The Flu Sucks

Title says it all. A couple of days ago my throat felt scratchy, and I decided that I was NOT about to get sick and willed it away. That didn't work so well. Baby girl and I spent the day on the couch yesterday, where I had the pleasure of watching the entire first season of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Good times.

I was jonesing for a pot of chicken noodle soup. My husband, God love him, is better at preparing breakfast foods and boxed items. (Me? I set boxed food on fire. I'll save that story for another time.) Short of calling my mom and begging her to come make me some soup (and she would have, but then she would have caught the flu, and it would have settled in her lungs and she'd have to go to the hospital and I would feel horrible). Thus, I knew I had to do it myself.

So I got up this morning at 0-dark-30 with the kids and started working on the soup. (Scroll to the bottom for the recipe. Sorry, no pics.)

Now I'm floating on a "I've eaten my body weight in chicken noodle soup and Naproxen" high. (Naproxen is a pain killer / fever reducer. These body aches are making me very sad.)

I did stop by and check on my seedlings. Watching them almost makes me forget I'm sick. Almost.

A few days ago, I started my broccoli seeds. 

I used a pencil eraser to poke holes in the dirt:

Broccoli seeds are very wee.

I put one seed in each hole, because thinning them makes me sad.

A day and a half later, I found this little guy peeking out at me. 

Then today, amid the sniffles and the sneezing, I found these! Hello, baby broccoli. Welcome to the world. I will eat you one day.

One of my basil plants just turned 3 weeks old. It's working on its 4th set of true leaves.

3 week old swiss chard. 

Without further ado, here's my personal recipe for chicken noodle soup:


1 whole chicken
1 onion
5 cloves of garlic
4-5 stalks celery
4-5 carrots (or two big handfuls baby carrots)
bunch of fresh parsley
fresh rosemary
olive oil
salt and pepper
red pepper flakes
chicken stock (either stuff you made, canned / boxed. You can also use water. I used 5 cans.)
1 box of noodles (I used spaghetti, because it's all I had.)

Method of Preparation

Get out a stock pot or soup pot or whatever good size pot you have. Take your olive oil and drizzle it in the bottom, going around 3 or so times. Turn the heat on around medium high.

While your pot is heating up, dice your onion into bite sized pieces. Mince your garlic. (Bonus points for putting the onion skins and garlic peels in a bucket for your compost pile.)

Toss the diced onion and minced garlic into the pot and saute it. While it's cooking, roughly chop your carrots and celery. Toss that in the pot too.

Cook all of it together until it smells awesome and has some color. You're not going for burnt here - you want it GBD - golden brown and delicious.

When it's done, time to deglaze your pot. Mmmm. Deglazing is just taking the cooked on bits at the bottom of the pot, and making them not stuck to the bottom anymore. Don't worry, they're delicious. To deglaze your pot, just pour your chicken broth / water in the pot. You can even use white wine. (Everything is better with wine, I say.) Like I said above, I used about 5 cans of chicken broth. Well no, I DID use 5 cans of chicken broth. Anyway.

Now it is time for the chicken. If you're like me, you pulled your chicken out of the freezer the night before you wanted to use it. Being the food safe person you are, you attempted to defrost it in the fridge. When you pulled it out of the fridge to make soup out of it, it was still as hard as a rock, and you couldn't get the heart and kidneys out of the middle. Oh well. At least get the plastic wrapper off of the chicken. Now toss (or gently place, so you don't wind up wearing your soup base) the chicken in the pot.

Add more chicken broth / stock / water if necessary, depending on the size of the bird. You want the chicken covered. Add a couple stalks of fresh rosemary and red pepper flakes. Cover it with a lid, turn it down to low, and wait a few hours.

When the chicken is cooked, it'll start falling apart in the pot. This is a good time to remove the chicken, very carefully. You'll need 2 forks and an arsenal of swear words. You will inevitably burn yourself. Consider yourself warned.

Add your noodles. I broke a bunch of spaghetti into 3rds and used that. 

Remove the skin, and bones. Basically, just go to town on that bad boy removing any and all meat, hacking it into somewhat bite sized pieces along the way. Add it back to the broth. Stir it all up and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add a handful of parsley. Pat yourself gently on the back, because you have body aches and doing it harder would hurt more.

Nom nom nom.

Whoa Nelly!

So far, this winter has been comparable to last winter in my area. It's been very mild and temps hover right around freezing at night, but warm into the 50s during the day. 

I went to water my snow peas this morning, and found this -

Whoa nelly! The long roots are already growing through the bottom of the seed starting trays, so I figured it was time to get them in the ground.

