Archive for March, 2016

Detail your car once a year!

Posted on March 29, 2016 by Leave a comment

This blog is for “do-it-yourselfers”. If you aren’t going to get yourself a little dirty, stop reading now!

This process will take the better part of a day to complete. So, pick a nice day, get out some headphones and listen to some good music while you make your car like new again. (or almost just like new)

Your car is many times the second biggest consumer of your pay check after paying rent or a mortgage. Making a car payment, insuring, paying for registration renewal, property tax, maintenance, gas and oil changes all add up. It pays to take care of your car to extend the life of the vehicle Keep it looking good, and preserve it’s resale value.

Not a bad looking truck for being 12 years old!

Not a bad looking truck for being 12 years old!

There are several cleaning tasks that should occur several times a year, such as rinsing and washing the “road film” off, vacuuming the inside, removing trash, cleaning your windows, etc. But, you can protect your vehicle for a whole year of weather damage by detailing your care once a year. The first step is to clean the vehicle.

Never use a detergent on your car paint!! My first advice is not to use soap, detergent, or have your car run through a car wash ever again, unless you live in the snow belt and need to do this during the winter months. Soap, detergent and the cleaning products used when running your car through a car wash, remove the polish that we are suggesting you apply. If the wax is not removed, it will last for a full year or longer. To renew the finish to a nice shine, wash the vehicle with only water. We run water and wash the vehicle surface with a clean rag, dislodging the road film while we wash and rinse. We do the same to the wheels.

When this is done, we dry the car with a clean rag, twisting it to remove excess water in between drying one area at a time. You can also use a chamois. If you happen to have a “wringer”, that works well to remove excess water from either a chamois or a wet rag. We recommend you purchase a package of cloth baby diapers which are very durable and can be used for years. You may have to buy a package of ten diapers. When you dry the water off the clean vehicle, you will also remove any dirt or road film that you missed when you rinsed the car.

Products to detail your car or truck

Products to detail your car or truck

Next, it is time to really clean the outside of the car by removing bugs, tar, grease, etc. that gradually accumulate during the year. Most of this type of accumulation will occur on the lower portion of the vehicle. We use a bug and tar cleaner to do this. There are quite a few brands to choose from we like Turtle Wax® brand. We use an old T shirt to do the wiping or we purchase similar work cloths at an auto parts store. We use a rolling stool or short bucket to sit on while we do this. You gradually move around the vehicle cleaning each little speck and blotch until everything is removed and the surface is ready to accept the polish.

We then polish the vehicle one section at a time and wipe it off one section at a time. We use Nu Finish® once a year polish. We have used many brands over the years and always come back to Nu Finish. It is inexpensive, sold all over the place, easy to apply, easy to wipe off, and leaves a beautiful shine that will last a year. It is important to do a section at a time and then wipe it off about 15 minutes later. Occasionally, if you wait longer the polish is a little more difficult to wipe off. If you don’t wait, it comes right off easily. It dries very quickly after it is applied. We like to use micro fiber cloths to wipe off the wax. When you are finished with them, you can wash and dry them, and use them another time. It is best to polish your vehicle in the shade. When polishing in the direct sun, it makes any polish harder to wipe off, because it dries very quickly and starts to harden. Be sure to clean and polish all the painted surfaces on your vehicle. There are additives in the polish that clean the paint similar to what a detergent would have done.

Surfaces need to be protected at least once a year!

Wax and polish the vehicle in the shade!

After polishing the vehicle, we use both ArmorAll® protectant wipes and a spray container. We use the wipes on the dash and all the plastic pieces around the seats, doors, accents, beverage holders, etc. on the inside of the vehicle. We also use the wipes on outside plastic pieces. We use the spray bottle and a rag on larger surfaces like mud flaps and to blacken the tire walls. In some cases, we clean the tire walls before we use the ArmorAll on them. ArmorAll contains silicone which seals the plastic from air and water, and protects the plastic from the harmful effects of the sun.

