Saturday, February 28, 2015

Jenn-Air Dual Fual Range, Garden Setup, and Snow

My goodness, what a long blogging hiatus! Life happens, and all you can do is roll with it. Since our last post (about five months ago!), Steven and I have both started new jobs. He is also working part time as an EMT, and I've been dabbling with a girlfriend in a small baking business. House progress has slowed with all this, but I wanted to share about our range and give you a glimpse of our garden setup.

Our last post ended with, "A VERY exciting delivery arrived this morning, hopefully we'll be makin' bacon by the weekend!" My apologies for keeping everyone in suspense all this time :) Folks, we went a year and nine months without a range - that's crazy. Our slow cooker is on an extended and well-deserved vacation.

The photo above is from the oven's first run back on September 20, and yes, we've taken the warning sticker off since then! At my request, Steven made his excellent baked salmon smothered with sour cream, butter, and chives along with steamed broccoli and sauteed red pepper. We "ooohed" and "aahhed" through the whole meal - I'll never forget it! Don't get me wrong, the slow cooker is a wonderful and very versatile thing; however, you just don't get bold flavors and contrasting textures from a slow cooker meal. We both enjoy cooking and I especially love baking, so the new range is certainly broken in by now :)

We went with Jenn-Air's 30-inch slide-in dual fuel range with convection oven. This is model JDS8850CDS, if anyone is appliance shopping. (Also, when I went to Jenn-Air's website just now to get the range info, I learned that this model has already been replaced with JDS1450DS.) I must say that researching appliances was very overwhelming. No brand out there (in our budget anyway) has outstanding reviews across the board. Plus, people of the internet are much more likely to post a complaint rather than a good review.

The dual fuel range concept, gas cook top with electric oven, is supposed to be the best of both worlds. Electric burners are slower to heat up and cool down, and I read that gas ovens add moisture to the baking environment, which can interfere with breads/cakes rising properly. I had never cooked on a gas stove before, and, honestly, the open flame made me a bit nervous at first. I also had to get used to the immediate heat and easing up on seasoning after being accustomed to dumping salt/pepper/spices into the slow cooker just to get a hint of flavor. Bottom line - after using this stove for almost six months, I absolutely love it and wouldn't change a thing!

On to the snow and a peek at the garden setup!

See, I think the yard looks better this way, haha! The snow covers up all the bare, grass-less (weed-less?) spots where the pups have wrestled and dug holes. This past Wednesday, north Alabama got a BIG snow. It accumulated at about an inch per hour here, and I measured 6 to 6.75 inches of snow in our yard after it all stopped falling. The official total for our city was 8.1 inches, which put February 25, 2015, in second place for total snowfall in a single day in Huntsville!

In the photo above, you can make out our raised beds and compost bins. The plan is to try the square foot gardening route this spring, so we set up two 4' x 4' cedar beds back in the fall. The beds are already filled with the vermiculite/peat moss/compost mixture, and the tricky part has been keeping Lily and Ginny out! Eventually, we'd like to add a couple more beds and fence the whole area to keep the pups out of the garden. I'll post updates as it warms up and things get going!

For the compost bin, we followed the instructions from Organic Gardening's Ultimate Compost Bin article. It's made of cedar with chicken wire attached to the inside walls and metal fence posts screwed to the front to keep the unit in place. We have been putting all of our fruit/vegetable scraps, egg shells, and coffee grounds, plus leaves from the yard in the compost bin. We are excited to use the compost in the garden beds and elsewhere in the yard since we have heavy, clay-ey soil and not so good drainage.

Hope you are all having a warm and cozy weekend! :)