Monday, December 20, 2010

How to have an herb garden in an apartment in North Dakota in the middle of winter

While we're waiting in Grand Forks, ND for the move to the next base in a warmer climate (Las Vegas), my husband and I are living in a 'garden level' apartment. This apartment doesn't include a deck, but the plus side is that there aren't any stairs. So how do I maintain my herb garden? In the summer I leave the plants in the 2nd bedroom window, and they did just fine. But as the cold of winter set in, I had a problem. If you don't want your plants to die or go dormant in the winter here, you have to move them indoors, away from a window. The windows might get drafts, and mine have ice on the outer corners. But how will they get sunlight? As most of the days here in the winter are cloud covered, you would have to get a growing lamp. I got mine from online, and you can find a company here. The picture that you see above is my little set up, when we went on vacation. I usually kept them in the 2nd bedroom and plugged and unplugged the setup myself, but of course when we left we couldn't have the light on all night when we were gone. So I went to the store and got a timer. Presto! Now all I have to do is water them. I keep Rosemary, Thyme, Basil, Parsley, Oregano, Chocolate Mint and Lavender. the trick is to keep them small and trimmed by using alot of the herbs in cooking. I like to use a little bit of each (except mint and lavender) on parboiled fish. Its great having fresh herbs, especially since they're so expensive and often wilted at the store. Let me know if you have any questions!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Beef Short Ribs- Crock Pot Style

A couple of years ago my Mom finally gave me this recipe, as it is one of my favorites growing up. Great for a cold day, the meat slow cooks for approximately 8-10 hours, making the house smell delicious when you come home. We always make garlic mashed potatoes, and some sort of vegetable (a nice salad pairs well) as side dishes. You can also make a gravy out of the juices left in the crock pot after you take out the meat, using whatever thickener you prefer. I personally still haven't gotten the perfection of gravy down, but I'm still working on it. I would recommend not substituting boneless short ribs for this recipe, I did that this last time because there weren't any bone-in at the grocery store, and it just didn't seem the same. The meat will fall off the bone after cooking for all of you bone squeamish people.

Beef Short Ribs- Crock Pot Style
for 2 people
  • 3 packages of Beef (bone in) short ribs.
  • 2 small cans of sliced mushrooms, drained. 
  • 1 package lipton onion soup mix
  • 3 tbsp ketchup
  • 4 tbsp worchestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp seasoning salt (approx)
  • optional: some garlic powder or minced garlic
Place ingredients in crock pot. Cover with water, but barely. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. When finished cooking, drain fat off top. Take meat out and put in serving dish with a lid. Take juices and put in a saucepan for gravy. To make gravy with cornstarch, mix cornstarch with cold water, and pour in until desired thickness. Use as gravy for meat and mashed potatoes, as needed.