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miscellany

19 Jul

I’m making an effort to post more frequently here on this blog. Just remember, quantity does not equal quality, but I think an attainable goal for me is to start with quantity and then hopefully things will improve from there. So, here are a few tidbits of things that fall under the category of “things I can blog about on She Said. She Said.”

Target Field Eats

I’ve been to three Twins games at the new Target Field. And I’ve eaten the same exact thing every time. (What can I say? I’m a creature of habit. When I find something I like I stick with it.) First on my list of must-eat-at-Twins-game is Angie’s Kettle Corn. It is SOOO good and salty sweet that I could eat the entire bag myself (which I think is probably 5000 calories or something). It is imperative that one buy Angie’s Kettle Corn from their kiosk in the plaza so that it’s warm and superfresh just out of the kettle. If there’s a long line they’ll try to talk you into entering the stadium to buy a bag inside, but DON’T DO IT. The last game I went to I got the LAST bag of Angie’s before it was sold out. Halleluia! With the Kettle Corn I always drink a Pepsi…I’d prefer it to be a Coke but they must only have Pepsi products at Target Field. The other item I’ve had every visit so far is a brat from Kramarczuk’s. I’m not really much of a hotdog/brat person, but during the first game I attended at Target Field I found myself sharing one of these brats with Pat, and it was really, really good, so I got it again the next two times I attended a game. The brat must be loaded with sauerkraut and fried onions. And yes, the brat is better than the polish, per my husband. The only other thing I’ve tried at a game was the nachos. Pat and I shared these also, after he had raved about the nachos he had eaten at a previous game. We quickly learned that the ‘to rave about’ nachos are the ones sold from the nacho cart, NOT the ones sold at the concession counters. Those ones are nasty and served by really rude women. Avoid those.

Premium and Kettle Corn…another great combo

What’s been your fave foodstuff at Target field? What should I try next?

The Garden

I think I’ve mentioned I’ve had nothing to do with this square foot gardening that Pat has embarked upon this summer. Nothing aside from eating the fruits vegetables of his labor! My favorite things so far to have growing in our garden have been the lettuces. Well, two lettuces (green leaf, and swiss chard) and a spinach. I adore being able to walk out there and pick the greens for a salad.

first lettuce harvest

Speaking of salads, here’s one I whipped together one day. Ingredients: leaf lettuces, cucumber, yellow pepper, carrot sticks, blueberries, and gorgonzola crumbles. Dressed with a little lemon juice and olive oil.

Ryan has really enjoyed watering the garden, and plucking things from it. Whenever we eat a vegetable he asks if it’s from dada’s garden.

Oh yeah, and today I gave the tomato plants a haircut.

Baking

On July 4th we were at the cabin. Pat was cooking dinner that night (farofa encrusted walleye, potatoes, and grilled asparagus) and the 3 year old was starting to go a little bonkers during that pre-dinner witching hour, so I said LET’S MAKE A CAKE! This dude adores making and baking, so he assisted me as I sliced up the angelfood cake my mom had along for strawberry shortcake and placed it in a layer on the bottom of a small cake pan. Next I slathered the angelfood with Reddi Whip, and then topped that with some blueberry ‘stars’ and strawberry and raspberry ‘stripes’ for a little patriotic dessert.

Last weekend I sent my errand boys off to the farmer’s market to pick up some berries. Little did they know I was planning to make a pie with the blueberries. They ate half the container before they even left the market, so I was left with not nearly enough for a pie. So, I decided to combine the blueberries with raspberries, used the Pioneer Woman’s Blueberry Pie recipe and a Pillsbury ready-made crust, and dare I say the pie turned out divine! I’ve not had the best of luck with pies in the past, so I was quite proud this one turned out exceptionally well. I find there’s nothing much better than a fresh blueberry pie!

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tomato haircuts

6 Jul

Do you know what the secret is to successful tomato plants?

Sure, proper caging is important.

Good soil is also key.

A high quality tomato plant helps too. I got my plants at the Mill City Farmer’s Market. This is my third year getting them from the same guy. Why mess with a good thing, right?

However, if you don’t give your tomato plant a haircut every now and again, none of the other things will matter.

Are your tomato plants starting to look like this?

Wait, yours are even bigger than these? Then, you need to fight the heat, get outside and give those babies a haircut.

Why?

When tomato plants get big and bushy and grow lots of leaves, they are taking all the nutrients you are giving them in the form of soil, water and sunlight and using them for those beautiful leaves, not the actual tomatoes.

Wait, it can get worse.

Have you ever had a tomato plant full of green tomatoes and can’t figure out why they won’t ripen?