Apply ArmorAll® to plastic pieces to protect them from the weather

Apply ArmorAll® to plastic pieces to protect them from the weather

If you ever have a vehicle that is seldom driven and you want to extend the life of the tires from dry-rot, remove them from the vehicle and spray a liberal coating of ArmorAll all over the tires. This also works well to preserve a spare tire.

Be sure to wash all your windows, inside and out, your outside mirrors and your rearview mirror. We like the aerosol type window cleaner and always try to keep a can in the car along with a roll of paper towels. We have observed a gradual accumulation of “haze” on our inside window surfaces and are always amazed how much clearer the windows are after having been cleaned.

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Soil Temperature – Soil Thermometer

Posted on March 28, 2016 by Leave a comment

Soil Thermometer

One of the first things I learned as an agronomist, was the importance of soil temperature. Almost every seed has a specific temperature range where it will germinate best. If the soil temperature is colder or warmer than that temperature range, the seed may not germinate at all. This applies to both desirable plant seed and weed seed.

A soil thermometer can be purchased most easily online. There are now a large variety of options to choose from, but the inexpensive simple “dial and probe” soil thermometer is still as good any any. They are durable and can be left in the soil for months. Just be sure to put it where it won’t get stepped on!

Two examples of weed seeds that are sensitive to soil temperature in a lawn and landscape environment are common crabgrass and poa annua. Crabgrass germinates when spring soil temperatures rise to 55 degrees or above in the top 1-2 inches of soil. Poa annua germinates in late summer when soil temperatures fall to 70 degrees or below in the top 1-2 inches of soil. This is very important if you are applying lawn a herbicide which needs to be applied prior to the germination of these 2 weeds. The soil temperature needs to be closely monitored to make the decision when to apply.

The same is true for vegetable or flower gardens. It is important to read your seed packet or seed catalog information to glean the soil temperature range for the germination of the seed you wish to plant. An example of this is the difference between tomato seed germination and eggplant germination. Tomatoes need 60-70 degrees, and Eggplants need 75 to 80 degrees.

Fertilizers are broken down in the soil by soil microorganisms. Soil microorganisms and fungus organisms are more active at higher temperatures as long as moisture is present. Certain microorganisms thrive in different temperature ranges; some at 40-50 degrees, some at 50-60 degrees, some at 70-80 degrees, etc. In order for the fertilizer to be broken down, the microorganisms need to be active to convert the nutrients into forms usable by the plants. Did you ever notice mushrooms suddenly appearing in the fall all at once. This is an indication that the temperature and moisture conditions were just right to make them grow.

The take home message is that for a small investment in a soil thermometer, you can increase your ability to manage your soil related actives where knowing the soil temperature will make a difference.

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Baked Ham

Posted on March 28, 2016 by Leave a comment

One of our favorite ways to eat ham is a home cooked, baked ham with cloves and pineapple. Several times a year, half and whole hams are placed on sale with a significant price discount. Easter is a common time for ham to go on sale. These hams can be cooked when purchased or frozen for use months later. The meat of a baked ham has a flavor similar to deli ham which is very expensive. However you can bake a ham yourself for about 75% less per pound. Baking and preserving a large ham is relatively simple and easy to do. These hams are already fully cooked, but are normally cooked a little more to add flavor.

Ready to remove pineapple slices & cloves - then slice

Ready to remove pineapple slices & cloves – then slice

When selecting a half ham you may notice two different types of ham shapes in the packaging. A whole ham is originally cut from the pig with the portion connected to he hip on one end (butt end) and the part connecting to the knee on the other end (shank end). When they cut a whole ham in half to be packaged, the shape of the half ham will look a little different depending on which half of the ham you are looking at. The bone inside the ham will look different. The ham cooks and tastes the same, however if you cook a lot of hams, you may develop a preference.

The simplest way to prepare a baked ham is to follow the simple directions on the package, by taking off the packaging, placing it in a baking pan, and putting it in the oven for the specified amount of time, at the specified temperature. Usually baking at 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes per pound. A fresh ham would need to be completely cooked for a much longer period of time.

Whole cloves

Whole cloves

Our recipe is for a ham baked with cloves and pineapple, which adds a clove spice flavor and a sweet pineapple juice flavor enhanced with honey. A clove is the dried flower bud of a tropical tree, grown in the Maluku Islands, India and Pakistan, with the botanical name Syzygium aromatic. We purchased Kroger® brand cloves which were of very high quality. These cloves were half the price of the branded clove products for the same or better quality.

Typical pre-cooked baking ham

Typical pre-cooked baking ham

Ingredients
1) One half or whole ham with package and plastic “bone” guard removed
2) Whole cloves
3) One can of pineapple slices, juice set aside (although you could also use pineapple chunks)
4) Honey
5) Toothpicks (we were out of toothpicks and substituted popsicle sticks broken in half and carved to a point)

Inserting whole cloves into the ham

Inserting whole cloves into the ham

Putting it all together
1) Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees
2) Place the ham in a baking pan flat side down
3) Insert the cloves an inch or two apart evenly spaced all over the surface of the ham
4) Attach the rings of pineapple with a toothpick evenly spaced over the ham
5) Combine pineapple juice with some honey as a glaze to baste on the ham as it cooks (optional)
6) Place the ham in the oven and bake per directions, 15-20 minutes per pound at 325 degrees
7) Baste 3-4 times with the pineapple/honey juice as the ham cooks
8) When done, remove the ham from the oven, take off the pineapple slices and remove the cloves
9) Wait about 10 minutes before slicing, (however it will be almost irresistible not to sample small bits of ham and pineapple)

Adding pineapple rings to the ham

Adding pineapple rings to the ham

We liked adding the pineapple/honey juice basting liquid. You could also do it with just the pineapple juice alone. It does create a sweet tasting accumulation of meat juices in the bottom of the baking pan. We used these meat juices to make a nice ham gravy to be served over mashed potatoes.

When the ham is out of the oven, let it cool down for about 10 minutes. While you are waiting you can remove the pineapple and cloves. If you are going to make gravy from the meat juices, now is the time to transfer the ham to a serving platter. Next drain the meat juices into a sauce pan for making the gravy. We served our dinner with ham, pineapple slices, mashed potatoes and ham gravy, with asparagus. It was delicious!!

Ham dinner!

Ham dinner!

Preparing to store leftover ham

We always have leftover ham and enjoy eating it in a variety of dishes, from simple sandwiches to omelets, scalloped and au gratin potatoes, pizza, split pea soup, etc. We prepare “chunk” ham, sliced ham and diced ham. The first step is to go through each piece separating the chunks along natural separation points. Next we trim away the fat and any other undesireable pieces. We save the bone for making split pea soup. You could also add the bone to mustard, turnip or collard green preparation.

Preparing leftover ham for storage

Preparing leftover ham for storage

Depending on how much ham is left and what cuts are available, we prepare the ham accordingly. When in doubt, we freeze the ham as a chunk, which can be thawed later. Using this method, we have a lot of options for using the ham in the future.

Sliced ham for sandwiches, diced ham for various recipes

Sliced ham for sandwiches, diced ham for various recipes

We package the ham according to our expected use. Since we use the ham a little at a time, our packages are small. We make sure that our packages are labeled with the date. It is important not leave the ham in the freezer for more than 1 or 2 months, according to foodsafety.gov.

Freeze the ham in labeled packages, in amounts you can easily use

Freeze the ham in labeled packages, in amounts you can easily use

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Gaspe Bread

Posted on March 28, 2016 by Leave a comment

In the early 1960s, I traveled with my family on a two week vacation trip from Buffalo NY, through New England, north through Maine into the Canadian Province of Quebec to the Gaspe Peninsula. We returned to Buffalo by crossing the St. Lawrence river further into Quebec, passing through Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto and back home. The Gaspe Peninsula, at that time, was a very rural area inhabited mainly by fishermen and small agricultural communities. The area was very economically depressed and families sold home made souvenirs, bake goods, hazel nuts, and wooden sailboats along the roadside to make extra money. French is the native language in the Province of Quebec. This was before interstates and fast food restaurants. We were camping in a small tent trailer pulled by the family station wagon. There is a famous and beautiful rock formation just off shore near the town of Perce which is a tourist destination. It was a wonderful, once in a lifetime trip!

Typical family Gaspe bread oven along the road, circa 1961

Typical family Gaspe bread oven along the road, circa 1961

We traveled a two lane road that followed the shore of the North Atlantic Ocean. Families along the roadside and the occasional souvenir stand, sold fresh baked bread, baked outside, in an outside “pizza” oven. It seemed like almost every house had an outdoor wood fired oven. Near the oven, you would see fresh baked bread and possibly loaves of dough rising in the warm sun. The loaves of bread would be set out on a table for sale. As I recall, purchasing the loaves was self service, and after selecting your loaf to buy, you simply put your payment in a box or a coffee can. This bread had a wonderful smell and flavor, being crusty on the outside and moist on the inside. We would have purchased sliced ham, bologna, or extra sharp cheddar cheese to make simple sandwiches with this bread. It was delicious!!

Gaspe oven and bread for sale, circa 1961

Gaspe oven and bread for sale, circa 1961

Recently I went on a quest to find a recipe for this bread, but could only find one, photo copied from an old 1961 newspaper article. The article was not printable. I have copied this recipe and have reproduced it here. The article noted that there were numerous recipes used by many Gaspe bread makers and this is just one example. After baking the bread, it has the same smell, flavor and texture that I remember. The full recipe makes two loaves. I added a list of ingredients for one loaf. The only adjustment is to shorten the baking time for the single loaf to maybe 30-35 minutes.

My sister suggested using the left over “potato” water from the mashed potatoes. We tried that and it worked just fine. Just be sure to let the water cool enough so it will not kill the yeast.

Homemade Bread From The Gaspe
By Cecily Brownstone (Retyped from the original article by Mark Kitson 3/15/2016)
Lakeland Ledger, Thursday, October 5th, 1961

Fresh baked and ready to cut

Fresh baked and ready to cut

Gaspe Bread
2 Loaves
2 Cups very warm water (105-115 degrees)
3 packages of yeast
1 Cup lukewarm mashed potatoes
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
7 Cups (about) of sifted flour

1 Loaf
1 Cup very warm water
1 ½ packages of yeast
½ Cup lukewarm mashed potatoes
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon butter or margarine
3 ½ Cups of sifted flour

Luke warm mashed potatoes

Luke warm mashed potatoes

In a mixing bowl, stir water and yeast together until yeast is dissolved. Add lukewarm potatoes, sugar, salt, butter and 2 Cups of flour. Beat two minutes at medium speed on electric mixer or 300 vigorous strokes with a spoon. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Turn out on a lightly floured board and knead until elastic – about 10 minutes. (The dough will be slightly rough and dull looking). Place in a greased bowl turning once to grease all sides. Cover and let rise in a warm place (80-85 degrees), that is free from draft, until doubled in bulk – about 30 minutes.

Let the dough double in size

Let the dough double in size

Punch down dough, cover and let rise again until doubled – about 20 minutes. Punch dough down and divide in half. Shape each half into a ball. Press into two greased 8 inch layer cake pans and let rise again until doubled in bulk – about 20 minutes. Bake in a hot (400 degrees) oven about 40 minutes (30-35 minutes for a single loaf). Remove from pans and let cool on wire racks away from a draft.

Crusty on the outside, moist on the inside

Crusty on the outside, moist on the inside

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Boysenberries – Bringing a planting back to life

Posted on March 26, 2016 by Leave a comment

Boysenberries are a bramble berry that originated as a cross between a European raspberry (Rubus idaeus) and a common blackberry (Rubus fructicosus) an American Dewberry (Rubus aboriginum) and a Loganberry Rubus X loganobaccus). Rudolph Boysen gets credit for the boysenberry, but the heritage of the berry may have also been influenced by John Lubben (lubbenberry), and Luther Burbank. The boysenberry was somewhat lost to history, but was found and brought back to prominence by Walter Knott of Knott’s Berry Farm fame and George M. Darrow of USDA plant breeding fame. The Knott’s made a business out of making boysenberry pies and preserves. The boysenberry has now lost most of it’s prominence again to bramble berries that are more economical to produce.

To us, the boysenberry has the appearance of both the raspberry and the blackberry. The color, flavor and drupelets are more similar to a raspberry, but the berry has a “core” like a blackberry. A raspberry core is hollow. We picked just a handful of berries last year.

In late March, we rented our community garden plot in southern California, we inherited a planting of boysenberries. The boysenberries had been planted a year or two previously, a simple trellis installed and then left unattended. The planting had lacked for water and fertility and was overrun by bermudagrass.

We inherited a poorly maintained Boysenberry planting

We inherited a poorly maintained Boysenberry planting

The first thing we did was to apply a 30 day supply of Miracle-Gro fertilizer, and a 90 day supply of Osmocote fertilizer to the base of the plants. Next we installed two drip irrigation lines about 10 inches apart at the base of the plants. Then we installed black landscape fabric for weed control and covered it with about 4 inches of “weed” mulch. The weed mulch was from weeds we gathered as we cleared the rest of the garden plot.

Smothering the bermudagrass with "weed" straw

Smothering the bermudagrass with “weed” straw

After a few weeks of regular watering and renewed soil fertility, the plants responded with the appearance of vigorous new cane growth.

The extra water and fertilizer is starting to pay off

The extra water and fertilizer is starting to pay off

As the new growth became very vigorous we started to train the long canes to achieve a desired height and trained other canes over the top of the trellis to keep them off the ground.

Training the trailing vines

Training the trailing vines

As we approached the end of August, we stopped fertilizing to inhibit new growth and let the plants “harden” a little going into winter. The amount of established canes will be sufficient for full berry production next spring for the cane training system we used.

Late August - ready to go into winter!

Late August – ready to go into winter!

Sometime in November or December we cut the base of the canes, which had overflowed on the ground at the base of the trellis. We cut the canes about a foot above the ground. By doing this, it will improve air flow and disease prevention. It is possible that we did not cut the bottom cane growth high enough and we will need to observe what happens when the fruit matures for positive or negative results.

Winter trimming and drip fertilizing system

Winter trimming and drip fertilizing system

In late December, January and February, we made an application of liquid Miracle-Gro fertilizer through the drip irrigation system to encourage rooting during this cool, moist period. Our whole garden is connected to this drip fertilization method. We like this method of fertilizer application, although we cannot use it all the time, because not all our garden plants need to be fertilized at the same time.

Spring green-up!

Spring green-up!

As soon as temperatures began to rise late in February and early March, the dormant plants began to grow again and started to form flower buds. The plants looked very vigorous.

Blossoms opening!

Blossoms opening!

The volume and health of the boysenberry plants indicate that we will have an ample crop of berries.

Honeybees pollinating the blossoms!

Honeybees pollinating the blossoms!

We are fortunate to have a good population of honeybees in the area to help pollinate our blooms. We do not know where they come from in our urban setting, but we are glad they are visiting our garden.

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Making Homemade Lemonade

Posted on March 23, 2016 by Leave a comment

Our recipe makes one quart of lemonade.

Lemon trees in southern California are pretty common. Many people have them in their yards and sometimes they are located in public areas and are available for picking. If someone has a lemon tree on their property, there may be hundreds of lemons that all ripen over several months between late fall and early summer. One lemon tree can produce way more lemons than any family can handle and consequently they are given away to friends, neighbors and charitable organizations. In our case we picked a bunch of lemons from my son’s tree.

In order to make the lemonade, first we needed to have some type of juicer to extract the juice from the lemon. We went on Ebay and purchased a classic glass juicer for about $16.00, including shipping. It has a big reservoir for holding the juice and a great spout for pouring.

Making lemonade

Making lemonade

Ingredients
1) Two medium lemons
2) About 1/3 Cup of sugar
3) Water to fill the quart jar

Squeezing the lemons with a classic juicer

Squeezing the lemons with a classic juicer

Putting it all together
1) Cut the lemons in half and juice the lemons
2) Separate out any seeds that the lemon may have
3) Pour the lemon juice in a quart container
4) Add 1/3 cup of sugar to start. You can add more if you want the lemonade sweeter
5) Fill the rest of the jar with water and shake
6) Let the juice cool in the refrigerator or add ice to your glass of fresh lemonade

A quart mason jar and a glass of lemonade

A quart mason jar and a glass of lemonade

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Rutabagas – cooking two ways

Posted on March 23, 2016 by Leave a comment

There are at least two main ways to prepare rutabagas for recipes; roasting and boiling. When we harvest at the garden, we cut off the tops and roots and then wash the bulb. We add the tops and roots to our composting effort. In the kitchen, we use a peeler to remove the outside layer and get down to the “meat” of the bulb. Rutabagas can be roasted alone or with a combination of other root vegetables like, carrots, and parsnips. Boiled rutabagas can be served mashed with butter or included in soups and stews and boiled as the soup cooks.

Peeling the rutabagas

Peeling the rutabagas

Roasted Rutabagas

Ingredients
1) Peeled cubed rutabaga in 1/2 to 3/4 inch cubes
2) Extra virgin olive oil (or the oil of your choice)
3) Salt
4) Pepper

Cubed rutabaga for roasting

Cubed rutabaga for roasting

Putting it all together
1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees
2) Place cubes in a gallon size zip lock bag
3) Add enough oil to coat the cubes
4) Add salt and pepper to taste
5) Zip the bag, leaving space for air and shake to coat the cubes with oil, salt & pepper
6) Pour the cubes on a baking sheet
7) Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, checking for doneness before taking out of the oven

Roasted rutabaga mildly sweet and delicious

Roasted rutabaga mildly sweet and delicious

Boiled Rutabagas

Ingredients
1) Peeled cubed rutabaga in 3/4 to 1 inch cubes
2) Boiling water

Simmering rutabagas for mashing

Simmering rutabagas for mashing

Putting it all together
1) Either add the rutabaga cubes to boiling water or bring the water to boil with the rutabaga cubes in the water
2) Once the water is boiling, boil for about 30 minutes, checking for doneness, before removing from the heat
3) Drain the cubes
4) Mash the cubes like for Mashed Potatoes
5) Serve with butter on the warm mashed rutabagas
6) Add salt, pepper, and/or other seasonings to taste

Rutabagas two ways

Rutabagas two ways

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Growing Rutabagas

Posted on March 23, 2016 by Leave a comment

We have not planted rutabagas for many years, but we decided to give them a try this year. For some reason, this is a vegetable that we enjoy eating when we prepare it, but it does not seem to come to mind when we normally plant a garden or when we are shopping at the grocery store. We had great success this year planting, growing, cooking and eating our rutabagas.

Rows of seedlings becoming established

Rows of seedlings becoming established

We planted a lot of short 4 foot, drip irrigated, rows of many different varieties of vegetables. It is amazing how much can be produced in a four foot row. Nearly all these short rows were planted with seed. Once the seed germinated and started to grow, we thinned the plants to allow the recommended amount of space between plants. In the case of our rutabagas, we probably grew them a little too close, but we still harvested all the rutabagas we needed. We planted two rows of rutabagas. We tried to transplant some rutabaga seedlings, but the planted rows grew much better than the transplants.

