Thursday, September 25, 2014

What is a Jerusalem Artichoke?

Jerusalem Artichokes are also known as Sunchokes. You see them in the stores...those nubby looking  root things. Wanna know what to do with them?
Well, for the most part they are the root of a sunflower plant. Beautiful plant too, I might add...
Those roots can be used much like potatoes, terrific roasted with a chicken.
One needs to harvest them when the plant has started to die back a bit, no longer blooming.
Wash really well as they have all kinds of nooks and crannies to clean. I last used a nail brush to scrub them clean.
There are lots of recipes out there for Sunchokes.
 This is a basket of Sunchokes harvested from my garden.....
And this is a recipe of mine...roasting them with broccoli in olive oil and seasoning.
Some people prefer to skin them, and you can...however I found it frustrating to try and skin them.
Either way, I do need to mention an unmentionable...gas. Sunchokes seem to bring out the worst in some people. If you are susceptible to gas...perhaps pass them up. Use them just to spark the yellow in your garden instead. Flowers from one tuber produce a tall (up to 6') plant with multiple heads of bright yellow that goldfinches absolutely adore....
One tuber will produce lots more tubers each year, so you could have a huge field of Sunchokes if you never dig them up. They die back every year to nothing and just when you are feeling like spring will never come...these come back and grow all summer long to be among the last to bloom.
So, if you don't eat em, grow em!
Where did I get my chokes to grow? The market! It isn't uncommon for me to wander the market for tubers, seeds and such to add to the garden....
Find a place in the garden with sun that you don't need to disturb and enjoy them for years and years to come!
Nancy

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Decorating for Fall

Yesterday, we went to get pumpkins. I like one kind and my daughter likes another....so Hubby took us to Roger's Gardens which already had their pumpkins out.
She likes to get what she calls "Cinderella Pumpkins" and I like the grayish ones, white ones and sugar pumpkins. My daughter swears that "her" pumpkins make the best pie!
So, afterwards, we pulled out the Fall decor and "spiffed" up the front porch....


Happy Fall!!
Nancy

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Allure of the Bean

Beans are my favorite to grow in the garden. Why?
Because, quite honestly, they are easy and attractive, as well as being an excellent all around food source. They come in every color, size, and use.
They can be used fresh, frozen or dried. They are easy to dry....just let nature do her thing, wait for them to dry on the vine. They become a brown papery thing...that's when you can pick them.
I harvested the large portion with Hubby this past week, let the basket sit until I had time to sit and shell them. Which is also easy......



After about 20 mins of shelling I gained a 1/2 cup of beans.
No, it isn't a great deal of beans....but when you consider the tiny amount of plants growing and some of the pods held 9 beans each...not bad.
Now, these beans can be used for seed next year or be put into a soup....just the right amount of beans for a pot of soup....
Why go to the trouble??
Well, yes, you could go to the store and buy beans in a can or dried beans in a bag. However, these beans are organic....grown from seed from last year and some from another company that was organic.
There is something rewarding about growing your own food and collecting the seed at the end. The whole process is rewarding....
But now, I have added just one more thing.....
I ground up the pods in the Vitamix and poured the bean pod "flour" into the raised bed....
I don't have one of those "chipper/shredder" machines for the garden...I truly could use one, but adding the "flour" back into the soil helps the soil too....

All that is the allure of the bean...
How many bean plants and varieties do you grow??
Maybe we can share seed?
Nancy

Gluten Free Stuffed Peppers

Last night, my daughter and I created in the kitchen.
I had planned to make stuffed peppers, something I haven't done in years and years.
There is a trick that I learned from a friend about peppers. You need to pre-steam them before you fill them with the filling. Yeah, I didn't know. Probably why I never liked my Mom's stuffed peppers or mine. They were always crunchy. Plus, everyone always uses green peppers, which I am not as fond of. Why not use red peppers??
So, I bought red peppers and some zucchini. I also bought ground bison, which is around 93% fat free!
My daughter and I made rice to use and proceeded on to the rest of the stuffing.
We chopped half of a large sweet onion, 4 cloves of garlic (finely minced), basil, cilantro and the trimmings from the peppers....which by now were in their steam bath.
To the onion mix she added the bison and when that was browned we added a can of cannelli beans, some (about 3 TBS) chopped sheep's milk cheese (one of the only kinds of cheese our Dr. recommends), and then some tomato soup(We didn't have tomato sauce) (We used the Trader Joe's boxed kind about 1/3 of the box).
The peppers were perfectly and lightly steamed so we took them out, being careful to drain them, and placed them in an oiled pan and filled them.
Of course we made too much stuffing...so I scooped out the zucchini and we filled those too.
Popped them all in the oven at 375 for 35 mins and Presto! We had delicious, gluten free peppers and zucchini. They were low fat, low dairy and gluten free!
Know what? They were 100% delicious!

