Our Favorite White Chili

 

 

My favorite version:  when I use oregano and onion and garlic fresh from the garden, home-cooked beans, and pasture-fed chicken roasted at home.

Football Soup – White Chili

  •  1 T Olive oil
  • 4 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 t ground cumin
  • ¼ t cayenne pepper
  • 1 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 – 4 oz cans chopped green chilies
  • 1 ½ t dry oregano, crumbled
  • 6 c chicken broth
  • 3 – 16 oz cans great northern beans, undrained
  • 4 c cooked chicken, chopped or cubed
  • 3 c grated Monterey jack cheese
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot on medium high; add onions and sauté for 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in the garlic, chilies, cumin, oregano, and cayenne and sauté for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the beans and chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat.
  5. Add the cooked chicken and cheese and stir until the cheese melts.

 

Enjoy!

 

This soup freezes quite well!  Simply thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and reheat when ready to serve.

Dreamin’

 

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Gettin’ It Done: Seed to Soil

It was a good week overall.

I had been itching and aching to work with that sterile soil mix batch I’d made.  I knew there’d be time on Sunday to play in the dirt.  :)

Then I attended a horticulture workshop on Tuesday.

It was good information, truly it was.  I realized that heat mats and fluorescent lights would greatly improve the odds for new seeds.  (I also realized that it’s not easy to find workshops that have an organic focus.)

The downside?  I found that my foot-dragging was akin to my lack of sleep:  if you don’t plant in time, you can’t catch up.  You’re simply better off not planting at all.  Sigh.

I had missed planting dates for several items.  What now?  What’s a practical gal to do in  a situation like this?

Yep.  You guessed it.  Plant ’em anyhow.

The great thing about this blog world is that I now have a graphic diary log of my stubborn trials and errors, so I can review them next year and learn from them, right?  Yeah.  Well, at least you can follow along and laugh with me.  I’m game.

Here’s the photo log from Sunday’s planting frenzy:

dreamin' girl at work

work area

The self-watering container is left uncovered on an unheated enclosed porch that gets east and south sun.  I’m hoping that the water reservoir will serve as a thermal mass, heated via passive solar design to maintain a favorable temperature.

It sounds like I know what I’m doing, if nothing else, right?  ;)

marked pots

plastic pots

The tomatoes and peppers and broccoli and beets are being grown traditionally.  The plant pots are indoors, set over a heat mat, with a fluorescent lamp hanging over them.

The marigolds and basil are on an unheated, enclosed porch that receives south and west sun.  They have covers to preserve some moisture and create a minimalist “greenhouse” environment.

The bucket of carrots is on its own.  It’s located on the same unheated enclosed porch, with south and west sun.

beyond the seeds

(I couldn’t resist that last shot.  These photo ops are giving me a chance to record the beauty I see around me.)

So… we’ll see how the seeding goes.

I didn’t get the stir I expected from Hubby.  Last year he threatened to buy a greenhouse and exile me to it throughout the seedling season!  I guess I had taken over the dining room…

There you have it, there’s the plan.  With no dining room takeover.  :)

Worst case:

I buy onion sets (probably will anyway) to put in the ground;

I reseed marigolds, from the 15 or so seed packets I have;

I await the volunteer basil and lettuce plants to show up where they will;

I replant carrots when the ground is ready. (Can you tell that I’m counting on my traditional starts?)

Overall, I think the learning experience will be valuable.

Granted, in a scenario where we were counting on this produce to see us through the season, I would not take the chances.  The way I see it, right now is a good time to figure it all out.

Right?

Later!

Dreamin’ Girl

Garden Review

I reminisced about last year’s garden yesterday.

My memories prompted this post about the things that worked well, and the things that did not work well last year.

Lesson One:  Tomatoes.  Fail.

I found a new garden trellis (free, can’t beat that!) and hubby and I staked it into the ground during the spring.  I was excited to try it as a vine method for the tomato plants, so we positioned it where it would receive full sun, east to west.

I planted the lovingly grown tomato plants at the base of the fencing, and interspersed cilantro and carrots and radishes as shade crops for the stalks.

The plants were set into the ground up to their first branches, and as they grew, I wove the vines and branches into the fencing to create a firm support for the plants.

I then ran soaker hoses along both sides of the trellis to provide direct moisture to the roots.

Doesn’t that sound like a winning plan?  I thought so!

