22 January 2012, by gj
there are so many ways to finish a bowl
Other than the obvious difference between a vase and a bowl, there are two others when crafting one from a gourd:
1. You are probably going to want the inside to be much cleaner, and
2. You can go wild decorating the bowl
Prepare your gourd as you did the vase, but make the cut much lower to get a larger opening.
Now if this is just for your own use, and you are going to put a plant in the bowl, the inside does not have to be immaculate.
Otherwise you will need to really get the inner walls clean of any debris left when the flesh dried out.
You can do this by hand with sand paper, but it is much faster if you have some power involved.
This picture shows a small electric sander, and two sanding balls that fit inside an electric drill.
the right tools for the job
However you go about it, be sure to do it outside and wear a mask to prevent inhaling the dust.
Of course, when working with power tools, always wear protective eye covering too.
What you do next really depends on how you plan to use the bowl.
I always waterproof mine no matter what- I wouldn’t want someone to put a plant into the bowl and have the design run down the side when they watered it.
As added protection, I varnish the inside as well.
If you plan on using the bowl as a serving dish, there is a food grade varnish available called “Salad Bowl Finish” just follow the manufacturer’s directions to apply.
clean & with salad bowl finish
Decorate the bowl however you like, and seal your work as well.
Thanksgiving 'roll bowl'
So you can do this as easy as just cutting the bowl, maybe putting in a few drainage holes, and planting a plant- or you could go as intense as these pieces.
These are the gourd books I used, again ranging from simple to artsy.
the basic techniques
The main thing is to be careful and just enjoy yourself.
Categories: gardening people, places & things, gifts from the garden, other
23 August 2011, by gj
too many tomatoes, not enough time
The last thing a veggie garden should be is stressful.
That being said, having a large garden designed to grow enough food to be preserved, can become just that.
Especially if you’re new to gardening.
Some veggies aren’t going to wait until you are ready- until the housework is done or the kids are taken care of, or until you get some vacation time or the grass is mowed…
When a whole bunch of tomatoes are ripe there’s nothing much you can do about it-
or is there?
I was picking a lot of ripe romas late Sunday evening, too late to start a batch of salsa, simmer it long enough and have it canned- since I had to be up early for work the next day.
That’s when I thought of the title for this post,
and decided to share some tricks you can use to deal with your harvest- on your own terms.
do part of the job now
Tomatoes- freeze ‘em.
I don’t peel mine anyway, so I just cut into chunks, toss them into a bag and freeze.
This way, I can make marinara or salsa when I’m good and ready.
I’ll also have cut tomatoes on hand to add to chili come fall.
You can do the same with cherry tomatoes- cut them in half and freeze for chili or soups.
Peppers- Hot and Sweet can easily be frozen, too. No blanching needed.
I chop mine and freeze them, again ready for salsa making when the time is right.
Say, like a nice wintery day in November.
Peppers-hot for making hot sauce- place them in a jar in the fridge and cover with vinegar.
This is great especially if you are only getting a few peppers at a time, you can wait to make the sauce when you are ready.
Cucumbers- Similarly, you can cut them up and place in a jar with a pickling brine in it. You can even just keep them this way or can them up when you have time. Likewise beans, though you’ll most likely want to add some other flavors before pickling.
Onions- it’s important to get them out of the ground when they are ready, but after that there’s no rush.
Leave them to dry on a screen for a few weeks, then store in the fridge.
If you’re chopping onions anyway, chop extra; bag and freeze.
Cabbage- get it out of the garden, too; overripe cabbage can split.
It stores well, so no bother after that.
Carrots- can stay in the ground until it freezes, no rush.
Potatoes-also ok in the ground, but they can become hard to find (like onions).
Just pick and take them inside, you’ll be surprised how long they last.
If you do have a lot, lucky you!
When baking or making mashed taters, double the recipe and freeze half; keep them frozen until you run out of fresh.
It’s a great way to finish out the winter.
Corn- gets bad if left on the stalk too long; if you’re boiling some to eat, blanche a few of the extra and freeze while you’re at it.
That’s right, frozen corn on the cob- how’s that for an off season treat!
Zucchini- every gardener’s mistake. You’re on your own here.
My best suggestion is to plant less and eat them small.
Even better, plant an heirloom- the flavor is outstanding.
salsa on hold
People will ask me where I find the time, with a family and a full time job plus all my maniac hobbies, to have such a huge garden and preserve food.
I just smile and say- ‘Oh, I have a few tricks.’
What have you got up your sleave?
Categories: how to store, jonesen', other
19 March 2011, by gj
We’re in the processing of building a cold storage unit, and I’ll be posting about that when it’s done.
In the meantime, here’s some info on storing vegetables that can help you when you are planning your garden, especially if you decide to use a root cellar or other cold holding.
Keep in mind that typical root cellars provide a moist, cold environment.
