Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe

Corned beef and cabbage is one of my absolute favorite one-pot meals (especially for St. Patrick's Day, I know its a little late, but make it anytime!). I learned to make it from my mother and she always made it in the oven in a dutch oven and I discovered the more gentle and indirect heat of the two ovens produced a more tender and richer result. A slow-cooker is also a good option, but I like meat cooked in cast iron.

 Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 3 hours


  • 1 2-lb. corned beef brisket; trimmed of visible fat (see my previous post on corning beef)
  • 1 bottle of beer (or 6 - 12 oz. water or beef broth), I suggest Smithwicks (pron. Smith-Icks) a red ale made by Guinness
  • 2 tsp. coriander seed
  • 1 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp. dill seed
  • 1 tsp. whole allspice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 carrots; peeled and cut into 1" lengths
  • 1 lg. onion, 4" diameter; cut into quarters
  • 2 turnips, 3" diameter; cut in quarters
  • 1-2 heads of cabbage; cut in quarters
  • 6 waxy potatoes (such as Red Bliss), 3" diameter; cut in quarters

    Monday, March 29, 2010

    Spam Hashbrown Bake Recipe

    Today I am simply linking you off to another page, this recipe is GOOD!


    A pretty picture

    Back in October, my family took a trip to southern Ohio, an area called Hocking Hills. We stopped off at this lake and spent some time watching the cranes and eventually a family of swans swam into view as well. It was quite beautiful. This picture was taken with my smartphone, so it could be better, but I still think its is wonderful. This has nothing to do with anything, I just wanted to post it and hey, its my blog.

    Sunday, March 28, 2010

    Edisto Island Mustard Fried Marsh Hens

    Before going into the recipe, I need to explain a couple of things first, I am reprinting this from one of my all time favorite cook books, and a winner of a Tabasco Community Cookbook Award in 1998.
    Recipe credit: Parker Tuten, via -'Pon Top Edisto-,
    Copyright 1997 by Trinity Episcopal Church, Edisto Island, SC
    The title comes from the local way of saying "up on top of Edisto Island" - Pon Top Edisto, such as "you should go to The Old Post Office Restaurant 'pon top Edisto causin' the food is so dam' good, however if its Friday night call ahead because Phillip the chef packs 'em in on weekends and seats are scarce." 
    If you have never been to Edisto Island, SC; well you are missin' out is all I got to say.
    The food, the climate, the huntin', the fishin', the beach, the river, the ocean, the marsh, the intra-coastal waterway...well, you get the picture, its a really nice place, and one of my favorite memories is whenever driving onto the island you pass a house along the road of no great note, except that the tree swing in the ancient live oak full of Spanish moss in the front yard is actually a full size mattress on a metal frame which the homeowner can frequently be seen taking naps in the coastal breeze. It is that kind of island and I escaped there many an afternoon in my youth and I miss it sorely. The Edisto River is the worlds longest black water river and I have canoed from its headwaters to the Atlantic and enjoyed every sun filled minute of it.
    Also, for those not in the know, a marsh hen is a Clapper Rail, a slow flying bird of no great reknown other than being tasty and in abundance. This bird, when startled, flies a foot above the marsh grass in a straight line, almost asking to be shot out of the sky, if a foot off the grass can truly be denoted 'sky'. It can be replaced in this recipe by a Cornish rock hen available from Tyson in most supermarket freezer sections, but then you lose the romance and much of the flavor.
    I grew up in the same county as the island, which are both just south of Charleston, SC, my place of birth and my mother's hometown and have a deep and abiding love for it, if you can't tell.
    One last note, for those not in "the know", South Carolinian's like to put a mustard/vinegar sauce on any meat and eat it with our fingers or on a bun. The local BBQ favorite is shredded pork, slathered in mustard BBQ sauce on a bun. The sauce is much more than actual mustard, so do not put mustard on a steak and pronounce you are eating SC BBQ. The three BBQ fairies will visit you in the night and make you mend your ways. 'Nuff said, Anyway, on with the show, here is the recipe, Enjoy!

