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My friend Ms. E posted a comment (see here) and asks how well everything in the garden (including yers truly) is handling the stress of this ungodly Texas summer us folks down here in the buckle of the Bible Belt are enduring. Well, as my old boss Betty used to say, “It’s hotter than the hinges of HALE!” – “hale” being the Texan pronunciation of the word “hell”, not that she was referring to healthy hinges  (ya’ know, “hale and hearty”) .

So yes, it’s hot. No, not just hot, damn-tabulous, freakingly, climate-changingly HOT, so hot the word hot doesn’t even begin to describe it. As a matter of fact, if old Beezlebub himself sat out in this heat any length of time, he’d just burst into flame and his ashes would scatter away on the heat-furnace wind. Like I said, it is indeed hotter than the hinges of HALE.

However, Texas gal that I am, I’m a heck of a lot tougher than ol’ Mr. BB, so I will take the heat and I will like it, dadgum it! Well, OK, maybe not like it, but I am managing it. Sort of.  What this does mean is that  I have not been all that energetic gardening-wise this summer. Instead of planting anything new, I’m just trying to keep alive all the gazillion things I planted with crazed, garden-newbie abandon this spring. And that’s a lotta work in and of itself.

So every morning I get up early and water. At first I was watering everything, every day until I started noticing things drooping regardless of how much I watered them. Then I remembered the old saying, water deeply and infrequently. Well, yes, actually I did remember it before it started getting really hot, but I just didn’t think it applied when temperatures are soaring every single freakin’ day into the triple digits with nary a drop of rain in sight. So I watered and watered and watered, and things got, well, a little soggy and droopy.

But now I’ve got it down to where I water the flower bed and the raised veggie beds deeply, while watering the flower bed twice a week and the raised beds every other day ( unless something is withering from the heat) and every day I water many of my potted plants that are outside. So every day I am watering something. It really has helped though to water things deeply and infrequently. It’s just as dangerous, probably more dangerous, to overwater than it is to under water. Most plants can recover from a under watering, but if ya rot the roots from overwatering, you’ll lose stuff.

Bee on Borage Plant from Freenaturepictures.com

Bee on Borage Plant from Freenaturepictures.com

Anyway, y’all probably aren’t reading this to get a pedantic lecture on overwatering, so I’ll just move on to Ms. E’s other question, about the borage plant. BTW, before I answer the question, I just wanted to note that the borage pic on the right is not from my garden — I ripped it off of  Freenaturepictures.com cuz I’ve lost my flash card reader that I use to download photos from my digital camera to my computer, so I’m not able to show you a pic of mine own borage for now. Gotta go to Amazon.com and buy a new reader, dadgum it!

Anyway, as for Ms. E’s question, if ya don’t want to scroll down to see it, Ms. E asks:  “I’m curious about the borage- do you use it medicinally, or in salads?  Or just for pretty?”

Well, I originally planted the borage with my butternut squash last year cuz it’s supposed to help ward off squash-related pests. But last year I planted it too late for it to be of much help to my butternut squash, which, as you can read elsewhere, got decimated by the evil Squash Vine Borer (or SVB). Secondarily I planted it for the medicinal qualities, as it’s suppose to be good for yer adrenals and other stuff, and I figured my adrenals and other stuff could use a little boost. I did try it in some salad, but the problem is ya gotta use the youngest leaves for salad, cuz the leaves, as they get older, develop almost stinger-like fuzz on the underside of the leaf – not something ya wanna run yer tongue over!

The other problem, well, for me anyway, is that the flavor of the borage leaf is kind of a cross between cucumber and pepper, which for some folks would really blow their skirts up (as my old BF used ta say), but doesn’t do a whole lot fer me. It’s a kind of strange taste to me, not that I dislike strange tasting things, mind you, but this was too strange even fer moi. If ya wanna use the older leaves, it’s best to use them as a tea, which I haven’t tried yet (mainly cuz of the strange cucumbery-peppery taste). You can also use the flowers in tea, and some Martha Stewart-type folks like to coat them in sugar and put them on fancy cakes and stuff, but I’m not that talented.

