Kitchen Counter Economics Rotating Header Image

Next Up: Bathroom Storage

bath1 This, my friends, is a bathroom.
Not MY bathroom, actually. But a bathroom.

This is the downstairs half-bath in my son’s house. This house, built in the late 19th century, has extremely tall ceilings and the person who did all the original rehab work on the house basically threw up his hands in the bathroom, put in a toilet and a sink and walked away. (more…)

Seeds! Seeds! They’re Here! They’re Here!!

seeds2015 OK, that’s a lie. SOME of them are here.

But not all of them.

And certainly the garlic and onion plants are not here; the garlic won’t arrive until this fall and the onion plants won’t arrive for at least a month.

But first, a message from our sponsor:
If you have not ordered your seeds, bulbs, sets, tubers, or whatever for your garden yet, then get to it, NOW. I ordered these several weeks ago and had to hunt and peck my way through the catalogs along with the web sites because some of the particular varieties were all sold out.

Don’t say you were not warned.

So, what is out there on the table that your Aunty is so excited about?

Afina Cutting Celery.
What makes this sort of celery different from the usual sort that you buy in the grocery store? Well it sprouts more like a little bush and doesn’t form big chewy stalks. You can do this as ‘cut and come again.” It is much faster than celery, at 63 days.

Cucumber Ministro. One of my goals this time around was finding varieties which are super short season since the long-range weather boys have said that this summer will be cooler and drying here. This cucumber is 50 days.

Kohlrabi Winner We love eating kohlrabi fresh right out of the garden, sliced up. It makes wonderful coleslaw (or perhaps better spelled ‘kohl-slaw’). This one, like the cucumber above, is 50 days.

Spinach Mix One of the things, as I have noted before, about Pinetree Garden Seeds is that generally, you can find mixes of seeds, which is very nice if you are trying to grow a bed of something which will not all arrive at the same time. This one has spinach varieties which can be picked as early as 35 days. Woohoo!

Peppers One new project for this year is for us to create (or, ahem, try to create) our own paprika this year. Now, theoretically speaking, this should be simplicity itself: Get a lot of peppers which are red ripe, wash thoroughly, take out the seeds, dry, and run through the food processor or crush by hand with a motor and pestle. I picked two varieties which noted, right in the catalog, that they are to be used for paprika:
Alma Pepper (70 days)
Paprika (80 days)

For anyone wondering how ‘smoked paprika’ is made, you add the additional step of putting them in a smoker (many people have those as an attachment on their outdoor grill) once you’ve washed them and taken out the seeds, and smoke them until they are dry. To make sure they are really dry, I’d then run them through a dryer or in the oven on the pilot until they are breakable,

The other seeds are various varieties of ornamental corn, squashes, gourds and pumpkins, including the every-popular “Dill’s Atlantic Giant’. I must remind the DH to put in his reservation for the crane to come and pick up that one for the fair.!

So, what will you be growing this year?

Winter Gardening

wintergardenHey, folks – welcome to February!! Up here at Chez Siberia, it’s doing its usual February thing, which means that from day to day, the morning temperature can range from minus 11 F. (which is -24C for folks across the pond) to 16 degrees F this morning (-9C). To say this sort of weather whiplash can be tough on plants is to put it mildly. As you can see from the photo, the garden at Chez Siberia is firmly under snow (though the depth is only 4-6 inches, really), and we’ve got (groundhogs notwithstanding) at least 6 weeks of snow and cold in front of us. If we get a break in March (which the long-range weather folk say we will), I’ll be able to shovel off a couple of beds in the garden, cover them with glass or clear plastic and warm them up enough (soil temps to 50 degrees F are plenty) to sow seeds from lettuce, beets, chard, and anything from the cabbage family. (more…)

We have a winner – actually several!!

ooo, the raw, unadulterated excitement!!

First – the lovely company that sent me samples, “O’Keefe’s” has offered to do a separate gift to someone, so I got to select TWO people out of the batch. So, please email me, at htwollin at yahoo dot com, your real name and mailing address!!

Linda C in AZ
and
Sandra

And, for the foot cream:
Jessica e - come on down!! and send me your full name and mailing address and I’ll send you the foot cream.

So exciting and thanks so much for participating!!
Aunt Toby.

The hands have it – AND, a giveaway

wintercreekIt’s winter where we live (which is, strangely enough, why we refer to the place as ‘Chez Siberia’). We got up as high as 24 this week. Woohoo!! Break out the suntan lotion and halter tops (or something like that).

Winter is tough on everyone, especially on exposed skin (I will not try to get statistics on the sales of lip balm at this time of the year, but I have the feeling that something like 75% of the pockets in North America have at least one tube of lip balm in them at this very moment). But exposure to cold and wind is not the only thing and exposed skin is not the only area of the body that suffers in the winter. (more…)

When choosing garden seeds, what information is most useful?

seedcatGood day, folks. I know you are veritably bristling with excitement over the upcoming gardening season, champing at the bit, so to speak. And, for the ‘old-timers’ out there, what I’m going to discuss today might seem old stuff, so you might as well go pour yourself a cup of tea, coffee or perhaps something stronger (hey, it’s been a really cold week here in the US – in Tampa, Florida, it was 36 degrees F at one point. The rest of us here in the northeast have had to sing praises when it hit positive numbers).

For the rest of you out there who are beginners or who have not been involved in vegetable gardening for very long, this, my little dear ones, is for YOU. (more…)

2014 – a year in review

Yoohoo, everybody!! Since today appears to be ‘International Gotta Review 2014 Day” for bloggers, I guess I have to woman up and work my way through the good, the bad and the did..not…work for 2014. Organization, I realize, is everything here, so we will go by topic sub-group so that for those readers who are only interested in one topic, just scroll down until you hit that. (more…)

So, whatcha got?