Short rows of seedlings growing

Short rows of seedlings growing

We fertilized the rutabagas about every 30 days with Miracle-Gro® liquid fertilizer through the irrigation system. Rutabagas grow fast and need nutrients in order to grow at their full potential. Rutabagas grow similarly to purple top white globe turnips but it takes longer for the rutabaga bulb to develop. The flesh of the rutabaga bulb has a yellowish color and has a firmer texture and a mildly sweet flavor.

Rutabagas before thinning

Rutabagas before thinning

It is important to thin seedlings to the recommended spacing recommended on the seed packet. This spacing allows room for more efficient air flow which reduces the possibility of disease, nutrient uptake by the plant roots, and availability of sunlight. We purchased small packets of inexpensive seed for our short rows of vegetables. We found the rutabagas to have a high germination percentage, rapid germination, and a high survival rate among the seedlings. The rutabagas were very efficient at competing with many of the weeds that tried to germinate near the seedlings.

Rutabagas after thinning

Rutabagas after thinning

We harvested our rutabagas when the bulbs were about 3 inches in diameter, however these bulbs can grow much larger. Our bulbs were on the small size due to being planted too close together. The bulbs we harvested were healthy, cooked well and tasted great!! We would suggest dedicating a small area to grow some rutabagas and see if you can gain a taste for this under appreciated vegetable.

Medium size rutabagas

Medium size rutabagas

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Italian Meatballs

Posted on March 9, 2016 by Leave a comment

Italian meatballs are something every cook should know how to make. Spaghetti and meatballs, or meatball submarine sandwiches are something almost everyone enjoys. Once made, meatballs can be served fresh or frozen for future use. This recipe is one that we have used for years. On this occasion it seems like we were short on some ingredients, so we made some substitutions along the way which did not effect the outcome. This recipe can be cut in half if you only have a pound of beef or pork. We have never made this recipe with just pork, but we have made the recipe with only ground beef, many, many times. This is a relatively soft meatball that we simmer in spaghetti sauce after the meatballs are cooked, to add additional flavor to both the meatballs and the sauce.

Simmer until done!

Simmer until done!

Ingredients
1) 1 Pound ground beef
2) 1 Pound round pork (we used ground pork labeled 80/200
3) 2 Eggs
4) 1 Cup of bread crumbs or 8 slices of store bought white bread
5) 1 Cup of either water or milk
6) 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt
7) 2 teaspoons of crushed dried oregano
8) 2 Tablespoons of fresh parsley or dried parsley
9) 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of black pepper
10) 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese; fresh grated or prepared grated
11) Garlic lovers will want to add fresh garlic or garlic powder; a clove or two or 1/2-1 teaspoon of garlic powder
12) Extra virgin olive oil to cook the meatballs
13) Spagetti sauce enough to cover the cooked meatballs

Start with ground beef

Start with ground beef

Add ground pork

Add ground pork

Putting it all together

1) In a large bowl add ground beef broken into small pieces
2) Add ground pork broken into small pieces
3) Add the two eggs
4) Add the bread crumbs. If using bread slices, pour the milk or water over the bread as you add the slices to the bowl
5) Add water or milk
6) Add Salt, Oregano, Parsley, Pepper, Parmesan Cheese and garlic for the garlic lovers
7) Mix all the ingredients until uniform (we do this by hand, being sure to wash our hands when we are done handling the meat)
8) Warm a skillet on medium heat, with olive oil enough to thinly cover the bottom of your skillet
9) Form the meat into balls (the size is dependent on your preference) and start simmering and turning as they cook. (we make them about 1 1/4 to 1 1/5 inches in diameter)
10) To help the meatballs cook, we cover the simmering meatballs with a lid and continue to turn them for even cooking
11 When the meatballs are cooked, you can drain any extra fat or oil, if preferred
12) If freezing the meatballs, let the meatballs cool and prepare them for freezing
13) If cooking for a meal, we add enough spaghetti sauce to, at least, cover the meatballs, and let them simmer for about one half hour
14) The meatballs and sauce are ready to serve!!

