Category Archives: Share the Love

Punching Up the Pizza with Cast Iron

My wife and I enjoy having a homemade pizza on Saturday nights. This pizza ends up being at least two dinners, sometimes a lunch as well. So it’s worth the effort we put into doing it up right.

Earlier this month my wife and I celebrated our birthdays — just 6 days apart. Part of our Birthday Week celebration was a trip to the Lodge Cast Iron factory outlet store in a nearby city where we bought several new pieces of cast iron cookware. One of these is a 16 inch cast iron pizza pan.

Cast Iron Pizza Pan

Around a hundred years ago (or it seems so) I worked my way through the management training program of a popular pizza chain store. On my way to management I learned a lot about making pizza by making and serving many thousands of them. One of the secrets of why a take-out pizza tastes better than most homemade is the oven. Continue Reading …

Lasagna Garden

I love lasagna, don’t you? A flavorful concoction made of noodles, meat, cheese, and tomato sauce, layered in a deep pan and baked so the flavors meld. Yumm! My garden beds this year will be going lasagna.

lasagna gardenOver the years I’ve tried several different techniques for the raised beds in my mountain-side garden. I have to use raised beds because the slope is steep enough that even a light rain washes away top soil that is not firmly pinned down by a thick carpet of grass.

Keeping the soil in these beds rich and productive has been my primary focus. When I established the beds I made my “dirt” using commercial compost, peat, and some native clay soil. I’ve added home-made compost each year. This involves digging-in the compost and turning the soil.

Lately I’ve been reading that turning the soil is not the best approach, but is a hold-over from large scale agriculture where the time and effort saved by plowing a field makes sense. In a garden, tiling and digging are less important as time savers when the soil structure is considered.

I started my quest when I began finding white fungus-like strands growing in the soil, especially near the wooden boxes, and asked myself, “What is that? And is it good or bad?” Research showed it is indeed fungus and it is good.  Read More …

I’m Just Chicken About Chickens

Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person on the planet who is not raising chickens. Everywhere I look are articles about raising chickens, plans for chicken coops, chicken tractors, chicken feeders, pictures of chickens, and people talking about how wonderful it is to have really fresh eggs.

chickensThat last part is what comes closest to hooking me. I love eggs. We eat eggs for breakfast twice a week, and use them in cooking. We’d eat them more often if they weren’t getting so expensive. I read that the commercial egg farms have been hit hard by avian diseases that required them to kill off significant amounts of their flocks. That kind of thing will drive the price up, and when this sort of thing happens, the prices generally do not come back down. It’s like the delivery services adding fuel surcharges because fuel was so expensive, but when fuel costs came back down the surcharges stayed in place. We will just be eating fewer eggs in our house now. Unless I raise chickens.

I’ve given it some thought too. Read More …

Six Reasons You Should Stick with Legacy Publishing

high speedThere is a tendency for authors, especially new authors, to discount the value of the established and venerated publishing houses: those establishments that have for, in some cases, hundreds of years provided the readers of the world with quality materials to entertain, inform, and enlighten.  But suddenly the reverent awe in which we have always held these firms is being besmirched, like graffiti on a church, by a pair of hooligans: a bratty upstart called Self Publishing and his sidekick Indie Press.  Oh, sure; their cousin Vanity Press has been prostituting herself for almost as long as the Big Houses have been around, but she pretty much kept to herself and offered little threat to them.

Self and Indie, however, have managed to lure a sizable contingent of writers into their posse with promises of instant money and stardom.  But, here are six reasons why authors should stick with the brick and mortar giants of legacy publishing. Read More

Growing Satisfaction

People garden for a lot of different reasons: reducing household costs, increase food quantity, increase food quality, providing food for the less fortunate of their community, those who tend flower gardens seek to beautify their property, give shelter to certain insects and birds, and improve the aesthetics of their life. But one common thread that runs through it all at some level is that we do it because we enjoy it: when we grow flowers or vegetables we are also growing satisfaction and contentment.

satisfaction, gowing, gardening, dirt
Image courtesy www.Patheos.com

There is something therapeutic about working the soil with our hands, watching as seeds we planted push up through that soil, develop into plants and thrive under our attentive care. Then we EAT THEM, mua-hahaha! Sorry, I got carried away there. (read more…)

Magic Tomatoes

Some time ago I read that when winter approaches and you still have many green tomatoes on the plants, you can (if you’re growing determinant: bush type tomatoes) pull the whole bush up and hang it upside down in a garage or basement where they will be protected from frost and the tomatoes will continue to ripen. Over the course of the next few weeks you will continue to harvest ripe tomatoes from your upside-down bushes.

