Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year 2014

Where ever you are and what ever good wishes you have for a prosperous new year, I wish you the very best.  Bundle up tonight, drink responsibly, and have a wonderful time. Give the one you are with a very warm hug and even a kiss.  

Happy New Year!

The photo is snatched from the Internet.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Homemade Sauerkraut

I wasn't going to make any sauerkraut this season, but then I don't know what else to do with those well-formed green heads of cabbage emerging in the garden.  So, here we go again:  I am going to make kraut quick and easy and in small batches (2 Mason jars).

First, I removed the less attractive leaves, cut the one head into eight (8) wedges, and removed the core.  Then I thinly sliced the wedges crosswise, transferred the cabbage into a mixing bowl, and sprinkled with about 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of kosher salt (non-iodine).  For more taste, I added a tablespoon of caraway seeds.

Here comes the hard work:  I squeezed and massaged the cabbage, salt, and seeds with my hands for about 5 minutes.  The work is almost done.  At this point, I packed the cabbage and the liquid into a Mason jar holding two cups.  Try this without spilling!

It is advantageous to hold the cabbage down in the jar.  For this purpose, I filled a slimmer jar/glass with water and put it inside the Mason jar with the cabbage.  Cover the jar with a cloth, if you prefer, and place it on a saucer because liquid may overflow.

It is important that the jar be checked once in a while for the next three days and tamp down on the cabbage if it is above the liquid.

If there is not enough liquid to cover the cabbage, dissolve one (1) teaspoon salt (non-iodine) in one cup of water.  Add to the cabbage as necessary.

After about three days, the sauerkraut may be ready.  It is certainly ready for tasting.  If it tastes good to you, it's "done."  When you do consider your kraut done, remove the jars with water (the weights), screw on a cap, and store in the fridge.

Fermented cabbage may be kept in the fridge for two months or more, but be cautious about moldy parts on the surface which should be removed and discarded.

For more information, check out Sandor Katz's "Wild Fermentation."

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve 2014

Here at the Back Forty Garden, we are keeping traditions going and then we are creating a few new ones too.  When I was growing up we had rice porridge on Christmas Eve.  To make this dish more exciting, one blanched almond was added and the one who ended up with the almond would be the first to get married.

It is easy to make the rice porridge:  follow the directions on the package.  To make it richer, I add milk at the end of the simmering period and a dab of margarine.  I serve it in small bowls with cinnamon, sugar and milk.

Of course, I had helpers not only this morning but throughout the year and I do want to thank them.  I also want to thank you for reading my blog.

Wishing you a very Merry and Special Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Green Juice for the Holiday

What to do with all the greenery in the garden?  I decided to treat myself to a juicer in time for the holiday and went to the big box store to explore the possibilities.  I didn't want to spend too much money on it because I may not like the juice.

The lady at the check out said that her son had one just like the Oster "MyBlend" that I got and that he liked it very much.  She said to be sure to chop up the fruit into small pieces before putting them into the blender/juicer.

I asked about green vegetables and she strongly suggested that I chop them up. She said to stay away from carrots because they were hard.  She also said that her son topped off the juice with a shot of gin.

When i got home, I went to the garden to select my green vegetables:  I picked a large leaf of mustard green, several leaves of curly kale, searched for small leaves of arugula, and a green pepper.

I removed the stems from the leafy vegetables, rolled each one up separately and chopped away.  I also added some of the green pepper.  Finally, I chopped up half an apple to sweeten the concoction.

I filled the bottle up, not quite half way, with water, and added the vegetables.  I did not pack or load too tightly, fastened the blade assembly, turned the bottle upside down and placed the bottle in the blender's base.

With a simple touch, pushing the bottle down, the pulsing/blending began.  It was up to me to decide when the juice was drinkable.  I poured the green juice into a glass and handed it to my taster.  After a sip, he gave it back to me and I tasted it.  Hmm!

I replaced the blade assembly with the drinking lid and put it in fridge.  I think the helpful cashier's son was right.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Fourth Sunday of Advent 2014

It is the Fourth Sunday of Advent and the first day of Winter.  Today I light all four candles in the stillness of the early morning hours. It is time to reflect upon the spirit of Christmas and the real reason for the celebration.

This is also the time for me to reflect on the holidays spent with my family when I was a young girl and the traditions that were passed down to me lighting the four candles.

I think of the traditions that I hope I will pass on to my children and my beloved granddaughter.  What will they remember?  Memories are made to be honored and traditions are made to be followed in the future.

I wish you a Happy Holiday with peace and harmony. 
 Thank you for visiting my blog.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Christmas Tree

Over the years, we have had different kinds of Christmas trees.  For many years we had fresh cut spruce and then we decided to have real live trees complete with root balls that we could plant when the holiday was done.

The first time we brought in a live tree, our dog Sir Henry thought it was a great treat for him.  He circled it and sniffed it and cocked his leg.  His mission of marking the tree was however avoided in nick of time.

We have had trees from IKEA for a reasonable price and when the holiday was over we could take it back and get the mulch.  It was an easy way to dispose of the tree and recycle it.

When we moved to Florida, we settled for live cedar trees and we had three of them planted in the front yard.  They grew to full grown trees.  One tree was cut down by our tenants but the two remaining grew any way they wanted.

One tree was planted too close to the house and we cut it down because it dropped its needles on the roof that had to be manually removed otherwise it sat there and rotted and could possibly cause damage to the new roof.

We employed insured and bonded tree cutters to remove the tree.  They worked quickly and moved the limbs to the road side for pickup by the Waste Management.