    Step 1: Start with 1 box of #8 shot, .410 gauge, 1 small boy, 1 old man, 1 jon boat, 1 push pole and one October 7 foot tide. Wash thoroughly after return trip home. Soak birds overnight in salted water. Store in refrigerator.

    Step 2: Drain the birds the next day. Pat dry. Sprinkle liberally with garlic salt, seasoned salt and coarse ground black pepper.

    Step 3: Mix equal amounts of instant mashed potato flakes and self rising flour. Set aside.

    Step 4: Mix 2 parts prepared mustard and 1 part burgundy wine. Dip birds in wine-mustard mixture, shake in dry mixture.

    Step 5: Fry until golden brown.

    Yield: 2 birds per person

    A couple of field notes: Fry in a cast iron pan. Marsh hens aren't large, so using anything larger than a .410 gauge shotgun will result in a 'poof' of feathers and no meal. My personal preference for this recipe is to substitute burgundy wine vinegar for the actual wine, I like the richer flavor. The high tide is needed to traverse the marshland via boat, and the prescribed thorough washing is necessary if'n any part of your body so much as hints that it has touched the marsh pluff mud, which while putting out what locals all agree is a rich sea smell that makes you want to go stand on a dune and soak up the ocean breeze, once it is on you or your clothes all of your friends and family will agree you need a serious bath and they may attempt to burn your clothes while you are scrubbing. Advise them to avoid this temptation as they will likely get some of the pluff mud on them in the process of throwing away or burning your possessions and they will be treated the same by others and eventually you spiral into a situation where finally everyone runs naked from a burning home. I've seen it happen, it isn't pretty. Maybe the Cornish hens in the freezer section don't taste so bad after all.....

    Saturday, March 27, 2010

    Thought for the week

    The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.
    Benjamin Franklin

    Wise words from the man who was also capable of being a serious dick when it came to business rivals.

    Friday, March 26, 2010

    Water Garden for Produce

    A garden in a barrel or series of buckets can be an easy and fun way to start your exploration of the soil-less gardening world. It's hydroponics with a small 'h'.

    Next month I'll show you how to build an easy greenhouse to cover this and you can grow year around, inside!
    No more waiting until summer for fresh produce! Yum.

    Also handy in a grid down situation or if you have a place off grid on purpose, a small PV panel can power the pumps and you are basically growing energy free.

    Thursday, March 25, 2010

    China has fancy weapons too!

    So, Russia announces it is building a 5th gen stealth fighter, and the US has a successful test of a 747 mounted laser weapon, Iran launches a missile into space and even Brazil is upgrading its Eurocopters to gunships, so China decided they didn't want to be left out of the "announcing we have new toys department" so they dug around in the basement and found some guy making rifles and pistols. Rifles and pistols you say, ho hum. But wait, they work UNDER WATER! Wait.....what? underwater? Who the heck needs a gun that works under water? Are they being attacked by squid? Whats going on in the China Sea that the Peoples Liberation Army Navy (you heard me) has decided they need underwater rifles?
    Sucks when the best new military tech you can come up with is a clone of an asinine Russian technology from 40 years ago. Go China!

    **UPDATE** OK, seriously, I did not mean to taunt them, but they went and built an ICBM that can kill moving ships at sea.

    Wednesday, March 24, 2010

    New concept to me - Forest garden " garden in tune with nature"

    "Each layer of the forest has a different dynamic.  The trees get the sun and the shrubs have learned to live in partial sun and light shade. Vines can reach for the sun from a shady base, and ground covers generally are shade-loving. 
    When these elements are translated into an edible forest, we can plant to have food.  Mature and maturing trees can take advantage of the high canopy for fruit and nut trees such as pears, apples, chestnuts or pecan.  The shrubs which fill in the gaps of the trees can produce blueberries or hazelnuts.  Vines that can sneak up through this growth can produce grapes, hardy kiwi, or passionflower fruit. Ground covers such as comfrey or herbs add to the layering of this forest.
    As these plants indicate, the difference between the forest garden and a ‘regular’ food garden is that these plants are perennials.  With little disruption on the planting beds the soil food web thrives and the root systems of these plants benefit the other root systems in the area. Leaves left on the forest floor mimic nature and increase this ecosystem’s efficiency.   This self-maintaining co-existence is the ultimate is sustainability.

