Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

December 24, 2010

Winter veggies.

These are some carrots and beets that I just harvested from the garden for christmas dinner. It really is possible to keep your carrots, beets and many of the other root vegetables in the ground well into the winter.
I hope your Christmas dinner is as wonderful as I'm looking forward to ours being.
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December 23, 2010

Whoopee! Fianlly passed!!

Good news... That big Security plus test that I had mentioned needing to pass a number of times, well I passed it on Tuesday!

This was one of those things that just loomed over my head in such a way that I really couldn't justify doing anything else but study for it until it was completed. Well as I said, I finally passed it and I feel like I've been given my life back! I still have a couple of things that I need to wrap up work wise, but things look like they should be back to normal here at the beginning of the year.

On the health front, A~ and I have both been feeling a lot better as of late so our hopes are really a lot higher for next year and for being able to accomplish more of our goals. After last year anything would be better right?

Another thing new is that I decided to allow myself to finally join the ranks of the technology bound masses and got a phone. I finally feel like there's handheld devices that have gotten to the point where they are not just toys but are devices that can really allow a person to maximize their time and get some things done when they otherwise would not have been able to. To that end, and as a personal present to myself after a very very long year, I went out and got a new Android smart phone the other night and so far I love it! As a matter of fact, I'm writing this post on the phone as I lounge downstairs watching a movie. (One I've already seen of course, I refuse to turn into one of those guys that sits on their phones all the time while the world passes by.) In fact one of the reasons that I wanted to get this phone in particular was because it has a new google speech feature on it. I want to be able to talk into my phone when I have a thought or an idea so that it will save me time in writing or at least I can get the idea down on paper.

Anyway, that's what has been going on with me. Not too much, but things are starting to look up and I look forward to a new year soon where we can talk more often. Until then, I want to wish all who celebrate it a very merry Christmas, to all others I send you all many best wishes as the year winds down.

Be well all.

November 30, 2010

No, I didn't get lost...

Every day, I see my own last post as I check in on my google Reader account and read all the blogs that I subscribe to and I realize that with the last post I put up haveing been over a month ago, and then I think "My last post was a month ago and I said I was going up hunting... Hope nobody thinks I fell off a cliff or was eaten by a bear or anything..."

Of course, by now, you've realized that I did not in fact fall off said cliff and am not inside a bear, but am in fact just a slacking slacker that has not made myself get online and write... well seemingly anyway.

I've mentioned deadlines and certification tests that I've been working on, and now I have the holidays to contend with as well so... I'm just kind of tied up for now and likely will be until after the new year.

I did want to drop in here, for those that check in from time to time and wish you all a very happy and blessed holiday season. I hope all is well with you and yours and, but for the occasional pop in post, will see you again in 2011.


October 13, 2010

Hunting season again

It's been hunting season again.

I've been able to spend some wonderful time in the high mountains around here, watch some beautiful sunrises and finished off a couple of good days with spectacular sunsets. I did see some deer, even had a chance to shoot at a small buck, but the little guy just wasn't ready to come home with me. Another couple of years maybe and we'll see.

I did get some nice pictures though, I shared them on my GRIT magazine blog last week, but I was holding out for a good buck picture for you, unfortunately there are none. Enjoy the ones I did get nonetheless.

This video I took at nearly 11,000 feet elevation up in the Uinta Mountains of North Eastern Utah. The view was worth the hike, but I sure wish I had found the four deer who's tracks I was following...

Alas, just like gardening, There's always next year, or in this case, the next season, which starts this weekend for my middle son. I hope he has a good first hunt.

Till next time.

October 4, 2010

This and that

Just a little bit of this and that today.

Check out the girls at the buffet...

This is a backyard lawn view of the Chicken tractor moving along the lawn. It's amazing how well they will scratch up the dead grass and thatch, and will spread their manure. Our back lawn has loved it this summer!

This years trial plant was a little different. We usually try a new veggie, but this year, a new melon made the list.
It was the "melon charentais". An heirloom french melon that gets great reviews and for good reason; this is a great cantaloupe and it's a actual cantaloupe too, not a musk melon being "called" a cantaloupe like the things we here in the US get in the market. I made sure to save a good bit of seed too. This one's a keeper!

And thought some of you out there from back east, or from abroad may enjoy a look at the fall in the Rockies.
I was out hiking this weekend, scouting for the upcoming Deer and Elk season.
These pictures are from about 2.5 to 3 miles into the back country and after climbing from about 5200' elevation to 7200 feet. It was NOT an easy hike, but I'm happy to say that I've fared alright for as bad of shape as I expected to be in.
I'm thinking that this year, I'm going to camp under stars in the back country for a couple of days during the hunt. I've never pack hunted that far in before, but I've always wanted to. Hopefully the weather will cooperate.

Hope all's well with you.
Till next time.

September 30, 2010

Some quick photos...

Don't quite have time to write much detail, but thought you might enjoy a few pics from the Fair.

