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Gardening Archives - Kohler Created

The state of the garden

By | Gardening | One Comment

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It’s a sad story. Our garden progress thus far this spring has been almost non-existent. The weather has been absolutely abysmal — persistently cold (like in the 50s during the day, 30’s at night), windy and rainy, not like any April I’ve seen in quite some time. By this time last year, we had a great garden going, a plush yard and plenty of days we’d spent outside working in it. This year, we’ve only been in the yard working once — and it was a muddy, disgusting mess. The past few days have finally been sunny and in the 70’s and 80’s, however tomorrow it is forecasted to dip back into the 50’s with rain, and possibly even flurries!

To be fair, I could put up our cold frame and dutifully go out and nurse some plants along until it gets warm. But for me, the enjoyment of gardening comes from cultivating plants and being outside in the weather to enjoy them, not merely trying to rescue them from it.

So over the weekend, at the height of my desperation at yet another Saturday hampered by cold and rain, I ended up at Ace Hardware on another errand and came across the most gorgeous selection of succulents. They were absolutely beautiful, and there were so many I’d never heard of. I couldn’t resist, and rationalized that if I couldn’t garden outside, I’d do a little inside instead.

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I bought six succulents, along with some new potting mix, and set to work potting them and finding them places to live in the house.

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While I was at it, I also repotted my oldest houseplant. I took it under my wing while they were living in Texas for my dad’s job. My parents have had it since I was born — so, it’s old. The winter was kind of rough on him.

Freshly potted:

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And in their new homes:

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(Yes, I realize the painting is upside-down)

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Goes well with Neil’s brakes doesn’t it?

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I figured the turtle should live in the bathroom.

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And look! A bird decided to nest in our bathroom window. Hopefully this nest works out. The little egg unfortunately didn’t make it.

Edited to add: Still have the rock/sand layer to add to each of the pots.

Friday Shenanigans

By | Dogs, Food, Gardening, House, Weekend | 5 Comments

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Japanese Maple in the ground…

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Some boxwoods on deck (or next to?) to replace these:

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I call them “evergreen vomit.” Anyone else have these in their yard? HATE!

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Some salvia for the herb garden. Hope it perks back up soon…

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Approved evergreen…

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Some starts from my mom’s garden. I love some of their names…

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Jack in the Pulpit anyone? I love it, but we had to plant it in a place we’d be sure the dogs would never eat it but we could still enjoy it. Can’t wait to see it come up some more…

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More pretty things.

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We have six pepper plants, and I’m starting to think it isn’t enough…

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Snoozy pups.

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A little beer to kick of the weekend…

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We unearthed a bird bath in the back yard, score!

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Neil puts his CrossFit technique to good use…

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Perfect place for a bird to take a bath…

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“I’m hunnnnngryyyyy…”

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“How about some food Dad!?”

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Pork chops + salt + pepper + coconut sugar = AMAZING

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Some tender grilled asparagus with a hint of balsamic completes the meal.

Now off into the night for some computer games!

Welcome to the Jungle!

By | Gardening, House | 2 Comments

With all the money we’ve spent so far on the house, it was refreshing that the improvements we made this weekend were mostly free. The karma to being free as we discovered was that they were instead insanely labor intensive. Our biggest project by far was spending nearly all of Saturday tackling our jungle yard. That’s right, cue Guns N’ Roses, because in retrospect, “tackle” doesn’t seem like a strong enough word. We battled. It was all out war. Being that we were totally preoccupied (read: filthy scumbag dirty) I didn’t take a lot of “before” shots, but picture this:

Jungle

{image credit}

Okay just kidding, that’s what it felt like. Here is reality:

Full House!

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And now a few “after” shots:

Driveway bushes

The driveway area has now been pruned to the point you can see the house when you drive in…

Backyard

We can now see our entire backyard through the windows and not just the vines growing up the windows.

