Friday, January 30, 2009

Dutch oven

Today was a sunny 65 degrees, and just perfect for outdoor cooking. As you can see, I'm playing SMOKE OUT while trying to get the fire started. We had some drizzle this week and even some ice, so all the wood is a little damp.
I sent the girls to fetch some water so we could have hot tea, water for the recipe, and also for clean-up.
I selected a nice cast iron pot to hang from the hook.
I love how I can adjust my temperature by raising or lowering the pot over the fire.
Pamela made us a batch of country biscuits. Nothing fancy.


  • 4 cups of flour
  • 5 tsp butter
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Mix in just enough warm water to dampen and shape dough

We're using the dutch oven for our baking.

Biscuits are placed in the iron pot.

Shoveling the embers, we placed the dutch oven on top of ashes, and covered the lid. The red hot embers heats the inside of the pot just like an oven. We can raise or lower our temperature by adding or taking away embers from the bottom and top of the pot.

The biscuits were good slathered with creamy butter and honey.

Cooking biscuits pioneer style sure placed things into perspective. By the time we got the fire good and ready (with enough hot ashes) and cooked the biscuits, it took over two hours.
Like they say, food tastes better cooked outdoors, but I sure do appreciate my INDOOR kitchen! Imagine all you had was this outdoor kitchen, like some of our ancestors. Rain or shine, snow or sleet, food needed cooked!

Imagine laundry day back then... that's another story.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Dress

Here's some up close pictures of Caitlin's handmade wedding dress.

Sonny, (the one in black) is the seamstress. I think she did a wonderful job!

This makes me anxious to design another colonial gown with lots of lace and beads.

This reminds me of a scene of Scarlett O'Hara on Gone With The Wind.

The final results!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Goodie Cookies

I experimented with an oatmeal cookie recipe today and added these extra ingredients:

  • Raisins
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Pecans
  • Walnuts
  • Sunflower Seeds

I mixed it all together and named it, GOODIE COOKIES. You don't know what goodies you're going to get.

These were very delicious, and I'll definitely make these again and again.


1 1/2 sticks of butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup sunflower seeds

MIX butter, sugar, eggs, before adding dry ingredients. Add raisins, nuts, and chocolate chips last.

Bake 375 degrees for 8-10 min.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I Grow

I've been playing with my plant in the window.

If you look closely at the first pot on your left, the leaves of this Basil is leaning towards the sun. The pot in the middle is the same plant --- I just turned the pot to the right. Within a few hours, the same plant (pictured to the far right) started leaning towards the sun again. This process is called, Phototropism. Although it leans toward the sun, most of the activity (cell growth) is happening on the SHADED side.

AUXINS are plant hormones. The name comes from the Greek word Auxano, which means, "I GROW"... Too much of Auxin stimulates the production of ETHYLENE. Ethylene is needed for fruit production. Synthetic Auxins are what is used to create herbicides and is also the active ingredient in Agent Orange.

Whenever you hear me mention, Monsanto, ethylene and auxins are some of the things being genetically tampered with to create herbicides and food production. I'm still learning about Monsanto, but from what I've gathered, I have a better understanding of how our fruits and vegetables are being (genetically tampered) to rush food production.

17 days ago, I planted my organic herbs. Only two have sprouted -- The Sweet Basil, and the Mint.
I went ahead and replanted the Lemon Basil.
The Catnip, I'm going to give another few days as the pkg said it would take up to 20 days of germination. After rereading the package, it said the plant will take 2 years to mature!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Smells like sunshine...

My mother and I were discussing over the phone a few weeks ago, about getting back to the basics...

She asked if I had thought of using a clothesline.

I actually had a clothesline up once, to hang beach towels, but I'd taken it down to make room for the hammock.

But I got to thinking...

WHY not give it a try. Her discussion and blog post was convincing. After all, not only would I save money on electric, but it would reduce the wear and tear on my clothes and cut back on the time I spent waiting on my dryer.

I tied two lines and started hanging my clothes to dry. This has been two weeks ago and I am completely caught up with laundry. The first time in MONTHS.

Less than a year ago, I'd purchased a fancy brand new HIGH EFFICIENCY washer and dryer.

In less than 6 months, I had a repairman fix the dryer.

Although my washer and dryer are doing well, I regard their fancy computerized dials with suspicion.

I like my new "dryer" the best... My clothes smell like sunshine.

So, thanks Mom. Simple IS better.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Early garden

The temps fluctuate around here too much for me to wait for "Spring" to do my gardening.

I've been keeping a close eye on my greenhouse during cool weather. On days when it's freezing outdoors, the planters inside feel warm to the touch.

This has boosted me to plant now.

