Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

My new blog is all set up and ready to go, hop on over and check it out!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Monster Zucchini!

Talk about flippin' huge! Check these buggers out! They are practically bigger than my legs.

Unfortunately, they would probably taste horrible because they tend to get really fibrous when allowed to get this big. No worries though, these two will be our seed fruit so that we will have seeds for next year and probably a lot extra to put in the Etsy shop.

It so happened that they got this big because Lee has been slacking off on his harvesting duties, which is because he's been a wimp about getting tomato leaf stickies on his skin. It makes him itch.

I do admit that the tomatoes were starting to deter me from going into the garden, too. They became these ravenous beasts that were getting way out of control and had produced a serious jungle. We no longer had garden paths, they killed the Stars and Moon watermelon vine that was minding it's own business next door by growing over the top of it, and started bending the fence which encouraged that rabbits to climb over and hop on into the garden. (Boy was it fun {not} chasing Dot through all those tomato vines last night for a half an hour!)

I decided that I would begin selectively pruning them so that Lee (and I) will go back into the garden again, the wimps that we are. I fear that we probably watered too much, because we have a lot of vine, but very little fruit. And what's up with the darned heirlooms? Nothing. We only bought the Early Girl hybrid to tide us over until the heirlooms kicked in, but Early Girls aren't much better than grocery store tomatoes. Blech. They are still tough and not super tasty. Bah. I guess the bright side perks would be that they are organic and we didn't have to pay for them.

Last summer Mr. Stripey, our one heirloom tomato at the time, tormented us and then finally had a huge blowout just before the frost kicked in. I have a feeling the same thing is going to happen with our White Queen, Black Sea Man, Black Trifele, Green Zebra, Russian Queen, Pink Oxhearts, and the others we have been waiting on for long I've forgotten the names of.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Non-GMO Corn Tortillas? Do They Exist?

Since posting my last recipe for quesadillas, and all the news buzz about Monstanto wreaking havoc with their GMO corn and encouraging a super pest to evolve (that is now resistant to their GMO corn), I've really been concerned about all of the products that we buy which are made of corn, so pardon my ranting here. As you know, it isn't just the obvious things that contain corn either, corn is in everything! Take a peek at this crazy list of things that may be derviced from corn! Talk about daunting.

You may have read my last rant about GMO's, but if you haven't and have no clue as to why they should be avoided, please take the time to learn why you should avoid them! The easiest way to avoid them is to buy organic, or trusted brands that do not use GMO's in their products. If you are cell phone savvy, get an app to make it even easier for you.

I hate to say it, but there's a 75-85% chance that the corn in your local grocery store is GMO corn. Yep, that includes the fresh summer sweet corn in the produce section, too. It's one of those sad situations where you just have to eat the nasty GMO or go without. A lot of people are choosing to go without now, unless they are growing it themselves. How very sad and depressing that things have come to this.

Even those with home gardens aren't completely safe, and organic heirloom corn could easily and very quickly become a thing of the past. As it is, it is already rare and very hard to find. I know by trial and error that if you do find some, it's hard to grow. Our corn this year was a failure. Also, since we are surrounded by miles and miles of cornfields, most likely GMO corn, it's totally possible that our corn could get contaminated. This really, really, depresses me to think that we are extremely close to not having real, non-GMO, organic corn again, ever. Once it's ruined by GMO's, it's gone. We can't bring it back, folks. We need to all take responsibility and do something now.

What can you do? Well, the simplest thing is to avoid corn, with the exception of organic. This is voting with your wallet. You can take it a step further and contact the manager or owner of your local grocery store and ask them to carry organic or non-GMO corn and corn products. If you really want to get involved, check out Millions Against Monsanto  or NON GMO Project and keep up to date. They often have online petitions you can sign and updates for events in your area. Putting the pressure on the big guys is how to make things really happen, so if you can, get involved! Even if it's just signing petitions. There are other organizations and websites out there devoted to this cause, do a little Googling.

As for those corn tortillas, I found that La Tortilla Factory brand organic tortillas are sold at a number of stores that are available all over the country. I also read that the Trader Joe's brand items sold in their stores are also GMO-free. That doesn't mean that every item on their shelves are, as they've gotten into some hot water in the past for selling non-labeled GMO items from other companies, but you can feel somewhat safe with their own brand. Also, it appears that Whole Foods has a new attitude about carrying GMO products, and I'm sure this has a lot to do with consumer petitions and the pressure that activist groups put on them earlier in the year with store rallies and educating consumers. See, when you get ticked off and speak up, those companies do listen!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Cheese-free Quesadillas

This is my favorite snack as of late, quesadillas without the cheese (and all the fat, cholesterol, and lactose.) How is that possible? Hummus. I was skeptical that it would work, but yUh-hUm-mMm! And so simple!

