Welcome to Growbox Hill

Welcome to Growbox Hill
Welcome to Growbox HIll!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

First raised bed :)

Set up our very first raised bed today. It measures 3x6' I.D. and will be used for planting in all my garlic :)

First the garlic.
On the left is the garlic I got in adoption. Russian Giant, Leningrad, and Up North. The rest is garlic I picked up the other day from Skips farmers market. Top is Skips #3, bottom is Skips #1, and the right is Skips #2.
Russian Giant- Hardneck purple stripe, purported to be the sweetest of the roasting garlics. When I broke it apart it had 6 large/huge cloves around a central stem. Purple neck has a 3/4 loop scape.
Leningrad- Hardnect Porcelain, kind of a best all around in taste, quality, and storage, a rather rare type. 4 large cloves around a central stem. Porcelain garlic has a random snake scape.
Up North- no info really on this one, it's a hardneck, possibly a rocombole. Rocomboles are best for dehydrating and have the shortest shelf life, 5-6 months. 6 large cloves clustered around central stem. Rocomboles have a double loope scape.
Skips #1- Sold by a lady, called it Italain Largo? 12 or so small to medium cloves, with 3 more starting an inside ring. Skins are rather hard to peel open to break the head, but come off clove decent.
Skips #2- Sold by same lady as one, she said it was a different kind that was more robust and pungent. 10 large to huge outer bulbs, with 2 medium cloves starting inside ring. Same tough skins as #1.
Skips #3- Sold by the other person selling garlic, a guy. He peeled and broke open a clove for me and it smelled wonderful! 10 medium to large bulbs with 2 small bulbs starting inside. Easy to peel thick skins.
I have 6 of each kind of garlic I can plant in.

On to the raised bed, our first.
Had my love assemble the bed. It was made out of pieces of scrap wood that has been laying around since before we got the house. Two inside brackets in each corner- it's just the way the divots went for the screws, and if later we need reinforcement we can attach outside brackets. We had a miscommunication about one of the boards that was initially to be used, but I think it ended up better this way- a more manageable bed. Heh, I would have been cursing a lot more today if the original larger bed had been built instead!
On to some pics :)

I started out with the bed snugged right up against the edge of the wood that marks off the bee patio. But in my initial dig down, I discovered a frigging fence post. I dug down quite a bit around it, but it was solid as a rock. Shit. I wasn't going to go away from the fence any more than I had already, so it was shift it to the right. I dug down a few inches inside the bed to give me some dirt base for building the bed and to help level out the bed bed a bit. Yes, the rest of the pic is indeed the scrappy remains of the first year black plastic- I've found it rather helpful to keep this area dead as prep for dropping in beds at will.
After I shoveled out a pile o dirt I put in newspapers. We get weekly mailers and I just folded them open, took out the glossy and smaller center section, and laid them face down. Sprinkled a little dirt over the papers to keep them from blowing around while I moved onto the next section.
Another nice pic of the newspaper layer. Each mailer is 8-10 pages thick when folded open. This layer helps with a slow water retention, weed barrier, and lowest level of composting layer. After I got this done, I watered it real well till there was puddles of standing water (ok, the bed bed wasn't perfect, sue me). Soak in the paper real well. Then while it was soaking in I went and raked up a barrow of pine needles.

Here's that frigging post. Decided if I couldn't remove it and didn't want it in the middle of my bed, it could at least serve as an anchor. Though it does make me fear for what I will find as I go down the row with more beds. Though with that notion in mind I will be prepared to be able to cut down/dig out future posts since they won't take me by surprise like this one did.

This is the barrow of pine needles. After I dumped them in and spread them evenish, I watered well again. Started out with the shower head, then switched to jet head to sort of tamp the needles down. While that was soaking in, I went and raked up a barrow of fallen leaves from the cherry trees.

After filling and evening out the box, guess what I did? Yep, watered it again, first using shower head, then jet head to tamp down. This looks like a lot of leaves, but by the time I was done watering the mass down, the bed was only a third full again. Then I sprinkled a coffee can of crushed eggshells over the whole pile for slow release calcium, and then watered again.
Then it was time to go collect a bunch of ash from the firepit and the lil grill. Ash adds some lime and potassium to the soil. And fill up the barrow with horsepoo- for compost, duh.

First was a barrow of horse poo spread out, then half the dirt shoveled in over that, then a goodly dose of the ash on top. This pic shows the layers before it's watering down. And it got watered real well. Since I put in a thick layer of pine needles- which can be acidic- at the bottom, the lime in the ash helps sweeten the needles.

Another layer of poo and then the rest of the dirt. Off to the left you can see the edge of the bee patio, the wooden line I initially had the bed snugged up against. And the first set of pavers I've made for the bee patio. All the wood here was originally smothering the raspberry bed. Nice to be able to use it for at least garden purposes.

And once again, water it real well. The bed looks full up right now, right? Well, this bed is going to sit for a week or two before I put in the garlic, and in that time it will settle in at least an inch I'm thinking, due to all the needles and leaves at the bottom. So before I plant in the garlic I will add another layer of horse poo, then after planting it will be a thick mulch of shredded paper- more mailers :) And then watering the crap out of the whole thing.
Still not positive how I want to do my grid for planting- they will be 6x6" for placement, but not positive how permanent of a grid I want to put up for marking off.
In the background you can get a better view of what will eventually be the bee patio. In the foreground that black plastic blocker.
Believe it or not, this whole corner has been a total PITA to figure out. It's the cornerstone to all the veggie row and living hedge strips as well as one of the crappiest spots of the yard to tame and figure out without killing off what I want to keep. But we are sort of on time with this project- I was hoping that whatever property we moved into we could start raised beds in season 3- and it's the tail end of season 3 and we got the first raised bed in.

