Monday, April 30, 2012

Garden Tools - Newspaper Pot Maker

My Tomato seedlings are looking great in my homemade newspaper pots.

Garden Tools - Newspaper Pot Maker

Instead of buying and using those little plastic pots to start my seedlings I use this wonderful garden tool that forms a seedling pot out of newspaper.  I have been making my own newspaper pots for almost 2 decades now.

There are 4 positive points for using this type of a pot as opposed to plastic pots:

1.  The roots do not get disturbed because you plant the newspaper pot along with the plant - the newspaper is so thin and decomposes - you don't see any traces of paper that next spring when you are tilling your garden.
2.  You are recycling any newspaper that you might have laying around the house (many newspapers have gone digital but I still have enough paper newspapers in my area for this to work).
3.  The newspaper ink protects the roots from some ground pests (that's the theory from the manufacturer but I think it does help).
4.  You are saving money because you don't have to buy plastic pots.

Below are visual instructions on how to use the "Newspaper Pot Maker" - the pictures are self explanatory.

Paper post are made and filled with potting soil


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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Along The Pathway

"Then he told them many things in parables, saying:  'A farmer went out to sow his seed.  As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.' "  Matthew 13: 3 & 4 

"Listen to what the parable of the sower means:  When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.  This is the seed sown along the path."  Matthew 13: 18 & 19

Today is the second of a 5 part series on the "Parable of the Sower."   In this Parable there are 4 different ways to receive the gospel or 4 different sorts of people who come in contact with the gospel.  Above you will notice that the first 2 verses are the description and then in verses 18 & 19 we have the explanation.

The seed is always the same - the gospel is the seed - the saving grace and mercy of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.  The soil types are different.  I was going to say that we are the soil but I think that the environment that we are in is the soil.  I believe that we are all part of the plant that grows from that seed......maybe a branch, or a flower, or a leaf.  Together we are all part of that plant which is the family of God.

The Pathway:  The seed scattered in this type of soil is uncovered & unprotected.  There is movement along the pathway and any seed is swept away.  This is the modern way - we are always moving on to next new thing - the newest diet, the newest gadget, the newest phone, the newest supplement ......etc.  We never develop a deep understanding in one area because we are swept away by so called "progress."  This seed doesn't even get a chance to germinate because it is snatched away & eaten by the birds (symbolizing Satan snatching away).

If you notice that you are sowing seed along the pathway - make sure to protect it from the birds.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

5 Different Dishes From Home-Canned Tomato Sauce

5 Different Dishes From Home-Canned Tomato Sauce

One of the most versatile items in my home-canned pantry is my tomato sauce.  This past fall and winter I have shown you many ways to utilize your fresh garden produce.  If you recall I showed you how to make & can TOMATO SAUCE  and then I shared with you many of my recipes using that  sauce.

Listed below are 5 of my recipes using home-canned tomato sauce (simply click on the title to view the recipe).


© (2012)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Basics - Sauteed Asparagus

The Basics - Sauteed Asparagus

Sauteed is my favorite way to eat asparagus - as opposed to steamed, boiled or even grilled.  This way of cooking asparagus gives a very thin almost crispy layer to the skin of the asparagus, without making it mushy.  Sauteed with a little olive oil and my trusted cajun spices makes asparagus the highlight of any dinner. 

"Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning" is the cajun spice mix that I use - it is available at Kroger and many other larger grocery stores). 
 I also used "Tony Chachere's" for:
& for

I picked my asparagus from my garden but the amount that I used is equivalent to a bunch of asparagus that you would buy in the store.  Soak the asparagus in water for about 10 - 15 minutes (especially if you have sandy soil) and then snap the ends off as described in this post: "Preparing Asparagus".  Drain and pat the asparagus dry.  In a large frying pan - saute the asparagus in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat.  Sprinkle the spices on top of the asparagus - to taste (If you don't like cajun then just use garlic salt or sea salt).  Continue sauteeing for about 10 to 15 minutes or until desired color & texture is achieved (I prefer my asparagus a little "al dente"). 

