Sunday, April 24, 2022

Midwest Gardening: Supposed Spring Gardening April 2022

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I know this photo looks like Spring, but yesterday was only one of two days in April that it was nice. Last week we had snow three times, and we have below freezing temps forecasted this week.

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A few Daffodils have actually poked their pretty heads out. No tulips and Iris are only snips sticking up.

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We have a NEW trellis for the Clematis. I relocated the OLD birdhouse on the play set. The grand is seldom here to play on it anymore. We will begin dismantling some of it and using the materials for projects.

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Only things up on our north beds are two rhubarb plants which are doing nicely, and of course mint, same mint I have been pulling for 38 years.

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We have a few chives here and there and I already made a delicious bacon/cheese/chive spread for Easter. My beds are still covered in winter yuck---but that is sheltering the bees and helpful bugs to keep warm enough until it stops freezing. Not to mention protecting tender perennials.

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Hubby started to till this week, but finding it so very wet with the recent rains. We have moss growing on everything as we have had so few sunny days. We are about 3 1/2 weeks behind last year, weather wise.

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I baked the last of the squash and gourds and froze their goodness last week. Two big ones had gone bad, so I dumped them in the garden, as they were really rotten.

Some huge critter left some big prints in the garden with no beginning and no end???just in the middle---An Alien Critter??

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This is my peas---spot for planting, which I had planned to do today---but it's too wet, we had near an inch of rain this AM. The hose goes to the garden sink, we can easily direct waste water from cleaning vegetables wherever needed.

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Inside the greenhouse it's starting to look GREEN! Some pansies I picked up for the backyard and another special pot full. My reused plant tags are being sorted here. I have to come up with a better system, for sure.


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I planted all this in early to mid-March---Cleomes I re-planted again yesterday, very poor germination. The tomatoes are ready for transplanting. Most tomatoes were in cups--but we ran out of room in the house for more big trays.
All the plants were moved out to the greenhouse Easter week, so we would have room to eat in the kitchen.

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These tomatoes in bigger pots look great and the peppers, too.


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Has anyone noticed how few seeds are in packets this year? 
Since when are they stingy on marigold seeds?
I've really kept track of how many seeds are in the packets and the germination---I'll post soon.

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The Chinese Eggplant will need to be thinned this week, they look great!

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This Dill/Cilantro tray looks miserable...so spindly---when the sun finally came out they baked in the greenhouse. I have them in shade now to see what survives. I really have bad luck with herbs from seed.

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Here's another really skimpy seeds marigold tray. 
I will start some more with my old saved seeds.

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The Kohlrabi look great, the planter holds Chives and lettuce. Normally they are on the front porch by now---but it's going to be too cold.


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Yesterday, I finally started cucumbers (3 kinds) Zuchinni, and yellow summer squash, only a few plants of each. Also some Waltham Butternut Squash our favorite and a good keeper, along with mini gourds, and of course pumpkins for pies and decorating!

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I have three planters of Nasturtiums going ---and they all look great!

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This is Radishes and onions. We usually have fruit for Mother's Day---not this year, it will be later for sure.

We got a notice from our community and county that serious Avian Flu has been found in the area, and we have been advised to turnover birdbaths and remove all bird feeders. So sad, it has hit the farmers in Illinois also.

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We love our little tweety birds, so I filled an entire huge garbage can with dumped out feeders-(feed went to the garbage) filled it with water and quite a bit of bleach to kill any bacteria or virus that might left on them. They will be rinsed and stored, and used again when we have the all clear. 

I'm sure the squirrels will be unhappy at not getting any 'leavings' on the ground, and the bunnies, too. Early AM I see a sweet bunny nibbling the thrown seeds and also the tender grasses created around our patio stones.

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The Bleach---will kill the virus, even though it's the NOT-Green thing to do. Birds are very important to all ecology systems and need to be protected.

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I can't wait for some Spring flowers...
My neighbors yard with the white Narcissus, so pretty. 

Tomorrow the electrical power stack, meter, fuse panel, main power line, and line to the garage are all being REDOne by contractors. This is something we can't do ourselves. Tuesday and Wednesday roofers install a new roof  and  gutter system. They are even going to hook up our rain barrels, and work out proper drainage for our 'on a slight hill house'.

