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Southern Cornbread

After my sad post about giving up on corn, I needed something to boost my spirits, a little pick me up, if you will.  And there’s no better way sometimes, than with a spot of comfort food.  Southern Cornbread, anyone?

This is a recipe I devised through trial and error, not to mention the help of my daughter’s taste buds.  I’ll warn you, she’s a sweet one.  Sweet on the outside, sweet on the inside, plain everything in her world is sweet—including her preference in food.  Which leads me to a disclaimer:  this is NOT my mother’s recipe.  (We don’t want to tarnish her reputation in any way, particularly “guilt by association.”)

To be completely forthright, we took her basic recipe and modified from there.  Frankly, I prefer her recipe, only not oven-baked as she directed, but pan-fried, with lots of yummy butter to make it a beautiful golden brown.  My apologies to my healthy friends—this recipe is anything but.

But it’s oh-so-delicious.  And simple–the best part of all!

Southern Cornbread

Southern Cornbread

2 cups yellow cornmeal

2 cups buttermilk

3 TBSP melted bacon drippings, extra to grease pan

1 egg

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup vanilla pudding mix (optional – to add moisture)

2 TBSP sugar (optional – for the sweet tooth!) More

Time to Break Some Ground!

Put your “fun cap” on because it’s time to get your hands dirty!  It’s time to break ground for your new spring garden!  Already have a garden?  Perfect, but you can still get in on the action as it’s a good idea to work your soil for a fresh start.

Now, while I’d like to say this is the easy part—that would be a lie.  This is the part where you get your exercise.  Stretch those cold stiff muscles and get limber again.  Remember, we reap what we sow and we can’t sow if we don’t dig.

Are you smiling yet?  Good.  Now, one of the secrets to great plants is loose soil.  Loose soil promotes strong, deep roots and encourages a healthy plant which means a productive plant.  I learned this the hard way with carrots.  Have you ever seen an “L” shaped carrot?  I have.  As a general rule, carrots will grow down as far as they can easily manage, until the going gets too tough, and then they grow sideways.  Literally.  Packed soil is not their friend.  It’s not friendly to any plant, really, because it doesn’t promote good aeration which helps the plant take in the nutrients it needs. More

Progress Report

The kids have been diligently tending their garden, learning about the cold, learning the ways of crop rotation.  Rotating crops helps to improve soil structure, increases a plant’s ability to absorb nutrients and aids in pest control.  As we prepare to harvest and begin the new season, organic gardeners need to know what they grow, know what grows where, when and why.  Quite a mouthful, isn’t it?

But we make crop rotation easy at BloominThyme and sing our way through the garden ~ beans – leaves – roots and fruits!  Beans – leaves – roots and fruits! More

Hello, Spring!

With spring on the horizon, it’s time to finalize your garden plans. 

Already?  Great beets alive, pull your heads out of the sand and get busy!  There are seeds to buy, ground to prep, compost to turn—

Oops—did we forget to start the compost pile?  Can’t find it under all the snow?  Well, leave it be then, there are plenty of other things to keep us busy.  Like gather the tools, plan for location, check the water supply…  Now where did that sprinkler go? 

So many things to think about could scare a gal clear out of the garden, but hold on to your tool belt, because we’re going to make this easy!  As pie.  (Because we all have time to bake pie, right?)

By being prepared, you’ll be certain not to miss your first day of planting.   While this day varies from region to region based on frost dates, most gardeners can plan on March-April to begin their outdoor festivities. 

But why wait?  You can start many of your seeds indoors and get a jump-start on the season!  Which brings us to the first item on the checklist:

1 – Order seeds.  Grow what you’ll eat—not what’s easy.  I know it’s tempting, but there’s no sadder day than the one when you witness perfectly good food withering on the vine.  So if you haven’t already, order those seeds.

2 – Design layout.  If building container beds, get your lumber now.  I don’t know about you, but my husband likes a bit of notice before he’s asked to perform.  Getting your creative juices warmed and flowing now, will help speed the process later.  “Oh, sweetheart…  About that little favor!” More

Get Out and Get Your Berries!

It’s that time of year again, when the strawberries are calling your name.  From Plant City, Florida to your local grocery store, the filed up the road or the guy on the corner making your purchase all the more convenient, it’s time to get your strawberries.  And here in Central Florida, it’s a beautiful time to get outside and get pickin’…

We go to our area strawberry farm, Oak Haven.  They have plenty of u-pick hours for the kids to race down the rows (only kidding–they prefer you don’t run :)), a country kitchen open on the weekends, serving up the best strawberry shakes and now, strawberry wine.  Ah….  Fun for the whole family!

Out back, they also have a playground and zip line (of sorts).  Definitely a place to check out if you’re looking for something fun to do.  And speaking of great country fun, the Plant City Strawberry Festival is opening its doors THIS week.  From February 28 – March 10, stop by and enjoy fresh strawberries, strawberry shortcake, petting zoo, garden shows and live music from some of the hottest names in country!

