Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Backyard Berm, a Big Update!

We worked very hard in early spring on the back berm.  I posted a couple of years ago about how I had built it back up and added mulch.  Well, then I never did anything else.
This year we built a stacked brick wall.  It looks so much nicer, and really creates a division between the overgrown wetlands and us.  My husband cleaned up a lot of bamboo, vines, and other overgrowth as we went.

We did the following steps to ensure a lasting wall:
  • We made sure that the ground was level with every brick laid
  • We used small metal rods to add stability, by driving them down the holes every so many feet.
  • We used dirt and mulch to stabilize some more, behind the wall.
  • We put landscape fabric down, below the mulch.
 We did have to do something special around the drain pipe.  This is where rain water goes out to the wetland behind us.  We used a steel bar to hold the bricks straight across.  By the way, all the wild birds here are 'wild' about the brick wall!

It's definitely added some curb appeal to the back yard, and I love it!  Peter Cottontail also loves it!  He comes out every day to enjoy the view (and he likes to eat the weeds in our yard, too).
The wall was a lot of work, but a labor of love.  I love working in the yard, so this was a great project, and will be rewarding for a very long time.  I'll have to share what plants are currently on the berm in a future post, as well as some thoughts for what I'd like to add.  Any suggestions?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Apple Sausage Sizzle

Tonight I decided to whip up something simple and inexpensive, using staples that I already had in the pantry and/or fridge.  I had 1/2 turkey kielbasa in the freezer.  The other ingredients are always on hand at my house.  Turns out the family loved this meal!

This meal would actually work well for breakfast, too! It would also work well for camping- all of this food can be prepped ahead of time and cooked at the campsite.  Do you tailgate?  This would make a great breakfast tailgate idea!

Choose an apple variety that has sweetness and is crisp, so that it will stay crisp even after warming.  I chose Pink Ladies.

Apple Sausage Sizzle

1/2 lb Turkey Kielbasa, sliced and halved into bite-size
2 Apples (I chose Pink Ladies), sliced
Olive Oil, maybe 1-2 Tbsp
Dried Sage, about 1/2 tsp
Pure Maple Syrup, about 4 Tbsp
1 cup Quick Grits
1 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
Fresh Cracked Pepper, to taste

Cook the quick grits according to package instructions.  Meanwhile, warm up the oil, sage, and maple syrup on medium high heat.  Once it's warm, Add the apples and sausage, mix well and saute until it sizzles and begins to lightly brown, about 10 minutes.  You want your apples to remain crisp.

Serve over the grits, crack some pepper and add a sprinkle of cheese.  Serves 4.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Spring Dinner Outside

We've had ridiculous weather this year, especially over the last couple of weeks.  Crazy heat, roller coaster temperatures, and I think there's been about 10 inches of rain at our house over the last 2 weeks.  But pollen season seems to be long past us, and today was absolutely one of the most beautiful days so far.  It was only 80 degrees outside in the hottest part of the day.  It wasn't humid, the bugs weren't out in full force, and the grass wasn't so wet that we couldn't walk on it.

So needless to say, we fired up the grill, put the umbrella up, tablecloth on and enjoyed dinner outside.

I did a very simple boneless chicken breasts in olive oil, onion powder and Italian seasoning, letting them sit for 20 minutes while the grill was warmed up.  My husband grilled them to perfection, along with the apricots.
 I whipped up a simple mixed greens salad, and some delicious strawberry lemonade.

Strawberry Lemonade

2 cups water plus 2 quarts water
Zest of 1 lemon
3/4 cup sugar
2 pints of strawberries, hulled and rinsed
Juice of 5 lemons (about 3/4 cup)

First, warm the sugar and zest on high heat with 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan.  Boil and stir until the mixture is clear and the sugar is no longer grainy.

Blend your strawberries in a food processor.  Then in your drink pitcher, combine the berries, lemon juice, sugar water, and additional 2 quarts water.  Then add ice to cool it down.

Serve over ice.

Now sit back and enjoy the effort!