Pesto is the Best-o!

How, oh how can it already be July? We have been having a fun, and busy summer so far! I overcame a fear of mine, and took the kids to Schlitterbahn, the so called, “hottest coolest time in Texas.” Although Brian and I had both been many times, I wasn’t looking forward to taking the kids. Lots of people, lots of water rushing around….Anyway, we had a really great time and it wasn’t at all what my overactive mom brain said it would be (drowning, kidnapping, loss of limbs, other assorted unthinkable tragedies)! We visitied my grandparents, spent a week at the lake, and got a new puppy!

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I always have some conflicting feelings about July. It’s summer, so I can’t be mad at it. It’s also my birthday month BUT, this is also the month where the ads on TV start telling you it’s time to shop for back to school. Why so soon? Let me enjoy my summer TV ad people. So rude.

One of the summer herbs we’re enjoying, and I’ve still got growing like crazy right now is basil, (We also have tomatoes and zucchinis and okra! Read about our garden in this post) and I really want to share with you a pesto recipe I’ve been making with all that basil. Want to feel like a real life farmer? Grow basil.

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See? You will be ready to quit your day job, put on some overalls and milk your own cows. Too much?? Well, at the very least, your gardening self esteem will be boosted,  big time. Anyone can grow this stuff and it’s so yummy on, and with, so many things. (Caprese ensalada anyone? Margherita pizza? YUMMM)

A great way to use basil, especially when you have lots, is to make pesto. Pesto goes great on chicken, in pastas, spread on warm slices of french bread, and my favorite way–on pizza. Forgo the sauce, spread the pesto on your crust and top with shredded chicken, or just veggies and cheese. This is my new favorite pizza for our Friday family night tradition: homemade pizza and movie nights. (A post on family pizza night coming soon!)

To make pesto, pick 2 packed cups of basil.

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Add 1/3 c pine nuts to basil and pulse. Then add 1/2 c parmesean cheese, and 2 tsp garlic (more or less, according to your taste).

(How do you like my “vintage” food processor?)

I get this bag of pine nuts from Costco:

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And yes, it is $19. Nine. Teen. American dollars. So, if you would rather not buy all this, I’ve seen recipes that substitute cashews or walnuts for the pine nuts. I haven’t tried it, so let me know if you do, I’de love to know how it turns out! It could save me hundreds.

Once you’ve combined your basil, garlic and nuts, put the lid on and slowly add 1/2 c of olive oil as your processor runs. Stop a few times to wipe down the sides with a spatula. Once it’s combined, taste and add seasoning as desired. I always add salt and pepper of course, but we also like to add jalapeno slices, pickled jalapeno juice, and/or red pepper flakes to make it spicy. Give it a few pulses if you add anything at the end.

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The pesto will keep well in the fridge for a week. Make sure to place a piece of plastic wrap on the top of the pesto before putting the lid on your jar or container. This will keep the air out and maintain freshness.

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I am a huge proponent of freezing things, so of course I also have some frozen. You can use ice cube trays to freeze smaller portions, or use a freezer safe jar or container.

We’ve had it on pizza, on pork chops, with veggies, on pasta, with chicken and as the sauce on a zucchini lasagna with sausage.

Here are a few other ideas I’de like to try, and for you to try at home:

Pesto hummus 

Pesto Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Pesto Egg-in-a-hole with Bacon

As always, I love to hear from you, so let me know if you try the pesto recipe! Thanks so much for stopping by!

_Steph

 

Garden Update: Summer 2018

Hi there! Long time no read huh?! We’ve been finishing the school year, and summer-ing it up over here at the Yellow House and although I have three different posts I’m working on (it is a creative junk drawer in my brain right now) in my drafts folder for the last month, I haven’t finished one of them….until now.

Before I share what’s going on in our garden-which we are VERY excited about-I want to share some other things I grew, and am VERY proud of.

Landon graduated from the sweetest little preschool of all time.

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He did so well in school this year. He had the best teachers, he learned so much, and I am confident he is ready for Kindergarten. We are so proud of him.

Also, he is currently in his awkward, unnatural smiling phase accompanied by goofy thumbs up. In every picture. It’s like a reflex now, it’s like he can’t help himself. *mom holds up her phone to take picture* = *goofy smile and thumbs up*. SO many things we’ll never understand.

AND, Carolynn finished First Grade.

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She is that kid that just does school. She likes learning, and wants to do well. I had to make her laugh for this picture because she is still residing in “awkward smile for posed photo phase”.

After her class party, we met daddy for lunch at one of their favorites places for Carolynn’s favorite food-burritos.

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This picture cracks me up every time. They are so goofy.

