Monday, May 2, 2011


May 2, 2011

All three of us have been working hard on the garden when it isn’t raining this last few weeks. It’s still not all planted, and in fact probably never will be completely planted—at least according to Sean.

Every day that we can work in the garden we do. Each of those days we take rest breaks and admire what all we’ve already accomplished in the building of our “ideal” garden. In our mind’s eye we see it lush and green and productive. Each day takes us closer to that vision. We also, every day, see one or more places we could plant, either in the ground or in flower pots and planters.

Our discussions as we work tend to be toward where we could put this trellis or that and what could go on them. After all we have unlimited air space, and if we stay in the garden cage we have limited ground space. So up is good.

Needless to say, we’ve also been looking at bird safe areas outside the garden cage as well. How does yard long cucumbers and green beans hanging from a balcony the birds don’t go sound? Picking might be interesting, but we are considering it.

I’ve been cruising the web again, a very informative thing to do. For inspiration on what all can be grown in a limited space I visit websites such as:

If you want to get inspired about what YOU can do even if you live in the heart of the city this is the website to visit. This family raises an average of 6,000 pounds of food a year on 1/5 an acre on their city lot in Pasadena, CA.

I’ve followed their progress over the years, yet I still go there to “steal” ideas for watering, trellising and much more. Their videos on utube, along with other homesteading videos are informative as well.

Speaking of those other videos another good website is:

While both of these websites are basically for urban dwellers and I have 90 acres I like the space saving ideas of both. Working a smaller area works well for us.

I’ve also, since I last wrote, ordered seeds from Baker’s Creek Heirloom Seeds

So far I’m very pleased with the order, it arrived within 3 days, the seeds are whole seeds, not broken ones as I have sometimes got in the past from other companies, and each packet has contained more than the minimum guaranteed number in it. Their shipping was very reasonable as well. They have a great variety of heirloom seeds from all over the world.

I can’t say enough about their paper catalog. Big beautiful worth framing photos of many of the plants. Another big plus with me, customer reviews of the different seeds and what they produce, I particularly like that they are in the same planting zone as I am, so their test farm will show basically the same results I could get.

We’ve just started planting those seeds, so I’ll let you know how the germination rate goes.

A dear friend has given me an abundance of produce she has obtained through her work. As a result my dehydrator, freezer and pressure canner have been getting a good work out. This makes me happy about the cooler weather we’ve been having, because I’ve been really heating the place up with all the work in the kitchen.

So far I’ve put up large amounts of bananas, yellow summer squash, jalapeno peppers, bell peppers, and many other things. It is reassuring to see my pantry slowly filling up again. We have been truly blessed.

Another thing I’ve been doing is making up a lot of bread and cookie doughs for the freezer. This I have reported on the various yahoogroups I am on and many have asked for the hamburger/hot dog buns recipe. So here it is:

I make the Master Mix—as posted previously in this blog :

Hot Roll Mix

5# or 20 C all purpose flour OR 9 C whole wheat/rye/other specialty grains + 8 C all purpose flour

1 1/4 c sugar ( you can substitute some honey if desired on baking day)OR 1 c packed brown sugar

4 tsp salt

1 cup powdered milk (or approx 1/2 c dry non milk substitute-rice, soy potato etc)

Mix all ingredients well together well, I use a wire whisk. Store in an airtight container, label and date. Best if used in 6-8 months. Makes 20-22 c mix.

Then I use it to make the hamburger/hot dog buns:


2 TBL (or 2 ¼ oz pkgs) dry active yeast

1 ½ c warm water

2 eggs, beaten

¼ oil

5-6 cups of the mix above

2 TBL melted butter

Dissolve the yeast in the water. Add oil and eggs, mix well. Add mix until you have a soft, pliable dough that is not sticky. Kneading well this should take 5-10 minutes. Grease a bowl, turn the dough over in the bowl to coat the side with the oil/butter you greased the bowl with. Cover with a damp cloth. Let rise until double in size approx. 1 hr maybe longer depending upon your current weather.

