Sunday, February 20, 2011

It's Official...

...spring can't be that far away if I just planted the first seeds of the season, right? Today I planted some of slower growing seeds for the year and popped them under the grow lights:

  • Jalapeno "Craig's Grande"
  • Bell Pepper "Emerald Giant"
  • Rhubarb "Victoria"

I felt like going a little more classic this year with the standard green jalapeno and green bell pepper from Baker Creek. When it comes down to it, there are all sorts of delicious sweet peppers out there that you can grown with great success, but you just can't beat the peppery crunch of a green bell pepper fresh off the vine. And not only that, but green bell is an integral part of making some killer canned tomato juice, which I have been plowing through this year like it's water.

And as for the rhubarb, well, I was crowing last year over my success in starting it from seed, but I must have gloated too soon because the hot drought of last summer totally fried my little darlings. Yes, I was crushed...let's just leave it at that. So this year I'm going to sprout several more plants, as well as amend the soil with some very rich compost and sand for drainage. You can bet I'm going to be vigilant with the watering hose, as well. I'm bound and determined to get a rhubarb plant started somewhere on our property.

I think I'm finally getting the knack of not over-planting seeds. In years past I've gotten a little overzealous when it comes to growing from seed - I've always ended up with too many plants and not enough room, forcing me to "discard" a few *cringe*. This year I'm forcing myself to just plant two or three of each, instead of five or six.

I'll be honest, I've hit the wall with winter for the year. It usually happens to me some time in February. I've been really good until now - upbeat, enjoying the snow, going to the gym to stay active - but it's reached THAT point. This cold, mushy, gray weather can start packing up and heading out. I'm ready to sit on the porch steps in my bare feet and let my skin soak up some of the sun's love. I'm ready to get dirt under my fingernails. I'm ready for some green!

Monday, February 7, 2011

And Now for the Soft Pretzels...

The hubs has been bothering me for some time to make soft pretzels and beer cheese. Well, while I'm not a huge fan of football, I figured yesterday's Superbowl would be as good a time as any for this very manly food.

These things were so darn cute! Now I understand why other bakers get so attached to their pretzels. Manly my ass, I felt like a new mother when these puppies came out of the oven.

This is the second time I have made beer cheese - way more cheese than should be legal, but if you only have it once or twice a year, it's ok, right? Lots of sharp cheddar, onion, garlic, paprika, cayenne, and of course BEER. I used Goose Island Pere Jacques for a nice sweet Belgian bite. Zippy, gooey, tangy, beery - YUM.

Now that I've broken the ice when it comes to the whole boiled-dough method of baking, I'm fired up to make a batch of bagels. What better way to slog through the winter "blahs" than to bake up a storm?