Places to Party

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Long Hard Winter. The Assessment....

This was one of the hardest winters we've had in a long time. Most of the local schools have far exceeded their allotment of snow days and I don't remember having as many days where my work called and said it was too dangerous to come in. Hard, hard winter as my snow fence can attest to...
Yes, this snow fence went across all those T-posts and now, it's still connected
to just one. The winter wind has ripped the other connection points completely

But it is starting to warm up gradually and now is the time to assess the winter damage and start planning for spring...

Remember those tomato seeds we planted? Well here they are...

Hardening off helps prevent transplant shock.
Think I planted enough tomatoes?
Now is the time to start hardening them off prior to transplanting them. I transplant twice; once when the plants have outlived the starter mix and need real soil with fresh food and a second time when I direct sow them into the garden. Before you can transplant however,  you need to get the plants accumulated to the environment it's going to eventually be planted in. Just like you wouldn't go outside in the winter without a coat, your plants can't go from a warm house or greenhouse environment into fifty degree weather (or less) without going into shock. In order to help prevent stress on your plants, you have to begin now to bring them out for a few hours in the day so that they "toughen' up and can take the transplanting.

Broccoli & Cauliflower but not sure which is which at this

The local greenhouse also talked me into growing broccoli and cauliflower saying it was really easy to grow. So far so good. This will have to get planted in a planter somewhere as I have a cute little chipmunk that lives in my garden that thinks I plant the broccoli plants out for a annual salad for him. Last year he downed two plantings. If he wasn't so darn cute I'd be more upset. A few broccoli plants and the strawberry tastings are a small price to pay for such a furry little comical companion.

Speaking about strawberries, the strawberries we planted last year are coming up and already making a mad attempt of trying to take over the garden-at least three plants have already jumped the bed. There is a profusion of runners all over the place so I hope that translates into lots of berries.

Opportunistic strawberries bent on garden conquest!

Plant it once it lasts forever!

The rhubarb we planted last summer not only made  it through the winter but appears to be thriving. All three plants came up. Rhubarb preserves and pies
are in the future! Rhubarb is one plant that once you have it you'll always have it. My parents planted it at some point in my youth and those same two plants still come up. It's amazing.

The raspberries and grapes look to be about as dead as dead can be but there is at least one branch that appears to be budding. The cherry tree is as well sending up little buds.

The promise of cherries future.

Here is a little gardening buddy that popped in to say hi as well. He and his friend were looking for some tasty bugs for lunch when I think I scared them. Sorry!

But some of the most beautiful things are those cultivated my nature.  Wonderful, wild, purple violets pop up in my yard every year. Some people think of them as a weed but I think they are beautiful. A gift from mother nature to start off our year and I wouldn't dream of getting rid of them. Violets are my favorite flowers!

 Happy Spring everyone!


Saturday, April 5, 2014


So. Sick. Need. Soup.


Viral Bronchitis.

Viral=Antibiotics don’t work. Just have to wait until it clears your system.
Bronchitis: Hurts to breathe, coughing and now in my ears.

I need soup.

Soup is one of my favorite foods. Perfect for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Why more people don’t have it for breakfast is bewildering to me. It’s easy to digest right when your body is just waking up, it’s warming for right before you go out to the hard cold world, and it comes with noodles!
From Google Images

Soup is like a warm internal bath that bathes your cells with its healing chickeny goodness. I need soup.

This is my chicken soup that I make all the time. Homemade chicken soup has it all over the canned stuff and you can make a lot for very little. My soup has two secret ingredients that make it stellar.



Stock  base:                                                        

1 chicken about 3-4 pounds                       
1 med. Onion
3 carrots, roughly chopped
3 celery stalks
Salt & pepper
Water to cover

Put all ingredients in a stock pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let go for about 2 hours. Cool stock. Remove all solids, reserving chicken for soup. If not using right away, put in freezer bags and frees.



Everyone likes soup.

Chicken meat from stock (or if you didn't
make stock, cut up chicken meat)
Bouillon cubes to match water
*(so one to one if one cube matches
one cup, if one cube to two cups, adjust)

2-3 stalks celery diced
2-3 peeled carrots, diced
2-3 Tbs. flour
Butter or olive oil
¼- ½ tsp cumin
Salt & pepper
Kluski Noodles

In a pan melt your butter and sauté your celery and carrots until crisp tender. Add your flour so that the vegetables are covered and cook for a minute or so more taking care not to burn them. Add chicken stock and the remaining ingredients.


The cumin is the key to making this taste really “chickeny”. For years I couldn’t figure out why soups out had such a pronounced “chicken” taste while my homemade soup always tasted like slightly flavored water. The cumin highlights the chicken taste and adding the bouillon to the stock also doubles the concentration of the chicken flavor in the soup. It’s like a soup infusion.

Who knew?


These noodles are also key.


These make it taste just like grandma used to make it.


They look just like someone’s grandma made noodles just for your soup because they knew you needed comforting. I love make-believe noodle grandma. She keeps me in comforting egg noodles. Thank you make-believe noodle grandma.

Eat more soup. Soup is comfort. We need more comfort.

I need a nap.