Backyard

Naively in my mind I thought it would be about two or so hours of easy pruning. I was so wrong. We hacked, pulled, dragged and pruned our way through the yard. We’re still not even close to done, but we made some serious progress. Diving in to get some work done also gave us a chance to get a better picture of what we have vs. what we want. We’re definitely going to be doing some landscape blocking (a la Young House Love) on the east side of the house and adjacent to the garage to make the backyard more accessible and usable. We’d also like to re-landscape the east side of our house, because at this point it is just dirt and we think it could definitely be a lot prettier and a lot less muddy over there.

Now that it’s getting hot, these projects are definitely on the books for later in the year or early next spring, but it’s good to plan ahead and watch for building material sales, which shouldn’t be hard now that I nearly keep a second residence at Lowe’sAnyone else feel like they’re constantly making trips to the home improvement store?

April Showers Bring May Flowers…and Flower Thieves?

By | Funny, Gardening | 14 Comments

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A snapped these while out with Clive on Saturday. Gorgeous doesn’t begin to describe them! Sometimes I find myself looking looking directly into each flower, because the beauty seems infinite. But apparently someone else thought so too, because just after midnight last night, someone came and scooped up a good third of the poppies, one of my very favorites. I heard a car pull up, looked out the window and watched as they picked them, completely frozen with shock! Am I wrong in thinking it’s completely rude to do so? Has someone ever picked flowers from your yard?

Luckily the peonies haven’t bloomed yet otherwise I’m sure they’d be gone too!

Scenes from Our Weekend: Weekend at Kohler’s

By | Food, Gardening, Local Food, organic, Weekend | 4 Comments

porch

We finally made it down to see my in-laws in Springfield this weekend. Such a welcome break after the crazy semester I’ve had. I snapped a few pics on Sunday, but I’m not sure they quite capture how beautiful their property is. First up (above) are my mother-in-law’s beautiful chime’s.

I think these are Flox? I need to get better at learning flower breeds…

Now these I can’t miss, Tulips! I always get sad when their time is through.

Beautiful Iris. We have these surrounding our front porch. I love them until they get too heavy and fall down. I’ve tried propping them up, but it’s just not the same.

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Homemade garden stone.

Neil's first car

If you can believe it, this is Neil’s first car, a ’65 Mustang. I wish we could tow it up and fix it up. Such a lovely car. I love the color and always wanted one of these when I was young.

asparagus

Asparagus. This is a relatively new planting, so no eating for another year or two. Looks tempting! I was so worried Clive would try to snag a spear after his last encounter with asparagus. He loves it!

tree seedlings

Some seedlings. Someone must have planted Lamb’s Ear at some point. Do you love Lamb’s Ear? Some people say it looks like weeds, but I can’t get enough of it!

bamboo

They grow their own bamboo. Here is some that was cut a few months ago. They use it for plant support and garden fencing. So cool that it grows right in the yard!

strawberries, two ways...

Strawberries. They couldn’t agree on a single method to grow them, so they each went their own way. Jim’s is the farther, unmulched strawberries; and Janice went the way of lasagna and has mulched and layered paper for hers.

onions

Some onions.

grape vines

Do you know what this is?

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If you guessed grape vines, you’re right!

growing roses using water jar method

Roses grown from cuttings. Only at my in-laws, where everything grows like magic…

goji

Speaking of magic, apparently these are a form of Goji?

mad chicken

Eep! Do you think she knows I had Cashew Chicken for lunch?

Clive

I somehow caught Clive with his eyes closed. That NEVER happens. He looks like he’s meditating…

broccoli

Broccoli. My in-laws made a cold frame and grew broccoli and lettuce ALL WINTER!

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Lettuce from this winter. It still looks great!

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Their massive compost pile and some metal they are collecting to fabricate more cold frames.

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Their raspberry and blackberry plots. They are about the size of a professional soccer goal. I say that because they are in fact planted beneath the Kohler boys’ old soccer goal.

catnip

Catnip. A NEED if you have about 9 outdoor cats.

