Thursday, March 24, 2011

vegetable gardening in seattle, planting bags, air bags, DIY, too many brussel sprouts

Yesterday was the kind of spring day we,in the Pacific Northwest, dream of....Sunny, warm (60 degree's) and dry.Jimmy and I took full advantage of it.  Jimmy turned over all the beds while I set up a sewing room in the studio and made  planting bags...also known as air bags.  Jimmy bought a couple of these in 3 gallon sizes last year for his  exotics in the shuttle and we were amazed at how well they work. We have decided to try them in the great outdoors as temporary raised beds.  We plan on lining the patio and fence line with these.  This is an experiment. We bought 1/4 inch thick  felt pond liner from the local nursery to make the bags.  When we told the guy at the nursery what we were doing he indicated it couldn't be done. Then told us  they had the same bags ready made for sale.  Jimmy and I  responded ...'yes we know.. but one potato bag is $20'.  For $12.... I can make a potato bag and  a couple of others. Much more economical.  But we will see.  For others out there who want to do the same I used a leather needle and upholstery thread. The total cost for all materials still came in under the price of 1 commercial planting bag.
And then we have the brussel sprouts.  We have had more brussel sprouts over this last winter than any human can reasonably consume. (if we had a 6 year old they would be crying and begging for mercy by now) Yesterday we pulled them all out. Cuz really?..... We are just plain sick of brussel sprouts.  I kept  a couple of stalks that still looked good  and pulled off  a few more for one last sprout hurrah.  Jimmy was less than enthusiastic  about his pork chops last night when he learned they were being served with BRUSSEL SPROUTS.   He only ate them because he knew we were at the end and most of them were in the compost pile.  I did save some of the ones that were re-sprouting on the stalks.  I cut them with some of the stalk left on them and put them in a box of dirt.  We will see if they root.... If not.... who cares.

1 bed ready (1of 12)
 Jimmy working really hard!
 Brussel sprout rooting experiment
 Brussel sprouts in the compost pile...even the girls are tired of them
 DIY potao bag
 Even MORE brussel sprouts (GYAH!)
We made our diagram of the planting boxes  yesterday and  worked on the puzzle that is rotating  crops, companion planting and the basics of who needs more sun, who doesn't and who is going to grow from a 2 inch  seedling into a 6 foot monster.  We had our giant copy of  'the encyclopedia of country living'  open all day  for reference.  Altogether we were dog gone productive yesterday.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Home made ravioli, Chicken parmesan alfredo recipe, self sufficiency, mad kitchen skills self suffiency

Had a great time on my date yesterday with my new love.  I met  my new Kitchenaid in the kitchen at about 1 in the afternoon and we danced for 2 hours.  Together we made perfect homemade raviolis.  Feral Jane, who comes from a noble line of east coast Italian immigrants insists that good pasta can only be made by hand. But me and KA rocked the ravioli last night. I used the recipe on the back of the Red Mill  semolina bag (very simple: semolina,eggs,salt,olive oil and water) and let it knead for a good 12 minutes.  Rolled it out paper thin and dropped spoonfuls of my  "i don't need no stinkin' recipe" chicken parmesan on it. Wrapped it and then sealed the edges with a fork.  Once they were cooked ,I used a little pesto sauce  to coat them. My Chicken parmesan filling was  done this way.....
1 tablespoon of butter, 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1 tablespoon each dried basil, dried, thyme, dried parsley,1 teaspoon diced garlic, brought it to  a boil and added  1/4 cup  parmesan and one 4 ounce piece of garlic chicken  left over from the night before, diced very tiny. Whisked it until it was creamy and thick and let it cool for about 20 minutes before filling the raviolis with it.
Our salad came from the winter garden,  which is sprouting anew right now... baby spinach,baby collards, a red shallot , a sprinkle of  crumbled feta, some grated carrot with  a few dried cranberries and candied  walnuts for zing....... topped with a vinaigrette of home made red wine vinegar and olive oil........ And  homemade garlic bread.
I was just so dog gone proud of dinner last night....... The vegetables and herbs were all homegrown . The red wine vinegar was homemade (yes some of the red wine used to make it was home made as well).
All I need now is a cow, a goat, a  couple of wheat fields, some sugar beats  and a salt mine to be completely self sufficient.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Seattle radiation levels up, checking sources, Mutated vegetables

[8:40 p.m. Monday ET, 9:40 a.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] An air monitor in Seattle has detected trace levels of radiation in connection with the nuclear emergency in Japan, the Washington State Department of Health said. Officials said the levels do not pose a health risk.

Feral Jane  sent me this this morning and said she got it from CNN.  I went over and did a CNN search but couldn't find it.  Feral Jane is very reliable and doesn't forward me BS....... without saying its BS.  We have been friends since Jr High and yes we have talked a lot of BS.  But we always acknowledge sources and always acknowledge when information could be iffy.  I still remember the first time we said  "look where it came from...we need to take this with a really big grain of salt".  We were 14 and some teenage gossip had everyone in a tizzy.  Turned out the source was indeed flawed.  Anyways.... This drive to always check sources led me into  news reporting in my early  (and more energetic ) years and carried Feral Jane through 2 1/2 Degrees.   That said... if FJ says it was  a CNN report, there is no reason to doubt it even if it seems to have been pulled.
  It makes me a little nervous about this years gardening. Cuz while there may be trace amounts in the air.... that all gets washed onto my gardening soil.   As much as I would like award winning sized pumpkins....... I 'm not interested in 1950's style  vegetables that  mutate into something that want to eat ME!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Pineapple upside down cake recipe, I'm having an affair, kitchen aid, spring form pan

I am having an affair. So, about 5 years ago Jimmy and I got this account that came with  points.  We got the points catalogue and poured over it. We found an item we wanted...... a Kitchen aid pro 4.  Every time we thought about buying a kitchen aid,  we checked our points and decided to wait. 2 weeks ago we reached our points and last week became the new owners of a brand new shiny Kitchen aid. I'm in love!  I have been baking like a madwoman. We have had home baked bread every day and the cakes...Many many cakes. Last week I tried a pineapple upside down cake..... it sort of fell apart  when I tried to get it out of the pan.  So, another friend suggested I get a spring form pan and I did.... (a cheap $6 dollar pan from the grocery store)  I used it last night and tried the pineapple upside down cake again. Spring form pans are sooooo cool! Here is the recipe I used...Last nights pineapple upside down cake was a thing of beauty.


You will need
1/4 lb + 4 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup nuts
enough fresh pineapple sliced 1/2 inch thick to cover bottom of 9 inch pan
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups flour

Do this
1.Melt the 4 tablespoons of butter in a sauce pan and   add the brown sugar and nuts.
2.Pour into the bottom of a nine inch baking pan
3.Lay pineapple on top of nuts and sugar in pan and set aside

1. Cream together butter and granulated sugar
2. Add vanilla, salt, baking powder,egg and milk (turn slowly)
3. Add flour
4. Mix well
5 Spoon into the nine inch pan on top of pineapple and sugar
This will be a very thick batter.  Bake at 375  for  about 35 minutes. When cake is done, let cool for five minutes and  then turn upside down on cake plate.  (here is where the spring form pan  did its  TA DA!)
This cake is best served warm from the oven with a little whipping cream on top.

Jimmy REALLY liked this cake.  The cake itself is not too sweet.  Its has a sort of coffee cake texture.  Very moist.
 Here is a photo which I barely had time to take.  What you cant see is Jimmy standing just outside the frame, holding a knife, and asking repeatedly  'are you done yet?'