Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Creamer Garden ~ 7.2.17

Things are growing UP in the Creamer garden this week!
Sunflowers, trellised vegetables, okra, peppers, and green beans.


Growing vegetables in small spaces means growing vertically.
You can grow so much more using homemade trellises and sturdy sunflowers as supports.


It was also a clean up week in the side garden.
I cut back all my tomato and tomatillo plants 
and cut down all the spent sunflowers.
Planting early and cutting back the plants mid summer 
has given me a second bumper crop late in the season. 

More veggies equals one happy gardener!

Mid-clean up

And with the sunflowers gone, I have a few extra feet 
to plant something new.
Mary Grace says we should plant more sunflowers, of course!

After clean up
But for now we are enjoying the fruits of our labor,
and that means pints and pints of 
Tomatillo/Jalapeno Salsa!


1-2 pounds tomatillos husks removed and washed
3 large jalpenos
half a red onion
6 cloves of garlic
1 bunch of fresh cilantro
splash of lime juice or white vinegar
sea salt and cumin to taste

Roast tomatillo, peppers, and garlic under the broiler 
until the skins are blackened.
Put all ingredients in the food processor 
and pulse to desired consistency.
Season with salt and cumin.

Sewing With a Purpose

A friend of mine approached me at work about a special project she was coordinating at our hospital.  Ms. Donna is a lactation consultant and she is spear-heading a special project during Breastfeeding Awareness Week.  
She asked if I could sew and gave me supplies for a dozen burp cloths and breast pads.


A dozen of each seemed like pretty easy work.
And then I asked how many she needed.
"Oh, just a few hundred!" she said with a smile.

Luckily she enlisted the help of many talented women
 and is well on her way to having her quota!


I figured there should be an easy way to sew this project,
'cause I'm all about sewing on the 'quick and dirty.'
So I came up with a template to make things simple.

I traced around the breast pads to make a cardboard template.
The breast pads are very easy to sew.
Just trace the template onto the wrong side of your fabric, 
cut out, and sew onto the breast pads using a zig-zag stitch.


My burp cloth center was 17"X 4" and I cut 
a cardboard template out to that size.


Place the template on the wrong side of the fabric and cut 
about 3/4" around the template.  
It does NOT have to be perfect!  
Just make sure you have enough fabric to fold over 
onto the cardboard.  


Fold the fabric over your cardboard template 
and press with a hot steam iron.
Remove the template and pin onto the cloth diaper.
Sew around the edges of the fabric and you're done!


I've got supplies for two dozen more to tackle this week,
and when I'm done fulfilling Ms.Donna's need,
I think I'll start on my own stash for baby gifts!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Creamer Garden ~ 6.13.17 (a.k.a. The Goji Edition)

Every year I try to grow something new and different in the Creamer Garden because, let's face it, zucchini gets boring after a while!  Last year, on a whim, I purchased a goji berry plant.


I thought it would be a pretty ornamental in the garden, but I really had no idea how to use the berries.  You never hear of a 'goji berry pie' or a 'goji berry cobbler'...and now I know why!
They really don't taste sweet like you'd think a berry would be.  They taste like a sweet bell pepper and are hollow inside except for several tiny seeds.  To me, they seem more closely related to peppers than berries.


These plants also spread and multiply like crazy!
I've had three more plants pop up in this same garden bed several feet from the original plant.  I thought I'd transplant the extras so I dug them up by the root and gave them a new home.  Despite lots of watering and TLC, it appeared that my transplants died.  I just left them where they were and I'll be darned if a week later they both sprouted new growth AND berries!
Even if you have a "brown thumb," 
you can grow goji berries!


I'm still not sure what to do with all these berries!
Right now I'm drying them and using them in salads, sauces, soups, and they make the most lovely tea (with a little lemon!).
I definitely want to incorporate them into our diets 
more and more due to their amazing super food properties.



If you're interested in growing your own goji berries, 
I got mine HERE.

Now if anyone has that recipe for goji berry pie....


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Strawberry Fig Jam

When I was a child, we had a huge fig tree in our backyard.
I remember back then eating strawberry fig jam,
and I remember it was delicious!


My folks passed away.
I moved far, far away.
Life happened.
I never even thought of that strawberry fig jam again until about ten years ago when we moved to our current house.  Back then, we had a huge fig tree just like the one from my childhood home.  Memories came rushing back and I made my first batch of jam that summer with my own figs.

It tasted like home.


That fig tree was destroyed when we had some work done on our house.  I was devastated but planted another one as soon as I could.  It died, so I planted another one.  
It died, too.
Turns out I don't have such a green thumb 
when it comes to fig trees!


Today I was gifted with a box of beautifully ripe, sweet figs 
from an even sweeter friend.

Can you guess what I did with them?


STRAWBERRY FIG JAM

6 cups of mashed figs
4 cups sugar
2 boxes of strawberry jello

Clean and cut the tops off of your figs.  Mash to your desired consistency and measure out 6 cups.  Combine figs, sugar, and jello in a large pot.  Bring mixture to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Pack into sterile jars and process per your preference.

