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HOW TO BAKE A SPAGHETTI SQUASH, step by step guide with photos. jpgHow to bake a Spaghetti Squash

Have you ever had spaghetti squash?  It is a bazaar vegetable, but rather good.  You can boil them, bake them or even microwave them… But when I was about 15 my Mom was cooking one in the microwave for dinner, she had cut it in two.  But some how it sealed back together and next thing we knew it EXPLODED, blowing the microwave door open and strands of spaghetti squash all over the kitchen.  Scared us to death but we still laugh about it…… SO needless today I am a bit freaked out  by the thought of popping one of these into the microwave.  Instead I choose to bake mine.

First you will need to find a VERY SHARP and HEAVY duty knife of cleaver.  They are very hard to cut open.  I have found the easiest way is to make small jabs all the way around. Then go back around again, going a little deeper, then crack it open.

You will then need to scrap out the seeds and fibers in the middle, I do it with a spoon.

 Rub with a bit of olive oil, season with salt and pepper.  Cover with foil and bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 45 min- 115 minutes.  It depends on oven heat and how big your squash is.

 Once it is cooked, you can put a fork easily into the side and it will come off in strands that look just like spaghetti.

I like it plain with butter, and salt and pepper.

Or you can eat with red sauce and meat balls .

Fall is a great time to try these, as you can pick them up at a rather thrifty price since they are in season.

Have you tired them, and what is your favorite way to eat them?

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Well today is the day! We borrowed a RotoTiller from our family and are tearing up a section in the back yard! So finally after an unsuccessful attempt last year, we are giving it a full go this year!

Some simple tips for working in the dirt in your yard.

First map out a good location. Think about the area of the country you live in. Where in your yard is the sun at certain times of day. Find out where the shade is and what you plan on planting. Some like direct full day sun, some like just partial sun. Also plan where you want to plant certain plants, like corn grows tall and it will shade shorter plants, vine plants do well in the tall corn, like water melon, or cantaloupe. Also think about the access you will need to get in between and around the plants to weed it, and pick the veggies or fruit!

We picked the back left side of our yard. Why? Well mainly it was dirt to begin with. Second it is shaded by the hottest late afternoon sun, by a tall walnut tree on the other side of our yard.

How to Roto Till a garden

BEFORE you dig:

First CALL 811 (nation wide) or visit Call 811.com your call will be forwarded to your local call center and they will schedule your local utility services to mark where the buried cables and gas lines are located at. This process takes about 2 days, so always give your self time to have them come mark the ground before you dig or till.

If you borrowed a Tiller like we did, always check the to make sure you know how to work it properly. If you rent one, make sure you understand the operation as well. In both cases and if you own one, always check the fluids, the gas, the oil, and that everything is clean, and topped off. Check tire pressure, and make sure there are no leaks in the tires. These machines have a lot of torque or pulling power and put a lot of stress on the tires. Make sure the rear protective plate near your feet is well lubricated at the hinges. That way it glides over the dirt with out getting stuck up and have rocks and sticks thrown at your feet from under it.

With the spark plug unplugged, make sure the rotating section under the protective cover is clear of any wound up wires, ropes, or roots. Once cleaned out, reattach the spark plug and get ready for a work out. Also walk through the area where you plan on tilling, and clear out anything you can find on the ground, metal, rope, any thing you can visually see. You don’t want any thing extra spinning around in front of you.

Also if you have weeds or grass in the garden area you want, do NOT spray weed/grass killer down. It will kill not only the weeds and grass, but will remain in the soil and kill off your garden as well! Remove the weeds, and grass if they are large patches with a shovel.

While Operating:

Always where protective shoes. All though its warm out and you have been wanting to wear sandals, you really need to protect your feet and toes from debris and protection from the spinning roto tiller while turning and running it. Eye protection is always a good idea. While you are running it, hang on! You never know when it will fit a rock or a root or something and bounce around on you. Luckily our dirt was nice and soft, and it floated like butter…lol.

