February 29, 2012

Planning 2012

Late winter is a great time of year. Not only do I get to cozy up and enjoy the occasional snow day (having one of those today, actually), but I can use that time to dream and make plans for the garden to come. The days are getting noticeably longer, the trees have buds on them, and things are starting to grow again. The fall-planted garlic is about 4 inches tall, and we're still harvesting arugula, kale, leeks, and carrots (between snow storms, of course). As I sit watching the snow fall, I'm itching to get digging.

I love sorting through my seed box, taking inventory to see what I have and what I need to buy. It's a little different this year though, because Baxter, who made it his job to sit in the middle of anything that anyone was working on (board games, Playmobil and/or Lego set-ups, and especially seed orders), is no longer around to keep me company while I do my planning. He died of cancer last year when I was being whisked away (kidnapped) to Las Vegas.

I'm making it my priority this year to whittle the garden down to the things that we actually eat; no more trying a little bit of everything just because I've got lots of space and a strong compulsion to impulse buy when it comes to seeds. This year I'm going with things that I know do well in my garden. It was fun trying lots of different types of potatoes, but I'm going to stick with the ones that set and store well, and taste good. Kohlrabi would have been on the chopping block, because it was somewhat foreign to us, but we've discovered that we absolutely love it roasted, and it holds in the garden extremely well. Broad beans are getting the boot because they're space hogs, prone to aphids, and don't produce much (and I'm usually left scratching my head trying to figure out what to do with the ones I do get).

So, the plan is to focus on varieties that have a short growing season, or crank out the produce in an efficient manner (i.e, less space). That means no tomatoes that need longer than 70-75 days from transplanting, as well as short season peppers, corn, cabbage, eggplant, brussels sprouts, squash (short season and/or bush varieties), and melons. I'm hoping this will give me more bang for my gardening buck.

Before I was able to start feeling too sorry for myself for having to figure this all out on my own, Shadow stepped in and had a seat in the middle of my stack of seed packets.

Looks like I've got myself a new planning buddy.

February 23, 2012

Happy National Banana Bread Day!

Okay, to be honest, I had no idea that February 23rd was Banana Bread Day. I just coincidentally happened to be waiting for a batch to come out of the oven when I stumbled upon this happy bit of news online. But really, what a brilliant idea; who couldn't use a reason to celebrate in the depths of darkest winter, especially when what you're celebrating is a toasty warm bit of deliciousness that many of us grew up eating in one form or another.

This is the version that my kids have grown up eating, and it's still my favourite. Filled with blueberries and a hint of nutmeg, it's a nice break from tradition.

Since I've been making it for so long, I've tinkered with it a bit over the years. I topped this batch with a combination of brown sugar and quick oats (1/4 cup and 1/3 cup respectively), to give the loaf an extra bit of crunch and sweetness. (Another nice option is 1/4 cup of flour, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of quick oats, and 2 tablespoons of butter rubbed together - this creates more of a crumble topping).

This recipe is also pretty forgiving. Sometimes I only have two cups of mashed banana instead of the three the original recipe calls for, but it's always delicious and moist, regardless. You can see that, nowadays, I do go to the trouble to toss the berries with the flour, and it does keep the berries from sinking to the bottom, despite my previous assertion to the contrary.

Okay, I'm off to raise a celebratory slice.

Tea time!

February 06, 2012

A Fowl Odour

Over the past month or so, we've noticed a funny smell (that's putting it nicely) coming from the crawl space adjacent to our basement stairs. My husband has torn it apart numerous times trying to figure out where it was coming from, but was never able to find the source. Yesterday we finally solved the mystery.

I was out doing some yard work when I noticed Hedwig, one of our Ameracaunas, squeeze herself under the front porch and not come out. A quick peek revealed her sitting happily on a secret nest.

Hubby chased her out and retrieved the eggs using a rake. Pee ewww!

There were almost 2 dozen rotten nasties under there. I guess the foul air was being sucked through the small spaces around the foundation and into the house. 

Not sure how I'm going to break her of this egg-hiding habit, I've already chased her out of several other locations. The eggs aren't all hers though, so I've obviously got a couple of rogue layers.

Ahhh, a smell only a dog could love...


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