 So if you’re not growing strawberries in your garden this year, don’t dismay.  There’s plenty to choose from out there.  For a strawberry farm in your area, check the website Pick Your Own.  This is a GREAT resource for everything fruits and vegetables.  It’s a BloominThyme favorite!  For recipes to highlight your bounty, how about a little Strawberry Goat Cheese SaladJuicing? Maybe the kids would like to give their favorite teacher a sweet giftStrawberry cupcakes always sound good around my household. 

But no matter how you like your strawberries, get outdoors and enjoy the season.  Blueberry pickin’ will be here before you know it!!

Well I’ll be frostbitten…

Yes, I know it’s 80°F today in Florida, but last weekend it was cold. I mean really cold — 32°F of cold.  And as I mentioned, it was over the weekend.

Unfortunately, the garden lady doesn’t go to school on the weekend.  Yep.  Covered my potatoes at home but at school?  No could do.

So I did what any wise old sage would do and planned this week’s lesson around the realities of life. 

“Sorry kids, Mother Nature got us on this one.  Layered the landscape in cold when we were least able to protect against it.”  (That, and your garden lady completely forgot about to bring sheets with her to school on Friday.)  It happens.  It’s real life.  We cope.

Printing out the pages, I tucked them in my pretty floral folder and went to school.  Walked the kids out to the garden and stopped cold in my tracks.  “What the–” More

Martha and Me

I love Martha Stewart.  There.  I said it.  She cooks, she crafts, she gardens, she adores her dogs–what’s not to love?  Her desserts are to die for, her garden is poetry in nature…

Okay.  That’s a lie.  It’s a perfection of nature. I’ve browsed the magazines.  I’ve seen the pictures.  It’s intimidating.  Really.  Which is why personally, I’ve given up perfection in my garden.  Weeds need to live, too.  That, and my kids have revolted.

Gloved hands to my hips, I stared at them.  “It’s once a week.  What’s the problem?”

Both returned a frown.  “It would be more fun if we had a friend.”

Huh. You see, for them, gardening is a group activity.  At school, when surrounded by their classmates, all is well.  They weed, they chat about movies, discuss video games (depending on which kid we’re talking about here), they spend time in the glory of nature…  It’s a sight to behold.

As an avid gardener myself, I understand this completely, though I tend to enjoy my solo moments in the garden, too.  Nice break from the family, if you get my drift. 🙂

But more than a break, gardening can be an obsession, too.  And featured in this month’s Martha Stewart Living, you’ll find a host of wonderful garden books, like Thomas C. Cooper’s The Roots of My Obsession.  A collection of 30 essays from notable gardeners such as Rosalind Creasy, author of The Edible Garden and Stephen Orr, gardening editor for Martha Stewart Living, this book is packed with the love of gardening, the joy, as well as the adventure.  (I do love a good adventure, don’t you?)  It’s like receiving letters from your garden friends, notes sure to bring a smile to your face.  Most likely a nod from your head, too! More

Peppers in January?

“Who’d a thunk it?”  Especially after the frost just before Christmas, when I was out shopping and too busy to cover them, in addition to the fact that my local weather folks had it in the 40’s until I arrived home that evening.  Frost alert!  Maybe even a freeze!

AGH?  Are you kidding me?  This is not something to joke about!

But alas, it was true.  Two nights in a row.  Ho, hum.  Who expects to grow peppers in the winter, anyway?

Only the most optimistic gardeners like myself!  I left the peppers in ground after the damage was done, deciding to pull them out at a later date.  Then the green peppers started turning red, and the Hungarian Wax started sprouting a host of new leaves.  What the heck?

The curious sort, I left them in and kept an eye on the little fellas.  Checked one of the red peppers, turned it to and fro.  Didn’t appear frost-bitten.  Was it possible it was good? More

Too Close for Comfort

Justin and Eyry have been enjoying their garden without much issue, until now.  Recently, we experienced a few days of unseasonably heavy rain and fog, and their squash did not fare well.  Sad sight, isn’t it?

One problem was weather, perhaps bugs, but another is spacing.  As you see here, they look pretty and full, but beware… More

Hungarian Wax Beauties

Wahoo~my Hungarian Wax peppers are ready to be canned!!  It’s the moment my son has been waiting for.  He can’t wait to get started harvesting–well, in between entertaining the neighbor girl peering at him through the chain link fence, that is.  In between introducing him to all 100 of her imaginary brothers and sisters, her fleet of horses, her real life dogs…

Well, you get the picture.  The boy was distracted, but still managed to snip this bounty of peppers.

Beautiful.  From red to yellow (and a few green we’ll chalk up to the distraction factor), my son has given me quite the beginning for a canning fiesta.  Mind you, he didn’t lug this basket up to the house himself.  I did.  He was busy impressing the young girl with his digging abilities, creating a hole deep enough to step in clear up to his thighs!  Needless to say, she was thrilled. More