The Little Fairy House

The Little Fairy House

April 30, 2015

   So I broke down and purchased the little fairy house from our local garden store, Showplace Garden Center in Northern Kentucky.  Is this one of the cutest things or what?  No, I have not abandoned my plans to make one of these out of hypertufa, and another of pebbles, like the Fairy Garden Lady, makes.  In the meantime, however, the grandkids will be able to enjoy this one.  There is so much to do in the garden right now and I am in the middle of projects, yes plural, going on in the house at the same time.

    Last year we were working on the deck, which had two sets of stairs, one long on the left, which led to the patio, and one short on the right leading to the sidewalk and the front yard.   Dave had completely taken down the stairs and had planned to rebuild it.  The treads were in bad shape.  While he was working, I took some iced tea down to him and I sat down on the lawn chair.  It dawned on me that the view of the woods in the back was not blocked by the stairs.  Wow!  I was liking this so much more!

    So I asked Dave if it was really necessary to put the stairs back at all.  I told him to come, sit down and take a look at the view.  

    At first, he was intent on putting the stairs back, but then he began to soften.  After pointing out that the view was so much better and there was so much more space on the patio, he finally caved!  But the big thing is that the stairs no longer cover up the area where we planned to put the fairy houses.  The area is more open now and much more kid friendly.

    The little fairy house has been nestled right there on the edge of the deck next to the fish pond.  Yes, I realize they might reposition it, but that is okay, too.   Hopefully, Sophia, Aidan, and I can create at least two more to make a little village.   Dave saved some pea gravel from a project he was working on in the backyard.  Sophia and Aidan can make paths with the little pebbles.

    Today I pick the kids up after school.  They have not seen the fairy house yet and have no idea that I bought one.  After they get their homework done, we will take them down to see their new fairy house.  Hopefully, a surprise is an incentive for Sophia to stay on task and get her homework done quickly!  

    Aidan has said his house will be a gnome house, not a fairy house.  We may have to make another very quickly to please both of them!  The next time they get to spend the entire day with us, Sophia and I will start the pebble house.  I am sure we can personalize it to her liking.  She is very creative.  We probably should call this one the little gnome home for Aidan.  Sophia can then have the little fairy house we can make a little more feminine!

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Beef Steamed Dumplings

Beef Steamed Dumplings

Beef Steamed Dumplings

Dough:

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup boiling water

1/4 cup cold water

   In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, salt, and the boiling water, stirring constantly with a fork.  Add the cold water and using your hands, mix, and form into a ball.  Cover the bowl and set aside.

Meat filling:

2 Tblsp. hoisin sauce

1 tsp. cornstarch

1 cup finely chopped bok choy

1/2 cup shredded carrot

2 Tblsp. thinly sliced green onion

2 Tblsp. snipped fresh cilantro

1/4 tsp salt

3/4-pound lean ground beef

 

*Cabbage leaves for lining the steamer

   Stir the hoisin sauce and the cornstarch together in a mixing bowl.  Add the vegetables and the salt and mix well.  Add the beef and mix well.  Using a one and a half-inch ice-cream scoop, (equal to about 1 tablespoon) make about 28 little meatballs.

    Divide the dough in half and keep half covered in the bowl.  Using the remaining half, cut the dough into 14 equal pieces and roll each into a ball.  On a floured surface, shape the balls into flat 3-inch circles.  Place a meatball into the middle of a dough circle and bring edges up around the filling.  Flatten the bottom of the dumpling a little.  Repeat, using the remainder of the dough.

    Place dumplings in the steamer, which has been lined with cabbage leaves, to prevent sticking.  To prevent sticking together, the dumplings should not be touching each either.  In a large pot or Dutch oven, bring water to a boil.   Place the bamboo steamer over the boiling water.  Dumplings should not be touching the water.  Cover and steam for 16 – 18 minutes.

Serve warm with the soy dipping sauce below.

Soy Dipping Sauce:

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup soy sauce

Combine vinegar and soy sauce.  Serve in individual dipping bowls with a sprinkle of chopped green onion on top.Delicious Beef Steamed Dumplings on MyHumbleHomendGarden.com