    A small urban lot, and old orchard, or a yard in the ‘burbs can be the backdrop for a forest garden.  The forest garden merges the cultivated and the wild.  Planning and studying plant requirements can make for a rewarding journey."

    Tuesday, March 23, 2010

    Corn your own beef recipe

    Growing up in a big Irish Catholic family, we ate a lot of casseroles, stews and soups and other hearty foods (usually with corn bread) and none is better than corned beef and cabbage. I may give you my mom's recipe for that someday, but for today I'll teach you how to corn beef so you don't accidentally assume the Irish are afflicted with a lack of tastebuds when you try store bought corned beef.
    You may think I'm crazy for suggesting you corn you own beef. Not that it's hard, but it does take a week of letting it sit in the fridge. Nevertheless, it really makes a lot of sense. The typical store-bought corned beef is awful and hasn't been done right. And home-corned beef is awesomely good. Far better than the stuff at the store. Some say you can save money and not notice much difference substituting flank steak for the brisket, but come on, life is too short to eat bad steak!

    Prep Time: 0 hour, 15 minutes


    • 1 1/2 lb. beef brisket
    • Brine:
    • 1 1/2 qt. water
    • 3/4 cup kosher salt
    • 5 Tbsp. sugar
    • 1 lg garlic clove; smashed
    • 2 Tbsp. pickling spice (you can buy pickling spice at the supermarket if you look in the canning section)
    • 1/2 tsp pink salt (sodium nitrate, optional)* but recommended, come on, life is short.


    1. Combine brine ingredients in a large sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring until salt and sugar dissolve.
    2. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Then refrigerate for 4 hours.
    3. Tie brisket into a roll, place in a bowl and cover with brine. Weight down with a plate to keep it submerged.
    4. Refrigerate for 5 days. (I'm not kidding!) Remove from brine and rinse.
    5. Prepare the corned beef as you would any corned beef - but be ready for a real treat.
    *Note: Sodium nitrate is not something most grocery stores have - I get it mail-order. It will keep the meat pink (otherwise the beef turns gray) but it isn't essential in this case because the Kosher salt, sugar, spices and refrigeration provide enough preservative.
    Note: Be sure to slice the brisket across the grain.

    Monday, March 22, 2010

    Practical Prepping

    A new site, with a focus on practical everyday things you can do to create a culture of preparedness in your daily life...because, if you're not prepared...what are you?

    At first I thought he was holding up some deformed orange fish....I might want to get some new glasses.

    Lowcountry Boil Recipe

    This seafood dish is a combination of shrimp, sausage, corn, and potatoes. Great for relaxing trips to the beach, it is also easy to create for a crowd on your back deck. Lowcountry boil can be served on newspaper for easy clean up. Crab, onion, and butter are frequent additions to the pot, and having a removable drain basket only makes cooking easier. The rule of thumb here is the bigger the crowd, the bigger the pot. I've seen clams, lobster and scallops added as well, go nuts, any seafood is acceptable.
    Lowcountry Boil
    4 pounds small red potatoes
    5 quarts water
    1 (3-ounce) bag of crab boil seasoning
    4 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
    2 pounds kielbasa or hot smoked link sausage, cut into 1½-inch pieces
    6 ears of corn, halved
    4 pounds large fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined optional
    Cocktail sauce
    Add potatoes to large pot, then add 5 quarts water and seasonings. Cover pot and heat to a rolling boil; cook 5 minutes. Add sausage and corn, and return to a boil. Cook 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
    Add shrimp to stockpot; cook 3 to 4 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Drain. Serve with cocktail sauce. Serves 12.

    Sunday, March 21, 2010

    Shrimp and Grits Recipe

    I was born in Charleston, SC (on the peninsula for those that know what I'm talking about) and my mothers parents lived on Sullivan's Island. I have so many good memories of that whole area that is called the Lowcountry (capital L) but one over-riding all others is the smell and taste of creamy shrimp and grits (I didn't move to the midwest until after college). The shrimp need to be still kicking, bought out of a cooler on the side of the road from a local old man and the grits should NEVER be instant or quick. Might as well just go eat at McDonald's if you aren't going to do the recipe justice. OK, you can use store bought shrimp, but for Pete's sake, buy the stone-ground grits.


