Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Lasagna Garden

Last year I started a garden on my husbands families farm. We are going to be moving there this December. It is about 20 miles away, so I was not able to be there all the time to give it the watering it needed during this low water past summer. I have 9 beds that are 4x4 which I stared last year as square foot gardens. This past spring I put in a lasagna bed. In the lasagna bed the main things I grew were 12 cherry tomato plants, a few cantaloupe plants and a couple of bean plants.

To our surprise, the cherry tomato plants grew to 8 feet tall! Not only have we had plant growth, from the beginning of July until the frost last week, we were getting at least a 5 quart bucket of tomatoes every other day! In an area where are growing season is so short, never thought I'd actually get melons, we had at least 10 melons that I picked prior to the frost. Phenomenal results!

I am now going to plant the rest of my garden in the lasagna garden. My brother in law has horses, and he grows the hay, so that is readily available to me.  In the other beds, I also have the same tomatoes planted, that only got about 2 ft tall.

I found one of the best reasons to do this type of garden, is the way the beds are able to hold in the moisture. Great way to use whatever water is available!  The lasagna garden may be the way to garden in the future, giving the way are water situation has been lately. As far as I can tell, instead of pulling all the old plants out of the garden, I just cover them up with hay and let them compost over the winter.

Since I have gone to no soil gardening, one of the pluses is being able to get into the garden as soon as the mixture is thawed. There is no tilling of soil, very little time is spent weeding. as there are very few weeds. I am still able to spend in my garden,  instead of spending it pulling weeds, I was able to spend it tending to the vines, planting seeds,etc. Even though a vast portion of my garden froze last week, today I am going to work on getting my garden ready for next spring!

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Hello everyone,
Sorry I haven't gotten the recipes up, I've been kinda busy with school and all (SO much homework - even in the first week). I'll get them up as soon as I can! Sorry about the wait!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Maple Pecan Bundt Cake

Here is my recipe all have been waiting for.  Sorry for the long wait. Thanks all for your patience.  We ended up camping at the State Fair for two weeks. During that time, we did not have any internet. We also packed up our daughter and got here back off to college. During the fair, there was some sort of viral thing going on, slow moving the past few days since we got back home on Tuesday.

Maple Pecan Bundt Cake

1 yellow cake mix
1 small box instant vanilla pudding
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
3-4 eggs (depends on size of cake mix and moistness desired)
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325
Place all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix on low speed until all are moistened
Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes
Spray Bundt pan with vegetable oil spray just prior to filling
Pour batter into bundt pan. Batter will be very thick. Even out as much as possible.
Bake @ 325 form 30-60 minutes. Cake is done when toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Let cool in pan for 10 minutes
Put a plate on top of the pan and flip the pan over, so the cake now sits on the plate
Dust top with powdered sugar

State Fair Recipes

For all those looking for the State Fair recipes we demoed, will try our best to get them up later today.

Sorry for the long wait!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sweet Morsels of Life Using the Earth's Bounty

For the past four months, I have been spending most of my spare time in the garden.

My garden is not overly huge. I have nine beds that are 4x4 feet done in the square gardening way. I have three beds that I started this year that I did in the lasagna gardening manner. I also have numerous boxes done in a homemade earth box. In these various areas I have planted the usual summer garden vegetables- tomatoes, corn, beans, lettuce, cucumbers, potatoes, etc.

In the lasagna garden, I planted 12 cherry tomato plants. I planted the cherry tomatoes, knowing the other varieties would take much longer to harvest, I wanted to be having some tomatoes much sooner. Lo and behold, not only did I start getting the tomatoes over a month ago, they also keep going!  The plants have reached over 8 feet tall, with hundreds of bright little tomatoes all over those vines. Every time I go look at my garden, they remind of grape vines. Succulent red fruits that when bitten into, produce an oozing juice.

Having so many tomatoes, have been a challenge. We have given many, many away. I now have in my fridge three 5 quart pails filled with the tasty morsels. My challenge s to find different ways of serving these.

While searching the net, I came across the recipe for roasted cherry tomatoes. I had never thought of roasting the morsels, so I decided to give them a try.

