Sunday, July 23, 2017

Cheddar Cheese Making, Gardening and Knitting (YOP Week 4)

Hello Everyone! :)))

I started my first batch of Cheddar cheese today! Please see my post on Rainy Day Cheese Making if you are interested! First thought? Doesn't look like Cheddar does it? Well, that's okay because this is just the first stage of the process! :) The next stage is letting it dry for a few days, covering it with an orange cheese coating and letting it age for 3 months. I'll keep you posted with the progress! This was so much the next few weeks, I'll be making a few more to age 6 months and 12 months too.

Last night's dinner was the easiest recipe I have ever come up with: Chicken Fricassee. It's just onions and potatoes and chicken all cooked up in butter...after spending the last four days doing the menu planning and shopping list, I actually felt a little wiped out! We ate from the pan lol...less dishes that way. Tomorrow is shopping day and then I'm done for the next month! :)

After last week's fiasco with the dogs playing with my knitting, I restarted my beach cover up and this is my progress. I'm not a fan of casting on, so restarting meant casting on 130 stitches, and I admit I dallied a little, but I've got 2 1/2 inches done on the back of the garment and I'm happy with that! My focus was on the menus and shopping list this week so I didn't get in as much knitting as I wanted to. But honestly...isn't it relaxing to just sit and knit? (as long as I don't have to count!) :)

Want to visit my little garden? :) ROMA TOMATOES!!! Woo hoo!!! :)

My Chamomile is finally coming up! At least I think it's Chamomile. My brilliant idea of putting my plant labels in little baggies failed...the moisture erased everything so I can only guess at this point! :) Reminds me of my grandma who used to buy canned vegetables all the time. When she got home, she removed all the labels so veggie side dishes would always be a surprise. :)

Since this is my first attempt at most plants...the question is: Is it a good thing or a bad thing that my green beans are flowering?

The Morning Glories are really climbing! My Blue Fescue grass and Lavender haven't budged, sigh...but the herb shelf is thriving! I finally have some good basil and oregano!

The pumpkin patch is getting "jungular"! I think I just made up a word. I have to remove the chicken wire because the plants are growing through it...I hope the birds leave them alone. I have no idea what's going on IN there under all those big leaves...

Maybe this? I'm just waiting and seeing at this point!!! :)

And in all the hub-bub over my NEW garden...I forgot to update you on my little Meyer lemon tree! It's a year old now and I have 4 lemons growing this year! (one is hiding) Oh and look Mama Pea...I DO have weeds!!! I guess I can be thankful that those little clover dealies are the only weeds I need to pluck out of my containers once in a while!

Alright...that's it for this week. Tomorrow will be eight hours or so of grocery shopping and driving. I have to say I'll be glad when it's over! Alex made us some cocktails today so we could relax on the hammock together. He made his own creation, a Vanilla Flip (made with brandy and an egg white with sugar); and he made me another of his creations, and Apple Brandy Punch with brandy and Calvados. Cheers! :)

Friday, July 21, 2017

Tomatoes! Monthly Meal Planning Nearly Done

The last three days have been hot, humid and (finally) SUMMERY!! Everything in the garden seems to have popped! I saw a few regular tomatoes growing in Tomato Land.

And some cherry tomatoes too! :) The Romas are flowering now since I pruned off the yellow leaves, fingers crossed!

My potatoes are starting to flower too, aren't those flowers pretty?

I've been spending most of the last few days with my nose in cookbooks and flyers. This is my baking and cheese making list for the month. I usually always make more stuff but these are the planned items. Alex and I have made so many different cherry concoctions lately! One of the liqueurs will be ready to taste on Tuesday which means we'll have lots of brandy-soaked cherries - thus the ice cream and the cake!!

Speaking of cherries, we're at it again! They're back to being a good price! I'll have to check the quality at the store, but if they're good, we will be making more spirit-infused cherries and various liqueurs!

Monday is my monthly shopping day so I had 30 days of meal planning to do. I'm on Day Three of the Planning. 