Punch down and let rest 10 minutes. In the meantime grease your baking sheets—2 of them. Now you shape your buns. You can either roll the dough out ½ inch thick with a rolling pin and use a 5 inch diameter can to cut perfect circles. Or like I do. Roll the dough into a ball and then flatten it to be ½ inch thick and 5 inches in diameter with your hand. OR if I’m making hot dog buns I roll it into a tube and flatten it.

Once all the buns are shaped you can either leave them to rise 10-15 minutes before baking or freeze them at this point. I generally take out enough for that night’s supper and set those to rise. The remaining ones are placed on the baking sheet and then immediately in the freezer.

Once they have frozen hard (generally overnight) I remove them from the baking sheet and put enough for a meal for the three of us in a vacuum seal bag, seal, label and date. Then when I need them I thaw them on a baking sheet until they are double in size. Then continue to bake as in the basic recipe.

To bake:

Preheat oven to 425 F. Bake for 10 minutes until golden brown. Remove from baking sheet to cooling rack. To keep the buns soft I brush them with the melted butter listed in the ingredients list and them cover them with a dry cloth.

YIELD: 12 5-inch buns


Seeded buns; just before baking brush the tops with 1 beaten egg white and sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds (or seed of your choice. )

Another thing we’ve been working on recently on the line of feeding our family is going back to cooping some of the birds. The same friend as the produce gave me three lovely Leghorn hens, two Barred Rock chicks and three Dorking/Brahma cross chicks to get back into the chicken egg production, just for our family. Hopefully within the next year we will have enough fresh eggs to provide for our family year round.

During the peak laying season we will freeze any excess eggs. To do this I do it a two egg serving at a time. A two egg serving around here is as follows:

3 guinea or banty eggs= 2 large

1 goose= 2 large

1.5 duck= 2 large

We don't eat the peacock eggs because when we had a male to fertilize we wanted all possible peachicks we could.

Except for the duck eggs I do this "two eggs" at a time, ducks I do three and then divide.

Beat your eggs with a fork or whisk like you were going to scramble them. I personally add a pinch of salt or sugar, others tell me they don't even do that, but I think it help preserve them and helps keep the yolk from getting grainy.

Then pour into a container you want to freeze them in. Some will say to use ice cube trays. I will say I've had NO LUCK in getting the egg to pop out of them without being a huge mess. I use a snack size Ziploc. The Ziplocs I lay flat on a cookie sheet to flash freeze. Once they are frozen good either pop them out of your ice cube tray and bag up or take your Ziplocs and put them in a freezer bag or vacuum sealed bag and return to the freezer.

To use: either thaw in the refrigerator or if in a hurry stick the bag in a bowl of cold water. It will thaw rather quickly. Use immediately after thawing.

I use them in omelets, scrambled eggs, meatloaves, meatballs, egg wash for batter frying anything you need beaten eggs in for meals or baking. I've also been known to add them to dog and cat food if I'm making those and need a little more protein for the critter chow.

You can also separate the yolks from the whites and freeze them separately. I do this often when I’m cooking and need either yolks or whites for the current recipe. The remaining half of the egg is put in a container in the freezer, with the number of the contents on the container written on it., Then when I have enough for Hollandaise sauce, or an Angel Food cake they get used.

ON THE HOUSE BUILDING FRONT: Sean has his plans pretty well finalized and has purchased the cement, cinder blocks and re-bar for the first two footings/pillars. We had hoped to already have those two in, but we’ve, like a big part of the nation, have been hit with rain storm, after rain storm, which while good for the garden slows the house building down.

When he’s trapped in doors he’s worked on tweaking the house plans, researching different appliances, pricing materials and much more. Progress is being made, just slower than we’d hoped.

So now you are all caught up with us.

Jan who is off to pickle more peppers and caramelize onions to can in OK

1 comment:

  1. Peacock eggs huh? Something I've never eaten and probably never will. Oh I'd try them if given the chance - I just can't see that happening.