Being a Mother Earth News event, there were of course animals...

I was particularly interested in the wood fired oven demo that was there.

There was also a variety of alternative power generation devices from Wind...

To pedal...

there was a monster wind generator...

and even a wood burning car...

Not quite sure I'm ready to stoke up a fire in the old sedan yet, but It was great to see the out of the box thinking.

Ever more to come...

September 29, 2010

Gary Nabhan on Food Traditions

One of the Keynote speakers during the Mother Earth News Fair last week in PA, is a pioneer in the effort to restore the Food Traditions in America, an ecologist, ethnobotanist, farmer and author Gary Nabhan. He was one of the speakers that I was really looking forward to having the chance to hear more from. I wasn't disappointed. I had first heard Mr Nabhan speak on my local NPR radio show. I was really impressed. He's been working for decades now to bring attention to the foods that we ate for centuries prior to our "Green" Revolution in a hope that we can bring some of those foods back from the precipice of extinction and begin to re-localize our food stream.

It's known from history, that food scarcity and/or high prices can cause chaos and food riots. It may be something that we generally associate with the "third world" countries, but it's really something that we are every bit as susceptible to as well. In this time that we are living in, with the possibility of dramatic economic and climatic change looming, it is greatly in our best interest to work to learn about and work to restore our local food traditions.

What do I mean by that? Well, local food traditions are kind of like local holiday traditions. Just like people living in Minnesota may go out building snowmen or something and people in Florida may put lights on their boats and cruise the harbour, so too will people in Maine perhaps enjoy some chestnuts roasted over an open fire while in San Diego they may have fish taco's on the beach. All things are perhaps possible in both locations, but I think it would require some serious inputs in the form of heat in Maine to sit around any beach, as well as some serious inputs of gasoline miles in order to get chestnuts to San Diego. The food traditions of our localities may have some items in common, but in many cases they have far more differences. Embracing those traditions will help us to become familiar with foods that are easily produced, with the least inputs, locally to where we consume them.

If we accept, and I know that this is a topic for an entirely separate conversation, but if we accept that at some point in the future we will either have used up or seriously depleted our allotted reserves of oil, then we have to accept that local food will be the only food we will be able to get too. That condition being accepted, we then have to think of the types of food that we will be able to produce in that location with the least amount of inputs in the form of pesticides and fertilizers. (You do know that those two key components of the green revolution are based almost exclusively on oil to produce them right?) The logical choice to turn to will be the foods that were naturally selected over thousands of years of evolution to grow and produce in those conditions. And therein lies our dilemma.

Because our climate is changing, and whether you want to believe that that's because of the natural cycles of the earth or because we are changing it by our behavior, it is changing and some of our local foods will no longer be able to survive. These valuable genetic antiques of our culinary past will be gone. Compound that by the fact that industrial agriculture is selecting only a very very selectively small cross-section of the available foods to focus on and is slowly helping the antique and heirloom varieties to disappear and you will understand why it is so imperative that we learn to grow, eat and sustain these local foods. I think the best reason to preserve these varieties is because most times they taste far superior. They may not have been selected for shelf life or shippability, but their flavor is amazing.

To sustain ourselves in the future we will need to rely on the biological wisdom that has evolved over the millennium. To preserve that biological wisdom, we will need to cultivate and maintain our cultural wisdom. The most important thing is to buy, grow and eat these items though. As Poppy Tooker from Lousianna has said, we must "Eat it to Save it!". Meaning that if we don't buy these local foods and support our local food traditions, then they will be selected out.

So, what can you do?
• Check into RAFT (Renewing Americas Food Traditions) and see what you can do to spread the word and to practice in your own home.

• Know where your food comes from.

• Participate in heirloom seed and scion wood exchanges in order to propagate the species.

• Talk, share and bring attention to this issue with folks you know.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am lecturing myself here as much as I am to anyone else. I've been much better at this in the past, but have been terrible at it lately. How about we all try just a little harder so we can all have more to share in the future.

Till Next time...

September 28, 2010

Mother Earth News Fair recap

What a great weekend... In case you didn't know, I've been out in Pennsylvania for the weekend at the inaugural Mother Earth News Fair. It was fantastic.

So many things stood out over the weekend that I found myself hard pressed to single out a particular part that impressed me most. The speakers and presenters were knowledgeable and informative, the product vendors - but for perhaps a few - were relative to the overall "theme" of the fair, the organization - particularly for an inaugural event - was exceptional and the venue itself left little to complain about shy of it's sheer "three dimensionality", as I heard it so aptly put.

