Monday, December 17, 2012

Getting Ready For Christmas & Around The House and Gardens & Red Beans and Rice Recipe

Long Title = Long Post

I'm finished shopping and now I'm doing a little decorating. Getting ready for a tea I'm having this Saturday for the ladies and girls in my family. It's exciting.   I'm reusing my decorations from past years and adding in a few natural items such as feathers and pine cones along with a generous sprinkling of glitter.  When in doubt...add glitter!  I painted "Merry Christmas" on the mirror with a little acrylic paint.  I'm sure it'll scrape off just fine with a razor blade. 

The mirror is actually an old dresser mirror I saved from a friend who was throwing it out for his mother.  I turned it sideways and painted white first.  When I tired of that I gave it a refreshing coat of glittery gold copper paint!

I also plan on making some fun things for the tea...will post on those later as well.
I love my Carruth Studios Nativity well as my lovely handmade angels.   We had so much fun making them in Sunday School.  I teach the 10, 11 and 12 year olds.  My favorite group to teach!  So my Nativity has it's very own host of heavenly beings!
I draped one of my roosters lovely tail feathers over the top to frame it softly!  Just like a loving hug...Sigh....
Hee Hee....Looks as if one angel is in trouble!
My cat and my dog pooped out on me while wrapping presents.  Flossie made herself comfy on top of one of the wrapped gifts.  Delta is comfortable as long as the cat's sleeping!
I've been picking so much from the garden.  The row of red beans I planted (you may remember) way back is picked and shelled.  I was concerned that it may not have time to finish before the coldest weather hit.  We've had a few nights below 40 but the beans and the tomatoes held on!  The largest plumpest ones I put in the white colander.  The ones that started to dry I put in the silver.  I'm going to cook the plump ones.  They are amazing.  So much better than dried and dried's pretty good.

I'm also harvesting: carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, beets, collards, turnips, mustard, Lima bean, broccoli....hmmm...oh yes cilantro, green onion, Roselle, dill, rosemary....that's about it right now.

I'm planting additional kale, cabbage,  and broccoli (transplants), and beets and lettuce (seed) right now.
I spread the remaining beans on a pan to dry.
Pretty.  Very pretty.  I love to feel them.
The plump ones I cooked in a crock pot....since I'd be out shopping all day....Yum
Red Beans
(I cook from sight so these are all approximates)
Onions (about 1/2 cup)
Garlic (about 3 to 4 cloves)
Bell Peppers  (about 1/2 cup)
Celery (about 1/2 cup)
Green Onions (about 2)
small bunch of parsley
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Dried Red Pepper (I use the ones I grow)
Oil (I use olive)
Red Beans (3/4 to 1 lb)
Smoked Sausage
Chop up all the seasonings.  Saute seasonings in oil until tender.  Add to pot with beans and water (or stock).  Cover the beans about 1 inch.  If cooking on the stove you may have to add water or stock as needed.  Salt and pepper and crumble in dried red pepper (or flakes or ground).  Cut sausage into links fry a little while in the pan.  Add to pot of beans and simmer beans until done.  They should be creamy!  Serve over rice.  I like medium grain brown rice or short grain will do too.
Some people put a stick of butter in their beans.  They claim it makes them creamy.  Not sure on this.  I'm not inclined to try it personally.  You can also throw in tasso, ham, a ham bone (whenever we have a whole ham I always save the bone for red beans), salt pork...hmmm I'm sure there is something else I've missed that some of the elders do.  They throw most everything in there.
If you have a variation I'd love to know!
Here's a picture my daughter took of me holding a cabbage and some carrots I grew.  She thought the cabbage looked like a wedding bouquet.  Lovely hand hmmm?

Roasted beets and carrots with olive oil, rosemary, thyme, salt, cracked pepper, and balsamic vinegar.  I boiled the carrots and beets first (separately) to make them tender.  Yum.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Alela Diane

I love Alela Diane's Voice and Music. So pretty and soothing.   