Now, I'm very well aware that I'm a couple weeks early for pea planting. I'm very well aware that I'm very impatient. I'm also aware that impatience has consequences, like having to put your peas outside too early and having to gamble with their survival.

So we'll call this an experiment. Last year I put my peas in too late and fought with a ground hog over them. I harvested a quart to keep, and maybe a couple more quarts for fresh eating. And did a lot of swearing at the groundhog and the weather.

I went out to the garden and planted the peas along the chicken wire that prevents any more groundhogs from having a snack at the expense of my plants. Temps are supposed to be rather mild for the next week at least, and then it may get colder at night.

Cross your fingers that they make it! It would be pretty awesome if they did, and I got an early harvest out of them. If they kick the bucket, I'm only out a pack of seeds and 4 days of my time.

What's a gardening no-no you've done? Did it work out in the end for you?

Ohhhh SNAP!

Clever title for a blog entry about peas, eh?

I'm an impatient gardener. I believe I've mentioned that before. Why yes, I have - here

Last year was a bad year for peas and I. Not only do I feel that I put them in later than I should have, I also battled a groundhog. I noticed it in the boggy area in my backyard, and then she moved into the garden. She ate all of my pea plants to the ground, and all of my green bean plants.

I convinced my husband to put up chicken wire around the interior of the garden fence. One day Ms. Groundhog pushed through the chicken wire (he hadn't yet buried it) and was happily mowing down my snow peas. Trouble for her is, I didn't know she was out there when I let my dogs outside. She couldn't get out of the garden because of the chicken wire, and my dogs solved the ground hog problem. 

After that, the snow peas flourished, but it was also quite late in the season so the yield wasn't amazing.

So this year I decided to try to start things earlier. I started 80+ peas inside (*gasp* naughty gardener that I am. Peas are supposed to be direct sow). I soaked them in water overnight to make germination faster.

Then prepared the seed starter. This one came with a bunch of discs you just add water to.

After adding the water, just wait for the mix to grow.

I went through the peas, choosing ones like the one on the left, instead of the one on the right.

3 days later, they're starting to sprout! I'll transplant them outside to the garden in the next 2-3 weeks, weather depending.

Do you follow the "rules" of gardening? Or do you kind of fly by the seat of your pants like me?

Yes, These Are Happening


All of my plants could die in the garden, and I'd still call this season a win just because of these boots.

Gardening Resolutions

As I get started on this year's garden, I think back on what I did wrong last year. Not giving enough space to the tomatoes, not being diligent in getting rid of squash bugs, not amending the soil enough, and not feeding the plants when they were seedlings. Whoops!

This year, I hope to change all that, and I hope the garden that is in my head actually shows up in real life.

So this year I'm putting much more space between the tomato plants so I can get to them easier and they have better air circulation. (Early blight is a problem in my area, and crowding the plants just makes it worse.) I brought in 20 tons of compost, and added it to the garden with my darling husband's help. (But I totally COULD have done it myself with just a wheelbarrow, despite what he thought about plan.)

I spread 4" of compost in the entire garden on top of a 8" layer of shredded paper bags, straw, leaves, grass clippings and kitchen scraps. I lifted up the stuff under the compost, and there were tons of baby worms already hard at work.

I also potted up my swiss chard and baby basil plants, as they all had the beginnings of a second set of leaves. 

What did you do in the garden today?

A New Year - A Slew of Resolutions

I've mentioned several times in the 4 blog posts I did last year that I'm a terrible blogger. I just forget to post, or put it off until months have gone by.

Well, I'm going to fix that this year. There will be blog posts a-plenty, as I'm going to use this as part gardening journal too. (This is so I don't wind up irritating my friends on Facebook more than I already do.)

Part of my business goals for 2013 will be to blog consistently. This will be part business related, but mostly personal stuff about me and what I like to do when I'm not chained to my machines.

So, here we go!

I vastly enjoy gardening. I love putting a tiny seed into the ground (or a seedling tray) and seeing a wee plant emerge. I love seeing that seedling grow up into an enormous plant.

In particular, I love swiss chard. I tried it for the first time for Christmas dinner, and knew I wanted to put it in my garden. I also love rainbows, and chard comes in a rainbow of colors! In my area, chard can go in the garden in February.

I started a tray of chard seedlings on Saturday and they're germinating today.

My best friend and I are gardening buddies this year, and we're growing basil together for kitchen use. i.e. we need something to grow NOW to tide us over until we can start our summer stuff. See the wee little basil neck?