To put truth to paper there was, at lease in my opinion of it, no single stand out part of the event. Nor, was it merely the event as a whole that was the standout.For instance, imagine you went to a symphony performance. Imagine it was Beethoven's 5th, an incredibly powerful and moving piece no doubt, but that it was just you in the hall to hear it. Beautiful as the music would be, and as much as you may love to hear it, it would ring sort of hollow wouldn't it? There's an intangible quality that comes about when people, passionate about a thing, get together to share in that thing. That passion adds, I think, an entirely new dimension to the event in question. It was that x-factor, that passion and shared purpose, that filled me the whole time I was there. At any junction of the day be it standing in line for a class, sitting down to write a few lines or catching some air after the live music Saturday night, the opportunity to sit and connect on a very personal level with a perfect stranger was more than available, it was unavoidable!

I was moved by the fiery man from Detroit who is fighting to change the zoning laws in the "food deserts" of the inner city. He wants to farm, not garden but actually farm, the vacant lots and abandoned land that's been made available by the auto-industry collapse and economic decline. His passion was incredible.

I enjoyed brainstorming with a young lady who, with her partner, wants to find a way to put themselves on a piece of land of their own. They've been working on an organic farm for that last year or so, so they have experience, enthusiasm and some great ideas but were getting a bit discouraged. I hope they were able to come away as energized as I was.

There were too many individual interactions to list them, but I hope I've made my point. As Bryan Welch, Editor and Editorial Director of Mother Earth News, said in his closing key note address, we are at an amazing point in our history. I could not agree more. We are indeed at an amazing time and seem to be more focused on that future that we desire more clearly than at any other time in history. I am so excited to truly feel like I am in some small way a part of it.

Finally, I'd like to extend a thank you to the Mother Earth News staffers who worked so hard to make this such an enjoyable event, as well as to the presenters for sharing their knowledge and time and for being so approachable as well.

Now, where's my calendar... I need to find out the dates for the next fair and mark them off as occupied.

Hope to see you at the next one.

September 26, 2010

Starting Day Two

Day one ended up being as fantastic as it started. The classes I sat in on were really really good, perhaps a bit abbreviated for the liking of some of the presenters, they are of course very passionate about what the speak of, but very informative nonetheless. Then after a day of cramming my brain with great info, I got to enjoy a couple of bands playing folk and bluegrass (some of my favorite music by the way) while I ate my dinner. It was a great day!

I'll give you all more information in more detail later, but so far I've been able to get into a class on peak oil and the things we can do to both mitigate the damage and prepare ourselves and our homes to deal with it, should it come to that. I had a chance to sit down and have a great talk with the presenter, Matthew Stein, and found he was a very nice guy with a lot of good information and ideas.

I was also able to get in and listen to a phenomenal keynote talk from Gary Paul Nabhan, whom I'd really looked forward to hearing here, and also found him to be a very approachable and genuinely concerned man. He's doing great work on the local food and restoration of food traditions front and listening to him I really got the sense of passion about what he's doing.

In addition to that I caught a couple of cool demos and presentations, for instance on building a geodesic dome greenhouse and part of one on biochar, and look forward to more today.

I was also given an opportunity to meet with a number of authors and a couple of radio personalities in the sustainable and "green" fields at a publishers reception that evening and met even more wonderful people, with whom I hope to work with in some capacity in the future.

There's much more to do, so I'm going to head out to do it, I'll make sure to get lot's of good info for you all and will write more later. If you just can't wait to find out more, check out Mother Earth News' fair blog for updates throughout the day.

Take care all

September 25, 2010

Going to the Fair

After an exhaustive trip across the country, I am finally enjoying the beauty of the Pennsylvania countryside and the sites and sounds of the first ever Mother Earth News Fair.

I woke up this morning and sat in an old wicker rocker on the porch of the dairy where I'm spending the weekend. As I drank a fresh cup of coffee, I watched the cattle lolling about in the fields just beyond the creek and behind the changing leaves of the hardwood trees. They were happy, or seemed to be in a very cowlike way, and free to roam as they pleased. This is what farming in America is supposed to be like. This is what farming in America USED to be like until we made it not.

After a home cooked farm breakfast, I headed off to the fair. Passing down the beautiful narrow tree lined road, passing by small farms and large, I realized the wisdom in coming to this beautiful, albeit somewhat remote, locale to host this event. This is a lot of what will be talked about, small family farms, community and finding ways to make them work in our new economy.

I'm a little over a half way through the first day now, but it's been wonderful. I've had the opportunity to listen to a number of very interesting presenters, have spoken with a couple of remarkable guys, and have seen a bunch of great products and services at the vendor displays.

Looking forward to more...


September 14, 2010

For all my troubles....

At least there are still the simple pleasures.

Like a basket (Or three) of fresh tomatoes and peppers and such from our backyard. By the way, that's a 3/4 lb tomato sitting there... 12 oz! Not too shabby...

This year has not been our most productive, nor our least frustrating (Did I mention that we had yet ANOTHER broken bone on second boy, and then the third one, C~, has been in and out of the Dr. with some frustratingly elusive mystery ailment that causes lethargy, 101+ fevers and head & belly aches???) but to still be able to walk out back, harvest fresh food and enjoy it...
Well, I guess when all else fails you, you relish in the simple things.
Be well all!

