Monday, June 27, 2011

Gardening update

The cherry tomato plant and my giant trees.
The gardening seems to be going pretty well so far. Still too soon for any harvest, except for some herbs, but the plants are growing and nothing has died yet

The challenge with the garden is the yard gets a lot of shade. As you can somewhat see in the picture to the left, I have two enormous maples trees in the back, which are great because it keeps the yard cooler, but makes the prospect of a successful garden a little iffy.

The plant that doesn't seem to care is the cherry tomatoes. That plant is growing like a weed and is probably already more than four-foot tall and flowering. The other four tomato plants are growing but not that big. One of them was flowering last week but then a storm came through and ripped a couple of limbs off. I also have green and yellow pepper plants that seem healthy but aren't getting that big. I don't know if I'm going to get anything out of them when it's all said and done.

The herbs are thriving on the deck though, everything is very healthy and I should have a nice big pot of basil soon. If the herbs keep up nice I may buy a grow light to keep fresh herbs year-round in the basement.  
If you look real close you can see a  tiny green pepper.  

Cucumber seedlings continue to grow.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Gardening experiment 2011

Oregano doing well.
As I stated previously, Rory and I moved to the burbs almost a year ago and with the extra time and the help of my parents we put a small garden in this year and I once again am trying some fresh herbs in pots on our second floor deck. 

I'm growing rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano and sage in pots on the deck. We get a fair amount of sun up here and so far so good. Some of the plants have been going for a few weeks and seem to be thriving, the oregano especially.

The garden we have is about a 6X4 patch that had previously been dug up, probably used for the same purpose by the previous owners. We have two large trees in the back yard so sun may be a problem, but this one patch seems to get a fair amount. Only time will tell if it's successful.

We planted four regular tomato plants, one cherry tomato plant, a green bell pepper plant and some cucumber seeds. The garden was put in a week ago before we had a monsoon that flooded the entire back yard but everything seems to have survived, though I'll be curious to see if the cucumber seeds end up doing anything.

As had been previously documented, my gardening has not gone well in the past so I'm hoping for the best.

Yeah, I know

Since it's been ore than four months since my last post I won't bore you all with excuses, other than the fact that I have been tremendously busy, I still need to make time for this. I write better in my day job if I keep this up so I need to do it more.

I have been cooking, oh yes, I've been cooking and I have more than a few recipes to share including the one for the picture Mudslide cake.

It's been almost a year since Rory and I moved too and with that extra time I'm trying to grow a garden this year and hopefully before the end of the year I will be updating with tales of home brewing as well. Stay tuned as they say on TV.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Turducken V

Yes, that is bacon covering the turducken to keep it moist.
In December Rory and I hosted Turducken V. Those who have been in attendance for all Turducken events received a golden ticket which grandfathers them into all future Turducken's even if they miss a year. It's hard to believe we've been doing this for five years and we don't see any stopping.

It was nice having more space, we had 20+ people, can't remember the exact number since it was more than six weeks ago. I didn't feel on top of everybody there and even though we extended the dining room table with another six foot banquet table it worked out really well and wasn't too cramped.

On the food front, not much was new or different. The exception being that I deboned all the birds myself this year. The past couple of years I had Paulina Meat Market debone the turkey but I didn't feel like paying the premium this year or making the drive so I did it myself. The chicken is easy enough and I'm fairly sure I could do that with my eyes blindfolded, the duck is a little more challenging because it does have an unusual rib cage.

The turkey was like a big chicken, which made it easier to an extent, but getting underneath the back was a pain in the ass. After cleaning off the breasts, legs, thighs I had to take the kitchen shears to the rib cage just to make it easier to get around the back. It also helped that the turkey was a bit frozen, even after four days of sitting in the fridge, made it easier to work with.

Between Turducken and having my mom's family over we probably hosted close to 50 people in December. All said everything went well, there's something about cooking large pieces of meat that all can enjoy.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mmmm, Ham

It's been entirely too long and I have no excuse other than apathy and while a deadline for the day job approaches there won't be much more coming. While I'm not a New Year's resolution guy maybe I should have resolved for a post a week, maybe I can make up for it a little coming up.

I did quite a bit of cooking over the holidays. We had Turducken (pics to follow) with more than 20 people and then we had my mom's family over for the holidays with about 24 people attending. Above is a picture of my first ham, a 25+ pound spectacular example of smoked pork goodness. I did very little to it, just adding some cloves and a brown sugar/mustard glaze for the last hour.

But this is an example of the product being great. My dad has been getting these has from "Bert's" a place at Green and Lake streets in Chicago. They only sell commercially a couple of weeks a year and we make sure to always get one for Christmas.

I also did a potato gratin for that party and found an interesting recipe that worked out quite well. I used half gruyère and half swiss to save some money and it turned out quite well. I also doubled (tripled?) the recipe for the crowd we had.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


The pies I made for Thanksgiving turned out really well. The black bottom bourbon pecan pie was a hit and the other one seemed to tp be well received too. I didn't use that pie crust recipe and I used dark chocolate for the bottom.

Now I'm trying to figure out what cookies to make for turducken. My traditional chocolate chip are a given and I'm probably going to do a rolled sugar cookie since Rory gave me one of my Christmas presents early. But I would like one more and am stuck. Any ideas?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Turducken V

Turducken V is this weekend. It kinda snuck up on me with Thanksgiving this past weekend, even though Rory and I decorated the house and put a tree up.

I'm making my prep list and figuring out all what I have to do this week. Today I'm heading out and buying the turkey and duck. I figure both will be frozen and the turkey will live in the first all week and I'll put the duck in the fridge Wednesday or so.

I've made my own turducken the last two years and plan on doing it again this year with one change, I'm deboning the turkey myself. I had the fine folks at Paulina meat market do this in the past but now that we moved it's too far to go. It also makes it more economical, while I love the Paulina meat market so, charged a bit more for the turkey than the traditional supermarket. I've also gotten pretty good with the knife and am confident it'll go smoothly.

Pictures and updates throughout the week.