Sunday, June 01, 2008

Baking and Dirt work and Planting, Oh My!

Picture Heavy Post Ahead:

First off, I'll start with the Coconut Creme Brulee I made yesterday. Here are pics of the eggs being seperated out. Next, a pic of the cream & milk in the saucepan, being brought up to a simmer.Next up, the coconut in the ramekins. I'd toasted it in a dry sautee-pan the night before. This is the first thing I did yesterday morning, after a load of dishes. (Had to clean out the sink before I could dirty more dish-ware, ya know.) Anyway, because the creme brulee needs to be made in advance and refridgerated at LEAST 4 hours before topping with the sugar, I had to get an early start.

And, the finished product. 8 ramekins of coconut creme brulee, ready for the caramelized sugar topping. That's the part that didn't work very well. I still need to learn to use my mini-blow-torch better. But, other than the fact that some of the spots of caramelized sugar tasted a bit burnt, the flavor was pretty good. For supper, I made Beef Stuffed Sopaipillas. Dad DID come over for dinner as well. Here's a pic of the 4 sopaipillas, prior to stuffing.

Now for the gardening pics. I'm actually going to cut & paste from another blog entry I did over on Myspace. Just easier than writing it out twice.

About the time I finished making the creme brulee and checking my email, Scott and his Dad got here with a truck-bed full of top-soil for doing some gardening and yardwork around our place here. Scott traded out trucks, ran back to his Dad's house for the rototiller, and came back. Al took Scott's truck home, leaving Scott and I with Al's big ol' dodge full of top-soil.

Scott built me a 3ft x 8ft planter bed the other day. Last night, after Dad left, we set it out, determined where we wanted it in the back yard between my lilac bush and the metal shed. Then pulled it back up, rototilled out about 10 inches of dirt, placed the planter bed back ON TOP of the rototilled spot, then shoveled the dirt OUT from the bed, to around the outter edge of the bed to "cement" it in place. THEN we back-filled the bed with top soil. This morning I've so far planted a single, 8 ft, row of Swiss Chard into that bed.
These are my potato bins. That's newspaper underneath to keep the grass and weeds from growing up into the potatoes, once I get them planted. They're still over at my Father-in-law's house. I'm going to cut one up into 2 chunks today, put them into a paper bag to dry out for a day or two, then plant one chunk in each "barrel". Once the barrels are planted, I'll pull a tarp around it to keep the moisture in. We're still not quite sure how we're going to store some of that truck-load of top-soil for the future toppings of soil on my potato plants, as they grow up. Haven't quite figured that part out. I'm all for putting a pile on a tarp, then covering it with more tarp. The hubby doesn't think too much of that plan. *sigh* Whatever.

Next,Once the potato barrels were set up, we moved to setting up my two big half-barrels. Eventually one is going to get planted with a couple of tomato plants. The other, I'm thinking a couple of Zucchinin plants. But, for now they're full of top-soil and covered with newspaper then soaked, to keep weeds from taking over before I get the tomatoes in.
After the half-barrels, we moved onto my bean-patch. I decided to go with Sunset Runner Beans this year, instead of Sugar Snaps. We just dug that out, taking out all the dirt, and re-filled the area with top-soil. Then I planted in my row of Runner Beans.

NEXT, we moved on to the former flowerbed (that never produced any flowers anyway), rototilled and shoveled IT out of all the old soil, then refilled it with top-soil. That bed now contains a dozen strawberry crowns and a seeds for a couple of sunflowers. I REALLY hope the strawberries take off, and that I didn't plant them too close or too deep. The crowns have got to be placed in JUST so, otherwise it'll mess up their growth.
Here's a pic of a single one of the strawberry crowns. Just for some detail, since the other pic doesn't show a lot of what's in that bed.

Lastly, Scott rototilled out the other flowerbed on the OTHER side of the front door. Last year it produced all sorts of lovely flowers, including poppies. I was hoping they'd come back this year. All that came back this year was weeds. Don't really know WHAT I'm going to plant in there this year. Kinda thinking it should be veggies, but I DO want pretty flowers as well, too. Just not sure.


This morning, I've already been out planting and transplanting. I had one cucumber seedling that survived (of those 2 I planted). I transplanted it into a good sized planter, about as big around as a 5 gallon bucket, not QUITE as deep, but close enough. I also transplanted ONE of my 3 tomato seedlings into another similarly sized planter. I hope they survive. But for a while I'm still doing to need to bring them inside at night. Good thing I've got some space on my coffee table.

Along with that, and planting my row of Swiss Chard, I've also already watered my strawberries and my runner beans. I still need to get out and weed around my rhubarb plants and my chive plant. Lots of dandilions and fireweed growing there that'll stunt the growth of the plants I DO want. Besides, I don't want the dandilions to wind up going all "puff-ball" and the seeds getting into my planters or bean-bed.

