It’s important that the gardens be tilled up at the end of the growing season. Our tiller is in the shop, so Rocky is doing his part.
We do a fairly deep tilling in the fall. Although the garden soil is much improved after two years of adding compost and rotted manure, and mulching with straw, it still benefits from tilling up the deeper clay layer. Over winter, the rain and wind will erode the complex structure of the clay clods.
I’ve talked to a lot of folks who’ve told me they’d like to grow veggies but can’t on account of the Mississippi clay. What poppycock. That excuse does not hold water. Clay does. That’s why the roots of the tomato that Rocky was busy digging out went down so far– to the clay layer. When we till, we’re trying to incorporate more of that clay layer into the top 6-8″ of soil.
Our Mississippi soil is naturally on the acidic side. Simply growing crops lowers the pH even more. So before we till, I’ll throw some lime down. And although I don’t use inorganic fertilizer often, I will also throw out some “triple 13” (13-13-13, N-P-K). Some of the nitrogen will leach out over winter, but that’s okay.
I’ll be glad we did all of this next Spring. Well worth the effort.
50-70 days. Discovered by Sir Joseph Banks in New Zealand during the 1770 voyage of Captain James Cook, and enjoyed by 18th century gardeners. Also known as perpetual spinach, New Zealand is not true spinach, but a great way to have spinach flavor all summer; many even prefer the flavor to true spinach. It loves the heat, and produces abundantly. Noted for high vitamin content, especially vitamin C; it was served on Captain Cook’s ship to prevent scurvy. Small, young leaves can be eaten raw, or cooked. Bothered by almost no insects, even snails and slugs!
I planted the seed back in late August. Although it “loves the heat” I don’t think it loved Mississippi August heat too much. Most of the seed did germinate, but most of the seedlings were eaten by rabbits.
What’s interesting– and this has happened in my garden more than once– is that seed germinates and comes up when it’s good and ready. My 25′ row of New Zealand spinach produced one very large spinach plant which yielded a little over one pound of spinach. AND two little spinaches which have must have come up in the last few weeks underneath the big plant.
The little guys will be spinach salad. The rest is frozen.
Nutritional information for 5 ounces of cooked New Zealand spinach
I was prompted to add this after reading “Food and the Feds: An exhibition at the National Archives celebrates the government’s role” by Bruce Cole at National Review Online. Cole concludes his description of the exhibit with this:
Although skillfully done, “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” is marred by its cheerleading for the massive role of Washington in the lives of Americans. There is never a scintilla of doubt that federal regulation has been, and still is, a good thing; never a hesitation about how the thicket of regulation and rules affects the individual liberties of millions of Americans, for good or bad. For example, the massive failure of the federal prohibition of alcohol is ignored, as are controversial farm subsidies and agricultural tariffs, among the many other less than successful, or controversial, programs.
The exhibition coincides nicely with the nutritional directives now emanating from the East Wing of the White House. The catalogue, but not the exhibition, features a full-page photo of Michelle Obama, our nation’s dietitian-in-chief and anti-obesity crusader, in her White House garden with a group of toque-wearing chefs looking like they’re eager to harvest some of the First Lady’s healthy foods (perhaps arugula). This bit of gratuitous puffery by the National Archives, an independent federal agency, is unseemly, but not out of line with its exhibition’s sunny view of big government.
I don’t want to be told what to do/eat/say/think/feel. etc. Get out of my garden and kitchen, and stay away from my bookshelves. And while you’re at it, get out of my life.
~~ The label comes from Nutrient Facts, a web site that provides nutrient information for a wide variety of food. It also has a “build your own recipe” feature– you throw your ingredients in and it calculates the nutritional values of the final product. Sort of fun.
Words change. “Gay” isn’t what it used to be, except on t.v., e.g., Modern Family.
What I do not understand about the word “modern” is it’s inclusion in book titles whose subjects are subject to frequent change. We have many cookbooks with “modern” in the title, and almost all are over 50 years old. I have a bunch of books about “modern” home decorating.
[Insert scanned photo of a “modern” home from fill-in-the-blank ’70s decorating book.]
The most interesting book I have in my library with the word “modern” in the title is Modern Eloquence Historical Masterpieces European. (If anyone knows of an American edition, call me.) The edition I have was published in 1943. Looks like there were editions also in ’36 & ’28 (with different publishers). Then there’s a line that says
1925, 1914, 1900
My crappy old modern book has a history.
