Posted in Food, My Life, My life in pictures, Post A Day Challenge, Post A Week Challenge

258/365 Live and Let Live … or Kill These Suckers Now?

I discovered some caterpillars on my passionflower today. I know what caterpillars do to vegetation and I am not happy about the impending doom of my beloved flowers.

I found the caterpillars because I had been drawn outside with my camera to capture the beautiful butterflies fluttering around my bright pink flowers.

Yes. I know caterpillars become butterflies, but I didn’t exactly connect these dots right away. It wasn’t until I came in and started exploring the Googles with a search on “how to kill orange and black caterpillars” that I started to make the connection.

Did I mention how much I love my passionflower?

Then I started noticing a lot of images of these caterpillars, butterflies and passionflowers together. A few clicks later I came to realize that not only is this butterfly called the Passion Butterfly, or Gulf Fritillary, but my beloved plant is the larval host plant for this species.

So now I’m torn. Do I allow the leaf chomping larvae to completely defoliate my plant in the hopes of reaping the benefits of a backyard filled with the beautiful butterflies?

Well, what do you think? Let them live or save my plant?

 

Posted in Food, My Life, My life in pictures, Post A Day Challenge, Post A Week Challenge

257/365 First Harvest

While my mom was waiting for us to build her raised garden beds, she went ahead and planted seedlings in a few large planters. And she waited. And waited. And, while we struggled to find the time to build her beds (which we did on Mother’s Day), her seedlings producted plants that produced…..FOOD!  Yep, she gathered the first zucchini and eggplant of the season and I couldn’t wait to cook it up.

I had seen several pinned recipes on Pinterest for zucchini chips but none of them were quite what I was looking for. So, I hit up Food Network and found the perfect recipe for Zucchini Parmesan Crisps (Weight Watchers point value = 3).

I started by slicing the zucchini (and eggplant) into 1/4″ rounds. I then drizzled the olive oil over the slices and stirred to coat all the pieces. I then mixed up Kraft Parmesan and bread crumbs with salt and pepper. I didn’t have fresh Parmesan on hand, like the recipe calls for, but I will for the next time. As wonderful as this dish was, I can see where the fresh grated cheese would make it even better.

I then dredged each piece of the cut up veggies in the dry mixture before placing them on the prepared cooking sheets. In the oven they went while I turned my attention to the other dishes.

Several weeks ago my mom and I spent most of a Saturday preparing bags of crock-pot freezer meals (another Pinterest discovery that I still plan to write about). Earlier this afternoon I had placed one of those meals, Hearty Black Bean Soup (Weight Watchers point value = 3), in the crock-pot in preparation for dinner later tonight.  This recipe called for fresh cilantro to be added to the pot about 5 minutes before serving. It just so happened that mom had fresh cilantro growing in one of her container gardens and she gathered up a handful for me. I chopped it up and added it to the crock-pot and started some rice in the rice cooker.

After about thirty minutes, the rice, soup and veggies were ready to eat. And so were we!

Dinner is served.

Posted in Food, My life in pictures, Post A Day Challenge, Uncategorized

189/365 Southern Noms

 

I had a craving for black eyed peas with pepper sauce. Isn’t it strange how these cravings come out of nowhere. Anywho, the peas and corn may have come out of a can but the pepper sauce was homemade with peppers from our friend Jeff’s backyard garden last fall. Let’s just say my craving has been satisfied. Well, at least until I have the leftovers for lunch tomorrow. And for anyone who’s out there helping me count my Weight Watchers points, the total value for this traditional southern meal was only 9 points. Did I say nom nom?!?

Posted in Food

It’s Berry Cold

My mom and I have been going to the Florida Strawberry Festival every year for at least the last five. I have never come home with strawberries. I decided since we are on this new path to eating better, I should definitely bring home a flat, which I did. You should have seen Gil’s eyes bug out of his head when he saw them. I have to admit, a flat is a lot of berries.

I planned to eat some immediately and just freeze the rest. And by freeze, I mean wash, cut them up and put them in a plastic freezer bag. Little did I know that my dear husband would have a much better idea.

Apparently several years ago he had seen an episode of Good Eats in which Alton Brown shows how to properly freeze strawberries. We watched the episode on the YouTubes  (starts at 2:57 into the clip) and decided we would give it a try.

We followed Alton’s advice and washed and prepared the strawberries in plenty of time for them to chill in the refrigerator. My mom took care of this task on Friday.

Gil made a trip to Publix and picked up a block of dry ice. However, due to science and math projects and another hour and a half drive home for me, we didn’t start the project until this afternoon. And of course, our block of dry ice was now a sliver of dry ice. Back to the store we go to pick up another 7 pound block.

Notice the gloves boys and girls. You must NOT touch the dry ice with your bare skin or else you just might lose a finger to frost bite. This is very important to remember.

In the video Alton recommends placing the strawberries along with the dry ice into a metal pan before placing it back into the cooler. Unfortunately we did not have a large cooler (except our monster cooler that holds approximately 250 cans of beer, or so we’ve been told) so we decided to alter his directions just a wee bit by just placing the strawberries and dry ice into the medium size cooler directly.

We closed up the lid and sat the cooler aside for about  2 hours.  When we opened it back up, this is what we found.

The juicy red berries were flozen as solid as a rock, or a piece of ice. I quickly got busy and started bagging them up and now we should be set for weeks, if not months to come. I’m really excited to see what happens when we take a few out and thaw them. I’m looking forward to no mush.

Now, who wants some strawberries?