Monday, September 28, 2015

Lunar Eclipse, Denver Observatory

Did you see it? Wasn't it awesome last night? I know lots of you were saying on Facebook that the clouds were blocking it. We were lucky enough last night to get a perfect view for at least a hour at its total, then the clouds moved in. We went to a observatory and got too see the eclipse on 4 different telescopes and one 100 year old scope. My son Caleb was with me and he loves anything planets and outer space. This was his first time seeing the moon through a telescope, I got some pretty priceless pictures. The one above was actually aired last night on Channel 7 Denver News station, they liked his impression and enthusiasm!! We were so excited to be on the news.

What did you do? Did you get any pictures?

Friday, September 18, 2015

How To Dry Herbs

My summer garden is just simply amazing, its thriving and producing so much! So much that I quickly learned that if I didn't start to save some of it somehow it was going to all go to waste and that my friend is a no for me. I have several herbs in my garden, two large plants of parsley and two large plants of basil. Then additional the community garden has a herb plot open to all gardeners, with other yummy herbs.

So how do you dry herbs? 

I did my re-search first. I looked up on the Internet what to do to harvest each one and then how to dry them out. It really easy actually and I managed to get it right the first go. Here is what I did, if your looking to do the same and it will save you time.

First, When harvesting herbs try and avoid harvesting the centers. Its kinda like the plants heart and you don't want to cut that out. Trim around the plant first taking the outer corners and leaving the center. All summer I found out that when I got home with my baskets of plenty if I left it out over night on the counter all the herbs would be limp and wilt. Not good. If you pick the herbs try and process them that same day and within hours for best results.

After you clip them take them home and clip off the stems, there's no real easy way of doing this. You want to avoid long stems in your grinder. Not as tasty as just the leaves. After you cut down the stems, you need to wash the herbs. Never mix your herbs, keep them separated in batches. I bought a deep strainer at Ikea, it holds more then normal. Wash them really good but be careful not over wash and handle or it can make them too soggy and break open their oils {which is what you don't want to do}. I bought something that is a must if your going to dry herbs and its a salad spinner, I got mine on Amazon HERE and it works great for my needs. You want to spin your herbs after washing several times to make sure most moisture is out. There will be some, that's OK!

washing parsley & basil

Next, I take that batch of herbs and dump them on my herb layered mesh drying rack. I did some re-search on Amazon and based my purchase off of all the great reviews on this drying rack. It did not disappoint at all. Its HUGE but I needed that with all the herb rotations I do. I used all levels at all times. This rack is the BOMB! Seriously, no molds and dries evenly and completely in 3-4 days. You just dump and spread with your hands and leave it alone. Word of the wise: Dry your herbs in a dark cool place, for me this meant my closet. See how not glorious the pictures are of my hanging rack? It was next to my boots and shirts. It needs a dark place and out of the light. Here is the rack I bought on Amazon

After 3-4 days you can feel if they are crisp, they should crumble when messed with. Then it times to do the grinding, my sons favorite part. He offers help on this part and that's short from a miracle. I went through a few grinders till I found one that I just love, so save yourself the time and get this one. Its easy to wash and it cuts herbs up well.

nice & crispy

After your done grinding them up, you'll need some jars to store them in. Its suggested to use Amber dark glass bottles because it filters out the light and makes the herbs last much longer and fresher. However this got very pricey after some time and I just went with tall Ball glass jars and store them in my pantry.

I have been lucky enough to use several of my fresh herbs in meals already and they are so much more better then store bought, they pack a punch and I have enough for years now. I in fact have so many herbs that I am making baskets of herb gifts for this Christmas as gifts!

Jars on my counter, on a shelf and in my pantry full of fresh Organic herbs 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Simple spaghetti with kale, lemon & garlic

The garden is bursting with vegitables, this sent me on a mission to look for foods that I could incoreprate all our goods with. I have 4 Kale plants and they are producing more then I can keep up with. One of m favorite simple dishes to pre pare using kale is Spaghetti with kale, lemon & garlic. Very tasty and healthy. 

  • Spaghetti for one (a bundle about the diameter of a dime)
  • 2 tablespoons good extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 sprigs lacinato kale (droopy kale is fine), very finely chopped
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon wedge
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Cook the pasta al dente according to package directions.
When the pasta is almost done, heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the kale, red pepper flakes to taste, and season with salt and pepper. Cook and stir for 3 or 4 minutes, until the kale starts to get a bit crisp. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for another minute. Add drained pasta, lemon juice, and Parmesan cheese, and stir to combine. Serve immediately.
TIME: 15 minutes – MAKES: Serving for 1 (Double or quadruple the recipe as needed, puling the extra kale on top at the end)

This was found on keepitskinny

Kale fresh from my garden!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Summer Camping

At least once or twice a year, we make it a point to go camping. We are lucky enough to live right next door to a beautiful state park and that is where we went. Caleb loves being outdoors, it gives him a chance to get his feet wet and dirty. We went on some trails, went to the man made beach and swam at the lake and just relaxed around the campfire. 

I posted a long post last year on camping tips, you should check it out if your thinking about going.