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Archive for the ‘Self-Sufficiency’ Category

I finally shows you mah greens!

I finally shows you mah greens!

Yes, my greens are not a fig newton of my imagination — they really do exist! I just finally got around to showing them to you. The greens in the pix above are just my mustard greens on the left, and my bok choy on the right — the photo doesn’t show you my kale or the spinach. My other photos showing you the whole enchilada weren’t too hot, so this is all I gots to show ya.

However, you ain’t missin’ much as far as the spinach is concerned — it really has not done very well at all in my SFG bed. It’s just been very, very puny. Not sure why. Maybe it needs more direct sunlight. But the others have done quite well, and have provided me with some really good eatin’. Mustard greens are one of my big faves, and I started eating those suckers as soon as they were just big enough to pick. Then the bok choy sprang into action. That’s really good for stirfries, and I’ve used them often for that. The kale is pretty good too. Kale use to be my fave before I discovered the spicy pinch of the mustard greens, but it still runs just right behind the mustard greens in the favorite greens column. In any case, I’ve discovered that, like the malabar, these greens are very easy to grow — just water them a couple times a week and that’s about it. I have been putting light cover on them during our freezes, though since they’re winter greens they’re suppose to be pretty freeze-hardy. But other than a little green worm that was chomping on my bok choy that I found and removed, I haven’t had much problem.

Sadly, the malabar spinach got nipped by our relatively cold weather here in Austin, TX. We don’t have very harsh winters here, and I was really hoping that if I kept it covered during freezes it would weather the cold OK, since it’s a perennial in its native countries of India and Indonesia, but nope, it wasn’t buying it. It just got too dang cold. First the leaves got all spotty, then some of the leaves started getting yellow and withering up. Then I left for Christmas to go to my mom’s, and I left things uncovered, hoping the one freeze predicted while I was gone would be mild enough to spare the malabar. It was either that or have everything covered and blocked from the sun all week, which probably would have been worse for everything I had outside.

When I got back, everything else was OK, but both the malabar and the rest of my basil were just decimated. It broke my little gardenin’ heart. It hurt so much to see the withered, yellow and black mottled malabar leaves that I just cut the whole thing back to the mother vine and a few children vines coming out of it. I’ll post a pic  of it next time. I figured I’d lose the basil, since with each freeze I lost more bushes, even though I kept it covered. But I was really hoping the malabar would keep.

I’m betting, however, that it will come back in the spring. It will be an interesting experiment to see if it does. I was also able to harvest some seeds that I think I will try to plant in pots in the spring. If they take and the main mother malabar comes back, I will probably give the babies away as gifts, since malabar is so easy to grow and so tasty to eat, and I just like to share. I also still have the other sister malabar plant in the pot. I’m going to plant that in the ground this spring. I’ve kept it inside during freezes, so it’s still going, but the leaves are very small, and probably not ready for eating. Some leaves got mottled too even with keeping it outside in just cold, but not freezing weather. I don’t think malabar likes cold very much! Anyway, I hope with either the mother malabar, or its sister in the pot, or with babies sown in the spring, I’ll have more malabar. If not, there’s still Natural Gardener, where I got the originals! I just really love the malabar, and have really missed not having it, stir-fried with onion or tucked into a yummy cheese omelet. But spring will be here before ya know it (especially in Central TX), so I’m looking forward to more malabar soon!

In any case, it’s just been great to walk out to my little SFGs for greens whenever I want them, rather than paying big bux for them at Whole Paycheck. And they don’t go to waste either — I pick what I need and leave the rest. And I still have quite a bit left. That should tide me over til I plant some more greens and veggies for the spring. I’m already starting to think about more SFGs to plant and what I will plant in them.

Well, it’s getting late and I’m gettin tuckered out, but I just wanted to show you my greens to prove they really do exist! But before I go, I just want to share with you a simple recipe I use as a wonderful sauce for my greens:

Miso-Tahini Sauce/Dressing

1/2 cup mellow white miso, with just enough water to make a medium paste (not too thick, not too thin)
1/2 cup tahini
Juice from 1/2 a lemon, if desired

Mix together and pour over yer greens. It’s very easy, very tasty, not just on greens, but on any veggies, on beans, on grains, in stir fries, etc., and you can make many variations.  You can also increase the portions to make more sauce. It will keep in the refridgerator about a week. I often add grated ginger to taste, and I’ve also been doing a lower fat version with a tablespoon or so of tahini and a little more miso. I have also mixed it with a tumeric/coconut oil sauce. For the tumeric/coconut oil sauce you mix one tsp tumeric with one tsp coconut oil and a pinch of black pepper. Once you mix that together, add it to the Miso-Tahini sauce. Yum! Plus the tumeric-coconut oil sauce can help prevent cancer! Use ginger and you’ve got a potent and delicious anti-cancer sauce! Just be careful not to spill it on yer clothes — the tumeric does create a nice yellow stain, but I doubt you want to have a nice yellow stain on yer nice clothes.

I can’t take complete credit for the Miso-Tahini sauce. I actually riffed on it from a recipe from Austin’s own Casa de Luz  macrobiotic restaurant (one of the best restaurants ever — who knew you could make food so healthy and so delicious!) 

