Ham, Green Bean, n’ ‘Tater Stew :|: The Recipe


So, I have blogged about it before, but that was more just the method. This time I actually measured stuff. Usually I just eyeball a bag of fresh green beans if they look good. Still don’t have a good name for it. Ham, Green Beans, & Potatoes? Ham , Beans, n’ Taters? Grandma’s Special? Daddy’s Favorite? Is it a soup or a stew? It’s delicious is what it is. I generally make enough to have a stunningly large amount of leftovers. I always try to get the ham bone, this time my son & I each got one. He’s a copycat.

A collage  - Ham, green bean, and potato stew (soup?) in a spoon on the top left, the soup in a bowl on the bottom left, and the whole right side is a screenshot of a text from my daughter with a bowl full of ham cubes... saying that the soup would have been perfect without the green beans or potatoes. 🤦‍♂️
Soup – In the spoon & soup in the bowl – and the post dinner text from my 9yo after she said there were too many beans and potatoes. 🤦‍♂️

Ingredients…

The “to taste” is just a few shakes usually. This recipe doesn’t really need any extra salt, so if I have a salt-free blend like Mrs. Dash or the Aldi equivalent, I use that. The bullion is according to directions, I think I measured it out right. I added too much water this time, but I think this measurement is still right. The beef & chicken bullion cubes and even the beer are completely unnecessary, but I feel like it adds a little to the broth. I use a big stock pot with a lid, and an 8-cup measuring cup for the big stuff.

  1. Put your liquids & spices in the pot, put it on to boil, but don’t quite dime the knob.
  2. Cube your ham, dump it in the pot.
  3. Cube your potatoes (don’t peel them!), dump ’em in the pot.
  4. Snap ends off your beans if you have any sus ones, snap them in to bite-size pieces if you want. Or chop them. Or don’t. Dump ’em in the pot.
  5. Boil for 20 minutes.
  6. Simmer for 20 minutes or even longer if you want. Let it cook down & get tasty.
  7. Don’t taste it too early while it is hot and burn your tongue every time, because I definitely do not do that.
  8. Serving suggestion – Serve it up with homemade bread (or store bought fresh baked) and butter.

Obviously, wash the beans & potatoes first. I think I broke down what you need & more details on the method the first time I wrote about this soup (stew?). I use fresh produce beans most often, but the bags are quick & easy to measure. This is also good with leftover ham from a holiday meal.

I like soups, I make them a lot. Well, I make them sometimes, when I have time. If you like this one, check these out:

Cooking Stuff From the Garden 🌶🥒


So, today I felt like cooking. We recently came back from a weekend at a cabin and a week at camp. We had a bunch of new stuff ready in the garden, and some stuff past ready.

Here are three quick recipes that I posted on Instagram. The Poblano peppers, banana peppers, straightneck squash, and snap beans were grown in our garden.

🥓🧀🌶🍄🍝🥒🌱

Bacon-Wrapped Poblano Peppers

Well, that turned out well. Got some poblano from the garden this week. I mixed some bacon bits, minced garlic, shredded cheddar cheese, and steak seasoning into some cream cheese, cut the peppers in half, stuffed with the peppers with the mixture, sprinkled more cheddar on top, wrapped with bacon, & baked on a sheet pan at 375° for 40 min.

Turned out pretty good if I do say so myself!

Snap Beans with Mushrooms & French Fried Onions

Some fresh snap beans from the garden. Steamed, then tossed in with some sautéed mushrooms, French fried onions, minced garlic, a pinch or 2 of flour & fresh cooked bacon pieces. (Used the leftovers from the peppers.)

Straightneck Squash Parmesan

Had some straightneck squash that grew a bit too big while we were at camp. I had it in my head to prepare it sort of like eggplant parmesean & fried zucchini. I didn’t want the stacked lasagna version, I wanted something with a bit of crunch.

I sliced then up, dredged in flour/cornstarch, egg/buttermilk. & coated in regular & panko breadcrumbs with a bit of parmesan “shake cheese” mixed in. I seasoned each step with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, & black pepper.

