April 08, 2018

Easy-peasy Italian Wedding soup

Spring has yet to come through and bring warmer temperatures.
Not even going to hold my breath on this one either.
As a few weeks ago it was still a marshmallow world. 
All very pretty but enough already.
Now we get daily dusting's with most of it melting by the end of the day.
They are promising more Spring-like temps by the end of the week but the weather has a mind of its own. So until it actually happens, its still very much soup weather here at Greenacre.
Italian wedding soup is a family favourite and I wanted to share my easy-peasy way of making it.
First, fill the pot with approximately 10 cups of water
and bring it to a boil.
Then add 6 beef bouillon cubes to make the beef broth.
Unless you already have beef broth made, if you then use 10 cups to fill the pot.
I don't like the taste of the premade or canned beef broth and found the beef bouillon trick online.
Let that simmer as you wash and cut the spinach.
Then bring the beef broth to a simmer and add the spinach.
Next are the meatballs and to make them you will need:
1lb of triple mix meat or you can use just beef. (I find triple mix has a better flavor)
1 small onion chopped finely
1 package of Shake'n' Bake Crispy Italian (instead of breadcrumbs)
1 egg and 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese.
1/2 teaspoon of oregano
Mix really well and roll out the balls.
You can make them whatever size you like, for me small is best.
Slowly put the balls into the soup and add 1 1/2 cup of the acini di pepi.
Please do not substitute these little pasta balls for something else because it truly is not the same.
They are the Juliet to the Romeo meatballs.
Let them simmer for about half an hour on medium-low heat while gently stirring occasionally.
After plating the soup, sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top for the finishing touch.
My Nonna always liked to add a beaten egg into the soup for extra flavor but that is optional.
This really hit the spot today as I stared at the snow coming down.
While thinking...BASTA YA!
Enough already with this snow and cold.
Come on SPRING!!!!
Hurry the hell up.

10 cups of beeth broth
or 6 beef bouillon cubes and 10 cups of water
1 lb of chopped spinach
1 1/2 cup of the acini di pepi

1lb of beef or triple mix ground meat
1 egg
1 package of Crispy Italian Shake 'n' Bake
1 small onion
1/2 teaspoon of oregano
2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese

one beaten egg and parmesan cheese to finish top off the soup.

September 13, 2017

Fall Gardening Tips

Summer 2017 came and went in a blink of an eye.
It wont go down as the best Summer weather ever but it was a great one for my garden.
All that rain and cooler temperatures kept my garden beds very green and lush.
Seems almost criminal to cut them back but the time has come.
I started by cutting back my tiger lilies, African Zinnia and Shasta daisies a few weeks ago.
They had already begun to turn brown and wilt.
Being extra careful not to cut off the emerging buds below.
Here are some websites to help you better identify which perennials you should cut back and when.
Everything in my garden is pruned back with the exception of  my Gardillas,
Echinaceas and
They will turn to seeds and hopefully give me some new plants in the Spring.
Next is the worse chore of all, weeding. The beds had alot more weeds this year because of the rain and it was a constant battle keeping them under control. Come Fall I make sure to remove as many as possible so they dont develop a deeper root system or spread.
 A mini garden rake is a great tool for this. It helps to ease stubborn weeds out by loosing the roots, making it easier to rip them out.
Now for the most important step of all and the one thing I highly recommend.
This is 2 yards of it and approximately 6 hours of labour. 
So I can get these 6 Benefits of mulching.
Grillo Services has this great article that explains how
Last Spring I noticed a huge difference in my plants and garden beds. Less weeding, healthier plants and bigger flowers. As well as it looks cleaner with the mulch.
Here are the beds now, cut back, de-weeded and mulched.
There are a few plants that you can harvest seeds from for next year.
I collect my Cosmos and Zinnias seeds.
The flowers dry into these seed balls . 
Which I cut and store in a marked envelope.
Here is a more extensive list to help you harvest your seeds.
Now to enjoy thus glorious time of the year.
Saved the best tip for last,
ENJOY IT ALL....from the cutting back, weeding, mulching, seed saving or  doing nothing at all.
Life is about doing what you love, being happy, finding joy and being grateful for what you have.
Lucky for me gardening is all of the above.
Happy Fall y'all!