I really need to check into getting some garbage carpet for putting in between beds. For the spring probably. I can put in a border agent of recycled brown paper bags and if needed a leaf layer to make the surrounds for this box for this fall into winter. But I will need more long term walkway action come spring.

Since I'm using a 6x6" spacing for the cloves on SQFT method, I will only be filling half the box. I only have 36 cloves to plant, 6 each of 6 kinds. So I need to figure out what I'm going to do with the rest of the bed for now since the garlic won't be ready to harvest till next summer. I'm torn between nightshades and brassicas. I want to really launch some tomato action next year and could do an early spring radish crop, but I think I could get a rather nice double crop of spring carrot and fall kale or maybe even cauliflower if I plan carefully. I think I might be better off doing the "easier" plan of radishes and tomatoes.
Of course, I could/should do in a bit of cover crop compost as well.. hmmm...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Get off my lazy butt....

Haven't had much to write about since the campout. Why? Cuz I've been lazy. Just catching up on some housework, online stuff... hanging with the cats and enjoying the early changes of fall coming on.
Today I finally got off my butt and did stuff. First order of business was get over to the in laws place and plant in all those ditch lilies. We had already talked about where she wanted them to go, and it was really rather easy to just plunk them in. I had a little raking to do to deal with the mulch, but the digging was a breeze. I tried to make it as neat as possible so it didn't look like someone just ran around digging up the yard, heh. All of the erm, lilly bulbetts? in the crowns looked healthy and plump, so I'm really hoping they take well. Of course while I was there I took a few moments here and there to just pause a moment in the sun and enjoy the lake. It was magnificent, with the pale blue sky above and perfect cresting waves breaking over the color layers in the water.
Decided to take the highway back up north for a bit, and I'm glad I did. Got to hit a local farmers market- and confirm that yes indeed it's the place with the excellent knife sharpening guy. Picked up three varieties of local garlic, 2 heads each. The sellers couldn't really tell me what exactly their garlic was, but the beauty of such places is that they are willing to break open a clove so you can get a good idea of if it's what you are looking for. Also got to get a jar of honey- It's the young lady that sells pumpkins and flowers roadside by me, but they don't usually have honey out. I was well pleased to get it- I 100% know the place where it comes from and that's super cool. I splurged and picked up a really nice and large apple gourd. Not sure what it will be made into yet, but I'm going to be careful about it's drying. And the seller knew it had been well cross pollinated, so if I save the seed I could end up with all sorts of crazy cross breed. Which is actually kind of interesting.

So I decided to keep going up the highway for a piece after that. And lordy is there a gadgillion little antique shops in that area. Other cool tourist and craftsman shops too.
And I decided heck, why not, and hit the Sawyer Market. My mum in law had been there and confirmed it was good. Holy shit. It's sprawling huge! Ya pull up into the parking lot and don't realize just how much building is behind the produce area. I ended up parking in what I'm pretty sure is employee parking in back- there just was no where up front.
Of course since it's that time of year.. They have an extraordinary selection of pumpkins, gourds and squashes.  Ok, the gourds and "eating" squashes were pretty norm. By eating squashes I mean those that most folks regularly think of like acorn or butternut. But their pumpkins, drool. If I could afford it, I would pick up one of each kind. It would be incredible to have that kind of tasting assortment through the winter. Mmmmm squash and pumpkins.. sigh..
Anywho, daydream over, lol. I did pick up a couple of nice eating squashes and resisted temptation on the pumpkins. And some golden beets, tiny eggplants, a couple of rutabagas, a lovely head of red cabbage, and some giant shallots- all Michigan grown! They carry some other USA produce too, and clearly label all their produce. Like they had USA grown shallots and in the MI section, MI shallots. And a little bee bell on clearance, and a couple of interesting soup mixes.. It took me a while to wander around looking at everything. They have a ton of different stuff. No nutmeg grinder, lol. I totally fell in love with some bee dishes :) Saw all sorts of interesting beverages. And great outdoor pots- Huge lovely outdoor pots of goodly size and quality.
It was a little weird though in one way. I entered in through a decor area, and Halloween bled into thanksgiving, then a clothing and gift area, then into summer clearance and at the back Christmas stuff. Having that many holidays under one roof was a bit surreal.
Some of their stuff was a bit pricey for what it was, but a lot of stuff was also really good buy.

So here's the days bounty from running around :)

Ok, so that was Saturday, and today is Wednesday. Still being a lazy butt. I think I have a bit of depression going on, with the onset of fall it's enjoyable, but I can't seem to be motivated about anything.

