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10/31/2008 09:11:00 PM

Happy Halloween!

10/22/2008 07:32:00 PM

Deli-Style Kosher Dill Pickles

Deli-Style Kosher Dill Pickles

Per gallon jar:

8-10 cucumbers for pickling (a medium size)
1-large handful fresh dill with flower heads (or add 1/4 teaspoon dill seed if flower heads are missing)
4-6 large cloves of garlic, flattened Water
1/2-cup coarse kosher salt or pickling salt
4 teaspoons pickling spice (Blue Ribbon, or other)
1-2 large bay leaves

1. Pack each gallon jar with cucumbers, sprinkling salt between each layer.

2. Add pickling spice, salt, dill (dill heads) and bay leaves.

3. Fill jar with water but leave two inches of room for brine to form.You may prepare this in large crocks (something non-reactive) and then transfer to glass jars when finished.

4. Weigh cucumbers down to keep submerged and cover.

5. After 2-3 days, remove scum (if any has formed)

6. Let ferment 3 more days and check for doneness by cutting off a slice of one cucumber.

7. Once they are fermented to the right stage (to taste), transfer to a glass jar and refrigerate. Ferment longer (12-20 days) for pungent sour pickles

Note:Real deli-style Kosher pickles have no vinegar added in the process unlike regular dills. They get their bite from fermentation. Just like when you go to the grocery store and see pickles in the refrigerated section, these pickles must be kept in the fridge. The fermenting will continue unabated if you don't stop it by putting them in the refrigerator. The cold greatly slows down the fermentation but won't stop it completely. It will continue to age but at a much slower rate. There is only one thing to do to stop the aging. EAT THEM ! Enjoy !

10/22/2008 07:29:00 PM

Chili Sauce

Chili Sauce

2-cups sweet red peppers, chopped
2-cups chopped onions
24-large tomatoes (4 quarts peeled, cored, chopped)
1-tsp. ground allspice
1-tbsp salt
1 1/4-cup vinegar
1 1/2-cup sugar
1-tbsp celery seed
1-tsp ground ginger
1-tsp ground cinnamon
1-tsp ground cloves

1. Combine and add all ingredients to a heavy saucepan or cast iron skillet.

2. Bring to a boil and simmer 1 to 2 hours or till desired thickness has been reached. Stir often to prevent sticking

3. Pack hot jars with hot prepared tomato mixture leaving 1/2-inch headspaceRemove air bubbles. Wipe rim and screw threads and adjust lids and screw bands.

4. Place jars in Boiling Water Bath Canner 1/2 Pints 15 minutes Pints 15 minutes

5. After processing, remove jars immediately, place on a rack to cool.Test for Seal.Makes about 6 pints

10/19/2008 05:50:00 PM

BBQ Sauce for Canning

BBQ Sauce for Canning
Basic mild BBQ sauce with hint of a bite. Intended for canning.

25 cups quartered ripe tomatoes
1 1/4 cups cider vinegar
2 onions, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, minced
4 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon soy sauce


1 Cook tomatoes and vinegar until soft.

2 Chop fine.

3 Return to pan.

4 Add other ingredients.

5 Bring to boil.

6 Cook until thick.

7 Ladle into hot jars.

8 Leave 1/2 inch head space.

9 Process in boiling water bath 15 minutes

10/19/2008 05:19:00 PM


I found a product that I was unsure of until I've used most of it now. I discovered Laundry Dropps not too long ago and have fallen for them utterly. They come in a little baggy and locked inside a veggie cap type package is concentrated laundry detergent. No huge bottles. No extensive shelving needed to hold said huge bottles. Just a baggy about the size of what brown sugar comes in.

I just adore this stuff. Drop in one and do your laundry and no mess. Definitely a 10 on the greener meter.

Laundry Dropps

10/17/2008 11:23:00 PM

Blueberry Syrup

Blueberry Syrup

Makes about 3 (16 oz) pints

You will need:
8 cups blueberries , crushed (about 3-1/2 lb)
6 cups water, divided
1 Tbsp lemon zest
3 cups granulated sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 (16 oz) pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands


1.) COMBINE blueberries, 2 cups of the water and lemon zest in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat and boil gently for 5 minutes.

2.) TRANSFER to a dampened jelly bag or a strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth set over a deep bowl. Let drip, undisturbed, for at least 2 hours.

3.) PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.

4.) COMBINE sugar and remaining 4 cups water in a clean large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar, and cook until temperature reaches 230°F, adjusting for altitude. Add blueberry juice. Increase heat to high, bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.

5.) LADLE hot syrup into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.