Before cooking....
 Let them get golden brown, and fork tender.....
Then serve with a salad....this salad included a few greens from our garden, especially arugula. The salad would be excellent with sliced pears, walnuts and gorgonzola cheese.....
Eating healthy is a fun adventure in the kitchen. It means creating your own recipes or as my daughter and I do, we take a recipe and then make it our own! You can too! If a recipe calls for say "bread" for the filling....use rice, or beans or both! Bison was an excellent choice here being low fat as it allowed the flavor of the other ingredients to come through. The only fat added was a TBS of fat in the pan to cook the onion and the bit of oil in the pan for the peppers so they wouldn't stick.
Happy cooking!
Nancy

Friday, September 19, 2014

Update on Water Issue

Dear Readers,
I just have to tell you...
Remember the water thing?? About how my dog, Belle is doing better?
When I took her in yesterday for the follow-up I told him about our water and how I had changed it.
He said actually it made sense...since the city is on wells and that we were all an agricultural area (who knows what other chemicals are in there).
Now I have medical proof!
Yesterday, the vet did a follow-up urinalysis to check for the crystals that she had.
Her urine PH was 8 before and she had crystals.
Yesterday, her PH was a doggie perfect of 7.5! And NO crystals in her urine.
He was so excited he called me right away when he got the results!
"Don't change a thing, whatever you are doing, keep doing it!", he said.


Today, she is resting better at night, playing with Tucker in the AM. Although the itching is not completely gone, it is noticeably better.
The vet was really impressed and said he will keep it in mind when treating other dogs with "allergies"...
Take care,
Nancy

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sad and sadder

My post is here to share what I do and find.
Perhaps to make a blogger friend or two.
But, recently, there have been no comments, no notes of any sort.
Stats show I have readers.....but still no comments.
Life is hard. Everyone has good and bad moments, big and small, yet even with this media, we are all still just in our own little worlds...
Perhaps you laugh at my blog...that is allowed...I actually have heard worse.
But, perhaps I have given you a small smile, or a light at the end of your tunnel.
Let me know....
For me a smile is seen in people around me and in the flowers and plants in the garden....



Hope you have a great evening and tomorrow!
Nancy

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Tale of Water

Ok, so this is not a scientific study. Nor is this much more than personal experience, however, I felt I needed to share this information, just in case someone else is at wits end.
You see, for years, our dog has been suffering from allergies. The constant itch, scratch, dry coat, rashes, "hot spots", chewing, (often all night), type of allergies.
She has a great Vet, who has been giving her different antihistamines and we found new food (actually went through three before we seemed to have gotten that right)...
We tried the probiotics, enzymes etc....for years. Yup, years. Found that she is allergic to those....
I have a closet full of dog shampoos, lotions, salves and more.
We have spent hundreds just on those alone.
We found that steroids don't work for her, make her more miserable.
Her feet were so red and chewed and her underbelly was almost completely black from the constant scratching, (yes, dog's skin turns black due to scratching just as ours turns tan from the sun).
She had sores and was losing fur.
Then, she started dropping weight.
She was starting to pant for no reason and her muscle tone was leaving.
We took her again to the Vet and asked for a complete blood workup.
Everything came back normal.
The Vet was stumped and so were we. Our dog appeared to be dying, for no apparent reason.
Then one night when I couldn't sleep, I got up and was going through the internet looking for some piece of info that might help. Afterall, the Vet was stumped. She was a mess and he didn't know what to do for her.
There it was a small story about another dog owner who switched their dog to alkaline water and their dog's allergies went away!
The next morning I told my husband and we agreed we had nothing to lose.
So, I went to the store and bought several bottles of Alkaline water to fill their (we have two dogs) water bowls. They loved it!
Then Hubby found his test kit that checks PH. Our PH came in at 6.5!
Yikes....
The alkaline water....8.
Our bodies and dogs are a 7-7.5!
Hummmm.
Now, in 24 hours, the scratching stopped.
Here we ordered on Amazon a pitcher that turns water to alkaline water.

(and we ordered an extra filter too...)

In 48 hours, her skin was cooler and her eyes brightened.
Now at 10 days, her skin is growing fur back, and turning a normal pink!
Her feet are healing and her face is growing whiskers back...
Best of all, we all sleep better! No more telling her not to scratch!
She is getting some muscle tone back as her coat feels so much better.
Granted, it isn't the cure-all. She undoubtedly has some allergies....(so do I).
However you look at it, this was a missing link in all we had tried. It seems to be working, and yes, I am drinking the water too....
I am sharing this in case your dog or someone has skin issues...water is so important...don't overlook that as a cause of an issue for dogs or people...check your waters PH and what is in the water....
It could be the missing link in an issue at your home.
We have ordered a new fresh PH test strips to test our water and will be talking to our water district person this week. I still can't believe the old test strips, so we will see.....but something is definitely better with this water.
**Cats I might point out have a more acid PH in their system, rating about a 6, so this water would not be good for them....
Do your own research...find that tidbit of info that might help. But for us, that little tidbit turned an almost dying dog into a happy puppy all over again. She is sociable and happy. It is heartening to see the transformation each day. I can't wait to show the Vet this week when she goes for her "follow-up"! He won't believe what he sees!
Hope my story helps someone else....
Nancy


