In the Garden – Day 1

I woke up early yesterday; impatiently waiting for the sun to come up so I could get out in the garden.  A few high clouds made for a beautiful sunrise.  As I was waiting, I made cookies that I’ll post later this week.

I love playing in the dirt.  I guess that’s the farm girl in me coming out.  Fresh produce is so good.  It seems wrong to pay over $2.50 for an 8 oz. bag of salad spinach.  Salads are a summertime staple at my house.  Who want’s to heat up the kitchen when it’s 100° in the shade?

Gardening in Arizona is somewhat a challenge.  As I remember, Iowa gardening was so much easier.  Till the ground; plant the seeds; pull weeds now and then; water if it doesn’t rain; then sit back and watch it grow.  The soil was rich with nutrients.  As my dad, a life long farmer, said about Arizona when he came to visit, “This ground ain’t good for nothing.  Too rocky to grow anything.”

Garden's been tilled.
Garden’s been tilled.

Over the years, I’ve tried various methods with limited success, gardening in bags (soil got too hot and cooked the roots), gardening in tubs (had great tomato plants, but the fruit didn’t set), and rows (planted & replanted several times.  Darn chipmunks and kangaroo mice kept digging up and stealing the seeds.  If something did sprout, the rabbits got it.)  Our backyard is enclosed by 3′ chain link, with chicken wire around it and overlapping the gates.  The rabbits hop over the fence like it’s not even there.  We put up blocks in one corner to help with the critters and the hot summer winds.

Chilly Lizard
First lizard of the season.   It’s a bit chilly this morning, so he’s moving slow.

Well, a garden is possible – if you cage your area and enrich the soil by adding peat moss, compost, perlite, etc. into the ground.  I have a small garden area and plant in a modified square foot format.  Each year, we continue to add garden soil and compost.  Eventually, I’ll get the soil where I want it.

Onion sets, radishes, carrots, green beans, spinach and romaine lettuce hit the dirt yesterday.  Today, we’ll be expanding the garden a few more square feet on the left side of the wall for full sun.  Zucchini and yellow squash have to been in full sun to avoid aphids and they don’t mind the high winds.  Tomato plants, zucchini, yellow squash and cantaloupe are on today’s agenda.

Garden Planted and Caged
Garden Planted and Caged

I’ll provide weekly updates on my garden, perhaps more often after it starts to grow.

©2016, My Granny Rocks | Janette Thornton. All rights reserved.

30 Essential Spices

I’ve been noticing a lot of posts lately that always begin with “The Top Ten…”  Well, try as I may, I can’t cut my spice list down to only ten.  Plain old salt and pepper are a given.  Everyone has those.  The following are my ‘go to’ seasonings for cooking and baking.  Many are combined with others and used in rubs, seasonings for roasts, marinades.

