Planting Season?

The Burpee seed catalog came a few days ago.

I decided to try an experiment I saw on Facebook.

These two are unrelated, unless you consider that fact that I am Daisy, the one who approaches new experiences and ideas with, “Hey, could I grow that?”

I haven’t opened the catalog yet, but it won’t be long. I might start with a quick inventory of seeds I already own. I reorganized my seed collection last August to make inventory easier.

The Facebook experiment came in the form of a short video. Lop off the base of a head of leafy lettuce, soak it in water for a week, and then plant it. Easy, right?

I cut off pieces from two kinds of bunny food:- romaine lettuce and green leaf lettuce. Each hunk of lettuce got dropped into a wide mouth canning jar with a few inches of water. Then, good gardener that I am, I waited. And I waited. I kept looking for roots to grow or signs of sending out shoots from the bottom. Nothing. I waited the seven days and a few more, and still saw nothing in the way of rooting material.

Chuck commented, “At least they’re not dead,” which prompted me to back off a little. Sure enough, he’d noticed new growth at the top of each lettuce head. I’d been looking at the bottom. I decided to try the next step: planting.

Small, but very green, this has potential.

I also planted a few green onions. The onions have root balls, but they’ve been sitting in the cold garage since late October. I don’t know if they’ll grow or not. With that in mind, I also planted a toothbrush.

A toothbrush?

Yes, people, I planted a toothbrush. While I monitor the scallions in the hopes that they’ll thaw and grow, I’ll also monitor a toothbrush. My sister-in-law passed it on to me, saying it was supposed to be biodegradable and would I please test it? Of course! I left a little bit sticking out so we can observe and evaluate the process. Heck, it works with tongue depressors and craft sticks.

And now, I wait. There’s a catalog to browse while I let the greens grow and the toothbrush decays.

Readers, do you plant indoors? Have you tried any of the lettuce experiments?

 

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Depression Cake – another variation

Here’s the original recipe.

Depression Cake
(Named for a historical time period, not the illness)

2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups strong coffee
2 cups raisins or currants or chopped dates
½ cup applesauce
2 cups all-purpose flour (or 1 cup all-purpose, 1 cup whole wheat)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. each ground cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg
1 cup chopped walnuts or almonds (optional)
Powdered sugar for garnish (or serve with whipped topping)

Preheat oven to 350.
In large saucepan, combine granulated sugar, coffee, raisins, and applesauce. Simmer 10 minutes. In large bowl, blend remaining ingredients, except powdered sugar. Stir raisin mixture into flour mixture. Pour batter into well-greased and floured 13 by 9 pan. Bake at least 30-40 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Let cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or serve with whipped topping.

Adapted from a recipe in a California Raisin cookbook put out at least fifteen years ago.

Here’s how I really made it. The apple preserves are more like a homemade and home canned apple pie filling. I’d made cranberry sauce that morning, so the saucepan had some stuck to its sides, leaving a hint of cranberry flavor.

Depression Cake
(Named for a historical time period, in the hopes that our leaders learn from the past so as not to repeat it)

2 cups granulated sugar
Strong coffee and apple preserves, enough to make 2 cups
1 cups raisins
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. each ground cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350.
In large saucepan (still sticky with cranberry sauce), combine granulated sugar, coffee, raisins, and apple preserves. Simmer 10 minutes. In large bowl, blend remaining ingredients. Stir raisin mixture into flour mixture. Pour batter into well-greased and floured 13 by 9 pan. Bake at least 30-40 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Let cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or serve with whipped topping.

Adapted from a recipe I’ve had for years – I never make it the same way twice, but it’s always delicious.

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Jar Variety

The batch of jars from a recent estate auction contained some interesting variations in size and shape. Several were the basic half-pint jelly jar size and design. Some were different.

Milk bottle, perhaps?

Milk bottle, perhaps?

Old fashioned lid - slightly odd shape

Old fashioned lid – slightly odd shape

Some had the word “freezer” embossed on them. Most were Ball; a few said Kerr. Two or three lids, the solid gray lids – does anyone know what they’re made of? I’ve seen lamps and hanging lights made from jars with this type of lid, so I’m not quite ready to throw them away.

For now, I’m sorting and storing those that are clean and suitable for food storage. The others might become…well, who knows? It’s all part of the fun of finding and procuring and using old jars.

