Heaven on Earth

Heaven on Earth

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

We took a little winter vacation to get away from the snow and this is where we went.  Isn't it lovely?  Dusk is beautiful in Arizona.  The backyard was just warm enough to sit and enjoy the scenery and wildlife.  My Sister-in-law has a gorgeous desert mountain home on a golf course which she so generously lent us for a week.  
I hadn't shown you my Christmas gifts (because the recipients read my blog).  I made socks of course. 
Both pairI knitted turned out lovely...except my husbands didn't fit.  
He has a large instep and the socks fit too tightly there.  Because the yarn was merino and silk and an investment, I wanted him to wear them and that meant they needed to be comfortable.  So...
This happened.
My knitting group cringed.  They asked if it didn't hurt to rip back two lovely socks (size 12) just above the toe where the instep started.  

I want him to wear them and so they need to fit. I now have a custom pattern just for him.
 Here's the finished pair.  Not nicely blocked but finished.
I couldn't resist taking a photo where I re-knit them.
Quite a different scene than the snow and ice where they were born.
No wool socks were needed in this winter weather, but unfortunately we had to go home.

And it snowed again yesterday.  The socks were just what he needed.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Spicy Eggplant and Green Bean Curry

When Erin was home at Christmas she made us a delicious curry from memory. She makes it often at home. It was a recipe published in Bon Apetit Fast Easy Fresh. She emailed the original recipe but I changed it considerably(as Erin does, depending on what's in her fridge).    The original recipe was not spicy as advertised; actually it was rather bland but a few additions made all the difference.  I also add a protein, onions, and sweet potatoes to make this a complete, flavor packed meal.  We both serve it over Jasmine rice, which is more aromatic than white rice.

The recipe looks complicated but it's really not.  The chopping goes pretty quick.  It works up fast once you start cooking. Chop all your ingredients and have them ready before you start.  The French call this miz en place, which means "putting in place".  It's most efficient.  I start the rice and when it's cooked the curry is ready to serve.

*An important note: Thai basil makes all the difference.  Buy it in an Asian grocery.

See my extra tips below the written recipe and if you make it, leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

Spicy Eggplant, Green Bean, and Sweet Potato Curry

5 Tablespoons of olive oil, divided
1 small yellow onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 Tablespoons of grated ginger
1 boneless chicken breast, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 14-16 oz. eggplant, cut into 2 x 1/2 x 1/2-inch sticks
8 oz. of green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 small sweet potato, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 Tablespoons of grated lime peel (1 lime)
Juice of one lime
2 teaspoons of Thai green curry paste
1 cup of canned unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tablespoons of Thai basil
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat 4 Tablespoons of oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring.  Do not let the garlic brown.  Remove the veggies to a bowl and saute the chicken until just browned (do not cook through). Add the onion mixture, along with the eggplant, potato, and green beans back into the skillet. Cook until almost tender, stirring often, (about 10 minutes).  Cover and cook for 3 minutes longer until beans are tender and the chicken is cooked through.  Transfer the skillet contents to a bowl.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, lime peel, and curry paste to the skillet; stir 15 seconds.  Add the coconut milk; bring to a boil, whisking until its smooth.  Return the veggies and chicken to the skillet; toss with sauce to cover.

Mix in the Cilantro and milk and season to taste with salt and pepper.

You can add or subtract vegetables to suit your taste and what you have in your fridge/pantry. We love the eggplant in this, but if you are not an eggplant fan just use a different veggie.

I also will steam the potatoes in the microwave for a few minutes to soften before adding them to the skillet. They take longer to cook.  I don't steam the beans because I like them a bit crisp.

You could use a combination of white potatoes, carrots, and beans.  Make this recipe your own.

 You can sub out the chicken for pork or shrimp.

This is mildly spicy.  Add more curry paste if you want it "hotter". or use red or yellow curry paste instead of green.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Long HOT summer!!

A lot has been going on here since I last posted.  Time has flown by, and we've been busy.
We've had a University graduation this spring,
with a little trip thrown in before starting her summer job

That trip was followed by another vacation,

and a few stay-cations,
 We had some fun visitors stop by the Homestead.
and unfortunately a very small accident involving two of our cars and the neighboring construction crew with a big truck pulling a backhoe on a trailer.

Some knitting has happened.

It's been too hot here to do much else.  We had the hottest June ever on record in our state.
Thank goodness for cooler evenings.
Every little bit of respite helps.
I hope to get back here to post more soon.

How's your summer going?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


Here we go again.  I told the story of the "Accidental Beekeepers"  in this post.  The feral hive that lived in our roof eaves for years was removed.  The beekeeper/contractor who we hired to cut them out, accidentally put the queen in the colony after he sprayed her with insecticide in the roof. He was trying to kill any bees he didn't remove so they didn't recolonize in the roof. OOPS.  Three days later, the whole colony died.  Then we bought a hive from a local IFA store  We later discovered that it hadn't really been taken care of very well when we got it; not very many bees. I don't think we fed it enough either and it absconded, which in beekeeper terms means the colony didn't like the accommodations we provided and moved on to greener pastures. This year, armed with more knowledge and hard won experience,  we are trying again; this time with two hives so we can compare the two.
The kitchen garden is providing some nice pollen and nectar right now.  The poppy pollen is bright orange.  It looks nice in the bee frames next to the bright yellow of the dandelion pollen.
One hive is stronger than the other but both are gaining in population and the queens are laying. We've had at least one hatch and this weekend I'll put a second brood box on each hive. The colony needs to more room to grow so the queen has comb to lay new eggs. The average life of a field bee (the foragers that collect nectar for honey) is about 3-4 weeks this time of year. They literally work themselves to death.  It takes 3 weeks for an egg become a bee so it's important the queen is laying well.

There is a great deal of pollen and nectar now and the hives are thriving so cross your fingers and hope we do better this time around.

This starling and his mate pulled out some mortar from the ice house eaves and they have a nest full of baby birds under the roofline.  The bird on the ridge was watching me pretty carefully with a worm in his beak.
And here's a photo of one the beekeepers.  Don't tell him I posted his photo though.  He's camera shy.
We both use a full bee suit when I open up the hive. B's allergic to bee stings and I just don't like getting them!  I could sit all day watching the hives and I don't use a suit for that.
This is the way to "mow" a lawn/pasture in my opinion.  Our neighbor, Peter, borrows his friend's sheep for the weekend. Love this breed and their black faces.
That's a pretty nice view from our back garden, don't you think?

Monday, May 4, 2015

Little Cotton Rabbits....hooray!

Aren't these just the cutest little animals you've ever seen.  Julie Williams' Little Cotton Rabbits are addicting to knit.  I may have knitted 35 or so a few of them.

It's been busy here.  Nothing earth shattering or bad...just busy.

We hived two new packages of bees last weekend and they're doing fine so far.  The queen is out and they're gathering nectar. We've had house guests and a family wedding coming up.  Abby graduated from university and Rachel got a new job. And tax season is over!   It's a good life.

I hope to get back here sooner rather than later.
Hope all is well with you.