Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Yep - that last post was random. I was trying to add a recipe under the recipe tab and I couldn't make it work. I've been playing around with my current blog template and am trying to get my blog page more organized with tabs, etc.  I want to make my site more user friendly for readers (and me).  After doing a little research, I think I may need a web-page to accomplish my goals.  In the near future I hope to have this project complete.

Updates on the garden and our summer harvest are coming. Baby goats will be here soon and we may have baby chicks by the end of the month too. Two of my hens have been sitting on a clutch of eggs since about June 1.  James has been working hard on the blackberry patch. Alicia is planning a wedding. . . and so much more.

Stay tuned for changes....and have a nice day!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


1-2 chili peppers (Serrano or jalapeno)
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 bunch of cilantro
1 purple onion
1-2 limes juiced (about a tablespoon of juice / or more if desired)
1-2 garlic cloves
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper

**for more flavor roast peppers, garlic and onion.


Add one roasted or raw chili pepper, onion, garlic, lime juice, salt, pepper and cilantro. Pulse a few times until desired consistency is reached.  Add canned tomatoes and pulse one or two times.  Taste. If you need more heat - add the second pepper.  Serve fresh with tortilla chips.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Another Major Milestone for Alicia

On May 25,  Alicia received an offer she couldn't turn down. Jeremy, her boyfriend of just over a year, took her out to eat in the quaint East Texas town of Jefferson. The dinner was followed by a carriage ride and.....a proposal. She said, "Yes!"

We couldn't be happier for her and Jeremy! James and I are excited about this and feel that he will make a great addition to our expanding family.  We had another family get together (feast) Sunday, May 27 (Memorial Day Weekend) to celebrate this special occassion.

The happy couple.
A few generations of rings...Alicia to the left. I'm in the middle
and Grandma to the far right. 

Our growing family.

April and May Family Updates

I don't know about anyone else, but April and May passed in a blink of an eye at my house. It is a busy time for our family, but this year it was especially busy.  In late April we celebrated Heather's 20th birthday. We were thrilled that she could come home just before her semester finals.  We celebrated with a family get together  -- a big lunch followed by birthday cake.

A beautiful cake from Say It With Sugar. . . 

. . .for a beautiful girl!

Alicia turned 22 on May 2 and graduated from college on May 2. James and I are so proud of this accomplishment in her life. We know God has great plans for her.

Alicia customized her hat. A red apple for teaching
and blue piece for special education.
A family shot with my dad.

Alicia and Grandma

The Duckworth Family with Alicia. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Peaches are getting Ripe

My peaches are getting ripe very quickly this year.
There are plenty of things coming from the garden this week.  I hope I can keep up with it all! 

Fresh Peaches that are almost ready to pick.

Kandy Korn in May

I planted my corn (Kandy Korn variety)  in late March from seeds started indoors several weeks earlier in peat pots. Corn does not transplant well according to my resources, but the peat pots worked great. I was worried about another hot and dry summer, so I worked and planned so that I could harvest in May and early June instead of July.  By July of last year most crops were lost due to the drought and excessive heat.

Tonight,  I picked about 32 ears of corn. I only found one worm and one cob with slight damage.  My crop has produced better than last year  -- likely due to more spring rains and supplementing additional drinks with soaker hoses placed between the rows covered in mulch. Last year much of my corn was lost to pesky worms. I was more vigilant this year in protecting my crop. I have been picking as many bugs as possible.  I also tried a new trick/tip. I  put a drop of mineral oil in the corn silk soon after it appeared. I have read this is a good deterrent because the worm suffocates. It appears to have helped. Batch #1 planting didn't get as tall as the Batch #2 planting. Warm sunny days make a big difference. Lessons learned for another year.....

Brody and I shucked the corn, and I blanched most of it and put 2 - 1 quart bags stuffed full in the freezer.  I saved about 8 ears for supper tomorrow night.  I sampled a few stray kernels and was very pleased with the fresh sweet flavor. It was perfect after a quick blanch.

Before I picked tonight.

The harvest!

Friday, May 4, 2012


This year I decided to try a new way to plant potatoes.  Since my garden plot was part of my back yard 2 short years ago, my soil is still mostly a heavy clay mix. I'm adding compost as I can.  With that said, after doing some research on-line, I decided that instead of digging a deep trench for potatoes this year I would plant mine at ground level and keep covering them with soil/compost.   It's not time to harvest yet, but I'm looking forward to peeking inside soon.  The pictures below will explain the process. 

February - Potato seeds prepared to plant.  Eyes have developed and I dusted
 in sulphur to  protect from disease. Seeds were purchased at Calloway's
Nursery in Plano.

Potato "seeds" placed in a shallow hole. tomato cage put in place.

