Friday, 30 August 2013

And...., its all gone!

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Just a couple of posts ago I was raving about my accidental veggie patch.
This patch produced a pumpkin plant, an unknown (to me, that is) creeping squash-esque plant and one potato plant.

The pumpkin plant was flowering profusely, but only producing male flowers.

Then one fine day, this happened

Whoopi-doo! A female plant.

And then, THIS happened

This picture is remarkable, for what you don't see. You don't see all those lovely pumpkins you saw in the earlier post.

Mr (I hope it's not Mrs) Groundhog has found the plant.

Bye, bye pumpkin dreams!

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Friday, 23 August 2013

Potato Harvest

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Remember the post about how my compost pit was becoming an edible garden?
Well, today I had my first ever harvest of non-herbs. My potato harvest.

Looks lovely doesn't it? I got two of these early potatoes.

Here is how it looks in situ:

Someone else was also sorta enjoying the tater:

There are some more potatoes in the making:

I think I will be having a few roast potatoes this time 

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Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Case of the Thirsty Trio -- A Mystery on a Thursday, but Not at all a Thursday Mystery

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I woke up on a Thursday morning to an unusual sight. WaMu was draped over the side of a large blue bucket, apparently peering intently into the contents. The bucket was three quarters full of water. This, however, is not unusual. WaMu, as you all know, is a Hydrologist. The unusual thing about this display of acrobatics is not that he was capable of it either. It was that he was drinking water out of the bucket! It is not even that he is capable of drinking when suspended on his stomach that was surprising, but that he was drinking water at all! You see WaMu likes to experiment with water, but never actually drink it. What self respecting scientist munches on their samples?! Seriously, you people!

To understand this you need to flashback, oh about seven years or so, when WaMu had an emergency. Without going into the details, let me just say, it was the year when we discovered that cats don't have a thirst impulse and that their natural food usually gives them all the water they need. Long story short, we had to feed him a prescription diet that induced thirst.

Now, seven years later, gato numero dos (or if you prefer French: chat nombre deux) contracted the same condition. And if you are completely other-language-unfriendly: cat number two contracted the same condition. He was prescribed the same food, but by a different vet (in case you were interested).

So at this point you are going, "Big deal. So Cat 1 ate Cat 2's prescription, felt thirsty, drank water. Case closed!" Not so fast! Not so fast! Before you hit that back button on your browser or log in to your favorite social networking site, let me tell you (humbly of course) that you are wrong.

Strange things continued to happen throughout that eventful Thursday (yes, I am completely aware of what my life must seem like to you, if this is what I call an eventful day). Not only did Cat 1 and Cat 2 drink water, but Dog 1 (Diva, in case you have forgotten here is an intro) was also drinking copious amounts of water. They were in fact drinking from the same bowl (no surprises there, they are all lazy and prefer to drink/eat from the nearest bowl). But it took me a while to realize that they were sort of queuing for that bowl and going round robin, taking turns to drink out of it.

Now this, even you, my dear reader, must admit, was odd.

Even if WaMu had eaten Poli Saamiyaar's food, there is no earthly reason why this should make Diva drink gallons of water. So, I decided to investigate the matter more thoroughly. Like all shrewd detectives, I concluded that finding the scene of the crime was probably the first step towards solving it. Like everyone who has ever been owned by critters would know, this tends to somehow revolve around a source of food. This is what I found, when I waked into the room where their food is stored:

A bag of prescription food, shredded, a quarter of it already empty. And most importantly, lying on the floor, outside the closed closet in which it was stored. I turned around inquiringly at the brood following me. The Persons of Interest reacted thusly:
1. Suspect number 1, WaMu: looked up innocent like.
2. Suspect number 2, Poli Saamiyaar had the expression of "Oh I get food again". Not "Oh! I Get Food Again!! Whoopie!" but more Zen and Budhha like in its matter of factness.
3. Suspect number 3, Diva? Ah, Diva! She had that tell all guilty look, where she  averts her eyes first and then looks askance and then licks her lips somewhat sheepishly.

That was pretty much enough interrogation to piece this Masterpiece Mystery together.

WaMu, the ever curious, need-to-know-what's-on-the-other-side-of-every-door kitty, opens the door, reaches for the bag and pushes it down. (Everyday I am thankful that he does not possess opposable thumbs!) Poli Samiyaar (who should also be named shredder par excellence) goes to work on the package. And Diva, the Vacuum Cleaner cleans up the spoils on the floor, while the other two eat straight out of the bag.

And your friendly author Sherlock Holmes solves one more Thursday mystery!

Footnotes and Disclaimers:

  1. The title is an awkward reference to Thursday Next novels by Jasper Fforde. Just to tell you that I like to read books.
  2. I know neither Spanish nor French, but I like to pretend that I do anyway.
  3. Masterpiece Mystery is PBS's series on, well, masterpiece mysteries!

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Monday, 19 August 2013

The Third Cinder Block Raised Garden

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This garden has been a loooong time in the works. Right under one of the windows in my home was this huge ugly yew or was it canadian hemlock? Not sure. But it was wrong for the spot, needed constant pruning (which I hate to do) and just had nothing interesting to offer, year after year, season after season.

One fine day, it met its end under the chain saw.

I toyed with various plans for that spot while the spot started to grow weeds and look like this.

Not pretty. Still, not very threatening. A few years passed and it started to look a lot worse. Crazy weeds, crazy grasses, everything. So finally this past weekend, I decided to start work on this. One of the big hurdles was the root of the old yew (or canadian hemlock? Either way, it was mostly eww...). It was getting in the way of my cinder blocks.

I finally got my reciprocating saw and cut the root out and started to lay the first course.