That's if the weather holds!
See you on the other side...of lots of money spent on nothing pretty. 

OOPS---last minute addition
I got one long tray of Bachelor Buttons planted in the greenhouse and then....

WE HAVE TICKS in the GREENHOUSE---&#!@*!!!
More on that later!


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Thanks  ALWAYS  for visiting,
I will try and respond to every comment and answer every question.

I will post at the following Link Parties, 
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All the opinions and photographs in this blog are my own, unless otherwise designated. Please do not use my photos without permission. I have not been paid or reimbursed in anyway for my opinions, posts, or any products shown or anywhere I shop.

Thank you for your cooperation,
Sandi 






Saturday, April 23, 2022

Homemade Ham and Lentil Soup Serves 8-10

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 Easy, Healthy(low sodium) and Cost Conscious Soup. 

Mom was queen of soups, and I think I take after her on that one. Anytime we have a bunch of leftovers---first thing I think of is soup!

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Hearty, Easy Lentil Soup.  serves 8-10

Use a Leftover Hambone with a small bit of extra ham. I had about 1 1/4 cup of chopped pieces after cooking. I would also make this with a smoked Turkey Leg---which makes the best soups, and adds that wonderful smoky flavor. 

12 cups of water

Two heaping tablespoons of Salt free Seasoning Mix. (with herbs,garlic, etc.)

2 cups of chopped celery fine( I make soup when there are lots of tops on the celery-so flavorful)

2 medium chopped onions

Put all this in a Slow Cooker on High until meat begins to leave the bone-remove bone and the meat chunk and dice into small pieces and  return to cooker, except for the bones.

Add: (PS I always make soups with relish tray leftovers-Win-Win!)

1 large sweet pepper---any color your choice Diced

1 zucchini - or small yellow summer squash cut in quarters and sliced

1/2-1 cup of chopped carrots 

(you can add any other veggie you want) frozen/fresh peas/broccoli/corn, potatoes

Add 2 cups of the small orange lentils (you could use any quicker cooking dry lentil or dry bean) If you use dried beans---soak them or pre-boil and soak over-nite.

Cook on high for at least 3 hours, then on low until the lentils begin breaking down.

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Taste for seasoning, if it seems flat add up to 2 Tbsp. of Balsamic Vinegar or LEMON Juice and ground pepper. (this still keeps this lower in sodium.)

Serve with a hearty bread, and it's a great healthy meal.

This is a dairy-free cream soup by simply breaking this down with a hand blender. Mine today---is just as it finished on its own...thick and nummy!

I served mine with just a scatter of cheese, some chopped fresh parsley and a smidge of paprika. Croutons, sunflower seeds, cornbread crumbs, would all be great garnishes! Even fresh diced tomatoes! 

ENJOY, YOUR WAY!


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Thanks  ALWAYS  for visiting,
I will try and respond to every comment and answer every question.

I will post at the following Link Parties, 
I hope you visit them.



All the opinions and photographs in this blog are my own, unless otherwise designated. Please do not use my photos without permission. I have not been paid or reimbursed in anyway for my opinions, posts, or any products shown or anywhere I shop.

Thank you for your cooperation,
Sandi 

Monday, April 11, 2022

Straight from the Oven POT ROAST.

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 Straight from the Oven POT ROAST.

(Previously posted in 2020) Perfect for these still cold days in Chicagoland

I brag about my cooking in my bio-description and then rarely post anything we cook. Mostly because I don't work from recipes anymore, at least not for the family, and only occasionally for company.

During the stay at home order we (WERE) digging in our freezers, and trying to use the 'oldest' items first. Hubby came up with a big beef roast for Easter dinner, and some chicken legs/thighs for me.


So, OUR Pot Roast, today---just with what we have from the freezer and pantry.

Why not use a recipe--especially now? Because, we have to be FLEXIBLE...so I have offered some alternatives as we go along here. I have done all of the suggestions at one time or another, so feel free to wing it, yourself.

Today, I used a 3# beef roast, the more marbled, the tastier it will be. Generously sprinkle meat with a garlic/pepper based steak seasoning-your choice. If you like it on a hamburger, it will be great on your roast.

2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce or one of your choice.