I've gotten in some seeds... A couple kinds of hardy hibiscus which should be absolutely lovely next year, and a couple kinds of sunflowers- those are going in for some happy.
Been mostly puttering around the house- catching up on some work, prepping some for when I'm gone for the first part of October. My hubby will still be here, but I get to go momsitting and hang out there for a while. I'm kind of looking forward to it, I don't get to spend nearly enough time with my mom since I've moved.
Found out that when you pick a bunch of pears to finish ripening and forget about them in the solarium, it will breed a frigging cloud of fruit flies of proportions to make one cover their mouth just to breathe. And that the trap cap my love printed out for me works wonderfully! Just a little apple cider vinegar in the jar and screw on the cap- and with an hour about two thirds of the flies were dead in the jar.
Made chicken stock last night... Making white chili this weekend :)
If making stock at home seems just too messy or not worth the effort of straining the liquid off from the mass... Try these tips to make it easier/cleaner...

Before you start loading up your stockpot, put a steamer basket in the bottom of the pot. Ya know, the fold out metal ones that are meant to be submerged in liquid.
Then heap in your big stock bits like bones and mirepoix...
Then on the top, put all of your seasonings into a coffee filter- like your thyme, bay leaves, parsley, ect... Either use a paper one and tie it off like a giant tea bag, or if you have a metal one, you can just nestle the basket into the top of the heap of big bits.
Fill with water, simmer... And when you are done, you can just take out the coffee filter, lift out the steamer basket... And have stock without having to strain or filter it after to get all the little gunky bits out. 

I suppose I should post... Till next time :)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Need Growbox Hill helpers.

We need helpers.

We need people to be willing to try or test out our products, or be willing to speak up about what they would like to see out of Growbox hill...

We need people that are willing to test recipes.. and give honest feedback. And perhaps if they are tinkering sorts, give their notes on how they changed the original recipe.

We need people that are willing to test out seed or plants sent out by Growbox Hill. And give feedback.

We need people that want to request demos by Growbox Hill. Want to know how we made something, or the instructions on how to do something? Please speak up and ask for it!!

All Growbox Hill helpers will get kudos when final information is submitted. Sorry, there is no money to go along with this right now. But when you sign up to be a helper, you might get all sorts of odds and ends of stuff and information.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Camping weekend cooking...

Do a fall camping weekend every year. We all get together and share food and brewing, good times and bonfire action.

A few of us seriously do the food action. Last couple times I've prepped up serious food, but then had a couple others whip out.. So this year I decided to do more in-between eats. Breads and spreads.

Of course I will be bringing along several jars of homemade salsa and fruit preserves. So I went ahead with that and decided to do a bunch of other goodness along those lines..

Boursin style spread-
1 package cream cheese
1 stick butter
2 T parmesan cheese
1/2 t dried dill
1/4 t dried marjoram
1/4 t dried basil
1/4 t ground black pepper
2 sprigs fresh thyme, about 1 t
few sprigs fresh parsley, about 1 1/2 T when chopped fine
2-4 cloves garlic, depending on the size. Creamed or pressed
let cream cheese and butter get to room temp
cream cheese and butter together
add all the seasonings, and cream all together
refrigerate at least 24 hours, up to 7 days

Roasted veggie spread/dip
1 medium onion
1 medium sweet potato
1 large carrot
1 head garlic
1 small zucchini
1 small eggplant- optional
2 T. olive oil
¼-1/2 t. cayenne pepper
8 oz package cream cheese- room temp.

Deseed and coarsely chop red pepper. Coarsely chop onion. Peel and dice sweet potato and carrot. Peel and leave whole the garlic cloves. Large chop summer squash or eggplant. Drizzle lightly with 2 T. olive oil- just enough to coat, and salt and pepper. Toss well to make sure all is coated. Roast at 300 till all veggies are soft and able to be pureed. You might want to start out the first half of cooking uncovered, then cover for the second half to really cook everything through. Depending on the chop, this might take 1-2 hours, and the carrots will be the most likely to be the last bits done. Watch out for scorched onion and garlic- stir a couple times while roasting, and if those start to really change color, it's time to cover the whole thing. Once roasted, pull from oven and set out till cool. Puree veggies. Add to cream cheese and cayenne pepper and mix well, adding salt and pepper to season if needed. Mixture will be thick, so if you want to thin it a little to your dipping preference, you can do so with either milk or cream. 

I used several sweetie peppers and the half bag of leftover baby carrots from making antipasta bucket the other day instead of a red pepper and large carrot. Used a couple small yellow summer squash instead of zucchini, and left out the eggplant this time. Used about 3 T of milk while mixing. 

Honey cinnamon butter
tub of spreadable butter

This really is a taste preference recipe. I used an 8 oz tub of butter, about 2 T of local honey, 1 t cinnamon, and 6 grinds of nutmeg, which is about 1/4 or so of a t. 
You must let your butter get fully to room temp. Any lumps when you stir it and it hasn't sat long enough. Yes, this is a hand stirring recipe. 
Put your butter into a bowl and stir it to loosen it up. Put about half the honey, all the cinnamon and nutmeg in and stir well. Let rest for about 15 minutes, stir well and taste. Add in more honey if needed for sweet. Stir well and let rest for another 15 minutes. Taste again, and only now add more cinnamon or nutmeg if needed. 