Day One: Download and look through all the grocery flyers for this week; make a list of things we need and update the freezer and pantry inventory. - done!

Day Two: Go through the cookbooks, my online recipes and my recipe idea list and plan 30 dinners based on flyer sales and what I have on hand. - done!

Day Three: Make a shopping list for each dinner, baking and cheese making item, make a list of what needs labeling and "reserving". Schedule each dinner to a date. - done! 

If anyone wants dinner ideas, I'm starting to post my menu planning on separate pages. Here is my 30-Day Menu for July 24th through to August 22nd page. I've included links to recipes where I could, if they're online or I've posted them before.

I always schedule the fresher meals right after I buy the produce. If necessary though, I'll drop by the local store to buy more produce if I need it. I can't wait until the day that I don't have to plan to BUY day... :)

So the last step is to make an actual shopping list and estimate the prices based on flyer sales and past shopping bills. If I'm over budget, I need to cut things out or change the meal plan a bit. That's Day Four of my process!

It sounds like a lot, but I've found I'm less stressed when I take four days to plan for a month, then get it all over with in one day. It works for me.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Pea and a Beet Walk Into A Bar...and a Cheesy Weekend

So a pea and a beet walk into a bar.
Pea: "Hey, you're looking tired my friend."
Beet: "Yeah, it's been a long day, I'm just beet."

Har har...Yes, I made that one up on my own. My talents are endless! ;)

This was yesterday's harvest. I think my peas are done for the year! But...I did get my first ever beet! I also noticed that the green beans and yellow beans are starting to show some buds! Exciting!

Boo hoo...Pavlov is gone. :(  Our friend decided to take him home. I'm really going to miss him! I hope our little husky Charlie is okay, she really clung to Pavlov...every young gal needs a crush!

Here's Alex with the 5-pack. We had one last walk in the woods with the big pack. Pavlov was reunited with his mom Stella after they were apart for two months, they're pretty happy! There were a few grumblings between Mom Stella and Charlie in Charge (maybe over Pavlov? lol)...but other than that, it was a nice visit!

We made the Spoiled Dog Cake again for Pavlov's "bon voyage" party! Mmm...bacon-flavoured Pupperonis! It was funny, Alex kept saying how moist the cake looked...I told him to dig right in, but he respectfully declined saying he didn't want to take anything away from the dogs! :)

For dinner on Monday I made my version of a Cobb Salad. I used my homemade Mozzarella, home grown lettuce, chives and parsley too.

After a walk in the woods yesterday morning and then a dip in the river, we came home to a beautiful cheese and paté board with fresh strawberries and homemade bread! I didn't realize until I looked at the photos today how cheese-heavy the weekend was! (no complaints!)

Note: I was going to change the last sentence because our friend came on Monday...which is not really a "weekend" visit is it? But it's just a testament to the fact that time means nothing to us here in the mountains!

To give us some comfort after having to say goodbye to Pavlov, Alex and I had a fondue dinner! Have you ever had Welsh Rabbit? It's a melted cheese sauce poured over bread. In our case, it's a Cheddar and ale fondue. We made ours with Newcastle brown ale and added some bacon to it. It was pure comfort, mind you we had trouble doing much else but nodding off after! Don't plan on operating large equipment after you make this about a food coma!!

I served ours with sausages, apples and homemade bread. Correct me anyone if I'm wrong, but I read that the name has been changed over the years to Welsh Rarebit because the general population in North America got confused over the fact that is was a cheese sauce and not an actual rabbit from Wales that they were preparing and eating. Sounds silly doesn't it? I'll still call it a Welsh Rabbit!

We're going to take a break from the cholesterol party for a while this week and eat more clean for a few days. I always say we just need a little red wine to counter the fat cheese effect, it might have merit to it right? ;)

I may have mentioned this in one of the comments, but it's kind of nice having our "small" pack of three dogs and three cats again. I do miss Pavlov but it was a good lesson to learn that four dogs would be too much for us as this point. We got back to our routine of a morning walk in the woods and it felt great! I've just been bragging about the hot summer weather we've had the last few days and as I type this, it's cooled off and is pouring rain again...sigh...I built shelters for my tomatoes for long rainy days, I hope that gets them back on track and the yellow leaves don't come back (I pruned them).