If you look at the right hand top corner of the pic (inside the cinder block perimeter) you can see the remnants of that root. And similarly the left bottom corner of the photo has another portion of that same root.

It's a long way from being done. But at least, it has begun!

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Sunday, 18 August 2013

Herb Pot Happiness

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I have been waiting so long to own one. Last evening when I stopped at the nursery I saw these one sale, so picked one up. Volunteer basil plants from last years' plants are now adorning it.

Although it looks very cute and would look lovely indoors when the weather gets cold, it is a bit of an odd feeling trying to plant it. And watering it causes more than the usual share of mud in the tray.

Anyway can't wait to see these guys thrive. I hope they thrive!

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Friday, 16 August 2013

Moroccan Lentil Soup

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  1. 6 cups Cooked lentils (I soak and sprout them before I pressure cook them with a little turmeric). Cooked lentils freeze very well, so it is always easy to have some on hand when you need it.
  2. 1 large onion sliced
  3. 3 2" pieces of cinnamon (grind one of them)
  4. 6 cloves
  5. 4 pods garlic -- crushed or minced
  6. 4 large carrots -- chopped into small pieces
  7. 1 green pepper chopped into small pieces
  8. 2 sticks celery -- chopped into small pieces again
  9. 1 lemon -- juiced
  10. 1 tsp cumin seeds -- optional
  11. 2 medium sized green chili peppers -- sliced
  12. 3 medium sized, vine ripened tomatos
  13. Tan-Tan seasoning to taste
  14. chili powder to taste
  15. salt to taste
  16. 1/3 bunch parsley to garnish -- chopped

  1. Heat some oil of your choice or butter in a pan
  2. Drop two sticks of cinnamon and the cloves
  3. When you start to smell the aroma of cinnamon, drop the cumin seeds and let it splutter
  4. Immediately, drop the onions, garlic and green chilies and saute for a bit
  5. Add about two Tbsp Tan-Tan seasoning and fry a little
  6. Add the green peppers and saute a little more.
  7. Then add the celery and carrots and the half of the cooked lentils
  8. Grind the remaining cinnamon
  9. Puree the rest of the lentils along with the cooking water in a blender which still has the cinnamon in it. Add to the pot. Note: If you cook the lentils in a pressure cooker you don't need a lot of water, so you will just about have enough water in the lentils to make the soup rather than a pulp. If you cooked the lentils in an open pot you are likely to have a lot of water in the pot. So don't add the whole thing -- just enough to make the soup look like soup (more stew-ish)
  10. Add some salt and add chili powder according to taste.
  11. Chop the vine ripened tomatoes and throw them in.
  12. Leave on medium heat for about 10 minutes (or less). Stir often since the soup is thick and can stick the bottom if left for too long. Check a piece of carrot to see if it has cooked. If it has, you are done. Otherwise, cook for a little longer.
  13. When done, add the juice of one lemon and the parsley.
  14. Stir, dish it on to a bowl and enjoy!

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The Accidental Veggie Patch

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Behind the lilacs, in a small square patch of sun in the garden, I had meant to make another flower garden. I wanted to add some roses (since its inside the fenced area and the groundhogs don't seem to care for roses) and some delphinium and anything else that the groundhog will leave alone. So, sometime last year, I decided to go the lasagna garden approach.

I added a lot of packaging cardboard right over the grass and then started to dump my compost on it. Sorta like what I did after Irene in the front yard (here is the link to that post). Then I dumped the rest of my years' worth of compost into it and topped it with another layer of cardboard.

I had to save a lot of my plants from the siding contractors last year, so I put many of them in pots and stuck the pots on top of the lasagna garden to weight it down and let them all compost in piece. I even added some loosely placed wood boards to border the area.

This is what happened this year!

You can see how the grass has grown over the borders and encroached into the "compost pit", which now is a veggie patch.

So what is this ginormous plant? Watermelon? Pumpkin? Zuchini? Cucumber?
I guess we will have to wait to find out.

If all of these flowers became fruit. I should have a pretty decent harvest!

This little guy is either a potato or a sweet potato.

 And who is this guy? One more in the melon/zucchini family I am sure. But which one??

I love the sweet potato/potato flower

And of course, the ever faithful tomato. I always get a few plants out of the compost bin every year. The rabbits wait until they ripen and then dig in!

So, now, the intended flower patch is going to become a veggie garden. All I have to do is edge it with some cinder blocks, add some more compost and dried leaves and next year start things from seed so that I can get more harvest out of it!

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Sunday, 11 August 2013

Cottage Cheese, Eggs, Almonds Savory Bread

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2 cups full fat cottage cheese
3 cups Almond flour (I just ground up almonds in the Vitamix)
8 eggs
1 bunch chopped spring onions
chillie powder (cayenne pepper) per taste
2 Tbsps Dry Basil leaves
Ground, dry rosemary -- I add a lot, because I love the aroma.
Baking soda
Baking powder
Salt to taste


1. Whisk the eggs and mix with the cottage cheese and almond flour.
2. Add the chopped spring onions, basil and grind up some dried rosemary leaves in a pestle and mortar and toss that in.
3. Add chilli (cayenne) powder and salt and taste test to see if it feels good.
4. Preheat Oven to 375 F
5. Line a square (8"x8") baking dish and grease it a bit with your choice of oil. Pour the dough in and bake for 40 minutes or until done.

Macro Nutrients:
Protein: 48 +56 + 60 gms = 164 gms
Fat: 32 + 20+ 141 = 193gms
Carbs: 16 + 21*3 = 79 gms

Hmm. I am not liking the protein to fat ratio and the main culprit is the almonds. So next time, I will be going a little easy on the almonds. May be half the amount. I would also sprinkle some rock salt and rosemary on top of the bread.

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