Roasted garlic
A pan to roast in- choose a pan that sort of snugly fits all the heads. It either needs a cover, or use foil to  cover when needed.
Whole garlic
Olive oil

Chop the top of the heads off your garlic while your oven heats to 350. 
Place your garlic into your baking dish cut side up
Drizzle heads with olive oil- just a little at a pour- you are looking to coat and lubricate the heads, not drown them in oil. I usually make 2 passes with the oil.
Cover your dish- this is important. 
Bake at 350 for 45-75 minutes depending on how many heads you are baking off. 
You want to check your heads about 15 minutes before done time and check them for tenderness. Some should be popping out of their skins, and some still kind of firm. Drizzle a bit more oil over each head at this time and put back into the oven COVERED to finish. 
You know when they are done when all the big cloves are tender to the poke of a toothpick. 
Kill your oven and take the heads out. 
Keep them covered till they reach room temp- carryover cooking will do it's job
Once they are room temp- a couple things... 
Either keep heads whole for presentation, or pop the cloves out for service. 
It's easier popping out after chilling. If you are making popped cloves ahead, chill overnight then pop them out and into the freezer till a few hours thaw time before service.

Made tahini today too- I didn't have it on the shelf, but I did have sesame seed and olive oil, which is pretty much what tahini is.
1 cup sesame seeds
1/8-1/4 cup olive oil.

Since I had the oven at 300 for roasted veggies, I toasted the sesame seed at the same time. Took about 15 minutes with shaking the pan every 3-5 minutes. Most recipes call for a 350-400 degree oven, but I was happier to slow toast my seeds- more control over toasted to overtoasted state.
Let the seeds cool.
Pulse the cooled seeds in your processor before adding oil.
Start out with adding 1/8 cup oil and process. Since I use a mini processor, this is about a half dozen times of running for a minute, using a spatula to spread it to the bottom again, and repeat.
Add in the rest of your oil about a tablespoon at a time with several processings between till you reach a rather runny peanut butter consistency- you should not see any individual seeds at this time.
After you hit this point, process for another couple minutes just to ensure smoothness.
Keep in the fridge in a tightly covered container or jar- I used a recycled jelly jar.

Tomorrow and Thurs will be breadmaking and more spread and dip making. I'm going to make most of my doughs tomorrow and retard them overnight in the fridge.

On a gardening note.. It's late summer/early fall and I planted in fall crops recently- spinach, beets, radishes, and peas. And NOW we have to have a heat wave??? I shouldn't complain- I know I will bitch and groan over winter cold. It will break with rain tomorrow.

And as a heh while the veggies were roasting, I cleaned my headlights and windshield while waiting for cooking to be done.
I didn't have any plain white paste toothpaste in the house, but I did have some metal polish in the house. I scrubbed and rinsed the headlights first, then went on to 4 polishing coats of metal polish on the lights. They aren't perfect new, but a darn sight better than they were before with their totally clouded over state. Why plain white toothpaste? Because gel and whitening agents can cause extra problems on the plastic instead of helping.
ALWAYS do car cleaning in the shade.
I spent my time between drying/hazing coats and polishing pulling up weeds from the FOH garden. I can actually see my headlights now instead of a general fog.
I used recycled newspaper to clean the inside of the windshield.

Hump day :)
It was a bread prep today. I now have Parkerhouse roll, wheat roll, and fococcia doughs retarding in the fridge to bake up tomorrow. I'm a little leery about the fococcia since my recipe calls for hi gluten and bread flour, and I was only able to find bread flour and no vital gluten or hi gluten in the stores :( Baked up the pita bread today too- it's my first time trying that so I hope it's good, lol.

Parkerhouse rolls:
1 1/4 c whole milk
2 T sugar
2 1/4 t yeast
1 egg
20-21 1/4 oz AP flour
1 1/2 t salt
4 oz butter, room temp

Heat the milk and sugar together till lukewarm- do not go over 110, or let it cool if you do. Whisk in the egg and yeast and set aside.
Combine 4 cups of the flour and salt in mixing bowl and use the paddle on lowest speed to combine.
While mixer is running, add liquid in steady stream and mix till flour is moistened. Slowly begin to add softened butter. Increase speed to medium and beat dough for 2 minutes.
Change to dough hook and knead dough at medium speed till smooth but still sticky, about 6 minutes. Add flour in 1 T increments if needed.
Scrape onto floured bench and lightly knead for a minute.
do the 12 step proof process
make 1 1/2 oz rolls and brush with melted butter and bake at 375 for approximately 20 minutes or till golden.  

Wheat rolls
10 oz warm water- do not let it go over 110
3/4 oz yeast
8 oz bread flour
8 oz wheat flour
2 oz sugar
2 oz butter, soft
2 oz honey
1 egg
1/2 oz salt

Mix water, sugar, honey. Whisk in egg and yeast and set aside
Combine flours and salt in mixer with paddle and stir on slow to combine dry ingredients.
While mixer is running, add liquid in steady stream and mix till flour is moistened. Slowly begin to add softened butter. Increase speed to medium and beat dough for 2 minutes.
Change to dough hook and knead dough at medium speed till smooth but still sticky, about 6 minutes. Add flour in 1 T increments if needed.
Scrape onto floured bench and lightly knead for a minute.
do the 12 step proof process
Make 2 oz rolls, and use an egg wash. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, or till golden. 

2 t yeast
1/2 cup water- do not go over 110
2 t sugar
4 oz hi gluten flour
Stir all together, cover, and let sit till it has more than doubled in size

1 c warm water- do not go over 110
1/3 c olive oil
1 1/2 oz sugar
1 T salt
1/2 lb hi gluten flour
7 oz bread flour

Once sponge is ready, put it in your mixing bowl. Using the dough hook, add warm water and oil and stir on low speed to break up the sponge. Turn off mixer, add the sugar, salt, and hi gluten flour. Turn the mixer back onto medium and knead, adding enough bread flour in 1 T increments to develop a smooth and exastic dough.
do 12 step process
scale into 1 1/2 oz rolls and brush with herb oil. Bake at 400 till golden brown.
Note: People seemed to like the bread- but I think it was missing a bit of the chew factor it was supposed to have. So it's either find the gluten I need if I make it again, or find another recipe I like that does not require it.

