Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tip from Mom Tuesday: #26 - It's Not Easy Being Green



Check out my guacamole recipe to put this tip to use!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Guacamole


Skill Level: Beginner
Skills Attained: --
Supplies:
  • 2 avocados
  • 1/2 medium tomato
  • 1 handful of fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 lime (for juice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife
  • Spoon
  • Fork
  • Bowl

Guacamole is a staple "condiment" in my house when avocados are in season. We use this dip for breakfast, lunch, and dinner -- literally. Guacamole tops our scrambled eggs, spreads on our hamburgers, dips our chips, and dresses our salads. Thankfully, this is simple to make!

Begin by scooping the contents of two avocados into a bowl and mash with a fork. 


Dice 1/2 medium tomato and a handful of fresh cilantro.


Add the tomato, cilantro, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and juice from 1/2 of a lime to the mashed avocados.


Continue to mix the ingredients with the fork until it reaches the desired consistency.


This fresh, quick recipe is a great summer staple for our family. I hope you enjoy it just as much!

What are some ways you use guacamole in dishes? 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

My Tomatoes' Journey: Pests - Part 13

After a very, very slow beginning, my tomato plants decided to show up this year. Thank goodness! I really thought all that hard work of caring for and raising these little babies from seed was going to end in heartache and devastation.

Over the past two weeks, I started seeing flowers and fruit growing, which means two things: 1) these small green fruit will begin to redden and be ready for picking soon! 2) the pesky rodents will soon be out to eat my delicious, ripened fruit. 

Tomato Eaten by Rodent
There are a few things that have caused issues in the past from this point forward; namely, rodents. The moles, voles, and field mice love to chomp into my tomatoes. They sneak their way through the fencing and take bites out of my reddening tomatoes. I get really irritated when they take one bite out of each red fruit on the vine. Couldn't they just eat one whole tomato and leave the rest alone? If they really needed the food that badly, I'd be happy to sacrifice one tomato for them. But no. They take one bite out of every stinkin' one! 

De-Fence


I don't have a good suggestion to combat these types of pests as I have not had great success in the past. However, here are a few methods you could try if you have pest issues:

  1. Fencing: Our fence is the first line of defense, but obviously, that doesn't always work for us. Somehow they find a way through. 
  2. Traps: I realize this is the least humane route, and you may not be comfortable with this. We leave traps in the tomato beds with peanut butter on it. Those buggers find a way to eat the peanut butter without getting caught in the trap. 
  3. Clothing: A friend recently showed me that she wraps each nearly ripened tomato in cloth (like a rag or a piece of an old t-shirt) to prevent pests from eating the fruit. That seems quite tedious and time intensive, but I may resort to that this year if we have another grocery store for rodents on our hands.
For now, I just wait. Hopefully the rodents find another food buffet to feast from this summer. 

What pests infiltrate your garden? What do you do to prevent pests from eating your tomatoes? 

Check out my other posts on My Tomatoes' Journey.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Cherry Pie



Skill Level: Intermediate
Skills Attained: Fruit Pie
Supplies:
  • Pie Crust
  • 5 cups tart/sour/Bing cherries
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons tapioca (or corn starch)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • Rolling Pin
  • 9" pie pan
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Mixing bowl
  • Knife
  • Spoon
A near and dear friend of mine let me pick some cherries from her cherry tree a few weeks ago. I had never actually picked cherries before, so it was a fun first! My goal was to pick enough to make a pie (It takes quite a while to pick 5 cups of small, tart cherries!). So, I'm sharing with you the cherry pie recipe I used. This would be a great dish to bring to any 4th of July party!

If you haven't seen my Pie Crust post, check it out. This post really gives you detailed instructions on making an excellent, flakey pastry for fruit pies; it even has a video tutorial for those of you that learn better than way. 

What should I know about cherries?


Don't be fooled by the type of cherry you'll need for a cherry pie. Use tart, sour, or Bing cherries; do NOT use sweet cherries (the edible kind that you eat on their own). The tart cherries will be sweetened by the sugar added to the pie filling. Sweet cherries just won't work the same way for pie. I'm not sure why but just trust me. I would hate for you to go through all the effort of making this pie just to be disappointed. 