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Quilting and How To Make a Pinwheel Square

Inspiration...This mag inspired me...first my Sister Ginger bought this magazine....I wanted it...She refused to relinquish I had to go buy my own. I love the quilt on the front.  It's not so perfect, and  I love that!

I'm not a fan of those matchy matchy quilts that are all even and perfect. They make me feel...well...uncomfortable. Like being in a living room where everything matches...and you know...where no one ever goes.

Well there isn't a room like that in my house. Never will there be.  We use every inch in our house.  I like quilts like that.  Not a hang on the wall quilt...A snuggle under quilt is better.
So I'm attempting to make a similar quilt using scraps from some sewing projects.
You make the whole square from 2 inch strips of fabric.  Starting with 2" X 2" squares and going out from there until you form a roughly 12 1/2" X 12 1/2" Square.  I iron each seam after sewing.  Hopefully that will help make it look nice.  I don't know,  somewhere I heard ironing is the key to good sewing.  Sooo....I've been ironing ever since.  At least my seams.  As anyone who knows me... knows I hate to iron.  My husband just forced me to buy a full sized ironing board.  I've been using a little traveling one forever.  I'm kinda glad he did....don't tell him!
Looka how sweet!
I do like this look.  The colors are fun and unpredictable.  Makes you wanna stare.

Started the next one!  Here you can see the layout of a square before it's sewn.
This is a not so good pin wheel square.  I like this one too.  It's really easy.  I'll show you how.
Cut out four squares.  These are about 4".  I just stack the fabric up and use a template and rotary cutter.  Just discovered these rotary cutters and I like them a lot.  You can cut out four squares lickity split.
Yep...there they are.  Four lovely squares.  I like using unexpected fabrics and colors together.
Put two squares top side facing one another and draw a line diagonally down the center.
Sew a seam on each side (not on the line) of the line.
Then cut along the line to divide the squares in half and into triangles.
Iron them flat this way.....
Then iron them open.  It will form four squares of two fabrics each.  Assemble in the pattern you want...
 Sew two squares facing each other together...iron flat.  Sew the other two squares facing each other together...iron flat....(Is this confusing?)  Then sew the two pieces together facing each other...iron flat.  It's really easy once ya get it....and fast (Which I like).
The second one turned out much better I must say.  Not content to start one quilt...I started two.  Not smart.  Now I'll have to finish them......smiles and smiles!

Monday, November 19, 2012


Greens! Healthy Yummy Nutrient Rich Greens! Greens is anything leafy and green (not cabbage) in the garden cooked down with onions, garlic, red pepper, salt and pepper. Preferably served with a juicy spicy pork chop and corn bread. (I made the cornmeal from corn I grew and dried this summer then ground in my vitamix!)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thai Roselle and The Garden

Lately I've been experimenting with odd plants that have a variety of uses.  I would like to let you know how these work out for me.  I am able to grow much that the rest of the you may not be able to grow simply because I live so far south.  This plant has been grown as far north as New Jersey (of course with the benefit of being started early under glass).

This is the first year I have grown Roselle. I grew the the "Thai Red Roselle" variety that is offered by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. The calyxes aren't as large as the ones I have seen in photos grown in Asian countries. I believe that is due to the fact that the variety offered was chosen to be less sensitive to day length more than for it's size. Most varieties do best in the short days of the tropics.

Roselle calyxes are used to make a healthful tea.  The tea is believed to lower cholesterol, help treat heart disease, it is a diuretic and is loaded with antioxidants  Roselle leaves and tender stems can be eaten in salads.  It also is loaded with pectin and a jam can be made from it.  I wonder if the pectin would be useful added to other fruits when canning?

I have already dried enough calyxes and plan to brew some tea soon.  I'll certainly let you know my opinion on this.  The plant did beautifully for me this year.  It's growth was so lush that it spilled into the paths and blocked passage.

This is a link on Growing Roselle from Mother Earth News.