  1. Allspice – Use in soups, barbeque sauce and marinades.
  2. Basil – Use this in spaghetti sauces, lasagna, breads.
  3. Bay Leaf – Makes any soup or stew taste better. Be sure to remove the leaf before serving.
  4. Caraway Seed – Essential for Caraway/Rye bread.
  5. Cayenne Pepper – A dash here and there adds a little zip. Great for livening up Spinach dip.
  6. Celery Salt – Add to flour when breading chicken for frying.
  7. Chili Powder – Mexican/Southwest meats, rice, cowboy beans and of course, chili.
  8. Chives – Put in scrambled eggs, top baked potatoes, add to biscuits and dumplings.
  9. Cilantro – A must have for Mexican/Southwest meat, rice or bean dishes.
  10. Cloves, Ground – Use in cookies, pumpkin pie, pumpkin rolls, spice cake.
  11. Cinnamon, Ground – Use mostly in baked goods.
  12. Cream of Tarter – Use when making a delicious, soft sugar cookie.
  13. Cumin – Another must have for Mexican/Southwest meat, rice or bean dishes.
  14. Dill Seed – Use in dips, sautéing/roasting veggies, herb bread
  15. Dill Weed – Use in dips, sautéing/roasting veggies, herb bread
  16. Garlic Powder – Use in everything (except cookies or cakes)
  17. Celery Leaves – Adds a nice light celery flavor in soups, stuffing, baked poultry
  18. Celery Seed, Whole – Use in coleslaw, meat rubs and season veggies.
  19. Ginger, Ground – Use in cookies, pumpkin pie, pumpkin rolls, spice cake.
  20. Mustard, Ground – Use in Swiss steak, good to have on hand.
  21. Nutmeg – Use in pumpkin pie, pumpkin rolls, spice cake.
  22. Onion, Minced – Good to have on hand in case your run out of fresh.
  23. Onion Powder – Use in everything (except cookies or cakes)
  24. Oregano – Use this in spaghetti sauces, lasagna, breads.
  25. Paprika – Adds color when sprinkled on deviled eggs, use in goulash.
  26. Parsley – Adds color and a little flavor to biscuits and soups.
  27. Red Pepper Flakes – Use to add a little hotness to foods
  28. Rosemary – Use on poultry, in herb bread.
  29. Sage – Use in stuffing, dressing, baked poultry
  30. Thyme -Use in herb breads, sautéing/roasting veggies, and on meats.

I have a few other spices in my cupboard, but don’t use them as often as these 30.  It’s always good to have Kosher salt or sea salt on hand, too.  Some recipes call for a larger salt crystal.  Never substitute table salt for Kosher or sea salt without reducing the measurement.

Spices have always been expensive.  When I was first starting out, (back in the day when minimum wage was less than $3.00/hour,) I’d buy a spice tin each payday.  Dang, I’m showing my age.  Spices came in tins – not bottles.  Even now, I don’t buy garlic or onion salt, I make my own by mixing 1 teaspoon powder with 3 teaspoons of table salt.  I guess I could do the same with celery salt.  I hadn’t thought about it as I don’t use it as much as I do garlic and onion salt.






©2016, My Granny Rocks | Janette Thornton. All rights reserved.


Granny JJI’m new to this blogging thing and here’s how it came about…I’m over 50 and one day when I was feeling particularly tired, I said to my 14 year-old grandson, “I’m getting old, aren’t I?”  Without missing a beat, he said, “You’re not old.  My Granny rocks!”  Well, that planted the seed and here I am.

My favorite quote is from Earl Nightingale, “Never give up on a dream because of the time it will take to accomplish it.  The time will pass anyway.”   I was raised in a time where my dream was to get married, be happy and have a nice family.  That was it.  I never thought about much more than that.  Now, I let my mind wander to the possibilities and it’s like, yeah.  I can do this.

Another quote I really like came from my sister-in-law, Barbie.  She said, “I don’t like to start on yesterday tomorrow.”   Starting on yesterday tomorrow applies to so many things.  Every day, do as much as you can whether at work or on your own personal goals.  If I’ve got something to do, I get it done.  It’s really simple.  Do it now; then you don’t have to worry about finding time to do it later.

Both are powerful statements I live by daily.

At work, if your boss needs something by say 3:00 pm.  Respond as quickly as you can.  Boom!  It’s off your plate and you can continue on working.  I often make the mistake of thinking that everyone thinks like me.  When I ask my grandson to take out the trash.  It means DO IT NOW.  If I wanted it done later, I’d ask later.  Simple, huh?

Around the house, avoiding yesterday tomorrow may mean doing the dishes at night instead of letting them pile up in the sink to do tomorrow.  Really, what’s it take?  All of fifteen minutes to wash and dry or maybe five minutes to load the dishwasher?  Come on folks, no excuses.

As I’ve grown older, I realized everyone has something to contribute to the younger generations, regardless of whether they’re 50 or 90.  There are so many things younger people don’t know.  This is my way of sharing the knowledge I’ve gained and I hope you find it useful.

©2016, My Granny Rocks | Janette Thornton. All rights reserved.