September 8, 2010

Going to Mother Earths Fair

Hi all! Just thought I'd drop you all all a little news bulletin about some big "outta town" type news.

I don't know how many out there read Mother Earth News, either online or in print, but you may recall that I also do some freelance writing for their sister (Or would it be brother??? ) magazine GRIT as well as posting an occasional blog post on their web site. Anyway, Mother's decided to host a "Fair" with "dozens of practical, hands-on demonstrations and workshops" and I'll be heading out to take part.

I should qualify that statement of course, I will be taking part as a spectator and enthusiastic participant, not as a demonstrator or anything. I foresee having a wonderful time though.

The only downside to it is that I'll be making the trip by myself. I wish I could bring the whole family, but on this one we agree that I'd be better off on my own. With the potential of over 100 (And I believe I've even heard of up to 180)demonstrations and two days of Sustainable farming and garden geekery to be had, I tend to get pretty into what I'm doing.

I look forward to getting some great new info that I can share with you all of course, and meeting lots of new people interested in the same things as I am.

If your in the Central PA area, or are close enough to get there, The Fair will be the weekend of Sept 25-26 at the Seven Springs Resort.

That's about it for now... Take care.

August 26, 2010

M . I . A ???

I talked to my Dad the other day and he and my Mom wondered if we we all doing well here or if there had been more health issues or what was going on... I hadn't talked to them in what seems like ages and even missed his birthday!? Yeah, I felt like crap! So it got me to thinking... if my own parents have been wondering what's been going on with me, I guess I have been out of the loop. Sorry...

We haven't driven off any cliffs or anything, and my back's been actually feeling fairly good. We've just been busy as bees keeping up with things around here.

Our youngest son B~ broke his arm, his right arm, did I mention that he broke the left one this spring?? He's boy alright... through and through. The worst part was it was one week before school started. They're going to a new school here where they have to commute on the local light rail system. They think they're such cool urban-chic teens! And the best part is that it's saving us a bunch of gas by having them commute that way!

I know I mentioned that I'd been studying for an important test that I needed to take. Well, at the risk of airing my failures... I failed it. It was close mind you, and I had studied incredibly hard, but I failed it nonetheless. So I cussed and pouted and ranted about how ill-formed the questions were but at the end of the day I failed and now I'm studying for it again.

Our summer has been one of our coolest and strangest that has been seen here in some time and I take no small solace in the fact that while A~ and I spent time volunteering at the county fairs Master Gardener information booth we heard gardener after gardener complaining about how their gardens were soooo far behind and how many still hadn't gotten any red tomatoes! That was last weekend!

But you know what? Our kids love there new school, we're both employed, our health is generally better than it has been and if we're going to have a bad weather garden year, this is the year to have it. All in all, things are alright.

I have tons of pics, and there have been some interesting things going on that would be fun to share but, alas, I'll have to get back to you on that. This test must take priority for now. In the mean time, why not check out some of the older posts. Maybe you'll have some questions that I can work on getting answers to you for?

Either way, hope all of you are well and I look forward to hearing from you and being back to blogging regularly soon!

July 26, 2010

Yeah... I'm a Duck Rangler!

And so goes my reputation in the neighborhood. I am... the duck wrangler.

Saturday afternoon, I got a message on my phone from a neighbor asking if I had some chick starter. Apparently he had a duck in his backyard with a couple of small ducklings. This wasn't a neighbors domestic duck that had gotten lost mind you. Oh no, this was a wild mallard hen with two very, very little ducklings.

Apparently that morning, while outside, My neighbor heard some quacking in the corner and upon investigation found a doting mother with her two chicks. They observed them for a bit, but as they didn't move on, she called the county animal control officers to come out - hoping that they'd assist the happy family back to the wetlands area a few miles away. Ah, yeah....NO! What they did do was to try to throw a blanket over the hen and scared her off into the wild blue yonder leaving her little ones behind.

Enter, I, the duck wrangler. We had the ducklings in a crate, with a bowl of water and a little powdered chick feed; now, how do we get mom back? She finally flew back, gliding in at top speed like an F-16 and cruised over to the neighbors driveway and began the squawking. We dropped off the ducklings across the street and she promptly waddled over to pick them up. It was then that the problem came about.

She immediately led them right back across the street to the shade of the neighbors garage. Um, did I mention that this was the same neighbor that has like 5 cats that roam the neighborhood. Yep, that neighbor. So now you see the problem right?

OK, plan two. The neighbor (Is all this neighbor reference getting confusing? The one neighbor I keep referencing was actually two neighbors, husband and wife.
Just FYI) Anyway, the neighbor and I began herding the ducklings toward my side of the street. The original plan being that, we'd get them into our backyard and let them have their place there until they were ready to go on. Our yard is safe, fenced and I have equipment available to make a duck tractor if the need came about. At least they'd be safe until I could find a way to take them to the wet lands. Well that changed quickly when she find a nook in the fence between my house and the next one and holed up there. So now came the wrangling.