Serve immediately and ENJOY!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ham, Asparagus & Potato Pancake Stacker

Ham, Asparagus & Potato Pancake Stacker

I created this recipe to use up leftovers after Easter.  I should have scheduled this to be posted earlier - poor post planning on my part.  I used leftover ham, leftover mashed potatoes and then fresh asparagus from my garden - all topped with Hollandaise Sauce.

We ate this for dinner but it can also be a breakfast dish if you desire.  I called the potato layer "Potato Pancakes" but it is more like a potato croquette (a croquette is thicker and more dense than a pancake and it is usually breaded and then fried or sauteed).

IMPORTANT:  To my Gluten Free readers - the only ingredient that is not gluten free is the Hollandaise Sauce.  If you need to stay strictly Gluten free then substitute a homemade lemon cream sauce thickened with cornstarch.

Potato Croquettes (Pancakes) are being formed and then breaded with corn meal.

5 or 6 slices of ham (leftover from a previous meal is fine)
freshly picked Asparagus from your garden (or 1 bunch from the store) (wash and cut the bottom ends off or snap them off)
1 packet Hollandaise Sauce mix (prepare as described on the package) (To my Gluten Free readers - I couldn't find a gluten free Hollandaise sauce mix but you could make a lemon cream sauce and thicken it with cornstarch instead of flour).

Potato Croquettes:
5 cups mashed potatoes (leftovers work well)
2 green onions (discard ends and then wash & chop)
1 egg (lightly beaten)
black pepper (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed (optional)
1/2 cup corn meal (for breading)
olive oil (2 to 3 tablespoons - for sauteing)

Start by making the croquettes - prepare the ingredients as described above (chop onions & beat egg).  Now mix together the mashed potatoes, green onions, egg, pepper and dill with a fork or with you hands until completely combined.  Form about 5 or 6 croquettes (they should look like a hockey puck) and then bread/coat in cornmeal (see picture above).
Now, either steam the asparagus or saute in a little olive oil.  Also, in a different frying pan (or in the oven) - heat up the ham slices.  Begin sauteing the croquettes while the asparagus is cooking and while the ham is being heated.  Heat up the olive oil in a large pan and place the 5 or 6 potato croquettes in the oil and fry on medium heat for about 7 minutes on each side (or until desired color is achieved) (see picture below). 

The croquettes have finished cooking on both sides

Prepare the Hollandaise Sauce as described on the package.
Finally, time to build your "Stacker."  Place 1 slice of ham on each plate, then 1 croquette on top of the ham and then a few stalks of asparagus.  Serve the Hollandaise Sauce in a gravy boat - that way everyone can add their own sauce.


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Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Parable of the Sower

"The disciples came to him and asked, 'Why do you speak to the people in parables?'  He replied, 'The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.  Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance.  Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.  This is why I speak to them in parables:
  Though seeing, they do not see;
  though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
     You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
     you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
     For this people's heart has become calloused;
     they hardly hear with their ears, and they have
     closed their eyes.  Otherwise they might see with
     their eyes, hear with their ears,understand with their
     hearts and turn, and I would heal them.
But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.' "  Matthew 13:10-16

Today is the first of a 5 part series on the "Parable of the Sower."  Today I want to talk about parables - What exactly is a parable?
This is taken from "The Eerdmans Bible Commentary":  "A parable was a story to illustrate a spiritual or moral truth.  It was different from an allegory where every detail had to be decoded."
and also "Parables are a pictorial method of evangelism."  I have always loved all of the parables that Jesus told - I am a visual person and parables really work for me - they help me understand God's Word.

The spiritual or moral truth in this Parable - "The Parable of the Sower" is about faith & unbelief.  It's about sharing our faith with others and dealing with the trials and tribulations that come along with that.  We are all part of God's Growing Garden and the types of seeds that we are planting in His garden are:  Grace, Mercy and forgiveness. 