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Print Recipe
Beef Steamed Dumplings
These Beef Steamed Dumplings are good as an appetizer but my family actually like them as a main course, too.
Appetizers - Beef Steamed Dumplings on MyHumbleHomeandGarden.com
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Chinese
Servings
dumplings
Ingredients
Dough
Meat Filling
Soy Dipping Sauce
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Chinese
Servings
dumplings
Ingredients
Dough
Meat Filling
Soy Dipping Sauce
Appetizers - Beef Steamed Dumplings on MyHumbleHomeandGarden.com
Instructions
  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, salt, and the boiling water, stirring constantly with a fork. Add the cold water and using your hands, mix, and form into a ball. Cover the bowl and set aside.
  2. Stir the hoisin sauce and the cornstarch together in a mixing bowl. Add the vegetables and the salt and mix well. Add the beef and mix well. Using a one and a half-inch ice-cream scoop, (equal to about 1 tablespoon) make about 28 little meatballs.
  3. Divide the dough in half and keep half covered in the bowl. Using the remaining half, cut the dough into 14 equal pieces and roll each into a ball. On a floured surface, shape the balls into flat 3-inch circles. Place a meatball into the middle of a dough circle and bring edges up around the filling. Flatten the bottom of the dumpling a little. Repeat, using the remainder of the dough.
  4. Place dumplings in the steamer, which has been lined with cabbage leaves, to prevent sticking. To prevent sticking together, the dumplings should not be touching each either. In a large pot or Dutch oven, bring water to a boil. Place the bamboo steamer over the boiling water. Dumplings should not be touching the water. Cover and steam for 16 - 18 minutes.
  5. Serve warm with the soy dipping sauce below.
  6. Combine 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar and 1/4 cups soy sauce. Serve in individual dipping bowls with a sprinkle of chopped green onion on top.
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Pasta Carbonara and French Bread

Pasta Carbonara and French Bread

April 28, 2015

   Yvonne shared a recipe for pasta carbonara and posted it on her Stonegable blog.  I love Italian food!  It sounded so good and I was heading for the grocery anyway so I checked to see if I would need anything and made a list.  Well, Yvonne reported that Barilla pasta, which is my favorite brand, had a new type of pasta called ‘Pronto pasta’.

   It seems the new pasta is placed in cold water and the linguini is cooked for 10 minutes total! No draining is needed, just put in your ingredients after cooking for a one pot meal!  Wow!  Does that sound great?  Unfortunately, the local grocery here did not have the linguini in the Pronto.  They had the elbow and some of the smaller kinds of pasta, but no linguini, fettucini or spaghetti.  So I didn’t get to try it yet.  There’s always tomorrow. 

   The regular Barilla fettucini was one of the things I needed, a couple of heads of garlic, some Italian parsley, some bacon, French bread and we were good to go.  When we got home, I got all of the ingredients ready, minced the garlic, chopped the parsley, and grated the cheese. 

   One of the best ways to fix French bread is the way Ree Drummond does.  If you haven’t tried it, you should.  It makes the bread taste so rich and I think it is more filling.  Is that only in my mind?  She splits a whole loaf of French bread down the middle, completely covers the cut surfaces with two whole sticks of butter, one for each piece!  That is a lot of butter!  

   Then it is placed in a 350-degree oven for about ten minutes until the butter is completely melted.  Then turn on the broiler and broil until it is dark brown all around the edges.  Watch it carefully!   Oh, my gosh is it ever good!  It tastes like it has some kind of seasoning on it, but it is only butter!  (Okay, I am human!  I forgot to broil it so the picture above is before the broiling!)

    Anyway, the ingredients for the pasta carbonara recipe include linguini, two eggs, grated parmesan cheese, chopped parsley, four cloves of minced fresh garlic, freshly ground black pepper, baby sweet peas, and of course, bacon.  Click here for the recipe on Stonegable’s website.

    Apparently, Yvonne does not like peas, but I do and I love baby sweet peas, fresh or frozen.  She did not use them, but I did and thought this recipe was great.  Dave liked it but felt it needed more meat.  Really?  As he finished his plate,  he said he was stuffed!  Why would it need more meat?  

     When I asked him if I should ever make it again, he said he definitely would like it again.  Although I had never made this before, I had heard of pasta carbonara and have seen it on menus at Italian restaurants.  Now that I have had it, I am thinking I should try their versions of pasta carbonara to see how theirs compares.

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Thrilled to the Very Edges of Your Soul

April 24, 2015

 If you’ve never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom, maybe your soul has never been in bloom. – Terri Guillemets

    The dogwood is blooming in the backyard!  My daughter, Danielle, gave this flowering dogwood tree to me one year for Mother’s Day.  We planted the tree in the backyard at the edge of the woods.  It would probably grow better if it were transplanted closer to the house, but in my little mind, this is where it should be. When they are blooming in the spring, dogwoods remind me of little bits of lace along the woods.  So isn’t it appropriate that this little tree is planted on the edge of the woods?

    This beautiful crabapple in the backyard is loaded with blooms again this year.  I love the color of these!  Notice the bronze color of the leaves!  Right now, the tree is just a beautiful specimen!

