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~

April 29, 2009

Limoncello Completo (Il limoncello è finita)

Yes, that fast it is completed. I steeped it for four days, then strained and added the cooled simple syrup mixture and voila. Limoncello. I decided to take the pictures outside to really give you an idea of the beautiful irridenscent glow of the finished product. It looks deeply golden indoors, but with some light turns the most pale, fragile yellow. It really is a liquor made just for spring.

Drink it chilled, whether just refrigerated or nearly frozen, and you have a treat for after dinner that you'll truly enjoy. Particularly if you're a lover of all things lemon like me.
Here's to life. Here's to spring. Here's to you!!

April 26, 2009

High density peas / garden updates

You may remember earlier this month when I talked about my high density pea planting experiment that I'm trying out this year. To recap; basically what I'm doing is to plant the heck out of my peas plants in two of my 4x6 (24 sq ft) raised garden beds to the tune of 300 +/- plants per bed. Two beds = approx. 600 peas.My self-declared "Crazy Pea Stalker" Irma, has decided to give it a try as well. Pending, that is, the results of my trials here first. She asked for an update, and here it is. So far, so good. Definitive... huh? There's not to much to say tell you the truth. The peas are growing great, with no signs of stress or crowding so far.The weather is still off again on again hot and cold, as is the norm here this time of year, and they've been covered more than once with snow and endured some cold nights (29-34ish. deg F) Because of that, and as in years past, they are still growing a bit slowly, but I've seen nothing that makes me think that they aren't going to do just fine. In fact, they'll probably take off here as soon as the temperatures stay consistently warmer.

And in other news....
The rest of the garden is coming along fairly well too.This bed has a mix of different cold weather stuff. The big greens in the middle are Bok choi that I'll be using in one of my "new" Stone Crocks to make some kimchi. (Still looking for a good recipe by the way...Anyone?...Anyone?) The big greens on the back right are the earlier, first plantings of broccoli and in front of it are a bunch of second and third plantings of it. To the left of the Bok Choi are some regular cabbage starts that I hope to make some of the awesome, super easy sauerkraut that I grew to love last year.This bed is another mix of cold weather stuff. From furthest away to closest I have a few more broccoli starts, then a few rows of kale and a couple of more rows of cabbage.Here's another of the raised beds, this one full of kohlrabi. It's an interesting vegetable that we first grew last year and all really enjoyed eating. I also have these planted in another area of the garden that isn't shown here. Also not shown are 6 rows of carrots (two plantings), Swiss chard, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, 8 rows of potatoes, 70 some onions and a couple of hundred sugar snap peas.

All said, things in the garden are coming along nicely for this time of year I think. We're making a concerted effort this year to really try to maximize our harvest from spring through fall. With any luck, we'll be able to rotate the summer crops right in as these start moving out.

Hope all's well in your own gardens.
Till next...

April 22, 2009


I tried a new experiment yesterday. It's something that I've wanted to do for some time and yet, somehow, after I brought home the fresh Meyer lemons from my moms tree a couple of months ago, I didn't think of it.Remember these? I'm telling you they are the best damn lemons I've ever had! Every time I've cut them, or used them for anything I am over whelmed with the sheer lemoneyness (is that a word? It is now!) of them.

So as I was saying, I brought home a big bag of these from my visit with the folks 2 months ago. I love them so much I wanted to make sure that I used them for something that would really capture the essence of them. The problem was, I mostly use lemons in the Summer with our fresh fruits and veggies and they just aren't there yet.

Then, last week, while A~ and I were at the liquor store we were talking and joking and then mentioned Limoncello and BANG! Brainstorm! I can't think of anything that would better capture the sweet lemoneyness (yeah, there's that new word again...feel free to use it anytime...) than some delicious homemade Limoncello. I found a pretty easy recipe online that even I could do on my own and that I needed nothing special to do.I used a regular potato peeler to peel the rind off the lemons into thin but wide strips of the zest from 10 lemons.

