Monday, January 31, 2011

Getting ready for a probable ice storm

During the past couple of days I've been getting ready for a probable ice storm. we live 15 miles from the nearest town and during our last sizable ice storm we were without power in our remote location for about ten days.

As I learned during the last ice storm the biggest problems for us wasn't the heating or the cooking it was the fact that the freezer thawed and we had a limited water supply. After four days we had to walk down to the neighbors to get jugs of drinking water.

This time around I am using what I learned from the last ice storm. I started earlier. I got the laundry caught up and am working extra hard to get other things done around the house. Also I finished my course assignments for the college courses for the week I am taking on line and also notified my professors that I may have a problem because of the ice storm. I'm prepared to fill the bathtub with water later tonight so that we'll have water to flush the toilet and do dishes. I'm also filling recycled, washed out milk jugs of water for drinking water. (I think we have the best well water in the country!)

After supper this evening (which will in part be the fresh vegetables that we still have in the refrigerator) I'll be cleaning the refrigerator and deciding what I might be able to do with the more perishable foods I have in there tomorrow. I'm also going to be taking all the food from the refrigerator freezer and putting it in the deep freeze and taking milk jugs with water frozen in them to place in the refrigerator to help keep the contents cold. If there isn't electricity for more than a day or so, I will put the food from the refrigerator and put them in a small enclosed unheated building. This way I can use the cold weather to help keep the food kept in the refrigerator from perishing.

While the electricity is out I will not be sitting idle. I have some things that I plan to get done during that time. Some of which include articles and blog posts that I want to put online.

In addition I will be playing board games with my daughter and probably my husband and brother. I doubt we'll be staying awake much after dark, it's hard to see much by kerosene lamp anyway.

I'm looking forward to seeing the storm past and life getting back to normal.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Little Bit Of This And A Little Bit Of That

I didn't post yesterday and I almost didn't post today! But that isn't because stuff hasn't been going on. Did I mention that I have some sweet potatoes planted in a pot in my living room? I don't see anything green yet but I'll keep you all posted.

I've continued my quest to get all the old out of the freezer. I took the last of the old apple sauce out the of freezer and made a single quart jar of apple butter. Mmmm, is that good. It's so easy to make too. I made it in my large crock pot.

I also took some canned food that has been sitting on my shelf embarassingly longer than it needed to be there and with a pound of hamburger made a pot of chili.

I didn't mention that I had been growing mung bean sprouts. I like sprouting in the winter because good fresh vegetables are in such short supply this time of year. Oh, yes, you can buy vegetables in the winter but the quality isn't usually what it should be.

I went to visit a friend's restaurant yesterday. The ambiance, the food, everything was fantastic. If you ever get to West Plains, Missouri, you've got to check out The A La Carte Cafe. Susan Lumsden not only is the chef of the establishment but she also created the quilts that are hanging around the place. I highly recommend the fish tacos! Last night was also the first night Jon, her husband played his twelve string and sang at the Cafe. My husband and I didn't get a chance to go last night but Susan reported that the attendance was phenomenal.

The garden is rather frozen at this time but additions are made daily onto the compost pile and wood ashes are dumped on the garden beds almost as often.

Another friend of mine has a greenhouse where she is growing winter salad greens and I saw pictures today. Was I impressed. I had greenhouse envy. Someday perhaps I will get the chance to have my own greenhouse. But in the meantime maybe I can buy some of Mary's greens. Enough at least to go along with my bean sprouts.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Give Us This Day Our Daily Fiber.

Today the sun is shining and clothes are drying on the clothes line. this morning I did yoga and meditation as I resolved myself to do then ate a bowl of cooked oat bran flavored with butter, dark brown sugar and raisins. The oat bran alone has 6 grams of dietary fiber, three grams of soluable fiber. I also ate a whole orange. I know I ate at least 33% of my daily requirement of fiber with this meal.

I plan to do equally as well for lunch. I have made a pot of butternut squash soup and will eat it with crackers and peanut butter. Though I can't tell the exact amount of fiber in my soup, I know that it is chocked full of fiber because it contains carrots, celery and garlic as well as the butternut squash.

According to health experts the average adult needs to consume 25-35 grams of fiber per day. As you can see with the above first two meals of my day, I will already be within range of getting enough fiber in my diet today.

The average adult here in The United States doesn't consume any where near that. The average person consumes about 12 to 15 grams on a good day.

Some people supplement their diets with over-the-counter supplements that contain psyllium but fiber can easily come from natural sources which not only provide the fiber but also provide soluable vitamins and minerals as well. If we would simply focus on eating more fresh fruits, fresh vegetables,(including the skins)and whole grains, we would see a marked improvement in our overall health.

