Thursday, March 5, 2015

FREE GARDENING ADVICE FROM H.G. - Tip #1 (Growing Your Own Tomato Plants)

I know it's hard to believe but the first day of spring is only 15 days away!  Hmmm.....

Since biking isn't an option this week, we'll have to come up with something a little less physical.  Have YOU begun planting seedlings in your home?  Are there any kids out there with school projects to try and plant seeds?  We'd love to see YOUR pictures.  Please post them in the comment section below.  And, there is still the chance for a kid to win a prize by guessing what plant is growing in the Kids Corner.   Here's a clue: We had to plant it in October and Italians usually love this produce!  In the meanwhile....

This year H.G. is going to offer a few gardening tips to help you in your own gardens.  Feel free to post your questions in the comment section and he'll get back to you as soon as possible!  Or, if you'd like any free advice on any particular produce or problem in your garden, ask away!  (You can come back and easily read all of his advice by clicking on the label to the right called "Gardening Tips" and all of his advice through the year will come up!)

So, this is what H.G. has to say about growing tomato sprouts....

Start seeds in a germination chamber  (anywhere that you can keep the temps between 75-80).  A basement room  near heater always stays warm this time of year.  After 48 hours (important) move seeds to a cooler spot.  On your window sill during day (if sunny) then some warm place around 65-70. Under a grow lamp is ideal but for the hard core a window sill will work. Once they come up you will need to keep them in the brightest spot in the house. A greenhouse works a lot better!!!!! Read on seed packet when to start. All seeds are different. 

The Wilmington Flower Market is open right around first planting (Mother's Day) and it is a lot easier to just go there and buy whatever you need without the hassle of struggling with them on your window sill. AND, it supports a great cause.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Pinterest and a Warm Winter Recipe

Hi Everybody, We've got a new PINTEREST page.  We'd love for you to follow us over there too! 

And, to help keep you warm, while you're hanging around enjoying the winter ride....

here is a wonderful chicken broth recipe by V. Fields, good for soup stock or just to enjoy on its own.  Our "test kitchen" tried it out and it was wonderful! 

"First I make my roast chicken.  You can roast  your chicken any way you want and use the bones, but I like efficiency.  I put carrots, celery and onions on the bottom of the casserole dish and sprinkle salt, pepper, seasoning salt and onion powder on the chicken outsides and cavity.  I figure anything that would taste good in chicken broth may as well get put on the roasted chicken.  That way, the broth automatically gets seasoned as a secondary benefit.  I also put the neck in the roasting pan to cook along with the chicken.  The other innards get pan fried in butter and scarfed up by my girls, who think it is such a treat. 

After enjoying your chicken meal, debone the chicken.  I throw away as much of the skin as I can manage; it will leave an oily layer on top that you would have to skim off before it cooks too long and gives an off flavor to the broth.  The bones get tossed in a 6 qt crockpot, along with the pan drippings and celery.  (We eat the roasted onions and carrots).  Fill the rest of the crockpot with water and a splash or two of apple cider vinegar (which supposedly helps draw out the minerals from the bones).  Turn it on low and in 8-12 hours, voila, you have broth. 

As I've mentioned, I then turn the crockpot on the Keep Warm feature and use the broth all week.  Mine keeps it hot enough (180 F) not to have to worry about bacteria.  You would want to ladle out some for use the first few days and replace it with fresh water.  It seems to taste best when replenished with water periodically.  If I used and replaced a largish volume, I may turn it on low again for a few hours to get the temperature back to simmering quickly, then turn it down to Warm.

The broth taste profile changes (gets darker and more savory) but still great to use in cooking vegetables and in place of water or chicken bouillon for other recipes.  A friend actually likes the chicken broth's taste at the end of the week's cycle but my girls do not.

In case you were wondering about the proportion of bones to water, there isn't a lot of water that the bones simmer in.  I would estimate in the 6-qt crockpot, there may be 2 quarts of usable of broth.  More diluted, it would taste watery.

Bits and flotsam will float on the top.  I just push it out of the way and scoop from the clear area.  I am not a stickler for clear broth, but you may want to strain it if it bothers you."

Thanks V. Fields for your recipe. 

Let us know what you think of it, if you give it a try!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Page Just for Kids!

We are really excited to be putting up a Kid's Corner page for all you kids interested in gardening, farming or those who just need a little extra credit for school!  Spread the word to all the kids you know - 15 years and younger!

We'll be posting contests (where you will win a prize), comics, and other things for your amusement.  In fact, our first KIDS CHALLENGE has been posted.  So, check it out and be the first to reply to WIN the prize.  And let me tell you, Debbe gives good prizes!  Don't just sit there, go check it out...SIW Kid's Corner

Monday, February 23, 2015

Marv growing the first tomato seeds of the season!

The season has begun for tomatoes!!  Marv is getting our seedlings on their way.

Does anyone have any irresistible, or just yummy, recipes that include tomatoes?  We'd love to hear about them to help us get ready for the season.  This year we're hoping you all will share your recipes on the blog for all of us who need a little inspiration in the kitchen.  We'll try and make your recipe in our "test kitchen" and post the results for all to see.   Here are a few savory recipes you might enjoy that we've pinned ....Recipes Using Tomatoes

Also, if it's time for Marv to begin planting seeds, it might be time for you too.  If you have any questions for Marv or H.G. about what to do in your garden, please post your question below!

Friday, February 20, 2015

H.G. to the Rescue!

H.G. caught this guy today.  He, Mr. Owl not H.G., had been fighting with an eagle last night!  Poor guy couldn't move too well this morning so H.G. caught him and sent him to the Tri-State Bird Rescue.

If we have any bird experts out there, we'd love to hear anything you know about owls.  Post your comments below!  We're all ears!