Friday, September 12, 2014

Get up! It's GameDay!


Friday you little stinker, I’ve been looking all week for you! 

We are closing out our third week of school here and if the first three have been any indication of how the next 34 will go…well, I’m going to have to buy a bigger coffee mug.  Last school year seemed to FLY by.  Everyone said it; teachers, kids, parents, but now this year everyone is saying how they just seem…busier, how life just seems chaotic.  Is it summer yet?

 



I’m a tad more excited for this weekend than usual, though.  If you live anywhere near North Dakota, or if you watch ESPN, or if you have a husband who hogs the TV from the moment he gets home and constantly flips between ESPN and football you may have seen that College GameDay is coming to Fargo…again…for the 2nd year…consecutively.  GO BISON!
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One of our three major colleges (and undoubtedly the best…sorry I’m not sorry…it’s in my blood) here is North Dakota State University; NDSU- home of the Bison.  Pronounced B-I-Z-U-N. Don’t get that wrong…we’ve tipped people’s cows for less.  

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In Fargo, North Dakota we do three things really well: farming, friendliness, and Bison football.  You’ll be hard-pressed to find more devoted fans than those of us cheering for the Green and Gold…and no, we’re not talking Packers here…yuck.  We are back-to-back-to-back National Champions and have started to turn some serious heads in the football world.  
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The whole production rolled into town earlier this week and in true Fargo fashion, the town welcomed them with signs, cheers, and painted faces while flanking Broadway leading the parade of trucks and busses to their destination in downtown Fargo.

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The hubster and I didn’t go back to Fargo last year to head downtown for the whole shebang and while we had a lot of fun watching it here at home with friends, I always kind of regretted not going.  BUT in an amazing twist of fate, GameDay is back this year and by golly I’m not gonna miss it this time.  I’m a bit bummed that Joe can’t come with as he’s got a bachelor party this weekend.  I’m sure he’ll just be having no fun at all with his buddies…right. 

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A group of us are meeting at a buddy’s house at 5:30 Saturday morning (we’ll see if I make it there that early) for breakfast and Bailey’s and then are going to head downtown for the filming of GameDay.  After that’s all done we will head over to tailgating which is a BLAST and then somewhere to watch the game.  Alas, we don’t have tickets to get into the actual game (they’re like finding the Golden Ticket, and if you find one you’ll be paying for it as if it were actual gold) but the town will be such a buzz the whole day that we’ll have plenty of fun outside the game.

I hope you all have a fun weekend…even though I know I’m going to be having more fun than you ;)

GET UP.  IT’S GAMEDAY.  GO BISON!  
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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Do You Wanna Salsa?


 
This was the first summer that Joe and I had been in a place where we could grow an actual legit garden.  And don’tcha know that there just so happened to be a nice garden plot along the back of our property.  It’s a fairly large plot coming in at 20’ by 12’ which I, in all my unknowing naivety before this whole process started, thought “Well we could fit a few tomato plants, some beans and peas, a few pepper plants, and maybe some corn…it’s not HUGE”.  I’m not sure what I was judging this against I mean, ya, against a football field you’re right Amanda, it’s not huge but in beginning gardener terms…well, you’ll see.


I started two different types of tomatoes, jalapenos, and sweet peppers in the house when it was still cool outside.  I was such a nerd about it too because everyday I would come home and check them, talk to them, take pictures of them and then become ridiculously discouraged when they weren’t five inches tall after the first week.  Honestly, Amanda.  Patience has never really been a strong point for me…I’m working on it.
This is only half of it...
 

As you can see in these pictures we just had no clue.  Remember when I said that I thought the garden wasn’t huge?  Then why, you may ask, did I plant enough tomato plants to supply tomatoes for the entire city?... and for that I have no answer.  Having never grown tomatoes before we had no idea how many tomatoes come for one plant.  All of this is even greater because neither of us REALLY like tomatoes.  Ketchup…yup.  Salsa…you bet!  But we aren’t the type of people that slice one up and just chow down.  I give it the old college try every once in awhile but I never like it.