Add bread crumbs, eggs & seasonings

Add bread crumbs, eggs & seasonings

Add parsley and parmesan

Add parsley and parmesan

Mix all the ingredients uniformly

Mix all the ingredients uniformly

Roll into meatballs and simmer on medium heat

Roll into meatballs and simmer on medium heat

Italian Sausage Meatballs

If you want to have a meatball that has more of an Italian Sausage flavor you can simply add whole fennel seeds and red pepper flakes. You can add these ingredients to your own taste adding more fennel seed for a stronger fennel flavor and more pepper flakes for a hotter meatball. A good starting point might be a level tablespoon of fennel seeds, and a level teaspoon of pepper flakes for the recipe above.

Add fennel seed and red pepper flakes to make an Italian Sausage meatball

Add fennel seed and red pepper flakes to make an Italian Sausage meatball

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Blueberry Sauce

Posted on March 8, 2016 by Leave a comment

We really like blueberry sauce on pancakes for breakfast. We also like blueberries in the pancakes, but some people in our family don’t like the berries in the pancakes, but like the sauce on top. A simple blueberry sauce can be made fresh, or prepared ahead of time and frozen in the freezer. It really only takes a few minutes and is really appreciated by our breakfast “customers”

Blueberries are available almost year around

Blueberries are available almost year around

Blueberries store quite well in the refrigerator, but sometimes we don’t use them all and want to make something before they go past their prime. This sauce can be made with fresh or frozen berries. For cooked blueberry recipes, sometimes frozen blueberries are the most economic source. Frozen blueberries can be home frozen or purchased at the grocery store. Blueberries vary in how sweet they are, so the amount of sugar added may vary.

Simmer the blueberries with a little water

Simmer the blueberries with a little water

Ingredients:
1) Blueberries (fresh or frozen)
2) A little water
3) Sugar to taste.
4) Thickener

Add sugar when the blueberries have split and the juice is released

Add sugar when the blueberries have split and the juice is released

Putting it all together:
1) Add the blueberries into a sauce pan with a little water. The water is to keep the berries from burning on the bottom of the sauce pan until they start to release their own juice. You just need enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Not much!!
2) Heat the berries on low heat until the berries split open and release their own juices, and begin to simmer.
3) Add the sugar until the sauce is sweet enough for your taste. Stir until it is dissolved and they start to simmer again.
4) Add thickener (we have used both Wondra® and corn starch). Add a little at a time until you get the thickness you want. Keep stirring the whole time you are adding the thickener.
5) Serve or prepare to freeze.

Once the sugar is dissolved add a thickener

Once the sugar is dissolved add a thickener

Between the producers in the USA, Latin America, and South America, this fruit is available almost year around. In the USA, blueberries are produced from Florida to Maine and California to Washington state. New blueberry varieties have been developed over the past 30 years, which can be grown in a variety of environments. Surprisingly, some varieties can take the heat of southern growing conditions very well. The state of Georgia is now becoming a major producer of blueberries.

Blueberry sauce ready to eat or freeze

Blueberry sauce ready to eat or freeze

Once purchased, and placed in the refrigerator, it is best not to wash blueberries until you are ready to use them. Blueberries can keep for several weeks and many times will start to dehydrate before they start to mold. Moldy berries should be discarded, but dehydrated berries can rehydrated when making this blueberry sauce. Most blueberry packaging has air holes to help keep the berries dry.

One of our favorite products is Wondra®

One of our favorite products is Wondra®

Wondra® is a very fine sifted flour used for making sauces and gravies. We like this product because it is easy to use and almost eliminates lumps forming in the gravy or sauce. We find the results superior to sifted flour or corn starch for amateur cooks.

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