I later made sure that I juiced the lemons so as not to waste any of the lemons whatsoever. That will be getting concentrated with some sugar into a special summer treat to make some lemonade with.I added all the lemon zest peels into a large bowl and poured a full new 750 ml bottle into the bowl on top of them. Next I used a potato masher to give the peels a light pressing, not enough to crush them just enough to make me feel like I did a little work you know?

The recipe is as follows:
10 lemons
1 (750-ml) bottle vodka
3 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups sugar

You can see that there's a good bit of water and sugar added after the lemons have had a chance to steep in the Vodka for 4 days. I'll need to make a simple syrup from the sugar and water in a couple of days and then cool it completely before adding it to the strained out Vodka. Then I can refrigerate it for easily a month.

I have to add to this that I did give it a little "one day" test tonight by adding a bit of it to a little sugar and water just to check if it's doing anything. Oh man I can't wait!! It was soooooo goood! Wish I could have you all up for a visit and a sample. Oh yeah, and by the way in case you were wondering how these lemons held up for two whole months in the fridge. They were literally no different than any fresh lemons that I may have picked up in the store the day before. It truly was a testament to how long fresh lemons can last. Hmm? makes me wonder how old those lemons in the store are?

Hey Mom... how about some more lemons next time your out huh? You should give this a try. You're neighbors would love it.

All the best to you all. Catch you again soon.

April 15, 2009

A vegetarian alternative

This weekend we decided to try a little something new.

The recipe we started with was for wheat gluten, but we've also eaten it under the name Seitan. It's a solid vegetarian alternative to meat, easy to make and inexpensive to boot. What we started with was a dough like mixture of fresh ground (not store bought) wheat flour (10 cups) and water (5 cups).That's it, just mix it in a large bowl and let it sit at least overnight. Ours sat nearly 30 hrs; no problem with that.
After letting it sit, we turned it out into a bowl that was filled with 20 cups of warm water. I personally can't see why it had to be 20 cups, but I think it has to do with the potential uses for the water later.At this point what we needed to do was to knead the dough like it was a regular bread dough, but do it under water. The reason we're doing this is to "wash" the starches from it. You can see the milky color of the water. Those are the starches separating from the gluten in the dough mixture.After rinsing the mixture for about 3-5 minutes, we put it into a colander to further rinse under warm water until the water ran clear. What we were left with was a strangely elastic and web like mass that was made up of the pure wheat gluten.After letting it sit for a few minutes, we pressed it out (not rolled, but pressed) onto a cutting board where it strangely did not stick at all. To do this we had to press it out slowly and give it a minute or two to settle and then press it out further.Next we cut the wheat gluten into strips. And here is where we differed from the recipe that we had.We decided to follow the process of seitan rather than the purely wheat gluten recipe. What we did was to boil the seitan in a mixture of water, broth, soy sauce and seasonings. Note: start with cold liquid and bring to a low heat and cook partially covered for at least 1 hr.This is the finished seitan. Cooked, seasoned and ready to use in any kind of dish where you might use something like beef chunks or chicken strips.I was dying to give it a try so I decided to give it a shot sauteed with some onions and egg for a nice omelet. The texture was really nice. Not chewy at all, and not too soft either. I would like to have had the seitan have a bit more flavor to begin with as it was still just a bit "wheaty" but I think if it is marinaded in some Worcestershire or soy before a slow saute, it would be even better.

We hope to make this a regular addition to our menu in the future as we try to become more self sufficient and to eat a healthier diet. I'm going to state the obvious here, but if you or any one in your family has a gluten intolerance, this is DEFINITELY not the food for them as it it pure wheat gluten.