Note:  I had 8 full cups of mashed figs and used the same amount of sugar and jello.  It came out to exactly 12 half pints
and tasted just as good!




Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Monster Cookies


We are hosting Daniel's baseball team at our 
neighborhood pool tomorrow.
They were the 12 year old LEAGUE CHAMPIONS,
so they're kind of a big deal!


I wanted to make a big batch of cookies
and figured these boys needed one
BEAST of a cookie!

So behold the
MONSTER COOKIE:


This recipe makes a lot!
(about 6 dozen)
And you can add in whatever you want 
to please your hungry crowd.

In a big bowl, combine:
           3 eggs                      4 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup sugar                  2 tsp. vanilla
1 T. honey                    2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 stick of room temp. butter
1 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter

Next, your add ins:
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 11.4 oz bag of M&M's


You can add whatever you like to the basic recipe:
White chocolate, dried fruits, coconut,
toffee or butterscotch bits, chopped nuts...
Just try to keep it to 2-3 cups of mix ins.



They will definitely bring out the monster in you...
the COOKIE MONSTER!


Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Creamer Garden ~ 6.3.17 (a.k.a The Tomato Edition)

The garden is lush, green, and growing like crazy 
due to all the rain we've been having!

 
The one thing I've been having to keep my eye on are the tomatoes.  Too much rain can be bad for them.


Too much water can cause these guys to split.
You can see the rings around the top 
of my Cherokee Purple tomatoes where they've busted a bit from all the rain.  It doesn't affect the taste, just makes them a little less "pretty."


The kids wait all spring and into the summer 
for batches of my home made salsa.
Me, I like them sliced with cucumbers, salt, and vinegar.


The birds and squirrels like them straight from the vine, 
so I've been picking them while they're still a bit green. 
Our new puppy seems to like them as well.  I find him in the garden beds a little more often than I like. 
We also have lots of rain in the forecast so I'm hoping between all of the critters and pups that I can get a harvest soon.
  
The boys have their tortilla chips ready and waiting!

Passing along my recipes for summer tomatoes:
My garden fresh SALSA recipe
My garden fresh TOMATO SAUCE recipe

Enjoy!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sunday Afternoon


 

A gorgeous Sunday afternoon with a little soap and water.


Even big brothers want to play!


To make super bubble solution:

6 cups of water
2 cups of dish soap
1 cup of corn syrup
A segment of yarn or cotton cord tied in a loop



Friday, May 26, 2017

The Creamer Garden ~ 5.26.17 (a.k.a The Sunflower Edition)

Every year since we've moved here,
I've given a kid or two a packet of sunflower seeds 
and told them to plant them.
This year was a little different.
Mary Grace went WILD with the seeds!


It seemed like every time we'd visit the store, 
we'd have to get another packet of seeds.


Mary Grace has obviously been very busy!
Sunflowers are popping up in the most delightful places
and their sunny faces make me so happy.


The bees are loving them,
which means my vegetable garden is loving them, too.


As a matter of fact,
due to Mary Grace's planting enthusiasm,
I've discovered that sunflowers make excellent supports for growing cucumber vines!


And drying sunflower heads make beautiful table decorations.


I want to be like the sunflowers.
Even on the darkest of days,
I will stand tall and find the sunlight!


Wishing you the sunniest of days!
See you next week.
#CreamerGarden


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Summer Salad

I make this salad allllllll summer long.  
I usually make one big batch and just keep adding whatever garden vegetables I get to the brine as the jar becomes empty. 
 It's delicious, refreshing, and super healthy....
It's my garden fresh Summer Salad!

For two quarts start with:
About four cucumbers          Four cloves of garlic
         One red onion                       Celery and Mustard Seeds
One bell pepper                     White vinegar
Sea Salt or Kosher Salt

Feel free to adjust this basic recipe to your taste.  
Sometimes I like it more spicy so I'll just add 
red pepper flakes or fresh peppers.


Chop onion and bell pepper into thin strips then crush the garlic with the blade of your knife.  Cut cukes into bite sized pieces.


Put two cloves of garlic into each of your jars
then put a teaspoon each of mustard seed and celery seed 
into the jars.  
Add one heaping teaspoon of salt.
Some variations of this recipe also call for adding sugar.  
I'm trying to cut sugar from my diet so I don't add any.  
Honestly, I don't think it needs it,
but suit it to your taste.

(Someone doesn't like the smell of garlic....She can't be my kid!)

Next, layer the vegetables in the jars.
You can use anything!
Tomatoes, green beans, summer squash, zucchini,
okra, carrots...literally anything!


Pour a cup of white vinegar into each jar and fill with distilled water.  Secure the lid tightly and give a good shake to mix the ingredients and dissolve the salt.  
I leave these on my counter all day (about 12 hours) and shake them often during the day.  
After that, pop them in the fridge and enjoy!
As we eat them down and the jars empty, I just add more cut veggies to the brine.  


Enjoy on hamburgers, sandwiches, grilled meats, 
or just straight out of the jar!
Just enjoy these delicious flavors of summer
while they last.