My monthly shopping day is coming up quick so I'll be planning out breakfasts and dinners for thirty days plus the shopping list and budget for the rest of the week! I hope everyone is enjoying their week!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Garden and Year of Projects Update (YOP Week 3)

Enchiladas! I made these slightly different than I normally do. I usually use black beans, but had none so I used corn instead. They were delicious! We're still using store-bought Monteray Jack cheese until I can figure out how to make my own. :)

Speaking of is an update on two of my Year Of Projects projects. (I'm a day early for posting, but the next few days will be kind of busy preparing for a house guest!) I have links on my sidebar to other members who have posted so far if you would like to check out their projects too! (YOP-ers, if your link isn't there, let me know please!)

1. Beach Cover Up: I got some good progress done, I started the back and knitted about an inch. See the arrow? See all the loose yarn and slipped stitches? Who was responsible?

GUILTY: my lovely pack of bratty canines decided to have a little fun with my knitting bag. fault for leaving it within I will be starting over again this week! I can't stay mad at them!

2. Cheese Making: SUCCESS!!! I made my second batch of Mozzarella and it was amazing! Please read the whole post on Rainy Day Cheese Making if you're interested! (I'm so happy about this batch!) We put together a little plate with some homemade bread and sprinkled fresh chives on the cheese - oooh la la!

My Cheddar adventure begins this week! I'm just waiting on a 12-quart pot that I ordered - I neglected to even think that my 6-quart pot (5.6 liters) was too small for anything, but each batch of Cheddar requires 2 gallons (7.5 liters) of milk plus other stuff...(Dianna, you might want to note that!) I had to return an 8-quart pot I bought last week because it would have been a little too small.

Those are my two summer projects and I'll post my progress weekly. On to the garden!

Check out my garbage bin potatoes! This is one of the bins and the other is behind it..they are really growing tall. I "hilled" them as much as I could, so now it's the waiting game!

The pumpkin patch is also thriving! It's not too visible but the plants are starting to flower, I can't wait to see some pumpkins!

From left to right in the round containers: Orange peppers, Chamomile, Strawberries, Ground Cherries:

BUBKIS: officially definition of bubkis: nothing, lame, goofy; all of these apply!

Either they have stalled or I'll get nothing at all. The rectangle bin with the third round of lettuce is doing well though! All of my other plants are slow to grow. My tomato plant's leaves are turning yellow...way too much rain and not enough sun this summer. I will have to build "umbrellas" to protect them from now on. The Romas look so sad... :( But my herbs are thriving...I take the good with the bad!

Aah, young love :) Our husky Charlie has taken a real shine to our house guest Pavlov. She was kind of a loner for a while, but when Pavlov came to visit, she brightened up so much and the two of them are joined at the hip, always playing and wrestling. Our friend is coming over on Monday for a few days; and we'll see if he decides to take Pavlov home with him or not. There is a small chance he'll leave Pavlov with his mom Stella for the summer while he gets his life more organized. I have to admit, a small part of me would love the rest of the summer with FIVE dogs in the house! I know Charlie would!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Year Of Projects (YOP Week 2)

Inspired by Sam I Am (who has limitless energy and projects going!), I have decided to join the Ravelry group A Year Of Projects (YOP) . The group is open to anyone and the rules are simple, you set yourself a list of projects to knit (sew, crochet, any craft), post on the group's board, and blog about it weekly every Sunday with your progress (which makes my post 3 days late, I'll work on that!!). The YOP runs from July 1st through to June 30th the next year and you can really start anytime. I've been working on my project list for a few weeks while I've been waiting for my circular needles to arrive in the mail!