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Painting a BIG mirror and odds and ends

Today was one of those "catch-up" days....
The last couple of days or so, we have been helping our daughter with her move into a bigger house. She isn't allowed to do much being 7 1/2 months pregnant, so we jumped in, bad backs and all....
So, today I played catch up.
I washed both dogs.
Washed their beds.
Vacuumed the bedroom.
And I painted the BIG mirror our daughter gave us that she no longer wanted. Ummm, uh, yeah I will take it....
Sooo, I set up the table and Hubby helped me get it out of the car and onto the table.
Before, we had painted the frame Black. And, now, my family room is going more neutral (with the exception of the TV and its unit below.....)


That is Annie Sloan French Linen, my fave! After painting and letting some of the black show through, I waxed with clear wax and then used the dark wax. I let it sit a little while....had to change the laundry. Then, I buffed it, so the dark wax isn't too strong....but up close its there.
Hubby helped me turn it over to find the hangers, which I wired for the ease of hanging.
The only downfall of the mirror, it shows the ugly TV and its components....but alas...that can't be changed.
But when I sit at the table I am enjoying the mirror....
It does show the room as bigger and taller....which was the idea....and just fits in the space....
After that, I made the rest of the drapery tie backs that I started...fresher look I think....
After all that, I changed the laundry again and went to take books to the library that my daughter no longer wanted...then.....
I sanded the little pig cutting board I bought that was unfinished....
The stain was very dry so I sanded and applied cutting board wax to it....
Cute pig huh?? Yeah, someone had cut it and gotten rid of it! All I had to do was stain, sand and seal....
Anyway, time to change the laundry again....
Have a great day what ever you are doing...
Nancy

Friday, September 5, 2014

Trash to Treasure

Thrift shop treasure hunting is fun. Sometimes you find something you didn't know you just sooo needed, am I right??
Anyway, last week my friend and I went to one of our favorite shops and a lady was just putting out a blue bedspread....my head snapped around as she went by and I followed her trying to get her attention. Finally, she stopped and said, "oh, did you want to see it? It is a King size well loved (old and worn) bedspread." Yes Please!
Now, we don't have a king size bed. We have a queen. However, it is high with a 22" mattress, so King is often needed to get the drape.
Well, I did buy it. When you allow dogs on the furniture, you have to change bedspreads frequently for washing....
It was a bit worn which gave it this soft and cozy drape...no stains!
It looks good in the room....
And because I didn't want it to get too dirty right off the bat, I threw an old linen sheet on top...
Well, it works for me.....
I also found a threshold drape for $2.00, which I am going to make pillows for my daughter's new house!
She thought the fabric was pretty and would be a good touch for the sectional they bought at a consignment shop. It wasn't the sectional of her dreams (it is for her hubby tho') but it was an excellent value and all leather! So these pillows will soften the modern twist in her new family room.....
Hope you have a great day!
Nancy

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Falling for Fall

It is that time of year.
The apples are ready (seems early to me). I climbed up the ladder to pick our apples. Some had been eaten by varmits, unfortunately. But, when they start eating, you know they are ready anyway!
So, up I went and this is what we picked.....

I am just loving this type of picture....what Fall is to me, well, minus the pumpkins!
With Fall comes that need to spruce and make a few changes...
I have had the burlap "ribbon" on my drapes for ages and now I have a new way to tie back the drapes.
I cannot claim to have thought it up all by myself, I got the idea from Country Living Magazine's facebook pages...yup I did! They had one of those "many things to make from simple items from the hardware store"...
The items I purchased....drapery cording (Ace Hardware) and hasp and ring (Home Depot 2 per package).
Ace didn't have very many hasps (I think that is what they are called) and they seemed expensive....so I went to Home Depot. There I found packages with two hasps and packages with two rings total $3.50! The cording was $6 for 50ft! Now, I just need to make 6 more! Yup, lots of drapes in the Family Room! Afterall, Fall is when they might start getting pulled closed, but daytime I like them open!
Aren't they cute? Reminds me of a bridle! Plus the cording is almost identical in color to the drapes....
Hope you have a great day!
Nancy


Monday, September 1, 2014

Transforming the child's chair

A few years back I painted a little old oak chair black. It had belonged to my husband when he was little. At the time, he was less than pleased that I had painted HIS chair. It was a cute piece in our house for several years, then with time it ended up in the garage...probably due to changes being made in rooms.
Recently, our daughter showed me a color she plans to paint her baby's room. Inspiration hit. I brought the chair in, asked Hubby first if I could paint it. He said YES! So, as I do, I went to Peinture here in Costa Mesa and purchased a sample pot of Aubusson Blue.

So, here it is in progression....




...then I waxed with clear wax and buffed after this....no dark wax......
Hubby is happy to give his soon to be Grandson his chair....
Have a great labor day!
Nancy