I hope you'll give it a try.
Bon appetite~

April 12, 2009

I got it done finally.
This was one of those projects that's been in the works for a long time. As I said before, we actually planned for this from the time we build our home. I had the plumbing put in at build time and have "back-burnered" it for a long time. (Over five years!!)
You might also notice that large white contraption sitting on the counter on the left side. That's a scale that we were actually able to salvage out of one of the homes down the street before it was torn down. It's one of the old dial -type scales but is slightly off. I will be taking it apart and repairing it some time in the future, but for now, I found that with the large colander, it zero's out at 2.0 lbs exactly. Until I get it repaired we'll just subtract 2 lbs from all measured harvests.
Now, I just need to get some veggies growing. And on that note, I've been hardening off some of my starts from the seed starter and they'll be going into the ground this week.
This is the back porch...or in this case the hardening shelves. On the top shelf to the left is a variety of lettuces and some Swiss chard. Top Right has Broccoli and Kale and the bottom shelf is all kohlrabi, cabbage and kale as well. These are ones that I started in the basement a few weeks ago and are all cold weather crops. I've already gotten a second batch started right in the beds too, but these will mature earlier and will be the first to harvest. Oh how I look forward to it!!
I hope you all had a great weekend. Catch you tomorrow.

April 8, 2009

Rainy weather and a shoutout.

Hi all, Spring decided to take a break for a couple of days. It grew slowly colder today as the day went along and then the winds kicked in. The rains started just before dark and literally battered the side of the house and the window.

Spring is an odd beast isn't it? I mean, you can be so excited to get out and get your hands dirty and the sun is shining and you're basking in it...All is right with the world, and then the change. It will grow cold, windy and rainy, maybe even slow a bit on you and remind you that Summer will get here when it darn well pleases and you can do nothing about it! But maybe that's where the fun is at?

Summer, you know what you get generally. Here it's hot; high 80's to low 100's kind of hot and for months at a stretch. Winter's just the opposite. Cold, snowy, windy and unforgiving. So that leaves us Spring and Fall to really enjoy the weather, the temps and the rain. For my part, I love it. It gave me a chance to almost finish up the work on the garage kitchen today too. I should have it done by the weekend. Woohoo~

A shout out:
I had a post put up a couple of days ago by another blog that had asked my permission to do a write up on my "Chicken condo" brooder set-up. It seems to be a pretty decent site from what I can tell. If you get a chance, give em a read.

Progress in the garage.

A~ and I decided, even before we moving in to this home, that we wanted to have a sink in the garage. Since we built this home from the ground up, we had the luxury of making sure that we had a drain and water access available to the area where we planned for it to go.

And that's pretty much as far as it got. A couple of years ago, I went ahead and tied into the drain, and piped in the hot and cold water but then got side tracked again. This weekend I got the corner cleared out for good, and this is what I had to work with.It's plenty deep, about four feet in fact, and nearly 8 feet long.

I had initially planned to just put in a large utility basin and build a basic plywood counter next to it. As the last few years have seen us growing and processing more and more food, we decided that we wanted to have a real sink and counter area where we could do all of our "straight from the garden" food processing before bringing everything into the house.I started with a basic support frame for the counter. I have a tendency to OVER build things. I did manage to hold myself back on this one though and I'm happy with it over all.Once I got that framed out, I could set the counter top and cut a whole for the sink. I was actually able to get a shelf in the middle of the base, but I didn't get a pic of it.

I still need to get some back splashing put in place and finish plumbing the sink in, but I should be able to get that finished up this weekend. That will give me one more chore crossed off the 2009 to-do list, and get me one step closer to working the greenhouse. No too close though...I still have a desk to build and some shelving to finish off. Baby steps....oh so many baby steps :)

Till tomorrow all, be well!

April 7, 2009

Spring is for lovers...

Yes it is. Spring is when I met my wife. We would take walks around along the riverside, sit in the park and talk about dreams and life and generally just enjoyed every minute being together.

Sometimes the day to day of life, work and parenting get the better of us and we forget to just be a couple. The last couple of days we got to remember. The boys went down to SLC to stay with family and go to a concert while they're on Spring break and we had a chance to re-connect.
Yesterday we took a walk, and had dinner together and today we took a ride on the "eco-hog" to a nearby park and had a picnic dinner together.
I have to say I love riding around with her huggin me and I can't say I took the long way home on accident *wink wink*.

