Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Kaleapalooza 2012

                                                              Blue Curled Scotch Kale

                                                           Bloomsdale Longstanding Spinach
                                                        Georgia Southern Collard Greens

I am not sure what year of the new food 2012 will be but this month has been a bonanza of dark leafy greens. The newest dirtiest kid in the world should be here around the end of this month and the pregnancy has all been going smoothly. Except for an issue with low iron. It's been suggested that I consume more red meat and dark, leafy greens. I live in a jungle of dark, leafy greens. I feel like I eat so many dark, leafy greens that spinach and kale and collards and arugula should just start poring out of my ears. I love salad! Love it! But a girl can handle only so much. Here are two new ways I am kicking up the kale in this house. 1. Juicin' and 2. Kale chips.

1. Juicin'
I have always imagined myself to be the sort of person that juiced, but have never actually done so. My lovely office mate Marissa lent me her spare juicer and a recipe to try.
My really specific recipe is:
Two handfuls of red grapes and a bunch of kale. I also squeeze in some fresh lime juice because vitamin C can help you absorb iron.

Juicing is fun. I highly recommend it for gardeners. Sometimes I just walk around the backyard and pick random greens to juice together. I have thrown in lettuce and parsley to my previous recipe. Dirtiest Kid got in on the act choosing random fruits and veggies we had to make her own concoction with dubious results. 

2. Kale Chips

I have always been somewhat confused by kale chips. What are they exactly and why bother? And why do they cost $6.00 at Whole Foods?
Hot tip: kale chips = roasted kale. And it is amazing.

Gather a bunch of kale from the garden, wash and then dry. If you don't dry the kale all the way it won't get as crispy. Pull out the thick stalk in the middle and just use the leaves. Sprinkle with oil and salt. Bake in your oven at say 350ish for 12ish minutes. When the edges are starting to brown and they are crispy, pull them out. Tasty snack! I can't imagine they would taste as good from a package as fresh but I can't say I've tried it either.

The Great Escape: A Chicken Pictorial

We let our chickens out of their chicken run at least once a day and provide them with the whole back of the yard to graze on fresh grass and eat up bugs. For some chickens, this is not enough. They dream of collards. MY collards.

                                  Up, Up
and away!
                   Strutting in the garden.
                      Eating up my greens.
You are a brave one Miss Chick.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling

In other parts of the country, you may have snow, or sleet or hail. On special occasions, we have rain and it is glorious. Living in drought prone South Texas means rain is always appreciated. The novelty of it drives us to get on our gear and hop outside. The Dirtiest Family spent it splashing around in puddles and harvesting happy vegetables.

Our carrots never make it into the house. Between Dirtiest Kid-

and our puppy.

No I have never heard of a dog eating carrots before either.

Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling

Good Bugs

Get to know your garden buddy bugs from your garden villain bugs. These guys are your friends- they protect your garden. Protect them by not spraying chemicals onto your food or flowers. To print your own: go here. We keep ours on the fridge. Appetizing?

I first learned about this easy to read, educational poster from another great urban farm blog: root simple. Check it out.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Make Your Own Stepping Stone

I am now the proud owner of a Betsy Gruy stepping stone. The photos do not do it justice! The colors are so vivid in person. I have been pinning away for a stone of my own since I saw her work at the South of Basse Art Walk. She also teaches classes if you are local and really want to make your own in a fancy, fabulous way.

I also received another stepping stone recently from the lovely Dirtiest Kid in the World. Here is how we make our own stones- easy enough for a 4 year old (with an adult cement mixer).

We received a make your own stepping stone kit a few years ago and saved the mold. We have also tried using other miscellaneous plastic containers from around the house but they really do not have the structure of the store molds. (IE Plastic food take out containers, weird sized plastic pots...) Our found mold stones don't hold up as well. These stone kits only come with enough cement for one stone but we went to Home Depot and asked for the smallest grain cement they had. You can get a giant bag for cheap. We sift out the larger stones that are still left and then mix the cement according to the directions on the bag. This step is best done by an adult because of the cement dust. Then you pore the cement into your mold.

Now here's some insight into our lives. We break a lot of dishes. Not on purpose mind you. But I keep a collection of my favorite pottery that has broken over the years in a shoe box in the garage. I cant bear to throw away our broken wedding pottery so you may see a gift you once gave us turn up in a stepping stone. (Say you are not the kind of family that breaks a lot of dishes- you can always buy cheap, but fun ceramics from a thrift store to break.) We then take our broken dishes, wrap them in a towel and let DKITW hit them with a small hammer. 4 year olds love breaking things with a hammer. It is the pinnacle of everything they are not normally allowed to do. Then you have pieces you can use to press into your cement. Caution: some of the pieces can be very sharp so use your adult supervision when letting kids pick out the pieces they want to use and discard any that are too jagged. Let dry at least one day- we usually err on the side of caution and leave it two days. Then your very own stone is ready for its place in the garden. This is also a fun activity for adults. I was making stones for awhile before DKITW asked to be allowed to try. One cement bag can last a really long time. Enjoy artists!

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. - Pablo Picasso

Romanesco Italia Broccoli

This is an heirloom that I dedicate to my brother- the broccoflower! It's an heirloom for math kids. Fractals! Logarithmic Spiral! and maybe the artist in all of us. Also, famous with Italian chefs for its taste.

The broccoflower has an abundance of rich green leaves that are tasty cooked. The heads can be cooked like traditional broccoli but it is also closely related to cauliflower. After reading on-line, I found people seemed to have an easy time growing the plant but a harder time growing one with the unique head. Romanesco Italia Broccoli is growing very well in our South Texas Garden but it does take up quite a bit of space. We grow it right next to our regular broccoli and treat it the same. I had forgotten we had planted this heirloom variety until the heads grew in. You can get seeds online from Baker Creek.

Fractal geometry will make you see everything differently. There is a danger in reading further. You risk the loss of your childhood vision of clouds, forests, flowers, galaxies, leaves, feathers, rocks, mountains, torrents of water, carpet, bricks, and much else besides. Never again will your interpretation of these things be quite the same. -Micheal F. Barnsley

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


For Christmas we received our very own Diana Kersey Olla! It is absolutely the best. I can hardly stand to bury it in the dirt.

Ollas are ceramic pots that are only glazed on the top. You "plant" them in your garden. Then you can fill them with water or they fill themselves when it rains. The unglazed pot then allows the water to seep out slowly when the ground gets dry. This gives your plants a slow, steady flow of water which is incredibly important in drought prone South Texas.

Our neighborhood garden is overseen by Diana Kersey and she and another local potter generously hand threw ollas for all the community garden beds. After a few seasons of growing herbs and veggies in our plot, I have first hand experience with how well the ollas work. We don't get down to the garden quite as often as we need to- but these ollas help out a forgetful waterer. The plants closest to the ollas grow bigger and the roots wrap right around the pot. I found this online how to from another Texas garden blog if you want to try to make simple ollas or I encourage you to check out Diana's new studio in the Atlee Ayers Building at 112 Broadway if you want a work of art with your water conservation.