Modern Eloquence begins … . Wow. I haven’t looked at this book in a long time. It begins with the “History of Oratory,” followed by a funeral oration (Pericles). It ends with “An Appeal to the Italian People” (Churchill).
It includes a chapter titled, “Martin Luther’s ‘Before the Diet of Worms'” Being a Lutheran by Birth, I get a kick out of ML. Nail something up.
From Prince Edward, Formerly Edward VIII:
And I want you to know that the decision I have made has been mine and mine alone. This was a thing I had to judge entirely for myself. The other person most nearly concerned has tried to the last to persuade me to take a different course. I have made this, the most serious decision of my life, only upon the single thought of what would, in the end, be best for all.
From his brother, George, on the radio, December 25, 1939:
The Festival we know as Christmas is above all a festival of peace and of the home. Among all free peoples the love of peace is profound, for this alone gives security to the home.
But true peace is in the hearts of men, and it is a tragedy of this time that there are powerful countries whose direction and policy are based on aggression and the suppression of all we hold dear for mankind.
“I said to a man who stood at the gate of the year, ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown,’ and he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be better to you than a light and safer than a known way.'”
Mr. Cotton Farmer started to harvest his cotton on October 9th. That was over two weeks ago. With the exception of one rainy day, he’s been picking every single day, sun up to past sun down, and he’s still not done.
Still pickin’ (way out there)
A fuel tank in the field
Fuel tanks are on the roads, too, hauled by large pickups. They do not travel fast.
My in-depth research (!) for this post revealed that fuel tanks come in a variety of sizes: 300, 500, 750, and 1000 gallons. I also learned that tractor fuel “economy” is not measured in miles per gallon, but in horsepower hours per gallon (hp hrs/gal). If I understand this correctly, the issue isn’t how far can it go, but how long it can run.
Let’s assume Mr. Cotton Farmer’s tank holds 500 gallons, and his tractor gets 18 hp hrs/gal.* His tank holds 27 hours’ worth of fuel. His tractor runs more or less continuously from 8am until 7pm. He needs to refill his tank every third day. He’s been picking for 17 days. That would be six fill-ups so far. (It has to be filled up on 10/9.)
Mr. Cotton Farmer does not get a break at the pump– he fills up just like the rest of us. Diesel is going for about $3.70/gal.
500 x 3 x $3.7 = $5550.
That ain’t cheap. And that doesn’t include fuel used by his other machines, including those that take the bales to the gin, or his pickup. Nor does it include the fuel he burns to plant the cotton in the first place. Or the fuel that powers the crop duster he uses to defoliate. Et cetera.
It would be interesting to look at Mr. Cotton Farmer’s books. I wonder if I am anywhere close to being right.
*There are a lot of things going on (i.e., factors) with large machinery fuel economy that I need to learn. One thing is certain, this calculation is simplistic. But on the other hand, I was reading a book my son-in-law sent me. It has been suggested that simplicity in complex calculations is a good thing.The key feature of my calculation is that it doesn’t have to be 100% +/- something or other. It just has to be in the ballpark.
It is pitch black dark. He’s still out there. I think I see a flashlight moving around.
We have veggie night once a week. Please note that it is “veggie” night, not “vegetarian” night.
Veggie night works well in our Big Life style. Mr. Big Food does have something of a penchant for meat, so veggie night is a nice break.
For the most part, we eat leftovers for lunch. And for the most part, the rest of the week’s suppers are built around meat. So left over veggies get paired with left over meat dishes for lunch. We do have veggie side dishes throughout the week, but veggie night gives us more pairing options.
It is also the case that if the day after veggie night is particularly busy, Mr. Big Food might choose to plan on a quick-to-prepare meat dish (something in the slow cooker?) and serve veggie night’s veggies with it.
Finally, veggies that have seen better days become Suzy food. It is important that Suzy, who is 17.5 years old, has a balanced diet.
2.5-3 lbs. spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeds and pulp removed, placed cut side down in well-greased baking dish, skin poked with fork many times. Bake 30-40 mins at 350 or until squash is tender.
2-3 Tbsp butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C shredded Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp basil or oregano. chopped
Shred squash pulp into a serving dish. Add butter, half the Parmesan cheese, salt, and basil or oregano, and stir to mix well. Top with remaining cheese.
And because we live in Mississippi, tonight’s veggie night began with frying up some sausage for the sweet potato dressing.
Sweet potato dressing, buttered spaghetti squash, a glass of wine.
SWEET POTATO DRESSING
Preheat oven to 350.
1/2 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 2″ cubes covered with water and 1/4 tsp. salt brought to boil over high flame. Reduce flame, cover & simmer 20 mins. or until fork tender. Drain.
1 Tbsp butter + an additional 2 Tbsps, melted and cooled
1/2 C celery chopped
1/4 C onion chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 lb. bulk pork sausage
1/2 an apple, cored, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 C dry stuffing mix
1 egg beaten lightly
2 tsp raisins
3 Tbsp chicken stock, preferably home made
Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a skillet. Add celery & onion. Cook until tender. Add salt, pepper and poultry seasoning, and spoon mixture into a mixing bowl. Saute sausage in skillet until brown, and add to onion-celery mixture. Add stuffing mix, apples, and raisins. Add beaten egg, chicken stock and cooled melted butter, and stir to mix well. Cut sweet potatoes into 1/2″ cubes and fold into stuffing mixture. Pour stuffing into a greased casserole and bake 35-40 minutes.
The same process of over-bureaucraticization, politicization, and watered-down content has taken place in the public schools. When the K-12 system has finished with them and killed off anything resembling intellectual curiosity or initiative, the kids passively ride the conveyor belt to the next institution, where, if they’re lucky, the amenities will be a lot more awesome. Oddly enough, families often fail to give much thought to the enormous cost or the questionable value of the credential. But then, they’ve been told for decades that this is the only path to prosperity.
The curriculum was designed to instill inductive thinking. It prepared the student to write well, think, and have a corpus of dates, events, people, and places at his fingertips for reference and elucidation. [My emphasis]
Ah, but the great advantage of mass moronization is that it leaves you too dumb to figure out who to be mad at. At Liberty Square, one of the signs reads: “F**k your unpaid internship!” Fair enough. But, to a casual observer of the massed ranks of Big Sloth, it’s not entirely clear what precisely anyone would ever pay them to do.
Seriously, if any random stranger tried to talk to kids about stuff that schools teach in sex-ed classes, parents would be calling the cops. It’s just downright creepy to teach this kind of stuff to sixth-graders.
Pundette again, “When the K-12 system has finished with them and killed off anything resembling intellectual curiosity or initiative… .”
And so I bring you some questions from the crappy old book, Ray’s Modern Practical Arithmetic, published in 1908.
49. George Washington was born in A.D. 1732, and lived 67 years. In what year did he die?
50. Alfred the Great died in A.D. 901; thence, to the signing of the Magna Carta was 314 years; thence to the American Revolution, 560 years. In what year did the American Revolution begin?
66. The area of the United States up to 1897 was 3681661 square miles. Since then there have been added the territory of Hawaii containing 6449 square miles; Porto Rico, 3531 square miles; Philippine Islands, 114410 square miles; Guam, 150 square miles; Tutuila, 77 square miles; and Wake Island, I square mile. What is the present area of the United States?
These questions embody a “corpus of dates, events, people, and places.” (Is “embody” redundant here?)
Here’s what the Raeses have grown this spring, summer, and fall: turnips, black beans, purple hull peas, cranberry beans, Flossy Powell beans, Delicata squash, zucchini, horseradish, onions, potatoes, kale, rhubarb, sweet potatoes, beets, broccoli, blueberries, umpteen kinds of tomatoes, and almost every herb you can name. (Note: This is an incomplete list.)
The Raeses also belong to a CSA (community supported agriculture) share from a local farm. What they can’t eat fresh, they freeze or can—Kat has an entire pantry filled with brightly colored mason jars. She pickles turnips and cans lentil soup and makes jam and even her own ketchup.
Raese said she got into canning because she couldn’t land a full-time job after finishing her Master’s in English at UT. Matt was (and is) still working on his Ph.D. in English, which meant their income was next to nothing—and Kat had nothing to do with her time. Once she discovered canning and then gardening, she says she found a way to channel her frustration at being underemployed into something productive.
I skimmed through the whole article. (IMHO, it needs some serious editing, but who am I?)
What irritates me– wait, there are a lot of things that irritate me about food fads. One thing I hate about them is the waste. From the article where “I” is the author, Cari Wade Gervin:
I have grown tomatoes the past two summers (in containers, from seedlings that I bought). This summer I also grew one pot of sweet red peppers.
An admission: I have never once cooked anything with the tomatoes I have grown, unless you count slicing them up and making a tomato sandwich or caprese salad. Half the peppers I grew this year rotted on the plant because I had too many to eat. And that was from just one single sweet pepper plant.
