Thursday, April 30, 2020

Cup of Green Onion

Growing your own food sounds like a daunting task.  Sometimes it can be easier than you think.  Here is a classic example of a plant that is super easy to grow even indoors with a little bit of light at the right time.  Sure it'd do better in the dirt but a cup of water can give you that bit of extra green onion. These were the trimmings of the green onions after using the tops for enchiladas. 

There are plenty of other plants that can be grown indoors if you have a nice sunny window.  Often these are sold with grow lights for countertop growing. Among these are basil, oregano, thyme, mint, and of course garlic (onion family and all).

Some plants really do just taste better grown at home.  Back when I had a small garden we planted carrots.  Of course I didn't think too far ahead and should have tilled down further, the carrots only got as long as they could push their roots because under the nice soil there was super hard clay.  One of the carrots actually turned to the side to keep growing.  They were super flavorful though.  That kind of taste you just can't get at a grocery store.  Possibly at a farmer's market but even then they often go for varieties that are more large harvest than flavor.

We still keep thinking we'll get some more rosemary since it just keeps growing once you get it established.  It's one of those strange plants that no one wants more of because all you have to do is wait and you'll have plenty, but if you have to buy it at the store is ridiculously overpriced.  You don't really even have to do much to it and you have enough for the whole neighborhood.  In that way green onion is much like rosemary.  You just cut the tops off when you need them and the plants just keep growing.  For those that might remember we had green onion in our front yard for nearly a decade that just kept going even in the freezing winter days (this is Texas that's all you get).

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Fresh Farm Eggs

Having fresh yard eggs today almost seems a luxury.  I don't have any chickens but I know a guy...  Which sounds shady until you realize we're talking chicken eggs.  And they didn't fall off of the back of a truck anywhere.  Come on, they'd be cracked.

I've had the privilege of getting eggs from him three times now and they really are so much better than store bought eggs.  And, although you can keep them on the counter, putting them in the fridge won't hurt anything either.  We kinda like our counter space and they fit on top of the egg tray nicely.

One way to tell how fresh an egg really is, is when you crack it open.  The rounder the yolk the fresher the egg.  This roundness unfortunately can change from egg to egg so it isn't an exact science but if you've got a nice domed yolk coming out you know it's fresh.  On the other hand if it's looking a little flatter than it's siblings (these are eggs after all) then it doesn't necessarily mean it's old or not going to be as good.  It can also be a bit genetic and just happens to be a little flatter  yolk.  This may merely be a thinner membrane on the yolk which is then stretching and flattening out.

The way I've always been told to check to see if an egg is good or not is to float test it.  If you toss it in water and it bobs to the top then it is producing gas and may not be any good anymore.  This is actually not a test though of "can I eat this" but merely a tool to help estimate how old the egg is.  As far as I can find, there is no real test to see if an egg is safe to eat.  I've found ranges anywhere from 5 weeks to 3 months or longer.  The same for how long you can leave eggs out at room temperature, I've heard 2 weeks to a few months.  The way one person put it was, paraphrasing here, if it can take 2 weeks for the hen to finish laying eggs before she even sits on them and they hatch just fine in 90 degree weather, I'm sure they can last much longer on the counter inside. Which makes sense that a viable egg is edible before incubating.

The reality though, at least in our household, is that these eggs won't last that long to worry about.  They will get eaten in less than anyone's recommended time table no matter where we leave them.  Just don't leave them in the car.  They'd probably start cooking at that point.  It's getting warmer out there.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Fruiting Mulberry

We have a fruiting mulberry tree right next to he apartment. Free Food! Ok, so you have to wash the berries really well and fight the squirrels for them, but they're really tasty.  Kinda like a smaller not so tart blackberry (yes, with seeds).  The berries are also really close to the ground so it's easy pickings.  The question really is can I get enough of them at any given time to do anything with them?  Who knows but it'll be interesting to see. They of course aren't ripe at the moment so I'm not messing with them yet.  And if the squirrels get to them first then I'll have nothing, which is quite likely.

The only other edible I've seen recently is some wild garlic, or perhaps wild onion.  I didn't dig it up but it was obviously in the onion family and when i picked a tip off of one of the greens could smell the oniony aroma.  Ok, so probably wild onion.  What I would hope for is that it's walking onion.  the little onions that form on the flower head are really good in recipes.  And all you have to do is toss them in.  Well, after you wash them of course.

One thing I want to go get is some bay from fort worth.  Fresh bay is so much better than the stuff you can get in the grocery stores.  We had 40 or so leaves from the last time we went but bay really does go so fast.  It wasn't long before I was picking it up at the store again...

If you have any favorite things to wild harvest let me know.  It's interesting to see what people go out and get.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Vanilla Loves Humidity

I was reading up on how much cacao trees were selling for since I talked with my boss about what to do with the trees that are growing in the office and I said I sold one and gave others away to people who wanted them.  He asked how much I sold one for (about $25).  I remember looking it up before and seeing ranges anywhere from $45 to nearly $200 for larger trees.  When I looked again the range has dropped a little but still sits in the $30 to $140 range.  Some of the places are currently out of trees and some close for winter.  Any way you look at it though I'm sitting on a couple thousand dollars worth of trees in various stages of growth.

To the topic of this thread though, in among all this cacao growing I have several vanilla orchid vines.  We've had a humidifier for a while now and with summer coming up it isn't needed at home so I took it up to work to humidify the orchids.  They totally love the extra humidity!  Which is what got me on to talking about cacao in the first place.  I was reading that someone insisted cacao wanted a humid environment.  I have not found this to be the case at all.  Some trees really do love the humidity.  The typical office ficus is one such tree and will actually grow roots on its branches to soak up the extra moisture.  These vanilla orchids too love humidity and in only a week the roots along the vines have exploded with new growth.  Leaves are poking up in new locations too, taking advantage of the extra moisture.  It doesn't hurt that I've clumped the vines in a central location just over where the humidifier is pointing.  Occasionally I can see whisps of vapor coming through although I have kept it turned down so it doesn't waste water. Dripping off of the leaves to the floor doesn't help anything.

The vanilla as well has greatly increased and I could probably make cuttings and have 3-4 times as many plants as I started with.  Not worth nearly thousands but a couple hundred or so.  The real value in a vanilla orchid though is of course the vanilla beans.  A well cared for vanilla bean can be worth many times over the cost of the vine which can easily produce 50 beans a year on a healthy vine. Say you have 20 vines and you're looking at $10,000 in beans rather than paying that at the grocery store.  I already have people wanting beans for commercial bakeries when they start producing.  Vanilla is one of those products that has more demand than supply and all you can do it try to grow more.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Fake Chocolate (Chocoverse Book 3)

Not that I would ever give anyone real fake chocolate...
Ok, that sounded odd but you know what I mean.  This is the final book in the Chocoverse Trillogy!  Which makes this another in the great sci-fi trillogies (wiki pages to follow shortly). If you head on over to her Youtube channel you can also see a video of her discussing how actual craft chocolate makers from all over have influenced her in her writing, not only her sci-fi work but also the cookbook she co-authored,  and appreciation of fine chocolate in general.

The Chocoverse trilogy ends April 14. Bo's going home!  Welcome to the Chocoverse: Funny Space Opera with a little sweet romance . . . and a lot of chocolate.

Bienvenido a El Chocoverse. Divertida ópera espacial con un poco de romance. . . y mucho chocolate. El libro 3 ya casi está aquí. Free Chocolate. Pure Chocolate. Fake Chocolate. ¡Para salvar la Tierra, salva el chocolate!
Chocoverse page on Amazon: