Welcome to Growbox Hill

Welcome to Growbox Hill
Welcome to Growbox HIll!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

First snow of the year

Sort of. We got a serious day of slushy snow a couple weeks back, but it only stuck around for the day- I count that more as the first frost date rather than snow, lol. The new Autumn Maple pic to the right was a couple days after- figured I better capture the moment while it was still good.

But today, November 11th, is for sure the first snow of the season. Started out cold and drizzly, but has progressed over the mid afternoon into a rather firm dusting and it's supposed to keep being like this for the next 24 hours...

So I sucked it up, and went outside in the drizzle to pull all the beets- at this point, they are tender enough that a good snow could screw them, and they ain't gonna produce any sort of big enough to eat root this season anyway. The radishes are doing fine.
Made a mess of greens and white beans for dinner :)
When I last used breadcrumbs, I realized I was almost out. Today I realized I had some bread that had been sitting and really needed to get used up because we actually have a surplus of bread at the moment. So I toasted up a new batch of breadcrumbs. 1 loaf of bread dried up and ground up refills the 15 oz breadcrumb can beautifully if packed.

Started the Christmas seed stocking the other day. I liked having a heap of seeds to open for Christmas last year. So this year I decided to do the same thing- save all my seed collecting from Nov 1st till it's time to pack them up for under the tree. Using a recycled dark green bag from limes, so that will be easy. Already have three trades in it, and I put in seed orders the other day. Seed Savers exchange has a heap of seed for 1.38 a packet! And a whole handful of the sale seed also happened to be on my wish list. Put in a small order to Pinetree, and an order to Artistic Gardens. I focused a lot on my winter curbit wish list- the swap is after the holidays, and I wanted to refill my stock to participate- and I am finally running low on varieties. 28 packs for 25 bucks total all told- that's .89 a pack for a lot of seed I've had on my wish list since the 2013 catalogs came in :) Squee!
I'm also currently in the beans swap- that should come in before the holiday. And tomatoes, though that might come in late enough to count to 2014.
Right now, I'm looking rather hopeful about what Growbox Hill's seeds totals for the years end will look like. We have gotten in a rather astonishing variety this year. We have also sent out quite a bit of newbie seed this year too- over 200 packets and counting :)

November 12 broke with snow... and more snow. We got around 3ish inches. Not too bad though, the sun came out in the early afternoon and already started melting it off the driving surfaces.

Kind of a hrmmmm day, lol.
Realized that I still had a nice package of ground sirloin that I got for cheaper than ground beef out of the manager special case. Well hell, that means either into the freezer NOW, or make it for dinner. I decided it was Salsbury Sirloin for dinner. Ok, so I took a couple salsbury steak and a couple of chopped steak recipes and made my own up.

Salsbury Sirloins- makes 8 steaks
2.75 pounds ground meat
2/3 c breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1 1/2 t dry mustard
1 T worstershire
1 T dried minced garlic
1/2 t white pepper
Mix all that up, and make into 8 croquettes. Toss into the fridge for an hour or so to let it set and dry. Sear them in a couple tablespoons oil, I used grapeseed. You just want to put a "char" on the outsides quickly, and cook them as little as possible. Only do a few at a time to help keep up searing heat, and pull off to a plate to rest as they get done to rest till the gravy is done.

In advance,  2 cup liquid measure filled loosely with uncrumbled dried mushrooms. Fill with hot water and let mushrooms reconstitute. You might want to do this before you even start mixing the meat. Once they are rehydrated, drain off the soaking liquid into a measuring cup to reserve liquid. Squeeze your mushrooms a bit to get most of the liquid out of them.
Take the resulting mushroom liquor and use water to make 2 cups. Add two packets of brown G Washingtons, a couple dashes Worcestershire, and set aside till gravy making time.

1 onion, thinly sliced
2 T butter
4 T flour
2 cups liquid

Don't drain any of the fat after you fry up your steaks. Since sirloin is so lean it yields little fat, and this counts into your gravy roux ratio.
Saute the onions in the butter till soft and starting to carmelize.
Stir in mushrooms
Stir in flour and coat well, allowing the flour to toast up a bit, you should see no white by the time you are done stirring, and keep stirring through this to prevent burning.
Stir in your stock slowly about a third at a time, keep on stirring to ensure smooth gravy.
Once your gravy is done, place the croquettes back into the gravy to heat through, making sure to coat all the pieces well- this can be done on the stovetop over low, covered.. Or in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes or so, covered. I opted for the oven since I use a huge pan and it frees up "topside" space to finish off dinner.
*If you like, you can add a couple sliced carrots at the time you are sauteing the onion. If you hate mushrooms, you can use beef stock instead, being sure to add the Worcestershire.

WTF is a croquette? Same thing as a burger, but in the shape of a log instead of round. A mini steak kind of shape with two flat sides to sear up quickly and set aside for it's final cooking in the gravy.

Felt the strange need to bake today too- guess the snow kind of brings it out, lol. Got to thinking about cookies. Now, we aren't big sweet eaters here, so a full batch of cookies is a bit much. Got to thinking of when I used to do mini-cookies for bistro. I would double batches and quarter them up, stashing the quarters in the freezer. Then I could do a shitton of a couple varieties.
Did I really want to go through that much trouble? Sure! Made a half batch each of peanut butter and nutella, split each of those in half (one for freezer one for today), and baked up two small batches of mini cookies, perfect to eat in a day or two. To make nutella cookies, I just used the PB recipe and used nutella instead. A quarter batch fills 2 cookie sheets with little cookies.
 This is one full recipe of cookies. I halved the original peanut butter recipe to make two half batches. Then I halved those batches- the ones in plastic for the freezer, the bowls for baking now. Considering how many turned out, I might decide to quarter the batches after mixing. So this pic would be two bowls and three packages for the freezer.
 This is one of two cookie sheets. Think only one sheet would be much better.
 Both the PB and Nutella cookies, baked up and ready to store. Now, this much is probably pretty good for a regularly cookie eating house. A bit much for us though I think. Right now the wrapped dough is chilling in the fridge before going into the freezer. I think I will quarter those up as to bake a half pan of each kind when baking.

So I go to start getting stuff together to make cookies- shit, I have no brown sugar. Well, I do have white sugar and molasses, and that's all brown sugar is. So I made brown sugar.
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 ounces molasses
I started out following a description for dark brown sugar of 8:2 oz, and was unhappy. Added another cup to approximate the 8:1.5 oz, nope. Another 4 ounces of sugar and I was satisfied with a good dark brown sugar. So, 10:1 ratio for dark brown sugar.

Got in the 2014 Pinetree Seed catalog today, yay!!!! Kind of makes me extra glad I finally put in my 2013 wishlist order :) Hmmm, could I possibly be a good enough kid not to peek at it till Christmas and put it into the seed stocking? Probably not, lol. But it would make a cool addition to it.

It's pretty nice out today on the 13th- lots of sun, which makes me feel a tiny bit better about the season, lol.

Decided to do something with the luffas. There's lots of info about let them dry, but not much info on what to do if they couldn't go dry on the vine- as in, I live where it snows. Since they already got the freeze so it's too late to pull them before freezing, I decided to experiment and see if I could salvage any of these things.
So, first two luffas I peeled, sliced, and laid out on heavy paper to start to dry.
Second two got their skins pierced quite a bit, and laid on heavy paper to start to dry
Luffa 5 got peeled, sliced, and put into the dehydrator at 115
Luffa 6 got sliced up unpeeled, put on heavy paper, and into the oven at 200
Still have 2 more that I haven't touched yet
And at least another dozen on the vine still since some advice said just leave them there to winter dry

We shall see if any of these methods work, or if none of them do. Just a couple hours later and I'm already more hopeful about the dehydrator and oven unsurprisingly enough. I really would like to get at least a little bit of luffa, though I realize none of the fruits are mature enough to produce viable seed. Good thing I still have more seed. Makes me wonder if there is a short season luffa, lol. I will likely not grow them again next year or two- I'd rather use the space for beans and other squash. Eventually there will be a chicken house on that slab, but I will likely keep doing some vertical growing on that side even after that.

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