Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Seedling Success! But... Help!! Now What?

I've never been this successful in my life! For the first time ever, I have seedlings that are developing their first true set of leaves!

Look at that baby artichoke plant!


These little tomato plants just popped up a few days ago. And they haven't flopped over yet!

But I desperately need help. I'm encountering something I've never dealt with before...

There are ROOTS sticking out of the bottoms.

I've seriously never seen this before. In over a decade of attempts, I've never made it to the point where roots would be hanging out.

I don't even know what to do! Are these still immature enough that I can leave them? Or do I have to transplant these babies?

And I haven't thinned them yet, either. There are two seedlings in each little compartment. Do I have to kill one?

Help me Obi Wan, you're my only hope!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Reflections on Parish Cookbooks

Forgive me some stream of consciousness indulgence for a bit.

I don't know how I feel about church cookbooks. You know, the spiral bound collections that parishes sell for fundraisers, comprised of recipes from the ladies' altar society and all of their friends and distant relatives?

On the one hand, they're rather charming. Ostensibly, they're the collection of the greatest recipes from real cooks, many of whom you know personally. There can be some real recipe gems in there. "Meemaw's Creamy Eggnog," "Uncle Oswald's Secret Marinade," and "Aunt Lobelia's Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake" are all tried and true winners.

On the other hand, nobody screens the entries; if Aunt Maybelle submits a dud, it's still getting published.

I submit two "recipes" for your perusal that were recently espied in an old parish cookbook:

Festive Green Beans
Submitted by: Name withheld [truly, and not by me]

1 can green beans
1/4 cup chopped red pepper

Mix ingredients. Serves 4.
Sesame Chicken
Submitted by: Name withheld [I have my suspicions...]

1 chicken, cut to pieces
1/2 cup sesame seeds.

Cook chicken. At the end, top with sesame seeds. Serves 4-6.

You've got to give her points for brevity.

Another staple of parish cookbooks is the ubiquitous "Recipe for A Happy Life"... something saccharine about a dash of love, a sprinkle of giggles, a dollop of forgiveness, a pinch of humor, and a smidge of faith. That recipe, or slightly adapted, is in every volume I own.

When I want a new recipe, I rarely scan these cookbooks. Why?

1) There are no pictures. If I can't see it, it's hard to envision serving it.

2) My style of cooking is very different. I don't often go for "quick and easy" recipes, because I enjoy cooking and, at this stage in my life, I have plenty of time to do it. I don't buy refrigerated biscuits, Ranch dressing packets, cream of mushroom soup, or Lipton onion soup. Yes, I know how to replace all of those, but I'm usually turned off of a recipe if I have to do a lot of substituting.

3) There are often five or six versions of "Perfect Pineapple Fluff," each with slight but significant variations. The indecision of which "perfect" recipe to pick kills me. My attempts to amalgamate the best of each version often result in far less than perfect dishes.

And yet, these books still hog a whopping 2 feet of shelf space in my miniscule pantry.

And I can't part with them.

What are your own thoughts on the matter?

Friday, February 15, 2013

The 2nd Annual Day After Valentine's Day

Don't forget, ladies! Today is the 2nd Annual Day After Valentine's Day.

I was babied beyond belief yesterday.

A delivery of these started the day off perfectly:

Oh, how I love Azaleas!

The day ended with us doing the dishes together, praying the Rosary, and reading Les Misérables aloud.

Everything in between was ambrosial.

But today it's our turn. No one is expecting the extravagant love to continue today. Do one profound act of babying your husband today. Iron his pillowcase, fluff his baked potato, meet him outside with a huge smile when he gets home, warm his blanket in the dryer... something simple, loving, and utterly gratuitous.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Last Minute Decision

I've never given up candy or chocolate for Lent, 'cause I've never eaten enough of it to bother giving it up. I just never think to buy candy.

Last year, however, I discovered Guittard's milk chocolate chips. A handful of chocolate chips now and then isn't like chowing down on a bar, right? Um, right?

I've noticed, lately, that they're always on my grocery list, "in case I need to make cookies or something."

My chocolate consumption is up roughly 2381%.

Among other things, I know what I'll be giving up this year.

What are you giving up/doing for Lent this year?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I'm a Hypocrite -- But You Knew That

Last week I declared that I was done with heirloom tomatoes. No more for me. Better Boy, Early Girl, and any and all improved hybrids were the only varieties for my garden this year.

So I'm having a hard time justifying my recent purchases...

1 - [ToBWR] Tomato - Brandywine (Red)

1 - [ToBf] Tomato - Beefsteak

1 - [TM920/L] Cosmonaut Volkov Tomato

1 - [TM908/S] Costoluto Genovese Tomato

1 - [TM921/S] Grande Marzano Tomato

1 - [TM939/L] Pineapple Tomato

1 - [ToOlG] Tomato - Old German

Sigh. I'm weak, what can I say?

Which varieties of tomato are your favorites?

Friday, February 1, 2013

This Week on Pinterest

There are several projects I want to work on this weekend, and all of them were spied this week on Pinterest:

{Pin} DIY Seed starting shelves with shop lights. I'm DETERMINED to grow viable seedlings this year!

{Pin} Meyer lemon pudding. I have a bag of Meyers I've been hoarding while I decide on the perfect recipe. I think this might be it.

{Pin} Glazed crispy skinned roasted duck. We got a duck for Christmas! I think this sounds lovely for this Sunday's dinner.

{Pin} A ceramic "watermelon bowl." I think I could recreate something similar... maybe... or not.

Follow me on Pinterest if you'd like! What wonderful discoveries have you made on Pinterest this week?