Tereza Okava

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since Jun 07, 2018
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dog rabbit urban cooking writing homestead ungarbage
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Tereza Okava currently moderates these forums:
I'm a transplanted New Yorker living in South America, where I have a small urban farm to grow all almost all the things I can't buy here. Proud parent of an adult daughter, dog person, undertaker of absurdly complicated projects, and owner of a 1981 Fiat.
I cook for fun, write for money, garden for food, and knit for therapy.
South of Capricorn
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Recent posts by Tereza Okava

is there anything scarier than signs of carpenter ants or termites in your home? probably not! been there done there with that too... thank goodness it was a rental house and we left it in the rearview mirror!

when it's rainy i need to go hunt the slimy little schmucks at night, and I use no mulch at all. We seem to have crossed from wet into dry season now, so I can start adding some dry mulch back, but I spend half the season with bare ground because it gets so out of control (I grow a lot of leafies, and it's usually rainiest in the fall when my winter greens are just getting started, so I need to minimize damage).  
1 day ago
Brody, I hear you. I lost a passionfruit that gave me bushels every year to ants. When we get ants here, every bit of green gets stripped, so ants can be a nightmare here.
But there are a gajillion kinds of ants, and they all seem to be after different things, so I think we all have different experiences with ants. The ants that killed my fruit still seem to live in my garden, but now they go after different things. I think ants are a great permaculture tool for teaching observation- I only found out there was a rotten spot on my vine after the ants starting going for it. Maybe if you can find out what they want and give it to them elsewhere (greens to rip up and bring back to their nests? Sweet stuff [the honeypot idea]) you can distract them. I find the same is true with slugs, if I set up a nice pile of decaying leaves in one corner of the yard and only use super dry mulch in my beds, they will start moving to where the eats are better.

I generally try to annoy them into moving when I can-- rake up their nests, dump hot water in to their hills-- and keep on it, because they have much more of a labor force than I do!!!
1 day ago

Joylynn Hardesty wrote:Would this be a decent representation of chili crisp?

Absolutely (although some recipes use dehydrated onions/garlic to cut cooking time, making it even easier)!
There are many options (most famous Lao Gan Ma, "angry lady" or as we say around here, "godmother" sauce), and it's easy to make your own.
Beware, it's addictive and you may find yourself eating it by the spoonful if you like hot stuff.
2 days ago
my three go-to pickle recipes are:
- a sweet bread-and-butter refrigerator pickle (gallon jar, my daughter can eat it over just a few days in hot weather)- very similar to Jay's, maybe a bit less sugar, white vinegar, I fool around with the spices a lot but get the best reviews from whole AND ground mustard seeds, turmeric, and whole black peppercorns.

- lacto-fermented Sichuan-style pickles (whatever I've got that needs to be used, sometimes it's carrots or chayote or nappa cabbage, keeps for weeks in the fridge, makes an excellent side dish squeezed, chopped, and topped with chili crisp and a shot of soy sauce)

- a quick refrigerator dill pickle (https://selfproclaimedfoodie.com/easy-refrigerator-dill-pickles/ this recipe is everything it promises to be)
I have never gotten fermented dill pickles right here, possibly because our salt has iodine in it? tropical heat when cucumbers are in season? they always either come out mushy or just flat out rot. But this recipe, you would swear they were the real thing made in a barrel with brine, crunchy and everything (and that's without even using any sort of "crunchy leaves" like oak or grape).

ooh and i forgot to add: giardineira is a great option when you want to also use up various things and make something that everyone swoons over. https://www.thekitchn.com/giardiniera-22977810
2 days ago
My sympathies, j flynn, my mother fought groundhogs for years (and I was the hired gun), in the end the groundhog won.

I am in winter (garden full of winter greens and peas, just harvested kumquats, and have tomatoes under cover), about to go away for two months, and planning for what the spring garden will be when I come back.
I am considering ripping out everything and redigging/deep mulching while I'm gone in one bed that just flat out refuses to produce (last year was the saddest okra you've ever seen). I can't really mulch due to slugs/snails, and because I run a polyculture model I never have an entirely fallow bed, so this will be something new if I do it.
Like everyone else, I'm dealing with weird weather. Last year we had no corn, no beans (NONE.), no mulberries, and no peas in the spring. This winter peas look good so far (fingers crossed) so I'm hoping to get good summer beans; I've pruned the berry trees so I hope we'll get some, they are my favorite. The winter beans look like they have some sort of fungus, I'm trying to keep up with natural spraying options but it doesn't look good. I really just plant them for fun but I'm not thrilled with the ongoing bean failures (3 years now, it's been bad, growing in the warm and cold weather).