How to plant a garden

It is always good to make a couple passes. Up and down the longest path is easier. As trying to lift and turn the machine is quite clumsy.

DIY gardening

On the last pass, I will walk on the side of the machine. I like to leave the dirt nice a fluffed up. When you walk behind the weight of your foot print compresses the soil. So I walk on the edge where I plan on tilling next. So there you go. Your garden bed is ready!

Some options depending on your soil: You can take a sample of the dirt to your local nursery or garden store and some will take readings from it. Doing this you can add additives like fertilizer or manure to it to make the soil the best it can be.

Stay tuned weekly as we design rows, paths, weed barrier, planting, and even more through out the summer.

I’m not expert or even a green thumb. I’m just a guy who likes to play in the dirt…lol-  So garden at your own risk lol

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We ran out of tortillas the other day and I did not feel up to going to the store.  So I decided to make my own, I know lots of my friends make them every week.  I had just never tried to make them myself.  I used a recipe out of an old family cookbook.

You will need:

  • 4 cups of flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening or lard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plus 3 table spoons Hot water (not boiling)

In a bowl add 4 cups flour, 1/8 teaspoon baking powder and vegetable shortening.

With a fork cut the shortening into the flour, till it is well blended.  It will have the texture of cornmeal

In another bowl at 1 1/2 teaspoon salt to your HOT water.  Stir till salt is dissolved.

Add the salt water to the flour mixture in a thin stream, stir as you add the water.

Knead with your fist, till well blended (add a little more water if needed)

Dough ball will start to form

Place dough ball in bottom of bowl, cover with a cloth and let rest for 20 minutes

Split into 4 pieces, and then cut each of them into 3…. for a total of 12 mini dough balls

Use a rolling pin or tortilla press to press flat.  Or in our case we used a cup…. and my little helpers 🙂

Get it as thin as you can without tearing

Cook on  hot pan over medium/high heat 15 seconds on each side till done.

Total cook time of 30-60 seconds depending on pan used and temp.

It was a fun project and they were rather yummy.  I found I liked them even better the next day, when I re-heated them in a pan with a touch of oil.  Tortillas are rather prices lately so this may be something we start to make more often.  If we do, then I will need to invest in a tortilla press.

Have you made your own tortillas before?  Any tips?

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How to travel with kids

IMG_3662We got a few questions recently asking us how we travel with kids in the car for 11  hours?

First off I have to say some kids just travel better than others.  For example little Maveric was happy as can be the whole ride, we stopped every few hours to change his diaper, feed him and snuggle him then put him back in his seat.  He really was perfect on the way there….on the way home he was a little more fussy, but still a very good little boy! What a blessing he is!

Here are a few things we do to help the kids enjoy the trip

  • Bring Grandma and Grandpa along for the ride, they help entertain the kids plus the trip is “special” because they came along.
  • Bring along fun new toys for the kids to keep them entertained.  Like coloring books, play dough, stickers, etc.
  • Give them a pad of paper and teach them to draw things they see, then let them practice drawing.
  • We watch cartoons in the car like Tom and Jerry, all ages enjoy them. (I think my Dad was just as excited as the kids to watch them)
  • Bring little treats and when you see or hear the kids being kind or good,  reward them.
  • Sing songs, play “eye spy with my little eye” game
  • Let them ride with a small blanket and pillow so they can get comfortable
  • Place an older child next to a younger one so they can help them
  • Every time you stop take ALL of them to the bathroom, or after you start driving again you will here “I need to go potty”
  • bring zip lock bags to put little snacks in, easier to pass out, less mess and the kids like to have their “own bag”
  • Baby wipes are always great for easy clean up

Driving in the car can be a real nightmare if the kids are crabby, but I guess we have just been lucky and normally really enjoy the trip. I am no expert, and I am sure these will not work for everyone but this is what works for us.

What do you do on long road trips to keep the kids happy?

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