Pita bread
3 1/4 cups AP flour
2 t salt
2 t yeast
2 T olive oil
1 1/2 c warm water- do not go over 110
Mix everything with the paddle on low speed till combined
Switch to the dough hook, and mix on medium for 10 minutes
Put dough into an oiled bowl, cover, and let double, this can take up to 3 hours
Crank up the heat to 475, and preheat your baking stone or baking sheets
pour out your dough onto the counter and roll into a ropeish shape. Cut into 10-16 pieces depending on how big you want your pitas to be.
On a floured surface, roll each piece into a ball, cover with a towel, and let proof for 20 minutes
Roll into quarter inch thick disks, using liberal amounts of flour, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes
Bake a few at a time to help cut down on how much time the oven door is open. Bake on one side for 4 minutes, flip, and bake for 2 minutes
As soon as you pull them out of the oven, press with a spatula to deflate, allow to cool to room temp, and immediately bag up.

Made the asian chicken mushroom spread..
1 chicken breast
8 oz cream cheese, room temp
1 can mushrooms, undrained
sesame oil, to sear breast
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 t garlic powder
1/4 t ginger
1 cup water
1/4 c mayo
1 small onion
1 T sesame seed- optional

Sear chicken breast in sesame oil, then add mushrooms, ginger, soy, garlic powder, and water. Cover and reduce heat to medium, and let burble away till only a couple tablespoons of liquid are left in the pan. You might want to crack the lid a bit during the last 10 minutes of cooking to help with reduction. Kill the heat, remove pan from burner and uncover. Let sit till cool enough to handle the meat and mushrooms, 10-15 minutes.
Stir together cream cheese and mayo.
Finely mince the onion. You will only be using 2-3 T of the minced onion depending on your taste preference. Stir it into the cheese.
Pull the chicken breast and finely mince it and stir it into the cheese.
Squeeze the mushrooms to get out as much liquid as possible. Finely mince and stir into the cheese.
Using your leftover cooking liquid, stir in about 1 T at a time- this is your seasoning and thinning agent. You want it to be a little too thin looking because the cheese will firm back up in the fridge.
Stir in sesame seeds if using.
Refrigerate overnight prior to eating.
Note- I found the mix a tiny touch hmmm... So add 1/2 t of sesame oil and 1/4t of ginger to the final cheese mix. 

It's Monday :) Didn't feel like putting in the last recipes on Thurs night after I got everything else done. It was a fantastic weekend full of great friends and wonderful food, tasty libations and heap o fire.

So, Thursday I baked up the doughs I had tossed into the fridge on Wed. Took me a couple of rolls to really get the groove of rolling rolls back, but I picked it right back up pretty quickly. When rolling rolls, you want your rolling surface to be clean, and no flour or oil on it. Have a small pile of flour nearby to dust your hands with. You want the dough to sort of cling to the counter, but slip under your hand. I also made english muffin loaves and the hummus....

English muffin loaf
1/2 oz yeast
1 T sugar
1/4 t baking soda
2 t salt
1 lb, 8 oz AP flour- you will start with 12 oz
1 pt milk, warm
4 oz water, warm
Softened butter and cornmeal for prepping the pans

Dust your pans first. You will need 2 loaf pans. Coat the entire inside with butter, then coat well with the cornmeal- this dough climbs and is really sticky, so don't skip this step!
Sift together your yeast, sugar, baking soda, salt and 12 oz of the flour
Heat your milk and water together till it's between 100 and 110 degrees- don't go over 110
With your mixer running on low, add the warm liquid in a steady stream to the dry, and allow to mix till well combined.
Put your mixer up to medium, and in 1 tablespoon at a time incorporation, add flour till you have a proper spoon dough consistency. It's way beyond liquid of batter, but way thinner than regular bread dough. The consistency goes from being globulous to sort of a stretching sheeting effect, a really shaggy dough tear.
Split your dough between the 2 pans- it will barely fill in the bottom, and move slow. Do not be tempted to spread the dough to distribute. It climbs high and fast.
Cover the pans with oil coated plastic wrap for proofing. You want your dough to proof till it just barely starts pressing the plastic wrap.
Bake off in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes- they will be dark golden brown.
Let the loaves sit in the pan to sort of let the top crust air harden a bit, about 5-10 minutes, before taking out of the pan. Then cool crust side down on cooling racks. This allows the cornmeal sides to cool and dry properly. Do not allow the bread to cool in the pan.

Hummus. I made a double batch, and it filled a big sour cream container.

2 cans of chick peas
4 T lemon juice
3 T tahini
4 plump cloves garlic
1 t salt
4 T olive oil

Drain and reserve the liquid from your chick peas, then rinse your chick peas.
Peel and crush the garlic.
Now, I only have a 1.5 cup mini food processor, so I processed this in 3 batches. Used a third of the peas each time, and added half of the rest of the ingredient list to each batch. Processed it till it was fine and smooth, adding a tablespoon or two to each batch of the reserved chick pea liquid to get to the right consistency. The last third I processed with 1 T of olive oil to help start it out, then added in 2-3 T of chick pea liquid to get the right consistency. I mixed the three batches together in a bowl till very well mixed.
Then into the fridge to chill till eating time.

