Monday, February 27, 2012

Still Juicing

I talked about juicing in a previous post.  One of the things I forgot to mention, was what didn't work.

I normally stick to the same recipe of:
  • kale
  • romaine lettuce
  • ginger
  • lemon or lime
  • apple or pear
  • carrots
I have tried adding other things.  Some worked better than others.

Things I added that turned out OK:
  • blackberries
  • strawberries
  • spinach
  • garlic (1 clove)
  • cucumber
  • peach
  • kiwi
  • grapes
Things I tried that I wouldn't be in a hurry to try again:
  • jalapeño (I left out the ginger when I tried this.  It was drinkable, but it had some major kick.)
  • celery
There's only one thing that I added and really didn't care for.  That was cilantro.   I like to eat cilantro, but it made some juice that wasn't drinkable.

I did try a new recipe the other day that I really enjoyed.

I used the following:
  • Strawberries
  • 2 pears
  • 1 Lemon
  • 2 Carrots

I couldn't taste the lemon.  If I make this or something similar again, I'll use two.
It was much more pleasant looking than kale juice, and it tasted good.  My wife even drank it. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Potting Up.

The seeds that I started a while back are doing really well. 

So well, that I had to move them to bigger containers.  I decided to go with 3" pots

I started by putting soil in my wheel barrow.  I threw in some potting soil, garden soil, and cow manure compost.  I'm not picky.  When it comes to soil, I tend to use whatever I have available. 

I filled the pots about half way full with the soil mixture.  Then I carefully dug around the plants.  I tried not to disturb the roots as much as possible.  I put the plants in the pot and filled up the rest of the pot with soil
Happy Brussels Sprout in its new home.
I didn't have enough containers for every plant.  The plants that are left will have room to grow.  I threw some more pepper seeds in to see if they'll sprout as well. 

I put the potted plants into bigger bins so they'll be easier to move around.  Luckily the weather has been cooperating during the day and I've been able to put them out in the sun.

Having the plants in bins offers one other advantage.  I can water them from the bottom.  I can just pour water into the bin and it'll get absorbed from the bottoms of the 3" pots.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pickled Radishes

I got tired of waiting for my radishes to grow.  So I picked up a quart of them at the farmers market today. 

I loved the pickled radishes that my mom made when I was a kid.  She used a simple recipe of 1 cup. water, 1 cup vinegar, salt and pepper. 

I thought I'd try fermenting them to see what happens.  I've never done this before, so I don't know how it'll turn out. 

I sliced the radishes as evenly as I could and packed them into a jar.  I added a 3.6% salt-water brine until they were covered.  Then I put the lid and airlock on.  I'm going to leave the jar in a dark corner of the counter for 7 days.  I'll post the results then.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


I started some pepper seeds in a seed tray.   At the time I said that it would take 3 weeks for them to germinate.  Well, I was wrong.  It was more like 9 days. 
I should note that the green pepper seeds there from 2009 haven't done well.  Very few of them have germinated.  

My tomatoes and Brussels sprouts are doing fine under the shop lights in the garage.

It was sunny and in the 60's the other day.  That gave me the opportunity to move all of the plants outside.

The radishes appear to be doing OK.  The root bulbs aren't getting real big.  That's disappointing, but the leaves are growing.

 I have one kale plant that is doing super.  I hope the rest catch up to it.

The plants under mini greenhouse #2 have sprouted.  They seem to be surviving the cold nights.

Lastly, here are the plants in mini greenhouse #1.  Now if I could just remember what I planted there.  I think the one bin has Brussels sprouts.  I'm not sure about the other.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Juicing with the Omega 8003

I starting juicing on a regular basis last Christmas.  Several people have asked me about it recently, so I thought it was time to blog about it.

I was first turned on to the idea of juicing from my dad.  When he started juicing on a regular basis I was intrigued.  It sounded like a good way to get vitamins.  So while I was there visiting, he made some kale juice.  I tried it, and thought it was great.  It was then that I decided that I wanted a juicer.

But what juicer should I get?  There are a lot of them out there to choose from.  Then I ran across an article by Dr. Mercola.   He recommended the Omega 8003.  I did some searching online, and that juicer was highly recommended.  A word of warning though, it's not cheap.

I ordered my Omega 8003 at Christmas.  That thing is a beast.  It has a 1/3 horsepower motor and weighs 16 lbs.  It can make juice, nut butters, and pasta.  I've only used mine for juice.
What do I juice?  

Here's the general recipe I use.

Start with citrus:

I use one of the following:

  1. Lime
  2. Lemon
  3. Orange
Then I add about 1 inch of ginger root.  This gives it some kick

After that I add the leafy vegetables.  
  1. Several handfuls of kale.
  2. Three romaine lettuce leaves.
Then I like to add something to sweeten it.  I normally use a Granny smith apple or a pear.  I get whichever one is cheaper that week.

The final thing I add are two carrots.
The juicer has what looks like an auger.  It's a screw like device that turns the vegetables into a funnel and squeezes the life out of them.  I find that running the carrots through last works best.   It helps to push through whatever else may be stuck in there. 

I've been asked if I've noticed a difference.  Am I more energetic?  I have to respond with, "No, not really."  I pretty much feel the same.  I just like how it tastes, and I know that it's good for me.

Speaking of which... I'm not a doctor, and biology certainly wasn't my subject.  So I'll point once again to Dr. Mercola.  He is a doctor and can talk about the benefits of juicing far better than I ever could. 

Do I have any complaints about the Omega 8003?  Well, just two really.  The tube for putting the food into the juicer is rather small.  It can be difficult to jam large kale leaves into it.  And, I have to cut up apples and larger things so they'll fit.  The only other complaint that I have is that the bin that catches the juice is rather small.  If I had to guess, I'd say that it's maybe 12-16 oz.  It'd be nice if it held more.

