Wednesday, June 15, 2016

My Garden

I love when spring arrives and it is once again time to get my hands dirty. My son and I started a very small garden years ago, which consisted mainly of a few potted plants. As time passed, our garden has evolved and become slightly more sophisticated. My husband built us two raised bed(each about the size of a twin bed), and we still use pots and grow bags because we keep planting more and more fruits and veggies! It has truly become a hobby we are passionate about. Many people ask me how we do it, where  we find the space, etc. I am here to tell you that it is really not difficult, and you can always find space,even if you live in an apartment. All it takes is a pot,some soil, and a tomato plant. Anyone can do this, and growing your own food is not only great therapy, it is good for your health  as well!
   I am sharing some of the things we are growing this season in this post, but I will also be sharing posts that tell you how,when and what you need to grow various vegetables and fruits. Here is what has been happening in my yard.
    Every year, we start out by planting lettuce seeds. We like to plant a variety which usually includes romaine,butter,spinach,arugula,mesclun mix and kale. We start with good organic soil, some seeds, and I let my son do the planting. His lines may be crooked, and the lettuce may get crowded, but he enjoys planting, we raise beautiful greens, and he is learning as he goes(we all are). Here is how the lettuce bed progressed.
 



We went from dirt and seed, to a few greens to an overabundance of fresh, delicious salad choices.
It wasnt long before we had our first salad.
 
We also grow radish each year along with the salad greens. This year it was a french variety.
  The weather was cold for a ridiculously long time this spring, so the lettuce thrived. Once the heat kicked in, it bolted(grew rapidly) and turned bitter. We ate most of it prior to this happening, then pulled what couldn't be eaten, and planted summer veggies like melons,zucchini and cucumber.
 

 Another spring favorite is peas. Here is the beautiful plant and the lovely fresh peas.
Last fall, my son planted some garlic, which we honestly forgot about. What a a great surprise we found this season! Beautiful garlic scapes,followed by beautiful bulbs of garlic.
 

 We are also growing a few fruits. I purchased a peach tree, nectarine tree, two lemon trees and a lime tree, and am growing them all in pots. I've had the nectarine tree one year, and it is fruiting so I am super excited. My meyer lemon tree is fruiting as well. The peach tree is still young and will not fruit this year,and we are patiently waiting for fruit on the other lemon and lime trees.We also have blackberries,blueberries, strawberries and grapes!
 

 I also purchased a ginger plant last year and recently did a little digging to check the root. Looks great! Now whenever I need a bit of ginger for a salad or a smoothie, I just dig a little piece up. It really doesn't get fresher or easier than this, and the fragrance of the plant is intoxicating.
This is just the start of our garden. Please check back often, as I look forward to sharing all of the things we will be growing and experimenting with this season! I encourage you to go out and plant something, you will love it!

  

This Week in the Kitchen

It's been a busy few weeks. Lots of cookies being made, and a few other treats as well. Here are a few of the goodies.
   I had the pleasure of making this platter for a 21st birthday party.

This platter was fun to make. Celebrating the end of a another successful year of dance for a lovely young lady.

I also had a few graduation platters to make. This one was for a friend's son who is graduating high school shortly. They were also celebrating another family birthday, so I made them a coconut cake too!

Now, we are at the end of the school year, and we can't forget the special teachers who worked with our kids throughout the year. These cookie jars, filled with a delicious variety and adorned with ribbon and pretty tags found online, are the perfect thank-you gift.

Next week will be busy as well. So many things to celebrate, and that is a good thing. Have a sweet week!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

My Latest Cookies

It has been another busy few weeks! Lots of celebrations. I am always humbled when people serve my sweets to their families and friends when celebrating life's momentous occasions. Here is a look at a few recent creations.
   These cookies were made for a sweet baby girl's baptism. I loved making these. Love the colors.

I also attended a baby shower for a cousin who is anxiously awaiting the arrival of a sweet baby girl. I always enjoy making baby themed cookies.
 
Spring,of course, means it is time to play ball. These were made to celebrate the end of a successful softball season at our local high school. The girl's had a fun year and finished with a win!
 
One of my favorite things to make was this basket I put together for our cousin's high school graduation. We are all very proud of his accomplishments and wish him all the best in his future endeavors!
 
Well, that wraps up another fun week. Next week, I'll be making more arrangements for birthdays,dance recitals, graduations and  other celebrations!