I cooked up mushrooms at the site. They were pretty darn good but I think they would have been better if they had their initial burble on Friday night, and a second stewing through Sunday.
10 pounds mushrooms
2 quarts condensed turkey stock
1 32 oz jar chopped garlic
1 1/2 cups dried parsley
4 15 oz cans beef broth
1 T black pepper
3 quarts water

Clean your mushrooms. Cut off the end of the stem, then both cut stem and mushroom into the pot. The stems add mushroom flavor, you are just making a fresh cut on the mushroom to suck up flavor. 
I started out the burble using all the turkey stock, half the garlic, parsley, and broth, all the pepper and water. Once the mushrooms hit tender point, I tried one and it was bland. Added the other half of the garlic, parsley, and beef broth. Burbled a lot more, then for the last hour or so of cooking, removed the lid to reduce the liquid.
Can't really tell ya the flame levels and cooking times. It just burbled away for several hours over the campfire coals. My love tended the fire the whole time, and did an excellent job keeping them hovering between a burble and a simmer.

So... I may bring jelly next time for giving away, but all the jars went unopened during the weekend. The sweet there wasn't needed. The salsa was a big hit- I traded two jars for two bottles of wonderful homebrew. Meads, yummy! The hummus and Asian chicken mushroom spread went over well, as did the breads :)

Here's the link to the entry about making the salsa. How much salsa???

It was really a wonderful weekend. Got to see my brother which does not happen nearly often enough, especially with all of us kids together. Next time I go visit I get to raid their garden for all sorts of plant goodies. They have a lovely shade yard garden going on- the perfect host of plants for the FOH garden. Full of flowers and beautiful plants. I started snagging a couple seed heads at first, then we just made plans for me to come over and do a proper garden raid next time I'm in town.
And just hanging out with friends around the fire. Always such a good time.
Heh, found out I should add black currants to the grow list. I already want to establish gooseberries and tried once. Apparently black currants and gooseberries like the same sort of conditions.

Anywho, I should probably post this because its long enough as it is, ehehe.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Weekend already?

Happy Friday!

Geez, feels like I just got back from the weekend, and it's already the weekend! It was another noodling around the yard kind of day...

Cleaned up the orchard floor again. This time I used a rake. Kind of a PITA since it wasn't an orchard rake, but still way easier than picking up each fallen fruit individually. I seriously need to get moss growing under the trees, lol. Pruned out some of the broken branches from the apple trees, but I think I'm going to have to wait till late fall or early winter to really get in and cut out some of the stuff- there's just too many apples and leaves in the way for me to get much done. I'm thinking I'm going to have to prune back some of the maple branches that are seriously overhanging the orchard too. That will not be fun. But I was able to pick about 10 pounds of green apples- now I need to get back out tomorrow and pick another 10 pounds or maybe more of red and greens so I can can up a batch of apple pie filling.
Got some seeds into containers today, hopefully I will get some produce out of them before the end of the season. I planted more mixed spinach, green arrow peas, and alaska peas. Nice part is if it gets too late in the season and frosts are looming, I can drag the containers into the solarium to hopefully extend the harvest. Made sure I gave all the containers a good watering, but I know I will have to seriously keep up on it if I'm going to get anything out of them.
Got caught up on some much needed kitchen cleaning today too :)

And very sad... The relator came by this afternoon and took down the for sale sign off the neighbors property. Now I could hold the hope that it sold in one day, but I think we have to face it that we are still stuck with the shitty neighbors yet.

In very yay news... I put all the new additions into the seed file today, and Growbox Hill has hit over 250 kinds of seeds!!! That's halfway to my initial goal of 500 kinds of seeds in the cabinet.  For the 2014 season I will be using up quite a few kinds of seeds. I've gotten in a LOT of flower seeds that will be planted out, and I'm coming to the tail end of several kinds of seeds that hopefully next season will provide replacement seed.

Happy Saturday!

The yard kind of kicked my butt today, heheeh. Started out this morning doing some raking- had some grass clippings I wanted to get into mulching spots. So a big barrow load went up to the herb garden divot,  and another barrow load went to the veggie row compost heap. It's already got a lot of dead weeds and heaps of fallen fruit, so I figured a goodly pile of grass clippings and some of the early fallen leaves would be a good thing. Soon enough I will need to haul a load or two of horse poo down there.
Then it was on to a few hours of long overdue weeding in the bedroom garden and FOH garden. I went and pulled up weeds in the bedroom garden, and decided hey, I have multiple small pots of lemon balm, I should plant some in in the raised bed. Little did I realize the whole spot was matted in with a large mass of roots, I'm presuming from the maple tree. Took me forever just to basically clear out a third of the area, and by then I was ready to call it a day. Fighting with a maple tree is hard work! But I got the lemon balms set into their new spot, now I just have to remember to keep tending them so they don't die on me, lol.
After that I decided not to be a wussy and get at least a couple small barrows of weeds pulled out of the FOH garden. A total PITA task since half the area is totally overgrown with grass. But I put a reasonable dent into the area before I gave up and decided it needed a good watering in before I tried to pull up more- fighting with grass roots among maple roots in dry soil is a painful process. I dumped my load and tackled the other half of the FOH garden instead. A much easier task since I have been weeding it out since we moved in. And the weeds that grow there are just easier to pull out than grass is lol.
In general the area is still a sorry mess, but it does look considerably improved over what it looked like this morning. And now when our security lights come on at night I will be able to actually see what critter is using the path :)

Rather pleasing to they eye is goldenrod- we have masses of it in bloom in the sanctuary. It's a spectacular yellow display.  Goldenrod is great in the natural garden- it attracts a lot of insects, which in turn attract a lot of insect eating birds. So the air has been pretty noisy with all the birdcalls since the blooms started.