They smile all the time, I swear. Getting a smiling, serious picture from these two is akin to getting a picture of bigfoot, or a unicorn.

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There’s also this, which does capture Carolynn’s genuine feelings in the moment.

Oh well. I’ll play some sudoku, take Ginko Biloba. Maybe I’ll just remember their natural smiles. *sigh*

Anyway, we are so blessed with two great schools where we had another great year.

Since the title of this post is “Garden Update” I think I should probably get to that….I’m so excited to show you!

Back in the spring, I posted about our garden, (read it here) and how we (Brian and the kids) prepped it, planned it and planted it. Here’s a picture of the garden from that post. (we built the beds last year)

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These are our potatoes and onions.

And here’s the potatoes we’ve pulled up, and eaten since then! We’ve never grown potatoes, and it was so fun to pull up the plant and count how many spuds we’de grown.

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Another first, we grew cucumbers! We were so excited to see these beauties on the vine.

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We’ve picked two of them so far, and used them to make refrigerator pickles. We haven’t eaten one yet, and we are not so patiently waiting for them to be ready to eat in…32 hours. But who’s counting?

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We’ve also got lots of tomatoes coming in and I have many ideas for these tomatoes. My first idea is to EAT THEM. But also, freeze them, sauce, tomato jam, sun dried tomatoes and learning how to can/preserve them. I am nervous about the canning…but not the eating.

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Last fall, we had a random spaghetti squash plant come up in our compost. Carolynn with her blessed, childlike hopes, planted it in the garden and it actually produced several spaghetti squash. When we recently found another little sprout, we planted it and hereis it’s little baby. Hopes grow spaghetti squash. But we also water it and stuff.

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Brian recently put up this shade cloth to protect the plants from that scorching afternoon sun.

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In this bed, we also have onions, 4 okra plants, roma tomatoes, 2 green bean plants and two cucumber plants.

In the ground, we’ve got some tiny little melons growing. Look how cute:

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And some tiny zucchini:

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Like everything we’re trying to establish here, this season’s garden has been a learning experience. We have read a lot and tried a lot and we are still getting the hang of it. We’ve watered, and wiped off aphids, pulled weeds and walked through the garden everyday looking at each plant. There is such a joy, and personal satisfaction of caring for the plants that grow actual food.

We have made three batches of pesto (a pesto post-o is one of the above mentioned drafts I’m working on) from the basil we’ve grown in this garden:

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This bed also has cilantro, dill, rosemary and strawberries. We haven’t had a large strawberry harvest, but both kids have eaten their fair share of them plucked right off the plant.

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Having this land gives us the opportunity and space to have a garden, and having a garden is another way we can honor this land and be blessed by it.

Do any of you have a garden this summer? Anyone know how to can? Want to show me, or direct me to any good blogs on the subject? I’m ready to add another skill to my, “Adventure Life Resume”: “Master Canner”….Or maybe just, “Canner”…..Or “Can if she has to”.

Thanks for being here, and keeping up with our adventures! Always, always glad you’re here on my little blog, to follow along with our adventures.

Steph

 

 

Ranch life update: the garden

Good morning! While winter was a time of planning, and resting, spring however, has been off to a busy start! We are finishing up our chicken coop and run, planting our garden and building a shop/garage. In this post, I’de love to share with you all that’s going in the garden.

Before spring began, we planted seeds to grow inside until warmer days came. They lined our kitchen windows and got lots of spritzing and encouraging words from us until last weekend where they got their place in our garden.

While the seedlings grew their roots indoors, Brian set up some irrigation for the gardens and he, and C planted potatoes and onions outside.

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While I was away on a girl’s trip, Brian and the kids pulled up A LOT of weeds and built up some rows behind the raised beds. We are planting some of the same things both in the ground rows, and in the raised beds. We’re interested in seeing where the plants thrive most. All our soil has some of our homemade compost added (read about how we made our compost bins, and some other projects here), with homemade cedar mulch (read about how we made our mulch here) on top.

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Here are the seedling babies, all grown up and ready to go outside. Most of them are tomatoes-cherry, 4th of July, and roma- and some are jalapenos. The seeds we have going directly in the ground are: okra, squash, cucumbers, green beans and melons.

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In another bed, we tilled up the soil, added compost, manure and some fresh dirt. We planted: basil, cilantro, strawberries, catnip, rosemary, dill and garlic chives. The strawberries were sampled, and the cilantro was sampled/eaten to the ground by the cows. Ugh. Our fence is easily compromised. But, the strawberry plants have recovered, and now they’re just being sampled by us. We have plans for a permanant fence -coming soon. (Read about how the cows convinced us to put up a fence)

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This is in the backyard, right below the porch.

