Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Domestic Goddess

I remember back when I was stuck in "retail hell" how jealous I'd get when I'd read Tiffany's "Domestic Tuesday" posts. I was working 40+ stinky, sweaty hours a week at all hours (sometimes going in at 2 AM, sometimes working late till after 11, sometimes working overnight), I was strung out on lack of sleep, I desperately wanted out, and when I did have a day off I wanted to crash. I didn't have any brainpower left for anything creative.

It didn't take long after I was rescued (aka hired as nanny by my amazing aunt and uncle) to regain my creative abilities, though, and now, more than two years later, I'm grateful to have both the time and resources to pursue some skills I enjoy. Like gardening. And raising a (albeit small) flock of laying hens (or "haens" as Abby calls them).

And, okay, so domestic goddess might be a stretch. :)

First, the garden: The weekend before I left for Alabama, I planted my very small aka "cute" (Abby again) garden. Right tomato plants - four heirloom for seed-saving (another skill I want to learn) and four hybrids in case my luck with heirlooms turns sour. I want to learn to make and preserve my own pasta and tomato sauce this year, so my crop will go towards that. I also have four bell pepper plants - the picture showed green, red, and yellow, so I'm not sure if one plant can produce all three colors, or what. And I have four cucumber plants, because I also want to learn to make and can pickles. Super excited about that.

As of right now all my plants have nearbly doubled in size, though I'm not seeing any fruit, or even fruity beginnings, at all. Hopefully soon! And cuz I planted them under a thin layer of newspaper, my garden is also (with a few very small exceptions) weed proof. I'm totally in to low-maintenance, in case you didn't notice. :)

My chickens are thisclose to having permanent living quarters. Right now they're sleeping/roosting under half of a dog crate, but while I was in Alabama I saw my BFF's mom's beautiful new rabbit hutches, and realized that with a little modification, they were exactly what I wanted for a chicken coop. I bought the plans at Barnes and Nobles down there (because the South is awesome, that way), studied them like I used to study for tests in college (and I was a Dean's List student), and this past weekend I drove to Lowes, purchased the lumber, nails, and some French-inspired hinges (and a matching door pull), came home, cut the lumber myself, and framed it up. I am amazingly proud of myself. Of course, now I need to get the plywood cut to wall it in, so I have to learn how to use a different kind of saw, but I'm hopeful that by next week - cross fingers - my chickens will be permanently installed in new digs. I even have the paint color picked out - ivy green and cream - and a cute idea for decoration. Stay tuned. :)

I made dinner tonight - beer bbq chicken in the crockpot. New recipe that I absolutely loved and that my family at least enjoyed. I googled a ton of recipes and ended up combining several, and this is what I ended up making:

8 chicken breasts (I'm guessing about four pounds?)
1 12-oz can of beer (I used whatever my mom keeps in the basement for brisket, I think it was Coors?)
1 jar of BBQ sauce (in this case, Trader Joe's Memphis BBQ, I think 16 ounces or thereabouts)
A good sprinkling of both paprika and garlic powder
1/2 of a good size onion, chopped fine
Salt and pepper to taste

I added everything to the crockpot and turned it on low for seven hours. Our crockpot runs very warm, and most of the recipes I read called for eight hours on low, so be advised. All the recipes I read said the sauce turns out very thick, but mine never did thicken, so we ended up adding cornstarch to thicken it a bit. You can shred the chicken breast and add it back to the sauce, but we just served the breasts whole, and they were amazingly moist and yummy.

I served it with rice and Paula Deen's Broccoli Cole Slaw, except I modified that recipe, too. :) I omitted the seasoning packed because it contains milk, reduced the oil and sugar, and upped the sesame seeds and almonds.

I have more creative projects up my sleeve - an oversized clutch tutorial (coming soon!), and a high-low skirt among them!

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