I baked them for about 25 or 30 min. on 400°, then topped with provolone & mozzarella slices & a bit more parmesan. They went back in for 10 min.

Served with bowtie pasta & covered in our favorite slightly doctored sauce.

Added the needed flavor to the overgrown squash and I actually preferred the consistency to eggplant.

🥒🧀🌶🥓🧄🍄🌱🍝

All in all, I was really pleased with the results, and I think the family was too.

Do you have some good recipes, tips, & tricks for these garden ingredients?

What do you like to grow and cook?

Vegetable Garden 2021 🌱 II: The Wrath of Fawn


Damn deer ate my tomatoes.

Think they’ll come back from this, or is it just best to replace?

Also, we planted some swiss chard from my daughter’s school science class, some snap beans, some yellow onions, and garlic. We also had 1 volunteer squash pop up in the yard, and 4 back by the compost pile. Not really sure what they are. I have had some WEIRD hybrid stuff in the past. When you grow multiple varieties they can cross-pollinate and the seeds can make some wacky stuff. They could be that wacky stuff or just pumpkins, butternut squash, acorn squash or zucchini.

Gorillas in the Mint

Check out the original blog from this year for a nice embedded chart.

Revised Garden Map & Harvest Dates:

Follow my instagram for all the latest stuff, and some other plants around the yard.

Vegetable Garden 2021 🌱


This year, I had some big help in the garden! These two have been gardening since they could walk, and I think they’re enjoying it and really getting the hang of it.

The kids have their own YouTube channel now, with a little hep from some old guy that blogs occasionally. Check out their gardening how-to:

I also made a map, and decided to make a chart of the suggested harvest dates on the tags just to see how accurate they are. I have been gardening since I can remember, and don’t know if I ever paid attention to that. We just picked stuff whenever it appeared & ripened.

Garden Map & Harvest Dates 2021

We made sure to get all the tags & try to document it all. The kids are loving math & science, so why not incorporate it into the garden? We can see if the harvest dates noted on the tags are anywhere near when the plants are actually ready.

I’m excited to see how it turns out! And, yeah, we got some more jalapeño since they liked it last year… and this time we’re trying some poblano too!

Whoa, Instagram is a trip down memory lane with these kids and gardening!

Kids, Gardening, & Jalapeños. 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦🌱🌶️


The kids like to garden. They helped plant once again this year, and have been great at watering, upkeep, & harvesting. They really did most of the planting work this year, and are learning about how to keep weeds out and when to pick ripe peppers. (They’re already pretty good at tomatoes.)

Molly & Ian try a jalapeño from the garden! 🌶️

This year, by accident, I picked up a jalapeño plant when shopping at Home Depot. I meant to get 2 each of yellow bell peppers, orange bell peppers, and red bell peppers. I came home with a jalapeno and only one yellow pepper. We also planted some sweet banana peppers.

When I brought it home, Ian was determined to plant it & try some. He was true to his word! Molly & Ian did both try it! I put the video up on YouTube and IGTV.

Decide for yourself if you think they liked it:

I haven’t ever grown hot peppers despite all my years growing tomato, pepper, & a slew of other stuff.

I asked on various social media platforms on how to tell if your jalapeno is ripe and I got a handful of differentiating opinions. I got…

  • When they turn red. (Was told they turn black before they are red.)
  • When they start to get little brown lines/wrinkles.
  • At around 3″ long.
  • At around 6″ to 8″ long.
  • Look at the photo on the plant tag.
  • bury match heads to make them hotter.

So, how do you tell when they’re ripe?


Share your hot pepper ripeness tips & any other tricks below on the comments.

Have an recipes to share too?  I would like to hear your thoughts on gardening, jalapeno peppers, or the video below!

This has been a fun gardening journey.  It is exciting to see them learn about composting, growing food, and then trying it & even cooking with it.  We have had plenty of beautiful snap beans, sweet banana peppers, & a few varieties of cherry tomatoes so far.