I used tart cherries for this recipe. These do not have the deep red coloring and are quite small (marble-size). To create the appearance of a red cherry pie, you can add a few drops of red food coloring to the filling. It doesn't change the chemistry of the baking, nor does it add nutritional value, so I opted not to do that.


Before using the cherries, they must be pitted. Many people that pick a lot of cherries own a cherry pitter. Since I am a novice at cherry picking, I simply used my fingers to slide the seeds out of the cherries. It's a bit labor intensive but well worth the time for this scrumptious pastry. 

Cherry Pie Recipe


  1. Prepare the Pie Crust and chill in the refrigerator; set it on the counter about 15 minutes before  it's ready to use so that the pastry is more pliable. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 
  3. Combine the following ingredients (see amounts above): cherries, sugar, tapioca (or corn starch), water, lemon juice, and almond extract. (I used tapioca for this recipe, but in hindsight, I would have used cornstarch. I didn't care for the consistency of the filling using tapioca, but I'm sure it' s personal preference.) Let it rest on the counter while you prepare the pie crust.

  4. Roll out half of the pastry dough and place it in a 9" pie pan. 

  5. Pour the pie filling into the pie pan. 

  6. Cut 2 tablespoons of butter and dot the top of the pie filling with the butter. 
  7. Roll out the second half of the pastry dough and cover the top of the pie. Crimp the edges closed and cut slits into the top of the pie crust. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of milk and 1 teaspoon of sugar on the top for a nice caramelized crust. (For more detailed instructions, visit Pie Crust.) Use aluminum foil (or pie crust covers if you have them) to cover the edges of the pie crust to prevent from burning. 

  8. Bake 30 minutes at 425 degrees. Place aluminum foil beneath the pie to catch the drippings. (I like to use aluminum foil rather than a cookie sheet for easier clean up.) Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees; remove the aluminum foil from the pie edge (but keep the aluminum foil underneath the pie) and bake for an additional 30 minutes. 

  9. Let the pie cool to room temperature before serving. 
If you enjoy making pies, check out my Apple Pie post as well!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sun Tea

Skill Level: Beginner
Skills Attained: Brewing Tea
Supplies:
  • Glass beverage container (one gallon)
  • Water (one gallon)
  • 6-8 tea bags of preferred tea
  • 1 c. white sugar (optional)
  • Sunlight!

One thing I love about summertime is making sun tea! Sun tea is simply allowing tea to steep in the sunlight rather than boiling water. I don't know why I enjoy sun tea so much; perhaps it's just the idea that the weather is warm enough and the sun is shining enough to make this refreshing beverage. It's very simple and straightforward, so I hope you give it a try if you've never made sun tea before. 


Fill a glass beverage container with water. A few years ago, I bought this "sun tea" container at the grocery store. I think I paid $5 for it. You can use any glass pitcher or jug you may have available. I wouldn't use plastic as I don't think the tea will steep as well and it may affect the flavor. 


Add the tea bags to the jug of water. I generally use 6 - 8 individual size tea bags, but you can increase that if you like a stronger tea. I've made many variations to my tea and usually use whatever tea bags I have on hand: white, green, black, etc. I use various combinations, and recently, I tried earl grey with blueberry hibiscus tea. It was delicious!

Add sugar, if you desire. I generally add 1 cup of white sugar. You could also use zero calorie sweetener or honey. If you desire unsweetened tea, omit the sugar altogether, and add more if you like it more sweet. I call my tea, "sweet enough for me tea". I come from the North, so my Southern friends don't think my tea is sweet at all;) 



Fasten the lid on your container, and set it in the sunlight for at least a few hours. There is not an exact science to this. You'll see the water darkening [steeping] over time. Once the tea is finished basking in the sun, transfer the container to the refrigerator and chill until ready to serve. You can also speed up the chilling process by simply adding ice to a glass.

Happy steeping! Enjoy the sunshine:)