We had no way to get her and the kids out but it needed to be done. The ducklings were so small that they took a few minutes just to get across the street; They would never make a couple of miles to the safe wetlands. I got on a coat (to protect me from claws, yes they do have them) and some gloves and my kids butterfly net. The plan was to get a hold of mom, get her into my dogs small carry crate and get her to the wetlands with her kids. So, with the fates on my side, I made a clean move and was able to get mom on the first try. She didn't like the crate at all and hissed heartily at us for the ten minute ride to the wetlands, but she made it in one piece.

We put the ducklings right out in front of her and flopped the door open for her to join them and it worked perfectly. Out she came and took her little ones into the water and they were on their way.

So anyway, nowadays I'm just known as the Duck Wrangler.

July 18, 2010

Just the way things are...

I'm tired. I have to admit my mortality and I'm not happy about it.

I know I've probably whined enough about my back and such lately, but it continues to make me accept things that I really don't want to accept. The last couple of weeks, since I had the cortisone shot put through an epidural into my back, I've felt quite a bit better. The problem is that I haven't really been doing much of anything, so really I've only been been feeling better from not exerting myself. Not really a realistic picture of my day to day; at least not as it has been to this point. That will be changing for at least the rest of this year.

What do I mean? Well, typically at this point in the season I would be harvesting and turning over quite a few of my garden beds and preparing to plant another whole batch of second crops for the fall. I generally keep working the garden intensively right up until the end of the fall and then put in a couple of long weekends prepping for the next year. Not this year. As of this point, for the most part, what is in the garden is all that will be in the garden for this year. I have some sunflowers that I will be planting in the next couple of days mostly just to take up space, but that will be just about it.

What I will be doing is beginning to work on my end of the year stuff now. I'll start turning in organic material like grass clippings and straw, I may even sprinkle some cover crops like vetch or alfalfa to let that enrich the soil while I neglect it, but that will be about it. With the help of my strapping young boys, I will try to make some progress toward cleaning up our back yard and hopefully will be able to put things in place this summer and fall so that next year we can have a better year.

The other thing I will be doing is trying my best to get myself healthy. Stretching, exercising lightly and losing some of my extra poundage. As I said, I'm tired. Not tired from working too hard, just tired of dealing with this unhealthy, miserable, achy no good way I've been feeling.

Time to take charge, accept some things for being just the way things are and do what I can to change others.

Sorry for complaining, but life is not always perfect I guess.
Take care all.

July 16, 2010

Ah, Kohlrabi... the sputnik of the garden!

It's funny, that's how I first heard kohlrabi described, as resembling sputnik! I had to look it up to find out exactly what sputnik looked like.Guess what? good description don't you think?

The edible part of the kohlrabi, besides the leaves that is (yes those are edible too. but I'll get to that.) is not a root or a bulb as many would think. It's technically the swollen meristem of the plant and forms above ground just like in the picture above. As the kohlrabi forms, it looks a lot like a kale plant or a broccoli plant. Then, after a few weeks of growing the stem will start to swell just above the ground. That's the good part, just like what you see below.

This oddball brassica relative of both broccoli and cabbage definitely HAS become a family favorite though. We first grew it three years ago on a whim. It was one of the first of what would become known as our annual "test crops". Crops that we would sow a small section of just as a test to see how they would do and if we would like them at all. It's funny that the more you get into gardening and the more confident that you feel, the more you want to try odd and unique plants. Well, with three kids at home I was hesitant to grow large amounts of anything that we didn't know for sure we would eat.

We have learned a few things in the last few years and have come up with some good ways to prepare and to cook kohlrabi. Because I've gotten a couple of requests and because it is apparently showing up now in CSA shares, I thought I'd share them with ya'll.

First off, bigger is not necessarily better with kohlrabi. This was a lesson hard learned last year. Because we had determined that we liked it, we wanted to maximize our yields from the plot that we were growing. So we let our kohlrabi get to a really big size, like softball sized. When we got around to cooking them, we found to our dismay that the insides of the "bulb" had gotten stringy. Not stringy in a good spaghetti squash kind of way, but stringy in a woody, not pleasant to the palette kind of way. Anyway I digress, The point is, you can harvest some as they form up, and then continue to harvest as they get larger. if you start to see them stall at a particular size, chances are they are done.

To prepare kohlrabi we cut off the stems and set them to the side. Then I like to cut the top and the root section off the bulb and work my way around with a knife cutting off most of the woody outer section. I finish peeling the outsides off with a regular potato peeler. You can tell when you've gotten down to the good part because it will look exactly the same as if you had peeled a thick stem of broccoli. That's because they are essentially the same thing! Now that you know that, I bet you have lots of good ideas on what to do with them. First though, let's talk about those leaves.