Have a sweet week!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

This Week in Cookies


It has been another busy week! I started by sending cookies to a Marine in Japan as part of the Operation Cookie Takeover program. It is a great program that recruits volunteers from around the country to bake and ship cookies to our troops. I have participated several times, and will continue to do so as a way of thanking those who serve and protect. The next one will be  in the fall.If you are interested ,visit their facebook page for updates. Below is a picture of the box I sent. My assigned Marine will have 6 dozen cookies to share soon!
 
This week I made many cookies for Mother's Day, a Communion, A DIsney Cars birthday party and a Superman  party. Here are some pics of the goodies. This was a platter for a special Mom.

 

Next, I made the favors for a special boy's First Holy Communion.
 

This one was fun. A Disney Cars themed platter. I decided to add character candles for this special 5 year old.
 

My last project for this week was a birthday party for a young boy with a Superman theme. Instead of an "S" cookie, we used his initial , "M."

Now,it is time for some gardening. I will be posting about our garden soon!

Have a sweet weekend!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Keeping Busy!


May is always a busy month. Communions,graduations,Mother's Day, Memorial Day, corporate events  and many showers and weddings! All reasons to celebrate,and what better way to celebrate than with cookies? Here are a few of my latest cookie creations .
   
These cookies were made for a corporate luncheon at Tiffany's celebrating the Tiffany Annual Blue Book Event. They were fun to make, and I love the Tiffany blue color!
 
I made the platter above to help lift the spirits of a local young man. He recently finished basic training and was then diagnosed with a brain tumor. He is a courageous person, and a friend wanted to put a smile on the faces of him and his family, so she asked me to make a patriotic/Navy themed platter. Please keep our friend in your prayers.
 
These cookies were for a lovely lady's bridal shower. Basic white, with a variety of designs.

This platter was a fun one! It was for a couple celebrating over 40 years of marriage. They love wine and sweets, so a wine-themed cookie platter fit the bill.

 Now I am gearing up for the next two weeks. I will be making cookies for a few baby showers, a  Disney's Cars-themed party, Teacher Appreciation Day, a Communion  and of course, Mother's Day!

Have a sweet week!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Time to Sign Up for Your Local CSA

  It is time to sign up for your local CSA! Local farms offer a program known as CSA or Community Suppoted Agriculture. When you sign up with your local farm, you receive 20-26 weeks worth of farm fresh fruits and vegetables for an annual fee. The fees can range in price, most falling between $500-1500 per season. Sound like too much? Get together with a friend or another family and split the cost and produce each week!
   Many of the farms offer organics as well as add-on products such as artisanal breads,eggs,meat or fish. If you are lucky ,your farm may deliver right to your door, otherwise they arrange a local pick-up spot each week.
  This is a great way to ensure you and your family are eating healthy,fresh produce while supporting local farmers. The cost helps pay for seeds,fertilizer,equipment and staff. Still too expensive? Don't worry! Many local farms set up weekly farmer's markets in different towns so families are able to purchase what they need within their price range.

Whichever method works best for you and your budget, be sure to check out your neighborhood's local farmer's market. The quality,variety and taste speak for themselves. There is nothing quite like fresh food coming to you directly from a farm, picked earlier that morning and on your plate that day.

Below is a list of CSA programs available throughout Long Island. Visit their websites and see what works best for you! Enjoy the bounty!

www.rusticroots.com (delivers to your home)
www.naturalearthfarmsny.com
www.goldenearthworm.com
www.gardenofeve.com
www.sangleefarms.com
www.amberwavesfarm.com

Another option for weekly orders and pick up(pay as you order) www.ourharvest.com

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Vanilla Honey Corn Muffins

One of the many things I love to buy at the local farmer's market is fresh honey. Not the little bear from the supermarket,but the real deal. It may be a bit pricey,but the taste and health benefits cannot be beat. If possible, use the best honey you can find for this recipe,it makes a difference! I love these straight from the oven ,sliced in half, with a touch of butter melting inside. Simple and delicious. Wrap and freeze any leftovers for a quick grab and go breakfast.

Ingredients:
1 c. cornmeal
1 c. all purpose flour
1/2c. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 c. milk
2 eggs
1/2 stick of unsalted butter,melted and cooled
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. honey


- Mix all dry ingredients  in a mixing bowl. Add the butter, then the remaining ingredients,mixing well until everything just comes together.
-Fill muffin cups approximately 2/3 full . Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 10-12 minutes or until golden brown on top and tops spring back when touched.

Makes approximately 12-15 muffins