Sad to say, even though this year I planted borage before my butternut squash, I still got the nasty SVB, so I’m not sure how well it works against squash pests, though in borage’s defense I never got the other evil pest, which is the Squash Bug (SB) which eats the actual squash (SVB just eats up the squash stalk which effectively kills much of the plant itself). Also in its defense, even when I got the infestation of SVB this year, I cut off the stem that was infested and kept the other stem which has grown by leaps and bounds and is producing squash, and so far (knock on mah head), no sign of SVB. So maybe the borage is doing its job.

As for pretty, while the flowers are kinda pretty, the plant in totale is not all that gorgeous to me, especially as it gets bigger – the older leaves turn brown and die and, like most of us, it gets kinda gnarly-looking as it gets older. And it really is not doing all that well in this hot Texas heat, which really surprised me, it being an herb and all (herbs usually do well in the heat). I’ve had to water that sucker more than anything else, and by evening it’s still flopping over from the heat. At first I thought I might be overwatering it, but I actually lost some borage that I planted in the raised beds when I quit watering it so much. So it does need a lot of water. However, one really, really good thing about borage – bees LOVE the little flowers and are all over them sucking up borage pollen, and since I’d like to think I’m doing my part to help keep the bees growing and thriving, I’m happy to plant it whether it’s directly beneficial to me or not, cuz we all know if the bees go, so do we. I just wish that planting borage would make it rain a lot and cool things off, but so far that hasn’t happened.

Yes, it’s late and I need to get to bed, but since we are well into spring, and I haven’t posted anything except replies to comments, I figure I better give y’all a little update. My friend, Lazy Gardener, was a little concerned that I’d given up on gardening, but as I told her in the comments below, that is far, far from the case! I may even be going overboard!  As a matter of fact, the reason I haven’t posted is cuz I’ve been so busy getting my garden going!

Right now I have two new 4×4 SFGs planted with 2 tomato plants, 3 sweet basil plants, and seeds of lettuce, carrot, thai basil, sweet bell pepper, summer squash, Kentucky wonder beans and borage, and I’ll be adding some garlic and onions as soon as I get a hold of bulbs to plant. And I planted several strawberry plants in containers. I also overhauled the 2 SFGs I started last year, ripping out the make-shift frames I made and building honest-to-god cedar frames (I also built cedar frames for the 4x4s also, all by mah own little self, I’m tellin’ ya!).  I’ve planted malabar seeds from last year’s malabar plants, and I’m excited to see if they sprout. The other SFG will have corn, amaranath and cool soup beans I bought from Seeds of Change, and then I’m going to do an experimental raised bed next to it using the Lasagna Gardening technique and planting some more B-nut squash with more beans and borage.

And then I went nuts and started a big old flower bed, with native, drought-resistant flowers, herbs and fruiting shrubs, like goji berry, Texas wolfberry and maybe blueberry! I didn’t do a raised bed, rather I rototilled the sod and amended the soil. I haven’t planted everything in there yet, but will try to finish planting this weekend, after the (hope, hope, pray, pray) rain that the weather peeps are forecasting to swoop in on our parched soil here in Austin.  And then I’ll be planting an herb bed, also with the Lasagna Garden method. Whew!

Anywho, I’ve taken a humongous leap in planting this year, and hope I haven’t overdone it (or myself), but I am excited to see how it all goes! Will give ya’ll an update with pix and more detailed info soon!

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!

Look, You're All I Got . . .

Look, You're All I Got . . .

After four days of stuffing myself silly, I’m here to wish you all a Happy Holiday season and to give ya a tiny little update of wots been happenin’ in my little life here in the capital of TX, aka Music Capital of the World. Tonight I was commenting on a recent comment to my most recent post of Oct. 26, and I thought, dang! It’s been too long since I last posted. And dadgummit, I haven’t even posted on my crop o’ greens, like I promised.

I guess like everyone else I got caught up in the elections (Obamarama time, yes indeedy!), and then the Thanksgiving holiday. And in between I got sucked up in a house project to stain the concrete floor in my spare bedroom that is going to become my study, and it’s still not complete yet. As my most recent ex-boyfriend liked to say, that’s been a real horror show.  But oh well! More on that horrific-ness in another post, and yes, I do intend to subject you to a lovely recounting of that punishing work.

