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Sunday, May 31, 2015

SWEET BRIAR COTTAGE JOURNAL: TEMPUS FUGIT!

Hello dear friends!  Hope this post finds you rested and safe.  Can you believe that tomorrow is June?  How time flies!  Today the weather doesn't feel very June-like, had to wear my winter coat for our walk.  But the previous days it was  almost too warm.  The weather certainly is toying with us, but there is no frost in the foreseeable future, so we finished planting our garden this week.  

As you can see, the lettuce is ready to be picked, thank goodness! Buying lettuce was becoming quite an expense.  It is such a joy to go out to the garden and pick our meal.  One new salad for us, is a Big Mac Salad.  Here's the recipe.  I used 1/2 lb. of  hamburger and that was plenty.  It rates right up there with our other kid/man friendly salad, Taco Salad.  To make taco salad, just top your lettuce with crushed taco chips (the broken ones left in the bag), cheese, and chili.  Here's a quick chili, that only takes a few minutes to prepare:

Quick Chili For Taco Salad

1 lb. hamburger
1 med. onion, diced
1 can chili ready tomatoes
1 can kidney beans
1 pkg. taco seasoning

Brown the meat and hamburger.  Add the remaining ingredients and heat through.  You can easily make this vegetarian by skipping the meat and adding a second can of beans.  Also, I find that it helps to add a tablespoon of sugar to store bought tomatoes to bring out their flavor.

You can get more elaborate with this salad by topping it with a dollop of sour cream or guacamole.  Or drizzle it with some salsa.

Don't Buy It, Make It

Most kitchens have the ingredients to make your own taco seasoning.  Here's the recipe:

Taco Seasoning

1 tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

Combine ingredients.  Equivalent to one package.

A picture of my favorite lilac, Beauty of Moscow.  It is wonderfully fragrant, somewhat more exotic then our common dooryard lilacs.

Cheap Beauty Trick

Speaking of fragrances, my favorite perfume  has become entirely too expensive for our poor little budget, so I've discovered that many perfumeries make  matching scented candles and soaps.  If you put them in your drawers, they will lightly scent your clothes for a fraction of the cost.  And the scent will be subtle, so not to annoy your neighbors!

Thoughts  On Gardening

We try to be good stewards to our land and one of the ways we do that is to continuously  enrich our soil.  We have two compost bins.  One that is in the stage of composting and the other that we throw all our grass clippings, leaves, vegetable scraps and wood ash into.  Twice a year we empty the composted bin onto the garden and till it into the soil.  Our village also composts all the leaves it picks up in the fall and gives it away for free to whomever is willing to haul it away.  They make sure we know that there are no grass clippings that might be contaminated with pesticides in their compost.  They also have free mulch, village life is wonderful.  We also make sure to rotate our crops every year. Our goal is to have lovely rich soil the color of coffee grounds that is friable to our elbows.  We're getting there!

Quote of the Week

"To be poor in order to be simple, to produce  less in order that the product be more choice and beautiful, and may leave us less burdened with unnecessary duties and useless possessions ."
~Sanatayana~

I don't know if making strawberry-nectarine jelly is a necessary duty or not, but that is what I did this week.


 Our bulk food store had a deal on nectarines and I already had strawberries, so this jam was a logical choice.  By the way, I buy my pectin in bulk.  For what it costs for a few packages of Sure Gel, I have enough pectin to last me a lifetime.  One way we keep the wolves from the door is always to be on the lookout for a good deal in the produce and meat department and either can or dehydrate them.  How many times have I said that a well-stocked pantry is like money in the bank?  I also canned more asparagus, but let's not talk of asparagus!

Free Entertainment

Most libraries offer summer reading programs for the youngsters.  They really encourage the children to keep reading during their vacation.  There's also vacation Bible school, for those inclined.  When I was a youngster many moons ago, my friends and I would go to all of them, we were very ecumenical! The Baptists had the most fun one with puppet shows and cowboys but I'm afraid my Lutheran one was a snorefest.  Fun isn't in the Missouri Synod vocabulary!

Thrifty Things We Did This Week

Cut down a  dead tree in our yard.  Sawed up enough wood to last for a month this winter.

Canned asparagus and strawberry-nectarine jam.

Cleaned a thrifted purse with saddle soap and it looks like new.

Harvested lettuce, spinach, and asparagus from our garden.

Ate from the pantry and hung our laundry on the line, as usual.

Bought 3 Le Creuset saucepans and one frying pan for $30 from an estate sale.

Mended some pillows that were coming unsewn.

Painted our guest cottage with paint that we bought at the Re-Use It Store and from leftovers in the basement.

Finished planting our garden.


So that's it for this week!  Hope you all have a lovely week ahead of you!








