The Brellis House

 

Category Archives: Garden

Posts that include photographs or comments about our gardens. This can include our flower gardens or vegetable gardens, and sometimes, potted plant gardens.

Backyard Sugarin’

Posted on March 1st, 2014 by Susanna

We’re backyard sugarin’! After boiling sap from craigslist last year we wanted to tap our own trees so badly. Only, we knew we didn’t have any sugar maple trees in our yard. But after going to a maple syrup festival at a local park last weekend, we learned that you can tap all sorts of maple species. We brought home 2 spiles made from a sumac stem, which is apparently how the Native Americans would tap trees. I searched around in our yard, found a Norway maple, and immediately went to google. Not many people were talking about tapping Norway maples but it sounded like it might work.
sumac spile sumac spile

We didn’t want to invest in real spiles or collecting buckets just yet, so we improvised with an old maple syrup container (1 gallon)

maple sap collector

We drilled into the tree, about 3 feet from the ground, and about 2 inches deep, with a slight upward angle to help the sap flow down.

tapping tree

Then we gently tapped the wooden spile into the tree and placed the jug in a little notch we made on the spile.

tapping maple tree

Backyard Sugarin'

We’re excited but not really sure what to expect! Hopefully we’ll get some sap!

Ginger Lime Cashew Seitan

Posted on September 1st, 2013 by Dan

Start off with the perfect vegetable combination of onions, carrots and celery: mirepoix.

mirepoix

Add chicken-style seitan and a sweet, tangy ginger lime sauce.

ginger-chili-sauce

Add in toasted cashews and reduce into a delicious glaze.

ginger-lime-cashew-seitan

Serve over cilantro rice.

ginger-lime-cashew-seitan-with-rice

This is a great recipe that came together super fast and has all the right tastes (sweet, salty, sour and spicy).

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp hot pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • 1 drop liquid smoke
  • 1/4 cup water (experiment with orange or pineapple juice)
  • 12 oz package of chicken-style seitan strips, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 loosely packed cilantro leaves
  • white rice for serving

Method

  1. Saute the mirepoix (onions, celery and carrots) in about a tablespoon of olive oil with some salt over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. If the onions begin to brown, turn down the heat. Cook until the veggies sweat and are soft.
  2. Meanwhile, make the sauce by combining everything from the garlic down to the 1/4 cup of water in a jar and whisk until the cornstarch is dissolved.
  3. Once the mirepoix is tender, turn up the heat to high and add the seitan, stirring often to brown the seitan.
  4. Coarsely chop the cashews (I like to leave a few whole) and toast them in a toaster oven (350°F ) or stove top until they just start to brown (cashews will turn from toasty to burnt in seconds. This takes about 10 minutes, but you should check every few minutes and stir occasionally.
  5. Once the seitan has browned, add the sauce to the pan, keeping the heat high, until it reduces and thickens a bit (add additional water if you’d like a more runny sauce). Turn the heat to low and reduce to your desired consistency.
  6. Serve on white rice with the cilantro.

Also, we grew a perfectly shaped carrot in our garden. I used it in this dish.

perfect-carrot

Celebrating birthday with MULCH!

Posted on May 19th, 2013 by Susanna

Every year I get a load of mulch for my birthday- this year I got 4 cubic yards of mulched delivered. The morning it was delivered was like Christmas morning. I LOVE mulching. 4 cubic yards mulch

I really hadn’t prepped the beds enough so it took me a few days to get through the whole pile- but it was gone in less than a week! Didn’t even kill the grass under the pile!

Here’s some before and after pictures- mulch makes such a big difference!

front yard gardenbackyard weeds fern garden backyard weeds backyard garden man garden

mulch backyard front yard garden fern garden mulch backyard garden beds mulch backyard mulch garden beds

Still SO much to do- I’ve got room for more plants now, I want to get a delivery of wood chips for the path and sitting area.

Homemade beer!

Posted on August 26th, 2012 by Susanna

We love everything homemade, so we just FINALLY got into homebrewing. We completed our first homemade beer!  It is a hefeweizen with coriander (from our garden) and lemon peel. Thanks to help from Dan’s uncle, Dave, the brewing process went well, it fermented for 1 week (not quite long enough), we managed to bottle it up without too many things going wrong, and brought it on vacation with us to Chincoteague to share with the fam. Vixen's Weizen

We think it turned out pretty decent for our first beer. Our second beer is already fermenting. It’s going to be a lambic and we’re adding figs from Dan’s sister’s fig tree. It actually needs to ferment with the figs for quite a while and will be done a year from now! So..not such a great beer for someone with no patience such as myself but it’s pretty exciting.