I washed then dried the tomatoes, then placed them on a roasting sheet. I then drizzled olive oil over them, added about six cloves of garlic, mixed all of this together. I placed them in a preheated oven ar 350 degrees for about an hour.  After the hour, they were cooked, but I wanted some caramelization
so I turned the oven up to 450 and roasted them for about another 10 minutes.

The result was sweet morsels of tomatoes with just a hint of brown to the tops. I served these succulent morsels over some freshly cooked noodles.

Never would I have thought something so simple would taste so DELICIOUS! The roasting brought out the concentrated sweetness of the little tomatoes.

Just a note- I did leave the tomatoes whole. It made the dish much simpler. Also with leaving them whole, the juice was still slightly encased in the tomato. It also made it a much prettier dish. A small dash of fresh basil or parsley would also add a bit to the presentation.


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sissix eClips

So, I finally did it!

I just purchased a Sissix eclips from Svgcuts.com.  Best deal I could find after days of searching, also Leo and Mary are some of the nicest people around.

Purchasing the eclips was a very big decision for me.  I am a very FRUGAL person.  I also have great difficulty buying something like this.

One of the motivators in buying the eclipse- It is a Mothers Day and Birthday present  to myself.

Some of the thoughts that had gone thru my mind as I wrestled with this decision:

You have a perfectly good cricut, why do you need another machine...

You ARE remodeling a house, the money should really go for the remodeling project...

Are you really going to use it, or is this just an impulse buy...

You could use the money to do something with the kids....

And, my answers-

Yes, I could use the money on the kids, but they are adults.  I could use it to help buy the grandkids their school clothes, they do have parents.

I am remodeling a house, maybe I could use the eclips to make some money to help fund the house.

I am going to use it, I have spent numerous hours making things on the cricut.

The reason for a new machine- I use the SCAL software, which due to difficulties with Provocraft, can no longer be updated to use with the cricut.  One of the big problems I have with the cricut, is when I purchase svg files from sources other than svgcuts. com, they sometimes do not work. I have spent numerous hours fiddling around only to find it cut the score lines, didn't align the pages, etc.  I know these problems have been fixed by SCAL, only I cannot get the updates to work with the cricut.

I have chronic pain issues, and have found the cricut can be a great distraction for me. There have been many times I have started making things, got so engrossed, I was able to forget about the pain for awhile.  It has at times also become a form of meditation for me.  I can leave the world and just concentrate on what I am making.

I bought my cricut about 2 1/2 years  ago, to make shapes out of fondant to use for cake decorating.  A day after I bought it, I was hooked!  I had found svgcuts.com the day I bought the cricut, and immediately bought the software to buy the svg files. I have not bought any cartridges during the time I have had the cricut, just numerous files online that I have downloaded.

Why did I pick the eclipse?  A scrapbook store about 30 miles away, now carries the eclips supplies.  It can also cut fabric for quilting and appliqué, which I also enjoy doing.  Another selling point is that I can buy the pen holder, and use various sizes of pens to decorate the objects I cut.  This I think was the greatest selling points.  I know it cannot cut the variety of materials that other machines can, but it is also one of the few machines that can stand alone and use cartridges as well as software.

I am very excited about the purchase, hopefully it will be here by the weekend!  It is supposed to rain this weekend, so I will have time to fiddle around.

I have found that I love to teach, one of the goals I have set for myself is to do some online tutorials for the projects I make.  One of my favorite items to make, is mini albums.  I spend hours and hours making little mini albums, especially the paper bag ones.  I am currently making a wedding one for my nephew, I then want to make a recipe one as a raffle prize at the MN State Fair.

Off now to make the album!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Fish Fry-A Northwoods Tradition!

Just back from our weekly Friday night fish fry.  Once again started me thinkin' on the variety of different fish frys the eateries in our  vicinity has to offer.

Fish frys are very popular here in northern Wisconsin. Most bars that serve  food also have some version of a fish fry.  There are two main thoughts as to how the Friday night fish fry came about.  The first has to do with the fisherman.  People used to come up and rent cabins for a week at a time. The week went from Saturday to Saturday.  On Friday nights, people used to fry up the extra fish, so they would not have to find a way to take it back home.  the idea caught on, growing to include the local bars and restaurants.  The other theory is the Catholic thing. Catholics could not eat meat on Friday, so if the eateries wanted to attract business, they needed to include some kind of fish on the menu. Now, Catholics weren't too fond of just a piece of baked fish, so the fish was deep fried.

