Posts tagged ‘gardening’

Green tomato and dried cherry relish

This year, I had way more green tomatoes left on the vine than any other year. Thanks to two volunteer tomato plants that grew three times larger than my other tomato plants, I knew I had to find a recipe to take advantage of the bumper crop.

The third attempt was the charm. (The first attempt was using a green pickles recipe by Emeril Lagasse that turned into a hard rock of carmel – not usable. The second attempt was an adaptation of my refrigerator pickle recipe, and after several days those started to taste good, but still not perfect.)

This idea was inspired by Martha Stewart’s recipe:¬†http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/green-tomato-relish

However, I had many more tomatoes than she had in her recipe, and was missing some ingredients. I adapted and it turned out so tasty.

Here’s what I did:

8 cups of green tomatoes, cut into bite sized pieces (halved if they are cherry tomatoes, quartered for grape/plum tomatoes, etc)
1 large white onion, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 cup dried cherries, chopped into very small pieces
1 large cucumber, deseeded and chopped into bite sized pieces

In large sauce pan, bring 3 cups brown sugar, 3 cups vinegar, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tablespoon mustard seed, 1 teaspoon ginger to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add vegetables/cherries to mixture and reduce to low boil/high simmer for 15-25 minutes, or until tomatoes are soft, some of the liquid has evaporated, and before the tomatoes have begun to disintegrate. Pour into mason jars (this made about 1.5 32 ounce mason jars worth of relish), including enough of the syrup to add some flavor but not so much that it would be swimming (think consistency of pickle relish).

Store in refrigerator for up to a month. Delicious on pork chops, pork loin, grilled cheese sandwiches and more.

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October 24, 2010 at 5:30 pm Leave a comment

A peek into the garden, again

June 1, 2010 at 6:21 pm Leave a comment

Bad blogger, better gardener

Oh my poor, abandoned blog. I have not forgotten thee. And reaching more than 10,000 visits since I have been back! Wow. Thank you all for your faithful reading and support. I promise to do a better job at keeping up with this.

While my blog has been collecting weeds, my garden is thriving! About a month solid of rain is making for beautiful flowers and yummy strawberries, green onions, carrots and herbs. Hallelujah.

Isn’t the ‘flower’ function of the Canon Rebel the best?

May 25, 2010 at 6:06 pm 2 comments

Let there be life

Tulips! (And dandelions, but we can ignore those)
Green onions sprouting in pots

Oh spring, you are satisfying to the soul.

April 14, 2010 at 6:25 am Leave a comment

Homes that are truly for the birds: how to

So the daily blogging thing comes and goes on here, as you may have noticed. Work has been crazy, life has been crazy, the house is a mess, the computer was under repair …. and to be honest, what I really needed for awhile was to disconnect from the world a bit. I love being connected. I love people. But sometimes, between Facebook, Twitter, blogs, LinkedIn, news feeds, Google Reader, work emails … the amount of information is overwhelming. Sometimes, I just need to disconnect for a bit and recharge.

What better timing and chance than this beautiful Easter weekend? Two full days of sun, warm temperatures, warm soil and a relatively free schedule. I buried myself in the garden, and enjoyed alfresco lunch with my long lost husband who has been overwhelmed with work and grad school. Weeding, pruning, planting herb seeds (slow bolt cilantro, three kinds of basil, dill, tarragon, thyme, rosemary, oregano, lavander), green onion bulbs and wildflowers. Building a partial fence around our back garden so the dogs can’t destroy it now that our backyard is fenced in. Where they previously ran rampant and destroyed, is now a beautiful black iron fence and even better, green things are returning to the garden! (Still much work is needed, so please only look at the fence :))

One dog was particularly glad to accompany me with so much time spent outside:

Back to the main theme, though: birdhouses. I was inspired when reading the April 2010 edition of Country Living and looking at the stunning gardens that were featured. One included four birdhouses, of different shapes, painted the same color and installed on stilts amidst the garden. It was beautiful. I decided I had to have birdhouses, and then about fell over when I saw the price (especially as I was wanting 5 of them).

So, I was determined to semi-make my own. Sure, you could make your own entirely from scratch, but this is much easier.

What you will need:

4 unfinished wooden birdhouses, similar sizes, with different shapes. I found mine at Michaels, where there were about 8 designs to choose from, and all sold for $4.99 regular price. (Though they were on sale for $3.99 when we bought them)

1 can Rustoleum (or similar brand) primer

1 can Rustoleum paint (I used 2 cans because I wanted 2 different colors)

1 can Rustoleum clear gloss sealer paint

1 tube water resistant epoxy glue

2 packages 72-120 inch adjustable closet rods (we found some at Home Depot. For $13, you get 2 6-foot-long poles that can be easily driven into the ground. This was much cheaper than the $15 birdhouse poles we found at WalMart, and saved us about $19 per birdhouse)

Large black trashbags

Layout large black trash bags, forming a safe place to spray paint. Put birdhouses on top of trashbag. Spray first with 1-2 coats of primer paint, thoroughly covering bare wood. Let dry for 45 minutes. Then, spray 2 coats of desired paint color, with 2 minutes of drying time between coats. Then, let houses dry an additional 30 minutes, and spray 2 coats of clear coat, with 2 minutes in between each coat. Let dry for an additional 1-2 hours.

