Tuesday, March 19, 2013

DIY Natural A-Frame Trellis Part 1

Today my boyfriend and I started making trellises for our peas, cucumbers, gourds and melons.  We had an abundance branches from cut trees.  So we dug through the pile of tree limbs matching similar size branches. 
Basically we started with a tripod.  Taking 3 branches and anchoring them together using the natural notches in the stick to lock them in place.  We wound the thickest jute I could find around the sticks, wrapping tightly and knotting in multiple places. 
We built 2 tripods close to the same height.  Then put a long, relatively straight beam across the tripods giving us a well supported a-frame.   We tied the center beam down, although it didn’t seem necessary because they are pretty sturdy as they are.
We made a couple for the house garden, and 3 others to take to our other gardens in the neighborhood.  We tied them up in little bundles so we can carry them easily and remember which branches go together.  It seems to be easier to set the frame up on site, rather than carry tripods.  Once you have some branches picked out it really only takes about 15 minutes to put together. 
And best of all these trellises are all natural and biodegradable, just compost or burn when you’re done.  We haven’t decided what to put across the sides to encourage the plants to grow up the frame.  Wire fencing, bird netting, or jute is what we are debating. Jute will work for peas and possibly for cucumbers if strung in a grid, but that will be figured out in Part 2.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Garlic Powder

We recently bought a dehydrator; which is going to make preserving herbs, fruits, peppers, etc. so much easier!  I had previously be using my oven at a low setting for hours, which I’m sure used a lot more energy than a dehydrator. 
Since we don’t have much in the garden ripe for preserving right now, I decided to make garlic powder for my first project.  I love garlic powder, but I just can’t bring myself to buy that preservative filled powder at the grocery store. 
I used 5 heads of garlic.  Unwrapped all the cloves, sliced them up and dehydrated them at 105° F for around 24 hours.  Next time I will slice the garlic thinner to speed it up.
I ground the brittle cloves up in a blender, strained out the big clumps and reground them until I had nice smooth powder.    
My 5 heads of garlic filled up a half pint mason jar.
It tastes amazing, the house smells wonderful and I can’t stop putting it on everything!  Pasta, pizza, calzones, veggies, eggs, salads, breads.  We are going to put this dehydrator to very good use!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Homemade Spinach and Mushroom Ravioli

Well I think this is the hardest I’ve ever worked for a meal.  My boyfriend and I were sweating by the time we finished hand rolling our pasta; we are definitely ready to invest in a pasta roller!  We also made a fresh batch of pasta sauce and baked bread sticks, but the ravioli was the real accomplishment.



1 CUP chopped mushrooms and spinach (substitute or add any veggies / herbs you like)
1 CUP ricotta cheese
2 eggs

Store in refrigerator until ready to use



2 CUPS whole wheat flour (or other grains)
3 eggs
Pinch of salt
Knead dough for 10 minutes then roll flat either by hand or preferably with a pasta roller :)

Flatten until it’s as thin as a penny.

Then place spoonfuls of filling on one side of pasta, fold in half and press around seams to encase filling.
Cut between raviolis with pizza cutter or knife and press edges together with a fork.
Cover raviolis with flour to keep them from sticking to one another.
Cook in boiling water for 5-10 minutes, until raviolis float.

Drain water and add sauce.

I have to say, as much work as it was; these are the best raviolis I’ve ever eaten!   Such a simple and versatile recipe too, I will be making these again.

Printable recipe here.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sarsaparilla Soda

No matter how hard I try to cut soda out of my diet, I just can’t help but grab one every once in a while!  So it might as well be homemade.

For the first time around I bought a couple soda extracts from my local brewery supplier, sarsaparilla and birch beer.  Which it turns out, both are basically just root beer, coming from different plants but similar in taste.

Recipe went as follows…

Rehydrate 1 tsp brewer’s yeast in warm water.
Combine soda extract, 4 lbs (or 8 cups) sugar with enough warm water to dissolve.

Stir in yeast and add warm water until you have 4 gallons of soda.

Fill bottles leaving 1-2 inches of head space.

Age 3-4 days at room temperature, then store in cool, dark place for total aging of 2 weeks
Refrigerate and enjoy! 
(My 4 gallons filled 28 12 oz. glass bottles and 2 2 liter soda bottles)

Can’t wait, it already tastes good, just needs to carbonate.