In any case, I just finished up a nice Thanksgiving holiday with mi madre, who came up from the lovely metropolis of El Campo, TX to eat a sumptitious T-day feast at Hyde Park Bar and Grille (we love not having to cook and clean, as this has become our new tradition) and go shopping almost every day she was here. Of course, she got all her Christmas shopping done, while I barely scratched the surface, dang it! Mom and I also bought a fake tree from Garden Ridge Pottery and got it up and decorated it, and added other festive trimmings around the house like the Santa and Pig in the pix above. The Santa and Pig piece was something my Mom got my beloved stepfather years ago.  My stepfather had an awesome collection of Santas, and this was my favorite. With my stepfather’s passing last year, my Mom brought this to me to have this year. Isn’t that great? 

Mom and I also got some pictures hung up in the house finally  (I’ve only been in this house 10 months!). So we were pretty busy gals. We had a good time, and we ate too much while she was here. Back to the old healthy diet tomorrow!

In any case, I hope you had a good time too, and will have an even better time as we get deeper into the Holiday season. I’d also like to take this moment to encourage everyone to really, really enjoy this season, and try to contemplate, whatever your faith or unfaith, the true meaning of this time.

I don’t really want to get overly sentimental and trite, and I know for many people this time can be very stressful, and even depressing. I also know with the tough economic times that many are having, that there could be an extra challenge in maintaining the holiday spirit for many. I know for myself that in holiday seasons past I’d really come to dread it, simply because of all the pressures to shop and buy gifts and such.

However, I know that this season I really want to keep the deeper sentiment of this time in my heart and soul and to savor the true essence of this time. This time to me is a time of reflection, to think about this year and even years past, to reflect on the person I have become and am becoming. It’s a time for me to consider what love and peace really are, and how I can truly love others and be a channel for love and peace. This is something I really want to do this holiday season, and I’d like to encourage you to do the same.

I know that there’s some wild and chaotic things going on in this world at the moment, but I know that there are lots of good things going on too, and I’d like to encourage folks to think about that. It’s too easy to overlook the good especially when it seems like the media is beating us to death with news about the economy or the world, but please try and think of it, no matter how small. Savor perhaps your little kid’s gaze of wonder and broad smile while looking at Christmas tree lights. Or for those childless amongst us, enjoy your laughter at your fat kitty as he rolls over to show his tubby tummy while giving you a look that tells you he knows he’s cute (like mine did today). Enjoy these little things. Enjoy your life, laugh, meditate on the essence of this season, know that you are loved and that you are love, feel the life force of love that dances within you and dance with it, celebrate it. This is what this season is all about, whether you are a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a Hindu, a pagan, an atheist, an agnostic, or spiritual but not religious, this is what it is all about. Enjoy it and be with it! This is what I intend to do. (and also to finally write about my greens!)

Happy Hollidays!

–Zippy 🙂

As promised, tonight I bring to you the heart-breaking saga of the second Squash Vine Borer (hereafter known as SVB) attack on my beloved b-nut squash.

After neglecting to meticulously inspect my butternut squash vines due to reading somewhere that the dreaded SVB ceases attacking after August, I was horrified to find one Sunday morning three weeks ago that the SVB had revisited, leaving its progeny to decimate my b-nut squash. I had noticed some time before that the leaves on the vine were sort of withering up and turning yellow, but I thought maybe it was because they were older leaves. My squash fruit seemed OK, though small, and I just stood stubbornly steadfast in believing what I read, that I had nothing to fear from SVB after August.

But of course, this is Central Texas, where we continue to experience summer, or at least late spring-like temps well into November. Duh! I fergot! Which means it’s still perfect weather for the SVB to go a-laying its little eggs.

In any case, as I watered the squash that fateful Sunday morn, I decided to remove some of the dead leaves. As I removed them, I noticed the tell-tale sign of SVB infestation: SVB “sawdust.” You can see a picture of it below, after this post. Now, up til this point, I’d never seen it before, but I had read about it, and I knew that this had to be it. Then I found some dark eggs, and more “sawdust.” Then I removed some vine where I found the sawdust, and striped back the stem: yup, there it was, an ugly, slimy, segmented, inch-long larvae munching its way through the vine.

Well, I was essentially heartsick, and mad at myself for being so lax in checking for signs of SVB. I decided I’d try to save my b-nut squash as much as I could, and so cut back vine, but I kept finding more signs of infestation.  I wound up basically ripping out one of the squash plants. Amazingly enough, the other plant didn’t seem to be infested at all, so I was able to keep that. I was so grateful that I had one un-infested plant!