My poor baked tomato plants!

Here’s what happened.

The season was extremely dry, and extremely hot.

The tomato vines BAKED on that old iron fencing panel!

Lesson learned:  I may try the tomato vine trellis again (once I recover from the pain), but ONLY with appropriate shade cover in this location.

Lesson Two:  Companion Planting.  Needs improvement.

Companion planting was mostly a win for me.

I love that there was space efficiency with this method, along with the great benefit of preserving the soil moisture by using quick growing crops to surround slow growers in order to create shade to the base of the plants.  Win!

The problem I found with this was poor planning of space and seasonal expectations, and sun/shade requirements.

For instance, using radishes and cilantro among carrots is handy because the radishes grow quickly and get harvested before the carrots need the space.

The cilantro was a good shading plant for the slow growing carrots, but care had to be taken when harvesting radishes so the cilantro roots were not disturbed.

Spinach and lettuce among the strawberries was a part win.  I’ll certainly grow the spinach in the strawberries again, this was a Win!

The lettuce was pushy and crowded out the strawberries, so I will give them a different space.

Strawberries thrived once the lettuce was purged

Dill worked out well in the strawberries also.  I was hoping to attract monarch caterpillars, but saw none last year.  Overall:  Win!

Sweet potatoes were pushy tubers, and crowded out the strawberry sets, so they’ll have their own space this year.

Lettuce grown at the base of the pepper plants was a total win!  

The peppers did wonderfully this year and the lettuce was handy to fill in for succession crops and then allowed to bolt for seed harvest and continue to provide the shade.

Lettuce and peppers in the mid season garden

The only possible downside to this combo was that it was not “pretty”.

I also tried interspersing several herbs under the bean trellis and among the canteloupe trellises.  They were direct seeded and slow to grow, getting trampled and ignored when they most needed attention.  Fail!

Lesson learned:  Better planning will be done for good companions and their growing needs.  Also, I’ll start herbs in containers and transplant those that are hardy enough to survive transplanting.

Lesson Three:  Homemade Trellis.  Win!

I scavenged old broomsticks and varying lengths of limbs, then created several trellises from them, using nylon cord to bind them.

The ends were buried in the ground for semi-permanant use and to sustain the wind during the season.

The homemade "limb trellises" used for runner beans

Aren’t those trellises beautiful?  The natural materials got a lot of attention from neighbors and passers-by.

Necessary shade over homemade trellis

An added benefit was that once the dry hot season settled in, I could add a shade cloth tent and clamp it to the top of the trellis with binder clips.

Cucumber trellis

Cucumbers were a sad crop this year, but the trellis had nothing to do with that.

Lesson learned:  Homemade limb trellises are awesome!  Let’s do that again.  :)

Lesson Four:  Succession Planting.  Needs improvement.

I haven’t quite managed my garden time.  Succession planting requires more diligence and time investment than I put into it last year.

Part of that problem was that a lot of time was spent maintaining the gardens.

Weeds and native grasses thrive in hot, dry conditions, so they were kicked into full growth during the primary garden care season last year, taking up a lot of my time.

I’m trying new gardening beds and containers this year, so we’ll see if that improves my time management.

Lesson learned:  Time management is necessary for this to be successful.  My hope is that cordoning my vegetables and herbs will keep the weeds from becoming invasive.

Lesson Five:  Organics and heirlooms and beneficials.  Big Wins!

This is the fifth year of having a pesticide and chemical free yard (partial strike is the pool filter purge, more on that later).  Bad insects are hand purged when possible and infested plants pulled, bagged and trashed.

For the past two years, only heirloom plants are grown in my gardens, so the seed savings is beginning to pay off.  I have a good start of seed saved from last year’s garden for use this year.  Win!

I allowed some of the native edibles and beneficial weeds to grow in the garden and yard last year to provide forage and pollen for the beneficial insects.

Pokeweed as chemical absorber and bird food

Lambs quarters as both edible and insect forage

Amaranth native plant for edible and bird forage

I saw many varieties of bees and predatory flies, along with lacewings and increased butterflies last year.  Win!

Lesson learned:  If you build it, they will come.  Give the insects and birds a good area to thrive.

Summary

Overall, I was fairly pleased with the new garden methods employed last year.

The natural methods worked well, which seems to speak volumes about returning to old ways and using old things.

What are you doing differently in your garden this year?

Dreamin’ Girl