   The dwarf peach iris is blooming again!  I just love this little plant.  Isn’t it amazing that such a beautiful bloom comes from such a homely rhizome?   This particular little iris does not seem to multiply as quickly as the other irises in the garden, but it is multiplying ever so slowly.  It is planted on the southwestern side of the house.  You might think that is why it blooms earlier, but some of the other lavender and purple irises are planted close by and all around these dwarf irises.

  The lavender and deep purple irises are budding, but this peach iris is always the first to show it’s lovely blooms.  

    This tiny little Alpine violet, (Viola Labradorica), is one I actually bought and planted, unlike the violets which came up on their own, under the old pink roses.  I found these plants in a section of flowers being sold as ‘steppables’.   I planted these little plants around the stepping stones in one of the flower beds in the backyard.  

      The leaves on these are so delicate, pretty, green, and purple.  I love the dark veining on the little leaves. They look pretty even when the plant is not in bloom!   The tiny, bright lavender blooms appear in early spring and the plants continue to bloom profusely for several weeks in the spring and early summer. Then, with one more burst of violet color, they bloom again in the fall.

    The white bleeding heart continues to bloom.   The first week in April, this little plant began blooming.  I love the delicate little white blossoms and the tiny little pink at the very bottom of the heart.  This plant is so much smaller than the pink bleeding heart we had at our first home. We apparently had the perfect spot with morning sun and afternoon shade for it there, because the plant was huge!  This year I think we need to plant another pink one, but they now have red ones!  So many flowers and where can I possibly plant them all?

    Spring is my very favorite time of year.  Each and every little blossom on all of the flowers are a sheer delight.  I hope you are thrilled to the edges of your very soul by these and your own flowers in spring bloom!

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Brownie Almond Cheesecake Bars (and Homemade Sour Cream)!

April 21, 2015

   This recipe for ‘Brownie Almond Cheesecake Bars’ was inspired by a recipe from a Kraft Foods magazine from about ten years ago.  It called for a brownie mix.  Since I believe I have the best homemade fudgy brownie recipe,  why would I buy a brownie mix?  After making so many cheesecakes, I thought by changing the cheesecake to a creamy almond base, it would be even better!   Almond cheesecake and fudgy brownies, doesn’t that sound good together?  

   Since the original recipe called for a brownie mix for a 13 x 9-inch pan, I had to make about half the original amount of cheesecake.  I usually make an 8 x 8-inch pan of brownies.  I have increased the size to fit a bigger pan on a couple of occasions but chose not to do that this time.  An 8 x 8-inch square pan of goodness sounded perfect without being overwhelming.

   For the recipe on my site, click here►Fudgy Brownie Almond Cheesecake Bars.

    Their version called for four eight ounce bars of cream cheese, so in this version, we only need two.  Along with vanilla extract, a little almond extract gave the almond flavoring needed.  

   Adding a little bit of sour cream to the cream cheese makes a really creamy cheesecake.  Unfortunately, I was fresh out of sour cream!  After assembling all of the ingredients, going to the grocery was not an option that sounded enticing.

   Thank heaven for the internet!  Googled ‘how to make sour cream’.  Found it on All Recipes! Click here ►http://allrecipes.com/recipe/homemade-sour-cream/. 

    Can you believe it?  You can actually make sour cream!  Yes, but it takes twenty-four hours. But, wait!  A few reviews read that these people expedited the making of the sour cream, by whipping it up with a food processor.  Awesome!  I had the milk, the vinegar, and the cream. Another option was to use buttermilk in place of the vinegar and the milk.  I had buttermilk!

    One-quarter cup of buttermilk and one cup of heavy cream poured into my two cup measuring cup and I was ready to begin.  Took out the old Braun handheld blender and began to whip that cream.  At first, I was beginning to wonder about this working.  Then the cream began to thicken and thicken.  Wow, it actually looked like sour cream!  It wasn’t quite as tangy as the sour cream we usually buy, however, it was not bad!  In the recipe being created, this was perfect!

   The next time I make the sour cream, I think I will try the vinegar and milk version and maybe leaving it at room temperature for twenty-four hours as they suggest in the recipe.  Maybe making both versions at the same time to test which is best would be a great idea!  I will need taste testers.  At the very least, I know now that in an emergency I can make my own sour cream! 

  Back to the Brownie Almond Cheesecake Bars, they turned out delicious!  One of the girls said that it might be their new favorite cheesecake recipe.  Don’t they look pretty? 

    For the recipe on my site, click hereFudgy Brownie Almond Cheesecake Bars.

    Brownie Almond Cheesecake Bars are so delicious and they’re pretty, too!

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