There is an added responsibility for those who understand - we must share this knowledge & understanding with everyone! ("But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear").  Let's try to share God's love with everyone that we meet.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Planting My Blackberry Christmas Gift

My Blackberry Christmas Gift - 2 Blackberry plants

Planting My Blackberry Christmas Gift

If you've been following this blog for a while you will recall that I received a newspaper clipping this past Christmas (2011) as a gift - a little piece of paper showing me what was to arrive this spring:

Well, they have arrived and it is time for them to be planted in my garden.

The hole has been dug and I placed some of my garden compost in the bottom of the hole. 

1.  Make sure that the nighttime temperatures are above freezing before planting.  Since winter has skipped over southeastern Michigan this year - I was able to plant them only a few days after they arrived in the mail.
2.  I have 2 Blackberry bushes - so the next step is to pick a sunny location in your yard or garden and dig 2 holes about 8 feet apart.  Each hole should be as deep as the roots and a little extra depth for some compost (about 8 or 9 inches deep total).
3.  Place some garden compost in the bottom each hole (about 2 inches depth).
4.  Gently remove the plastic pot and place your plant in each hole and push the remaining topsoil (that you dug away from the hole) into the hole and push the dirt up to the base of the Blackberry cane (or stalk - just above where the roots started) (see picture below).
5.  Now water your Blackberry bush and ENJOY!  (you only have to wait 2 to 3 years before harvest.......patience is the nature of growing fruit).

Blackberry bush planted and watered.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Snap Cracklin Meatloaf

Snap Cracklin Meatloaf

Yes - you guessed it - Rice Crispies "snapped, crackled and popped" in this Gluten Free Meatloaf.  I think this meatloaf tastes just as good made with Rice Crispies instead of with bread crumbs or oatmeal (and it really does crackle and pop when you are mixing the meat). 

1 1/2 pounds ground beef (I use sirloin or lean beef)                    Printable Recipe
2 cups rice crispies (I used brown Rice Crispies but regular Rice Crispies works well also)
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 small onion (peeled & minced)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
black pepper (to taste)
1/2 cup Catsup (Ketchup)
1/2 teaspoon salt

NOTE:  If you need to be strict about being Gluten Free - then make sure that the Catsup (Ketchup) & Worcestershire Sauce are Gluten Free.

In a large mixing bowl - slightly wisk the egg and milk together.  Add the ground beef, Worcestershire sauce, catsup, garlic powder, basil, pepper and salt - and stir into the egg/milk until fully combined (I used a wooden spoon but many people use their bare hands - it's up to you) .  Finally stir in the Rice Crispies and the minced onion.  Allow the mixture to rest and soak up all the flavors for about 5 minutes.

Tightly press this meat mixture into a loaf pan (I sprayed the loaf pan with non-stick spray first).  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 1/4 hours to 1 1/2 hours.  (If you didn't use lean meat then Drain out any fat before serving) 

Remove from oven and allow the meatloaf to rest for 15 minutes before serving.


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Monday, April 16, 2012

Themed Blog & Shop Hop - April Showers....Rain......Water

WELCOME to the second
"Themed Blog & Shop Hop" 
April 16th 2012! 
I'm so glad that you stopped by!

For those of you who are not familiar with "Hops" (a.k.a. Linky party) - a Blog Hop &/or Shop Hop is an event where viewers/followers can upload links onto my blog......Links to their items in their Etsy shops or links to their Blogs.  And then we can "hop" from blog to blog or shop to shop.

The theme this month is: "April Showers......Rain........Water" 
"April Showers" is vague enough to include many items &/or topics. 

So, that means if you have an item in your shop that has anything to do with "Showers, rain, water" or anything that remotely touches these topics - then please share it with us.

For example:
-Maybe you sell umbrellas or RAIN coats
-Maybe you did a blog post on Bridal SHOWERs
- Maybe you have a great seafood recipe
- Maybe you sell jewelry made from beach stones get the picture
(If you feel you need to explain how your item/post fits into the theme then please feel free to leave a comment)

Although I would love it if everyone joined my blog or became followers of my blog - that is not a requirement to participate in this "Hop".  All I ask is that you keep your submissions decent - no offensive content please.