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Much #latergram. #GardeningForKids

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#Jalapeño!🌶

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#SweetBananaPeppers!

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Backyard Race Car Track & …Dinosaur Garden? 🚚🦕


Well.  Damn, you Pinterest.  Ha ha.  We made more progress on the Back Yard Race Car Track.  It may now also be a construction zone, gravel pit, monster truck arena, and dinosaur garden.  Molly even asked about building a volcano.  I do have an extra bag of concrete.

Check out the latest photos.  We added a gravel pit, some large rocks for edging-work to try to contain the gravel, and dug out the grass so we have a dirt pit.  Not sure if I should plant grass and leave a dirt track, or make it all a dirt pit.  I may try to buy some river rock to make the outside edges look a little neater, and mix some more extra sloppy concrete to smooth it over, and fill in the edges smooth.

I bet it will evolve greatly over time.

I’m anxious to see photos of other projects like this.  Show me what you’ve got in the comments!

 

 

🚧 🚧 🚧 👷 👷‍♀️ 🚚 🦕 🚗 🏁 🧚 🌱 🚧 🚧 🚧

🚧 🚗🏁 Backyard Race Car Track & Fairy Garden Construction! 🧚🌱🚧


So, on Labor Day this year, we labored.  We finally got around to pouring cement for the Backyard Race Car Track, and we started a Fairy Garden.

I have been sitting on the race car track idea for a while, and wondering what to do landscape-wise around the one small tree in the back.  We recently got some fairy garden furniture stuff as a gift… so we thought that would be a cool second (3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th?) backyard play-space.

I had purchased some Quikrete coloring from Amazon a while ago, and some bags of Quikrete Sand/Topping Mix from Home Depot this Saturday knowing that we had a full day to work today.

We had also started the digging a while ago when Ian was over-zealous and wanted to “Dig, Dig Dig!” in the back yard.

We had an easy enough start, put down some gravel, and mixed two of the three bags of Sand/Topping Mix with the coloring.  I mixed it a little thick, and really what was all the coloring was meant to cover.  The track was only about ‎⅔ of the way complete.  So, I mixed the one other bag we had on hand.  It was a little sloppier and went on really well.  The kids helped in a kid-helping capacity, and Bethany did nearly all of the troweling/finishing work.  Molly told me that she wanted to use the trowel because that’s what “brick builders” use to put the stuff in between bricks.  I have no idea where she learned that.

So.  It was obvious we needed a quick trip back to Home Depot to get some more bags.  Ian & I went on a mission.

I asked the little man if we should get 3, or 4.  He was adamant about getting 4.  We also got the cheapest bag of garden soil, and some pebbles.  Sadly, the bottle of coloring didn’t last long, and maddeningly Home Depot didn’t carry it… even with two shelves full of Quikrete products.  I ended up asking if they had anything in the paint department, and they just had a concrete paint or dye to use after the fact.

We got back and Bethany made us a delicious salad for lunch.  We needed to re-fuel for more work out back!  I mixed 2 more bags, with some help:

After that, we did use just one more bag… but that’s OK.  I can use the rest for some driveway patch work now that I have some more recent practice with this stuff.  (A long time ago, I worked for a bit for a general contractor, and would sometimes mix mortar all day for the subcontracted bricklayers.)

For now, that’s about all we can do.  The bag says it needs to set up for five days.  Hopefully we can be patient and the neighborhood wildlife (including my children) stays out of it.  I did grab an odd old brick from out front that had originally been in the back yard, and made a sort of garage out of it.  I plan to get some river rocks or pebbles or something to kind of clean up the edges of the track.  Maybe they will need to go on with concrete, or some of that stuff that comes in a caulking-gun dispenser.  If they’re not stuck down, they will end up all over and most likely destroy my lawn mower.

The other quick family project was to make a fairy garden.  I was hoping to use stuff that we had around in addition to the recently gifted furniture and starter items.

