Want Fewer Weeds?

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Last autumn, after a full year of knee problems due to a fall, we had nine veg-beds chockfull of weeds.

Now before I come across sounding feeble, I didn’t fall due to lack of balance. Oh no. My black lab, Juno, managed to wrap her leash around my legs while I was trying to get the cat, Fat Boy, into his carrier. We were going to the vet. Juno went one way, the cat the other, and I crashed onto my left knee.

That was in July and for the next month, I was on crutches. No gardening possible.

By October, the raised beds were nothing but weeds. Wild brassicas, bind weed, horse nettle, spurge, some species of nastiness spread by rhizomes–ugh.

To alleviate the problem, we tilled the beds, cleared the detritus, and covered everything with black plastic bags to starve unwanted seeds.

Now it’s spring, the knee is healed, and we’re ready to garden. But since I don’t want to spend the summer on my still-somewhat-tender knees weeding, I decided to try the environmentally-friendly plastic mulch from Gardener’s Supply.

Before the weather turned nice enough to start, the Kansas State University Research and Extension horticultural newsletter let me know to set soaker hose under the plastic mulch to ease watering.

So that’s what we did. Marking the beds first and fastening our above-ground soaker hoses with earth staples, we organized a single raised bed.

And, those perforated circles were a snap to punch out using only fingers. No sharps required.

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We’ve planted bunching onions (I call them scallions) in this bed. We’ll see how it goes.

I have red plastic mulch for tomatoes, but more on that in two-three weeks.

Happy gardening.

 

Sunny Sunday

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First Sunday of fall. The sun is shining and the weather is cool. A perfect late September day.

Time to put the ‘working tools’ garden to bed for winter. Daylilies divided. Hose and gutter drains in place, mulch down.

This is part of the frog garden, thus the dancing frogs.

The hack?  A thick–more than four inches–layer of mulch under the hose cart to prevent weeds.

 

 

Other People’s Recipes: Blueberry Muffins

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I wanted a Paleo-friendly recipe for blueberry muffins. Something different for breakfast. What I didn’t want was some banana-y or eggy batter interspersed with blueberries. I was bound to be disappointed.

The recipe I ended up with called for:

  • 6 eggs
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup tapioca flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

Like most muffins, mix wet with wet and dry with dry, then put the two together, mix till just incorporated, then fill your muffin tin. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes.

Easy to make, despite the frantic search for parchment paper muffin tin liners. And the muffins were edible. Barely. They had a decidedly eggy taste. Cavepeople must’ve been very hungry to enjoy them. And, despite the special tin liners, they had to be scraped out.

After that experience, I went back to the Internet and looked at other blueberry muffin recipes that didn’t call for bananas. All of them had a high egg content—and I have to question where the cavepeople got all those eggs—but most started with 2 cups of almond flour.

Oh. Well yes. That would help.

I’m looking for a cinnamon-spice muffin next. I wonder if cavepeople ate raisins.

A Recipe of My Own: Shrimp Fried Rice

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Ever wake up with a yen for a particular food? That’s what happened to me about ten days into the plant-based Paleo plan. I wanted shrimp fried rice and nothing less would do.

I searched the recipes in the doctor-recommended book, and found a list of ingredients for fried rice that included bacon, sausage, and a box grater for cauliflower. Since I’m clumsy-fingered, the box grater was out. And the bacon and sausage offended my ‘low-fat is healthy’ sensibilities.

A trip to the grocery store for shrimp and veggies solved my box grater problems. There’s such a thing as frozen riced cauliflower. Armed with my fresh and frozen foods, I pulled out the copper wok and assembled my ingredients.

  • TBSP olive oil
  • Tsp sesame oil
  • 1 slice bacon, chopped
  • Half a red onion, chopped
  • TBSP minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
  • 1 baby bok choy
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into disks
  • 1 bag frozen riced cauliflower
  • 8 large easy-peel frozen shrimp
  • Quarter cup soy sauce
  • Quarter cup brown rice vinegar
  • TBSP raw honey
  • Green onions (scallions) for garnish

Right. I should’ve used coconut amines instead of soy sauce, but when I looked at my dusty bottle of amines and saw the expiration date five years in the past, I decided I was on safer ground to use the soy sauce. And I wasn’t sure whether the vinegar was Paleo approved. I could’ve looked that up but didn’t.

Also, you can add just about any vegetable you think would work: mushrooms, bell pepper, cabbages, broccoli … the sky’s the limit.

Cook the oils and the chopped bacon in the wok until the bacon starts to crisp. Add the onion and cook until transparent. Add the shrimp and cook on both sides. This takes only a couple of minutes, till the shrimp turn light pink. Add the other vegetables, including the garlic, and cook until the carrots are done, about five minutes. If you want, take the shrimp out so they don’t overcook.

While the vegetables cook, mix the soy sauce or amines, vinegar, and honey. If you don’t use vinegar, you’ll need to use lemon or lime juice; something to give the recipe some acidity.

Next, add the bag of riced cauliflower. I didn’t bother thawing it before adding, and had to break up clumps of frozen cauliflower. Once the ingredients are completely thawed, pour in the soy mixture.

I let this sit for a while to meld the flavors. It tasted like fried rice without being greasy. Jim actually thought the cauliflower rice was real rice, so yay frozen foods.

 

 

 

Two-Ingredient Bagels

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I don’t often talk about cooking or baking. I can follow a recipe and that’s about it. But I love watching cooking shows, and every so often, I get inspired. Like seeing someone make a breakfast sandwich in 45 minutes, including scratch, two ingredient- bagels.

Two-ingredient bagels? Really?

Having grown-up on the east coast, I was used to eating ‘real’ bagels. Then I moved to Omaha, NE, ending up in Louisburg, KS. I don’t know how they make bagels out here, or whether they’ve ever tasted real one. The best tasting are huge, fluffy donut-shaped bread things. But they’re not bagels.

Real bagels are made with yeast. I tried to make a real bagel once. Lots of steps. Proofing, boiling, baking. Mine came out rubbery.

But the two-ingredient bagel? It’s simple. According to Weight Watchers, mix 1 cup of
fat-free Greek yogurt with 1 cup of self-rising flour. The recipe I ended up using called for 1 ¾ self-rising flour and 1 cup of full fat Greek yogurt.

Mix the two ingredients until a dough forms, then knead briefly. Divide into four equal pieces. Roll each piece into a log-like shape, then squeeze the two ends together. I brushed the resulting four bagels with beaten egg and baked for 25 minutes in a
350 Fahrenheit oven.

I know. Mine don’t look much like bagels. In fact, they’re messy and not at all consistent. I’m no baker. But believe it or not, these had the same chewy consistency as a real, NY bagel. Go figure… Better yet, go try to make one.