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A pretty chime.

pulling weeds

I thought this was so funny. The chickens actually help my mother-in-law garden. They follow her around as she pulls weeds and till the soil looking for bugs and scraps. They are so tame!

cabbage

Some cabbage. Remember our HUGE cabbage from last year? Now you know where we got the plants. If only it wasn’t so hard to keep bug-free…

Petting a chicken?

Good work chick.

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They really do eat everything…

the garden

Here is a shot of the main portion of the garden. Added all together, the whole thing is bigger than our house (roughly 1,100 sq. ft.)

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And just think, in a few months, it will be full of fruits and vegetables. I’m so jealous!

All in all, even though it put me painfully behind on one of my final projects. I needed to get out of town. I needed to relax and take a step away. A mental refresh. What I love most about Neil’s parents is that they never sweat the small stuff. They don’t worry about things that aren’t worth worrying about. The next month is going to be crazy, but I hope we can steal away for several more short weekends with them, if only to simply watch their garden grow.

Scenes From Our Weekend

By | Exercise, Gardening, Weekend | No Comments

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The weather was almost summer-like this weekend, which in Missouri seems to be as close as you can ever get to Spring. To think that just over a week ago we had snow is mind boggling, but we definitely wanted to capitalize on the brief glimpse of spring while it was here. On Saturday we spent most of the morning cleaning up the front yard. We pruned, pulled and raked nearly every inch. How such a little front yard gets so cluttered is beyond me. We’ll have to get to the backyard another day.

Local and Organic Bratwurst

While we were finishing up the front yard, we fired up the grill. We had come across some local, organic bratwurst at the grocery store and decided that a warm day absolutely necessitated some barbecue.

Sun Tea

We also sun-brewed our first pitcher of peach tea. I’ve been waiting all winter for this day to come. A little lemon and ice would be very nice!

Bike Rides...

After an afternoon nap, we took Clive for a walk on the trail and took a bike ride. It’s amazing how a good bike can change your perspective on riding. I actually CRAVE riding my bike now, whereas I completely loathed and dreaded riding my old cheapie bike from Target. Such easy and fun exercise and we can bike from our house to campus in just 20 minutes!

A great ending to Spring Break. Now to get through this busy month of final projects and papers…

Pan-Roasted Pheasant with Carrot Purée and Watercress Salad

By | Friends, Meat, organic, Recipes | One Comment

Every Valentine’s Day, Neil and I make the effort to try something completely new. Something way out of left field. A new ingredient or genre, something that we can learn and experience for the first time together. Last year, we mastered our sushi-making technique. This year, someone else had an idea for us, and it took us on a journey to Southwest Missouri, just a few miles outside of Republic, Missouri, not too far down the road from where Neil is from.

Ozarks Quail Farm

We’ve been friends with Mark Skidmore for about five years. He and Neil share a love of Z cars and he and I share a love of art and graphic design. Mark feels like an uncle to us, so when he had nothing but amazing things to say about Rick Smith’s Ozarks Quail Farm, we knew we had to check it out.

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Rick and Debbie Smith live on beautiful acreage deep in the heart of Ozark Mountain Country. Always an outdoorsman and an avid hunter and fisherman, Rick knew that retirement was no reason to stop doing what he loves and does best: be in business serving people in an industry he cherishes.

Seeing that bobwhite quail had all but been wiped out in Missouri with no drop in demand, Rick and Debbie began raising all-natural free-range quail, and then expanded the operation to include pheasant as space and availability allowed. They also have an amazing garden plot they’ve already started prepping for this season. As nomads eager to settle down a bit ourselves, I was pretty close to offering to live with the quail if it meant I could stay.

Pheasant Farm

Quails

And those quail. The most gorgeous, tame birds I have ever seen. I’m typically pretty squeamish around birds (traumatic childhood incident involving a turkey), but the quail chirped and came right up to us. Debbie held them and they followed her around the amazing enclosure they’ve built.