Row of Potatoes being prepared

I lined the tomato cages with a weed prevention material (allows
sunlight and air to enter , while also keeping dirt in place). Chicken wire added
to help support weight of soil and hold in place. As potato plants develop green tops,
I add more compost on top until we reach the top. Picture taken in mid April.

Potato row as of May 1.  Healthy green leaves peeking out the tops and sides
of most of my cages.  Hopefully the plants will develop nice potatoes in the
soft compost /soil I added.  I'm not sure what to do with the side shoots.

To harvest my potatoes I will loosen the chicken wire and reach inside the soft soil to retrieve my potatoes. I should be able to do this easily without risking damage caused when you use a shovel or spade to dig in traditional trenches. I'm also working on companion planting in my garden, so that is why you see  horseradish - that tall green plant -- on the same row as my potatoes. Horseradish helps deter bugs that like to attack potatoes.  I was pleasantly surprised to see the horseradish sprouts this spring after our drought and relentless heat last summer. I'll update on progress of spuds in coming weeks.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Garden Update

April was a busy month at my house.  It turned out to be a warm month as well.  Everything seems to be about 2-3 weeks ahead of last year.  Since we had such a warm winter, apparently the bugs just rested and are now out in full force!   I have declared war on squash bugs and hope to keep them at bay long enough to get a good harvest this summer!  I have been planting, weeding, fertilizing, putting soaker hoses between rows, looking for squash bugs and/or their eggs, and mulching, mulching, mulching, etc.  Of course I have had some help along the way - Thank you James, Brody, Alicia, Brody, Hadley,Jackson and Taylor for any and all assistance you have provided!

April - Corn Rows

Corn Rows May 1

Summer Squash Early April / Pinto Bean Seeds planted. The cattle
panel behind the squash has two grape plants (red and green) and
more pole beans growing on it.  

May 1 - Summer Squash and Pinto Beans Sprouted
May 1 Summer Squash harvest!

Cabbage in the background last month

May 1 - Cabbage Heads

April - Bush Beans and Eggplant Row

May 1 - Bush Beans and Eggplant Row

Pole Beans planted in March are coming along nicely and will
hopefully cover the trellis. 

Cattle Panels and T-Posts should work fine for my cucumbers.
These are pickling cucumbers and they  were planted in April.

The compost bin is always a popular place for my hens! The get to roam
the pasture for a few hours each night and love to peck and scratch through
compost, grass, pastures, etc., but especially love bugs and worms!

I snuck in on them with my camera after they were settled for the night.
They were trying to rest/roost after roaming about that evening!

Our New Steer

James bought a steer from a friend a few weeks ago. He was a little shy when I was taking pictures, but you can see that he is quite handsome. Brody named this one and keeping with his food theme - the steer's name is "Steak."    We hope to get a few more cows, but with prices sky high - that plan may have to wait a few months.  

Sunday, April 1, 2012


My family loves blackberries, and we definitely consider them one of the great early treats of summer.  A few years ago we converted my daughter's pitching/batting cage into a blackberry patch. We just tilled the field sand into our lovely clay soil, and then added lots of manure to further amend the soil.  We then started planting various seedless blackberry plants (i.e. Navaho, Arapaho, and Ouachita).  I have about 12 nice plants now.  Our love for blackberries is also shared by birds. They can spot ripe berries with ease and will eat them with reckless abandon.  I understand why they do this, but last weekend we started a project to protect the berries so we can enjoy more of our harvest.

We still need to add protective netting, but you can see pics of the framework below and get an idea of what we've been up to -- mostly a lot of manual labor...... 

I'm looking forward to picking berries with my grandkids like I did with my great grandmother, Granny Alma, as a child. We would pick berries (that had thorns) out of her patch. We would eat a few while picking and then bring the others in to be rinsed off. Then she would drizzle really cold cream over them and add a little raw sugar over the top. It was a great treat on a hot day.  When the summer temperatures faded into fall and winter, she would take a bag of frozen berries out of her freezer and make wonderful cobblers for us to enjoy!

My husband, sons, and Jeremy were very helpful with this project.  I hope we have a great harvest, so I can reward them with fresh berries in cream, a yummy cobbler, or whatever sounds good to us! 

Poles set just before the sun went down last Sunday.
Framework in place as the sun set on another Sunday.

Another view - the netting will be added soon.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Homemade Lemon Cheese

Last weekend I decided to try a homemade cheese recipe because:
  1. I love cheese and the recipe sounded tasty.
  2. I recently read the book "The Urban Farm Handbook" and the authors have a blog site that I frequent for tips on "eating growing, raising and preparing your own food."  They have a monthly challenge and March's challenge was dairy.
  3. I'm a foodie and love learning more about foods and processes!
Now back to the cheese.

