Category Archives: organics

A nice little surprise

I don’t think you could find more happy than me today. I was rifling through the freezer and found a bag of strawberries from last summer. What a nice little surprise. I think I might only be happier if a lepruchan rang my doorbell with a pot of gold. I also learned today that the city quit charging for compost if you pick it up yourself. So I got a truck load of compost and strawberries. What a day!

My garden space has hit it’s peak, I think. It’s around 450 sq ft, and it seems to be about all I can handle. The effort to rotate everything, get seeds started and get the beds all ready can be overwhelming sometimes. With this 450 sq ft I’m trying to be self sufficient this year with potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, onions, greens, green beans, squash and carrots. We’ll see how I end up doing.

(I should mention, if you are concerned, that I grow biointensive, so 450 sq ft using these methods is the same as almost 4 times that much if you use standard rows. Click here for more info. Although my version is a bastardized conglomeration of square foot gardening and biointensive methods. It works for me with all the other things in my life right now.)

My wife was a great help today (and a very attractive assistant I must say) as we built an RPZ, a Rabbit Proof Zone. At least I hope it is. Other wise I won’t be getting much lettuce. Those little buggers are hard to keep out of the small things, but at least they give up when the peas and beans get too big, if you can get them that big.

My next door neighbor has an old tractor tire in her back 40 that is filled with leaves. I’m going to try to procure that to grow more taters this year. Hopefully she’ll allow that and things will go well. I also have a friend who is bringing me some half barrels (from old salt licks for some cows) which I plan to stuff with taters too. I really, really, want to be self sufficient with them this year.

We had a little miscalculation on our taxes this year and ended up owing a few dollars. Just 4 thousand or so. Needless to say some of my plans have been put on hold. I think I’ll be able to scrape up the cash for one rain barrel (I found a place that sells them for $35! Suckers) and the parts for an earth oven, but most of the projects have been put on hold. No solar water heater, most of the rain barrels were cut back, not to mention our savings account was drained. That really sucks. Having a cash cushion right now would be nice. 😦

I did recently read a Dave Ramsey book though (which I would recommend to you) and it was helpful. I’ll talk more about this later this week probably.


Making peanut butter

We decided to make peanut butter today. Organic brands are expensive, and I can get bulk organic peanuts, so what the heck.

I combined about a pint of peanuts (I spilled some on the floor which was not very pleasant), a pinch of salt, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and at the end we determined it needed just a little sugar. We added 1/2 tsp.


Run that in the food processor for about 2-3 minutes until it’s the consistency you want.


Homemade peanut butter has a much deeper and robust peanut flavor. We added just enough sugar for it to pop, but not to be overly sweet. They’ll have it with honey or jam anyway, so that’s enough sugar. Comparing to what we had in the cabinet it was much less sugary. It’s very good. You should give it a try.

Here’s a video showing the steps.

This cost us about $2 for the half a pint, not counting the massive amount of peanuts I spilled on the floor. If I’m able to grow my own peanuts in the future this will cost us even less, although the amount of work will increase exponentially.


Chicken’s good for you isn’t it?

If you eat chicken because it’s healthy and good for you I would recommend you read this link.

(HT: George)

Update:  I just saw this story too.  Would you like a little poison with your boneless, skinless chicken breast?



I’ve been enjoying rhubarb lately.  This is the first of a nice long summer enjoying fresh food from the garden and the local farmers.  Yeah!

New Pollan article

Here is a link to a new Michael Pollan article about how the Farm Bill that subsidizes our agriculture leads to the obesity problem in America.  It is so true.

Hit the link for more.

Ht: Cleaner Plate Club

If you still haven’t read The Omnivore’s Delimma get off your butt and read it.  It’s way worth the time.


Food enthusiast

I read this post today from Liz at Pocket Farms and I just felt like it really summed up my eating/cooking/food experiences.  I hadn’t really given them much thought, but upon reflection it’s all right there in front of me/you.

You just have to be willing to see it.

Makin’ Butter (UPDATED)

(Update) This morning I used the butter to cook up some breakfast, like I do every morning and there was no difference between the store bought butter and this butter.  Awesome!  In fact, I would say this butter was more useful because it was softer and appeared like it would be easier to spread on toast. 

So, this morning I’m at the local mega mart and what do I see? Some cream, produced by a fairly local dairy company. This is the same company that I’ve mentioned a long time ago, and this is where I previously bought my milk, until I found the place more local.

So I bought a pint of cream intending to make butter tonight. My plan was to use the glass jar method of butter making where you put the cream in the jar and shake it until it eventually makes butter.


The two primary pieces of hardware, one of which contains the software.

So I dumped the cream in the jar and started shaking. I had read on the net that it could take anywhere from 5 to 45 minutes to make butter. We turned on some music and enjoyed some dancing time. Below is an action shot of the shaking.


It ended up taking perhaps 15 minutes of actual shaking. And the shaking wasn’t as bad as I expected. (The kids weren’t as gullible as I had hoped and didn’t fall prey to my claims of how much fun the shaking was.) And here is what I ended up with. One container of butter milk and one solid chunk of delicious butter.

2-8-07-008.jpg 2-8-07-014.jpg

And that was it. It was slightly anti-climatic really. But I still think it was cool. My wife asked me why I would bother to make my own butter, other than the fact that I’m a freak. Well…

The pint of cream I purchased for $1.79 produced 6 ozs of butter and a container full of buttermilk. The butter cost was $.298 per oz. The cream was produced in NE Missouri on a farm that isn’t organic (at least not certified) but does pasture their cows and is hormone free.

The organic butter I purchased this morning while at the store was $4.38 (might have been $4.88 I’m not sure) for 16 ozs, which works out to $.27 per oz.

For the slight increase in price I would rather buy more local and from a smaller group.

It was a cool experiment. Now the the true test will be tomorrow morning when I try out the butter to see how it tastes.

In other news, you may remember recently where I discussed a local dairy group I found and have started to purchase their milk. Well, I talked to the sales manager today about their products and in the next few weeks we should start to see their yogurt, cheese, cream, butter and such start appearing in local Hy-Vee stores. Be sure to keep an eye out for them. That’s great news because I’ve really cut back my yogurt consumption because I could only get factory farm stuff, and I’ll certainly want to use their cream when I make butter in the future.