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Cranberry Sauce – Daisy’s Way

1-2-3 Cranberry Sauce

1 cup water
2 cups sugar
3 cups cranberries

Bring to a boil, then simmer 20 minutes or until all the berries have burst. Add cinnamon to taste. Serve warm.

Now, the backstory. I brought this recipe home from kindergarten on a sheet of construction paper. We made it at home since it was so easy. It became a standard at Thanksgiving dinner, the tradition lasting long after the original paper faded.
A generation later, my kids started helping me make it every year. If we have leftover cranberry sauce, I use it in jello or add it to muffins. This little piece of my “saucy” childhood continues, along with Thanksgiving memories that will never fade.

Have a wondering Thanksgiving, readers.

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Progress in healing

Yet another cabinet member has been announced to a fanfare of “Oh, no!” Amigo didn’t remember the name, but he remembered enough to inform me that the new Secretary of Education will be a “billionaire school choice advocate.” I can only take so many of these announcements. They’re bad for my blood pressure. In the interest of my own health, let’s look for some silver linings.

The next time a woman runs for president, she will not have to jump the same hoops that Hillary did. Trailblazers, Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton included, blazed a trail so that others can follow.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. We’re bringing mashed potatoes, butternut squash, Packer veggies (peas and corn), and cranberry sauce. Have I forgotten anything? La Petite will bring the wine. The potatoes are in the crock pot as I type. Oh, pies! I bought pies from a local bakery this morning.

The nearby meat market (I love that place) was hopping. In fact, I changed my route to avoid the traffic on their corner as I was on the way to the bakery, another small business I love. I walked in, paused to inhale, and then picked up a box of cookies while I waited for my turn. The problem with shopping at a local bakery is simple; I always come out with more than I planned to buy. Problem? Maybe that’s not a problem. Small Business Saturday is coming up, and I saw two small businesses that were doing well already today.

Amigo has already found Internet radio stations that are playing 100% Christmas music. I’ll make a list, check it twice, and bookmark a few to listen to at work. Now if I can stop myself from singing along…

I predict January will bring another down period. This inauguration will be hard to take. But for now, let’s look at positives. For those who celebrate, enjoy your Thanksgiving.

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Buying a Dishwasher – fun?

We did the research online before heading to the Big Box store. On the short drive there, I tapped into as many Pokemon Stops as I could (to fill my bag with balls, etc.), and Chuck told me all about the features we could get.

Sales Dude in Blue approached, and we welcomed him. He knew what he needed to know, so we asked our questions, got answers, made our decision, and ordered a dishwasher to be delivered and installed in a few weeks.

That’s the short story.

Somehow, within this entire shopping journey, we discovered that we have a great deal in common with Sales Dude in Blue. Gardening, canning, foraging. Foraging! Water conservation, rain barrels, desire to see more cities rewarding those who conserve. Cataract surgery. Cataract surgery? Yes, indeed, Sales Dude in Blue recognized a particular glint that indicates eye surgery, and asked if I was satisfied with my results. For the most part, yes, I answered. If the left retina had stayed attached, I’d be more content.

But anyway, we’re replacing our aging dishwasher in a few weeks. Days, in fact, before Election Day. Oh, my, even the behavior of a major appliance can make me think of November 8th. I sense a theme here.

We didn’t talk politics with Sales Dude in Blue. We didn’t need to. And when we’ve had the dishwasher for a few days and Election Day is done, I’ll have more reasons to sigh with relief.

 

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Inventory

Wow.

Wow.

Top shelf, left to right: salsa; jams and jellies galore.

Lower shelf, left to right: applesauces (in at least three variations); juice concentrates; pickles, dill and sweet.

Expanding to a second set of shelves

Expanding to a second set of shelves

Bottom shelf: canning pots and a pretty blue aluminum stock pot.

Middle shelf: tomatoes; more tomatoes; enchilada sauce; tiny jars of jellies and jams, perfect for gift giving.

Top shelf: apple preserves (a.k.a. pie filling), more applesauce, and pear sauce.

Highest shelf: old laptop computers. This will eventually (hopefully) get cleared off and ready for more canned goods. Next year. Maybe.

This used to house small containers.

This used to house small containers.

Now it’s tomato sauce, tomato sauce, and more tomato sauce.

But where did I put the awkward and odd shaped small containers?

In my older, worn canner and a spare I picked up thrifting.

In my older, worn canner and a spare I picked up at a thrift store.

There you have it, folks. Storage, Daisy style. One problem: I don’t have room for the empty jars. Not that many jars are empty at the moment.