6.) PROCESS jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

10/16/2008 08:41:00 PM

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie

9 inch pie
1/2 cup pumpkin
2 eggs
2/3 cups milk
2/3 cups sugar
1/4 t salt
1/4 t ginger
1/4 t nutmeg
1 t cinnamon
1/8 t cloves

50 min bake time.

To Prepare Pie Crust

Evenly brush sides, then bottom of a graham cracker crust with 1 beaten egg yolk. Bake crust for 5 minutes at 375 degrees and remove from oven. (Put the leftover egg white plus any leftover egg yolk in pumpkin pie filling).

To Prepare Pumpkin

Use any firm pumpkin flesh scraped from your pumpkin. Don’t use the skin or seeds. Boil until soft (like you would potatoes). Drain and mash. Firmly pack pumpkin when measuring, being sure to drain off any excess liquid.

To Prepare Pie Filling

Combine pumpkin, eggs, milk, sugar, salt, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves in blender or mixer. Blend until smooth. Pour into prepared crust and bake at 375 degrees F.

10 inch Pie

1 1/2 c pumpkin
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
3/8 t salt
3/8 t ginger
3/8 t nutmeg
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t cloves

65 min bake time.

10/16/2008 08:29:00 PM

Blueberry Grand Marnier Jam

1 1/2 quarts blueberries (5 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
7 cups sugar
2 packages liquid pectin
1/4 cup Grand Marnier


1 Place blueberries in large pot.
2 Add water and lemon juice.
3 Mash slightly.
4 Let stand 10 minutes.
5 Add sugar and mix well.
6 Place over high heat, being to full rolling boil and boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
7 Remove from heat.
8 Stir in pectin and liqueur.
9 Stir and skim for 5 minutes.

10/16/2008 02:34:00 PM

Happy Valley Lavender and Herb Farm

I love this place.

10/16/2008 02:28:00 PM

Basil Tomatoes

Basil Tomatoes

10 lbs tomatoes
6-10 teaspoons fresh basil, chopped
bottled lemon juice


1 Wash tomatoes and dip in boiling water for 45 seconds.

2 Plunge in cold water, peel, core and quarter.

3 Put 4 cups wedges in a pan and crush.

4 Quickly heat to boiling.

5 Add the rest of the tomatoes and bring to a boil.

6 Reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours, stirring frequently.

7 Remove from heat and add basil.

8 Stir well.

9 Put 1 T. lemon juice in each sterilized pint jar or 2 T. lemon juice in each sterilized quart jar.

10 Ladle tomatoes into jars leaving 1/2 inch head space.

11 Remove bubbles, seal, and process 35 minutes for pints, 45 minutes for quarts.

12 If freezing product leave 1 1/2 inch head space, seal and freeze.

10/16/2008 02:26:00 PM

Black Raspberry Jam

Black Raspberry Jam

Makes about 8 (8 oz) half pints

You will need:

3-1/2 cups crushed black raspberries (about 5 pints)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 3-oz pouch Ball Liquid Fruit Pectin
1/2 tsp butter or margarine, optional
7 cups sugar
8 (8 oz) half pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands


1.) PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.

2.) COMBINE prepared berries with lemon juice and sugar in a 6- or 8-quart saucepan. Add up to 1/2 tsp butter or margarine to reduce foaming, if desired. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, over high heat, stirring frequently.

3.) ADD pectin, immediately squeezing entire contents from pouch. Continue hard boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary.

4.) LADLE hot jam into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.

5.) PROCESS jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

10/16/2008 02:25:00 PM


1 oz. fresh lime
1 oz. fresh simple syrup
2-3 lavender sprigs and 5 mint leaves
2.5 oz. Charbay Rum or Charbay
Tahitian Vanilla Bean Rum
2.5 oz. Club soda

In a mixing glass, muddle mint & lavender, lime and sugar with vigor; add ice, rum, clubsoda and stir well.

(Contributed by David Nepove, a.k.a. Mr. Mojito, of Enrico’s SidewalkCaf√©, San Francisco)

10/16/2008 02:20:00 PM

Free Seeds

Seeds everywhere. When you feel as if you can't afford your own seeds, there are some resources so you can grow some seeds for the cost of a couple of postage stamps.

They are doing something wonderful here. Saving seeds from landfills, feeding the hungry, beautifying the country.

And there is also Winter Sow. These guys are awesome. You send them an envelope with a couple of stamps on it, they will send you some seeds. In some cases it is your choice, in others, you get a nice surprise.

10/11/2008 03:02:00 PM

Blessed by a Velvet Ant

I found this critter wandering through the yard and I was happy to see her! The velvet ant is not an ant at all, they are actually wasps. I was stung by one as a child that was trying to escape me. I put my hand over it and the next thing I knew, I was in terrible pain. The velvet ant is a beneficial insect, eating the cicada killer wasp larvae. The adult cicada killer wasp lay their eggs on the body of a cicada so when the larvae emerge, they eat the cicada as a food source. The velvet ant goes into these holes made by the cicada killer wasp and lay their eggs on the cicada as well. When the velvet ant emerges, it eats the larvae of the killer wasp. Be nice to the Velvet Ant!

