Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dried Apple Rings

Isabelle loves apples, but she doesn't like to sit and eat them, and then I usually find dried up brown apples everywhere about an hour after I give them to her. Drying the apples makes them wonderfully portable and longer lasting, plus they still taste great. Not to mention it is a great way to use up the apples that we get from the tree in the back yard. last years we had so many apples we didn't know what to do with them all. This snack is not just for kids though, I love them too!
You can use any variety of apples for this. First, make an absorbic acid solution to soak your apples in by crushing 6 - 500mg vitamin C tables and dissolving them in two cups of water. Then core and peel your apples, putting them in the solution as you go. All the apples to soak for about 10 minutes. Pre-heat your over to 170 degrees F. When apples are done soaking, place them on a wires rack and dry them in the oven 3 to 4 hours. Make sure you prop the oven door slightly ajar with a wooden spoon or skewer. This allows the moisture to escape the oven so the apples dry not cook. When they are done allow them to cool completely (You can tell if they are done by squeezing them together in your hand. If they don't stick to each other they are finished). Put them in a covered container and allow them to sit for one week. If you notice moisture on the inside of the container, put them in the oven to dry some more. The dried apples should feel leathery when done. They will keep in an air tight container in a cool dark place for up to one year. (As if they will last that long!)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Chattanooga...Then and Now



Today is Earth Day and so naturally there has been more and more in TV and in the news about 'going green'. I was born in New Orleans, but currently live in Chattanooga, TN. Chattanooga is a city that is making efforts, like I am sure most cities are these days, to be able to label itself as 'green'. Currently the city is participating in trails for public plug in stations for electric cars, it has revitalized it's riverfront and downtown area's, including electric buses, and we even have the county's first certified 'green' movie theatre, The Majestic. We have a pretty decent Farmer's Market, and finally are in the works for establishing Chattanooga's first food co-op. Chattanooga wasn't always this this way though. In 1969, Chattanooga was named the country's most polluted city. People who live here then reminisce about how bad the aired smelled. They tell stories of having to drive through the city during the day with lights on because of the smoke and haze. People would go to work with white dress shirts on, and at the end of the day their shirts would be stained yellow from all of the sulfur in the air. It even cause holes to form in ladies pantyhose making them look like Swiss cheese. But our little city on the river has come along way. Chattanooga has changed it's industry from factories to tourism. If you like the out doors, you can do just about anything here. I am incredibly proud to be a New Orleans native, and I do sometimes miss the culture and the seafood, but I love living in Chattanooga, and am proud to call this place home now.

Last year, on Earth Day I posted a link to calculate your carbon footprint. That is how many tons of CO2 you are responsible for a year. Last year our footprint was 47 - that's for a family of three - which is below the US average of 80 tons for a family of three. I just re-calculated and we are down to 36 tons, which I fell very good about. The US average is still 80, but the world average is only 17 tons per year. The biggest help for us was that we had new energy efficent windows intsalled on our house this year, which not only saves energy, but money too. It has really helped our power bill! We buy mostly organic and local foods, recyle everything possible, and compost most everything else. We've also been driving a hybrid since 2005. If you want to calculate your carbon footprint ,,,,Carbon Footprint calculator

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Around the Yard

                                            Clematis are some of the earliest bloomers in spring

                                       Every year the Lemon Balm spreads further out into the yard   
                                          The bell peppers have worked their way out of the ground

                                          Yummy fresh Strawberries!!

                                          The onions have worked thier way up too!
                                         Can't wait for tomato sandwiches! I will be canning some too.

Friday, April 15, 2011

On my Mind...