After thinking about a couple of different ideas, we settled on me taking a chainsaw to some large branches and small logs that we had out back, and driving nails partway into the bottom so we could drive them into the ground and they would hopefully hold.  It worked!

I played with the chainsaw, demonstrated the nail technique, then Bethany and the kids did most of the nail-driving… and I think that was mostly Bethany.  Molly helped me place them around the tree in sort of a kidney bean shape, including an old wooden bucket that I think we bought from the estate sale of the previous owner of this house (who coincidentally said she would miss the little tree in the backyard most of all).

Then we pulled up 90% of the grass, and Ian hauled it away in his wheelbarrow.  We put down the bag of cheap garden soil and it was perfect for coverage & fairy garden decoration placement.  We also planted a small succulent plant that my mom had recently given us in a small pot that should be durable outdoors, but may look cool covered in small round stones so it looks like a fairy house.  We’re putting Grandma on craft duty to help make little projects to decorate the space.  I would love to use some of the stuff we have around the yard or house like tiny terracotta pots, or Popsicle sticks, or wire.

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Is it a #FairyGarden or a #SquirrelPlayground?

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It would be nice to plant some small ornamental succulents, moss, or super tiny flowers eventually too.  Luckily (?) Pinterest is an endless rabbit hole when it comes to fairy garden stuff.  Speaking of rabbits, our backyard is overrun with them as well as squirrels, chipmunks, birds, deer, and who knows what else.  Think they’ll leave this stuff alone?

At any rate, playing in the dirt has been proven over-and-over to be good for you.  These spaces offer two additional opportunities for the kids to get into the dirt in the back yard.  It’s great to learn about gardening, ecosystems, using your imagination, and more… all without even realizing that you’re learning.

Check out some photos from the day if you have the time and interest, and let us know what you think in the comments!

 

 

If this is something you’d like to try yourself, check out these Pinterest boards for inspiration:

If it’s something you have tried yourself, please share your stuff in the comments!  I would love to see some other backyard family projects.

Succulent Turtle 🐢🌱


Succulent Turtle 🐢🌱

Succulent Turtle 🐢🌱

Have you seen the succulent turtles on pinterest?  I thought they were neat, so I wanted to make one.  There are plenty of sites with instructions, try these three:

…If you’re interested.  Really though, I bet you could figure it out from the pictures.

🐢

🐢

I used what we had around.  I just bought a bit of potting & garden soil which I already needed for the vegetable garden.  I used an old hanging basket, door screen, two different types of wire mesh that I had in the back yard, and some zip-ties.  I had planned on using chicken-wire, but the other stuff seemed better suited to the task.

I did have to buy the plants.  Anyone have any hens and chicks to hand over?

🌱

🌱

Also, I didn’t have four little flower pots… only two.  But, I had an old branch, nails, glue, and a chainsaw… so Timmy the Turtle got wooden legs.

At least I can say I have used the potting bench.

If you make one, be sure to share your photo in the comments!  Next time I’ll have to get sculpting with the chicken wire, and make a Bantha or a Tauntaun.

 

🐢🌱

We finally hung the sign on our #BeanHouse. 🌱


Did you read about our #BeanHouse?

I was able to get some matte clear-coat spray this week and hit the sign a few times, although this stuff seemed to soak up the paint like a sponge.  We just used some particleboard from an old dresser drawer.  It was the perfect size.  I did the marker & colored the beans, the rest was all Molly.

Molly also got a tomato plant  from her Grandma BB, so we planted it right out front.  We tried the fork trick there too to deter bunnies, but if I remember right they’re not huge fans of tomatoes.  You never know what else is out & around either.

We also put out some organic bloodmeal to provide nutrients and hopefully deter critters.   Molly reminded me to put down grass clippings because they hold moisture.

I was thinking about putting out some cinnamon to keep the rabbits away too.  I just saw that coffee grounds keep away snails.  Do you have any other tips & tricks that seem to have worked for you in the past?  We did use garlic clips last year.  They seemed to work, but we did have a few incidents of snacking on our peppers.

