Saturday, February 28, 2009

Where Have I Been?, Around the House and Gardens, and Questions Answered

This is where we spent Mardi Gras.
No. We didn't catch anything as usual, but we did have a lot of fun.
Flip flops and Amarillo buds! Warm weather's pretty much here!

Lorapetalum blossoms.
Even Flossie likes looking out of the bedroom window and seeing Amarilla blossoms.
One of the beautiful romaine lettuce heads I grew this year. A big bunch of greens! This bunch includes, turnip greens, collards, curly mustard, parsley, green onion, carrot greens, arugula, beet, bok choy and mixed Asian greens. That means I'll make ten new friends soon.

Questions Answered:

What is a King Cake? It's a traditional cake baked only around Mardi Gras. It's really a sweet yeast bread that's topped with a white icing glaze and green, purple and gold sugar. After baking, a tiny plastic baby is placed underneath. Whoever gets the piece with the baby must buy the next King Cake. This goes on until Mardi Gras season is over. It's named "King Cake" in honor of the "Kings" of the different Mardi Gras Krewes that parade. I do not celebrate or go to Mardi Gras parades because of what goes on at them...drunkenness, public nudity, general stupidity and silliness....but I certainly don't mind eating King Cakes!

Do I use any organic sprays such as soapy water? I rely on planting at the proper time, predators, and mixing many types of plants in an area to confuse pests. If a bug gets out of hand I pick them off, or if the problem is too bad I just pull the infested plants and give them up for lost. There's always something else in the garden to eat. For aphid infestations I spray them off with a strong spray of water. I find that poisons kill everything good and bad and really mess up the balance of the garden. I also find it amusing that people who get all indignant at the possibility of maybe eating a bug have no qualms about consuming poisons that are sprayed on conventionally grown veggies. I fertilize with compost and chicken manure.

What are you going to do with all that cabbage? Eat it....and share some :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Excited, Yes!

I just picked the two drumhead cabbages left in the garden. One weighed in at 14 lbs and the other 13 lbs. They filled my daughters radio flyer wagon. There is another Wakefield cabbage peeking out from underneath the other two. The other day when my Sister came to visit she commented that one of those cabbages could feed the Duggar family. Maybe!

Monday, February 16, 2009


Lately I've been trying my hand at drying. So far I've dried: parsley, pears, onions, cayenne peppers, bell peppers, oregano, basil, bay leaves and mushrooms. I've used the cayenne pepper, parsley and pears the most. Especially the cayenne pepper. I use it in everything. The cayenne pepper was allowed to dry inside spread out in a bowl and then crushed with a food processor.

I was really pleased with the way the mushrooms turned out and they were all promptly used up in cooking.
My girls love the dried pears as a snack. The great thing about drying is how little space the finished product takes up. You can quickly turn piles of pears into three or four neat little jars of dried pear slices.
Personally I love the fact that you do not need electricity to keep some of the harvest that you worked so hard for. The yearly threat of hurricanes and electricity loss here has inspired me not to store too much in the freezer! In 2008 we were without electricity a total of 18 days. Fifteen of those days we were consecutive. So I'd like to be able to not melt down (literally and figuratively) during an outage.

So far I have been borrowing my Mother in law's electric food dryer....but....
Soon I'd like to have this or something like this...A Solar Dryer. Ummm...Byron dear...could you build me a.....

Here's a few links with a little more info on solar drying and how to build a solar dryer:

Path to Freedom Solar Dryer Project

The Solar Food Dryer: By Eben Fodor

Mother Earth News - How to Build a Food Dryer

Thursday, February 12, 2009


When King Cakes start appearing....
and fig trees begin to show the tiniest points of green...
and hard green plums appear on the Loquats...
and the Japanese Magnolia puts out it's tentative blossoms...
even a few citrus trees are forming their heady luscious fragrant blossoms...
and the Mulberries are unfurling the beginnings of their large leaves...
Spring is here in Louisiana....but.....
everyone knows that until the tall reserved pecans bud green you can't be sure the warm weather is here to stay.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Propagate Fig Trees

Today I went with Byron to get some wood. A friend of his had cut down some trees to make room for experimental blue berry bushes and peaches. Neither one do very well in Louisiana, and he is trying some new varieties for study.

He has an organic citrus orchard as well as figs and persimmons. After all the hard work of cutting trees was done he walked Byron and I to some fig trees in his orchard and proceeded to prune them to about six feet in height. It was a variety that in his opinion is one of the best fig varieties, Alma. I already have Brown Turkey and Celeste figs, so I was excited to try and grow this type of fig.

He explained to me how simple it is to propagate figs. This is how he propagates them all the time. He cut the branches into 8 inch pieces and gave them to me.