May 25, 2017

The Ultimate Guide to Growing Organic Tomatoes

I have to confess that my green thumb does not extend to vegetables or indoor plants. Herbs, shrubs, and flowers are my specialty. One year I tried to grow tomatoes and was not very successful. The following year the bugs killed it and now I go to the farmers market and call it a day. There are many people that have that patience and green thumb for vegetables. I am so not in this group and that's okay but if you do then this guest post by Jackie Edwards is perfect for you. 
Happy Growing! 

The Ultimate Guide to Growing Organic Tomatoes
What garden is complete without a vine of fresh, juicy tomatoes just waiting to be plucked and eaten? As a delicious and nutritious addition to almost any cuisine, it’s no surprise that tomatoes are the world’s most popular fruit. Tomato plants are hardy and relatively easy to cultivate, making them an ideal addition to any organic vegetable garden.
Types of Tomatoes
When deciding what type of tomato you want to grow, you may feel a bit overwhelmed by all of the different varieties you can find. You should take into consideration not only personal taste preferences, but also how a species grows, when it matures, its full size, and whether or not the strain is disease resistant. You can find both determinate breeds, which ripen all at once, and indeterminate tomato plants, which continue producing new fruit on the vine until the first frosts start to arrive in early winter. There are almost endless varieties of tomato, from tiny Sungolds to hefty Brandywine pinks, but there are a few main categories that plants fall under:
     Cherry and Grape Tomatoes: These plants produce cute little fruits that are crispy, sweet, and go great in salads. Their size makes them ideal for potting and small spaces, while their hardy nature makes them easy to grow in cooler climates.
     Salad Tomatoes: Larger than cherry tomatoes, this plant produces fruit that is tart, acidic, and perfect for slicing. Despite the name, they’re great in much more than just salads. Use them to make a loose tomato sauce, slice them for sandwiches, or make a delicious tomato soup.
     Beefsteak Tomatoes: A popular tomato variety, this plant's name really does the plant justice. It produces fruits that are large and meaty, but they require a long summer growing season and may not thrive in gardens further north.
     Roma Tomatoes: Also known as paste tomatoes, these fruits are sweet and firm, with more meat than juice. They’re perfect for Italian sauces and as a roasted topping.
Planting and Transplanting
No matter what variety of tomato you choose, you should plant seeds two to three weeks after the last frost, around mid-spring to early summer. It should be long enough after the last frost of the summer that the soil is warm enough for germination to happen. Plant seeds 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch deep in starter compost, preferably in a seed tray. Once you see the first leaves sprouting, transplant the seedling into a small pot. You should keep moving your plant into larger pots as it grows so that a healthy root system has room to develop. As the plant grows older, you may have to stake it for extra support.
If you’re planting your tomatoes from seed, start your plant in some specially crafted soil designed for germinating plants. You can switch to regular potting soil when the plant begins to mature. Use quarter strength fertilizer when you move your plant to your garden, and then again every one to two weeks once it starts producing fruit. If your plant’s leaves start turning a purple color, it means they aren't getting enough nutrients from the soil, and you should reapply fertilizer regardless of whether the plant is fruiting or not.
Tomato plants need plenty of sunlight in order to produce fruit. Without enough light, plants can become leggy and unhealthy. Tomato plants should get at least eight hours of direct sunlight each day, whether they’re kept indoors or outdoors.
Seedlings need plenty of water as they grow, preferably from the bottom of the container so that no leaves are damaged. After the plant has sprouted, soil should remain moist to the touch, but not soggy. Too much water in the soil can lead to root rot. With proper care and a little bit of TLC, you can grow delicious organic tomatoes in your garden to enjoy in salads, sandwiches, and other meals.

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