Pan Roasted Pheasant with Carrot Puree and Watercress Salad

After touring their beautiful farm, we parted ways gifted with two pheasant and a pound of organic ground beef. Knowing Valentine’s Day was just around the corner and the perfect occasion to try our hand at pheasant, we set to work creating a light but savory recipe that had both fruit and vegetable compliments to bring out the flavor of the lean, mostly dark meat.

Recipe adapted from the California Strawberry Commission

Ingredients:

Final Plating:
2 Pheasant, quartered and partially de-boned
Salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons bacon, minced
1/2 cup roasted potatoes
2 cups carrot purée
2 cups watercress salad
2 tablespoons strawberry chutney/strawberry preserves

For Carrot Purée:
2 cups carrots, peeled and roughly diced
1 Cup Russet potatoes, peeled and rough diced (we used 3/4 of the potato for the purée and the remainder roasted and layered beneath the plating.)
1 medium shallot, peeled and sliced
1 medium garlic clove, minced
3 cups water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Salt and white pepper to taste

Baby Watercress Salad:
1 cup fresh baby watercress, loosely packed
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar (balsamic is a good substitute)
1 teaspoon olive oil (EVOO preferably)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Pan Roasted Pheasant with Carrot Puree and Watercress Salad

Pan Roasted Pheasant with Carrot Puree and Watercress Salad

1. To prepare pheasant: Clean and rinse pheasant cavity and pat dry. Quarter and toss in a bowl with salt and pepper. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Pan Roasted Pheasant with Carrot Puree and Watercress Salad

2. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until barely crisp. Remove, layer between paper towels and set aside.

Pan Roasted Pheasant with Carrot Puree and Watercress Salad

3. Add the pheasant and cook on both sides until golden and lightly browned, around 3 minutes on each side. Remove and place on plate with bacon and store in a microwave or cool oven to keep warm.

Pan Roasted Pheasant with Carrot Puree and Watercress Salad

Pan Roasted Pheasant with Carrot Puree and Watercress Salad

4. To make Carrot Purée: Combine all ingredients (except butter) with salt and white pepper in large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil.

Pan Roasted Pheasant with Carrot Puree and Watercress Salad

5. Cook until vegetables are soft enough to be pierced by a fork. Use a slotted spoon and transfer carrots and potatoes into a food processor, add butter and pulse just until thoroughly combined. (If desired, heat remaining potato slices with additional 1 tablespoon olive oil in saucepan until thoroughly cooked through. We chose to line them on the bottom of the plate.)

6. To make Watercress Salad: Destem watercress and place in a medium to large bowl (big enough that you have room to toss). Place Toss with vinegar and oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. (Note: Sorry for the lack of pictures, the Watercress wasn’t as picturesque as we’d hoped and it was a challenge to find enough undamaged stems for the meal. Chalk it up to another challenge of living in the midwest.)

7. Plating: Spoon 1/2 cup of carrot Purée in the center of a large serving plate. Mound 1/2 cup of watercress next to and on purée; arrange quail around watercress. Sprinkle bacon over quail and around, garnish plate with large dollop of chutney/preserves. Drizzle chutney juice around plate, serve immediately. Makes dinner for 2.

Ahhh-Mazing! The pheasant is so tender and lean and their smaller size is quite deceiving. We were FULL! There is such a difference between meat that is raised this way (the right way!) and meat grown in production farming where they are pumped up and killed before they are mature. I love knowing exactly where they came from and that they were raised with love, respect and dignity. And if you’re vegetarian and feeling a little left out, I have two words for you: Carrot. Purée. I could eat it by the gallon. It is and will be the new mashed potatoes.

Rick and Debbie Smith are the true definition of farm to table: people who are as eager to meet and befriend as they are filled with grace and willing to share with others. We will definitely be going back on our next trip down, and we hope you’ll consider making the journey as well.

Visit the Ozarks Quail Farm online and make your order! You can also visit their great blog about raising quail and the day-to-day events on their farm!