This happened to me two years ago and I could not figure out what was going on. Then, a very wise woman clued me in on the best gardening tip and a must-do. The haircut.

Those important nutrients are not getting to the tomato to turn them brilliant shades of red and yellow…they are hanging out in those darn leaves.

So, what do I mean by a haircut?

It’s pretty simple. I start by pulling off any sad looking leaves on the bottom and those random sucker leaves that just don’t serve any purpose, other than looking pretty. I then will go a step further and pull off all sorts of leaves all over the plant, making sure all the sides are even (cuz I’m anal like that). It’s kind of like cutting back shrubs.

Here are a few of my plants after their first hair cut.

I usually pull of leaves a few times a week and if things get really out of control, I go outside with a kitchen shears.

I have a lot more of these little guys popping up…… which is more exciting to me than the World Cup. (shh…don’t tell my dutch friends)

Do you have any great tomato tips? I would love to know what tricks of the trade are out there.

garden update: the good, the bad, and the hopeful

24 Jun

I’m starting to wonder if this might be an off year for my garden. It just doesn’t seem like itself. Or, maybe it’s just me. Some things seem to be doing well and others are lagging behind. I felt like everything was flourishing all the time last year. I guess it can’t always be a banner year, but I am hoping the garden finds its groove soon.

Here’s a recap of where things are at currently.

The Good

I think my thief has gone on to greener pastures. I have not had any additional missing plants or large leaves missing. Was it the liquid fence? The marigolds? My dog becoming more viscous?

yelling at the rabbits

I’ll never know, but I I’ll be taking the same precautions next year earlier in the season.

The Bad

I have a different pest. The leaf miners are back. They paid an extended visit last year and I was hopeful they would forget about my little garden. No such luck. I’m not sure the Neem did much last year, so I’m going to check back in with my garden store to see what non-chemical options they have available.

Here is a look at their handywork.

bok choy leaf

my precious kale

even my edamame!

The hopeful

There are some bright spots in the garden that I’m pretty excited about.

My first peas!

These are the shelling peas. What I’m unsure about is how big the peas should be before you shell them. Anyone?

These are the snap peas which you can just pull off and eat.  I tend to snack on them while I’m checking the rest of the garden.

And finally, the most exciting thing I found today….

the first tomato! I may have let out a big “woo hoo” when I noticed it. I’ll be watching the others very closely now.

What’s going on in your garden? If you’re not gardening, are you picking up any new veggies at the Farmer’s Market?

fighting back

7 Jun

Thank you so much for all of you who gave me advice on how to battle with the thieves in my garden.  I am obviously not the only one who has dealt with garden varmints.

Most people think it’s a rabbit that is eating dinner in my backyard. I decided on a couple different plans of attack – hoping that one of them will work!

Plan #1: Plant marigolds.

This seemed like a no brainer because even if they don’t actually scare away the rabbits, they look pretty.

Plan #2: Liquid Fence


This was a recommendation by my friend Cheryl. Cheryl has the most beautiful flower garden you will ever see. This woman knows her way around plants. I trust everything she says.

Liquid fence is essentially concentrated garlic. It is suppose to put off a scent that both deer and rabbits do not like. They don’t need to taste it to be repelled, they can smell it before they get there.

I can say that after I sprayed it, I almost gagged. The smell goes away pretty quickly to humans, but man, is it nasty. I’ve sprayed it twice so far and took a shower immediately after wards because I just could not get rid of that smell.

Take that rabbits!

I might try one more thing in collaboration with liquid fence and marigolds: cayenne pepper. Apparently sprinkling that on and around your plants can help. Those MN deer and rabbits do not like the spice! They are more ketchup and salt people. :)

In other gardening news, here’s what’s going on in my backyard.

The tomato cages are up….

The netting is up for the peas to climb…

This is what the edamame is looking like ( I have no idea how this grows)….

My radishes and turnips are going crazy….

An overall look at the state of my garden…

What’s going on in your dirt?

Thieves!

25 May

There are thieves in my garden. I am not happy about it.

I have not had this problem in my previous two years of gardening so I really thought I was immune to this It’s a bit frustrating.

There is something in my back yard that has taken three of my brussels sprout plants and 2 eggplants. Is it a rabbit? Is it a squirrel? Is it the neighbor’s cat? No idea, but I’m officially annoyed. I’m think it could be a squirrel, but Brette thinks it’s a rabbit. Neither of us have seen either critter in the garden. Since yesterday, it’s been chewing on my peppers.

Any thoughts? What wretched animal would eat my innocent sprouts?

