Where city meets country. Follow me on my adventures and misadventures where I learn how to live life in the country.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Thankful Friday

This was my Mother's Day gift from the Country Boy this year.  He knows how much I love to garden just not weed.

This is what the garden looked like 2 weeks ago.  There's more green now.

As I look back at my childhood(the good, bad, and ugly), I realize that my dad taught me a very valuable skill.  Gardening.  Some take this for granted; while others have such a knack for it.  I like to think I inherited my green thumb from my parents.  Both are avid gardeners.  I didn't get to spend time with my mother as a child, but my dad was another story.

You see, my dad owned a garden center.  And like any child whose family owns a business, I grew up working for him.  There are alot of fond memories attached to this.  My fondest memories are the mornings that I would get before the chickens (country folk understand that saying) and head out with my dad to open up the store.  Those days were started with a run to a local deli to get taylor ham and egg sandwiches and orange juice. 

For those who don't know, taylor ham is like the city equal to country ham.  Both are great in their own right.  But that's a different story.  Maybe another time.

The things that dad taught me about plant care at the time seemed silly...I mean why would a 13 year old want to pick off dead flowers from a marigold plant...duh?  But now, looking back, this was very important information to know.  I was amazed as a child at the wealth of knowledge my dad had for all things plants.  You have grubs in your garden..dad had the product for you.  Soil not acidic enough....dad could tell you EXACTLY what to do.  I mean he rattled this stuff off the top of his head.  As a teenager who had study to remember just basic school stuff, he was like the superman of the gardening world.

He still is.  I may not talk to him often or even get to see him.  But I know if I had a gardening question, I'd still call him before I went to my local Lowe's or Walmart for advice.  Sullivan's Oak Farm (dad's business) has since been sold.  But the memories are still there.  It saddens me at times to think that all the grandchildren won't get to have the same experiences as myself and my siblings.  But at least we have some darn funny stories to tell.  Believe me there are some truly funny ones just ask my brothers.

I'm thankful for those times.  Dad taught me an invaluable skill that has allowed me to provide for my family and provide my self with free therapy.  You fellow gardeners know about the free therapy!

So in honor of the first harvest that most of us are getting into, I want to share a classic recipe from my family to yours.  It is so basic and one that can be changed around to suit your taste buds.

Marinated Cucumber and Tomato Salad

1/4 c vinegar
1-2 tbsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste

3c of cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and sliced
3c of tomatoes, chopped
1 red onion chopped

Mix the marinade together in a small bowl; set aside.  In a large bowl, add together all the veggies and lightly toss.  Pour marinade over the veggies lightly toss again.  Set in refrigerator for awhile before serving.

Here's the beauty of this recipe.  You can add or take away the amount of the marinade or veggies as you see fit.  The marinade will keep for 3-5 days if not left out for too long.  So you can add to the salad when needed during that time.  The other great thing about this salad, is that you can use any kind of tomato you want.  Try different onions as well.  

So there you have it!

I hope you enjoy the recipe and THANK YOU DAD!!!  You passed on a valuable piece of knowledge that I can only hope my kids will learn as well.  Maybe they won't get the uncontrollable desire to prune other's marigolds though :)



Monday, June 18, 2012

Blueberry Nut Bread

Well this past Sunday I was invited to lunch at an amazing lady's home.  She's one of those ladies that once you've met her, you never forget her.  But once this invitation was accepted, I got to thinking...what should I bring?  I mean I can't just show up empty handed.

The one thing I remember most about my dad as a kid, he never showed up to someone's house without something in hand.  Whether it was a potted plant, bottle of wine, or a plate of food; he always brought something.

So there I stood in my kitchen wondering what in the world can I pull together in one day based off of what I had at home.

I searched through all my cookbooks (and there's many) until I found this recipe. 

It's from a very old (about 16 1/2 years to be exact) Betty Crocker Cookbook.  The spiral cover has long fallen off and I've got it held together with string..seriously.  I can't bring myself to get rid of it.  It was the first cookbook I purchased when I got engaged.  I wanted to be that "Betty Crocker" wife.  So there you have it, I'm secretly Betty Crocker in training. 

This recipe is fairly simple and a great way to use all those blueberries that are coming into season.

First start with a greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan greased on the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides.  Mix all the dry ingredients together in one bowl.  In another bowl, mix the eggs, milk and oil; set aside.  Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients stirring until just mixed.  This batter can be lumpy and thats ok.

Fold in blueberries and nuts.

Spoon into your loaf pan.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 1 to 1 1/4 hours until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling.

It's a simple recipe that's delicious and healthy (you can use unsweetened applesauce for the oil).

And it turns out, wine would have been ok to bring as well.  Note to self for next time :)

Here's the recipe

Blueberry Nut Bread
makes one loaf

3 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 beaten egg
1 2/3 cups milk
1/4 cup cooking oil
3/4 c chopped almonds, pecans or walnuts ( I used pecans this time)

Grease the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of a 9x5x3 loaf pan; set aside.  In large mixing bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.  Make a well in center and set aside.
In another bowl, combine the egg, milk, and cooking oil.  Add egg mixture all at once to the dry mixture.  Stir until just moistened.  Fold in blueberries and nuts.
Spoon batter into the prepared pan.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.  Cool on pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove loaf from the pan.  Cool completely on the wire rack.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did~