Well, actually there is a second rule:
only 2 submissions per person please.

If you do not have a blog or a shop then please still stop by and take a digital walk through our virtual mall.

I will be having a "Themed Blog & Shop Hop" once a month - the middle of each month.  Next month's hop will be on: MAY 16th, 2012


To Etsy shop owners - please only upload links directly to the items that you would like to share with us - not a link to your entire shop - Thanks.

To Blog writers - you may submit any post that fits into the theme - it can be an old post from many months ago (it does Not have to be a recent post).  Also, please submit the link directly to the post and Not a link to your homepage - Thank you!
I will be "tweeting" about the submissions throughout the week to come and if there are enough submissions I will be making an Etsy treasury also.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

He Stilled the Storm

"Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress.  He stilled the storm to a whisper;  the waves of the sea were hushed."  Psalm 107: 28 & 29

April seems to be a month of storms;  from tornadoes to hurricanes to strong thunderstorms.  Just think about the intense sound during any of these storms and imagine how awesome it is that our Heavenly Father can calm these storms to a whisper is a split second.  Allow this knowledge that we serve an all powerful, amazing and loving God to penetrate your soul.  God will bring us out of our distress.

What about the storm within? - that struggle inside our heart....our soul.  All we have to do is cry out to the Lord and He will help us in our trials and sufferings.  God might not take the trouble away - but He will guide us and show us the way to endure that tribulation - making us stronger and better people in the end.

Don't ever hesitate to cry out to God in troubled times - He is the calm before, during and after the storm!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Herbal Coffee Substitute - Chicory

Herbal Coffee Substitute - Chicory

Chicory is a useful plant - the green leaves are used in salads or as sauteed greens and the root is used as a caffeine-free coffee substitute.  Chicory was actually mixed in with real coffee during WWII - to help extend coffee supplies.

I have seen Chicory growing wild on the side of many highways and back roads in North America.  Although - I do NOT reccommend wild cultivation - if you want Chicory coffee then buy a packet of Chicory seeds - just to be safe. 

THE TASTE:  I have to be totally honest - Chicory will never replace Tim Horton's.......but I did like it.  It smells and looks exactly like coffee but the taste is different - it's the aftertaste that was a little bitter.  It was that same aftertaste that I get from "Stevia" (a natural herbal sweetener) - it was sweet and bitter at the same time with a very slight anise taste also.

Dig the entire plant in the fall and use the top greens in salads or a stir-fry.  Snap off all of the roots from the greens and wash them thoroughly.  Cut off the ends.  Dry the roots on a cookie sheet in a 325 degree oven for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours (see picture above).  Allow the dried roots to cool completely and then chop/pulse in a food processor until they look like the picture below (it will look like dirt).

Now brew in a coffee maker - I used 1 tablespoon per cup of water but that was a little strong so you can use less.

Add cream and sugar and ENJOY!!

(I am NOT a doctor but this information is from some of my online research)
- a blood and liver cleanser
- anti-parasitic
-contains "inulin" which helps regulate blood sugar levels
- high in Vitamin A, calcium and other vitamins and minerals

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Invitation: Blog & Shop Hop on Monday!

I would like to invite all of you to join my second 
"Themed Blog and Shop Hop" on this coming Monday April 16th (2012)

For those of you who are not familiar with "Hops" (a.k.a. Linky party) - a Blog Hop &/or Shop Hop is an event where viewers/followers can upload links onto my blog......Links to their items in their Etsy shops or links to posts on their Blogs.  And then we can "hop" from blog to blog or shop to shop.

If you do not have a blog or a shop then please still stop by and take a digital walk through our virtual mall.

This will be a monthly feature on my blog - around the middle of every month (there will be a different theme each month and the submissions should fit into that theme).