I knitted these two Halloween pals a long time ago and have since lost the patterns, but I remember having so much fun creating knitted crafts. My winters here in the mountains are long and now that I am powered by painkilling Arnica gel for my hands, I am giving knitting another go! I think this is a great idea if you need a little support and motivation to get projects done.

So here is my Project List for 2017 (July 1 2017 - June 30 2018), I have eight of them:

1. Weekend Beach Cover Up: This is my first project, and I'll be starting this today. I now have the yarn, needles and pattern ready to go! In the summer when it's nice and hot outside, I spend most of the time on the porch in beach wear. I have one cover up, but I really would like to make one of my own.
Status: Starting today!

This is the colour I chose for the cover-up, a nice grey. The yarn is so soft and not too heavy. I've only knitted small projects before so this will be the most challenging one to date! :)

2. Hudson's Bay Blanket: I found this pattern online a long time ago. It's for a baby blanket, but my goal is to make one that fits our Queen sized bed. I grew up with Hudson's Bay colours - they were everywhere from winter coats, to blankets to even coffee mugs! I looked into buying one last winter, but oh my gosh are they expensive....they are not priced from the 1980's anymore that's for sure! I want this to be my main project for the winter.
Status: Planned

3. Early Morning Meadow Sweater: I've always wanted to knit myself a sweater, but I always lacked the confidence, so this will be my second winter project. I think I might choose a light grey or white colour. I hope I'm smiling like the gal in the photo when I'm done! :)
Status: Planned

4. Cheese Making: If you ask me, cheese making is a craft in itself! I'll be reporting all of my cheesy projects on my other blog Rainy Day Cheese Making. I have lofty cheese goals this year and here they are:

- Pizza Mozzarella
- 3 month aged Cheddar
- 6 month aged Cheddar
- 12 month aged Cheddar
- 6 to 12 month aged Red Wine Infused Cheddar
- Cream Cheese
- Camembert
- Blue Cheese (this is a maybe, it's complicated, needs good aging atmosphere and more equipment)

Status: Ongoing; Year Long

5. Memory Board: In my office, the wall space is limited because I like to put up all of my paintings. On one wall, I have a small cork board that I made years ago. It's adhesive cork on an old piece of cardboard box, with dark brown tape around it. It works, but it's very flimsy! My goal is to make a sturdy Memory Board on a plywood base. I look at this board several times a day and it makes me so happy. :)
Status: Planned

6. Organization Station: I'm a sucker for routine and planning! Every week or so, I update my little dry/erase board with my planned brunches and dinners. But I need a better system because I'm constantly looking for things and going back and forth to my laptop for more information...I have our shopping list taped to the fridge, our inventory list sitting on my desk...

I saw this on Pinterest and I love the idea. I haven't figured out quite what I'll be doing yet, but by the end of this year, I'll be much more organized!!
Status: Planned

7. Cold Frame(s) for Winter Gardening: After building my own screened-in porch this summer, I think that building a cold frame or two will be a cinch. :) At least I hope so! I can always ask Alex for help, but there is something about building your own projects that is extra rewarding! The plan is to make two of them, and I'll likely need to build raised beds as well. I have two spots on either side of the porch that I'll use for greens and winter-hardy veggies. Very exciting!
Status: Planned

8. Painting: For whatever reason, I have stopped my painting projects. I'm saddened by this because it gives me so much pleasure. When I'm painting, I'm very creative and I really relax and enjoy myself.

As some of my Blogger friends already know, I started painting watercolours of our pets. Charlie and Jack are done. My painting project for the summer and fall is to paint Marlene and the three cats Dana, Oscar and Leo. Our friend will be here this weekend to pick up Pavlov but there is a slight possibility that he will leave him for the summer with his other dog Stella (Pavlov's Mom). If so, I'll add those two to my painting list.

During the winter, I would like to challenge myself to at least one watercolour per month. I used to paint with oils and acrylics, so I might go back into that as well, but watercolours are just so vibrant!
Status: Planned

Feel free to join in casually or officially with the Ravelry group! Let's motivate each other! :)