    • 1 1/2 lbs medium shrimp, peeled, halved lengthwise, and de-veined if you wish
    • 1 Juice of 1 lemon
    • 1 Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce
    • 1 1/2 tsp salt or more to taste
    • 1 1/2 cups stone-ground grits, not instant or quick-cooking
    • 6 thick slices bacon, chopped
    • 1 small green onion, finely chopped (save some for garnish)
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 2 tbs unbleached all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup chicken stock
    • 2 tbs unsalted butter
    • 1 cup grated medium to sharp Cheddar cheese
    Combine the shrimp with the lemon juice and a couple of generous splashes of hot pepper sauce. Let sit while you begin the grits and gravy.  Make the grits in a large heavy saucepan, first bringing 6 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of the salt to a boil. Whisk in the grits a few handfuls at a time. (They will bubble up initially.) When you have added all the grits, reduce the heat to a very low simmer and cook over low heat for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally at first and more frequently toward the end. While the grits simmer, get the gravy under way. Fry the bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat until brown but still limp. Stir in the onion and garlic and continue cooking until the onion are limp, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture, and continue sauteing for 5 minutes longer. Stir in the stock and remaining salt and cook for 5 minutes longer. Remove from the heat while you finish the grits. When the grits are thick and creamy, stir in as much of the butter as you wish, followed by the cheese. Add a splash of hot pepper sauce and additional salt if you like. Cover the grits while you finish the gravy. Return the gravy to medium heat and stir in the shrimp. Cook until the shrimp are opaque throughout, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately, mounding the grits in large shallow bowls or on plates and covering them with shrimp and gravy. Garnish with chopped green onion and a little of the grated cheese. SERVES 4.

    Saturday, March 20, 2010

    Really great website and magazine

    If you have ever read old copies of Mother Earth News from the 70's, then Backwoods Home Magazine will seem very familiar. Lots of useful info for the home, insight into today's politics and being self reliant.
    Give 'em a look-see, the archives are great too.

    Friday, March 19, 2010

    Thought for the week

    Everything can be made better with a dash of Mr. McIlhenny's finest Tabasco sauce. Its even useful for a last dash home defense.
    If you have never been to Avery Island, LA it is worth a trip in and of itself.

    Tabasco, its whats with dinner!

    Thursday, March 18, 2010

    Chicken Quesadilla Soup

    The cold weather is still with us, so feel free to make some hardy warm soup to get you through the day!

    Chicken Quesadilla Soup
    20 Tortilla Chips, yellow corn is best
    4 small corn tortillas, sliced into 1/2" strips
    3 strips Roasted Pablano, skinned & julienned (1/8”)
    1/4 bunch cilantro, well washed (leaves only)
    2-3 garlic cloves
    1/2 small onion, chopped
    1 small can of green chilies
    2 tbsp. cornstarch dissolved in a small amount of water
    6 cups chicken stock/broth
    1 (14.5 ounce) can tomatoes
    1 tsp. ground cumin
    1 tsp. salt

    Pinch of Salt and Pepper
    Pico De Gallo
    Avocado Salsa
    Sour Cream
    Butter and Corn Oil as needed
    1 Chicken Breast for each person
    2.5 oz. Pepperjack, shredded
    2.5 oz. Cheddar, shredded

    Sprinkle salt and pepper on chicken breasts, coat in corn oil. Lightly brown chicken breasts on a grill or cast iron pan on high heat. Reduce heat to med/low.  Add more corn oil to avoid charring anywhere. Flipping as needed. Grill chicken until done, cut ½ and julienne (10 pieces).  Puree cilantro, garlic, onion, chilies, and tomatoes in a blender or food processor. Heat stock and add pureed mixture into cumin and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 1 hour. Stir dissolved cornstarch into stock.
    Fry tortilla slices in oil until crisp; drain well. Add chicken to stock, heat until chicken is re-warmed. Drop sliced corn tortilla strips into soup and serve. Garnish on top of the soup with shredded cheese, tortilla chips, avocado, pico, sour cream, salsa, or whatever else you prefer.

    Options: You can throw corn kernels into the soup. Turkey is very popular in southern Mexico vs chicken, give that a try, and anything can be made better with a few dashes of McIlhenny's finest.
    I LOVE the chipotle!!

    Wednesday, March 17, 2010

    Need some help with garden ideas?

    These folks at the National Gardening Association have a plethora of ideas and suggestions whether you are growing in an apartment window or have as much land as Louis the 14th, they can put you on the right path (I wasn't intending a pun, so does that make it a pun even if it was un-intended?).

            For the love of Pete get outside and get your hands dirty, 
               grow some of your food, stop waiting for tomorrow!

    Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    Too big to fail? try too big to stew....

    If your rabbit is almost as big as you are, don't cook 'em. Rabbits that big won't taste good and.....
    You'd be better off arming him and having him protect the homestead ala Monty Python.
    Or train him to protect your sheep that you should already be raising right?

                                                 Rabbits, if you can't eat 'em, employ 'em!

    Monday, March 15, 2010

    We have more more guns at least

    No matter what happens in the future, at least we can be assured of our liberty from enemies foreign and domestic. A quote that has been attributed to many, still rings true:

    You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.

    OK, probably not these airsoft dillweeds, but somebody with real guns would put up a fight.

    The 10 Most Common Gardening Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

    Learn How to Avoid the 10 Most Common Gardening Mistakes

    "Growing a garden is one of the most enjoyable pastimes for many renters and homeowners. Every gardener will tell you that over the years many plants have died at their hands while they were looking for the right ones for their garden."

    Sunday, March 14, 2010

    Mashed Potatoes from Heaven*

    I eat these whenever I get a chance, which isn't often enough, but they're GREAT! (insert voice of Tony the Tiger here).

    * Possibly, this is unconfirmed. I will get back to you after I die and talk recipes with St. Peter. Will probably be a while. I hope. ;)

    Chipotle Cheddar Mashed Potatoes
    6 lbs. potatoes, peeled
    2 cups milk
    3/4 lb. butter, softened.
    1 Tbsp Salt and Pepper
    1 cup Yellow Cheddar
    1 Tbsp Chipolte pepper

    1. Boil spuds until fork tender.
    2. Drain spuds, mix in standing mixer, slowly adding butter, milk, salt and pepper,
    chipolte, and Cheddar until there are no lumps.
    3. Hold warm for service.
    Yield: 3 QUARTS

    Friday, March 12, 2010

    Thursday, March 11, 2010

    My seeds are germinating!

    So far I have some beans, broccoli, peas and peppers poking little green shoots out! Ahh, I can almost taste them now. Now here's the problem: you're supposed to turn off the heating mat in the germinator when the shoots come up so you don't cook them, but when you have 50 seeds in the germinator, and only 7 have started to come up, do you still turn off the heater?
    Decisions, decisions.....

    A toy store for country boys (and girls)

    Just enlarge the image and read the fine print on the sign, how do you not spend an hour wandering the aisles?

    Top 10 Vegetable Garden Success Tips

    Pretty good advice if you are on the fence trying to decide whether to dip into the wonderful world of gardening.

    Wednesday, March 10, 2010

    Getting old isn't for sissies

    So I've got to take 2 pills a day (blood pressure and cholesterol), I wear bifocals and I eat oatmeal every morning plus my orange juice has sardines in it (for the Omega 3). I usually get bummed staring at this tableau every morning. Fortunately I let myself eat whatever I want the rest of the day.  ;)

    Tuesday, March 9, 2010

    Frightening thoughts about the Fall of the Modern Rome (that would be us)

    Niall Ferguson posted this with the LA Times a week ago, but I just spotted it. Hopefully the collapse doesn't come before I have a chance to copy all my kids HI8 videotapes to DVD. That would be hard to do in a grid-down situation. Yes, I know, in a GDS I won't have electricity for the DVD player either, but Nay I say, with a few stashed solar cells, some AGM batteries and a couple of inverters, I intend to ride out any collapse watching movies and playing Wii with the kids. Even in a transition to 1800's farm life you've got to have some fun time right?  ;)

    We need to actually invest in trains in this country!