Fish frys are usually some kind of deep fried fish, with a deep fried accompaniment like french fries. Since the population is aging, and so much emphasis is on eating healthy a broiled fish a.k.a Poor Mans Lobster, is also served. This usually is accompanied by a baked potato with some melted butter on the side.  Many different kinds of fish are used, the usual being pollock. Some also  serve cod or walleye, those usually at a higher price.
Also served with the fish is some kind of a coke slaw. Most are homemade, so the taste of them can vary.

My favorite is the deep fried, whether cod or pollock, usually I can't tell much difference.  The main difference is in the breading. Some are bread crumbs, though most are a version of the beer batter.

So, tonight we went to a local bar named "PJ's" which was very good.  The fish was hot, well breaded, not much of a beer taste, which I like. It came with soup or coleslaw, I had the soup which was a cheesy potato bacon. They also deep fry their breadsticks, which sounding awful are awesome!  My husband had the sweet potato fries, while I had the little spudsters.  My daughter was the only rebel, ordering pizza, then having bites of fish from the rest of us.

One of the reasons fish fries are so popular, is that most of them have an all you can eat version,making it a very economical meal.  I have made the fish at home a  few times, find it is more of a bother and actually costs  more than just going out for dinner.

All you other fish fry fans out there, I'd love to here your favorites!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Snow Day!

Have to admit, I LOVE snow days. While I was walking this morning, the words "silent shroud of snow" crept into my consciousness. Simon and Garfunkl described it just right. There is a stilled silence that comes with the large amount of snow. It covers the trees and ground, hiding what is underneath. It also seems much warmer when we have a big snow. It is as if the snow insulates from the outside world.

During my walk today, I met neighbors I haven't seen. Since all the schools and most businesses are closed, most of us are home today, and shoveling themselves out. Taking the dog for a walk is a joy, I know she is not going to run off into the neighbors yard, since most did not even have the driveways plowed out yet. Do to the fact that even she got stuck in a snow drift, I knew she wasn't going to go far. No need for a leash today! There were very few cars on the road, so I did not have to worry about that either.

There is also a closeness with others that comes out during a storm. It is something that affects us all, there is nothing we can do to stop it. We all just have to wait it out.

Tomorrow all will be back to normal. Schools will be open. Businesses will go about with their everyday tasks. Facebook will have less action, we will be back at work.  Funny that this happened on Leap Day.  Lots of internet sites are having special sales today, I now have time to look and enjoy them.

It is also "SHOUT OUT" day at St. Catherine'e University in St Paul, Minnesota.  I am very lucky my daughter chose to be a part of that community. It is one of the few places that focus on women. Having spent my adulthood as a mother with children around, it was difficult to think of sending her off to college. St Kate's was so welcoming not only to her, but to myself and our family, they made the transition so much easier for us.

Every time I visit the campus, I feel I am a part of the community. St Kates is not only for the students, but also the families.  My facebook profile picture was taken at St Kates on the night of Charity Ball, one of the fondest memories I have. Like many of St Kates activities, Charity Ball is a fundraiser for a women's shelter. In a world that is still dominated by males, it is refreshing to find a place offering programs where a woman is allowed to be herself, to grow and blossom into a woman that has value in the universe.

Many thanks and gratitude to the Sisters of St Joseph for the wonderful university. There are no words that can ever express the gratitude I feel for you being there!http://www.facebook.com/st.kates

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Recently I purchased this ground beef log from a local walmart.  I purchased it as it was discounted to a price of 8.39. I knew it had a higher fat content, but I was using it for sloppy joes so I could just drain off the excess water and fat.

What suprised me, was how much actual fat and liquid where in there!
After I cooked the ground beef, I drained it, then let it sit overnight for the fat and liquids to solidify. I was totally amazed at how much it weighed!

The weight of the fat was 15.4 Ounces and filled a 16 oz dip container. I then weighed the liquids that were left, they weighed 12 ozs.  To simplify that means out of the 5 lbs, 1 3/4 pound was fat and liquid. That means the  ground beef  weighed 3 1/4 pound.
When looking a the package, it seems like a great deal at 8.39 for 80 ounces (5 lbs) the cost is about 10 cents an ounce, or 1.60 a pound. When the amount of fat and water are taken out, the price is now about 16 cents an ounce or 2.58 a pound, which is just about a dollar higher! 