Monday Monday.. Where did Sunday go? Visiting and errands...

Finally got the large box of ditch lilies dropped off at my mum-in-laws place. I'm gonna take a day next week to get them all planted in in spots she pointed out to me. It was a real nice way to spend the early part of the day, just sitting around chewing the fat with her. We don't really do that much, so it was pretty cool. And she gave me some tomato cages, a set of very nice steel tiki torches, and a programmable water splitter she wasn't using. How rock on is that?
Then it was stopping at a ton of places on the way home to get things. A new pump for Glugg since the original unit died, brackets and screws so my love can get my first raised bed built, groceries, and a new hot shot since ours is pretty much cruded out. By the time I got home, the day was pretty much done.
Then I got the hell scared out of me late in the night. My love had gone to bed already, and I discovered a bat behind the couch. Yes, a frigging bat! I think it had already been badly abused by the cats but it was still twitching. So I had to wake my love up and get him to take care of it. Read up after and realized we should have boxed it up for testing, shit. So now we get to have a few weeks of paranoid rabies watching on all the cats since I have no idea how or when the thing got in the house. I will be crushed if any of the cats were harmed since rabies is 100% put down kind of thing. We couldn't find the damn thing this morning, so it's just wait and see :( . With the discovery of the bat came the discovery that why yes, there is apparently something that can turn me into a stand on the table shrieking little girl, lol- a bat behind my couch.

So today is a do stuff in the house kind of day.
Made up an antipasta bucket for my sister. It's a refrigerator pickle really. Mix and match 3 cups of veggies, 1 cup of add ins, some herbs and a super simple brine and let sit in the fridge for a month before digging in. Todays batch..
Blanch and shocked cauliflower, broccoli, baby carrots, mini sweet peppers, green beans, and cipollini onions.
Add ins were a sliced lemon, a head of garlic peeled, some pickled peperonchini peppers, and a can of drained artichoke hearts of the smallest size.
Herbs were several springs of tarragon and a couple of winter savory, and about a tablespoon of peppercorns.
Did a triple batch of brine since I had about triple batch of other stuff- 3 cups water, 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar, 3 tablespoons kosher salt, and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Bring to heat to dissolve salt, and let cool enough to go into your container.
Then it's just layer in your veggies, add ons, and herbs, and fill up with the brine. Once it's cooled to room temp, toss into the fridge and let sit for a month. The stuff stays good for several months too.
Took a couple of litter boxes outside the solarium and scattered used litter all the way around the edges and a goodly amount around where some wires come into the house- this is to help deter small critters that might think it's a good idea to try accessing the house this way. It's that time of year to worry about that sort of thing. And of course a serious baking soda treatment to the laundry room carpet while the boxes are out to suck up any lingering kitty odors.
And doing a full on cleanout of Gluggs tank. Ever since I put the live plants into the tank we developed a major algae problem. So it's bie-bie plants in the fish tank. A goodly scrubdown of the tank and plastic plants, and baking the gravel at 450 for an hour to kill off anything that might be living in the gravel. I did pick up a moss ball to replace the plants- those are supposed to be good for the tank too and more likely to discourage algae growth. If that don't work, I can always set up the globe tank in the library as a plant tank. I kind of want to set up the globe in there anyway. 

Anywho, it's Monday, and the weekend is past.. Up for the rest of the week is more errand chasing and some camping prep, and watching the cats closely. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Happy dance!

Ok, so got out into the yard today to start doing some catchup...

We have a couple broken branches on the apple trees that I need to get out with the ladder and snips to clean up. And there is a lot of fallen fruit I need to clean up too.
Got the whole yard mowed. It looks soooo much better now.
Picked a few pounds of green beans. As I had feared, a lot of them were seedy fat and not a lot of new blooms on the plants. So I picked off all the beans and keeping my fingers crossed for more blooms.
The Lemon Boy tomato in the container has pretty much run its course. Only the tomatoes were really orange, so I'm not sure if maybe they were mus-labeled at the store. So I plucked what toms were on the plant, and tomorrow that container is going to get an overhaul to spinach.
And yep, I did indeed lose the squash while I was gone, bummer. Also lost a lot of peas too. So those containers will get redone into more spinach and possibly more peas.
Got to get out back and pick some more of the wild sweet pea pods. I have plenty for spring now and some sharing of seed, so I may or may not get out there again to pick some more.
The chocolate mint is looking rather healthy, but the pineapple mint not so much. I did do a pretty lazy job with tossing it in so I'm not surprised. But both radish beds and the beet bed look wonderful!
The sprouting test is finally over, and I was able to package up banana peppers, alliums, wild onions, serrano peppers, and sweet orange peppers for later use :)

So over the weekend I picked some seeds. At faire I picked a couple heads of scarlet bee balm, white cone flower, and some pink and white spider flowers AKA cleome. On the way home when I hit the rest stop I picked a couple fat heads of hip high marigolds. Do I feel bad or like it's stealing to do this? Not really, these plants are just going to get pulled up and destroyed anyway, so I sort of feel like I'm saving them instead.