18 comments:

  1. Hi Jane, That salad looks like it might be a winner with my 2 carnivorous guys! The lilac is beautiful. Another plant which is hard to grow in the South. But I am thankful not to still be wearing a coat! Angela

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    1. Hi Angela! The salads are husband approved. The weather has been very strange this year, for sure. Just two days ago, it was in the eighties. Just when I thought it was safe to pack away my light winter coat! Well, that's what I get for thinking it!

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  2. What a great post! You two have been busy and are an inspiration to me.

    Have a great week ~ FlowerLady

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    1. We just have a little bit more to do on the guest cottage before I show it off, Rainey. It's adorable! It looks like a gypsy wagon. We've are having so much fun decorating it with attic treasures and thrifted finds. Hope your week goes well for you!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  3. Hi Jane! I like that, a big mac salad. I am fascinated by the sauce recipe for it! I was just thinking of how my soap would do very well in a drawer for the scent. Your garden looks so nice!
    Yes it is a luxury to be able to pick lettuce fresh, as needed! I think we are cooling down tomorrow here...thunderstorms today. Andrea

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    1. Hi Andrea! I used sweet pickle relish in the sauce and it really did taste like the Big Mac sauce, at least what I remember it tasting like. Anyway, it was a big hit with the guys. You're cooling down and we are heating back up. Been one crazy spring!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  4. My what a busy week! That taco saled sounds like just what I need right now! I am all admiration in general, and full of envy over your Le Crueset deal! Our temps have hit full summer in the upper 80's. I have seen the black loamy soil in Michigan. Wonderful! And perfect for lettuce. So nice to have a visit from you.

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    1. Hi Jacqueline! I list my thrifty activities just to give the readers ideas on how they can cut costs too. That was quite a deal for the Le Crueset set. I don't think the people running the estate sale knew what they were. They've been getting lots of use! Thanks for keeping me inspired!

      Jane

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  5. hi jane,
    that sounds after a busy week. strawberries and nectarine a sweet combi. your salad looks very well,
    what for kind grows you in your garden?thanks for the taco seasoning recipe. i will it give a try.
    wish you a beautiful week,
    regina

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    1. Hi Regina! I think the strawberry-nectarine combo is my new favorite. I grow a butterhead lettuce and a red loose leaf. We also added beet greens from the beets we were thinning and spinach, too. I like mustard greens too. Have you ever grown them? I like your idea of using radish greens. Never thought of that! Learn something new everyday!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  6. Your garden is looking wonderful!!! And thank you so much for the recipes! You are so so blessed to live in a town that gives free compost!! That is so Great!!

    Kelly

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    1. Hi Kelly! I love my garden this time of year when everything is neat and orderly. Later when it become overgrown, I get a little overwhelmed. I was greatly influenced by Beatrix Potter's illustrations of Farmer MacGregor's garden. It's the ideal we strive for. That Big Mac salad is quickly becoming a family favorite. There are so many blessings living in a little village, free compost is definitely one of them!

      Jane

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  7. Our weather has been pretty back and forth this week as well, one day chilly and pouring down rain and the next day back up practically in the eighties! We've also had some pretty impressive lightening storms! :) The Big Mac Salad sounds delicious, I will definitely have to try that, and I always love Taco Salad, I love eating main dish salads in the summer. Great tip about summer reading programs and VBS, that is what my kids did every summer as well, and it was always a fun time. :) Hope you're having a nice week! :)

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    1. Hi April! Hope you are fully recuperated! We used to live by a very nice library when the kids were growing up. They even had a camp out in the library for their summer program. That was one thing I would have loved to do when I was a small fry. I'm glad that we are jut getting swings in the temperature and not lightening storms. I have had enough with power surges and such! Well, keep safe and dry!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  8. ♩♬ه° ·.
    Gostei das flores que são muito delicadas!
    Amei a receita do tempero.

    Boa semana!
    Beijinhos.
    ♩♬ه° ·.

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    1. Obrigado meu querido amigo!

      abraços
      Jane

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  9. Dearest Jane,

    What happened to May? Here I think it was one big thunderstorm! :) I am so glad that you are getting lots of lettuce; we failed to plant enough (the squirrels got most of it), and so we're living off our faithful patch of lambsquarters, as well as other wild greens. I do have fava beans that are starting to fruit, and their leaves make wonderful salad ingredients, too, which makes them quite thrifty to grow.

    The jam is such a great idea, and I agree that buying pectin in bulk is wise.

    Love,

    Marqueta

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    1. Well, with my track record with electrical problems lately, I'm grateful we didn't have your thunderstorms, Marqueta! You are so knowledgeable about foraging! I wish I knew more. The guide books illustrations aren't much help. After reading all about the health benefits of purslane, I was excited to use it, but after years of it taking over my garden, this year , there's none to be found! I've never grown fava beans but I'll have to look into it for next year. Right now we are eating a lot of beet greens as we thin the rows. We grew a variety that guaranteed not to taste so earthy, but I think they still taste like dirt! If you ask me, the greens are the only redeemable thing of a beet! Have a nice week , Marqueta!

      Hugs
      Jane

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