Friday, August 18, 2006

Get More Jaded

Hey all! (lurkers as well as regular conversers) I have started an additional blog for all the rest of my life that doesn't fit into the foodie box. Please visit me there if you are interested in gardening (I'll be keeping garden records there . . . if I can get my life together, that is), art, or whatever commentary I have on life as we know it. My choice of blog title is Jaded Samsaranian. Sorry it is a bit of a tongue twister. Samsara is the Buddhist vision of our world reality. And for those of you who would ask, no I'm not a practicing Buddhist, but sometimes I wonder if I would be happier if I were. And please leave any and all comments you may have . . . as they say, blogging is an interactive sport!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Genetic Recombination in the Eggplant Jungle

What you see here, in the bottom right hand corner, is an all white indian eggplant on a plant that is also producing regularly patterned indian eggplants. What sort of mischievous bees have been pollinating my eggplants? Genetic recombination appears to be running rampant in my garden, because I also have some all purple indian eggplants on another plant that also has some regularly patterned indian eggplants on it.

I find this somewhat bizarre, considering that this has not happened before in the three years I have been growing these eggplants.

Should I save these oddball seeds?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Putting the Lid on It

Sorry readers, but as I have an anonymous spammer, I will be limiting comments for a while to only registered users. I appologize for the inconvenience.

Image was borrowed from here.

Friday, August 04, 2006


Last night, on a whim, I decided to eat as local as possible. Avoid the grocery store. Forage from the yard. Well, yes, it isn't quite that easy . . . I don't have a free-range dairy cow, a walnut tree, nor a field of wheat. But I used what I had in terms of fresh produce.

As I like a little fruit on this particular salad, it took a little thinking before I realized that I actually had some amazing, freshly ripe blackberries waiting to be plucked from the "wasteland" by our driveway. To think I almost overlooked them is a shame. Despite our lack of significant rainfall in about two months, those blackberries were huge, and sweeter than I remember them ever being.

My salad greens are preparing to bolt, but still offered enough leaves for a decent sized salad.

The tomatos are just getting into the swing of things and there were more than enough for my favorite bruschetta. Though, I have to fess up that I cut more basil, while pruning back the flowers, than I could even use.

It was a treat to eat from my own garden, yet also bittersweet, as it was a reminder of how much time and energy goes into our food. How much land and how much time would it require to feast entirely from your own backyard, or is it even possible at all? It seems we have left our self-sufficiency behind us. I've heard that currently there are only 5 acres available for every person on the planet. I'm sure that number is dwindling, even as I write this. So I guess the question is, can a person sustain themselves on 5 acres of land? As a vegan it is supposed to be possible, but since vegans frequently encounter nutritional deficiencies, I have to wonder. . . .

Revised Blueberry Breakfast Bars

About 3 weeks ago I posted my attempt at making Farmgirl's Blueberry Breakfast Bars and my concomitant review. Of particular note, I mentioned that I felt guilty eating them for breakfast, due to their richness. So I threw together a list of what I would change and left it until the weather cooled long enough to cajole me back into the kitchen.

Here, again, are my changes:
1. substitute unbleached organic white whole wheat flour for all purpose flour
2. substitute turbinado sugar for white and brown sugar
3. use half a stick of butter in the topping, rather than one full stick
4. sprinkle top with oats

Upon tasting them I was impressed with the changes. I could distinguish a healthy/grainy flavor. I believe this was not just the whole wheat flour talking, but also the raw cane sugar, because it offered a gritty texture which contributes to the illusion of "granola" food. The oat flavor was much more predominant. This was not just due to the inclusion of oats on top, but I think a synergy of the oats with the whole wheat flour. The richness was subdued. The only major difference in this version, which could be construed as being negative, was that the topping was drier (and easily knocked off). I actually appreciated the new dry texture over the original, greasier one.

My inhibitions set free by the illusion of a healthy breakfast, I have to admit to eating two bars for breakfast, instead of just one.

So for those of you who would like a documentation of the recipe with it's changes (effectively one-stop shopping), here it is:

Blueberry Breakfast Bars (revised from Farmgirl's original recipe)

Easily cut into 12 large bars

2 cups old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup organic unbleached white whole wheat flour
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup organic unbleached white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter

3-1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
3 Tablespoons organic unbleached white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

For the Bottom Layer:
Grease a 9" x 13" pan and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In a medium to large bowl, combine oats through salt. Gradually stir in melted butter and then vanilla, until well combined. Press evenly into the bottom of your pan.

For the Top Layer:
In a medium bowl, combine ingredients with a pastry blender, until the butter is well incorporated in small, evenly distributed pieces.

For the Middle Layer:
In the same bowl that you used for the bottom layer, combine the blueberries with the almond extract. Mix the sugar and flour in a small bowl. Spread the blueberries evenly over the top of the bottom layer, and then sprinkle with the sugar and flour.

On top of the middle layer, evenly sprinkle the top layer. Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees F. Then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for at least 20-25 minutes or more, until the top begins to brown. Let cool. Cut evenly into bars. Bars will freeze well in plastic bags.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

I'm grateful to have the opportunity to share these beautiful, cheery sunflowers with everyone. The last few years have been bad sunflower years for me. Too many slugs & snails in the garden. I've learned to grow sunflowers in pots (with regular applications of Sluggo). But that restricts the number of sunflowers that I can grow, since I don't care to fuss over too many plants. It is a pity, because I love to see the songbirds pluck the sunflower seeds from them come autumn.