Archive | May 2017

Adventures with My Slow Cooker

I’ve had a slow cooker for a few years now. I bought it because I thought that I would use it all the time. Instead, it’s been sitting in the basement for years. Obviously, I’m resistant to change. The bigger issue, though, was that most slow cooker recipes seem to only require about five hours or so to cook. Some are longer and some are shorter, but I was out of the house often for 10-12 hours a day at the time. I didn’t want something cooking for five hours and then burning slowly for the rest of the time. I had a simpler model of slow cooker, too, so programming it to change settings or use a timer wasn’t an option for me.

Since then, my schedule has changed. Now, I’m experimenting with slow cooker recipes. My first adventure was a chicken tikka masala. I love Indian cuisine, but my husband does not. I wanted to try something in the slow cooker because I figured that I could make my chicken tikka masala earlier in the day, take a break, and then make something else he would like for dinner. It worked really well and I had Indian food for lunch for a few days. Next time, I’ll try to find a way to cook the rice with it, too.

Today, I made a slow cooker balsamic chicken recipe. It was delicious. I’m a more adventurous eater than my husband, so I chose this recipe hoping he would like it. We both really enjoyed it and I know that I’ll use it again. I’m planning to bring some of the leftovers to my mom tomorrow. I always cook too much food for two people. Sometimes, I’ll freeze it, but I’m trying to start giving it away. It’s hard to try new recipes with leftovers crowding the refrigerator space.

I’m planning to make the chicken tikka masala again this week, with a few alterations. I’m seriously considering keeping a notebook of my recipe adventures. I had to keep a notebook for my experiments in graduate school and I feel like cooking is really similar to that.

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Rain and More Rain

My garden is thoroughly watered. It seems like it’s been raining for days. My tomatoes actually need some sunshine.

My garden is still far from my ideal version of it. I think that it will take years for it to reach what I’d like it to be, but I don’t mind the process. Gardens are growing and living things, often with minds of their own. I’m not even close to being an expert gardener, so I’m often amused, or frustrated, by what seems to happen. The colors and textures make me think of a painting, except that it lives and breathes. Just carbon dioxide instead of oxygen. Like a painting that can change the colors and textures as it feels like it. It definitely makes gardening a challenge.

Last year, I had some mint in some old window boxes. I keep them in the backyard since I have other window boxes for the actual windows. I think that I planted peppermint and either spearmint or sweet mint. I can’t quite remember. In my area, I think that mint is considered an annual. But, apparently, it’s not. At least, not for me. When I started dealing with the raised beds, I realized that the window boxes were actually growing mint again. I’m starting to wonder if the different types of mint can breed with each other to make some type of hybrid. I’ve started calling whatever is in the window box pepperspear, since I think it’s what happens when peppermint and spearmint make a baby together. It also doesn’t look like peppermint or spearmint, since I’ve already bought more of both for this year.

Now, though, it just keeps raining. I need to check everything that I planted in the raised beds. I’ve looked briefly, but I’m waiting for sunny weather. I still want to plant some flowers or something in pots for the front steps. I might plant some mint in them since I do love that the mint grows so easily, smells so wonderful, and looks so lush and green.

Raised Beds

I finally have tomato plants in the ground!

Last year, I bought two beautiful cedar raised beds from a Vermont based company. I bought them almost on impulse. I had a vision of what I wanted to do, but no real plan other than that. My husband assembled them for me and we placed them in the yard where I wanted to start a more formal garden. Unfortunately, since I didn’t have a plan, the entire season escaped me and I still hadn’t even filled them with soil.

This year, I knew I wanted to make my dreams happen! Or, at least, work towards my imaginary garden. I ordered soil and it sat around in the driveway for about two weeks because I didn’t have a wheelbarrow. Finally, I borrowed one from my mother. My husband has been really busy with work, so I found a friend to help me. Together, we filled the beds with soil and planted all the strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, and herbs I had bought. The raised beds and all the plants look spectacular!

Now, everything is planted and enjoying the rain. I’m hoping to continue working towards my dream garden while minimizing the amount of plant casualties. Wish me luck and a green thumb!

Window Boxes

The front of my house has four windows that are easily visible from the street. Each window has a window box that sits in front of it. Every year, I plant flowers in these boxes, usually marigolds. Some years have been more successful than others, but I always try. Planting new flowers in them is one of the activities I associate with spring.

In the past, I’ve tried growing the flowers from seeds. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that I don’t always remember to take care of them since they live in the basement under growing lights. I tend to forget to water them. I’ve realized that it’s more reliable to buy them in the spring instead of trying to grow them from seeds starting in the winter.

Today, I filled the window boxes with new marigolds. My favorite marigolds have red and orange petals. Most marigolds seem to have petals that are entirely orange or yellow, but I love the chaos of the red and orange combination. It’s so striking to me. There weren’t enough of these at the store, so I also bought a few orange marigolds.

Now, they’re all settled in the window boxes. I’ll be planting tomatoes and various other vegetables and herbs soon. I’m definitely a little late this year, but I’ve been working on making formal raised beds. I love the look of raised beds and formal borders and edges for garden areas. It reminds me a little of coloring books, I like to color inside the lines.