It is mid-November and I still have lots of tomatoes on my plants. Unfortunately mine are indeterminate (vine type) plants, so yanking them out by the roots is not an option for me. The full-size tomatoes only had a few dozen green tomatoes left, so I harvested those. We made a green tomato pie with some and I wrapped the rest in newspaper and set them in a cardboard box. I check them every couple of days and remove those that have ripened. These don’t have the robust flavor of a sun-ripened tomato, but they’re not bad.

tomatoesMy cherry tomatoes are still loaded with greenies. Earlier I pinched off the smallest fruits and all blooms to force the vines to concentrate on ripening the maters. I have been harvesting those that ripen at a rate that keeps my family, my mom, and a lady at church well supplied. Still, there are many green ones left and a hard freeze is expected. What to do?  (read more…)

Movie Review: Alien Trespass

Alien Tresspass
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As part of our Simple Life Formula, Marie and I have a few standing traditions that help us appreciate one another and enjoy life.  One such is Schlocky Sci-Fi Friday

Every Friday evening Marie fixes Chinese food and we curl up together on the sofa to eat the Chinese food and watch an old B grade (we prefer the term ‘Classic” ) science fiction movie.   Movies from the 1950’s and 1960’s and in black and white are preferred.  Among our all-time favorites are such classics as The Day the Earth Stood Still, Destination Moon, and Rocketship XM but we have a large collection of movies on DVD and VHS, the majority of them Sci-Fi.  Another “classic” joined the file last night.
(No spoilers here) Continue reading Movie Review: Alien Trespass

Movie Review: The Thing From Another World

thing from another worldThis week’s Schlocky Sci-Fi Friday Movie was one of our favorites; a timeless classic: The Thing From Another World.

Arctic researchers witness the crash of what they determine to be a UFO.  When they investigate the crash they find and retrieve a large humanoid alien who had been embedded in the ice.  Assuming the thing to be dead, they return to their base with it.  But, of course, it is far from being dead.  At their base it goes on a rampage and kills a couple of the scientists who, determined to communicate with it, buck the military authority.   The Thing, then sets about accomplishing what was (apparently) its mission. Continue reading Movie Review: The Thing From Another World

Sweet Shot

I’ve been a fan of Star Wars since the first movie hit the screens in 1977.  So when I came across this sweet nostalgic shot of the Star Wars cast (except C3-PO) I just had to share it.  I’m not sure of the original source… that’s the way it is with stuff on the Internet.

Star Wars Cast Shot out of costumeLeft to Right: Han Solo, Darth Vader, Chewbacca, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, R2-D2

To round out the set, this is Anthony Daniels, who inhabited the C3-PO costume.  He’s very thin!

Star Wars Cast_C3-PO

Iffytober and Frost

In Tennessee, October is an iffy time for gardening and the weather-guessers don’t offer much help. During the summer their inaccuracies may mean having to water on a day we didn’t plan to, but little else. In October a new foe comes a-calling: frost.

Some of the crops in my garden will handle frost just fine: lettuce, spinach, Brussels sprouts, onions, garlic to name a few. These will grow just fine on into the winter. But the last of the summer crops are not so hardy.

Basket-peppers-green

I still have tomatoes, bell peppers, banana peppers, jalapenos, red potatoes and sweet potatoes growing heartily and producing. I hate to rip these out for fear of a frost that dos not come, then get an additional two weeks of Indian summer where more of those items would have ripened. I still have two flats of green tomato relish canned up from last year’s frost aversion.

So I keep covers handy: bed sheets, light blankets, plastic sheeting all work well. I keep a box of spring clamps in the barn as well to secure these to my box frames. Until we get an actual freeze, this will keep the plants alive by keeping the frozen dew off the plants. Play it safe: cover up anytime a frost is possible. (Read More…)