Some of the branches I cut up for mulch and I saved the cut up tree stubs to make a short "fence" at some point in time or use as "seats" in the woods.  It is to be determined

It is less than a week until Christmas and people are rushing about at parking lots with trees for sales.  Choose your trees carefully and enjoy them

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The December Garden

Frost blankets are a must.  We had to leave town and the night temperatures were going to be cool enough for frost, so we covered the tomato plants and a poinsettia by the front door and they seemed to be doing fine when we removed the blankets after several days.  The frost blankets does not heat up during the day as plastic or canvas would.

The other day a friend of ours came by and left with Satsuma oranges, red potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, and greens.  He had never seen broccoli grow in a garden and he wanted to know what to do with the mustard greens.  We were most happy to share our bounty with him.

It seems to be popular to juice kale and other greens, even collards.  I prepare the kale pretty much as you would cook spinach--I let it come to a boil, turn the heat down a bit, and let it cook for no longer than five minutes.  I serve it with homemade watermelon pickles.

The other day, I pan fried some pork chops as well as somewhat thinly sliced rutabaga, added a little water and scraped up the goodies in the pan and added chopped kale and let it "cook" for a few minutes while stirring now and then.  I sprinkled the kale with Parmesan cheese.  Next time, I'll try to toss in a few "slices" of goat cheese and let it melt a little before serving.

Next, we have to pick whatever butter beans are still on the vines, remove the wines, and prepare the soil for a ground cover or for seed potatoes that should be available before too long.

The Arugula has gone wild.  It is too large to harvest and too bitter.  I just as soon use the kale mixed with store bought lettuce or leafy lettuce.

I set some onions and they are striving although they have been trampled in places.  I have a tendency to plant the vegetables to close in hopes of keeping the weeds out.

My friend was very kind to me as I was moaning and groaning about the "lawn".  He said that he liked the natural look.  I like it as long as it is green.

Thank you for visiting my blog. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Third Sunday of Advent 204

This is the third Sunday of Advent.  There is one more Sunday until the arrival of Christmas with its Celebration.  This is truly the time for reflection and introspection while we light three white candles in the early morning hour as dawn is breaking and a new day is beginning.

It is so difficult to take a few moments to sit still and question what is important?  What is it that I truly want?  Is there some way I can reduce the stress, the to do list, the obligations at this time of the year?  Is it so important that I give things?  What about my candied fruit, my pickles, and jams?  Would some of those not make a gift?  How about a loaf of homemade bread?

A long long time ago, my mother gave me the copper candlestick holder for the four candles to light for advent.

Each year, I use the copper holder and decorate it with moss and greenery.  I think of my mother.  I think of the traditions that she passed on and the traditions that I am honoring.

Advent is a religious celebration with Catholic and Protestant meanings and interpretations.  It is not for me to impose any of those beliefs onto you.  It is up to you to find them out for yourself and decide what you want, need, and desire.

I wish Peace and Happiness for all
Thank you for visiting my blog.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Lucia 2014

This morning is pure magic when you are visited by Lucia and her followers all dressed in white and serving you hot coffee, buns, and gingerbread cookies.  If you live in a city with a large Swedish population, they celebrate Lucia and this is an event not to be missed.  It is celebrated the 13th of December every year.  It's a long standing tradition with deep roots going back to Italy.

My niece in Sweden sent me this link and it is magic.  This young woman loaded a wheelbarrow with candles and went to the woods and lit them.  I would like for you to see the rest for yourself.

Enjoy the day!

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Second Sunday of Advent 2014

It is the second Sunday of Advent which means that there are two more Sundays before Christmas.

Oh, how we hurry through the most important season.  We scurry along, driving like crazy to get to the stores that we think have the best sales.

I feel the urge myself to hurry, to clean and scrub, bake and cook in anticipation for the upcoming holiday.  Now is the time to give, give, and give.  Telephones are ringing and the voices on the other end want to know if I will give or they will give free things without leaving numbers to call back.

At this time,  I feel the urge to bake cookies to give to police, firemen, and sanitation workers.  

I feel the urge to send my hard earned dollars to people who supposedly have less than I only to find out that is not so.

It is time to light that candle for the second Sunday in Advent and to sit down and reflect, to sit down and be still, and to reflect what is important.

The morning time is just as beautiful as the evening time when the sun is about to come up or to set.  The sky takes on a pink hue in the east or in the west.  What better time is there than to light your two candles and just be still.  I take a few deep breaths and realize how fortunate am to be able to celebrate this season in peace.

Peace be with you.
Thank you for visiting my blog.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Calas! Calas! Donuts!

I admire the women of old who sold their hot calas early in the mornings on the streets of New Orleans.  They made a livelihood out of what they knew how to do best:  donuts!  Women have always been in the kitchen stretching their imagination, grains, and vegetables from their gardens to feed their families.

The calas are made of slightly mashed cooked rice (1 and 1/2 cups), 1/2 cup sugar, 3 beaten eggs, 2 and 1/2 tsps baking powder,  cinnamon and nutmeg, vanilla extract is optional, and flour to make the batter hold together.  Deep fry by the spoonfuls in hot oil until golden which does not take long.  Roll the hot calais in a sugar and cinnamon mix or sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.  Serve with your morning coffee.

This recipe was inspired by my favorite chef, John Besh in New Orleans, as seen on a PBS station.

 I can't go out on the streets, holler calas, and sell my donuts nor am I able to attend any formal parties to help feed the hungry but I can indulge myself with a good BBQ lunch at Sonny's who will give "Hope for the Holidays" with a $20 donation that will go to the Salvation Army to provide turkeys to families in need this holiday season.

It is of utmost concern and astonishment that there are so many men, women, and children in food lines across my city, the nation, and the world.

It is also important to check out the charities to find out how much their CEOs make per year and how much actually goes to the charities they chair.

Thank you for visiting my blog