Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The birth of our Urban Farm

Last week, we completed construction on our two raised beds so we can build on our successes of last year and grow our own veggies this summer!

(Prepare yourself for the most un-interesting photos of all time)

We chose to do two 4'x4' beds, for a couple of reasons. 

1. Our soil (as you can see from these glorious photos), is very sandy and rocky. Our house is built over an ancient lava flow, so there aren't too many flat, rock free places in our yard. The small size of these allowed us to place them near each other, but avoid any immoveable lava rocks. 

2. We are using the square foot planting method in these beds, so the smaller size will allow us to easily reach any area of the bed without stepping in the soil. Compacted soil from foot traffic = bad for little veggies. 

I am working on a 'plant map' for the beds, so I can make sure I place the veggies in their ideal growing conditions. Most everything we are sowing is full sun, but there are a couple part shade plants that will  need specific locations within the beds. Since this is our first year attempting a full blown garden, I am going to attempt every vegetable we enjoy, so we can learn from our successes and failures for the next few years. Our neighbor two doors down has a beautiful veggie garden every year, so I am going to pick her brain for any tips about growing in our area.

My shadow looks eerily like an alien

We used untreated ceder for our walls, as it is very durable in varied weather conditions. We are going to fill the beds with Black Gold organic soil, and mix in some of our compost from home as well. 
The biggest issue we will be facing I think is protecting our plants from a certain herbivore that shares our home. 

I'm sure you all remember our sweet 'puppy' Cash? He is now almost two (in August), and he is part fruit bat! I'm not kidding when I say the dog would choose a banana over a steak. He is crazy. So we will be building some removable panels made of chicken wire and wood to protect our crops. Hopefully he will learn quickly that they are to be left alone. 

So our veggie starts are growing away (inside), and we are patiently awaiting the rise of overnight temperatures. (Last night it was 22, tonight is supposed to be 26) 
But things are moving along and I am so excited to try my hand at raising organic vegetables to enjoy and share with friends all summer long! 

Whats your experience with growing your own food at home? Sage (no pun intended) advice? Please share in the comments! 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Chocolate Snowflake Cookies

Throughout our relationship, my husband has been begging me to make these cookies. They were his favorite as a child, and based on the speed he devoured this batch, I'm assuming they still are to this day.
This is the recipe as his mother sent to us. I did make one change, and subbed butter for the oil. Vegetable oil freaks me out a little bit, and we all know that butter makes it better.

Chocolate Snowflakes

2 cups Sugar 
4 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted 
1/2 cup salad oil (or sub 1/2 cup butter) 

4 eggs 
2 tsp vanilla 

2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt 
2 cups flour 

Powdered Sugar 

(Do not preheat oven, the dough must be refrigerated for quite some time = 2ish hours at least)

Melt chocolate (About 2 minutes on high, stir, then another minute) 
*note* So I am sometimes a cheater when it comes to melting things... I have a metal mixing bowl so I put the chocolate in the bowl than in the oven to soften. Whatever works for you though... 

Mix granulated sugar, chocolate and oil (butter).

Beat in eggs, combining well after each, and vanilla. 

Add baking powder, salt, and flour and mix well to combine. 

Refrigerate dough until firm enough to form balls. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Roll teaspoon of dough into ball, then roll in powdered sugar, coating thoroughly. 

Place about 2 inches apart on lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheet. 

Cook about 10 minutes, use toothpick test. 

These cookies are ridiculous. I cooked them right on my cookie pans, sprayed with olive oil cooking spray, and it resulted in delicious caramelization on the bottom. They are sort of like brownie cookies, which I assume is the reason the recipe calls for oil instead of butter. But they turned out delicious nonetheless, so get in your kitchen and whip up a batch! 


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