We have been trying to eat both healthier and cheaper in our house and besides beans one of the ways I have been trying to do that is to add more squash into our diet. I love squash. I am really excited about our zucchini […]
We had a really busy week this week with playdates for the younger kids and prom for our oldest. There were errands to run and the one year old didn’t nap all week. Both little kids must be growing through a growth spurt because I spend a lot of time feeding hangry (yes hangry) kids who had been fed an hour prior and then having to run to the store because we some how were out of everything. There was a lot of cleaning up of messes and my husband and I spent all of Sunday working on cleaning out the garage. We made a lot of progress and I feel much better about it. We just need to add another shelf to the ceiling and some along the walls for our gardening stuff and we should be mostly done. Ug. It was both exhausting and fun hanging out with the kids this week but we didn’t get a lot of gardening done.
I spent most of my time weeding and cleaning up the back yard. I didn’t have a lot of time so I pulled the biggest weeds from the asparagus bed, around the fruit trees/bushes and in the back around the deck/huckleberry bush. I found the biggest Stinky Bob plant I have ever seen underneath the huckleberry bush. It was easily three feet across. They are native here so they are everywhere in our back ravine and luckily they are easy to pull once they get big enough. My teenager also spent quite a bit of quality time with her sister pulling ivy along our back slope in preparation for the back fence. Getting the back area clear will be a family effort but well worth it once the fence is in and we can let George out to roam. I didn’t get any pictures of her efforts because I was busy in the garage (which I didn’t take pictures of either because it was a huge embarrassing mess).
Our indoor seedlings are past the point of needing planting but I was waiting on our trellises to come in the mail. I ordered them from Gardeners Supply Store a few weeks ago but you can also find something similar on Amazon and they will come much quicker since I had to wait almost three weeks for them to ship which was kind of a pain. I am going to plant my Luffas along the red three panel trellis and my three year old and I planted some pole beans under the bamboo stakes to create a bean tepee for her and her brother to play in. She was very excited! I let her choose beans or peas. My kids love their vegetables and peas and green beans are their favorite. I am really glad she chose green beans because I am not a fan of peas and I have been having to eat them quite a bit lately so that I am modeling good vegetable eating behavior.
My Luffa plants are doing well. I have been hardening them off all week and they should be ready to plant some time this week. I am really excited about them but also nervous because we just started out gardening and these are a little unusual. I have some bottle gourds that are ready to plant as well but I am in need of another trellis for them to climb.
I used some Earth Staples to anchor the trellis and some of the soaker hoses down. I plan on anchoring more of the soaker hoses down but I am waiting for after I add another trellis or something for the gourds to grow on. I probably need to use a splitter with my soaker hoses so there isn’t so much wasted water but I am still trying to figure out a good configuration for them. I am afraid that if I bury them I will forget where I put them…
Our green bean trellis is looking good. I am hoping it will be fun for the kids to sit in and sneak eating beans while I work in the garden.
Our pumpkins and squash are doing well with new growth and lots of flowers. I am hoping to get at least one good sized pumpkin and I know that the zucchini will probably over produce so I plan on freezing a bunch of it for the winter since I am the only on that really likes it. I only have two plants in the garden and a couple still in their red cups but I don’t think I will be planting the extras since two zucchini plants it probably enough for us.
After I worked in the vegetable garden I spent some time looking around the rest of the yard while my husband and son watered the asparagus and the front garden bed.
My gigantic bush by our front door is abuzz with bees. It is really pretty with all of it’s white flowers and the way it is shaped.
We also have these pink flowers that are stunning. We almost killed these last year when we planted the asparagus. They die back every year and the previous owners must have cut them back before they put the house on the market so we had no idea they were there until after they had been stepped on. They did not bloom last year but this year the bush is much bigger and has several big blossoms. We have really enjoyed the anticipation of waiting for the flowers to finally open. Our three year old has been checking them daily for progress which has been fun to watch.