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The Search for the Perfect Pot

Stock pot, that is. For cooking. And canning. You didn’t think I was aiming my gardening talents in a new direction, did you?

I have an ordinary kitchen stock pot. It’s a good size, heats up evenly, and cleans fairly well, too. BUT – the nonstick coating is wearing through. I don’t really know what the coating is or was, whether it’s toxic or fine, just fine. I’ve made many, many jams and jellies in it. Now that the underlying material is showing, I don’t know if it’s safe for canning anymore. So let’s look at the rest of my stock (pun intended) in the basement.

To the right of my hot water bath canners...

To the right of my hot water bath canners are two other pots.

The one in front, next to the bright blue, heats quickly: too quickly. It allows applesauce or pear sauce to burn to the bottom of it before the mix boils down, and that’s not a good trait. It may be aluminum, too, which would take it out of the “non-reactive” category most canning requires. Lovely though it is, this pot might go to the thrift store with the next donation batch.

I found the bright blue in a second hand store. It heats quickly and evenly. It has thick sides that keep the heat in, and I haven’t burned anything in it – yet. BUT – this lovely stock pot has a few weaknesses, too. The handles heat up, which means hot pads on both hands whether I’m stirring or lifting or dumping. It’s nonmagnetic (except for the handles), meaning it’s most likely aluminum, too. #*@&!

I won’t even analyze the cast iron Dutch oven. We love it, but it’s heavy and it can be difficult to clean. I season it every time I use it, hoping the cast iron will eventually have just the right coating. Cast iron, like aluminum, is also reactive.

So, my friends, there you have it. The search, so far unsuccessful, for the perfect stock pot. When I find the perfect match, I’ll use it for jams, jellies, butters (not you, Buttercup, so be quiet), pickles, salsas, and more.

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Foraging again

I’ve been driving past this small, overgrown garden for weeks. This patch caught my eye each and every time.

Onions! Walking onions!

Onions! Walking onions!

These onions, the Egyptian walking onion variety, were HUGE. They had sprouted bulbs on top, as these onions do, and a few had fallen over to plant the next generation.

The appearance of the garden led me to think that someone wasn’t taking the time to care for it. The owners probably wouldn’t miss a few clumps of bulbs. But I wanted to be ethical and above board with my foraging. So when I saw a man in the driveway loading a car seat into his vehicle, I pulled over and asked him. He was more than willing to let me come over and harvest bulbs for my own patch, and he even warned me that they’ll spread.

I knew that.

It was a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon when I tucked my phone in my pocket and grabbed a shears, gardening gloves, and an empty banana bag. I encountered a few Pokemon critters on the way, and walked my way toward hatching an egg or two. Trust me. Poke-fans will understand. The banana bag was about half full when I packed up to walk home again.

bunches and bunches of onion bulbs

bunches and bunches of onion bulbs

bulbs separated and ready to plant

bulbs separated and ready to plant

Forager Daisy strikes again! Next spring I’ll have more green onions than I need, and they’ll plant the next generation with or without my help.

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Family Foraging

I may have mentioned that the school in which I teach is moving to a new location. I visited the new building last Saturday, said hello to my principal as she was unloading boxes in the basement (we have a storage room!), and took a closer look at the location. A few observations:

The landscaping is overgrown. We noticed milkweed and black eyed Susans in the midst of lots (TONS) of day lilies, lilies of the valley, hostas, and more. Chuck, my chauffeur, overheard the principal saying that maintenance would be tearing out everything behind the building, including aging playground equipment. He asked if we could dig out the milkweed and black-eyed Susans before the big digging machines came in. She said yes.

On the way back to the Momvan, I noticed one of the trees alongside our new office building was an apple tree! I haven’t identified the variety yet, but we looked and tasted and decided to come back for a harvest. I’m now working on version 1.0 of apple jelly. It might end up being sauce, and that’s okay. I have plenty of apples in the garage waiting for me.

As we dug up the milkweed and the flowers, we discovered a like-new, unused compost bin. Principal will ask maintenance what’s happening to it. I have tentative permission to bring it to Habitat ReStore rather than let it go to the landfill.

The results of our foraging around the new-to-me building —

  • 2 large buckets of ripe apples
  • several Black-eyed Susan plants
  • a large bucket full of uprooted milkweed
  • a few seed pods from the aforementioned milkweed
  • the bucket I filled with milkweed (found buried in the hostas)

All things considered, I think I’m going to like the new location.

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