Growing Tomatoes, Part One: Seeds

Year after year, surveys invariably discover that the Number 24676480One Favorite Veg of America’s backyard gardeners is the tomato, in any of its diverse forms – and often as not, in more than one of them. Why? It’s not just the pleasure (or even the economy) of being able to “do it yourself.” The reason is quality of flavor.

You don’t have to be an epicure to tell, in a single bite, the difference between a store-bought tom and a home-grown one. It’s hardly surprising why. Your typical commercial tomato begins life many hundreds of miles away from you –sometimes thousands of miles!— and has to endure picking, cleaning, grading, inspecting, packing, shipping, unpacking, and then being displayed…before it ever gets to your shopping cart, let alone your dinner table. The goal of the commercial tomato grower is to produce a fruit that looks good after the above ordeal, one that looks so good you’ll want to pay money for it. What it tastes like isn’t an issue, at the produce stand.

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Plant a Magical Family Tree!

This year, choose a family tree!7333075

Take a walk in the woods and get to know the different types of trees. In a fairly short space of time you will find yourself admiring the beauty of one particular species. This may well become your own family’s ‘chieftain’ or clan totem tree. Take a stroll and see if a tree decides to share its totemic power.

By planting a tree you also help mop up that CO2!

St. Patrick’s Day in the USA may be too cold to plant your potatoes as they traditionally do.  But it may be possible to plant a tree depending upon where you live in the United States. Arbor Day is traditionally the last Friday in April but many states, like Florida, Louisiana and Hawaii, celebrate Arbor Day earlier. Maine and Alaska have to wait until May though! Continue reading

Mom’s Crunchy Granola

Since my last post featured one of my dad’s signature recipes, I thought I would share one of my mom’s this time. There’s almost nothing that sticks with you better for breakfast than a bowl of  granola. This is an easy recipe and makes a crunchy, hearty, not-too-sweet breakfast treat. It’s delicious with milk or yogurt, by itself or with other cereal.  I like to sprinkle it liberally on my bowl of Cheerios. Try it – I bet you’ll love it! Continue reading

Got dust? They’re a MUST…

Late winter is usually a time when I gaze around the rooms of my home and notice how DUSTY everything has gotten. It’s been several weeks since the Christmas decorations were put away, and the obligatory cleaning done after. Although I dutifully clean the house each week (did I say week? I meant, er, month), it seems the dust piles up so quickly this time of year, when everyone is cooped up inside, the windows can’t be opened due to the cold and the pale winter sun shines in at odd angles, making tiny dust particles dance in the light whenever something is moved. Continue reading

Lehman’s Farm Animal Murals in the News!

Hobby Farms Photo Shoot

Hobby Farms Photo Shoot

Lehman’s has often been ‘in the news’ over the years but last Friday was a special day for me. It was a day that I got to be in the spotlight.  Jodi Miller, a free lance photographer from the Columbus area drove up and spent the day with me on a photo shoot for Hobby Farms Home magazine. I am an equine and animal artist living in the Kidron/Dalton area. I painted the farm animal and Hitching Post murals at Lehman’s over the last couple years during store hours as part of Lehman’s arts and crafts demos in the Buggy barn.  Continue reading

Biscuits on a wood stove

Resolute Acclaim

Resolute Acclaim

I spoke with a customer recently about her wood heating stove and how she used it to cook on during the most recent ice storm and power outage in Kentucky where she lives.  (Funny, I mentioned my Aunt lives in Morgantown KY, and she said she lives not far from there.)

She owns a Resolute Acclaim from Vermont Castings.  She said, “It worked great for making biscuits.  I purchased 2 stove top thermometers from Lehman’s and put one on the top of the stove and the other on the Dutch Oven I was using to cook with.”

Here are a few tips she’d like to pass along:

Classic Dutch Oven

Classic Dutch Oven

  1. The wood that you’re burning needs to be fully seasoned, no wet or moisture-laden wood.
  2. The temp of the stove needs to be 500-550 degrees for baking biscuits.
  3. Use a stove pipe thermometer on the top of the stove as well as on the top of your Dutch oven to ensure the temp is kept even.
  4. For baking time refer to your favorite recipe.
  5. Absolutely NO PEEKING into the Dutch oven while the biscuits are baking.

Her daughter thought these were the best biscuits she’s ever made.

Year of Thoughtful Living, Part VI: On Taking Stock and Window Quilts Revisited

It’s been a busy few months since I wrote last, andphoto_7 I have some useful things to share; but before I start, let me say a sincere thanks to those folks who took the time to email me personally, asking when I’d be back on the Lehman’s newsletter. Your kind words and enthusiasm are more encouraging than I can express, and I can report that while silent, I have not been idle.

At right around January 4th (the 6-month mark of this journey) I took stock of how I was doing with my food, supplies and expenses. So far, I’m doing very well with canned goods, not quite as well but still pretty good with frozen things, passable in the personal care and household cleaners, but nearly back to the dreaded “S” word (shopping) for paper goods. I think I mentioned back in late summer that I surmised this might be the case, but I still feel pretty good about where that puts me with a target of going a year without many major shopping trips. One of the things I’ve done to increase my accountability will probably strike some as borderline OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, for those who still believe that folks like me “just have their quirks”). I’ve begun labeling the date I open almost everything so as to keep track of how long it takes me to go through it. Continue reading

When is Saving Collecting and Recycling?

Over the past year Tony and I took a hard look at our garbage – how much we make, how we get rid of it and how could we reduce it.

In Ireland there are no property taxes. But you do pay for services like refuse collection and you have control over how much you compost, burn on the home hearth, recycle at the ‘Bring Centre’ (glass, plastic bottles and aluminium drink cans).

We buy refuse bags (five for €25) at our local supermarket issued by Cavan County Council that holds about 40 kilos. A household of two living conscientiously can reduce a lot of waste. Actually, most of ours is cat litter because I have not been totally successful in creating a cat litter composting area. Continue reading

Daddy Bread

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He used to make it only when the snow was flying, usually on his days off from his job as an ICU nurse.

My sister and I knew Dad had baked bread as soon as we hit the door, just off the school bus. Our little house would be filled with a welcoming, unmistakable aroma, and big, crusty loaves of his signature whole-wheat bread (“Daddy Bread” to us) would be cooling on dishtowels on the counter.  We’d eat some hot right then (if he’d let us), and multiple pieces of “Daddy toast” were often breakfast each morning before school. It was best with just a bit of butter – no jelly to overtake the nice, yeasty flavor. Continue reading