, every Spring, I buy one plant from the green house and plant in a large three gallon pot. It grows all summer and just before frost I bring it in to have fresh mint for the Winter. It usually adapts fairly well to being in the house, as long as I water it and keep it in a sunny window.

When preparing the soil, I mix 2/3 potting soil with 1/3 garden soil and I add 1 cup of well rotted manure that I buy at the hardware store. Super easy. Just don't forget to water regularly!

It's an easy plant to grow!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Growing Kale

I grew Kale for the first time in my garden last year. I've read how much of a super food it really is. So what does one do with the stuff once it's growing in your garden? Keep it simple.

Kale is a member of the cabbage family. It grows really well in our Saskatchewan climate. All I did was till the soil and transplant the little Kale plants I got from the greenhouse and watered. I have never been able to find Kale seeds. I was reading Dr. Terry Wahls' website ( and she's had some amazing results eating Kale.

I have to admit the only green thing I grew up eating was garden lettuce and yes, I ate a ton of it at every meal. But other greens I've had to acquire a taste for. I started with Spinach and graduated to Swiss Chard and now I'm trying Kale. Finding recipes for Kale has been trying.

These are some of the Kale plants in my Garden:
The plant itself is not very pretty. The leaves are thick and almost rubbery. They are very easy to pull off the base and wash up quickly. My son started adding a couple of leaves to our juicing. It's definitely green tasting. I have a glass of green juice every's an acquired taste! What is amazing is that I feel better in a couple of hours, less fatigued. I now have a lot of Kale in my garden, because well, I bought six plants. What else can I do with it?

I found a simple recipe that sounded good. I picked 6 large leaves of Kale, washed it and then took off everything around the large middle vein and tore it up into large pieces and discarded the vein (my horses got it in their veggie pail...nothing wasted!) I had some green onion tails so I chopped up about 1.4 cup, added 6 minced garlic cloves and the torn pieces of kale with a couple tablespoons of olive oil into my stir fry pan. Stir fried for about 5 minutes until the Kale was tender and served it to my guys with their supper.

The above was the result and it was devoured by my crew! My guys ate it with no salt, but I think for me, a bit of salt may have added to the dish. It doesn't taste like anything I've ever had. The onions and the garlic certainly made the Kale taste better.

I was amazed how fast Kale grows, it almost grows as fast as the weeds in my garden. The only problem I have is that the little black canola beetles like it I have to powder them once they start showing up because they will strip the plant bare.

Now I just have to figure out how to freeze it without losing all the nutrients!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Grape vines, you can never tell if they're dead Oye!

Once again, I am replacing grape vines. The thing though is that the grape vines look dead every Spring and they also start growing their leaves at different times. So I thought I waited long enough to let them grow so I could replace. I went to pull out one of the dead vines and it would not come out! It started to rain so I never got back to transplanting until two days later. The darn thing had a leaf on was alive!

So now I have an extra one.

Once established, grape vines are hard to lose to winter kill. Apparently, I'm closer to that point than I thought! I have ten of them...they make the best grapy jelly, you can't buy how good that home made jelly tastes!

I have lost a few plants this Spring but no fruit trees were lost at all! Cedars, well that's another story. I love Cedars but boy are they hard to get started out here. One more time, I'm replacing! Hopefully this year is the charm!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Off with your head!

Rhubarb grows quickly when it gets going. It also goes up into flower quickly too. So, when I see the flower heads, they quickly get lopped off. I certainly don't need any seeds as two plants is plenty. Flower heads also suck a lot of energy out of the plant.

So, maybe rhubarb cake or jelly is on the list of things to do tomorrow? Mmmmmmm

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Finally, able to garden!

While, most people were out planting potatoes in their gardens, I had to wait for the 4 feet of snow to melt. These past two weekends I had to enlist the family for help to get everything in as quickly as possible. I ordered a couple of old varieties of potatoes to grow along with my Vikings and Purple potatoes. French Fingerling and Sangre are older varieties that I had never tried. Then, I found German Butterball at the local garden I bought some of those too. I wanted to see what old varieties tasted like before they were changed by lab breeding.

Many of my garden seeds were of the Heritage variety this year. I had to hunt and special order, but I found most of the seeds that I wanted. Last year, I had emailed McFayden asking if their seeds were genetically modified and they said that they were not. I prefer to eat as close to nature as I can...I don't want seeds that I don't know or understand how they will affect my body when I eat the produce.