Another admission: I have stopped going to the farmers’ market most weekends. Why? Because every time I go I spend $40 on produce that I then inevitably never have the time to cook. And I end up tossing those $4 oyster mushrooms and $3 arugula and $10 peaches in the trash. (Yes, I could freeze the peaches, but I’ve done that before, and I never eat them either. I don’t like frozen peaches, and I don’t like smoothies.) And every time I throw that rotten produce in the trash, I hate myself for not being more like Alice Waters. Or for not being more like Kat Raese. [My emphases]
1. If I were a vendor at The Market Square Farmers’ Market in Knoxville, and I knew you had thrown away produce I grew, I would be pissed. I know that once we make the exchange you are free to do what ever you want with your produce, and I am free to do what ever I want with my money, but that wouldn’t stop me from being pissed. If I had foreknowledge about who would be throwing my produce in the trash, I would refuse to sell it to you.
2. ARE YOU KIDDING ME [banging my head on the desk…]? Miss Cari, what a wasteful person you are. For shame!! Shame on you. Don’t you know there are starving children in Knoxville? You’re so busy writing for an “alt-weekly” that you can’t be bothered to pick peppers to give away? And you don’t have time to cook. Do NOT get me started. If Mr. Big Food, and The Chick Who Writes Mississippiveggie have time to plan meals, and to cook, every one has time to cook.
She “hates herself.” What poppycock. As I mentioned in another context,
Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit. Aristotle
Miss Cari needs to develop some better habits.
Again, they are her tomatoes and peppers, not mine. She needs no one’s permission to do with them as she pleases. They are the fruits of her labor. And because of this, I am left to conclude Miss Cari does not value her own time and efforts.
The produce she buys at the market are the fruits of others’ labor. I must conclude she does not value Mr. and Mrs. Farmer’s work product. And although I am not yet prepared to extend this argument, I suspect she does not value Mr. And Mrs. Farmer, either.
This morning, before Miss Jackie took off, we put out some melons out to nibble on while Mr. Big Food was preparing a Real Big Breakfast. One was that French melon that doesn’t travel well. If you want it, you have to grow it yourself or find someone– dare I say it? local– to grow them for you.
Today is perfect because it rained earlier and is now grey and chilly. I cannot work outside pulling up the mushy melon foliage that got nailed during the frost the other night. The house is clean (more or less) because I did Big Housecleaning in anticipation of Miss Jackie’s visit and the little thing we had out here at the Farm yesterday.
I took a Big Nap. Perfect. And then made a Big Batch of cookies. Perfect.
Mom’s snickerdoodle recipe
makes about 4 dozen
(I think she got it from Betty Crocker or Better Homes and Gardens, but I didn’t take the time to check.)
1 C shortening (part butter)
1 1/2 C sugar
2 3/4 C flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 400. Cream shortening/butter and sugar. (I used 1/2 C each.) Beat in egg. Sift together dry ingredients. Add flour mixture to bowl and beat until well mixed. Roll dough into balls the size of walnuts. Roll balls in a mixture of 2 Tbsp cinnamon and 2 tsp sugar. Bake until lightly browned but still soft, 8-10 minutes.
The perfect way to warm the kitchen up and relax after a busy week.
we invite you to this fascinating story of bread.”
Homemade Bread. By the Food Editors of Farm Journal. 1969.
(Click to enlarge & read. It’s worth it.)
Earlier I was saying that I’d begun to think about bread baking. It’s that time of year. I posted a recipe. And I remembered my Homemade Bread book. Thanks, Max.
After this one-page introduction to the volume as a whole, we have seven pages covering the following:
Bread History. “When the Christian era began, bread continued as the staff of life. Jesus, teaching his followers to pray, said: ‘Give us this day our daily bread.'”
Original American Bread. During Pioneer times, “[w]hen people traveled, they went on foot or horseback, sleeping and eating in the forests. They carried bread for sustenance. That’s why it was called journeycake.”
Southern Beaten Biscuits. “No discussion of our original breads is complete without a salute to beaten biscuits, perhaps the South’s greatest contribution.”
Ha ha. I looked forward to see that the only other region that is singled out is Boston, for its brown bread.
It’s interesting to see how history and culture were transmitted in crappy old books.
Sour Dough. “… … … If bubbling occurs, … . … repeated attempts… That is why few women make it now.” “We give you in this cookbook Farm Journal’s modified and easier method… .” Whew.
