I hope this works….

If you don't experiment, you don't learn.

Gardening and Food

Today was a busy day.  The squirrels have decided to leave me alone, which meant I actually got some gardening done!  I only have a few things left to transplant, but the big news is that my DH is helping me (read: cut the wood) to make a strawberry bed!!!!!  It will get done this weekend.  Yay!!!!!

I was at the local nursery this afternoon to pick up some chives, thyme and some bagged dirt as I have run out of readily available compost, when I saw the strawberry plants.  Sweet memories of childhood surfaced…..eating strawberries til I got sick of them….. My summer job one year was picking strawberries.  I was around 12.  I didn’t make very much money as I kept eating them. I have not liked strawberries very much since then, but home-grown ones always taste better anyway….and I can’t eat 5 quarts in one go.

This year the new things I am trying are: Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherries and my new fave, the afore-mentioned in an earlier post, the Italian Snap Pole Bean. I am also thinking ahead (gasp) and want to do a straw bale cold frame for growing things in the winter.  It should only take about 8 bales and a bit of heavy plastic for the cover. It is a cheap and easy way to make a cold frame and I got the idea from this book, Year Round Vegetable Gardener.

And now on a completely different subject:

I make my own yogurt and cereal.  They taste yummy together. Especially with fresh fruit on it. Usually I like variety in my breakfasts, but I have been eating this for almost three weeks straight now.  It is Very Good.

The cereal is comprised of raw rolled oats/nuts and seeds/dried fruit/flavorings.   I don’t like Quaker oats as they taste stale, so I buy the bulk oats at the health-food store – only 99 cents a pound! I fill a mason quart jar about half full of oats, then add in different things.  The one I have now has sunflower seeds, flax seeds, chopped cashew nuts, dried cherries (from my parent’s orchard) cinnamon, raw sugar and shaved coconut. I put between a tablespoon and a quarter cup of each thing (depending on my mood).  Then I shake it up.  It keeps a long time, but I eat it pretty fast.  It is good on ice cream and in fruit salads. You could also add cocoa powder or chocolate chips for something different.

Yogurt is easy-peasy to make.  I use a cooler to incubate the yogurt culture for 10-12 hours.  I put a half gallon jar of hot water in the center of the cooler and then place my yogurt jars around it (not touching) and then throw a blanket on top and shut the cooler.  It works great!  You don’t need a commercial incubator, I’ve seen ppl use a crock pot, a cardboard box, the oven with only the light on, an old electric skillet, and on top of the refrigerator….basically anyplace that keeps your culture between 110 and 105 degrees f.  I usually add about a third cup of instant milk and honey to it.  The instant milk adds protein and thickens it up a bit.  There are a lot of yogurt-making websites and Youtube vids out there, so I’m sure you will find one you like.  The only time I had my yogurt fail was when I didn’t scald my milk and when I added too much of the starter.  I’m afraid I was guilty of the “more is better” style of cooking and you really only need a tablespoon or two of the starter per half gallon of milk to make yogurt….it likes lots of elbow room to grow.

I picture a little yogurt dude in a cowboy hat standing on the open range singing,  “Giiiiiiiive me Roooooooooom!”

 

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