So what did I seed and plant this year? Lots of greens so that I can juice as much as I want. Lots of celery and some tomatoes. Root veggies like taters, beets, carrots and 4 plants of celeriac. Lots of cabbage and my personal favorite, Napa cabbage. Brussel sprouts for the fall and broccoli for the duration of the summer. Oh and 1 row of corn to eat off the cob.

Prizehead leaf lettuce and Everlasting Spinach were the first to go in. Radishes went in at the tail end of the garden...just because I didn't have time to put them in early because it was so muddy. That's about it. I'm hoping to have time tonight to add a few rows of flowers...just because.

Now, I have to start the weeding!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Last night's storms

Some before and after photos of last night's storms that missed us. We were under a severe thunderstorm warning last night.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Climbing Roses In Saskatchewan??? Of course!

I have successfully grown a climbing rose in Saskatchewan and it lived three seasons. Last year, I couldn't find a replacement. BUT this year, I found three at Wally World. Two yellow and a red. The last time I had a climbing rose, it was yellow and the blooms on it were beautiful. They do grow out to about three feet high, but our season isn't long enough for them to grow taller. I just love the flowers!

So, the climbing rose was planted on the south side of the house and mulched and fertilized with rose food and it did fine for three seasons. Then I lost it. But that year, I lost a lot of perennials and bushes of various kinds due to the weird Spring. It warmed up too quickly and then froze hard. 

These roses will die back right to the ground and grow back from underneath so they look like they're dead but they're not. Just a bit of a warning. They are the last of my roses to grow in the Spring.

Now, I'm just waiting for the ground to thaw out and dry out and these three little beauties will be planted shortly on the South side of my house.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Spring cleanup!

Finally the snow is almost gone and it's time to clean up the perennial beds. I thought the snow was never going to disappear!

Now that the snow has melted, one can see little bits of green poking through last year's dead growth. Before the plants get any larger, I will be cleaning up all the old growth and throwing the dead plant leaves and stocks into my composter. After such a long and dreary Winter, it just feels wonderful to see bits of green. 

It's good to remember that not all plants start growing as soon as it warms up. They may look dead, but that doesn't mean that they are. So make sure to give you plants some time to catch up. Once you know that nothing is going to grow, then you can replace the dead plant with new nursery stock. 

My garden is still buried under snow. I hope to be able to see my Strawberries tomorrow afternoon and hopefully my chives.

Spring is finally here!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Gotcha you little Imp!

 Well, sometimes indoor gardening has it's own pests. You can't spray them and they run fast when in trouble. This is our dog stealing from my potted lettuce and not letting go of the goods. So we bathed her with goods in mouth. She had rolled in the dirt outside when I took her for a walk. I can't plant my experiment because the garden still has 2-3 feet of snow still covering it. Can't wait for it to melt!
 I was really skeptical when I found this idea on Pinterest. But it works! I planted the bottom ends of the celery and lo and behold they started to grow! I'm impressed!
 The celery worked....would the lettuce? Yes, yes it does! If you look closely at the bottom of the photo, there are indentations in the soil. Yup, you guessed it...the poodle was hankering for her veggies.
Seedling growing under a grow light. We still have lots of much snow on that garden!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

There's just somethin' about plants in packages that gets me :-)

I can't help myself, I have to buy a couple packages every year to start indoors. Call it cabin fever, if you like, but I just had to buy some. I prefer to buy them right away when they come out because I get the pick of the lot and the roots are at this point in really good condition. As the season wears on, the roots start to dry up in the packages and then one ends up with plants that are not viable. I still buy some from the nurseries but they are more expensive. Plants growing in the windowsill just makes me feel like Winter is finally over! And this year, Winter has really worn out it's welcome!

I am so ready for Spring!

The case for buying your seeds EARLY!

I was in the city on Monday and had several variety of seeds that I was looking for. Perpetual Spinach was the only one that I could not find anywhere. I tried this variety last year and fell in love with it. It grows like Swiss Chard, does not bolt and grows all season long. I finally found it at the last store we went to and grabbed three packages, to make sure I had some for next year. Yes, I like it that much. It is a delicious Spinach variety and would be a great addition to green smoothies and your daily veggie juicing regime. 

Yes, I am ready to garden, now if the darn snow would just melt and the Winter storms stop coming....