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Easy Gluten Free Brownies From Scratch

Easy Gluten Free Brownies From Scratch

I am "anit-box-cake", in my opinion anything and everything made from scratch tastes better and is better for you.  To me - boxed brownie mixes taste as if they've added some plastic extract or cardboard fibers into the tastes very "chemically." 

This recipe that I'm sharing with you today is another one of my Gluten Free creations and to be honest with you I prefer these brownies to my other brownie recipe that uses wheat flour.  Somehow the rice flour adds to the wonderful cocoa flavor.

1/2 cup butter (melted and slightly cooled)                           Printable Recipe
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup rice flour (I used brown rice flour but white rice flour works well also)
1/3 cup (heaping) cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup walnuts (chopped) (Pecans may be substituted or you may also omit if you prefer)
1 tablespoon cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Melt the butter and allow it to cool for about 5 minutes.  In a large mixing bowl stir the eggs and sugar together vigorously (I stir by hand with a wooden spoon but you may use an electric mixer if you prefer).  Add in the butter, cream and vanilla extract - mix until combined.  Now add in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt - stir until dry ingredients are fully blended into the wet ingredients.  Finally, stir in the chopped nuts.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven  for 20 to 25 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean).

Allow to cool and dust with powdered sugar. 
Cut into squares & ENJOY!

More of my Gluten Free Creations:

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Transplanting &/or Splitting Rhubarb Plants

A bucket of Rhubarb plants that I am transplanting & splitting.

Transplanting &/or Splitting Rhubarb Plants

For many years I thought that Rhubarb was a fruit, since it is used primarily in sweet recipes........actually - Rhubarb is a vegetable.

Every online garden site that I've researched recommends growing Rhubarb in full sun - ---personally I have never had success growing Rhubarb in a sunny area.  My Rhubarb thrives in a shady area (this area gets more shade than sun).  I grow "Strawberry Rhubarb"  so I'm not sure if that might make a difference.

To Transplant &/or Split
For this post I am actually transplanting my rhubarb because we are expanding some areas of our garden.  However, while I was transplanting I also split the rhubarb.  These steps also apply when you need to split your rhubarb plants (You need to split when you notice that your rhubarb plants seem to be bunched together with many new younger plants in this bunch - this "splitting" should be done every 3 to 5 years).

1.  Dig up the entire "bunch" of rhubarb (it would have originally been 1 plant that spread into a bunch).
2.  You will notice a few carrot shaped roots (as seen in the picture above - there is only 1 root in this picture because I already split the plant - it is dirt color).  Follow the root to the top and you should have 1 rhubarb plant per root (sometimes 1 root will have 2 smaller rhubarb plants at the top - in this case leave it as 1 plant rather than splitting).  Simply take both roots in hand (1 root in each hand) and gently break them apart (it should be quite easy to separate). 
3.  Dig 2 (or more) holes (depending on how many plants you have split from that 1 bunch of rhubarb)  Make sure these holes are deep enough for the long carrot shaped root.
4.  Place the rhubarb plant in the hole (carrot shaped root first of course) and fill in the dirt up to the beginning of the rhubarb stalk (see picture below)....pat the dirt in place.

That's it!  You might get a few tender Rhubarb stalks the first year (after splitting) but the real harvest starts in the second or third year.

I originally had 2 Rhubarb plants and I was able to split them into 5 Rhubarb plants.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Kitty Cat Hop & Caption Comments

Kitty Cat Hop & Caption Comments

This is not my Themed Monthly Blog & Shop Hop - that is still scheduled for Monday April 16th.  I am just taking advantage of the irresistibility of my baby girl "Pounce."  She posed for this picture and I had to do something with it.

I thought it would be fun to leave Captions for these pictures in the comment section below.  You can leave as many captions comments as you like - all I ask is that there is no offensive content please.

Also - you can link up anything "cat" from your blog or shop (all I ask is that it is decent - no offensive content please).  I'm calling it a "Kitty Cat Hop."

So, you can: 
 1. Leave a Caption Comment
2. Leave a "cat" link
3. or just visit and ENJOY!

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