No beans sprouting yet, but our Spanish onions just popped from seeds we planted a while ago.

Outdoor Gardening Fun With a #BeanHouse. 🌱


So, I dig gardening. (Get it?)  I have passed that on (so far) to my oldest child, and the little one really likes playing in the dirt.  I also enjoy doing things with the kids that are not only fun, but that allow me to sneak in some learning.

Today we set up a Bean House.  What’s a bean house?  I don’t know. That’s what my daughter wanted to call it & it’s really the most appropriate title.  We got the idea from a friend’s Facebook wall with instructions for a bean den and a willow den.

Basically, we built a play house that will act as a trellis for a (hopefully) vining bean plant.  I started with an area that had already been cleared thanks to a pile of brush that was recently removed.  Speaking of that brush that I have recently cleared form our jungle of a back yard; I grabbed 4 rather large branches with a “Y” shape, cut them to roughly the same length with the chainsaw, and sharpened the bottoms.  I dug some holes with a small gardening shovel and drove the posts in as far as I could, mounding up some dirt around each pole.  I used some gardening wire to secure four branches across the top for a nice little cube-ish frame.

Then, I let the munchkins “help” while I secured several smaller sticks across the top, down along the sides, and across the sides.  At one point we ran low on sticks, so I used some old wooden and bamboo tomato stakes.  The wooden stakes seemed to really help make the rest of the structure stable because I could really pound them into the ground well.  To secure everything, I used some newly purchased garden wire, and whatever twine and garden wire that we had leftover from previous years’ gardening adventures.

The top is a thatched mess of “wonky” branches that are woven together to provide slightly more shade than the sides, but will still be open for the growing vines.  My shelter would probably make Survivorman Les Stroud hang his head in shame, but it’s better than most of the shelters on Naked and Afraid.

The wife and little guy helped water the mounds so I could pack them down, and then I mounded dirt all around every post & they helped do the same.  Then we mulched the mound with grass clippings & packed it down again.

Finally I dug some holes for the pre-soaked Kentucky Wonder green bean seeds (beans?) around the base of the entire structure, and the whole family helped put in the seed-starter potting soil mix, the seeds, and some more dirt & mulch in place.  We placed some plastic forks facing outward all around the seeds at the base of the thing to hopefully help ward off the local overpopulation of rabbits.  I may try some additional deterrent like bloodmeal.

Later indoors, we found some other stuff and made a sign to hang once I get a coat or two of clear coat on it.

While we put it up, we talked about enjoying outside, building things, growing things, recycling and up-cycling, sunshine, water, and everything.  We talked about how grass clippings act like a mulch that holds moisture for the plants.  We talked about how the fertilizer and Miracle-Gro in the water acts like vitamins for the plants… vitamins like the one’s we’ll get from eating the beans.  I’m sure we’ll have discussions in the future about patience, including our little brother, and not knocking the bean house over.

My wife and I have always tried to talk to the kids with the same respect we’d give other adults.  We don’t use small words.  We explain things as best we can, encourage and answer questions.  I’m continually amazed at the observations that our daughter makes in conversation, and through our son’s actions that show an understanding of exactly what is going on.

If you’re reading this and are a parent, I ask you to narrate to your kids what you’re doing & why when you do an activity together.  You may think they’re too little to get it, but they’re constantly absorbing what you’re doing.

This is a great way to get into all kinds of stuff like gardening, up-cycling/recycling, food not lawns, urban farming, and striving to pass on the importance of such things as knowing how to grow food to your kids.  I’m excited to plant some tomatoes, peppers, and try a few new things this year.  I love going outside and seeing vegetable plants in the summer.  I love the smell of the dirt and growing plants.  I hope to pass this on and that the kids love it too.

All-in, I paid around $10 for the seeds, wire, & fertilizer.  Everything else we had here on hand or could have probably found easily for free.

Please, enjoy some photos and share some in the comments if you build your own!