Today, Pamela and I planted organic:

Serrano Peppers
Heirloom Black Zucchini
Heirloom Brandywine Red Tomatoes
Green Bell Pepper

Last Sunday, I planted my herb garden indoors by my kitchen. So far, the Sweet Basil has sprouted. The rest of the herbs take up to 2.5 weeks for germination, so I'm still waiting.

I'll be thinning the radishes later for companion plants to my beans, cucumbers, peas and lettuce.
Flowers are continually blooming. When the weather's warm, I keep the door open to allow the bees entrance.

The garlic I'd picked up from Whole Foods has sprouted. Hoping to get red potatoes next time.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Seeds to plant...

My seeds arrived today from, Very fast shipping! But there was a little problem with my order. I had noticed that my debit card had been overcharged almost $4.

According to their website and confirmation email, I was to be charged $2.79 per packet.

In the invoice from today's shipment, I noticed that I was charged $3.29 per packet, and the Marigold's were charged $3.69.

This is very pricey!

I sent off an email today (Saturday) asking for an explanation, and didn't expect a reply until Monday. Needless to say, I was surprised they responded in minutes. Customer service apologized and said to expect a refund of the difference within 24 to 72 business hours.

No explanation of why I was overcharged for the seeds.

I can only assume that maybe they had gone up on their prices and this wasn't reflected on their website?

Shipping was $9.14 for those 5 packet of seeds... No free seeds, no catalog with shipment...

Anyway, just giving you a heads-up in case you're planning to buy from ~

I think I'm going to check out the Natural Gardener here in Austin for the rest of my seeds. This way I can buy locally and save on shipping. Besides, I'm always looking for an excuse to drive out there.

On the bright side, I planted my lemon Basil Heirloom seeds today in my new planter and sat it in my kitchen window. This particular Basil heirloom seeds were mentioned in a 1597 edition of John Gerard's book, The Herbal.

I learned something today about Basil. When used in tea, it can relieve nausea and gas pains. The ancient Greeks used Basil to relieve flatulance ;-)


I just checked online and Seeds of Change, HAS gone up on prices. I must have purchased just in the nick of time.

This is good for me, as I wouldn't have paid $3.29 a packet. I can understand how they tried to bill me correctly, but with my evidence (email invoice) they had no choice but to refund the difference.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Today's treasures...

I browsed in a Goodwill store today while Pamela took her piano lessons. My treasures found today; Neil Sperry's Complete Guide to Texas Gardening, and this cute planter. I'll plant some Basil in this one and set it on my kitchen window.

Today, I was informed by a friend in email that the seed company I had purchased from,, is actually owned by M&M Mars.

This was the first I had heard of this, so I checked around and discovered they're still a reputable ORGANIC seed company. I'm not exactly happy that they're BIG CORPORATION, but the reviews were good about their products. I even read they give out free seeds with their orders (I'll keep you posted on that.) I also placed an order for their free catalog.

Before I ordered from Seeds of Change, I DID try to locate my seeds through Seedsavers, and my favorite eBay heirloom sellers. They didn't have the seeds I wanted.

To my relief, Seeds of Change is NOT controlled by Monsanto - that greedygeneticmodifiedconglomerateevilcompany that I'm always talking about.

But surprisingly, here's a list of the SEED COMPANIES that ARE owned by Monsanto.

I plan to double-check before I order from a new seed company again.

* Territorial Seeds
* Totally Tomato
* Vermont Bean Seed Co.
* Burpee
* Cook's Garden
* Johnny's Seeds
* Earl May Seed
* Gardens Alive
* Lindenberg Seeds
* Mountain Valley Seed
* Park Seed
* T&T Seeds
* Tomato Growers Supply
* Willhite Seed Co.
* Nichol's
* Rupp
* Osborne
* Snow
* Stokes
* Jungs
* R.H. Shumway
* The Vermont Bean Seed Company
* Seeds for the World
* Seymour's Selected Seeds
* Roots and Rhizomes
* McClure and Zimmerman Quality Bulb Brokers
* Spring Hill Nurseries
* Breck's Bulbs
* Audubon Workshop
* Flower of the Month Club
* Wayside Gardens
* Park Bulbs
* Park's Countryside Garden

Now, I haven't had a chance to verify each and every one, so if you find a company, that's listed here, and they really aren't in the claws of Monsanto, please drop me a line so I can edit.

Thanks for the heads-up, Melanie! I learned something today ;-)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Companion Plants

Today, I've ordered organic garden seeds from ~

My purchase:


These are the companion plants that are good for sharing pots with certain vegetables to help deter garden pests. The herbs are especially good for household pests, rodents, and ants.

The sunflowers are actually being grown to harvest seeds for food, but I read that they make great climbing poles for our beans ;-)

From what I've read, the mint needs to be contained separately, or they'll take over a garden.
What companion plants do you grow? Any pointers or tips?