The recipe for this challenge can be found at: Eating Rules Cheesemaking Challenge and is pasted below.
Lemon Cheese

This is a soft, ricotta-like cheese, reminiscent of the “Farmer Cheese” my grandmother used to bring us when she visited from the Bronx. This recipe is from Ricki Carroll’s Home Cheese Making.


◦1/2 gallon Whole Milk (2% will work, but produce a drier cheese)  (I used raw milk purchased from Lavon Farms in Plano, Texas)

◦Juice of 2-3 Lemons, approximately 1/4 to 1/2 cup

◦Approx. 1/2 tsp. Cheese Salt (any salt will do)

◦Finely chopped Herbs, such as chives, oregano, or lavender (optional)


1.In a large pot over medium-low heat, gently bring the milk to 175 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to stir frequently to keep from scalding the milk.

2.Turn off the heat. Add about 1/4 cup of lemon juice and stir well. Let sit for 15 minutes.

3.After waiting, the milk should be curdled, and the whey (the liquid) should be clear. If it’s still milky/cloudy, add more lemon juice, stir gently, and give it a few more minutes. Depending on the acidity of the lemon juice, it may take quite a bit more. It won’t hurt to use more, but if you use more than necessary, the final result will have a stronger lemon flavor.

4.Line a colander with butter muslin and gently pour the curds into it. Allow it to drain for a few minutes, and then tie the corners of the muslin together to form a bag.

5.Hang the curds to drain. I use a twist-tie and rubber-band combination to hook the bag over the kitchen faucet.

6.Allow to drain for 1-2 hours, until it stops dripping and has firmed up a bit. (If you’re in a hurry you can speed the process somewhat by squeezing the bag gently from the top down).

7.Remove the cheese and mix in the salt and herbs to taste.

8.Ricki says to store the cheese in the fridge for 1-2 weeks, but I guarantee it’ll be gone long before then.


This recipe can be easily doubled.

Heating the milk

Wrapping cheese in cheese cloth

Letting the cheese drain

Homemade Lemon Cheese with Chives!

Husband, son, and college daughter liked the cheese. I did too. The chives complimented the cheese nicely and the taste of lemon was not over powering even though I had to had additional lemon juice.  I enjoyed this challenge and after making this recipe, I clearly understand what curds and whey are.  I think I may try some homemade Mozzarella Cheese soon, and possibly  Easy Homemade Yogurt.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spring is Here!

Well Spring officially arrived last week, but due to warm temperatures we have been quite busy around around our place.  Here's an update on what's been going on.

The new knock-out rose transplants are all doing well and all the peony roots have shoots that have emerged into small plants.  The daffodils are about through with their show. The Spanish blue bells and allium have emerged, but not blooming.  The garlic I planted last fall is up and doing great. The purple coneflower rootings have sprouted. The daisy transplants are doing well. Returning herbs are parsley and thyme. I'm amazed that they survived the drought and came back.

Spring Garden - Asparagus (up and looks great / some are bigger around than a fat finger), Peas (climbing and bush - both blooming now and have small pods), Carrots (small but sprouted), radishes (small), leeks (sprouted), beets (sprouted), lettuces (seeds - mixed gourmet blend, romaine, Bib), cabbage transplants are doing well, cauliflower transplants (puny - not looking as good as cabbage), turnips (spouted - lots of green tops), spinach (sprouted), kale (dwarf and red; both have sprouted); potatoes (greens tops are coming through), yellow and red onion slips, and chives (seeds and tranplants).  **Will share new idea for growing potatoes in tomato cages soon.  I am hoping this will be a nice alternative -since Texas clay soil is more challenging for this vegetable. 

Early Summer Garden - 10 tomato transplants, Corn transplants (Kandy Korn), Corn (Kandy Korn seeds in /not sprouted), green beans (bush and pole / some seeds have sprouted as of today), lima bush beans (not sprouted) crowder peas (not sprouted yet), pickling cucumbers (transplants), salad cucumbers (transplants), dill transplant, oregano transplant, parsley transplant, Korean scallions (from a friend and some from Vietnamese ccommunity garden in downtown Dallas), grapes (new transplants), summer squash transplants (zucchini, pity pan, yellow),  summer squash by seed (pity pan, zucchini and pity pan), sweet bell pepper transplants, and chili peppers transplants (Serrano and jalapeno).

I might have forgotten something, but the list gives you and idea of the variety we have to date.  When it is in the 80's pretty consistently, I will plant melons, okra, and zinnias -- maybe more. 

A few pics of the progress. Some of these were taken earlier in March. 

Peas climbing up a trellis
Bush Peas, Chard, Lettuces, Kale, Cabbage, Arugula, etc.

Pole Beans transplants.

A new variety of daffodils for my garden this year.

