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Butternut Squash Bisque

It almost never snows where I live, so when it does, making soup is a requirement.  Today we saw the first, and possibly last, white flurries of the season and while the kids were wildly planning to build a gigantic snowman with the 0.047 inches of snow, I was dreaming of a rich, luscious bowl of soup. I still have […]

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Two Easy Caramel Sauces

Simple 10-Minute Caramel Sauce I am indebted to Mel’s Kitchen Cafe for this recipe.  I have made small changes, but she deserves the credit on this one. 1 stick (8 Tbsp) butter 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 cup heavy whipping cream 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste Combine butter, sugar, salt and cream in a heavy-bottomed […]

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Easy Roasted Vegetables 

By request, I give you: Easy Roasted Vegetables Vegetables, of course! (We use this technique for Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, thick slices of cabbage, and butternut squash (or other winter varieties) Olive oil (or avocado oil) Kosher or coarse salt Freshly-ground pepper Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Wash and prep all veggies. Broccoli/Cauliflower: separate large clusters into single pieces about the size you’d see on a raw veggie tray and then slice in half, exposing a flat side. Brussels Sprouts: peel outer layer away. Trim stem ends and slice in half the long way (hot-dog style!). Cabbage: peel outer layer and cut 1 inch slices (they will be a circle) from the whole head. Winter Squash: peel (this peeler will change your life for under $10, promise!) and either cube or cut into 1/2 inch-thick slices. Toss veggies in olive oil until well coated. (Except cabbage, which you will put directly on the pan and then drizzle with oil). Arrange veggies, cut side down, on a baking sheet. You won’t need to grease it as long as you’ve oiled your vegetables well. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast at 450 until the underside that is contact with the pan is nice and golden. Use a spatula to lift a few specimens from the pan to check for doneness. Resist the urge to flip them or turn the oven down. I promise they will be perfection! Enjoy!

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A Year in the Zone 8 Garden

I prepared this a year ago for a little mini-class I taught on gardening in my zone, which happens to be 8b.  Knowing your zone is essential in timing planting and harvesting, because it is based on your last spring frost, first fall frost and your overall winter low temperatures. Find your zone here. I generally follow this schedule each year and it helps me to grow more in less space.  As some crops finish, others are planted in their place for a second harvest.  With our long, hot summers, we truly can get two seasons out of the garden!  Hope this helps you plan your 2016 gardening year! A Year in the Zone 8 Garden January: Beginning- order seeds, start onions, brassica family indoors.  Mid-month- start tomatoes, artichoke indoors.  Plan the garden-remember to rotate your crops! February: Beginning-Buy any remaining seeds.  Plant peas, potatoes, onions spinach, lettuce, radishes, carrots, beets, brassica family.  Start peppers, eggplants and herbs indoors. March: Last frost will be sometime early or mid-month!   Plant, Plant, Plant! Beginning-plant tomatoes (with frost protection wall of water or wait for mid-month), artichokes, beans, corn, cucumber, eggplant (with frost protection or wait till mid month), peppers (with frost protection or wait for mid-month), spinach/lettuce, radish, squash, swiss chard, kale, herbs. April: Beginning-plant melons, okra, radish, spinach/lettuce.  Begin harvesting salad greens. May: Beginning-last chance to plant artichokes, okra, radish.  Ramp-up watering.  Start harvesting! June: Enjoy the bounty of your harvest […]

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Cabin-Fever Play Dough

My daughter stayed home from school yesterday with a nasty headcold. School had only been back in session for one day.  I hope this isn’t an omen of how our next few months are going to go.  It had also been raining for three days and no one was able to play outside at home or during recess. By the end of the day, we all had cabin fever. Me most of all. Enter homemade play dough. Somehow there’s enough magic in combining just a few household ingredients and getting out the cookie cutters to bring everybody out of their funk. While this recipe lacks the strange trademark smell of the commercial versions, it’s both cheap and quick to whip up. You almost certainly have everything you need on hand already. The real key to longevity and success here is the variety of tools you offer. No, I do not mean the 492-piece-set Ice Cream Factory Playland that costs $49.99. Think more along the lines  of measuring spoons, plastic knives, spatulas, a rolling pin, some cookie cutters and a garlic press. Be imaginative here. If it’s not dangerous or breakable, let them try it out! They will undoubtedly create a mess and a masterpiece.   Play Dough 1 cup flour ½ cup salt 1 T cream of tartar 1 T oil 1 cup water 6-10 drops food coloring Heat all ingredients except food coloring over medium heat. Stir constantly until […]

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Simple Cabbage Salad With Lemon

The cabbage of my childhood came in a Styrofoam container with the red initials, “K.F.C.” on the outside.  Truth be told, I’m not sure I even knew there was cabbage in that slaw.  My dad loved it, and still does to this day.  Personally, the combination of mayonnaise and cabbage don’t do much for me.  Give me a good potato […]

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Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

There’s definitely a chill in the air and everyone seems to be passing the sniffles back and forth, which means it’s time for some chicken soup. While I do love a steaming bowl of chicken noodle soup, I admit that sometimes I like my soup sans noodles. This version is gluten free, but hearty and delicious. The batch here serves […]

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