This week I am going to continue to do bi-weekly watering, try and plant my luffa plants and maybe the gourds or my leftover cucumbers. We also have a ton of cleanup work to do in the yard for the oldest’s graduation party in two weeks (time has flown by too fast!) and to get the back ready for a fence. Our strawberries are starting to ripen and we got one berry off of them this week which the three year old promptly ate. I did find some unwelcome visitors in the garden this week and I used a non-toxic solution to hopefully get rid of them but that is for another post!
Happy gardening everyone!
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My oldest daughter and I love these sweet potato fries. I make them every couple of weeks and they are usually gone by the end of the night. The younger two kids either really love sweet potatoes or they can’t stand them so I usually make them as an extra dish. They are so easy to make it doesn’t make it seem like I am doing extra work for dinner. Some nights I start them when the younger kids are eating and then eat them as an after dinner snack instead of dessert. It was yummy and way healthier than ice cream or cookies.
Wash sweet potatoes thoroughly with a vegetable scrubber.
I used three lovely sweet potatoes today. We buy a gigantic bag from Costco every month or two and store them in a cool dry place.
Cut the ends off and then cut the sweet potatoes in half. Stand each half upright on the wider end and cut it in half again. Then slice each quarter into roughly the same thickness.
Spread your sweet potatoes on a standard cookie sheet. I used a Silpat under mine but you can also use parchment paper. The sweet potatoes don’t have to be evenly spread and they can be touching since they will shrink as they cook.
Lightly coat your sweet potatoes with olive oil. Ha ha! There is no actual olive oil on my brush because I didn’t want it to glop on there unevenly while I took a picture but you get the idea. I love our silicone brush because I can just toss it in the dishwasher afterwards. Don’t ask me where we got it. My husband bought it many years ago and I have no idea where but they have similar ones on Amazon.
Sprinkle your salt and pepper. I don’t use a lot of salt in my cooking and if I add a bunch of pepper to these it is guaranteed that the little kids won’t eat them so I do a very light coat. They do taste wonderful though if you add lots of pepper and a decent amount of salt so sometimes if I am feeling extra inspired I will make another tray for the grownups with more seasoning. Turn your sweet potatoes over and repeat the olive oil, salt and pepper. I may forget to repeat the second side if my kids are extra distracting so you can skip this step but they taste way better with coating on both sides. Put them in the oven for about 20 min, flip them with a fork to check tenderness and put them back into the oven for another 15-20 min. Check them a second time. There should be a little carmelization on them but if you are feeding them to little ones it is better to leave them soft.
I made these for kids to eat tomorrow so I pulled them a little early to keep them soft You can see some carmelization on the smaller pieces.
Yummy sweet potato juice coating the cooked fries. Let the fries cool for a few minutes and enjoy! You could also add a pre-mixed seasoning salt to the fries or just do salt and have them be more like french fries.
I hope your family enjoys these as much as we do! Happy cooking!
Easy Baked Sweet Potato Fries
Baked sweet potatoes make a great snack or side to any dinner.
- 3-4 Sweet Potatoes
- 1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
- Step 1 Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees and wash your sweet potatoes thoroughly.
- Step 2 Cut off the ends of the sweet potatoes and slice them in half twice. Cut them into roughly the same width (usually 1/4″ or so) to make them fry size. The actual width doesn’t matter, just remember the thicker they are the longer they will need to cook and the softer the fries will be. I usually cut each 1/4 of a sweet potato into 4-5 slices depending on how big it is.
- Step 3 Spread your fries evenly over a standard cookie sheet. I use a Silpat under them so they do not stick.
- Step 4 Lightly coat fries with olive oil, sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
- Step 5 Flip your fries and repeat olive oil, salt and pepper on the other side.
- Step 6 Bake sweet potatoes for 20 minutes.
- Step 7 Flip the fries with a fork and put them back into the oven for another 20-30 minutes depending on how done they are. If they are already soft put them in for 15 minutes and check them again. If some of them are still a little firm it will probably be closer to 25 or 30 minutes but check every few minutes to make sure.
- Step 8 Fries should be soft on the inside and have a little bit of carmelization on the outside. When I make them for the baby I leave them softer on the outside so he can chew them. Enjoy!