The leaves of the kohlrabi are a totally edible part of the plant. They're a sturdy leaf, much like kale for instance and can be treated much the same way. After harvesting a good number of kohlrabi plants, I generally take the young new growth leaves from the center and set them aside in a separate pile. These should be sauteed as soon as possible to get the best flavor and texture from them. The older leaves toward the outside of the plant have a much woodier stem that needs to be removed before cooking; the easiest way is to fold the leaf in half along the stem and slice the stem right off, even up into the leaf portion. You can slice the leaves up thin and steam them or sautee with some onion or use them much the same way you would a kale or Chard leaf for instance. They're not the best part of the plant, but they're definitely a usable part of the plant particularly if you are a fan of greens. The other thing to do, if you have chickens, is to slice up the leaves and feed them to the girls. They love em and it's a good source of green vegetation too. Now, on to the good part... the bulb!

I don't know about your families, but in our home one of the ways we can always count on veggies being scarfed down is to put them in a dish with a little veggie dip and just go at them raw. Kohlrabi is great for this. After peeling the bulbs you can cut them into thin french fry size pieces perfect for any veggie tray.

Of course you can cut them into chunks and steam them till they're just tender to the bite, and plate them with just a little salt (and butter if you like) and they're great too. If you like the ole cheese sauce thing with broccoli that's a perfect way to serve them as well. (I personally am not, but to each their own!)

If your a fan of stir fry, broccoli beef for instance, you can take the peeled bulb and run it over a course grater or mandolin to get a thin julienne that you can drop in a hot pan with some garlic and onion and a little soy sauce for instance for just a few minutes till the strips are tender. If your vegetarian some marinated tofu would go great with this.

Probably our biggest family favorite for kohlrabi is to put them into hobo dinners along with whatever else is fresh from the garden. Early potatoes, turnips, carrots, onions and a ground beef patty seasoned well and wrapped in an aluminum foil pouch and placed on the grill or around a campfire till the veggies are done. Mmmm, we just had these last weekend while we stayed up at a cabin in the mountains and they were as good as ever!

The flavor of kohlrabi is familiar yet unique and the plants are reliable as an early and late crop. Where broccoli can be picky in some climates and bolt early or not form heads at all, Kohlrabi is generally a lot less finicky, gives good yields and has a very similar taste profile. If you haven't tried it, give it a chance, if you do I think you'll find this interesting looking veggie will become a favorite of yours as well!

If you have any personal recipes or if you decide to try any of the ones I've mentioned please share your input. I'm always looking for more ideas and would love to hear how your taste tests worked out!

Best of luck!

July 8, 2010


A~ was reading something or other online a while back and read about an interesting thing called... Rhubarb-aide?!
I'd never heard of such a thing but as we had a big harvest of Rhubarb that - coincidentally - needed to be processed and since I'm always up for something new and interesting, well, here we go...

The way we like to process our rhubarb is to clean cut and sheet freeze them. Doing it that way allows us to store the frozen rhubarb in bags and lets us take out only what we need for a recipe.

In the back of this picture is a couple of the sheet pans that we filled with our cut rhubarb. In front is the cuttings and little bits that didn't make the cut... Didn't make the cut... hee hee.. get it? OK, I'm a dork.. anyway, they're in the food processor where we pulverized them with a little water, into a thin completely pureed slurry. We then filtered that slurry through some cheese cloth until we had this...

Essence of rhubarb. To which we added water and sugar to taste and voila.

The strangely iridescent green color that is Rhubarb-aide.

I'm not sure whether to say we loved it or not, but I'm gonna go ahead and add it to the list of at least once a summer tonics that we'll tweak and work with over the years to come. It certainly holds promise.

Have you tried it before? Any hints? recipes? Care to share?

Best to you all til next time.


July 7, 2010

Kombucha Making

I spoke some time back about how I was experimenting with making some kombucha and I realized that while I had taken pictures of the progress I hadn't shared it with you, so I thought I'd take a minute to bring the blog up to date with the progress on that front.

To start with I needed to get a SCOBY started. For those not yet initiated in the ways of kombucha, a SCOBY is an acronym for Sybiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast.
This was the "mini"-SCOBY that I started with. It was collected from a store bought bottle of kombucha that a friend of mine gave me. To grow it into something that I could make a sizeable quantity of Kombucha from I placed in this bowl full of sweetened green tea. The Yeasts in the SCOBY consume the sugars in the tea and ferment it producing alchohol. This alchohol is then consumed, through further fermatation, by the various (beneficial) bacteria to produce acetic acid. An additional by product is the Cellulose that makes up the body of the SCOBY.

Now, biology lesson completed, I was successful in culturing my SCOBY into a nicely formed disc of Bacteria and Yeast which I would now send forth to do my komucha bidding!
That white color is from the cellulose that I was talking about.

Although you can't really see the bacteria, being microscopic and all, if you look in the photo below you can see the whispy tendrils hanging from the main body of the SCOBY. Those are mainly yeasts. Many of them being the same types that do our work for us in other goodies like Sourdough and kefir.
In fact, I was successful enough in culturing my SCOBY that I am now able to have two gallon Suntea jars going constantly brewing for me.