If it’s a squirrel, there isn’t much I can do to keep them out of the garden. They can get through and climb over anything. If it’s a rabbit, we have more options. Brette spent some time this evening blocking off holes in the yard where they could get in with some fencing. I’m hoping that does the trick.

My only other option is to keep my fierce fighter dog outside 24/7. She has killed two squirrels in our backyard. She loves to talk about it. Just look at this dangerous beast.

It might be wise to have a back-up plan.

Have any of you struggled with critters? Any words of wisdom? I’m counting on you!

In other gardening news, everything is planted. I stuck pretty much to my drawings, but needed to make adjustments based on space and the thieves. I replaced the stolen plants with bok choy and another eggplant. My garden store was out of brussels sprouts and I’ve never grown bok choy so I thought I’d give it a whirl.

So in addition to my frost tolerant veggies, I now have:

Tomatoes – 6 different heirlooms

Peppers – 4 types of the sweet kind and 4 jalapenos

Edamame

Rapini

Eggplant

Brussels Sprouts – just one thanks to the thieves

Bok Choy

Herbs! – basil, oregano, rosemary, mint, thyme, sage, parsley and dill

Glorious!

Just today, I pulled my first radish and I’ll be harvesting lettuce this week. I get down-right giddy. There is just nothing more satisfying then growing your own food.  Well…that and ice cream. :)

gardening tips: thinning

12 May

This rain must go away soon, right? Can you believe the cold snap we’ve had? Did any of you plant your tomatoes to early? :)

I have had great restraint. I’m sticking to my May 15th rule.

This past weekend I bought my tomato plants at the Mill City Farmer’s Market. Later this week, I’ll be picking up the rest of my vegetables to plant. It is suppose to be sunny and warm this weekend which is perfect planting weather.

But before I get to all that fun, let’s talk about what’s currently sprouting and what you should be doing with it. All of my frost tolerant veggies are starting to pop out of the ground. This means it’s time for a very important job….thinning. I mentioned thinning quite a bit in my last post and to me it is important enough to have it’s own post.

What is thinning?

It’s really just pulling out some of your sprouted veggies so that they have enough room to grow into a veggie big enough to eat. If you don’t thin your crops, you end up with a bunch of puny little carrots, radishes, etc.

Let me show you what the thinning process looks like. I’m going to use radishes as my example as they were very photogenic.

Here is what they looked like last week.

See how close they are? There is no way that each one will turn into a good size radish that way. When you read the back of your seed packages, it’ll usually say, thin to 1 inch apart (depending on the veg). You should do this. They say that for a reason. If you’re like me, you’re thinking, “but, I’m wasting my precious seeds!”. Well, you’re not. You’d waste more by not thinning because you’ll end up with nothing. Know what I’m saying? Just trust me on this one.

Here’s what your radishes should look like after thinning.

See the distance? It give them breathing room. That distance will make sure your radishes look like this:

This technique is not just for radishes but other root vegetables such as turnips, carrots, parsnips, etc. When in doubt, please read your seed packets. This public service announcement brought to you by She said. She said.

Blog Updates:

The Garden Page on this blog is coming along nicely. We should have it up and running soon. I know you’re losing sleep over it.

Question:
What’s going on in your garden? Any successes or triumphs? We’d love to hear about them.

she said it, and then she said it again…

10 May

…because her blogging partner was nowhere to be found.

Thought I’d toss a little update out onto the blog here while both kids are asleep. Both of them sleeping at the same time means that one of them is sick and the other one is asleep in my arms. Basically, given my current life status, I don’t have much of anything to add to a blog about cooking, gardening, or dining out. But here’s a status reports anyway.

Cooking: Today for lunch I reheated mac and cheese (it WAS homemade, give me some credit here) and munched baby carrots and a few grapes, all while nursing a baby. If Pat plans out the night’s meal, I’m sometimes able to whip it together (if it’s super simple) while one kid watches Max and Ruby and the other is chillin’ in a Baby Bjorn. Basically though, Pat has become the meal planner and cooker man.

Gardening: I’ve never been much of a gardener. This year Pat built a square garden box and is experimenting with some square foot gardening. He spent one weekend building (and rebuilding) the garden box, and another weekend purchasing the dirt, etc. and seeds, and then planting it all. I participated too- I planted one seed.

Dining Out: HAHAHAHAHA. Last weekend we made our first family outing together to enjoy a nice breakfast at Hot Plate. We walked there. I don’t turn cartwheels over their food, but it’s good, and the service is nice enough, and the decor in the place rocks, so for our first family dining out experience was just about perfect. Other than that, last week I was so desperate to NOT eat lunch in my house for the 1000th day in a row that I packed up the boys and went to Subway. I know.

Here’s a pic of the other kiddo too.