10/07/2008 10:23:00 PM

Dwarf Crazy II

I have found so many dwarf varieties out there. I have found so far:

Cherry (but dwarf for this still gets 20 feet tall)
Satsuma Mandarin

I know I'm probably forgetting something in there.

Most of these trees are very affordable for under $10 and most of the sites will ship for free if you purchase so much from them.

These are patio trees so all you apartment dwellers, buy a jungle for your balcony!

Happy gardening!

10/04/2008 11:29:00 AM

24th Annual Native Plant Sale & Garden Festival

This festival is going on at the Ijams Nature Center this weekend. There are several local nurseries involved and its $20 to get in. You know you wanna to. Get!

10/03/2008 10:54:00 PM

This says it all

10/03/2008 10:41:00 PM

Plant Research

Cornell University has the right idea. There is a massive plant list available there to browse before you grow some several thousand varieties. And it is user rated, not just University rated. Named simply Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners, it has mostly commercially grown items with a few heirlooms thrown in. I've been browsing it for the past couple of hours and have learned things about several varieties that I'd intended to grow. It isn't terribly complex, but is packed with good information.

10/02/2008 09:12:00 PM


I just love this time of year. The heat of the days and evenings begins to wan. The colors of fall are beginning to appear. Harvests (even if they aren't mine) are being brought in. In my childhood, this was family time. Everyone had a job to do as we picked, shelled, shucked, cut, diced and cooked and then canned. The aromas coming out of the kitchen at all the homes of my family members and the trading of fruits and vegetables amongst us and the community. My father always over planted so that the widowed ladies that lived around us that were elderly and unable to do much gardening of their own could still keep up their own canning traditions and share them with us.

It always amazed me that we were, as a family and a community, closer at this time than we were at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Getting together to eat is not the same as getting together to survive, I suppose. A rainbow of relishes, jellies, jams and preserves, vegetables, fruits, all lined up in order in our store shed with two 14 cubic foot freezers with all the meat that we could stand. We were fairly self sufficient. We bred rabbits and cattle and had hunting dogs. My uncle had duck and turkey and hogs. We traded. The boys would go saddle up and go hog hunting. The little kids would go out to one of the channels and set bullfrog traps. My great uncle would pick up some of the men and they would go gator hunting. And we all shared and traded. Where we had peaches and plums, one of my uncles had apples and potatoes and peanuts. My grandmother had the best greens you could ever lay eyes on because there was a small stream that ran at the back of her house so she never had to worry about watering them. And man they were as green as green could be. She aways had a large paper shopping bag full for someone to come and bring her fire wood for her cook stove.

And then the duck, goose, quail, turkey and chickens. And the catfish and the white perch. Thankfully, a very good friend of the family was a meat cutter and it cost us perhaps a quarter of our kill for him to cut it up and package it for us in the days before vacuum sealing. And he would have the best tasting heirloom tomatoes.

I miss those days of a community family but it is difficult for me to leave land of the 24 hour store where I drive for 7 minutes from my driveway to work. It is hard for me not to want to go back. I do want to go back. Simpler lifestyle. Even as it is, my father was telling me the other night someone brought him a deer in trade for half a hog he killed. His freezers are overflowing. But they can't afford basic necessity. Milk and sliced bread and butter. He had to let his chickens and quail go because they couldn't afford the feed and he isn't on a large enough piece of property to grow it for them. It saddens me to know the way that my great grandfather taught all of us seems to be slipping away.

I'm determined to have that back.

House hunting with a solar package is a must. I have a bit on this and we will go where ever it is that we must go to make it happen. No more gas fed objects. I've found a new tiller I want. It weighs less than a gas powered one and it has more accessories with life time warranty for the tines reasonably priced. Raised beds and hoop houses. Gardening was a tradition when I was a child, now it is becoming one again. My children are excited about growing their own food (if we can keep all the critters from eating it first).

I first realized that we needed to move forward when I had the thought of getting a shed and getting a solar power set on it so that we could power our lights and hydro system from that instead of paying out the yin yang for it. My hand is almost at the top and I feel the goal with my fingertips but so much has to happen before I have it in my hand.

How do I have that family community once again? I can't grow it all alone. Where is the fun in that?

I'm Green Inside!

I'm Green Inside!
How green are you?

The Growing Challenge

The Growing Challenge
Just one more...

Fred's Fine Fowl

Fred's Fine Fowl
All things poultry