Now that only problem I have is that I'm running out of bottles. These bottles were from my Mr Beer experiment last year and have come in handy for bottling the finished product.

Kombucha is a naturally effervescent drink because as the yeast comsume the sugars, they also "breath" out CO2 as a by-product. After bottling the kombucha, I let it sit at room temperature for 3-4 days during which time it continues to brew and breath. The bottling holds in the CO2 and when it's opened. Phzzttt... Carbonated!

It's an acquired taste, I will say that for it, but once you've acquired it, you gotta have it. There's been some issues with the labeling on some of the store bought Kombucha out there lately and some of it has been pulled form the shelves. The nice part about making your own, as with all things, is that you always know what's in it, and more to the point that you can always get it!

You should try it out. You may not even like it after trying, but it's a great science experiment and fun to watch progress. If you do try... good luck!

July 6, 2010

Strawberries and the new Dehydrator

You may remember the dehydrator we were able to get this winter because of an arrangement I made with CSN stores. You know, the online store that offers everything from Lighting to, well, to dehydrators for instance. We've used the dehydrator a couple of times so far for jerky, but now we have fresh strawberries that we wanted to be able to use for things later this year and decided we wanted to test out dehydrating them.
The strawberries weren't huge, so I cut them right down the middles and lay them flat after a quick dip in a citric acid bath (To preserve color and flavor.)
They really thinned out quite a bit, but the flavor is like.. POW! STRAWBERRY! These will be great in some recipe or on dry cereal.

But of course when the strawberries are fresh for that little window of the year, you have to have some fresh! When A~ makes fresh sourdough waffles (Yeah you heard that right, sourdough waffles.) nothings better on top than a little whip cream and fresh strawberries.

Maybe if we ask real nice we can get A~ to start blogging on here with some of her great recipe's? I think I've almost got her conviced... anyone else out there want to hear fromthe other (read: better) half of this equation?

Take care all.

Date Night at Ogden Botanical Center

I told you I was behind on things and by golly I was not lying. Waaay back in mid-June, A~ and I had a nice little date night out together at a local garden park. The Ogden Botanical Center is the sister site to the Davis Botanical Center which is our local Botanical center, the place where A~ and I did our Master Gardener training.

Of course, as with any time I get around a bunch of flowers, I took a bunch of pictures... Enjoy.

Two things A~ and I love are Gardens and Art. So of course, we had a great time.

The walking paths through the gardens were lined with booths set up by local artists. We walked through and enjoyed and thought about some time in the future when we could maybe buy the art we love... one day.

Looking out from the bridge in the "Japanese Garden" section of the center, we see the raised garden beds of the centers vegetable gardens. We walked through the garden and sat on the wide edging of the beds and determined then and there that in our next homes garden we will invest the money necessary to build this type of raised gardens. Bending was limited, the height was just right and the beds were narrow enough (I would guess 3 feet) to easily allow for reaching across them.

Just a very nice little river feature, oh and I love any kind of garden structures!

One of the local farms was out selling their local made ice creams. I think the tractor was just there for looks. It was a nice one though, old but perfectly restored.

Over in the evening shade near the rose garden was a very nice little Pavilion with a local String Ensemble playing classical music. We sat and listened for a time and just enjoyed each other.

Then, of course, we had to take time to smell the roses...

Is that not a beautiful rose?

We weren't the only ones out enjoying the garden.

As we were leaving, I noticed a little feature that I would suspect probably escapes a lot of the visitors to the Center; it was a Swale. A swale is a garden landscape feature that works in conjunction with the terrain's natural drainage tendency to help slow rain runoff and to allow the ground to receive more water.

In the Arid areas of the western United States like the one where we live, this is a great technique for capturing water that would otherwise find it's way to our rivers via the fastest way possible and the faster the water runs off the more sediment it takes and erosion that is caused. Bad all the way around.
Above you can see the way a berm was built along the contour of the lawn area. The area to the right of the lawn is a hillside that would naturally runoff a lot of rain water in our stormy seasons.
The berm make a shallow area between the hillside and the lower area that allows the water to slow and pool. During a large storm, this area will no doubt fill quite a bit and become a temporary pond area. As the pond sits, the water has a chance to percolate into the ground hyper saturating it and allowing a water plume to flow under ground where it can be used for months by the plants and trees around the gardens.

All in all we had a great time together that night. After walking through the gardens we headed down town to try out a new restaurant that we've thought of trying for some time. The food was good, deserts were great (Creme Brule for A~ and fried peaches and ice cream for me!) and we needed a walk around the block to let it sit.

Good times... Good Times!
Best to you all.

July 5, 2010

Trying my hardest...

OK, I've embraced my fate...

I guess relaxing's not THAT bad. I can do this once and a while!