The regular price on this somewhere around 11.00. Paying full price, it would come out to about 3.38 for a pound!  An astonishing price for those thinking they are getting a good deal.

As our food prices continue to escalate, in order to stretch our food dollar, we need to have an increased awareness of what we are buying, and the quality of that product.  For the purpose of the ground beef, and at the price I paid, I am ok with what I found. Had I paid the full price, I would have been a very disgruntled shopper. Would I ever buy this product again?  After this, probably not. I usually buy chuck roasts and grind them myself, that way I can control the amount of fat I have added to the product.  For those unable to grind their own meat, then buying a more expensive product might not be such a bad idea!

By the way, for those that are wondering, the taste was just fine for what I made.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Scrapbook Mini Album

Yesterday Mary and I spent the day teaching a 4h group how to make a very simple Scrapbook Mini Album. It looks quite complicated, but is so EASY! We all had a great time! We figure about 10 different scrapbooks were made.  Not suprisingly, one of the most popular paper packs were the Halloween one I still had. Great fun was had by all. Pictures coming soon!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Life, Death and in between..........

Tonight my daughter and I went to see the movie "We Bought a Zoo."  It is one of  the best movies I have seen in a very long time. I don't wan to ruin the movie for anyone, so this all may seem kinda vague to those of you who have not seen it.

During the movie, I started thinking about death.  All that is born, must some time pass on. This may not come at a time that is convenient, thoughtful, or best for everyone. With death, there is usually some sort of sadness, both by those passing, and by those that will remain here.

The movie got me thinking about a time this past July. I have been struggling with pain difficulties for almost three years now.  The pain has changed my life and my families life in ways that no one can imagine. It is a result of an accident that occurred. A flash second in time that changed our lives forever.

This past June I had a particularly horrendous flare up. By the beginning of July I was hoping for death. I was not suicidal or anything like that, but if death was to come, it is something I would have welcomed.  With the help of  many medical professions, and my loving family, I got through it and am still here today.  Some days are good, some are awful, but I try to take each day at a time and go from there.

The reason I thought about this time in my life during the movie, it recalled to me that life is an adventure. Something to be lived each moment to the best of our ability. At times, maybe the best we can give is not even getting out of bed, just staying put for the day. Other days we may be filled with life and able to be there for others.  Life and the movie, are also about LOVE and overcoming obstacles. There will be many times in our lives that we may feel it unsurmountable to overcome the obstacles in our lives. We do not always receive the results we had planned on, most of the time the results are better than we could have thought.

During this coming year, when the obstacles become too much for us to bear, may we realize that we are loved by at least ONE, we are never alone!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Goals for the New Year!

I was listening to public radio last week, the guest had written a book on willpower.  It was such an appropriate topic for me, especially at this time of year.  It seems on New Years a lot of us like to make all kinds of goals for the upcoming year. Most of us fail at these, and according to this gentleman, there is a reason why!http://onpoint.wbur.org/2011/09/19/willpower

According to his research, we each have just so much willpower, and when we use it, it is GONE!  So, if you are really trying to not have donuts, the first one in the morning will be easy to pass up. But, if you keep being tempted by donuts all day, unless you have done something to build up your willpower, by the end of the day, chances are you will fail!

My hope for the year is to grow this blog.  I'm trying to have my daughters post also.  One of my daughters is in Germany, does more baking than I do lately.  She is noted for her cheesecakes, YUM! 
The other Merry Baker, has also been baking a lot, we just need to have the discipline to sit down and write about it.

My wish for all of you is to have a PEACEFUL coming year. We may not always get what we want or hope for. Events we feel are BAD and UNFAIR will continue to come into our lives. Life will be all around us-both the good and the bad. Some days it may be extra hard to even just get out of bed. But, in all of this, may we find the strength to go on, the determination that may be needed some days to just put one foot in front of the other and keep going. Realize we are surrounded by love and warmth. No matter how devastating it may seem, there are people in our lives who love us and are there for us, if we let them assist us. With this universal love may we find PEACE in our hearts!