    This NY Times article outlines some problems with the current money being spent on rail in this country and the lack of it being spent on high speed regional lines. With the idea that "Its the Economy Stupid" we should be looking at the fact that:

    A. Rail lines use less energy per ton of cargo moved, be it freight or people, an important idea in a country pretending to want to become energy independent from the Middle East and Venezuela.

    B. WAY too much regulation is currently thrown onto the rail industry in this country, hampering entrepreneurship by those who want to run new track so high speed lines (like Amtrak's Acela in Boston) aren't sharing track with slow moving freight lines. This regulation also hampers re-investment by the companies currently running freight; as who wants to spend money to fix something up that you have no control over?
    Also, there are way too many officials; local, state and federal, who are earning their pay by being on Railroad Commissions and oversight agencies and the such and they will lobby to keep their easy jobs by preventing the lifting of these regulations.

    C. When gasoline and diesel prices skyrocket over the next century, their will be no more 44 cents a gallon road tax gathered at the pump pouring billions of dollars into Federal and State DOT road maintenance activities. Non-toll roads will fall apart and the wonderful system of 75 MPH highways we enjoy now will crumble into a system that will break your axle at 50 MPH. The major ingredient in asphalt by the way is oil. Rail road tracks are made form steel which we CAN make here in America. The only way to provide much of the non-coastal areas of the country with goods and freight in the coming decades when oil and natural gas become too valuable to burn (any idea what they make crop fertilizers and plastic from folks?) will be via rail.

    D. Rail is currently cost-effective in comparison to highway trucking, but can be made tremendously more so. Especially if we invest in electrified rail systems as seen in Europe and Asia. Whether it be overhead lines or an energized third rail, electricity is the answer to even greater gains in productivity and energy independence in our transportation sector. Most train engines are already electric in this country, they just run massive diesel engines to power on-board generators that power those motors with electricity. Remove the diesel engines and supply the electric from a grid (of nuclear power plants, more on that later) and you see even greater efficiencies in cost per ton per mile.

    Investing now allows us the time to re-vamp our rail system to allow for separate freight and passenger rail lines, electrification of those rail lines to help our energy independence and will employ thousands of people laying track and building equipment and new trains needed to run the railroads right when the country needs employment opportunities. Throw in a massive push for construction of new nuclear power plants (I propose one per state be built over the next ten years, and even that isn't enough to make us energy independent) and investment in a refurbished power grid that can support America's needs and you have the makings of an economic recovery. Listen up, President Obama, trains are our future.

    Monday, March 8, 2010

    Where is your rifle?

    I don't care if its photo-shopped or faked, it still begs the question, how useful is a tool you can't get to?

    If its Monday I must be taking a test

    So, I'm headed to the local community college to try and place out of all things, English.
    Heres hoping I gots enuff edukashun to git er dun.


    I'm going to start taking night school classes a couple of times a week to get trained as an EMT. It will take about 6 months of classes plus a state certification exam to reach EMT-II status, which is when the state of Ohio deems you worthy to do anything interesting (run an IV, etc). Its a couple of steps beyond my Red Cross First Aid and Wilderness First Aid training and will be handy even if I never become a first responder.
    At $79 a credit hour, I'll be damned if I pay to sit in a class that teaches me the basics of English grammar. ;)
    EMT-III, or Paramedic, requires about two years worth of classes if you go full time, so that isn't in the cards.

    I'm an uncle for the 7th time! Congrats to my brother and sister-in-law!

    Liam Malachi was born this morning and is happy and healthy and all are resting well. I can't wait to hold him. I also should mention that I just got a chance to hold my newest niece, Addison Marie, last week since I had been fighting a cold since she was born a few weeks ago. God is good, and my family is blessed.

    Sunday, March 7, 2010

    Soil Temperature

    Yes, soil temperature!
    I can't wait to start planting seeds!!!
    This weekend I moved my cabbage and broccoli starts out into the garden, even with the snow on the ground. Put them under a window cold frame and they will be right as rain.