I also need to get out and pull some scrub-brush from around my lilac bush. I want the lilac, but not this weedy bush that's growing intermixed with it. Gotta get rid of one without harming the other.

Then, we'll be heading over to my Father-in-law's house in a while to do MORE gardening over there. We started last monday with a half-row (22 feet long) of lettuce seedlings, and the rest of the row with lettuce seed. More lettuce than we really need, but.... *shrug* We eat a lot of salad in the summer. *grin*

Oh, and did I mention those 27 cucumber plants I transplanted last week. I think I did, didn't I.

We also did a half-row of swiss chard seed, leaving the other half-row to be planted later. Half a row of Spinach seed, again to plant the rest of the row later. A row of green-beans, a row of peas. A half row of broccoli. A row of carrots, a row of beets.

Today we've got onions and cabbage to plant. Gotta get the potatoes cut up and drying. Probably some zucchini.


So, that's most of my Independence Day Challenge for the week, right there. The planted, tended, and cooked, anyway.

Harvested: Nothing.
Preserved: Nothing.
Make Preparations: I bought a case of qt sized, wide mouth mason jars. As Barefoot Gardener pointed out, if all 27 of those darned cucumber plants produce even HALF of the capability, we'll have cucumbers coming out our ears. Gotta have plenty of qt-sized jars for plenty of pickles to be made. I don't think the FIL probably has many qt-sized jars, though I'm sure he has a good number of pint-sized. And I've got 4 cases of pint-sized jars MY dad gave me, as well. But, the qt-sized.... Not so much. I also bought 4 boxes of the seal part of the lids. Ya know, the little flat, round disks that fit inside the rings. 2 boxes of wide-mouth size, 2 boxes of regulars.
Manage Reserves: just rotating goods as used, as usual.
Work on/Toward local food systems: nope.
Reduce Waste/Composting: Yes. Along with the composting, I also weeded through my closet last night and pulled out a clothes-basket full of tops I don't wear anymore. Gonna bag them up and take them to the "still good" dock at the transfer station this afternoon, hopefully. Or tomorrow before work.
Learn a New Skill: Nope.


Oh, and MORE good news. All those darned colds and such I keep getting are having one awesome side effect. I'm dropping weight. I'm now down about 15 pounds from last summer. As in, down to 194 from 208. LOVING it! Just wish I didn't have to get sick to get some of the weight off, but at least it gives me a boost past some of those plateaus I keep hitting. *grin* But, the weight DOES seem to be staying off! And even so, it's coming off rather gradually, so it's less likely I'll gain it back, either.

Ok. I think that pretty well covers it for today.

Have a Blessed Day!


Tori_z said...

That's fantastic that you managed to get so much done. :)

It's a shame you had to get sick to get the weight off, but I'm glad you managed to get some off. :) And, like you said, at least with you loosing it slowly it should stay off.

KAYLEE said...

Thats great :) hoep you are well!

Robin said...

Girl, I am proud of you! You are adding some good manure to that topsoil, aren't you?

Kati said...

Actually Robin, that was solid top-soil we brought in. Really nice rich stuff that clumped just perfectly in small hand-fulls, yet fell apart nicely when dropped. Beautiful stuff. A truck-bed full for only $60. We're thinking another bed-full will be in order for the garden over at the inlaws, next summer. Oh, and I've got pics of that garden-in-progress to share later.

Sian said...

My, you have been busy. Well done!

Slip said...

Nice work! You were a pack of busy little bees!

barefoot gardener said...

Wow! You should be able to get quite a bit of goodies out your gardens! I am all excited for you.

whimsical brainpan said...

My have you been busy! You go girl. And you've made me hungry again...

Fr. Peter Doodes said...

That Coconut Creme Brulee looks amazing, all of a sudden I feel rather hungry...

Connie Peterson said...

Holy cow! What did you do to your hubby to get him to help like that? Hit him over the head with a baseball bat (or hockey stick)??? It's so great that not only are you starting your gardens but that he is helping!!! Yipeee!

You should try some Scarlett Runner beans if you want flowers AND beans .... they are totally AWESOME!!!


Celticspirit said...

Yumm.....that creme brulee looks so delicious. So do your stuffed sopapillas.

I see that you are doing raised beds for your gardens. I've had much luck doing that in the past. I've never seen potato bins. Is it done to save space? Anyhow I think it's a neat idea.

Wendy said...

Your garden looks awesome! It must be a huge relief to finally be able to get out there ;).

Good work on the Independence Day Challenge ;).

Connie Peterson said...

PS - what is a Sopaipilla????

peppylady said...

Hi, Just letting you know that I tagged you for a couple of meme which will show up Monday on my blog