Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Free Fishing Days

Ohio residents - May 1st and 2nd are free fishing days! Go out to your local pond or river and try your hand at fishing! I will be busy both those days, but if anyone without a license wants to try their hands at it I'd be glad to lend what little equipment I have. :D

Blanched Greens

Greens are filled with enzymes that will break them down if you try to freeze them; you can blanch the greens in order to destroy these enzymes by boiling them for 2-3 minutes. Don't ask me about the science - somebody smart (like Mike) will post the particulars I'm sure. Here are some leaves from our basswood tree boiling in a pot of water. I've frozen a few small batches and reconstituted them. They taste like cooked greens (duh.)

Sunday, April 18, 2010


The girls have arrived! They are nine weeks old; the white is a Colombian Rock Crossed; the brown one is a Speckled Sussex; the grey & white one that's pictured alone is an aracauna; the other grey and white one is a Silver Laced Wyandotte (I think.)
The white one thinks she is the boss; the brown one thinks the white one should just get over herself, and the two grey ladies are very squalky. They're all very funny and the dogs think they're the greatest thing ever.
We built the chicken coop (which is 6'x3') out of recycled materials-- the only things we had to buy were one latch and three small packages of screws-- for a total cost of less than $5.
We did buy new materials for the outside run (I wanted to make sure the dogs couldn't get to them without permission!), so between the wire, treated lumber, and staples, we spent another $45.
The birds themselves were a whopping $5 each (who knew you could buy a chicken for $5!?!), plus we gave the lady who raised them for us for the past nine weeks a six pack of mixed interesting beers (per her request).
They should be laying in time for the challenge week! Woo-hoo!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Foraging - Acorns

My first foraging experience for the challenge was hunting for acorns. Easily collected, but not easily processed for food.

I followed the steps, but boiling them until the liquid is clear has taken way more than 2-3 hours.

I collected & dried them on Easter. I de-shelled them on that Monday. I believe the following day I started boiling them after work & soaking them. Here it is a 1 1/2 weeks later and they still do not appear ready to dry & ground to make into meal.

I was brave and tried a teeny taste a little while ago. It wasn't bitter but had kind of a mushroom-like taste (they also smell like mushrooms when the are boiling).

Hopefully I can finish them tonight because I am going out of town for the weekend.

Pictures of Plants

hops plant

onions (among weeds)

lettuce sprouting

radishes sprouting

My Gardening (un)Plan

I've planned our large garden to be hosted at our in-laws house this year. The 40' x 75' plot is by far the largest growing project I have ever undertaken. I've also managed to kill nearly every seedling I started over the winter. That's a story for another post.

There are a few patches of ground around the house that I've planted as well, so that we have a supply of greens on hand throughout the summer. Pictured here is the area that I planted last year, with little growing success. The pepper and tomato plants I put in back here yielded almost no fruit, as shade covers the right side of the area during the afternoon and evening. Plants like lettuce and kale grew a little slow but still provided some greens last year, so I've done a little broadcast sowing of radishes in the sunny area, and lettuce in the shady area. In the upper left corner of the garden (by the fence) my hops rhizome is growing in about the sunniest spot of the garden. In the back of the right side a kale plant left over the winter is producing greens, and an ornamental strawberry plant (not sweet, but still edible) has grown in from the neighbor's yard.

On the other side of the house is this plot of land, which I think will get more sun than where my last-year garden was. I sowed 4 rows of onions on the right side of the plot (second picture), but only 1 row has grown in. The area has a bunch of weeds growing up in it as well, this year will probably be more about getting those old rooted plants out of the area than yielding much food. Still I've put some spinach and bush bean seeds in the ground in this area.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Front Yard Salad Bar

Pictured here is the basswood (aka linden) tree located in our front yard. They feature a smooth silver colored bark when young, and parallel vertical grooves when they mature. They tend to grow in clusters, as you can see many smaller trees are growing around the base of the smaller tree. There is actually a second cluster of trees, one my wife and I have come to call 'the monstrosity', to the other side of the one pictured. The main tree was either cut down or died some time before we moved here, and what was originally a small cluster of thin branches have now grown into a ring of 15' tall trees. Thanks to a book on foraging Kathy showed me I learned that the young leaves are edible!
Not only are they edible, but are mild and pleasant tasting. The buds come out and create an offshoot branch, a spill of leaves shooting out with it. These are quick to collect and almost quick to process. The leaves on the smaller, younger trees grow large much more quickly. I expect several more weeks of staggered growth before the leaves have grown too large and tough to eat. I plan to see how well these store by blanching them like you would normal greens. Results to follow!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Soy Milker

I found this delightful machine on eBay, a soy milk machine. The translated directions are almost completely incomprehensible, the buttons are labeled 'Mixed Beans,' 'Coffee,' and 'Porribge'. still I managed to convince it to make soy milk (on the third try.) The bean-head guy on the front gives it a thumbs up. I have to ask all you vegetarians in the world; why? What inspired you to seek milk from a bean and not a teat? It looks like milk, it tastes like beans. It is fine in cereal, but as a stand-alone, ugh. And don't even try to make chocolate milk with it, the flavor of chocolate bean water won't soon leave you. I did splice it 50/50 with some pineapple juice we had on hand and that nearly killed the terrible bean aftertaste. We shall soon see if it is capable of making instant pudding...

Friday, April 2, 2010


Here is a useful link to edible & poisonous plants. Grasshoppers or crickets anyone? There is also info. on game/insects.