    Once things warm up and two weeks after the last frost (always a crapshoot in my mind since you never know until June if THAT one was the last frost; never plant all your seeds the first time) I will plant my beans, corn, melons, pumpkin, squash and watermelon.

    My onions, carrots, lettuce, peas, radish, spinach, swiss chard and parsnip will wait for the ground to warm up to above 72F. I have my soil thermometer raring to go.

    And once the sun is shining every day and when I think the garden is done and that all I need to do is weed and water, along comes late May and I will finally plant my tomatoes. Talk about whimps of the garden world.

    I will have to look up when to plant my peppers. They seem whimpy too, but oh so tasty.

    And this year again I will plant more asparagus. Want to talk about a slow growing crop; takes 3-4 years to the first harvest and even then its only enough for a single meal! By God, I will keep planting it and eventually it will come in strong. My In-Laws have it running as a weed in the backyard, Dad just mows around the plot to determine where he wants the boundaries to be. Of course, they planted theirs about 20 years ago.....

    Saturday, March 6, 2010

    Learning to Sew

    So, my 7yr old daughter and I finally pulled the sewing machine out of the basement we got as a Christmas gift who knows what year, and we both decided to sit down and learn how to use it. I can sew by hand fairly well and have some experience with repairing fish nets, replacing buttons, joining canvas and leather, the usual Boy Scout stuff, but I have never actually sewed anything on a machine (I was supposed to in that Home Ec class I took in high school but honestly I was only in there b/c of a girl and I let her do all the work; seems like a wasted opportunity now, but alas, I was young and stupid (as opposed to being older and stupid now)).
    The 7 yr old thinks that now that we know how the thread runs on the machine we can "get down to business" and make a pillowcase (our first project) right away. I tried explaining we'll have to A: practice a bit B: find a pattern and C: probably get Grandma's help and tutoring before we bite off a project even as seemingly simple as a pillowcase.
    Of course, being half German and half Irish, it means she's 100% stubborn and knows it all. She assures me she has seen "patterns" and they are easy, we practiced for a minute when we ran a sample piece of fabric through the machine to see if the thread tension was right and she wants to take her finished pillowcase to Grandma this weekend as a 'surprise'.
    If only life was as easy as it is in the eyes of a 7yr old child.

    Friday, March 5, 2010

    Zombie Defense

    A humorous article over at Outdoor Life, who btw also was until April 2009 the home to Patrick McManus' column, one of my favorite authors. I always flipped to the last page of an Outdoor Life first before reading the rest of the magazine. Pat, I hope you are enjoying your retirement, but your storytelling is missed.

    Yeah, that might do...maybe...in a pinch.

    Magical Meatloaf

    This is the recipe for one of my favorite dishes, I know what you are thinking...meatloaf, really? Yes, really!
    Serve with mashed potatoes (I will post my favorite recipe for that later) covered in fried onions and some veggies on the side, on a slab of buttered texas toast and by golly you will be full and satisfied at the end of your dining experience.

    Barbecue Sauce
    3 cups ketchup
    2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    1 1/2 tablespoons molasses
    3/4 cup brown sugar
    2 teaspoons salt
    1 pinch cayenne powder
    2 teaspoons cider vinegar
    3/4 cup water
    1/4 cup honey
    2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper

    Combine all ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes. Allow to cool and refrigerate until needed.

    2 pounds ground beef
    8 ounces ground veal
    1 1/4 pounds ground pork
    1 diced medium white onion
    4 cups sliced shiitake mushroom
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 eggs
    1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
    1 tablespoon chopped parsley
    1 teaspoon chopped thyme
    1 teaspoon chopped sage
    1 1/2 tablespoons garlic puree
    1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
    1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    1 1/2 tablespoons salt and pepper
    1/4 cup barbecue sauce (prepared above)

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Saute mushrooms in olive oil and set aside. Saute onions until caramelized and set aside. In large mixer, add beef, veal, pork, eggs, bread crumbs, herbs, garlic, and cream. Mix well. Add mushrooms and onions, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper. Put mixture into 6x9x4-inch loaf pan, pushing down firmly to pack meat into place. Cover with foil. Place loaf pan into a cooking pan at least 6-inches deep with 3 inches of water in the bottom. Cook in oven for 90 minutes. Remove foil and cover top of meatloaf with barbecue sauce. Cook for another 30 minutes.