Kitchen Cookbook Staple: Too Many Tomatoes, Squash, Beans, and Other Good Things…

By | Books, Gardening | No Comments

Too Many...Cookbook

Too Many Tomatoes, Squash, Beans and Other Good Things is definitely not applicable to my garden this year but it would have really come in handy last year when I was covered in tomatoes and grew tired of canning and eating fresh tomato sauce. I know, the absurdity of such thoughts in light of how unsuccessful we were this year.

It isn’t a new book (first published in 1976), but one I recently came across in our University Library. It was sandwiched in the tiny vegetarian section so I decided to give it a look. Within an hour I had tracked it down on Amazon and purchased a copy for myself. The premise is pretty fantastical. Organized alphabetically by garden vegetable, each chapter begins with notes on growing and harvesting the vegetable, how much yield to expect, nutritional notes, and information on cooking, freezing, storage and basic preparation. It also lists complimentary herbs, something I’ve always wanted in a cookbook.

Too Many...Cookbook

Too Many...Cookbook

I adore that it has both simple and intermediate recipes. Nothing is overly sophisticated, and many of the recipes are just simple ways to enhance the flavor and enjoyment of your favorite vegetables. They also don’t call for the use of processed or convenience foods. It’s a treasure trove of helpful advice and simple recipes that help tame the tide when your garden runneth over. I highly recommend it for anyone’s collection, foodie or not.

Used copies are available on Amazon (for less than $10), and if you live in Columbia, my copy is due back September 21st.

A Mini-Break at the Lake

By | Clive, Food, Jessica, Local Food, Neil, Travel | 2 Comments

Neighbors Dock

I know we’re still in the middle of recapping our Montana trip, but we spent some time at a friend’s lake house this weekend and I thought I’d interlude with a few pics so that two weeks from now I’m not just getting around to it. Oh the woes of so many things to do this summer!

Neil and Clive

The boys

We re-introduced Clive to the water. You may remember during our last camping trip he wasn’t all that thrilled to be in the water. This time he found comfort floating on a mat with Neil pushing him around. He even caught a few Zzz’s. I don’t know what to think of the image though. Looks too happy? Too much like a stock photo?

Testicle Toss

We played a totally new-to-us yard game that we dubbed “Testicle Toss.” It’s also called “Hillbilly Golf.” Have you ever played it? I don’t know how I miss out on all these games, but this was a TON of fun, and you could easily make your own set with PVC, nylon rope and some golf balls. It follows the same basic premise as washers, but you try to loop the golf balls around the different levels of PVC. Bottom level is 1 point, middle level is 2 points and top level is 3 points. The first person with 11 points is the winner. We had a tournament and I ended up getting second place even though it was my first time.

Austin and Martha

Martha and Austin

Martha

Martha is the master, look at that casual pose!

Alex

It was a really fun game, and once we have more room I’d love to make a set to have for backyard barbecues and tailgates. Clive was such a ham of an audience member:

Clive

Clive

All in all, an amazingly fun time. Thanks to the Strifler’s for having all of us to their beautiful lake house. We’re so lucky to count you as family!

So here’s where things get a little surreal. Neil’s mom called the day before the trip to ask if we wanted any of their surplus from the garden. I of course said yes. I mean, who would turn down fresh garden produce and let it go to waste? Certainly not me. Neil’s parents brought us cooler packed FULL of goodies! I had no idea how much it would be until we got home and unpacked it.

The goods!

Included in the inventory (from left to right):

  • 1 box of apples
  • 3 freezer bags of peaches
  • 4 freezer bags of blackberries
  • 3 freezer bags of blueberries
  • 1 shopping bag of cucumbers and zucchini
  • 1 tupperware of dill pickles
  • 4 boxes of plums (two didn’t fit on the counter)
  • 1 tupperware of fresh raspberries
  • 1 tupperware of blueberries
  • 4 eggplants
  • 2 containers of fresh plum and berry juice
  • A bag of okra (in fridge)
  • Misc. tomatoes and peppers (in fridge)

If you’re a foodie, this is something right out of your dreams right? A cooler full of free organic produce, where do you even begin? That’s why I need your help. What should I make? Should I can some of this? What would YOU make? Help!?