This past weekend we started our work on completely overhauling our front bed. It was originally planted with all ornamental plants and last year we removed a couple of large bushes and installed a planter box we were gifted from our neighbor. After a winter […]
We have finally been able to make some progress on our garden this week. Our pumpkin and sunflower seedlings are growing well and are almost ready for hardening off and transplant. I checked this morning and the watermelon seedlings are just starting to peek through the soil. Our ground cherries have yet to sprout but I was not able to get them to germinate last year either so I will probably buy seed starts again this year at a local plant sale. If you can I highly recommend buying plants from your local Master Gardeners group. You can just google “Master Gardeners” with your city and find a local club. Many put on plant sale which allows you to buy locally and also gives you a chance to talk to a gardener with experience growing the crop you are buying in your particular area.
Last night after nap time I was able to plant the strawberries I received from my local buy nothing group and plant lettuce, zucchini, spaghetti squash, luffa, gourds and cucumbers seeds. I used this planter we bought off of Amazon for the strawberries and lettuce. I put strawberries in the lower layers and lettuce in the top two. I wanted to save some of the strawberries to plant along the slope I want to keep from eroding.
We bought our potting soil from Costco and our local nursery. For the seeds I used mostly potting soil and then added about 1/4-1/2 inch of seed starter to the tops of the cups.
Our current seed starting method is to use red cups with three holes cut out of the bottom (you can just use kitchen shears) purchased at Costco in a low waterproof container. Since I was planting so many seeds I used this sterilite container with 20 cups. This still left room on the side to add water to the bottom for a passive watering system.
I added about a 1/2 inch of water to the bottom and let it sit while I planted the strawberries and lettuce.
I did have to refill it again since the soil was pretty dry. After I refilled it I poked two seeds into each cup and labeled them with wooden sticks. I bought ours at a local craft store but mine are almost gone so I will be ordering a gigantic pack from Amazon pretty soon. You can use anything you want to label your seeds and since I didn’t use a waterproof pen to label mine I will probably be able to wash them and use them again. Since I did not have enough sticks to label all of my cups I just labeled the first row of each. Hopefully I won’t mix the cups up…
Here are the seeds I used. They are just regular seeds bought from the grocery store except I ordered Luffa and gourd seeds from the Burpee website. They had a free shipping special on seeds and I did not have time to look around for luffa seeds since they are not common. I have this idea that we will grow our own luffa sponges and make bird houses out of the gourds but I have no idea if they will actually grow so it will be a fun experiment.
I rearranged our seed shelf in the laundry room so that the new seeds would fit, sprayed the tops of the new cups with water so that the seed starter would not dry out and let them bask in the glow of the light. All of them should germinate in 7-14 days and I am excited for them to come up!
A close up of the seed cups. The lack of waterproof marker caused the writing to run when I sprayed them with water but I can still read them so we are all good.
Today we spent some family time in the garden getting it ready for our seed starts and doing general clean up. We live in a heavily treed area and there is a constant need for leaf blowing. Here is the area where we are planting most of our vegetables. The previous planter from last year has had it’s soil turned over and I weeded and raked the area where the new planter box will go.
We bought our planter box off of Amazon. It is a little smaller than I pictured but you can add another one on top of it to make it deeper. We will probably buy another one to add to the top next year. It was super easy to assemble and our kids loved helping with it.
We placed the second one slightly farther away from the driveway so that we have a bit more space. I may plant our sunflowers along the driveway since I don’t want them shading out our planter boxes but I haven’t decided yet. We will add dirt sometime in the next couple of weeks when we can borrow a truck to haul it.
I am really happy with our progress in the garden this week. Next week we are planting our tomato starts we got from Costco and looking at adding our seed starts to the garden. I also need to direct sow our carrots and install a pest management fence around the vegetable garden which we can hopefully complete in the next couple of weeks.
What do you have going on in your garden this week?
I love mild coconut curry with potatoes. My mother-in-law makes a chicken coconut curry that is my absolute favorite but she doesn’t ever give up her real recipes so I created this cauliflower coconut curry recipe based on the many curry recipes I found. Since […]