There is a special kind of satisfaction you get from making something you need instead of buying it. For a couple of years now I have really wanted a garden shed to store our tools and tomato cages and pots and such in. We have a small metal building out back, but it houses the mower and gas cans, not to mention more spiders than I care to face at one time. I don't mind them really, but they are hanging from the ceilings and crawling all over the walls. When you step out of there you feel like they are all over you. Andrew is a brick mason, and he often brings home scraps of wood and bricks and things from construction sites. So, we had this wood, and left over paint from when we painted the outside of the house last summer, and extra shingles from the roof. Andrew decided to make me my long desired shed. It won't win any awards, but it very much serves it purpose, and the only thing we had to buy was the hinges and latch. I think it's a great deal, considering just a small plastic thing will cost you more than a hundred bucks at a Lowe's or Home Depot. Now that it's built, we will have to figure a way to move it off the porch. Guess we should've thought of that!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My Dishcloth

So this is the Dishcloth I made for the swap. Didn't take long at all. I have extra yarn and it's so pretty I think I want to make one for myself. I crotcheted it using 4ply 100% cotton yarn. I don't yet know where it's go or to whom it's going to, but I can't wait to see what gets sent to me!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Potatoes in a Garbage Can

So this year we decided to try growing potatoes in containers. I know that when you think about container gardening, potatoes are usually not on your list of things to grow, but it really can be done, and quite successfully too! We have two varieties this year..Nora Red and Yukon Gold. Both good varieties for storage. Russets are not that great for storage. We are growing both varieties each in a tall plastic garbage can and a shorter, but wider plastic tote. As the plants grow, we add new dirt around them, not covering completely, but to the top, forcing them to grow even taller. By growing them this way, you get more potatoes per plant. Plus, when it come time to dig them up, there is no digging! You simply dump the containers out and collect your reward. Not to mention if there is a late frost, is easy to just put the lids on at night to protect the plants. (We also used the lids to save them from hail two weeks ago). If you chose this method, it is important to remember to drill holes in the bottom and along the sides of the containers to allow drainage. Also, make sure you use fresh soil every year. If you re-use the same soil it encourages pests and disease. You could rotate your spent soil into a bed for growing greens, or peas or even beans. (Don't use the soil for tomatoes, peppers, or eggplants as they are in the same family as potatoes).

Monday, April 11, 2011

Dishcloth Swap

One of the blogs I like to follow...Down to hosting a dishcloth swap. People from all over the world who follow her blog will knit or crochet a dishcloth and then will be paired up with someone and they will swap. It sounds like so much fun! I am participating and can't wait to get started!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I love Spring.....Most of the Time

One of the great parts about living in the Tennessee Valley is the dramatic season changes we have. There are definitely four distinct seasons here, and we are full blown into the Spring season. I love this time of year when the weather warms up..but it's not too hot. You can go for weeks with your windows open. I love the blooming flowers and dogwoods, and the Bradford pears too, but Spring time around here can also be pretty volatile. April is the worst month for severe weather, and we are seeing quite a bit of it. We are fortunate to have a basement in our house to go to if a tornado occurs, and we have a weather radio for when the storms knock out the power. It can be quite scary. Although we are not located in what is traditionally known as Tornado Alley, we still get several tornado warnings every season and they are actually more dangerous - because of the hills and trees you can't see them coming. Other than that, and the extremely high pollen counts which make my sinuses swell, I really do love Spring around here.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

"Natural Flavors"

I was reading the back of a soup mix label today, and all of the ingredients looked good...I could pronounce them all, and knew what they all were...and then I came to they very last one, 'other natural flavors.' I started thinking about this. I always read the labels of things before I buy them (as should you!) and I really do notice that particular ingredient a lot. Even on organic items. I wondered, what exactly are 'natural flavors?' Well here it is...

"The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional."

This information came from The Vegetarian Resource Group, which also had a lot of other interesting information. Most of it pertaining to vegetarians, but still good to know for those of us conscientious of what is in our foods.

Friday, April 1, 2011

It's Time!!

Finally, it is time to start potty training. I am really looking foward to being done with dipaers, espically since Isabelle has decided she hates having her diaper changed. I have to put her on the floor and hold her down with my feet while I change her. She loves to sit on her new potty chair. Boy have they gotten fancy! The one I got her was a step up from basic (I thought I could splurge and get her a cushioned seat) but they had some that have little toilet paper holders and even ones that play music when the child goes! I have it in the living from for now, because the bathroom is upstairs and I want her to be bale to get to it right away. Actually, I can't seem to get her off of it!