My first-b-nut squash (and some acorns) -- very fall-y

Unfortunately, the plant I had to rip out had all the fruit on it. However, while the fruit was relatively small, it didn’t look like it had been infested. I understand that SVB larvae like to eat the vine, but leave the squash fruit alone. I decided not to throw them out and see if I could still use them. You can see a pix of them to the right.

I was a little worried that maybe the squash was infested when I saw some larvae creeping on the counter I sat them on. I decided if any more crept out that I would cut the squash open to see if it was infested and throw them out if so, and cook them if not. But no more crept out, so I decided to keep them intact until I was ready to cook them.

Last weekend I used one of the squash to make a lentil-ginger-butternut squash soup, and as I tentatively cut up the squash, expecting it to perhaps have some larvae deep within, there was none. I also wondered if the flesh would be any good. I had figured that the reason the fruit was small was that the SVB larvae had stunted the growth of the fruit as they ate up the vine, which is the lifeline for the fruit. So I wondered if it would really be ripe, but when I cut the squash open, the flesh was nice and orange like any b-nut squash I’ve bought from the grocery store. And it worked just great in the soup, so I was very pleased. The soup itself cooked into such a mash that it was hard to pick out exact flavors of some of the ingredients, but there was no bitter flavor that might accompany an unripe squash.

As for my intact b-nut squash plant, I have fertilized it and I now check over it as often as I can. So far no SVB infestation as far as I can tell, and it’s now starting to produce some more fruit, so I should continue to have squash for this season.  I think, however, that the fruit is just going to be small, as I’ve got one that is maturing that isn’t much bigger than the others I harvested earlier.

I figure that growing veggies in containers may lead to smaller veggies. This seems to be the case with the Malabar spinach that I’m growing in a container; its leaves are a lot smaller than the ones of the Malabar spinach in the square foot garden. Maybe it’s because the root system has limited room in which to spread, I don’t know. It’s not a bad thing; the produce still tastes good, it’s just that it’s smaller.

In any case, I’m just glad I was able to save the other b-nut squash plant, and glad I have more fruit growing on it. From now on I will make sure I keep a sharp look-out for any SVB infestation!

Because I couldn’t ever find pictures of either the SVB sawdust or pix of the larvae on the Internet, I decided to take some pix for others who might be curious what to look for. Unfortunately these pix are not in focus very well, but hopefully you can see the sawdust and the larvae. The first picture is of a squash stem with sawdust hanging off of it. The picture caty-corner to it is one of a stem pulled back and exposing the larvae. It’s all white, slimy and segmented and shows up in the middle of the stem.

SVB sawdust on squash stem

SVB sawdust on squash stem

Can you see the icky, slimy SVB larvae?

Can you see the icky, slimy SVB larvae?

Okey-dokey, after some experimenting, I think I finally came up with a pretty good chia-brown rice bread. I got the idea when I came across Nuchiafoods.com, which sells a chia-brown rice flour product for wheat-free baking. ‘Course, they don’t tell you the ratio of chia to brown rice flour they use, so I had to kinda take a gander. First I got crazy and tried a cup and a half of chia flour to one cup brown rice flour, but, because chia has the tendency, like flaxseed, to quickly absorb liquid and get all gelly-like, the consistency, even when baked was a little odd, plus it was really way too dense. So then I kept reducing the amount of chia flour until I got what I think is the right ratio of chia to brown rice flour, and the right amount of liquid.

In any case, I think that this is a pretty suitable wheat-free, gluten-free recipe for folks who are trying to stay away from wheat and/or gluten. I don’t have a particular problem with either, but I am doing an anti-candida yeast cleanse and one of the specifications is to stay away from wheat (as well as sugar), hence all the wheat-free and sugar-free experimentation that’s been going in my kitchen lately. And, of course, vain chick that I am, the only reason I’m doing this cleanse is because somebody said I’d lose my unhealthy cravings and lose weight. So, what the heck and tarnation! I am losing my unhealthy cravings, and I think I’m losing some weight, though I threw out my icky nasty groddy scale when I moved and haven’t bought a new one yet. But I feel thinner in any case, and I’m finding that I’m not hungry all the time like I was before. Interesting.

Anyway, more on that later, but now onto the chia-brown rice bread recipe!

