Garden View

Garden View
Hello and Welcome! I decided to start this blog for everyone out there who has an interest, or WANTS to be interested, in living a life that is a little more sustainable. I am still learning, and invite you to follow this blog to learn along with me. I will share what I have learned as we go, and hopefully you will pitch in and share what YOU are doing to live a little more off of what you can grow and DO from home. PLEASE BELIEVE ME when I say, if I can learn how to do this on a very small backyard plot in a city, then ANYONE can do this!!

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

VOTE: Creepy or Cute?

VOTE: Creepy or Cute?

Help me decide....fix the glowing eyes or not?  Maybe Bella is just overflowing with the Christmas Spirit already?

 Carl the Chiweenie had to get in the picture too....but now Bella has a Cyborg eye!  It just got weirder!
 ANYWAY...the tree is up and brightly decorated!  I suppose it's obvious that we love this time of year at our house....even the 4-legged friends!  Just WAIT 'til you see our Christmas card this year!!  Hee

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Bloomin' Okras!

Yes, I realize that it is winter now, but I am already excited about planning my vegetables for next year!  I ventured into planted some new things in my backyard garden this year, including Brussels Sprouts and Purple Okra.  It was so fun to learn about these new veggies and to get to watch them grow! 

See, I am no expert at growing things and am still learning as I go (which is good, 'cuz I love to learn-and then share it with YOU)!  All of the advice out there suggests growing what you like to eat.  So, since steak trees won't grow in my backyard, I decided on Okra.  Seriously though, I do like to eat it (fried and grilled).  Knowing that Okra can sometimes be a finicky grower AND that it prefers more humid environments, I didn't think this would actually grow in my little backyard raised-bed garden in Colorado.  Lo and behold-I got plenty of fruit from the four plants I had, and it was delicious!  Not only that, but I LOVE the way it looks in the garden.  The blooms are beautiful and hard to believe that the long slender okra 'fingers' will soon transform from this beautiful bloom:

Into this delicious edible!

Purple Okra is a type of okra that is purple when growing, but turns green when you cook it; much like purple green beans (which I also love and also have an excellent flavor).  You can cook and can this vegetable just as you would any other type of Okra; AND it's a great source of Vitamin C.
I didn't do anything special for these to grow-it was more of an experiment than anything.  I planted the seeds in my raised garden beds as directed and just watered evenly throughout the season.  The chickens did get too close when they were tilling my garden later in the season and took the dirt down to the roots.  I just shooed them away and covered the plants back up and they continued to thrive (I also used some left over wire to creat a barrier near the roots so the chickens couldn't get that close again).  One unplanned bonus was that all of the fruits grew high enough on the plant that the chickens left them completely alone!  They didn't even like to eat the leaves.  This is staying on my backyard garden list for sure!

In my opinion, it's never too early to start putting together a 'wish list' for next years garden.  I know that I have started mine and am already itching to get my hands in some dirt and plant some seeds!  I have some exciting things in the works to share with you about how to plan your garden/plantings for next year (when to start which seeds, etc), so make sure you are 'following' this blog either by email or gmail blogger! 

 What about you?  Did you try anything new and different in your garden this year?  Or is there something that you would love to grow, but haven't yet, or can't because it won't grow in your zone (I know I have a long list of those)?  Let's hear it!

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Stuffing Stuffed Acorn Squash

I was hankerin' for some pre-thanksgiving goodness and a nice fall meal....and these are what resulted.  I had some hamburger and acorn squash that both needed to get used up as well as 1/2 of a sweet yellow onion and some stalks of celery.  I searched on some of my favorite recipe sites but couldn't find exactly what I was looking for, so I came up with something pretty basic, but OH SO TASTY!  The filling for the squash came out tasting like Thanksgiving stuffing (only a bit healthier--I think).  The flavors all blended together so nicely and it definitely hit the spot!

Stuffing Stuffed Acorn Squash

Here's the recipe I came up with for Stuffing Stuffed Acorn Squash (4 large servings):

-2 Med-Large Acorn Squash
-1-2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
-1/2-1 Sweet Yellow Onion/ chopped
-2 Celery stalks/ chopped
-1 lb Ground Beef (or turkey, or sausage...)
-8 Tbsp Flour
-1 tsp Ground Sage
-1 tsp Salt
-3 cups milk (I used plain almond milk and it tasted great)
-2 cups cooked Couscous (I used tri-color; it looks pretty with the squash and tastes good too)
-Sharp Cheddar Cheese for topping

1. Pre-cook the acorn squash.  There are 2 ways to do this;
OVEN=pierce whole acorn squash and cook in a pan for 30 Min's. 
MICROWAVE=cut squash in halve and remove seeds and strings.  place cut-side down in dish with about 1/2 inch of water and microwave for 15-20 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, heat a pan with 1-2 TBSP vegetable oil and cook onions until translucent.  Add chopped celery and ground beef until browned.  Drain mixture and return to pan.

3.  While meat is browning, mix flour, sage, salt and milk in a medium bowl.  Pour this mixture into the pan with the ground beef mixture.  Cook and stir frequently until it reaches a thick consistency.

4.  Stir the cooked rice into the mixture in the pan.  Spoon into acorn halves (you need to 'overfill' them) and top with cheese.

5.  Bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.

In order to appropriately appreciate my accomplishment, you must understand that I am no culinary genius and am of the persuasion to ALWAYS follow a recipe.....EXACTLY.  That being said, this was an experiment that actually worked to my taste, but I welcome suggestions and comments on how YOU improved upon and prepared this recipe.  I can't wait to hear if anyone else likes this recipe as much as I did!

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Chicken on a stick the snow!  You can see that these girls are all puffed up and ready for winter.  It's good to see that they can all get along in order to snuggle ;-)

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