A new peach tree (Belle of Georgia)

My asparagus looks great!!  I'll enjoy this next year when it's 3 years old!!

A 4-6 inch rain headed out way last week.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


When I started planning my potager/kitchen garden, I knew that asparagus would be included in my selection of plants to include.  Last year I planted a row of New Jersey Giant roots/crowns. Through the horrible drought last year, I watered them with a soaker hose and they seemed to do fine.  I was actually impressed at how well they did in the extreme Texas heat.  Earlier this month I was excited to see the first shoots coming up through the layer of compost I had piled on top late last fall.   All the books say to harvest after the asparagus has been in the ground two years.   I sure am tempted to harvest this year, but to ensure my plants make the strongest root system possible, I will wait. Hopefully, my patience will be rewarded with many years of fresh asparagus. 

Pork Chop and Bacon

We purchased two Yorkshire pigs last weekend - now known as Pork Chop and Bacon.  They weigh about 40 pounds each now. My sons, Taylor (25) and Brody (14), named them and plan to care for them and then "harvest" them once they reach about 250 pounds later this summer/early fall.  In the past few years, we have become more aware and concerned about what the government approves at commercial pig slaughter houses. Therefore, we have decided to raise our own pork so we know what we are consuming. 

They seem to like their new home under cedar and elm trees in our back pasture.

The trees will provide shade in the summer heat and also provide a nice place for them to rub/scratch themselves.  They have lots of green rye grass in their pen that this shot doesn't show.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Garden Update

I took off work early Friday afternoon so I could get some rose bushes and a flat of daisies planted before the expected rains.  We did get a very nice slow soaking rain Friday and Saturday.  Late Saturday night the weatherman predicted a beautiful week ahead with very mild temperatures - no freezing nights and highs near 70 every day through Friday!!!  As promised, Sunday morning arrived with a sunny sky.  I was feeling a tremendous urge to plant some seeds......so I missed church and got a lot done in my garden. Farmers have to work when conditions are good and today was nearly perfect.

Since I had tilled a month or so back, I was able to work with a rake and hoe carefully to get some seeds in the very soggy ground today. Brody and I also installed 2 - 50 feet rolls of chicken wire around the bottom perimeter of part of the garden. I have caught a baby rabbit in my garden and he and possibly his siblings have been munching on my chard and cauliflower.  Momma rabbit can't fit through the holes of my fence.  I plan to do a few more rows of chicken wire next weekend to protect the entire perimeter from these furry little pests!

Things planted this weekend:

Friday afternoon - 10 Red Knock-Out Rose bushes (double-bloom ), 2 white peonies, and a flat of Shasta daisies. The peonies I purchased at Wal-Mart and planted in January are up and doing well. The peonies transplants from my own bed have not sprouted yet, so as a back up I am crowding a few more store bought roots in the row.  I'm cautiously optimistic about the beginning steps of this layered design. The rose bushes are at the front of the garden on the right side. The peonies are planted behind the roses.  You have to walk in the garden to see the peonies.  I hope as the roses mature they will provide shade from the oh so hot Texas afternoon sun.

Sunday -  (From seed)  kale, romaine lettuce, muscaline lettuce (mixed gourmet blend), sugar snap peas,  peas (bush variety),  beets and onion chives.  I also planted two onion chive transplants.

My legs are already sore from a few hours of squatting (installating chicken wire) and hoeing.  I shutter to think what this will mean tomorow and Tuesday...I have a few doctors appointments Tuesday, but hope to get home in time to get a few potatoes in the ground. I'm actually a little late on them!! More exercise will help ease my soreness, right?

Have a great week and enjoy the beautiful weather!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

To Lubbock and Back (real fast)

Last weekend James and I flew to Lubbock to see our youngest daughter, Heather, join her new church.   She's having a blast in Lubbock and has made some really good friends.  Our trip was fast because Heather was in the midst of assisting with interviews for summer camp counselors (Tech Students) and didn't have a lot of free time to spare. She and her friends were definitely working hard planning and making decisions to ensure this year's camp will be special for the incoming freshmen students at Texas Tech. 

We thoroughly enjoyed the short time we had with Heather.  It was nice to get a glimpse of what her life is like as a college student/young adult. Since her roommates were all out of town, we stayed at her place.   It was nicer and cheaper than the Holiday Inn I've stayed at before.  In spite of her busy schedule, she was a very gracious hostess.  We are truly blessed to have such a sweet daughter!!

Here are a few pictures from our weekend:

Heather's home. It was so darn cold there that day!!!

Nice and clean living room.

A very modern and spacious kitchen.

Heather in her room. 

Heather has lots of friends at her church.

Heather and Caroline (a very special friend)!

Proud parents with Heather

Heather in the baptistry.

A renewed commitment and new church member.  Amen!