Got in my big bean package I sent off a SASBE for. And it was loaded to the hilt! Two fat packs each of golden wax bush, royal burgundy bush, and dwarf taylor bush beans. Which I was expecting those. And I got fat packs of little finger carrot, little gem lettuce, white icicle radish, and hailstone radish. I'm particularly excited about the hailstone since that's one from my wishlist. Also got blue wildflower mix, red corn, mixed gourds, dark green zucchini, Pennsylvania butter flavor popcorn, honey rock melon, turnip, luffa, spaghetti squash, cayenne pepper, and green arrow peas. I already had a couple of the seeds, but it was well worth the 6 forever stamps in total for sending out and getting back in!
I also got my garlic! Russian Giant, Up North, and Leningrad. I'm super excited to set up the garlic bed. It's going to be the first raised bed in the veggie row!

An extra happy dance moment.... While I was out mowing, I happened to look over at the horrid neighbors property... And a real estate sign had been put up this morning!!!! Super happy that we won't be having the wretches there anymore. So of course I called my mom and sister right off the bat- I would dearly love it if they could be my new neighbors. If we were in any sort of fiscal condition to help them get the place, I would do so in a heartbeat. It would mean the world to me to have my family next door. But we won't have those horrid people next door anymore, woot!

And on to wonderful neighbors... While I was gone, Chris dropped off a big bag of purple coneflower heads in the solarium, yay! And then she stopped by last night to ask if I was interested in black eye susan heads, and of course I said yes. There is also a new blonde horse in the riding ring out back, so perhaps I will be able to get to do some trail riding with her soon, yay!!

And again, my weekend was incredible and wonderful. The trip there was smooth, and got to hang out with family. The weekend was a perfect combo of being able to hang out with all my friends and be a social butterfly and being able to be helpful to a a couple booths. Got a nice pewter piece and a lovely wooden mug :) I also got complemented on my hats, including a complement from a gentleman who I've long admired his hat!
So a couple more random pics from the weekend...

Nope, not traditional garb by any stretch of the imagination. But totally awesome none the less. The little red riding hood and wolf I happened to catch at the end of the day, and the wolf was super sweet. Mr. Blood looked way cooler in person, all gory awesomeness.

I got a whole heap of really cool clothes over the weekend too. A friend of my sisters saved a huge suitcase of awesome Indian clothes from a dumpster by her work. She picked through and grabbed what she wanted, my sister grabbed the rest and picked what she wanted.. And I got a dozen or so super neat and comfy outfits! Most of them are not really anything I would wear in general public, but will for sure get a lot of wearing around the house, all lovely tunics and comfy pants. Some of them are nice enough that they will end up being more special occasion wear, like for holidays, and some of them will for sure be added into the everyday wardrobe.

I just can't get over how excited I am about the neighbors selling- and there has also been a couple cars pulling up into their drive. Geez, no if only I could win the lottery this weekend so I could for sure have my family living next door!

On an extra wonderful note... Bad Bear will be coming online soon! Over the weekend was a rather serious discussion on my setting up some FB and email action for Bad Bear. I am very much looking forward to being the EBM for Bad Bear, this has been very much needed for a while now. She does such beautiful clothing, I'm well pleased to handle her gallery.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Awesome weekend!

Yeah, it was a totally outstanding weekend!!!

I left Friday morning, always the hardest thing to do. Pretty nice drive, got to the hometown in rather decent time. Hung out with mom and my sister, rather nice to just sit around and chat. And got to eat gyros, and really good gyros. We don't really have that here, so it was quite the treat!

Faire was great of course. Got to see all sorts of beloved people, get sassy, dress up and look good, only one crapola person in the crowd. Over all, a fucking awesome weekend full of wonderful magic and awesome fun.

Not like I'm going to put up pics of folks I know... But here's a pick of a spectacular gentleman wandering around one of the days. He was at least 6 foot 8, super tall, and super garbed..

I got to eat all sorts of yummy food, and try out several delicious beverages... and yay, tons of icewater thanks to a connection at the pub. Got to see some folks I hadn't seen in years... Got to show off my rings to a couple folks, who where surprised and pleased that my love and I had gotten married. Got to help out at a shop, and break down at a shop.
Got to be all tired and needing sleep, sore feet, wishing for a midafternoon shower.. lol, everything great and small that makes up a closing weekend!
Everyone was wonderful, I feel like I got to double my family over the course of three days!

Of course I did some seed collecting while I was gone... a few flowers here and there at faire, and some hip high marigolds on the way home. 

So I got back home, finally :) . My fall planted squash kind of died, so did several of my peas. Total bummer :( But my spinach is sprouting up right fine, and so are the small plots of radishes and beets. The luffas are out of control! I will be doing picking tomorrow on the green beans and herbs to catch up on several days away. And the orchard will be getting some tending to as well.

And I got in my big packet of exchange seeds.. Got all of the beans, and a whole bunch of other seeds too, including some that was on my wish list, woot!!

Just wanted to jot down a few lines today after I got home.. More writing later on!