Sunday, November 28, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

A little late, but I hope everyone had a good one.

Last week time got away from me. I am helping my sister-in-law plan her wedding and we had an abundance of meetings. I was getting ready for the holiday and our out of town guests. On top of it I was busy getting Christmas shopping done, changing our decorations, and attending my 10 year high school reunion. All in all it was an extremely busy week in the Kennedy household.

I had full intentions of taking pictures of the Thanksgiving bounty however I forgot. I can say it was yummy and as always there was too much to eat. We still have half a pie sitting on my stove that I don't want to throw away but I don't want to eat either.

Hopefully your weekend was as bountiful as ours!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Bucolic Plague

Some of you might know that one of my new favorite shoes is The Beekman Boys on Planet Green.  If you know anything about this show and enjoy it then you will definitely like this book.  The book is all about how Josh and Brent came to own the Beekman and their time there until the show started.

If you know nothing about Josh and Brent the basics are that they are a couple from NYC.  Josh an advertising agent and Brent a former VP at Martha Stewart.  They bought the Beekman as a weekend and vacation home.  However they now have an entire business revolving around the Beekman and are in the process of transitioning completely to country living. 

It was a quick read, I breezed through it in 3 days.  Josh's sarcastic humor that you see on the show drips across the pages of the book.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it as a welcomed escape. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Signs of Deer

I thought maybe because our garden was tucked all the way behind the house, one end against the house and the edge of the same corner against a 6 foot fence the deer might not sniff out the garden.  But these tracks I found since pulling out most of our plants proves me wrong.  Luckily during the summer season if they are stealing from the garden they aren't taking much.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Frozen Herbs

I have heard some people discuss freezing herbs.  To experiment I tried sage and basil.  The basil turned out so awful it wasn't worth a picture, when it thawed it was brown, limp and just plain gross.  Many people swear by chopping it and freezing it with some water.  I do know that when I freeze pesto it has no negative affects.

The sage fared a bit better but not excellent.  The sage on the left is fresh.  After dethawing the sage was a bit darker and the leaves weren't as crisp but the taste was the same.  Sage I would freeze only if you really need to.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Our Home

Those of you who know us personally are aware of Andy's career history. For those of you who just popped in Andy was a News Reporter for a couple of years and now is a Marketing Multimedia Specialist for a local company. He has many roles but one of them includes making videos for the company. So of course Andy wanted to document our first home in film.

At first I didn't want to share this video because I am actually a private person. I know, I know how could someone with a blog be private. But I can edit what goes on the blog and only let the reader in as far as I am comfortable with. A video of our house feels like giving all of you the key. But Martha has shared her homes on film so I guess I can too :) All teasing aside Andy did a great job and I am really proud of him!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pie Trials

One of the items I am bringing to Thanksgiving this year is Andy's favorite, oatmeal pie.  In the past I have attempted homemade pie crust with mixed results.  Within the past few years I would normally just buy a premade pie shell and not even mess with the uncertainty of a homemade crust. 

However this year I wanted to give it another try.  There is just something rustic and comforting about homemade pie crust.  I had been given advice that the recipe for Pate Brisee was a foolproof recipe and Martha Stewart's favorite.  This weekend I did a test run and the results were yummy!  The pastry was flaky and buttery.  My only complaint is that I crimped the edges to make a pretty design and in the baking process lost its shape.

Most people when they hear about oatmeal pie crinkle their noses and give me a quizzical look like what the heck are you talking about.  Oatmeal pie is a Thanksgiving Kennedy tradition and Andy's favorite so I have made plenty.  Think pecan pie but swap the pecans for oatmeal.  I have to admit, it is delicious!

Oatmeal Pie
*6 TBS butter melted
*3/4 cup light corn syrup
*3/4 cup sugar
*1 cup oatmeal
*1 tsp vanilla
*2 eggs
*pie crust of choice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all ingredients, add eggs last so they will not cook in the melted butter.  Once all ingredients are completely mixed pour into pie shell and bake for 30-45 minutes.  The original recipe says 30 but I find I normally end up checking it after 30 but leaving it in for a full 45 minutes.  You will know its done when it is golden brown, it will at this point still be a bit jiggly.  Then take it out and let it cool for at least 20 minutes so that the filling can set.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bee Keeping

This past year many of you know I had a tomato-less wonder of a tomato plant.  Additionally in 2 years I have only been able to grow 1 zucchini and a small handful of summer squash.  On all the plants I have had plenty of blossoms.  So what this leads me to believe is that we might have a pollination issue. 

This summer we went on a garden walk where one of the homes had 2 hives of bees.  The hives were put in for the health benefit of their plants.  Both owners sang the praises of the bees and how their gardens had greatly benefited from the addition of the bees. 

