Seeds are the Start

Hardy flowers for some winter cheer.

I am still amazed by the humble seed. It is mind boggling to me how a tiny tomato seed can become a vine with pounds of produce hanging from its extended branches. I know it’s only January, but I am getting an early start this year. One reason I am starting early is that I don’t have many flowers in my deck pots right now. I want to fill them with cheerful winter hardy flowers. Why do people call people pansies when they want to say that they are weak? Pansies might look weak, but they are hardy. Last week I said I had bought all my seeds for the year. I guess I lied. I spent another seven bucks on pretty flowers….

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Creating Mini Tropics

I put portable cake covers over my lettuce for a second layer of protection.

I was warned that my lettuce might not make it through the overnight frosts we are having and expecting this week. I wasn’t prepared with covers for each plant, so I decided to use the covers to my portable cake holders as cloches to cover as much as I could.

Looking good after a frosty night.
There’s condensation on the inside of the covers, like a tropical terrarium.

So far so good! After inspection, I covered them back up until warmer weather returns.

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My Secret Brownie Recipe

My twist on a classic brownie recipe is to add some spice and switch butter for coconut oil.

I have an old McCall’s cookbook from my mother’s house. I go to it frequently to find a standard recipe for something that I have never made before. I like to start out doing things the way everyone else does them, and making something that someone, like my husband, will taste and it will be be just what they expected it to be. But it’s just not in my nature to keep doing something the same way as it has always been done. Thus, today, I am going to tell you about two brownie recipes.

My much loved and beaten classic recipe book.
The original brownie recipe that I built upon to create something a little different…

The first recipe is the standard brownie recipe that you see in this photograph of my cookbook. I have made brownies going exactly by this recipe and they taste like…. brownies! Perfect every time. When I bake, I always use raw sugar because I just think it has so much more flavor than white sugar. (I buy it ten pounds at a time at Costco.) I also use Happy Cow butter from G&G Retail at the South Carolina Farmers Market. I’m sure that the quality of my ingredients makes them more delicous.

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My Year in Seeds

beautiful seed packets: promise of plenty

I spent my $38 on heirloom seeds this year. It all went to the seeds too, cuz I got free shipping. Bakers Creek even sent me a free packet of basil seeds to say thank you for my order. I got the bush beans for my husband, because the ones he buys in the box stores don’t always turn out to be what they say they are.

So here’s my year sitting on the kitchen table waiting to happen. That part takes a little vision and some sweat equity. As far as vision goes, I intend to stretch that $38 further by starting a little seed garden somewhere, and keeping some of these seeds for next year…

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Fresh Salad

Even though my husband and I grow and preserve an abundance of food for the family, I still buy lettuce in the winter. We do have all sorts of canned and frozen veggies to choose from during the fall, winter and spring. Since they are already prepared most of the time, there’s not much work in serving them either! But, we also like to have that bit of crunchy freshness with dinner every night. This winter, I have been experimenting on a small scale with different ways to produce a cold weather crop of salad fixings for our table.

lettuce starter

So far my little hoop garden covered with agribon is working out. When I pulled back the agribon after a few days of rain I was greeted with the site of some healthy looking lettuce, and even one onion starter from the kitchen that is holding on. I wish that I had begun a little sooner and planted a few more starters!

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The Kitchen Palette

flour, baking powder, turmeric, chipotle, salt

It’s been pouring rain around here. It’s a blessing to have a kitchen and a well stocked pantry to putter around in when going outside is not the best option. Sometimes I feel like a mad scientist in the kitchen, a fantasy that my family reinforces when they say that that is what I am. Other times they call me a witch, when I get out my herbs and make bitter brews…

But, sometimes, I feel like an artist, or maybe not the artist, but I feel like I understand the pleasure an artist probably gets from her pure palette before she ever paints a stroke.


Special Ingredients

Chile powders from Chimayo, New Mexico.

My mother lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The last time we visited her she drove us to Chimayo. It is a sacred place that people come to from all over the world for the healing properties of the soil. We walked into the Potrero Trading Post while we were there and, probably like everyone else who steps inside, were overcome by the smell of the dried Chipotle.

I bought some of the powder for $4.95. Last week I ran out of it, and I couldn’t stand the thought. There is something just really special about the flavor of that chile powder. Heads up, I use half a teaspoon in my brownies…

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