Anywho, that’s all fer tonight folks! Hope yer New Year is goin’ swell, and I’ll see ya next time!

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This morning, whilst beginning my day at ye olde soul-sucking job, I was, of course, cruising the Internet instead of working (“Bad Zippy, Bad Girl!”). Salon.com happens to be one of the sites I visit throughout the day, even though I often get annoyed by much of Salon’s whiny intellectuals skeptical over any damn thing that can’t be easily grasped by the five senses and overly earnest liberal do-gooders who would as soon flagellate themselves as to throw away a single plastic bag. See, once in my young life I tried to be a whiny intellectual but decided I’d have more fun being a dang fool enjoying the heck out of life. I’m even known to talk to the Big Dude/Dudette in the Sky a lot, too, though I’ve come to have little use for religion. I’ve also in my young life been a liberal do-gooder flagellating myself, but that’s no fun either, and, well, life is short.

Unfortunately, my verbage isn’t, so let me wind up my wind-baggedness and wind my way around to my points. However, before you castigate me as some Texas redneck sitting on the banks of the Colorado scratching my fat arse, lemme tell ya, I do engage in critical thinking from time to time, I do recycle, I love animals and don’t eat em (well except for a fishy or two now and then), I try to do good to my fellow sentient beings (and often fail at the task), and I pretty much vote Democrat, so there. It’s just that Salon gets a little too carried away with itself, and sometimes the writers and the readers get either pretty dang mean-spirited or self-flagellating, more so in the last several years. Sometimes I just have to quit reading it for a while, but I usually come back, at least to scan the blurbs on the home page, read Keef and his K Chronicles (I love that dude), check on Carol Lay’s wacky alternate universe, read the beloved Opus and occasionally see if Cary Tennis’ advice is poetically spot-on or just wordy and has no point. Oh ya, and I read Stephanie Z’s movie critiques, cuz usually she is right on in her reviews.

Anywho, so I’m reading Salon, and find that they have instituted a nifty little feature series called Pinched: Tales From An Economic Downturn and today’s article is on growing yer own recession garden. You can read it right here. It’s a great article, about how the author decided to quit giving Whole Paycheck so much of his paycheck and started a garden to save money, and discovered its many faceted joys, other than saving money. I loved it.

Then I started reading the reader comments. Ugh, the whiny intellectuals started on their negative rants early this a.m.!  (Cue whiny, intellectual nasily voice): It’s too expensive, it’s too much work, you don’t really save any money, you people who are gardening are idiots fer trying and yer idiocy is polluting the gene pool yada yada yada ad nauseum.

Well, ya bet yer pal Ms. Zippy got in on the action! I don’t often post to forums, but gardening and self-sufficient living has become such a passion for me that I just had to put in my two cents and let peeps know that not only is it not that expensive, it’s also not that difficult, especially if you try some of the less conventional techniques such as SFG, lasagna gardening, Mittleider gardening and even cheap hydroponics! That, and start out with some stuff that’s easy to grow, and save seeds from produce and bulk beans and grains ya buy at Wholieristic Than Thou Foods or yer local organic food source.

I don’t want to reiterate the whole post in this here blog, but in future blog posts I want to expand on the things I said in the Salon post. (If ya wanna read in its entire, click here).

One of the main purposes of this blog (besides letting me ramble relentlessly, unfettered, and unhinged) is to show you, dear reader, that it is possible to do things to live more self-sufficiently, such as gardening, and it is possible to do it at a fairly low cost and fairly easily.

That’s not to say it isn’t a challenge at times (wait til my heart-breaking post coming up on the resurgence of the evil terrorist squash vine borer in my beloved butternut squash), but it is rewarding. To enjoy one’s own basil in one’s own homemade pesto is sublime, to eat one’s beautiful, easy-to-grow and prolific Malabar spinach, stir-fried in olive oil with onions is divine. And the fun I’ve had watching my green babies pop their little heads out of the soil and grow with a vengeance, and encountering various critters such as geckos crawling over the Malabar and eating bugs, and frogs making little dens in my potted plants, is worth any effort I’ve put into these endeavors. I’ve just gone nuts over gardening, I can’t hep it!

And while I’m certainly no expert, you get to tag along with me on this blog and see how I conduct this experiment in self-sufficient living, learn from my mistakes and get the advantage of some of the research I have done. Of course, you’ve already witnessed some of my experiments and challenges, but I will continue to do more experiments, do more research, and post on all of that so that you can learn too, maybe avoid some of my mistakes and find an easier path to self-sufficient living.

Stay tuned for future posts – coming up soon: yes, we’re gonna get to the promised posting on the fall greens I’ve started – mustard, kale, bok choy and spinach, and they’re already taking off (dadgum good thing my fave veggies are greens)! We’ll also have the heart-rendering, tearjerker post on the evil squash vine borer, of course. And yes, I have completed my experiment on chia-brown rice bread and have come up with a yummy, wheat-free recipe that tastes (to me anyway) like whole wheat bread, and is great for a gluten-free or wheat-free diet.

So tune in, don’t drop out and keep those comments and emails coming – I love to hear from ya!

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