Truth be told, after Friday's little "procedure" I layed around watching movies all day and really felt like a bum. Saturday morning I woke to fresh coffee the boys had made for me and sat on the porch in the unseasonably cool morning air writing while A~ spent the afternoon outside with our boys doing yard work. Mowing, picking and deep watering the garden. I watched from the porch feeling a little too much like "management". I'm more of the hands on type. It drove me nuts.

You know what I did get out of the whole thing this weekend though? Appreciation. Not just thanks, but appreciation; the kind you get when you get to see how blessed you are. My wife, in between yelling at me for LOOKING like I was gonna bend over for something, worked so hard at taking up my slack in the garden and my boys - little men more like it - worked side by side with her picking our last peas and cleaning up around the house and yard. Let it be known I am a lucky man. I tried my best to reward them all that night with a rotisserie roasted pork shoulder that I slow cooked all afternoon on the grill.

Sunday, after making sure all chores were finished Saturday, was spent enjoying our home. We did go out for a bit that morning to let the boys burn off a little energy at the local skateboard park, but the rest of the afternoon was spent lazing aroung the backyard. With our shade canopy up, we sat in the cool shade on an absolutely beautiful Fourth of July Day. The high for today didn't even quite reach 75 degrees! Our oldest serenaded us with his guitar and I tried my best to play harmonica along with him. The boys played off and on again in the pool we finally got this summer and even Marcello the dog layed around in the sun chewing the bone from the night before. All was good. Sunday night we sat out in the front yard while the boys enjoyed a few fireworks and we talked with each other and the neighbors.

There's still a few things that I'd like to try to get done this weekend if possible, having this afternoon and evening left in the day, but I'll have to wait til A~'s not looking. Maybe then I can sneak off to pull some peas plants that are spent and harvest a few early potatoes. There's second crops of the season to think about now you know!

Hope you all had a great weekend. Happy Fourth to all my fellow Americans and look forward to the coming posting blitz.


July 2, 2010

Taking it easy for a weekend

By Doctors orders.
Not Doctor A~, although she is doing her best to keep me still, but by my actual Doctor. I've mentioned recently that my back has been giving me a lot of trouble, well, the trouble has been getting worse and the simple fixes haven't been helping. I've been taking it easy, not been working around the house like I'd like to, and was prescribed a course of oral medication to reduce inflammation which I diligently took. Still, last week I found myself almost unable to get up and walk around. For over a week now I've been subsisting on pain medicine and little sleep.
This morning I had an appointment to get an epidural injection of cortisone to - hopefully - improve my situation. With any luck, the inflammation will reduce and I can start doing some mild exercise and stretching and allow myself to heal. In the mean time, I've been ordered to take it easy, not to work too hard at anything for the weekend and let my back rest.
I'm going to take that as an opportunity try and catch up with some of the blog stuff that I've been wanting to post and just haven't had a chance to put up.
I may post up through the weekend, but mainly I'm going to write and format. Look forward to a nice sized posting blitz in the next week.
Have a great weekend all.

June 23, 2010

Around the 'Stead

It's getting to be that time of the year around here.
Some things have been a surprise, others a little slow to get going, but over all, I've been pretty happy so far. I guess I just have to keep in mind that after all, it is only June 23rd.

I could go into more detail, but in the interest of my just getting caught up, I think I'll just give you all a little over view.

These are my Hamson Tomatoes. A very good producing, heirloom, determinate canning tomato.

Peppers. Two varieties of Green Bells, some Reds, and Jalapenos.

This corner is harder to get to because of the fountain, so we filled it with Beets and Turnips.
This is the first year that we're trying out Turnips. So far they seem to be doing well!
Here's a new tomato trellising method that I'm trying. I needed to find a way to effectively trellis along my back wall. Hopefully this will hold up well. This trellis is holding 14 plants (7 heirloom San Marzanos, and 7 Roma Tomato plants that I saved seed from.). At the end of the row is some Eggplants too. The front is my spinach beds. They've been producing really well too.
One of my three cut and come again lettuce beds. These will be getting trimmed this weekend. Mmmm Salad time...
A perennial family favorite, Kohlrabi. I never seem to plant enough of these.
Early Girls setting tomatoes should be reddening soon.
Peas... filling out and nearly ready to harvest the bulk of them.
One of this years biggest surprises. Our Artichokes.
You can't see it very well from here, but there were 13 artichokes on the plants at the time I took this. I've harvested a few already too. These were the Artichokes that I over wintered in the greenhouse.

Like so many things, I sometimes have higher expectations of myself and my garden than are realistic, but it seems every year I feel behind. I can only assume that it's because the season seems so much longer as I work on my off season growing and preparing.

The biggest thing I can say was successful so far this year, is this. With the exception of the Artichokes. Every plant I just showcased for you was started from seed. This is a first for us. Some did better than others, and lessons still come with every year, but I have to admit I am proud.

Hope you enjoy the tour. More to come soon!

All the best to you all.