First you take the barely budding pruned fig branches in spring, cut them into 8 inch pieces, wet them, shake the excess water off and put them in a zip lock bag, then put that bag into another zip lock bag, and then store the bag of cuttings in the refrigerator for 30 days. After 30 days remove them and put them into pots of soil about 3/4 of the way down. Just leave a couple of buds sticking out. It's important also to keep the buds pointing upright in the natural orientation in which they grow. You can kinda look at the branch and see the bud pointing upward. It's also important to not let them dry out once planted.

Then wait for the cutting to root and sprout. He said it is so simple. So above is my stash of Alma fig cuttings! He said I should have more than I want with the cuttings he gave me. Hmmmm....there are never to many fig trees! You can always share.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Yesterday's Harvest

Couldn't decide which photo I liked posted all three.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Five Minutes A Day Bread

With organic bread costing between $3.00 to $5.00 a loaf you can realize a huge savings by learning to bake your own bread. Baking bread once was a skill most housewives knew. My Father-In-Law was one of 19 kids, and he recalls his mother making nine loaves of bread every night before she went to bed. Evidently having that many kids wasn't bad for the health, she lived to be 93.

Anyway, still with all the frivolous important things we fill our lives with, we have very little time to spend making nourishing whole foods for our families. So I am constantly on the look out for bread I can make when I don't have that much time.

This is it. I mentioned it before in a previous post, and I have finally found time to give this time saving bread a try. I give it an A+. I love it. It's easy, has a nice texture and tastes yummy.

There's no kneading involved, you make a big bunch of dough at once, store it in the fridge and pinch off enough to make a loaf as you need it. One batch makes six loaves of bread. In the book, Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day, there are recipes for using this dough to make many other baked items: pizza dough, rolls, cinnamon rolls, etc...

I read about it first in my magazine Mother Earth News. You can read about it on their website here.

Here is my refrigerated dough.
Here is my dough ready to rise. After rising, slash and bake!

And you get this.....A perfect family sized boule.
This is a video from the Author on how to make this bread. I skip a couple of the last steps. I sprinkle the pan with flour and let it rise and bake on the same pan. (I don't have a baking stone)

On the side, I've found a recipe to get my girls to love Brussels sprouts. Cook a few bacon pieces in a black iron pan. Wash and cut in half the sprouts. Throw sprouts in pan with bacon and drippings. Add a little coarse salt and black pepper and stir fry in bacon until sprout edges are crispy. This was from our dinner last night. There were no left overs!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Around The House And Garden

Here is one of the "baby" chickens. Brownie hatched what was a little brood of six chicks back on October 1st. Now there's only five. Byron made one of the roosters into a "rooster stew" as he called it. I asked him to please just call it chicken stew!

The above hen cracks me up. She is such an ugly little chicken don't you think? Byron thinks she's cute. I think she looks like a bad science experiment! She's happy anyway.
I let them have run of the fenced in back yard, and just as Egghead said, they run back to their "tractor" as soon as the sun starts to set and Byron closes the door to keep out predators for the night.
So far we haven't lost a chicken to predators. Although we have seen a hawk and an opossum lurking around! I really adore seeing the hawks perched high up in the tree giving everything the eagle eye, so I'm not so sure I'd be that terribly upset to share a hen with them occasionally as long as they didn't make it a habit. If that happened, I'd just keep them in the enclosed coop.

Here is the second rooster from the "baby" chickens. I believe he is crossed with silver laced Wayandotte because of the long gray hair (his dad is a brown leghorn). He sorta reminds me a bit of myself with all that gray hair at such a young age!
My pak choy is going to seed. I plan to save seed from all of my heirloom veggies year to year.
This is Rosita romaine lettuce. Tonight there will be a salad to go along with the orange glazed roast duck.
Such a pretty little pea plant sprinkled with the heavy dew.
This is one of the two huge drumhead cabbages I have left. We still have six cabbages left in the garden. As long as it doesn't get to hot, I'll leave them and harvest them when I wish to use them.
This is a broccoli whose main head has been cut off. Broccoli will continue to make smaller bunches after the initial bunch has been removed.
Turnips, chives and daikon radish. I once roasted a mix of turnips and potatoes with a roast thinking to fool my kids into eating turnips. Well they weren't fooled. They picked all of the turnips out and left the potatoes. I found out they love roasted turnips.
Here are the little tomato seeds planted five days ago. Time to move them outside to get more sun!
Saturday Byron and I planted a forest. Well 23 trees anyway and 3 muscadine and 3 blackberries. I think the clover looks beautiful. Do you? It really bothers my Father-in-law and he gripes to Byron about his messy yard care! Me personally, I think it's much prettier than a manicured golf course looking lawn.

Trees Planted:

4 Bald Cyprus (Louisiana Native)
5 Overcup Oak (Louisiana Native)
5 River Birches (Louisiana Native)
4 Pineapple Pear
3 La Peche Peach
1 Santa Rosa Plum
1 Bruce Plum

Black Berry Varieties Planted:


Muscadine Varieties Planted:

and one unknown