Some veggies are better kept dry- as noted.
Store at 32 degrees F
Store at 32-38 degrees F
Garlic, keep dry
Onions, after curing outside, keep dry
eating fresh mid-winter
Store at 40-45 degrees F
Potatoes, keep dry
Store at 50-55 degrees F
Winter squash, keep dry
All other veggies must be eaten fresh, canned, frozen or dehydrated.
Check out the Grow It section for more info on storing other veggies.
Categories: how to store, other
8 October 2010, by gj
One of the many ways to preserve fruit, and probably the easiest, is by using alcohol.
Now I want to say up front that I was just going to simply buy some Seagram’s whiskey for this project; but Mandolin thought an Irish whiskey, which we prefer, was much better.
When he suggested Jameson, I responded “that would be sacrilege” and he quickly agreed (remind me to tell you the story of the incorrectly poured Guinness in Ireland…)
Anyway, he then smiled and said (giggling) “use the Feckin’ Whiskey”.
I think perhaps he just likes to say the words, I’m not sure… there was something about that giggle.
In this country “feckin” is not an obscene word, just a bit of a reference to one. We did hear it here and there in Ireland though, usually followed by some ‘sniggering’ and an apology to me (those Irish boys are still gentlemen).
After samplin’ a few of the choices, and having a fine time posting on Facebook, I decided that although the Feckin’ Whiskey is a bit harsh for drinking, it is probably the best one ‘imho’ for fruitn’.
Though I admit ‘imho’ was a bit subject at that point.
gather your ingredients
So here’s how:
get a glass food grade jar with lid
like a pub full of people on a Friday night
3 pears (cut out any overripe pieces)
raspberries I had frozen last spring
sugar as needed
Less than 1/5th. Feckin Whiskey
I threw in a 1/4 cup of apple juice that was sitting in the fridge and would otherwise have been wasted. That’s optional, unless you have a 1/4 cup of apple juice that is sitting in the fridge and will otherwise be wasted.
You can use whatever combination of fruit and alcohol (80 proof or better) you have or like. There are no rules here.
I also made a simple vodka and strawberry jar first as a test (it passed with flying colors).
Clean your fruit, cut as needed into bite sizes (no need to peel). Layer in jar, adding enough sugar to cover the fruit as you go. You don’t want it too sweet.
Release any air bubbles by sliding a metal knife or small spatula up against the inside of the jar.
Cover loosely. Some of the fruit will expand, and there will be some fermentation-both of which will cause air bubbles (I had this more with the fruit/whiskey combo that the smaller strawberry/vodka test).
Continue to release air bubbles and add more alcohol if needed until no more bubbles appear.
Now, the hard part: Let sit for 3 months.
90 days from now: Par-tee
When done, you can eat or bake the fruit, delicious over ice cream or pancakes.
The alcohol makes a delightful cordial and gets better the longer it sits.
Or so I hear.
To my Irish FB friends: thanks for being so understanding, and not ‘sniggering’ too much the night I was taste-testing.
Also my apology if the word “feckin” offends anyone.
It really is an Irish whickey imported from County…er, now I forget which one.
Guess I’ll have to get another bottle to see.
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Categories: how to store, other, recipes
20 May 2010, by gj
...pays off in the case of homemade brandy
Homemade brandy is simple to make and a wonderful gift to give (not to mention enjoying yourself.)
My personal favorite is Pear-Raspberry, but my friends like Blueberry the best. Experiment!
You will need a plastic or glass food-grade container.
You can buy them at a local hobby shop, or if you are making a large batch like I do, you can usually get them from an area restaurant or the deli department of your neighborhood food store.
As long as it is meant for food, that’s all that matters.
(And that it never held hot peppers).
If it is used, be sure it is quite clean.
About 2 lbs. or 4 cups of your favorite fruit/fruits.
1 ½ cups of sugar
If you are not using berries, add ½ cup of honey (If you are using peaches for example)
Always be sure you use clean unbruised fruit. Remove any stems or pits.
Cut up the fruit and mix with the sugar/honey. If you have large fruit pieces, mashing can help.
I use a net bag (new clean pantyhose works well, too) to help with the straining done later.
Mix it well and cover the opening of the container tightly with plastic wrap.
Let it go for a day. Add the vodka and mix.
I should say here that the better the vodka the better the product, to some extent.
The longer it sits does more to improve the flavor. So if you are in a hurry, get good vodka.
If you can, let this sit 4-6 months. (I have a hard time getting past 3 months). Strain and bottle.
Be sure to select bottles that are meant for food.
Although it’s fun to pick up fancy bottles at yard sales, you never really know what has been in them.
PS Don’t throw out what you strain!
Although it looks nasty, it sure tastes good over ice cream or pancakes (be careful, though; it also packs a wallop!)
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Categories: how to store, other, recipes