Boston Brown Bread. One tiny little paragraph compared to four for the South.
Then there is a discussion of flour and yeast. Pretty interesting if you like biology. Yeast are small plants, don’t you know?
Flour for “the Staff of Life.” Here we learn that flour absorbs moisture from the air, which is why measurements for it are approximate. Bread baked on humid days will need more flour.
I have seen the following in all old cookbooks.
Yeast Makes Dough Rise. “Yeast consists of living plants, … .” [My emphasis.]
So I just made a claim. And now I will back it up. I take it that if you assert something in a cookbook, you should have good evidence for asserting it. The assertion is that yeast = plants. I consulted my Textbook of Botany published in 1940 by Harper & Brothers Publishers with offices in New York and London.
The science is settled.
(Click for an example of how to fit what we know into the story of what we think we know.)
Nearing the end of the seven introductory pages we have
Ways to Make Bread. Oh brother. I can’t possibly summarize this in one or two sentences.
Recipes You’ll Find in This Cookbook. As above, but for better reasons.
I do like to settle down to read cookbooks. Don’t you?
It hasn’t even warmed up to 60 degrees. I doubt it will today. So…
It’s time to start thinking about baking bread, if for no other reason than to warm up the house! (But there are many reasons to bake bread.)
From Mr. Big Food’s Big Food Manual and Survivalist Flourishing Guide, “Big A’s Homemade Bread.” I made this not long ago, but didn’t take a photograph. Sorry. It was good!
~~ Here’s the recipe.
From Mrs. Arthur Causey (Glenda), Cleveland, Mississippi
BIG A’S HOMEMADE BREAD
Makes 2 loaves
2 C milk, scalded, still hot
3 Tbsp sugar
6 Tbsp butter, plus more melted for brushing tops of baked loaves
1 tsp salt
2 packages yeast
¼ C warm water
2 eggs, beaten well
7 C flour, plus more for kneading
Place sugar, salt, and butter in a large bowl, and pour scalded milk over mixture to melt butter. Cool. In a small bowl, add yeast to warm water and stir until dissolved. Add eggs to cooled sugar-milk mixture (taking care not to curdle eggs), then add yeast mixture. Add 4 C sifted flour, and mix for about 2 minutes “or until lumps are gone.” Add 3 C sifted flour and mix again. Sprinkle a board with additional flour, put dough on flour, cover with a dish towel, and let rest for 10 minutes. While dough is resting, grease a large bowl with butter all the way up all sides. After dough has rested, knead dough until elastic and put in prepared bowl. Cover bowl with a towel and let dough rise in a warm place for 1 ½ hours. After dough has risen, butter hands and roll out dough “in one long hot dog shape.” Divide long roll into 3 sections. Divide each section into 2 sections. Take 3 sections, roll out into long rolls, and braid. Make a second braid out of remaining 3 sections. Place braided loaves on lightly greased baking sheets, cover braids, and let rise 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 375o. Bake brains 15 to 20 minutes, or until barely brown. Glaze tops with additional melted butter.
I did not water the peas or onions yesterday because The United States Government promised me it would rain over night. It did not. Furthermore, The United States Government promised me there was a significant chance of rain today.
The United States Government has reneged on its promises.
So now I have to water the peas myself.
This is what happens when you rely on The United States Government to guide your actions.
Today, it was my pleasure to give a presentation to the Maben Home & Garden Club monthly meeting.
Lisa, our county extension agent, had called me last Thursday to asked if I could give a talk to the club the coming Tuesday (today). Sure! But it wasn’t until yesterday that we were able to meet. I asked her what she wanted me to talk about and she said, “Girl, you can talk about anything you want.” She added that she didn’t think they were all that into vegetable gardening. So I talked about veggies.
The title of my talk was, “Grandmas, Moms, and Vegetable Gardens.”
I had never been to a Garden Club meeting, and so I wasn’t sure about what sort of presentation would be acceptable. But I figured I couldn’t go wrong showing a bunch of photos. So I started off showing some photos of Mom’s garden, with a bit about how she grows veggies now (front yard, individual plants, contrasted with the full-on veggie garden she used to have), into some photos of my perennial garden at out former home, and those that show how I came to be such a big veggie gardener, finishing with a photo of me in my front yard veggie garden.
I then mention that I capitalized on the interest of growing veggies by starting a little business, where I taught people how to grow veggies. I end with a slide that says what a lot of my clients said to me,
My Grandma had a big veggies garden. My mom never learned. So I don’t know how.