Proper fiber intake helps prevent a host of diseases. It lowers blood cholesterol, improves. It lowers the LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff) and increases the HDL (the good stuff) It prevents constipation. It fills up our stomachs and slows down digestion helping keep us from gaining excess weight. Fiber helps to regulate blood sugar thus decreasing the need for diabetic medications. Eating the recommended grams of fiber could lower your risk for colon cancer by 40%!

Getting fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains can be expensive but one of the best ways to supplement your fresh fruits and vegetables and to a limited extend whole grains, is to grow food in your own back yard. Plant a dwarf fruit tree. Plant a garden bed full of vegetables that you pick daily. It doesn't take a lot. Just grow enough that you'll have something to pick everyday and that you'll eat.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Perennial Herbs

As I looked through my seed catalogs, I have been looking at the perennial herbs and I' thinking that I would like to add several of this perennial herbs to my garden this year. My goal this year seems to be to plant as many perennials as possible. I am especially interested in easy to grow perennials. The problem I've noticed with easy to grow perennials, however, is that when a perennial is easy to grow, it is also invasive. To keep them contained, I think I will plant them in car tires.

At the top of the list would have to be the mints. I definitely will have to have peppermint and since my daughter loves spearmint, that will also have to be on the list.

I would also like to add bergamot. Bergamot grows wild around here and I recently had some in some Earl Grey tea. I had never had Earl Grey tea before and I really enjoyed it. Earl Grey tea is simply black tea with begamot. (Bergamot is also known as bee balm so it will also help draw bees to my garden.

Then there's the traditional cooking herbs that are also easy to grow. I thnk I'll add oregano, parsley, sage, chives and common thyme to the list. All of which are easy to grow perennial herbs.

I will start these herbs from seed first in pots in the house. Sometimes this doesn't work so my first backup plan would be to start them from seeds in the garden. If that doesn't work, then I'll buy plants from the same company that I bought the seed from. I'll let you know how it all turns out.

The garden supply company that I am planning to use this year is: R. H. Shumway's

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Getting Ready For Another Gardening Season

Yesterday I cleaned another cupboard as I promised and then wrote a couple of articles and made an applesauce cake using some applesauce that has been in the freezer a little too long. It's not good for eating fresh but it still made a good cake. I didn't have any frosting to go on it but I guess that actually made it better because we had enough sweets over the Christmas holiday as it was.

I am washing sheets and blankets today and plan to get out the blackberries from the freezer to make the blackberry jelly that I still need to make.

I read an article by my friend Darlene Sabella today about companion planting. There are hundreds of articles that can be written about companion planting and the plants involved. This is an area of writing that needs so much more written about it and needs to be utilized more in the garden setting.

Most of the time in my experience, companion planting works best when you plant in beds but a few years ago I had tomatoes, dill and basil planted together in a row and all of them seemed to flourish. Each one seemed to complement the other. I'm told that often when the plants make good companions, they also complement one another in cooking. I'm not sure about the dill and the basil together but I know that both tomatoes and dill, and tomatoes and basil are very good together. It is definitely an area that I wish to explore this year in the garden.

Monday, January 3, 2011

When the Day Starts Wrong

Today was one of those days. You know what I mean. It was one of those days when everything started out wrong. It started as soon as I went to flush the toilet this morning. The toilet didn't seem to work. I tried the water in the bathroom sink. Nothing! It was cold enough this morning that the water froze!

Usually I set up the coffee pot the night before but last night I didn't so I had to look through the refrigerator and find the bottled water that I had there so that I could set up the coffee pot for my first cup of coffee. I set up the coffee pot and went and turned on the computer. At least the computer was working.

After a couple of minutes I went to see how the coffee was coming. I really wanted a cup. Unfortunately, the coffee wasn't dripping. I made sure that it was on and it was. After further examination I realized that the heating element on the coffee maker was shot. Fortunately I had another coffee maker. Unfortunately the coffee maker needed cleaning and with the water frozen, how was I going to clean the thing?

I still had a little bit of bottled water left so I used it and as best as I could I cleaned that coffee pot. I then poured the water from the first coffee maker into the second and transferred the coffee filter and its coffee. I turned it on. To my relief the coffee dripped into the coffee pot. I was back in business.

My day got back on track when I started doing my yoga and meditation. I got recentered and since I couldn't do laundry or wash dishes. (Both need water of course.) I decided to clean the cupboards and discover what all I have in them and what I need to replenish now that the holidays are over.

The water came back on shortly before I finished the food cupboard. I think I will continue to clean cupboards and the freezer this week. I know I've got some blackberry juice in the freezer that I juiced to make blackberry jelly. I think I'll be making jelly this week too. Sometimes the work and the heat from summer make it impossible for me to do my canning at that time. It is so much easier to put the food into the freezer and then do the canning during the winter.