I just wanted to leave a message here to let her know I love her and I love our time together.

SHMILY baby...


Around the garden...

We had a decent weekend around here. It wasn't too hot, not too cold, just about perfect. I could work around the house and the garden and get some stuff done when it needed to be and not be in the cold damp yuck that all too often becomes the spring around here. Which is good, because I had some second sprouting of kohlrabi that needed to get into the ground.Last year I laid seed out on trays and covered with paper towels that were soaked and rung out, and then sprayed them regularly to get them to germinate. This year I tried this method and loved it. I just folded a soaked p-towel in half and laid the seed out on it, then folded into a narrow quarter size and put it in a zip-lock.These Kohlrabi seeds popped in two days. So, as I said, this was a good weekend for good weather because these couldn't wait. I do still have my first planting of Kohlrabi in the basement in cell packs. These will go out soon too and will be the first harvested. here's a good look at the seeds after two days. Very nearly 100% germination rate and these are seeds that were packed for 2008. Local heirloom seed from Mountain Valley seed company.SO then... out to the garden why don't we. I got those seeds planted, and also had second germination of broccoli and cabbages to plant. Those will be going under the hoop house with the couple of cell pack bok choy and broccoli that I picked up a couple of weeks ago. (Spring fever...I can't resist it!!) I added another twelve plantings of germinated broccoli seed and 12 of head cabbage. By the time the head cabbage gets up to size that bok choy will already be Kim chee in the pantry so it won't be in the way. (looking for good kim chee recipes btw in case anyone has one.)I thought I'd give you guys a look at my peas too. There was some interest in the dense planting that I'm going for this year so I guessed an update was in order before they got so big that you couldn't make out the planting spacing. Above is an over view of the whole bed. As you can see, it's pretty dense. I planted them approximately 2.5 to 3 inches apart in the row and rows spaced about the same distance apart. There are, believe it or not, approximately 300 (Corrected post. 300 hundred per bed x 2 beds.) seeds planted in this bed. And I have two of them.And here they are...my little soldiers all in a row. So far so good. This is sort of a double down, all or nothing sort of gardening. Last year we really loved the peas that we got, but from the 30 some odd plants that we had, there weren't nearly enough for us. I need to find a way to maximize yield to space and this is my best bet. worst case scenario I'll have good rich soil after they're out with all that nitrogen fixing that they do. I'll keep you posted.

Hope you all had a great weekend. Tomorrow I'll show you what got done in the garage!
Till then...
This post was corrected. I planted 300 seeds per bed for a total of 600, not 600 hundred per bed. Sorry for the mistype.

April 2, 2009

Calling Freedom Gardeners

If you've been reading this blog for long you've probably heard me talk about the Freedom Gardeners web site. It is, to me, the best social network out there for the urban farming, food producing, organic homesteading type of people. Generally, that's all of us!

I found the Dervaes family web site Path to Freedom a couple of years ago, followed them until they launched Freedom Gardens and was the first person in Utah to join that I know of. I had an opportunity to spend an evening at their home not long ago and can honestly say that they are the warmest and most genuine people! If you don't have a profile up there yet, what are you waiting for. I can answer a lot of questions, but I may not be in your zone or your soil type. Chances are though, that of the over 3800 people currently a part of Freedom Gardens, someone does know the answer.

If you are a member already, well heck... drop in and say hi and we'll be "freinds". You can find me on there as CornerGardener.

I also have a special shoutout to any UT Freedom Gardeners. I started a group on the FG site today called "Utah Freedom Gardeners". I really want more than anything to start building a community here in the state. A network of Gardeners and growers to share our experiences and learn. Maybe even get together and have a good time!

If you are already a Freedom Gardener, regardless of state or city, drop us a line in the comments box so I or any of the other readers can check out what you're up to. We're really in a time of change I think. The more we can band together and share information, that more knowledge we will have to help other with.
Check out the site and....GROW ON!