Mary Beth's figs

 

I love spring!

Posted on May 6th, 2012 by Susanna

peonylily of the valleyroseoak gallCamassiapeony

Seeds and Weeds

Posted on March 25th, 2012 by Susanna

Spring Daffodils

Suess in pot Herbs

This past weekend we finally got around to tending to the garden. Last weekend I had started a bunch of seeds, ones we had from last year (and perhaps the year before, and also I had a little seed trade at work so I got some interesting things from a coworker).  It’s so warm it may as well be May so I figured we could start seeds outside in our greenhouse. We started lots of seeds from 2006 so I don’t know how successful they will be, but already in a week we’ve had spinach, beets, kale, okra,chard and lettuce babies pop up!

Starting Seeds

Spinach seedling

 

 

1

Suess

Posted on December 10th, 2011 by Susanna

My dear sweet cat that I’ve had for 16 years enjoying his pot of catnip:

sharing with The Paper Mama

Happy Halloweenie!!

Posted on October 31st, 2011 by Susanna

Happy Halloween to everyone from The Brellis House. We’re not very festive with this holiday but we did get a couple pumpkins (for Dan to cook with). Halloween, pumpkin, cat

sunset

fall leaves in puddle

ducks, vineball, fall

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Vegetable Garden Update

Posted on August 10th, 2011 by Dan

It is a beautiful day today, bright sun, cool breeze, and not too humid. It’s the perfect day to be outside or sit by an open window. And in fact, it’s very distracting as I try to write this post. Maybe even more distracting is the occasional need for me to carry Michi away from stalking birds.

The bright sun today made it especially nice for photography. First up, our Herb Pot, which always has something exciting going on in it. The catnip we planted in there at the beginning of the summer has practically quadrupled, taking over the whole pot. But we still have healthy parsley and bay leaf plants in there (I know it’s not much of an herb garden, but it came with a nice sign). Well, the parsley attracted a few friendly caterpillars. I am almost %100 these are Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillars. We tested it by poking them and they shot up their defensive osmeterium (orange slingshot looking thing).

Eastern Black Swallowtail Caterpillars

Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillar Osmeterium

Unfortunately, we didn’t get any good pictures of the osmeterium because they shot it out so fast and it was scary.

So other than these awesome native caterpillars that we had in the Spring, we recently got some fun fungi along with our herbs.

Mushrooms popping up in the herb pot

I have no idea what kind of mushrooms these are, but they’re crazy cool looking. Bright yellow with little pimples all over them.

In another side of the yard (the front), we have our vegetable garden in full growth. This year we decided to implement a ‘Square Foot’ gardening method. This is where you divide the garden in square feet and allocate each square foot with a certain crop. For instance, you can plant one corn plant in a square foot or 4 lettuces or 16 beets. Here’s a photo from early spring when I first started planting. You can still see the dividers.

Vegetable Garden in Spring

It looks nice, right? Not sure how well it worked though. Everything grew very nicely, but I feel like the yields weren’t as good as when I wasn’t using a method. Below are a few shots from the garden, fast forwarding to today. Something that really caught us by surprise are these cucumbers. They transformed from blossom to fruit in about 3 days and they’re super long and beautiful. Each one is easily over 2 feet, and the plant is covered in flowers!

Cucumber

Cucumber

I’m also proud of the corn, cabbage and pumpkin vines!

Corn & Cabbage

Pumpkin flowers

 

Lastly, we’ll go over to the side of the house and take a look at the ‘Man Garden’, which is my own little special section of the flower garden world, well, mine and my fellow male cats :). For the past month or so, the black-eyed susan has been in full bloom.

Black-Eyed Susan

And, our newest addition, which happens to be right next to the Man Garden, coincidentally and appropriately, is the grill! Susanna’s mom dropped it off over the weekend (they had two?) and I couldn’t be more excited to use it. I’m thinking corn, pizza, bread, stuffed peppers, pretty much everything. Oh, pardon the cracked backdrop, it’s on the waiting list to be fixed replaced.

red grill

Michi in Fish Tank

Lastly, I’ll leave you with a picture of Michi in the fish tank. We have plans to make a sweet terrarium with this, but that’s for another post. It seems like if she’s not in the sink, she’s in the tub or fish tank.

I hope your vegetable garden is doing excellent.  What are your favorite things to grill? Give me your best ideas in a comment below.