For a day that started out on a negative note, it actually has already been quite productive anyway. I think I'll go now and clean another cupboard.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Growing what grows naturally!

Yesterday I was looking over some information about starting the coming garden season's garden. Even though I've been gardening since I was twelve years old, every year I still go back and look over information that I studied in years past concerning gardening. The books that I invested in were definitely worth every penny.

I was also looking over the two seed catalogs that I received last week. One of tools I use to determine what to grow in the garden is to decide what grows without much interference in the area. If it's growing along the roadside wild or if it's grown commercially in the area, you can be fairly sure that you can grow that specific vegetable species in your area.

Last year I wished I'd had some Jerusalem artichokes (also known as sunchokes)growing. So I was looking at possibly growing them this year. sunchokes are a perennial that has naturalized to this area so I know that I can grow it without much difficulty here. I like the taste of it. We've used it in place of water chestnuts in stir fry. That's the best way that I've found to use them.

Yesterday I started the sweet potato slips. Sweet potatoes are grown commercially about 70 miles south of here so they grown easily here in the home garden. I grew them with a lot of success here in South Central Missouri and I know of a number of other people who also grow them on a small scale. The problem here with growing sweet potatoes isn't the climate but the heavy, rocky clay ground. By growing my sweet potatoes in aged sawdust in tires, my results are amazing. Previously I grew sweet potatoes from slips I bought from a local grower but this year I'm trying my hand at producing my own slips.

At the last house I lived in, we grew horseradish and I plan to get more this year for our place here. I know it doesn't take much to get them going. Basically I just need to stand back and watch them grow. They can be rather noxious though. (They can take over) so I'll probably grow them in tires as well, just to keep them contained.

Another perennial I want to grow this year are Egyptian walking onions. My mother had them up north and they came back year after year but I wasn't sure that they would do well here. Last year however I discovered that another person was growing them in their herb garden so I'm going to plant a few this year. Probably in a tire too. If planting in tires seems to be theme this year, I think it is, especially for perennials. It keeps them not only contained but This way I'll know exactly where the perennials are from season to season. There won't be any guess work, I'll know exactly where they are based on where the tires are.

I've read where others cut their tires to use in the garden but I don't really see the point of cutting off the side walls. By keeping the tires whole I will be able to use the tires year after year even when I use them for sweet potatoes and potatoes which are annuals. I don't see any point to doing extra work so I'm just not going to do it.

Recycling is a natural part of my gardening experience and I'm beginning to see tires as being a necessary part of my garden in the same way that I see recycling leaves, grass, garden weeds, sawdust, egg cartons, milk jugs, just to name a few.

As the old Chinese proverb says, the footprint of the gardener is the best fertilizer. I too am finding that I am becoming more and more a natural part of the growing process.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Help Stop World Hunger

Here it is the first day of 2011! Already there is bad news on the horizon. The cost of food is supposed to rise especially the main staple crops of corn, wheat, rice and soy but they aren't the only foods that are going up due to crop failures in Russia last fall and drought in Argentina and Chile. But that's not all. The recent cold temperatures have destroyed much of this winter's tomato and orange crops down in Florida.

The prices are rising but the worst part of it is that many people in third world countries won't be able to afford to buy these commodities because it will cost more than they can afford so many will go hungry. The worst part of it is that the world help organizations won't have the resources to feed them. Many will die of malnutrition.

The actual issue this year is the fact that there will be a food shortage worldwide. But there is something that we can do about it.

The most important thing we can do here in America especially is to eat healthier by eating fewer processed foods. Processed foods have all the natural nutrition sucked out of it. When we eat it, we fill up on empty calories devoid of any real sustenance to our bodies. Our body recognizes that it isn't getting what it needs so it craves more. We eat more of these empty calories and we crave more and the vicious cycle continues as we become more and more overweight and more and more malnourished. By eating healthier foods we will eat less food and we will not only be healthier but there will be more food to go around.

The second thing we can do is grow some of our own food. Even a small backyard garden can supplement our food supply. We don't need a large garden to make a difference not just in our own food bill but also in curbing hunger around the world. Even a small 4x10 foot area can provide enough greens and other vegetables to provide a nutritious salad throughout the growing season.

Another thing we can do is to buy vegetables locally. By supporting local farmers, we help keep the food supply diverse. It keeps them in business and provides us with more nutritional food. When we eat local foods, it doesn't need to be trucked in from all over the world. When the demand isn't there to sell outside the country, the food will then be available to population of the country of origin.

If you've noticed that I haven't included sending money to help organization, I've done this on purpose. I believe that the answer to world hunger isn't in supporting these organizations but is, literally, in our own backyards. I believe that by eating healthier and more locally, we will not only improve our own lives but also the lives of every other human being on this planet.