Ingredients:

1 ½ cup brown rice flour + 2 tbsp flour to flour yer bread pan
½ cup chia seed flour
2 cups soy milk, or other milk
3 tsp baking powder
3 ½ tbsp tapioca flour (optional)
¼ tsp salt
1/8 to ¼ tsp stevia powder or 2 tbsp agave (see comments below on the eevels of agave) honey (preferably raw) or sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and butter and flour a bread pan (you can use rice flour to flour it – it works just like wheat flour on a buttered surface and keeps yer bread from sticking to the pan, just like wheat flour).

If you don’t have any brown rice or chia seed flour, or want to save money, you can grind your own, like I did. I ground each flour separately in a blender, with the speed set to grind. The brown rice takes longer to grind; I let it grind approximately 5 minutes; chia seed doesn’t take nearly as long; I estimate it got ground to flour in less than a minute. Keep in mind that your mileage may vary according to your blender. I now have a fancy-dancy modern Oster blender that my dad gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago (at my request) to replace my ancient, but still usable Oster blender that my dad got me for Christmas twenty years ago  (also at my request). Even though that ancient Oster blender had a cheap plastic blending container, compared to the glass one I have now, I swear it ground flour much finer and faster than the modern one does. I used both blenders to grind whole wheat, and the ancient one wins, hands down. I mean, the modern one does an okey-dokey job and it’s good enuf for what I need it for, but the other one just ground flour much finer and in far less time, at least as I remember, but my memory is faulty, so who the heck knows? I do still have that ancient blender – I was gonna use it to make things like hypertufa containers and papercrete, but I may have to dig it up to use it for flour!  ‘Course, I recently received my Wondermill Junior hand-operated flour mill that I ordered from USA Emergency (check them out, they’ve got great stuff, decent prices, and very, very helpful customer service), but I’ve been too lazy to try it out.

Anywho, back to the old recipe. After ya grind yer flour, put it all in a mixing bowl and add the baking powder, tapioca flour, salt and stevia. You can also use honey (raw is best, if you can get it ). I previously said you can use agave, which I thought was  a honey-like healthful sweetener made from agave plants. Supposedly it’s suppose to not spike yer blood sugar levels like sugar does, but now it’s thought to be no better than high fructose corn syrup – yikes! See Donna’s comment below for the link to Dr. Mercola’s info on agave.  Or what the heck, use sugar if you like, I ain’t the health police! But you’ll probably need to use at least 1-2 tablespoons of honey or sugar to give the bread a little sweetness. If you don’t like a little sweetness to yer bread, then leave it out!

In any case, mix all yer dry ingredients real good before you add the milk. And if you use honey, mix it when you mix in yer milk, since it’s all syrupy and stuff. BTW,  if you use stevia, the best stevia powder in the whole world is NuNatural’s NuStevia Pure White Stevia Extract. It doesn’t take much at all to sweeten stuff. Other kinds of stevia do the trick, but it takes more to sweeten, IMHO. It’s a little more expensive, but you don’t need as much so it lasts a lot longer than other kinds of stevia powder.

Now comes the slightly tricky part: as I said earlier, chia, whether left as a seed or used as a flour, when introduced to liquid, has a tendency to absorb water quickly and gel up. This is just to say that ya gotta be careful when ya start to pour in the milk, cuz yer gonna need to mix it just as quick as you can before the dough gets too sticky to move.

Mix the milk in quick and when it starts to become a sticky blob, toss it in yer buttered and brown-rice floured bread pan. You may have to stretch it a little to fit the pan. The interesting thing I found, though, is using the chia flour makes the dough of this quick bread much the consistency of yeasted, whole wheat bread dough, and I swear even the dough kinda tastes like whole wheat bread dough!

Now ya put it in yer preheated 350 degree oven and let it bake for 40-50 minutes. Then ya got ya some great wheat-free bread! I myself think that it does taste like a whole wheat quick bread, especially with the sweet stuff in it (whether you use stevia, sugar, honey). However, if yer lookin’ for a wheat-free sandwich substitute, this probably ain’t it. It is rather dense, like a quick bread, and it doesn’t really rise like wheat bread does. But I have put peanut butter or tahini on it with some stevia-sweetened jam, and kinda do an open-faced PBJ (or TBJ if I use tahini).

In any case, if yer in the mood for adventure, give this recipe a whirl and see if ya like it. Lemme know if ya try it and what ya think of it!

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!