Thursday, July 11, 2013

Blogging on my own domain these days, though still not reliably.

http://www.phoenyx.net/

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Rabid wolf infestation

Here we have a male rabid wolf:

As you can see, he takes up most of the bottom of a pint Mason jar. Full-grown, he'd take up all of the bottom of a quart jar, if not a half-gallon.

We know he's male because of the dark front legs, though usually I perpetuate the oppression of the patriarchy by calling most animals of unknown gender "him," including all three of our hermit crabs despite the statistical unlikelihood.

Anyway, this particular guy showed up in our bedroom Sunday. This morning, I retrieved either an identical one or the same one from the kiddo's bedroom. Son is becoming more acclimated - this time he didn't run screaming (as my husband put it, further perpetuating said patriarchy) like a little girl, just hollered "Mom, spider" while trying to keep the highly-predatory dachshund from noticing it.

If he or one of his kin turns up again, I'm (1) marking him so I know if it's the same one next time and (2) finally getting around to re-caulking the front door to try to prevent a next time. They're mostly harmless, but I think with one dog (male), one cat (male), one snake (male), and three hermit crabs (assumed male), we have enough of a zoo. And a patriarchy.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Rain, of course

After concluding that my cucumber and squash problems were probably blossom-end rot (though I hadn't even found any damaged cukes), I backed off on watering, somewhat nervously. Let everything dry out for two days (and just mistyped "fry out," which was almost not wrong), then watered more heavily. Nothing died.

Yesterday, I set the hose to drip-water everything for five hours.

Last night and today? Rain. Of course.

(It wasn't a total surprise, since there was a 20% chance, but still.)

Sadly, I still don't have the rain barrel intake repaired. Of course.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bierock recipe, improved

I've refined my bierock recipe a bit over time, so they're a little more consistent than they used to be. So before I forget, here it is. Note that this makes a lot, but (1) it's the way everything works out evenly, and (2) we like bierocks, a lot.

Bierocks (makes 60)

5 lbs ground beef (I use 85/15)
2 heads cabbage, shredded (about 20 cups)
3 onions, chopped (about 3 cups)
5-6 teaspoons salt
5-6 teaspoons pepper
5 boxes Pillsbury Hot Roll mix

Brown the ground beef. Use a slotted spoon to remove it to a covered bowl. I keep mine warm in a low oven while I'm doing the cabbage, because that takes awhile.

Cook the cabbage and onions down in the ground beef drippings, until liquid is cooked off and cabbage starts to brown a little. This may require two batches, since it's about twice the volume of the ground beef, so reserve drippings if you need to, or add a little water and maybe a smidge of vegetable oil to the second batch.

Mix the ground beef, cabbage, onions, salt, and pepper thoroughly. You can refrigerate or even freeze the filling at this point. Warm it up again before you make the bierocks, especially if you're doing a post-shaping rise (see below).

If you're picky about the filling/dough coming out even, do like me and divide the filling into five portions, one per box mix.

Make the hot roll mix according to package directions. Depending on the size of your oven, you'll only want to make one or two boxes' worth at a time. I let it rise before dividing it, but some people let it rise after making the bierocks. My way's a little crustier, the other way's a little fluffier.

Preheat the oven to 375.

Divide the dough into twelve pieces (per mix - and yes, I used to make eight per). Flatten them out to five or six inches across. Put a spoonful of filling on each one, then wrap the edges around, seal, and put it on a baking sheet seam side down.


Bake for 15-20 minutes, until they're nicely browned. They freeze pretty well, but usually don't last long enough for that around here, since I made a batch for Carl's extended family last night and will make a batch for my family next. I've parbaked them, frozen them, then thawed and finished baking them later, and it seems to work okay.

Some folks put cayenne in them. Some folks put in cheese. Some folks even make them with sausage instead of ground beef, or potatoes instead of cabbage, though I've never encountered this personally. Some folks eat them with ketchup, or mustard, or gravy. You really can't go wrong with them.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Eleventy-one

That was the temp yesterday, the twenty-somethingth in a long string of 100+ temperatures.

I guess this wasn't the best year to decide to garden in the entire backyard. But after last year's record-setting heat, I thought we were due for a nice cool, wet summer. Boy, was I wrong.

Watered everything, as I've been doing almost daily. It seems to have mostly gotten through the 111-degree day yesterday, except the second-to-last bell pepper (which has been dying anyway) and the snake gourd (which hadn't been, but also had never really grown).

On the flip side, except for the JetStar in the SmartPot that set tomatoes before all this started, nothing is really producing. There are two little Sugar Baby watermelons, but nothing on the Black Diamonds, nothing on the cucumbers (lots of blossoms, and I strongly suspect there's a baseball-bat-sized monster lurking somewhere), and of course no set fruit on the rows of paste tomatoes and slicers in the ground.

Three of the four bell peppers have bitten the dust, and the fourth is getting a bit shriveled no matter how much I water it. The summer squash (Lebanese white bush) went in late, so it's technically producing but doesn't have anything really ready yet. I finally acquired some more Bt to spray on the dino kale, so maybe it'll feed something other than cabbage-whites.

The winged gourd is taking over the northeast corner of the yard. It's a volunteer out of the little (ex-)compost pile there, has never ever been watered, and is as happy as can be to grow in the shade of the elm and the garage where nothing else has grown for years. The little gourdlings mostly disappeared, so I figure they're feeding bunnies or something like, but a few of them have made it past the tender stage to full-sized. I think there's also an acorn squash tangled up with it, but the fruits on those have turned mushy and fallen off before they grow into anything identifiable - I don't know if the cross-pollination is doing them in, or the heat and lack of water.

At least there haven't been any squash bugs or squash vine borers that I can tell, so there's something to thank the heat for, or perhaps the ducks.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Historic preservation cat

With the loft bed, son no longer needs box springs. So we pulled it out, and propped it up in the living room while we tried to find the storage bag so it can go in the garage. As cats do, Ramses sensed a new high place, perched on top of it, and is trying to claw the popcorn off the ceiling.

When he's done with that, we're going to assign him to strip the paint off the siding.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Hooping it up

It's been crazy warm lately (just like the summer was), but it's finally going to act like winter starting tomorrow. I gave the critters in the teeny-tiny hoop house a good soaking, and finally got around to trimming up the salvaged coroplast on the ends, zip-tying it on, and cutting doors so I can water it easily. And take pictures. Guess I should have taken a side-view so you can see the construction, but it's two pieces of conduit bent into house shapes (so not exactly just "hoops") and threaded through a cedar 1x3 ridgepole.
There's a half-dozen broccoli plants, which are finally thinking about broccing. (That's the verb for what they do, right?)
The half-dozen cabbages are slowly heading up. They've done a lot of their growing in this warm spell, so they'll probably slow down a little now. Or not, since the better-sealed hoop house will probably keep them a bit warmer.

I need to cover a second bed, since I planted some chard hoping it would get started on sprouting during the warm spell. Chard sprouts really slowly, and grows slowly when it's cold, so it may not have been worth it, but when the temps are hanging around in the 60's that long, you just gotta plant something.

Some of the hardneck garlic (in a raised but not covered bed) also finally sprouted, so I'm a little relieved there. It didn't show anything when I planted it this fall, so I didn't know if it actually did put down roots or just rotted in the ground. I feel better seeing some of it now, so hopefully I'll have a batch of garlic scapes this spring.