I just slather some hummus on one corn tortilla (flour works too, we also tried whole wheat and it was pretty good,) then slap another tortilla on top of it. Brush a little bit of oil (whatever vegetable based oil that suits you will work) on the top. I don't like super greasy food so I just use the barest amount, but if you are all about frying, by all means, go ahead and drown that sucker. Flip it into a pan, oil side down, over medium heat until it turns golden brown. Brush oil on the opposite side and flip it over and let that side get golden brown. Slide onto a cutting board. Chop that baby up into however many pieces you want, and voila! Serve with your favorite salsa.

If you want to get all fancy, make your own darned hummus and salsa. If you really think you are all that then make your own tortillas, too. Go on, I dare you. [wink]

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Flower Seed Preview!

I've already begun harvesting flower seeds for next year. There will be a few more varieties to choose from for next Spring, aside from the Mammoth Sunflowers and Morning Glories, which by the way have been marked down 50% in my end of the season seed clearance sale.
Here's a preview of just a few of the flower seeds that will be packaged up soon and available for next Spring!

 Bright Pink Cosmos!

Bright orange Marigolds!

 Zinnias in all shapes, sizes, colors, and textures!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Mystery Moth

A couple weeks back I found a black wiry-haired caterpillar munching away on my morning glory vines. I haven't kept a caterpillar since early elementary school, but I thought that Lee's boys would enjoy watching it. I scooped him into a jar and gave him some more morning glory leaves. For about a week and a half he ate, and ate, and ate. He required about three large morning glory leaves a day. Finally, one day he had wound himself all up in a little cocoon.

Unfortunately, I almost forgot about the little thing, sitting on the counter amongst jars of seeds that had gotten stacked in front of it's own jar. Last night I found his jar and thought that he may have just died. The leaves that had been left in the jar had wilted and withered over the top of the cocoon, sort of sealing it in. I felt bad. This was why I didn't keep little bugs in jars.

So I took the jar outside and found a stick, I nudged the leaf off of the cocoon. Then I thought I saw a little wiggle! I tapped at the cocoon ever so lightly with the stick. It wiggled again! Suddenly there was a little crack! I could see something white and orange moving around inside. I ran to get Lee. By the time we had gotten back to the jar, like less than a minute later, the little thing had already emerged! Just like that! I thought it was so strange that I had seemingly woken him up and he had hatched instantly!

Lee took a look at the weird looking moth, who was pretty white with Dalmatian-like spots, spindly black legs with white spots, and teeny tiny underdeveloped wings and a huge orange abdomen. "It doesn't look ready. You woke it up too soon. He's not finished. Can you get it back into it's capsule?"

I gave him a sideways glance. I did feel horrible though. The moth was crawling all around and couldn't fly. I was certain that I had ruined his chances of being a normal moth. As I sat there and watched him crawl on the ground, I saw the chickens run up. I didn't shoo them away, as I thought, "Well, it's probably more merciful to offer him a quick death than to let him wander around on the ground and slowly starve. Something would end up eating him eventually, anyway."

So I cringed as I waited for Red to pluck him up and swallow him, but the chickens would have nothing to do with him after they got a closer look. Wow! That was a first. So I let the little guy crawl onto a stick and took him over to our garden fence. He crawled up the wire, all the way to the top, and then just dangled there. I thought for sure he didn't have any strength to hang there, being just hatched and all, but little did I know that this is just what the little guy needed. I went in to make dinner. Every now and then I glanced out the window to check on the little white "spot" on the fence. He stayed put.

While dinner was cooking, I quickly did a web search on what happens when you wake up a moth or butterfly too soon or why the wings were undeveloped, and found nothing. I was shocked. Surely other people had run into this problem before? Then I read the development of a certain kind of butterfly, which stated that after it emerges from the cocoon, it climbs a tree and lets it's wings fill with blood, then flies away. Ah hah, that had to be it! I told Lee, and we both went outside to check on the mystery moth.

Sure enough, he had wings! In about an hour, his short stubby wings had filled out all the way down past his abdomen, and he looked beautiful! I tried to get a picture despite it being dark, as you can see above.

Later on I found out from a web search that he was a Salt Marsh Moth. Not only did his coloring obviously give this away, but it stated that one of his habitat preferences were marshy areas, which are close by here. And, that one of his favorite foods is the cotton plant, also nearby, since this is the cotton capitol of California.

He flew away sometime while we were eating dinner. We felt relieved.