Here are few calyxes I've picked
It's really a beautiful plant with lovely red stems.  The flowers look very much like okra flowers.  No surprise there since they are both from the hibiscus family.  It easily could be used as an ornamental in a front yard garden.  The HOA would never know you were "gasp" growing something useful!
Pretty!  You can order the seeds here Bakers Creek.
Here's the front garden.  I pruned back my lorapetalum bushes and killed them.  Oh well they kept getting too big anyway.  I'll have to look for a smaller variety of purple bush for that area.  I like the cloud of purple to provide a back drop for white or lighter colored flowers.
My windmill palm is getting tall and lovely.  It's hairy trunk is so cool.  I love textures and colors on barks and stems.  My Natchez crepe myrtle has a beautiful silky red under color when the bark peels, and the river birch looks gorgeous when the bark starts peeling.  I'll take pics and show you.
My rose vine is reaching the top of the pergola and is full of tiny buds!  Time for a late flush of blooms!  The lemon grass did wonderfully too.  When the swing brushes it you get a whiff of lemon!
Still picking green beans.....
...and now beets!  I fixed these for my girls their favorite way.  Boiled, peeled, sliced and sprinkled with sea salt, cracked pepper and balsamic vinegar.  They were consumed in less than a minute!
My girls lunches ready to go.  I made veggie sushi today.  Toasted sesame seeds, sushi rice, carrots, cucumber and cream cheese with a little bottle of soy sauce.  My sushi rolls...well taste great, but look not so well.  I'll keep working on it!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Around The House and Gardens

Feeling so much better. Although not completely well. There's been a terrible virus going around. My daughter Talia caught it first. Me next. Now my daughter Seleste is lying listless on the sofa. Sooo...I haven't done much lately, and I've just lately felt like venturing outside to check on my crops. Nice surprise! Boy they've grown.

I've also been thinking alot about those who have endured Hurricane Sandy.  Another awesome category one hurricane.  Storm surges are amazing, powerful and unstoppable.  Humans are just another piece of debris in the wake of a storm surge.  You cannot, cannot, cannot, stand up to a storm surge.  If caught in one you can just find some sort of shelter and hope it holds up and you survive. 

During Katrina there were stories of people who stayed who heard the sound of popping and explosions.   They looked out there windows to see the surge coming in.  The sounds were houses exploding as the storm surge hit.  These are houses of fishermen that were built many feet off of the ground.  One fisherman friend of mine only had three pilings left of his home.

This is one more reminder that you must, must, must, prepare for these things and be responsible for your own safety and future as much as you can.  The government can not and should not be your mother and father.  Everyone must learn to look out for themselves, their neighbors and those not capable.

While inside I put some Christmas cactus cuttings in rooting medium.  I hope plenty of them take so I can share.
I also made some tiny soil cubes and planted cabbage, broccoli, kale, onions, leeks, lettuce, and boc choy.  They sprouted right away.
The beds are looking beautiful again.
Look how large the cabbages are getting.  There's something snacking a little on them.  They are also forming heads now.
This is self blanching cauliflower.  It's leaves gather around the center hiding the forming curds from the sun.
My green beans love the weather and are producing prolifically.
I've collected enough recently to cook for the family and put up three full quart size bags in the freezer.  Nice.

The purple cabbages are just lovely.  With the sun shining behind it's outer leaves they look like purple angel wings.
Carrots are about 5 inches tall now.  Remember you can eat the tops to!  Throw them in your green recipes.

This is Thai Roselle.  It's the hibiscus you find in Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger tea.  It makes a very red health drink that is popular in Asia.  Supposedly it's extremely high in vitamin C.  I'm anxious to try this.
 My puny banana tree now is a beautiful clump of six trees of various heights.  The leaves were shredded in Hurricane Isaac.  The nice unshredded large ones were grown since.
Finally the Asian Winged Beans are blooming.  It takes a long growing season to get these babies to bloom.  I'm not sure it could be done further north without protection.  I'm very excited about this crop.  Lightly steamed and eaten with salt when young they are very delicious.