    Heirloom Seeds and Hometown Seeds

    Heirloom Seeds and Hometown Seeds
    Great little mom and pop Non-Hybrid seed companies, I buy from them every year and love the quality. Plus, if you're a prepper tell them in the order notes that you want the whole ordered vacuum sealed and for about $5 more they will seal it with a silica gel insert and they say it will be good as new in 4-5 years if stored at 68F, even longer if kept in the back of a fridge (don't freeze seeds unless you have been explicitly told by vendor they have been dried enough for freezing). They both have pre-set packages of gardens and herbs, and you can custom order whatever you want. Heirloom Seeds has the deeper catalog I think, but they tend to get bogged down with orders and take their website offline for a month at a time, but they are great people, just order early. They have a great medicinal herb package. I also like their 'bee mix', it really draws the pollinators in near my garden (which can triple your productivity). Hometown seeds has a prepper package, plus lots of veggies and herbs and a large selection of flowers, both annuals and perennials. 
    Both sites have great info about when to plant for your region and they ship with tables for germinating indoors and when to plant outside.
    Buy two sets, one to grow this year and one to set aside, 'just in case'.

    Thursday, March 4, 2010

    Quote of the week

    There's not much that can't be fixed by white paint, a piece of pie, a bullet or an apology.
    - Swiped this from Home on the Range Blog; my apologies to Brigid  :)

    The Long Emergency

    Been reading the non-fiction The Long Emergency. Liked Kunstler's fiction "World Made by Hand" so I thought I would try this one.

    The first 2/3rd's are very well written and will guide you through the web that an oil based economy has weaved through history, leading to globalization. I actually learned a few new things in this section and the book is informative for technogeeks and laymen alike. The last couple of chapters lead down a slippery slope where we go from fact based illustrative writing to "opinions about what may be".
    The tone and caliber of writing change and honestly I am having to force myself to finish.UPDATE: I finished it tonight and have to say that the final section picks up form the slow start and I found myself getting back into the book. Glad I bought it from Amazon after all.....
    World Made By Hand dovetails nicely with One Second After by Forstchen, almost as if WMBH is a sequel set a few years later. If you're into Post-EMP novels, try the free online book, Lights Out if you can find it; the author Halffast is signing a book deal and pulling down his PDF's, but it is a good read.

    Send a message

    Don't wait until November to vote the bums out in our do nothing congress, call your rep and senators today and let them know you don't think they are doing enough to earn their salary. Follow this link to find your congressman,

    Go here to find your senators

    Send 'em an email, call their local office, let them know you aren't a satisfied customer.

    Rabbit Stew


    * 1 or 2 rabbits (3-4 months old are best)
    * Salt, pepper and paprika to taste
    * 1 c. sour cream
    * 1 c. cream of mushroom soup
    * 1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
    * 2 green onions - diced
    * 2 carrots - chopped (don't peel, just wash)
    * 6 medium potatoes - chopped (don't peel, just wash)
    * 2 parsnips - chopped (don't peel, just wash)

    Season cut up meat. Mix sour cream, soup and Worcestershire sauce. Add onions, carrots, potatoes and parsnips. Cook in crock pot on low for 8-9 hours. Always better the second day.

    Gardening 2010

    So it has begun; I have been buying seeds and planning beds since probably late December, but today I actually planted some strawberry shoots and put them under the indoor growlight setup. There is still plenty of snow on the ground outside, but my fingernails now have dirt under them and all is right with the world!

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010

    Verizon Wireless Fail

    My Nokia 7205 is such a pain to get the pictures off of it, b/c Verizon has disabled all of Nokia's software on it.
    Why? Why? Why?
    I don't want to pay extreme fees to use your online services; I have a USB cable, a phone and a computer, I should be able to download the pictures from the phone to my computer. Is that asking too much?
    So now I have to dig around and find my micro-SD card adapter, so I can pull the card from the phone and transfer the pics using my SD card reader.