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The great celery experiment!

I read on Pinterest that there are certain foods that one can regrow from vegetables we buy at the grocery store. One of them is celery. So of course being inquisitive,  I have to try it. Up here in Canuckland, it takes a long time for veggies to mature with our cooler growing season. So I love celery but I thought I'd give it a boost and start some of the plants in the house. I'm really curious to see if this works!

The method is plain and simple: Cut off the bottom of the stock and submerge a bit into the soil and water well. I am going to keep it moist because celery loves water. And I tucked it close to my seedlings under the grow light. Can't wait to see how this turns out!

Happy gardening!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Started my seeds last Sunday

I bought a indoor lamp system to start my seeds. I have plenty of large windows on the South side of my house but my seedlings still got spindly last year. I want strong plants to put outside. My new toy has grow light bulbs that provide the proper lighting for my seedlings to grow upwards towards. Hopefully, it works better than my sunny windows. 

I wanted to buy Heritage seeds and Organic seeds to start my small plants. I'm trying not to grow generically modified foods in my garden. So the Heritage seeds are old varieties that have been around for a long time. Organic means that they haven't been grown with chemicals. There is so much that we don't know about the foods we buy at the grocery store. I'm trying to be healthier and to put good things into my body and the bodies of my kids and husband. A lot of the problem is that genetically modified anything does not have to be disclosed on the packaging when one buys things in Canada. That includes food. If I don't choose to eat non GM foods and I want to buy genetically modified foods, that's my business. But I'm the opposite, I want to know, I should have that right to know what is going into my body. At least in my garden, I get to do that.

Happy gardening!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Putting good food to good use

I have read many different recipes on how to prepare food uncooked in large plastic zipper bags, ready to throw in the crockpot. I like crockpot food but not on a daily basis. I have always made large batches of food and then frozen them in smaller containers. This beef stew is a favorite of mine and my family. The only thing different is that this year, I added chunks of squash to the vegetable mixture with delicious results. Here is my step by step how to make a stew in the oven.

In a non stick heavy skillet, I have a titanium skillet, add a couple of good tablespoons of olive oil and then add the meat. The skillet should almost be on high heat, depending on your stove. You want to sear the meat quickly to lock in the juices. Season generously with salt and pepper, we like the coarser restaurant style pepper.  When browned on one side, turn the meat over with your fork and brown the other side. The meat does not have to be cooked through, just really well seared.

When I make stew, I always make enough to freeze. In this recipe, I used about 6 cups of stew meat. Once in the stew pot, I add an onion that has been coarsly chopped. The meat has to stew in liquid, so for this batch, I added enough water to not quite cover the meat and seasoned with Bisto gravy mix. The amount of Bisto depends on the person's taste. Some like more and some like less, we prefer less...I put in a heaping tablespoon of Bisto gravy has flour in it to thicken. At this point, the stew gets put into the oven for a couple of hours at 350F. This gives the meat time to stew and tenderizes the meat.

While the meat is cooking, I slice about a cup of mushrooms and fry them up in olive oil to brown them. These are set aside while I chop the remainder of the vegetables. It depends what I have on hand in my refrigerator, but I've found that the following veggies work best in this stew:  2 cups of carrots, cut in large chunks; 1 cup of turnip cut in smaller chunks; 2 cups of squash, cut into medium chunks; finally, I add a cup of frozen peas.

After two hours, the meat is taken out of the oven and the vegetables are added to the stew. More water should be added, but err on the conservative side as the vegetables will release some of their juices and you don't want to have your stew to boil over in your oven. Cook the stew for a couple more hours, covered in the oven at 325F.

All the vegetables were from my garden and the stew comes alive with my home grown veggies...there is no comparison between home grown veggies and store bought. 

We love to serve our stew with Yorkshire pudding. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

This blog has been kind of neglected for a while. I think I've gone into hibernation for the winter.
Even the dog is not feeling the "gardening" thing. She's usually the first out the door, but not today. 

January is always the time for garden catalogs and ordering seeds one usually cannot get in the stores. I love trying new seeds and plants. This year, I'm investing in a grow light for nicer, stronger plants. Even though I have large windows to the South of the house, my plants still go spindly. 

I'm also still on the hunt for the perfect growth container that causes minimal transplant shock. I have an idea, which I will share later this month. 

As for today, it's a lazy day and gardening is in the a couple of months away.

Happy New Year!