How our garden grows

We made it a priority this year to get raised garden beds installed in our new back yard. And by “we” I mean that I planted a few plants, raked a bit of dirt around, moved two wheel barrows of dirt and mulched said plants. Someone else did the heavy lifting.

My husband constructed us three 4′ x 8′ raised garden beds out of cedar planks. They are about 12″ tall. Cedar is supposed to resist decay better than other types of wood. He then dug out the existing grass, leveled the ground a bit, placed cardboard in the bottom and filled them with dirt. Well, I helped with the cardboard too. Do you see how much work I did here?

We planted:

  • Eight tomato varieties
  • Two basil varieties
  • Two chards (one red, one yellow)
  • Five pepper varieties (jalapeño, bell, serrano, etc)
  • Three mounds of cucumbers
  • A row of okra seeds
  • A row of beans from seed
  • Marigolds from seed, to hopefully help keep the bugs away
Constructed garden beds, lined with cardboard

Constructed garden beds, lined with cardboard

Do you see the two wheel barrows of dirt I moved? And how I raked some of the dirt around?

Do you see the two wheel barrows of dirt I moved? And how I raked some of the dirt around?

The first bed has eight tomato plants in it, all different varieties.

The first bed has eight tomato plants in it, all different varieties.

The second bed has two basil plants, two chard plants, and five pepper plants, all of different varieties.

The second bed has two basil plants, two chard plants, and five pepper plants, all of different varieties.

The third bed has some tiny little cucumber plants and we're hoping to soon see some okra and beans sprouting.

The third bed has some tiny little cucumber plants and we’re hoping to soon see some okra and beans sprouting.

One of the peppers is already blooming!

One of the peppers is already blooming!

Molly guards the raised beds. Hopefully she scares away the birds, although it's more likely that the birds will scare her.

Molly guards the raised beds. Hopefully she scares away the birds, although it’s more likely that the birds will scare her.

Little tiny figs started to grow as soon as the fig tree got leaves.

Little tiny figs started to grow as soon as the fig tree got leaves.

Just a few days ago the figs were much larger!

Just a few days ago the figs were much larger!

 

 

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Our birthday dessert spread

Birthday desserts, ready to be eaten!

Birthday desserts, ready to be eaten!

A few weeks ago, it was that time again. Time for the husband and I to jointly celebrate our birthdays by inviting people over and providing waaaaaayyyyy more desserts than the group could possibly consume. Last year’s selections were a hit and this year was no exception.

The menu:

We had left overs of everything. Luckily I hid some of the extra banana cream pie that wouldn’t fit in the pie pan, because that pie pan was clean by the end of the night!

 

Blueberry crumble cake (bottom left), banana cream pie (top), chocolate crazy cake (bottom right)

Blueberry crumble cake (bottom left), banana cream pie (top), chocolate crazy cake (bottom right)

Chai cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Chai cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Fat free ginger cookies

Fat free ginger cookies

First time using this nice pie pan. Definitely need to make banana cream pie again.

First time using this nice pie pan. Definitely need to make banana cream pie again.

 

Crumbled graham crackers, sugar and mashed bananas made up the crust.

Crumbled graham crackers, sugar and mashed bananas made up the crust.

Crust ingredients mixed together

Crust ingredients mixed together

Crust pressed into pan and baked. The small white crocks were for the left over crust. The recipe made way too much for my pie pan.

Crust pressed into pan and baked. The small white crocks were for the left over crust. The recipe made way too much for my pie pan.

Cooking the cream filling.

Cooking the cream filling.

First layer of cream filling and first layer of bananas.

First layer of cream filling and first layer of bananas.

Second layer of cream filling and the final layer of banana slices. The pie then just had to set for hours in the fridge, so make this early if you decide to make it!

Second layer of cream filling and the final layer of banana slices. The pie then just had to set for hours in the fridge, so make this early if you decide to make it!

 

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Baking orange ginger cupcakes

Cupcakes for my birthday!

Cupcakes for my birthday!

I recently came across a recipe for these orange ginger cupcakes on Instructables that I just had to try. Conveniently, my birthday gave me a good excuse to bake something I wanted to eat, and then force my co-workers and softball teammates to eat it for me.

I edited the recipe a bit, to cut down on the butter of course. My next updates to this recipe will include using more orange zest and adding some chopped candied ginger to the batter. However, here’s the recipe I used for the pictured cupcakes. They were pretty good after all.

Ingredients – Orange ginger cupcakes

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 sticks (4oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/8 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Ingredients –  Buttercream frosting

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted softened butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar (you may end up adding more)
  • 1 tablespoon milk (you may need more)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

 

Steps – Cupcakes

  1. Cream the butter, sugar and applesauce together in a large bowl until fluffy.
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and ginger together in a smaller bowl and set aside.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time and mix well between each.
  4. Add the orange zest and vanilla.
  5. Add the milk and dry ingredients mixture, alternating and mixing between the two until the batter is smooth.
  6. Since I didn’t have cupcake liners, I greased my cupcake pan well. Definitely grease the pan well if you do this and use a knife to loosen up the cupcakes when you try to remove them!
  7. Fill the cupcake holes 2/3 of the way full. You should get 22 – 24 cupcakes.
  8. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 – 22 minutes. The cupcakes are done when golden and they spring back when touched. Use the toothpick test if you’re not sure.
  9. Allow the cupcakes to cool for a few minutes before removing and putting on a cooling rack.

Steps – Frosting

  1. Once the cupcakes are cool, you’re ready to frost them!
  2. Cream the butter until nice and smooth.
  3. Add in half the powdered sugar.  Mix until well combined.
  4. Add the rest of the powdered sugar, the milk and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  5. If the frosting is too thick, add more milk. If it’s too thin, add more sugar.
  6. Frost your cupcakes! I like just a thin layer of frosting. If you like more, you may want to double this recipe.
Butter, applesauce and sugar mixed until fluffy.

Butter, applesauce and sugar mixed until fluffy.

Orange for the zest. I really like this little zester - it catches the zest and is easy to hold.

Orange for the zest. I really like this little zester – it catches the zest and is easy to hold.

Batter after mixing in the eggs, and adding the zest.

Batter after mixing in the eggs, and adding the zest.

Mixing in the dry ingredients.

Mixing in the dry ingredients.

Finished batter.

Finished batter.

Cupcakes, pre-baking.

Cupcakes, pre-baking.

Cupcakes on the cooling rack.

Cupcakes on the cooling rack.

Frosting in the mixer.

Frosting in the mixer.

Yum!

Yum!

 

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