We had been told about this really great greenhouse that’s just about 20 minutes from us so we headed there to pick up a few other veggies for the garden and some flowers for around the house.  I was having so much fun walking through all the buildings with hundreds of different plants that we picked up quite a few additions for our garden.  After all was said and done, between the greenhouse and some other seeds we had picked up, these are what ended up being planted:

·         Big boy tomatoes
·         Roma tomatoes
·         Beans
·         Peas
·         Cucumbers
·         Broccoli
·         Jalapenos
·         Green peppers
·         Sweet peppers
·         Celery
·         Red onions
·         Walla-Walla onions
·         Potatoes
·         Carrots
·         Lettuce
      ·         Watermelon
·         Cantaloupe

It snowballed quickly.  Oops.  I planted everything and sat back and admired my cute little seedlings poking up against the bare black dirt and waited for everything else to pop up.  That patience thing again…ugh.   Then it happened.  The gorgeous trees along our property that totally sold us on the place started dropping acorns and all sorts of seeds and in the matter of 2 weeks the entire garden was covered in little plants…but not the ones I had planted…the ones Mother Nature had. 
 
 
Weeds.  Weeds.  WEEDS.  Holy Hannah it was awful.  I spent so much time out in that garden throughout the summer pulling more tiny trees than I care to talk about but it started to get out of hand and then we left for vacation and when we got home we had our own personal jungle in the backyard.  By this point in time all of MY plants were starting to produce tiny little veggies so I said “Screw it”, let the weeds go, and just hoped that my mother-in-law wouldn’t label me a complete and total failure when she saw it.  Her garden is a scene to behold…it’s gorgeous.

But, no matter how ugly it may have looked out there, our garden still gave us an awesome crop!  This is only a sliver of what came out of it and there are still a lot of plants still producing out there as I type.

 
So, what does one do when one has an over abundance of veggies?  Make salsa!!  Joe’s parents, his brother and his brother’s girlfriend came to visit us over Labor Day and while the boys worked on the man cave, the ladies made salsa.  I have never made salsa or canned ANYTHING so I was stoked to learn how from his mother.

 
The process went a little something like this.  Recipe follows.

·         Slice up tomatoes into 1-2 inch cubes. (We didn’t remove the skins, they pretty much cooked away).

·         Dice peppers, onions, and celery.  I used my little Ninja Chop that I got for the wedding and if you don’t have one go get one RIGHT NOW, I’ll wait.  You need it, I promise.

·         Dump all the veggies, vinegar, sugar, salt, garlic, and seasoning into a big pot and cook on low-medium heat for 2 hours, stirring frequently.

·         When those 2 hours are up stir in tomato paste and cook for 15 minutes 

(While that last step is cooking, place your jars in a hot water bath in the sink.)
       
  

      ·         I don’t own a big canning pot so in my next biggest pot we boiled an inch or two of water.  When the last 15 minutes of cooking time was done we placed 4 of the hot jars into the boiling pot of water.  (This is where the hot water bath comes into play so your jars don’t crack when placed into the boiling water)

·         Fill each jar about an inch from the top and wipe off any salsa that may have spilled on the jar. 


·         Screw each lid on just enough so you are able to lift it out of the pot and tighten when on the counter.

·         After you have tightened the lid, do NOT TOUCH the jars until they have sealed; you’ll see the buttons have popped down on the top of the lids.  You’ll also hear them ‘pop’ over the next 30-45 minutes.


This part was really hard for Joe as he has to touch and smell EVERYTHING.  I had to smack his fingers a few times to keep him from poking the tops.  Pushing the tops before they have sealed can create a false seal causing your food to go bad over time.

I made two double batches and it made 24 jars so one batch of this recipe will make about 6-7 pint jars.  The whole process was actually MUCH easier than I had anticipated and from start to finish only took about 3.5 hours.  This is seriously a case of “If I can do it, anyone can do it”. No excuses of no time, it’s too hard, or you’re scared of the jars exploding (Trista...).   

Only problem now is we have 24 jars of salsa with enough veggies to make at least another 3 batches.  That’s a lotta salsa, people. It’s a good thing Costco sells 3lb bags of tortilla chips.

 
On the other hand, at least I’ve got stocking stuffers outta the way now.