I also am dealing with new patterns at my paid work job and hopefully will have more garden time, which means more big projects. Redoing the terrace structure? Redoing the edges of the beds? Prettying up the place a bit? All are possible.
3 days ago
for just me:
yogurt (maybe with fresh fruit, maybe not)
oatmeal with some spicy salt (Old Bay?) and a fried egg on top
banana shake (banana, yogurt, flaxseed)
avocado shake (avocado, milk, bit of sweetener)
apple with peanut butter

If it's not just me but also my beloved family who are too picky for what i eat:
-omraisu (flat thin omelet with spiced leftover rice/scallions inside and ketchup on top)
-chopped salad with dandelion greens (they're in the garden year round), red onion, tomato and canned sardines, quick mustard vinaigrette
-easy sleazy noodles (boil whole wheat pasta, when nearly done throw in chopped kale or whatever dark green veg in the garden, drain and make an umami-bomb sauce in the pan: mustard, miso, sesame oil, nutritional yeast, molasses, soy sauce, garlic and onion powder, then mix it all together and fight over who gets to lick the pan. If you're really classy, eat it out of the pan.)
3 days ago
How exciting!! I used to live in a place where I could (and did) bike everywhere and I miss it so much! In fact bikeability is a big part of the move we're planning- the next house will be in a place where I can cycle again (here it's not so much hills as general danger on the roads).
I look forward to seeing the inevitable hauling cart too!! Have fun with the new bike!
3 days ago

Judith Browning wrote:I need to stop pointing them out as edible to visitors though because they immediately grab some leaves to taste and aren't impressed.  

OMG i am glad it is not just me!! "Edible when properly dressed or cooked!" People do this in my garden all the time, with similar results. sigh.
Last winter I think the tree was about waist high and I just left it alone, didn't even mulch it. It did die back completely to the woody stem.
This year, I didn't even think to mulch before the early frost, but it is sort of protected by a few things, even though now it's maybe 8 feet tall, I think my yard was spared the worst of the cold (a block away, everything was scorched).
I will prune it before I go away for a month or two, am waiting for the right phase of the moon since I would to cut it way down and get it to bush out (I don't know much about this moon thing but I have had good results with planting, and I don't want to lose this last one. And maybe I could get a few more plants, if I can get them to root.).
1 week ago
I agree entirely that Chicago pizza is a whole 'nother animal--- how I think about pizza in Japan, or in Brazil. Interesting, but a different food entirely!

I have been following this thread for a while because as a "token American," consular volunteer, and person who generally loves to cook I often host dinners for people who have been away from the US as well as people who are profoundly curious. I've done a lot and since sometimes my guests include Mexicans and Syrians I tend to leave Mexican and Middle Eastern dishes off the menu for these events. One of the best dinners I ever did was BBQ- with cornbread (both kinds!), collard greens, slow roasted ribs, sweet corn, and some super crunchy fried chicken.....fresh cucumber and tomato salad.... it was glorious, and the produce was all from my garden.
Meanwhile, when I go to the US every year I focus on the things I can't get here, and root beer tops the list, along with the seasonal fruit and sweet corn (as much as possible). If you're near the water, whatever local folks do with the local seafood (clamboil! crawfish boil!) is always worth eating. Also local traditional ("weird") ice cream flavors.
1 week ago
they're lovely!
mine did okay this year- the one I planted in the ground lived, kind of like a charlie brown tree. I topped it and it came back with three main branches; we ate a bit but my family do not like the taste, sadly, although the bunnies do enjoy it. I suspect if I were more careful getting the leaflets off the stems they would never know if i mixed it with collards or other greens (like in saag, for example). Then again, I don't mind eating it raw, so it's still useful.
We are now in winter and I'm not sure whether I should wait to prune it down until spring, or to do it now ("winter." today was 85. we have had two mild frosts but the moringa still has its leaves, so I guess it was sort of protected).

I had two others in pots, and propagated two others in the ground, and they all died. No idea why, but there was some crazy irregular rain this year.
1 week ago