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Deeply fork the roast all over, and season in a low pan. Dribble the Worcester or your favorite sauce on it, turn over and repeat the dry seasoning and sauce. Cover with foil and leave at room temp for 1-2 hours or in the fridge overnight.


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This was a pretty long piece of meat, so I used my griddle with two burners working on HIGH.


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Definitely had a good sizzle going. Do every side until it is seared all over, even the edges. 


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My favorite splatter lid.
While this is searing you can prepare the vegetables. 

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3 onions cut in quarters
5-6 stalks of celery cut in hunks
6 Large carrots-split down the middle
6 potatoes cut in sizes that will bake in 1 1/2 hours.
(These vegetables will make an excellent gravy.)

Reserve 1/2 the celery and 1/2 the onions, but use
pan spray on the rest and store at room temperature, covered. This will keep them from drying out and discoloring. Or, you can leave in salt water also.
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This will keep them from drying out and discoloring. 



The thick piece now has a good sear, which will keep the juices in. Move the  meat into a lidded roaster or heavy lidded oven pot.

Meanwhile, lower heat on stove,


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Add to griddle/frypan

1/2 cup of any wine---(bottom of your bottles is fine or, 1 cup of cider, or beer)
1/3 cup of catsup or a tomato based sauce. (The sugar content in this, will help caramelize and adds an extra kick of flavor.)
1/2 cup of water

Bring liquids to boil to deglaze pan, scrape all the goodness of bits and pieces up. Add one half of the celery and onions on top and sides of the beef. and then pour the deglazed liquid on top of the beef in the roaster.


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This should be enough liquid to start your roast with, you can always add more.

Cover roaster and put in oven at 325 degrees for one hour.

Check  to see if there is enough liquid. Add more (water with wine, beer or cider if needed.) Bottom should be completely covered. 



Roast one more hour, covered.

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Now add your room temperature vegetables. You can see the spray sitting on top.

(Normally I would add a mixture of zucchini, peppers, fresh tomatoes, or parsnips/turnips depending on the season, but our fresh stuff is depleted.)
Vegetables will add lots of liquid, great for gravy. I baste the vegetables when I put them in the roaster for seasoning with the juice, which is already a rich brown.
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Season to taste or baste with pot juices. TASTE juice if you aren't sure. Roast covered until done (1 1/2 hours) (I upped the temp to 350 at this point, but watch your liquids.)

If you must fuss with it, you can baste the vegetables again, but every time you open the oven, it takes LONGER.
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Remove vegetables/meat to platter or dish and cover and keep in oven at 200 or under. Fork test, all the veggies are caramelized to a beautiful gold. Since it was just us, I skipped the large platter and used a pan.


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Taste the drippings in roaster for salt/seasoning, adjust. Place on top of stove, reduce the liquid to increase flavor and bring juices back to boil. I added a cup of water to the bottom of my pan for gravy. The seasoning was perfect as it was.


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Add 1 Tbsp of either cornstarch/flour/or arrowroot to a 1/2 cup of water and dissolve. Slowly add to the juices in the roaster and cook. Repeat as many times as necessary, until desired consistency is reached. I figure 1Tbsp of cornstarch per 1 cup of juices. (I ended up using 1 1/2 TBsp of flour for this gravy. An immersion blender makes quick work out of the gravy and gives you all that vegetable goodness.

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Health Tip: By putting juice into a fat reducer measuring cup, you can pour off only the broth (basically vegetables), leaving the fat in the cup. 
















With a nice fresh salad, this is worthy of a holiday meal!

If you are working/ QUICK COOK: Sear meat on stove top, throw everything in a crockpot on high for 1 hour, and then low all day! Remove meat and make gravy on stovetop, at night.

Hubby said this is the best roast I have ever made, and we have been married for 51(53-now) years! 

This is an oldie but a GOOD ENJOY!



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Thanks  ALWAYS  for visiting,
I will try and respond to every comment and answer every question.

I will post at the following Link Parties, 
I hope you visit them.





All the opinions and photographs in this blog are my own, unless otherwise designated. Please do not use my photos without permission. I have not been paid or reimbursed in anyway for my opinions, posts, or any products shown or anywhere I shop.
Thank you for your cooperation,
Sandi