Today I’m taking a day off from writing and spending the day with family and friends on the west coast. It will be a fun day with new friends and family. I want to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving and hope you are enjoying a wonderful day! I am very thankful to be spending time with loved ones, what is one thing you are thankful for this Thanksgiving? Please let me know!

I’ll be back tomorrow with a recipe using leftover turkey! See you then!

Now that my garden is put to bed I can concentrate on other ‘gardening’ activities inside. Forcing bulbs inside is a good way to have blooming flowers mid winter. They also make a great present, who wouldn’t appreciate a gift of bulbs when the world is white outside! Tulips, narcissus, hyacinths, crocus and lily of the valley can be forced into flower in late winter or early spring.  A pot of tulips on your windowsill in February can brighten your spirits!

It is a good idea to keep the same variety in one pot as the blooming times often vary. Bulbs are also planted much closer together than you plant them outside. With the exception of narcissus bulbs, bulbs must be given a cold temperature of 35-48 degrees F for a minimum of 12-14 weeks. You can either keep them in a cold frame, an unheated attic or cellar or even a refrigerator!  In the refrigerator the pots should be covered with plastic bags that have a few holes punched in them.

Since I didn’t want to have to put my bulbs in a cold spot for weeks, I am gong to force paper white narcissus bulbs. I found some very healthy looking bulbs at the local nursery.

First I rinsed the gravel to get rid of the dust. I filled each of my bowls with gravel about 2/3rds full. I then nestled the bulbs in the gravel ½ to 1 inch apart, placing the pointed side up.  Then fill in gravel around the bulbs, leaving the top halves exposed. Place them in good light and add water up to the base of the bulbs. Keep the water level at this height.  I then placed the pots in a cool area. Within a few days roots will appear. When green shoots appear, move the pot to a cool, sunny spot. Sit back and watch them grow and bloom. It’s nice to enjoy a little bit of spring color for your home when everything outside is covered with snow!

 

This simple recipe makes enough to give as a gift or to just keep on hand for those cold winter months.

10 2/3 cups dry milk
6 oz non-dairy coffee creamer
1 lb Nestle’s Quik
1/3 cup confectioners sugar

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container. To use mix ½ cup with 1 cup of hot water.

For the cheapest way to make a single serving of hot chocolate use the following recipe:

For one serving of Hot Chocolate combine:

1/3 cup dry milk
1 tsp cocoa
1 tsp sugar

Add to 1 cup of ot water.

 

 

When I saw this recipe in the November issue of Sunset magazine I knew I had to try it. It is a very easy, no bake recipe, which makes a delicious, fall dessert. It’s pretty from the top and even prettier when you cut a slice! I tried it last weekend and it was a hit. Perhaps this will be a new tradition for our Thanksgiving table!

Pumpkin Chocolate Icebox Cake
Serves 12 (depending on the size piece!)

Ingredients:

3 packages (8oz@) of cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
2 tablespoons half-and-half
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
28 chocolate graham cracker sheets (12 oz. total)
Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting

Beat cream cheese and sugars in a bowl with a mixer on medium speed until smooth. Then beat in pumpkin, half-and-half, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla until smooth and fluffy. Lay enough graham crackers in a 9- by 9-in. pan to cover bottom (cut to fit if necessary). Spread a quarter of pumpkin mixture over crackers with an offset spatula. Layer 3 more times, ending with pumpkin mixture. Cover; chill overnight. Set leaf cutouts (trace them on paper) on top and dust with cocoa, then remove. Cut cake into squares.

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How many of you enjoy eating Quinoa? Have you ever tried it? It is usually considered a grain but it is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard. It is an ancient grain once considered the “gold of the Incas”! It is high in protein and it’s protein is considered a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. It is a good choice for vegetarians concerned about adequate protein intake. It is also a good source of manganese, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus. Besides all it’s healthy properties is tastes good. It has a somewhat nutty flavor when cooked. Quinoa should be stored in an airtight container. The best location for storing quinoa is in a cool, dark, dry cabinet. It will stay fresh for one year or longer if properly stored, especially if it is stored away from sunlight and heat.

One of my favorite recipes is a Quinoa Pilaf, which I serve with a Sweet Chili-Glazed Chicken! Here are the recipes for you to enjoy.

Sweet Chili-Glazed Chicken with Quinoa Pilaf

¼ cup sweet chili sauce
2 tsp grated lime zest
1 tsp lime juice
2 tsp canola oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic
½ tsp ground cumin
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 Tbsp dried currants
1 pound chicken, cut into ¼ pound pieces

Combine the chili sauce, lime zest and lime juice in a small bowl, this will be the glaze for the chicken. To make the pilaf, heat the oil in a medium saucepan over med-high heat. Add the scallions, garlic and cumin. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add stock, quinoa and currants; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until quinoa is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm.

Meanwhile spray a large nonstick skillet with a nonstick spray and set over med-high heat. Add chicken and cook turning frequently and basting with glaze until chicken is cooked through. Serve with pilaf. This recipe is adapted from a Weight Watchers recipe and is delicious!

 

fall, garden

Fall garden all cut back.

“Fall is not the end of the gardening year; it is the start of next year’s growing season.”
Thalassa Cruso

Some years I never get around to doing a full fall clean up of the gardens. This year almost everything is cleaned up. I really have to thank my mom for giving me a weekend of help! She came for a visit several weeks ago and we spent a good portion of the weekend cutting back the flower beds. I have one small flower bed to still cut back but the rest is cut back and cleaned up! What a wonderful feeling.

All the decaying plant material has been moved to our compost heap, which will help to keep the garden free of insects and diseases. I have weeded the strawberry beds and covered them with straw to protect them over the long cold winter. I have also added some composted manure to the rhubarb bed and covered it with straw. As I mentioned in a previous blog my garlic is planted and mulched. I even dug up my two rosemary plants and brought them inside for the winter. Nothing like a little fresh rosemary in the middle of winter!!

strawberry bed, fall garden, weeding

Fall strawberry bed.

strawberry bed, mulch, fall garden

Strawberry bed all mulched.

The last thing we did was to empty our compost bin that is close to our kitchen, into the garden. It was amazing to see the beautiful black compost! Once all these chores were complete we let the chickens have free range of the vegetable garden! They love it and in just a few weeks will have scratched every bit of garden soil. The surface of the garden will look like we’ve had a miniature rototiller busy at work! They eat up any weeds that have sprouted and pick up any lose bits of plant material. Plus it’s just fun to watch them busy at work.

compost, fall garden, chickens

Chickens enjoying the compost pile!

compost, fall garden,

Compost pile a day later.

 

Now the snows can come, my garden is wonderfully cleaned up and ready to face the winter. Before I know it those seed catalogs will begin arriving in the mail. I can sit by our woodstove and plan next years garden!

winter, garden, snow

The winter garden.

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