Spring Gardening, Week 7 - Part 4: Second Bedroom Plants (05/22/13)
I’ve added a third kalanchoe to the mix, this time one with yellow flowers. It’s got a ton of yellow flowers and is really pretty right now. It’d be nice if all three could bloom at the same time someday.
My plants that I’ve started from seeds are all doing pretty well and can probably be moved outside fairly soon, which is good. It’s supposed to be a bit colder this weekend, so I’ll most likely move them outside next week. The marigolds, especially the petite mix, are almost big enough to be transferred to a larger pot. The parsley still could be bigger.
I’m always amazed by how quickly oat grass grows. It’s a good thing it grows so quickly since Rolo quite enjoys eating it!
Spring Gardening, Week 7 - Part 3: New Calandivas (05/22/13)
I wanted to get another yellow-flowered calandiva to replace the one I had that died, but unfortunately I could not find one. I did find a yellow-flowered kalanchoe, so I bought that. I also bought three more calandivas, two of which are different shades of pink. That means I now have three with various shades of pink flowers and one with white. The three kalanchoes have red, orange, and yellow flowers.
The pinks are all different shades, or at least, they should be since the oldest one isn’t flowering just yet. The two new ones are a darker magenta and an orange-tinted pink that is really pretty.
For as much as I prefer red for things, I sure have a lot of pink-flowered plants (geraniums, daisies, petunias, and calandivas). At least they’re all different shades of pink!
Spring Gardening, Week 7 - Part 2: Living Room Plants (05/22/13)
I re-potted a couple of my indoor plants and added a few new ones. I need to be cut off from getting any additional plants. I moved the pink-flowered Christmas cactus to a wider pot that might be a tiny bit bigger than its previous pot. I moved the shamrock plant to smaller pot because it didn’t really need the bigger pot while another plant did.
The light pink-flowered geranium that will be two later this summer is flowering nicely right now, so I wanted to capture that.I trimmed the green onions grown from bulbs a bit and also bound them together with some twisty-ties to keep them out of the path of my blinds as they’re opened and closed. The poinsettia is still hanging on. I weeded the oat grass a bit, too. I’ll focus upon the new calandivas in a later post.
Spring Gardening, Week 7 - Part 1: Outdoor Plants (05/22/13)
Not much has changed this week for my plants, aside from some re-positioning of the pots. I did have to get rid of the yellow-flowered calandiva because it gave up the ghost. Also, because of the stupid birds, I can’t keep the Gerber daisies at the northern end of my porch. I also shifted the geraniums a little bit more south away from the poop zone, and rearranged a few of the pots along the railing.
I also trimmed several of the plants. I cut back the chives last week hoping that they would grow back some more. They have, which is good. They’re still not as thick as I would like, but they’ve got all summer to expand. I also pulled out the dead parts from the chives. Most of the mint plants are doing well. I’m hoping the pineapple mint expands more, as it’s the only one that hasn’t gotten a lot bigger
The three geraniums that I got at the same time seem to be doing a bit better. The salmon one has flower buds, so that’s a good sign. The poinsettia has also put on some new green leaves, which is hopefully a good sign. The petunias are also doing really well, which I’m glad to see.
Getting Rid of Bird Poop (05/22/13)
I have been having a problem with birds lately. Unfortunately for me, starlings have decided to build a nest and raise their babies in the rafters for my porch. Not only are they noisy, they poop all over the place. It’s like shotgun pellets or something equally damaging. I decided to bite the bullet and work on cleaning up my porch and getting ride of the poop. I found a cleaning tip here. I also got some paint scrapers to scrape up the poop
I scraped up most of the poop and put it in a trashbag. I then swept away any dust that was there. After that, I used a scrub brush and scrubbed the daylights out of the poopy area. This took a while, and I also was trying my best to keep the water from dripping to the porch below. I also used some cheap cloths I got at Drug Mart to wipe off the excess.
All-in-all, it cleaned up well. Too bad the birds pooped all over it again in the morning, albeit not as much just yet. I hope maintenance comes by soon and covers up the open rafters with wire.
Chicken Breasts with Balsamic Cherry Tomatoes (05/21/13)
It’s been several months since I first made this, but I still really like it. It’s still fairly easy, with the most time/effort being spent on chopping things up. I really like serving this with gemelli pasta, both for how it looks and tastes. I kinda just eyeballed the actual ingredient amounts for this. I also served it with garlic bagel chips. This makes several servings.
Smiley Spatula (05/20/13)
I have a problem where if I see some kind of tool that is either cute or colorful, or God forbid, both, I may need to buy it. Back when Target called Boston Warehouse’s Animal House products, it could be almost deadly for me when I went there. I have the octopus dish scrubbers and ladybug sponges. I also have a jack-o’-lantern spatula from Williams-Sonoma. I have a ton of other things, but I’m not going to go through and list all of them.
I saw this at the Kitchen Collection at the Aurora Farms outlet mall and had to get it. I also got one for my niece that I still need to send. I’ve only used it once so far, but it works very well. It was the perfect size for lifting these cookies. It can’t lift huge things, but it works just fine for cookies.
Dividing Up Dough into Evenly-Sized Portions, or, Dough Mitosis (05/20/13)
I used to have issues with dividing up my dough evenly into the same size portion. Recipes always say to use something like an ice cream scoop or some similar item to produce uniform dough balls. That might work for some, but I get tired of having to measure the dough and scrape it back out repeatedly. I came up with another way to divide dough evenly.
How you divide the dough depends on how many separate dough balls you need to create. This double batch of dough was expected to yield 32 cookies. I first split the dough in half, and that in half, and half once more to create four dough balls. You can see this in the second picture. Each of those dough balls was then split into four, producing 32 total dough balls. Simple, see?
This example was easy to do because it mostly involved splitting the dough into halves. It’s probably easiest when you’re supposed to have a yield that’s a power of two (Oh God, this just got mathy), but as long as you can evenly divide it using factors, it’s doable. Like, 60 cookies = divide in two, than again by three, than again by five.
Thought you wouldn’t need fifth grade math ever in real life? Think again.
Measuring Peanut Butter (05/20/13)
Peanut butter is one of those things I’m using a lot more in recipes (good thing, too, since I just bought 4 lbs. of it), and it used to be a giant pain to measure out. I found a trick online that makes it much easier to get the peanut butter back out of your measuring cups once you’ve measured it.
Before you put the peanut butter in the cup, spray it with a cooking spray like Pam. Then, scoop in the peanut butter like usual. Once you’ve measured the amount you need, you can just scoop it back out with a spoon. It doesn’t come out perfectly, but it comes out a lot more efficiently than if you hadn’t spayed the cup!
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (05/20/13)
Second time making this recipe, first can be seen here. This time around I made a double batch. A single batch is only supposed to yield 16 cookies, which doesn’t last long at all, so I doubled it to get more. You could probably triple this recipe without worrying about having your mixing bowl overflow.
This time around I used the turbinado sugar I recently bought. It worked nicely and it’s amazing to me how it mixes into the dough even though it has larger grains that regulated granulated white sugar. I also used 1 cup of mini and regular-sized chocolate chips.
After splitting the dough into 32 roughly same-sized dough balls, I put half on one cookie sheet and the other half on a another. I have fairly large cookie sheets (12”×17”), so you can fit a lot on each sheet. It helps that the cookies don’t spread out too much, either. I also flattened each dough ball slightly before baking them. Last time I just used my fingers, this time around I used the lid from my Pam to flatten them more evenly.
Each sheet of cookies baked for about 15 minutes, which seemed to work perfectly.