With the wheels in my brain turning this made me think maybe I could benefit from some bees and my vegetables production would significantly increase with the presence of more bees.  Then I began to dream about having my own local honey.  How Martha Stewart would I be if I had my own honey that I could gift at the holidays?  Not to mention it just might help me with the crazy seasonal allergies I have been having this year.  So this weekend I went to a bee keeping class and I am convinced that I will at some point be a bee keeper.  I'm not sure if it will be a reality for this spring but definitely sometime in the near future.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Small Plot, High-Yield Gardening

This was the last book in the stack I got at the Library awhile back.  The last two books I reviewed were kinda duds but this one was worth saving for last!  The previous two books I ended up at times scanning through and not fully reading.  This book I read word for word, cover to cover.  I took pages of notes and even so am going to add this book to my library.

Some of the highlights of the book is that it discusses the ideal spring, summer, fall crops and organizes the book by season and when plants should be started.  Sal Gilbertie stresses keeping rabbits and how their manure is the absolute best for you garden, not to mention they will eat your kitchen scraps.  He also discusses the progression of starting a garden and what to realistically expect to do your first, second and third year.  Plenty of information is given on starting a garden, building your soil, composting, starting plants and cultivating each type of plant.  Resources for seed companies, U.S. Cooperation Extension Services for each state, and sample garden plans are laid out.  This book is chockful of useful tidbits and worth buying!

I am going to hang up my research hat for awhile and enjoy a couple of Fiction books next.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Holidays Approaching

The holidays are approaching and there recently have been signs that they are near. I was driving by a local farm and came upon a field of turkeys! A sight I have never seen before. They have moved some of their turkeys to the field near the road and included a sign to order your fresh turkey.

I also have run to the post office to get my holiday stamps. I have learned the hard way that by the time I am ready to mail out my Christmas cards their holiday stamps are gone. The last year or two I have been disappointed with the bland designs. But this year the post office has redeemed itself and taken a cue from nature with evergreen stamps.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Interesting Place for Fall Color

This Fall the foliage hasn't been as brilliant.  But my thyme is doing just fine and turning red.  I have never had thyme turn red.  I need to go ahead and harvest what I need before the rest turns.  This isn't the best picture but it's the best I could get to show the leaves at the base that have started to turn.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Colder Weather

My row cover from Pinetree Garden Seeds came last week and I was really happy with the product.  Pinetree was the only company I found that allows you to order by the foot.  I only needed 20 feet and many of the prepackaged row covers had 50 feet or more.  The row cover has 2-4 degrees of frost protection, transmits 85% light and porous to water.  According to the catalog supports aren't needed and it won't crush delicate plants.

This weekend I put it over what's left in my garden.  We had our first serious frost since the temp dropped to 24 degrees.  I attached the cover with lawn fabric staples and didn't use any hoops or support.  The fabric protected everything perfectly. 

This Fall I am experimenting with the row cover to see how long it will protect the lettuce.  If it proves to continue to work well next year I might invest in support hoops and clips so as to not damage the cover.  I have already pulled the cover up because this week we will be experiencing an Indian Summer with temps in the 60s.  There are holes from the staples and I will only be able to put it back on and off a few more times before there will be too many holes.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Shorter Days

Today is the end of Daylight Savings Time.  I love getting the extra hour of sleep but it also signifies that the days are now significantly shorter.  The frost hadn't killed off the tomato plants yet but with the lack of sunlight much isn't growing anymore.  Last week I took everything out except the herbs, lettuce, radishes and cilantro.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Fall Color

One of the reasons Fall is my favorite season is the color of the trees.  This year we have had a drought and are currently about 8 inches below the average rainfall.  Unfortunately this has affected the Fall foliage and we haven't seen as many brilliant colors.  While I haven't seen as many colorful trees there have still been a few out there.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fall Decor

In the Fall I love to decorate by bringing natural Fall elements indoors.  Here are some of the ways I make our house reflect the season.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Late Season Canning

With all of the tomatoes being pulled off the vine before a hard frost sets in I had way too many tomatoes than we could consume quickly.  I went ahead and stewed and canned them for use in chili and stews this Fall and Winter since I already have used up most of the other jars I canned mid Summer.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Weekend Gardening

It has finally started to get cold around here and we have had some light frost.  Not wanting to take my chances any longer I finally cut off all of the remaining green tomatoes that were large enough.  I also harvested some basil and chives since neither will really stand up to a frost.  The sage, thyme and rosemary will continue to thrive well past Thanksgiving.

Some of our lettuce is finally doing well since our temperatures have finally cooled for good.  The back half of the lettuce has a couple seedlings but mainly has flailed.  My front half is coming in nice and I was able to cut some for salads this week.  Tomorrow I am going to order some row cover and hopefully get it before hard frost sets in.  I am hoping to get the lettuce going well enough with the row cover that we don't have to buy greens for awhile.

The cilantro is coming in slowly but surely, while the radishes continue to thrive.  I should mulch them soon but I'm not sure if it will happen.