Something we keep learning, like death and taxes, your plans WILL change. The weather will force you to delay, your tools will be broken, you don’t have that one thing you need, you measured twice but still didn’t get it quite right. It’s difficult sometimes (especially for two type A people …ahem) to roll with these punches. As a parent, it’s been important to model that that’s. just. life. (I am not always a great model for this, or for many of my other faults for that matter.) We are thankful to have these opportunities to improve this place for our family and hopefully instill the values we hold dear.

I recently found a list of “ranch goals” in a large binder of my grandma’s things. She passed away almost 14 years ago, and here we are on this ranch, trying to be good stewards and leave it better than we found it, and here are her words inspiring me, from maybe 20 years ago? 25? It’s typed on a typewriter for goodness’ sake. There were several, but here’s one that really got me:

“Quality of life…Our Earth, ranch and community to be better for our having been here.”

I have chills. In this season of hard work here at the yellow house, and on this ranch, these words from the past have been a beautiful and inspiring reminder of our purpose. It is our great pleasure to be here. To work hard and leave it, “better for our having been here.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

I hope your spring is off to a great start! Are y’all planting gardens? What are you growing?

Posts coming soon about the progress on the coop, raising the chicks and ducklings and the building of our shop/garage! See you then, I hope!

Thanks for reading!  -Steph

 

 

 

Summer, I love you.

Today is the last Friday of the school year for us and I am really excited for summer! Summer has always been my favorite season. Yes, I know, it’s hot. People always feel the need to tell me that.
“But it’s so hot.” Yes, it sure is. I’m a native Texan, this is my time. I love the heat, I love the pool, I love wearing flip flops, the lazy mornings, church camp, summer camp, fireflies, snow cones, running through the sprinkler, family vacations, grilling, keeping your pool pony tail for DAYS, reading tons of books, the beach, the lake….it’s just the best. I’ve always loved it.From my deep pit of teenage angst, I counted down the days until summer camp like a survivor on a desert island. Scratching a tally mark for each never ending day until I could finally be “rescued” and go back to where I “belonged” : Camp.  Mom, dad, sorry about being a dramatic and unreasonable teenager.

So, here are a few outdoor projects we’ve done just in time to be enjoyed this summer.

Bring on the Summer!

 

This swing used to hang out by my grandad’s pool. The tree we hung it from is a bit outside our dining room window and had a swing-worthy branch on it, for sure.

The swing is chippy, and a bit weathered but I liked the look so I gave it a sanding to smooth it out and sprayed it with water seal spray.

 

Brian did some research and found that the most humane way to hang something from a tree is actually by screwing your hooks into the branch. That way the tree can continue to grow around the screws. (Hanging chains over can dig into the branch) We screwed in the hooks, then used “s” hooks to hang our chain.

 

A “nature tea table where I can have a tea party with all my dolls” was requested by Ms. C. She and Brian drew up some plans, looked at some wood scraps and put this sweet little table and benches together in an afternoon. The benches are blocks of limestone, and the table is a stump with a board screwed into the top. C picked out a fabric scrap that we glued on and waterproofed. The animals and dolls have been talking about it ever since. It’s the best outdoor tea party any of us had ever been to. 😉

 

Over at the Ranch house, we re-mulched the bed and planted a few new native plants, like Mexican sage and rosemary, but also portulaca and sweet potato vine. This little chair has been broken for years, but we have had it stored away. We just knew we could think of something to use it for. I pulled out some screws, shimmied that pot in there and again, I waterproofed.

 

This old crock was another old treasure we’ve had for a while.

I just love that old fence. We are slowly replacing the fence around the house, but this fence stays. Since it’s elevated off the ground (it’s built on a rock wall), we’ll leave it for “looks” and sentimentality. There are pictures of us as kids, out by the pool and that fence is there. It looks much less “rustic”, but I just love how authentic it is and to me, it epitomizes the ranch house. “I’m hanging in there. I still work-kind of. I was built by hand, and built well.” Turns out even a well-built fence can’t remain functional for 60 years.

Anyone else favor summer? Do you like to be busy? Just hang out?

Whatever you do-remember, it’s hot. 😎

Thanks for reading!! -Steph

Adventures in Fencing

Hello little seedlings! Are you ready to go to your new home? You are?? I’m sorry, it’s not ready…

First, we have to drive in 7 T-posts.

 

We have to till up some soil.

 

 

Pull out  a hundred some freakin rocks

 

Roll out this wire fencing

 

Attach it with T-post hooks

 

Welcome Home!

Welcome babies! You are planted in nutrient rich soil, in a homemade raised bed, and protected inside a fence. Grow babies, grow!

(Originally Published April 4, 2017)