Master Gardener Final Update.

I did it, I finished the Master Gardener programs 40 hrs of classroom training!!
Whhooo hooo...!!!

Today was the last class and what we talked about was public speaking. I got called up to be a part of today's class since I'm the only participant that has already been put in that situation. I felt a little odd sitting in front of what are essentially my peers having gone through the same class as them, but being presented as some level of authority.

We also used some of the class time to break up into a few gardening groups. What we're going to do for a part of our community outreach is to have each group put together a garden bed in the demonstration garden for the county fair. The group A~ and I put together decided that we would use "Companion Plants" as our theme for our box. It should be really fun to do I think.

Also, another development that came about today was that I had an opportunity to get to know one of the men that was in our class and will be in our group. He lives just a couple of miles from us and has an active bee hive going in his suburban backyard. He's invited me over the next time he is doing maintenance work so I can help and learn. I can't wait!

I've said it before and I'll say it again. The Master Gardener program is a great thing. I, of course, encourage you to make it a priority to give it a shot if you're so inclined, but if nothing else, give your local extension office a call. They're a great resource.

Have a great day everyone. Till next time...

April 1, 2009

More tomato talk

I can't tell you how glad I get to see information as well received as the tomato post from yesterday has been! That's really the best part of blogging and it's the reason I drag my butt on here every night.

Don't sweat asking the follow-up questions Eric, really, you guys make my life easy when you ask me about something. It's hard sometimes to think of what I want to write about day to day and when I have this kind of great interaction it makes it easier on me and I think it's really helpful to see all the other opinions and ideas out there. I also sometimes don't know if there's any interest in the particular topic I'm writing about so hearing the follow-ups or asking for more, like Steph did, let's me know we're onto something. That's the greatest strength we all have online is the power of the collective and of the interplay of our ideas and lessons learned, don't you think? I'm also glad to have gotten to hear from a couple of new folks through this process. Glad to have ya!

So then, inspirational talk and blushing out of the way....check! On to business.
Steph, I did a little search and came up with a couple of really good links to help you visualize what I'm talking about with the indeterminate tomato plant pruning:

The first one is a great page all about pruning tomato plants. I don't tie mine up like they do, but there's no hard and fast way to do this so give it a read. Additionally, Kory I totally agree with what you added in the comments section about pruning up the bottom most leaves. This article touches on that. Not spreading disease is a good point as well, hadn't thought of that.

This page is a pdf provided by the Colorado state extension Master Gardener program that goes into all kinds of information on Tomatoes. It is VERY good information!
For all of you that said that you were planning on modeling trellis after my framework system, this pdf has some great illustrations of trellising methods that could easily apply to mine. In fact, one of them, the fan trellis is not one that I've ever seen before, but could potentially be adapted to that trellising system. (On that note...If any of you DO get similar set-ups put in place this year send me a couple of pics so I can show them off to everyone OK? Don't be shy.)

Now, in an effort to kill two birds with one answer, jc and darren had to kind of related questions. jc asked if I would grow tomatoes in the same method as the beans, and Darren wanted to know what happens when they reach the top of the trellis. Yes, j.c. I would and in fact WILL do it. All I'll need to do it add one more cross piece to the top section, centered on it, and then run the strings down to the bottom. When the vine has reached the top, well...it goes over the top to be simple about it, or I train it along the top or yeah I would prune it off. The later would certainly be the case if it were late in the season and I wanted to ensure the fruit that had already set had the energy in the plant used to ripen it before the first frost.

On a final note, Eric asked if I had any more thoughts on planting shade tolerant plants in the shadow of the larger ones. I do, and I think it would actually take a little writing so I'll go into more detail soon. In the short-term however, and in the interest of making sure no one waits too long take this answer. Plant the shade/cool tolerants during their regular season but do so taking into consideration of where the larger plants will be growing later. The shade tolerants will be OK in the shade on a summer day, but need the full sun now while it's cooler.

More to come on that later. Thanks for the great input.