Good afternoon, little munchkins. Now that you’ve theoretically crawled out from underneath the holiday wrapping paper and all the cookies, I’m sure what is burning at your brains is this:

What is new in the seed catalogs for 2015?

Yes, my plump little gardening elves, the seed catalogs have been out for a while; I swear the first one to hit my mailbox arrived the week after Thanksgiving. They are everywhere and I think they are all sharing their mailing lists as well since I’ve received some catalogs from companies that I’ve never heard from before.

However, I, your sweet old Auntie, have spent some of MY holiday time (a dirty job, but someone must do it) in checking out what is new. Not that I immediately rush to whatever new thing the seed folks are serving up (I do have my favorites, such as Royal Burgundy beans), but it’s always good to check things out because, after all…you…never…know.

Here are a few things that caught my eye. Not that there are not literally hundreds of new and newly-rediscovered varieties out there but here are a few that rang my bell:

Territorial Seed (Oregon): These folks, ever since I started buying a big block of onion plants which always do very well, have become one of our favorite sources. They have some very interesting things which might (depending on your point of view) be worth trying out:

Summer Purple
Summer Purple Broccoli. This does not form a big head (which is not a disadvantage in my book since you have to cut it up anyway) and, with a 60-90 day growing period looks to be something people could try out for early spring gardening, fall gardening and even, if you live in a relatively mild early winter area, winter gardening.

Quinoa
Quinoa. Yes, believe it or not, if you are interested in giving growing quinoa a shot, you can get seed here. Even if you live in a short-season area, it might be worth it to grow just for the nutritious greens.

Pinetree Garden Seeds (Maine): This seed house has been a long time favorite with us. In the early days it was because we could get small, relatively cheap packets of seeds. Since then they have grown on us because we can also get mixtures of seeds (such as mixtures of lettuces, or mixtures of peppers and so on), which is actually a lot more fun to grow.

Chia
Chia. This will take 4 months, and here in the north, will require starting just like tomatoes and about the same time, but if you’d like to give it a shot, here you go.

Celery
Peppermint Stick Celery. This looks good – fast to germinate and worthwhile growing because to be frank, grocery store celery is one of the top items on the ‘dirty dozen’ list of fruits and veggies which have high concentrations of pesticide residues. Grow your own.

Seed Savers Exchange (Iowa)
The grand-daddy of the heritage seed saving organizations.

Sorghum
Sorghum. Want to grow your own pancake flour? Shoot – want to grow your own pancake flour AND pancake syrup. Here you go. Long season – strictly for the south but definitely worth trying.

Hustard
Heirloom Mustard – the description says it is not prickly, which makes it a huge improvement on anything I’ve found. If you want to try mustard greens – here you go.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds (Vermont)

Gunsho
Gunsho (looks like Chinese asparagus to me), also referred to as choi sum. Great for stir fries and harvested for the tender stems and just-opening flowers.

Radish
Sora Radishes – The best feature here is heat tolerance so you won’t lose your radishes as soon as the first hot weather in the spring shows up.

Tiren Tomato
Tiren San Marzano. Great San Marzano tomato shape and flavor but earlier which is always a benefit.

So, check out the seed sites; open up those seed catalogs and put together your order, pronto.
What am I excited about this year? Cover crops – in specific, tillage radishes (which are really selections of daicon radishes which grow HUGE roots, pull up all sorts of nutrients in the soil and then…DIE, releasing all of that goodness into the upper reaches of the soil. Great stuff.

How to handle Christmas Breakfast

So – is your family a ‘get up at 5 a.m. on Christmas morning, create a hurricane of wrapping paper and THEN eat something’? Or are you a ‘eat something first; then open gifts, then eat some more or something different, go back to the gifts or start watching Christmas movies’ sort?

Well, no matter what sort of breakfast you anticipate for Christmas, here are some ideas which I think are terrific and come under two basic headings:
A) Pull together the night before, leave in the fridge and then cook/bake in the morning while everyone opens the gifts, or…

B) Pull together the night before in a crock pot, turn it on and the whole thing is all finished when you get up so people can eat it whenever they like – before, during, after, here, there and everywhere.

Frankly, either one works as far as I’m concerned because it takes one important item (nutrition – kids don’t live by gingerbread people alone) off the list of ‘to do’ in the morning and allows Mom and Dad to actually enjoy the complete chaos.

Here are some great ideas (and I certainly did not invent them – they are standard breakfast fare, brightened up with some spices and goodies:

Using the Crockpot:
French Toast

No gluten French toast

Breakfast eggs and etc. casseroles Just a note here: Don’t want meat? Don’t put it in.

Overnight oatmeal

Crockpot Cheese Strata

Set up in the fridge and cook when you get up:
Casseroles you can set up the night before

Overnight oatmeal – cold

Now, just a note – if you have the sort of family that will eat anything and everything for breakfast, then you certainly can set up chili or stew in the crockpot the night before, bake some corn muffins and off you go.

Have a good breakfast.

Oh, my gosh, I’ve been missing

snowyfield Well, ‘missing in action’ does not even begin to describe my lack of posting. We’ve been busy-busy (as have everyone else at this time of the year, but we have birthdays as well as the usual holidays so it’s been a veritable factory here at Chez Siberia.

And the elves are all out on strike so it’s up to us. (more…)

Blog Widget by LinkWithin

Bad Behavior has blocked 446 access attempts in the last 7 days.