Position poles where you would like your birdhouses to be, with the open end driven into the ground, and the plastic-capped top facing the sky. Your soil and location will depend on how far you want to push down your poles. Mine are implanted 1 foot into the ground, leaving 5 feet of pole out of the ground. With bird houses, the structures measure about 5-feet 8-inches.

After you have your poles positioned where you want them, mix water-resistant epoxy and apply to the plastic capped end of the closet rod, and to the underneath of your birdhouse where it will be attached to the pole. Attach to the pole. It can take up to 5 minutes to set, so stay near the pole for 5 minutes to make sure the house affixes. Repeat with all houses, and voila! You are finished!

(Pardon the terrible lighting in these photos)

April 6, 2010 at 7:49 pm 1 comment

Breaking ground, clearing the weeds, refreshing and recharging

The weather finally warmed up here in Northern Missouri, and I’m proud to report my daffodils are in bloom!

Although later than I was hoping for, the weather was finally dry enough to begin work on the garden. And oh, there is so much work to do. Clearing out dead branches and dead plants from the previous year (left through winter to provide cover for bugs, bees, spiders …), pruning, weeding, watering, planting, mulching, moving, dividing ….

Oh. My. At some point in life, I need to live somewhere that has a climate conducive to gardening year round. There is nothing, nothing more stress reducing than getting your hands dirty, getting a great workout and standing back to admire the fruits of your labor. One blog I was reading recently referred to always finding a plant growing from seed to be a little miracle, and I agree. The thrill of running to the garden every day to see what new miracles have transpired is absolutely priceless.

At work, we are going through a reorganization of sorts. Leadership has changed, and we are evolving and redefining our mission, purpose and job descriptions. It’s been a time of uncertainty, growth and opportunity. And not unlike the first few days in the garden in the spring. As we clear old branches and spent flowers that no longer support the main plant or future growth, so we must continue to do in organizations. As we experiment with new gardening tips and plant species, so we experiment with new things in the work place, encouraging those with promising results to thrive and ridding ourselves of ones who just don’t fit in the garden. Eliminating old growth to encourage new. Clearing out the clutter to see the original plant – the greater picture.

It’s been refreshing, intimidating and challenging (in good and bad ways) to go through these changes at work, dredging up the same feelings I have at the beginning of each spring. I stand back, look at my garden, and think, oh there is so much to do. So much to clear. So many things to sort out. What was I thinking taking on this big of a project? Where do I start?

But then, you do. You take a step forward. You carefully prune away a branch you know won’t be missed. You rid yourselves of the obvious weeds. You monitor and nurture new growth. Before you know it, you’re hooked. Things start making sense. Plants are thriving, healthy, working together to create a beautiful landscape.

OK, so this is hokey and a bit cliched. But, you get my point. I’ve been overwhelmed and invigorated by life’s tasks recently, from the office to the garden. Little by little, though, it’s starting to make sense. I’m starting to see the flowers through the weeds.

Welcome, spring.

April 3, 2010 at 11:37 am Leave a comment

Bugs and gardens and glass, oh my!

While in St. Louis for my step-brother’s wedding, we had some downtime between the ceremony and the reception. We stopped by one of my favorite stores – The Bug Store Homestore, a mix of pots, garden implements, iron work, art, blown glass … fun, beautiful and inspirational.

The window display. We picked out one of these to bring to my mom.

I really wanted this for our garden, but Matt (AKA the practical one) didn't think this was a wise take home for a road trip in a small car.

And a little somethin’ somethin’ for my walls:

If you live in St. Louis or happen to be near by, it’s definitely worth the stop!

March 30, 2010 at 6:04 pm 2 comments

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About me

My name is Mallory Murray and I have a love of all things oldfashioned. I'm a modern day feminist who also adores Martha Stewart. Read on for my sewing, crochet, cooking, gardening, quilting and crafting projects. I am the chief officer of marketing and design at Northwest Missouri State University, so expect the occasional random post about marketing/universities/design. I dream of a hobby farm with baby doll sheep, a sheep dog, a small flock of chickens, and other animals to be announced. I'm also a Pitt State grad, football lover, HGTV addict and obsessed with the color aqua.

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