The last thing I have to note about the Omega 8003 is how quiet it is.  I can run the thing my kids are in bed and it doesn't bother them at all.  I can make juice and talk to the people next to me.  I seem to remember that the juicer my dad has was rather loud.

The last thing worth noting is what I do with all of the pulp (leftover vegetable solids) that come of the machine.  Except for the citrus, I compost it.  I remember hearing somewhere that you shouldn't compost citrus.  That's the reason I juice it first.  Once it goes through, I dump the pulp in the trash.  Then I continue juicing and save the rest of the pulp for the compost bin.  Composting, that sounds like something I'll have to blog about at another time.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Brrrr... It got cold.

Well, I had to do it.  I had to add heat to the second mini-greenhouse.

As it turned out, the greenhouse in the garden wasn't able to hold any of heat it gained during the day.  Then I saw that the weather forecast was calling for a low of 23*.  Twenty-three degrees!!!  I moved south to get away from the cold.  As it so happened, the same time this cold front was coming through, I was going on a trip north to PA (where it was 14* and snowing).

I solved this problem by running an extension cord from the garden greenhouse to the patio greenhouse.  I plugged it into the thermostatically controlled outlet so it would come on automatically. 
I don't have pictures to prove it, but I checked, and the plants in both greenhouses appear to be doing well.  They survived the cold spell.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Growing under lights

Remember these?

These are the radishes that I started in the mini-greenhouse.  They've been doing so well, that I've taken them out of the greenhouse and have been leaving them out in the sun during the day for the past week.  I've been bringing them into the garage on the nights when it gets into the 30's. 

Well, the weather hasn't been cooperating this weekend.  It's been cloudy and rainy.  So I had to come up with a plan B.

I had a 4-tier plastic shelf in the garage and some old 4' T12 shop lights.  The previous owner had them mounted under the cabinets in the garage.  They buzz like crazy and it drives me nuts.  So I replaced them with new T8 fixtures.

I hung the lights from the shelves with some cord.  I made use of my knowledge from Boy Scouts and tied them up using an adjustable knot known as the two-half hitches.  This will allow me to raise the lights as the plants grow. 

The containers with the kale are narrow and fit under the shop light perfectly.

The shelves weren't wide enough to fit the shop lights in there side-by-side.  So I took one of the other lights and put it on there as well.

Now the big question is, will this work?  These fixtures contain regular old T12 bulbs.  I don't have special full spectrum grow light bulbs.  I don't know if the plants will care or not.  I'm going to have to wait and see.  I don't plan on making this permanent anyway.  When the sun come out again, the plants will go back outside.  Until then they'll have to settle for artificial light.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Starting more seeds.

I mentioned in a previous post that I've had luck with seed starting trays, but that I wanted to see if I could start seeds without them.  I was able to start seeds without them, but I decided to use them again anyway. 

Why?  They are just too convenient. I picked up this one at Walmart for $6.

There are 72 individual peat pellets in a tray.  It takes about 2 liters of water to get them to expand.

Once they expand it is time to add the seeds.  I put peppers in all 72 of these pellets.  I had store bought green pepper seeds from 2009.  That's getting on the old side, so I used all of them first.  I put two seeds in each pellet in hopes that at least one of them will germinate.  If both manage to grow then I'll clip the weaker of the two. 

For the rest of the pellets I used jalapeño seeds that I saved from just four pepper plants last summer. 
Who knew that just four plants could produce so many seeds? 

When I was done, I put the lid on the tray forming a tiny greenhouse.  Then I placed the tray on the counter in the kitchen. 

Peppers take a long time to germinate.  I think it is close to 3 weeks.  So I wanted to get these going early.  

Friday, February 3, 2012

Oh, How I Miss Cake!

As I mentioned before, I was doing a whole foods diet that was pretty close to a paleo-style plan.  Well, now I've gone a step further and am doing a 21-day cleanse diet. 

I'd been so looking forward to just a little bit of baking when I finished the 30 days of the whole foods plan, which would be when I could add a touch of sweetener, like agave syrup or honey.  But the cleanse took away eggs.  Argh!

I miss cake!  See, I'm more of a texture-lover when it comes to food.  Don't get me wrong, flavor is big, but I've never met a flavor I haven't liked.  Texture is what makes me LOVE, see?  Anyway, nothing can replace the texture of cake.

So I tried.  I tried a great breakfast bar recipe I found online.  But I can only do so much almond or I get itchy, so I subbed coconut flour.  Epic fail.  If I had read the bloggers other posts on coconut flour, I would have known to use much less because it soaks up moisture like no sponge I've ever seen.  What I ended up with was a dry crumble of delicious nuttiness.  But it kept making me cough.  (And no, I didn't take a picture of the crumbly mess because I'm new at this blogging stuff.)

I couldn't just throw the beautiful nuts, seeds and coconuttiness out with the trash!  I was too yummy!  So I fixed it.  Kinda.  I added:
  • 1 banana
  • 1 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1 1/4 cup water
Mixed those ingredients up in the food processor, spread in 9x13 pan and baked for 20 minutes.

YES!  Mission accomplished.  It FEELS like cake!  Yummmm!  But somehow it lots all its nuttiness, and it tastes like a really bland doughnut.  Now I need to rescue this.
Hmmm... I'm thinking some vegan coconut frosting?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Seed starting update.

So that was fast.

It took less than a week for these seeds to germinate. 

I was pleasantly surprised when I went out to the garage and saw this.  The tomatoes and Brussels sprouts are doing well.  It'll probably be a while until the peppers show up.

I'm going to keep the grow lights over them until they are big enough to be moved to other containers.  If the weather looks good they might just get moved right outside.  I'll have to wait and see.