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L Allen

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since Apr 07, 2020
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hugelkultur forest garden foraging food preservation cooking
I'm a long-time gardener/farm girl, short-time Northwesterner/wife. I finally dragged the hubby to a 2.5 acre wooded property (think "Green Acres" with a gender swap) and we've begun the process of becoming more self-sustaining.
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Recent posts by L Allen

Does anyone else have their kiwifruit vines in a container? I impulse-bought two fuzzy kiwi plants last year- a male ('Matua') and a self-pollinating female ('Jenny')- and then realized when I got home that I seriously had no place to put them. I usually get away with impulse plants ("There's always room somewhere," is my motto) but not with these guys...no spot was right at all for them. So into a 15-gallon bucket they went, and I built a trellis so they could climb up to the second-floor deck.

They didn't bloom this year, but from what I understand that's normal for young vines. I'm in zone 8b but we do get a lot of snow up here, so I keep burlap and bubble wrap to protect them in the winter; they did fine last year, no dieback at all. They get about four hours' sun each day at their feet and an extra couple of hours further up the trellis.

But am I just wasting my time? Will they manage to produce in a pot? I wish I'd stuck them in a half-barrel, but I didn't have one; I feel sure I'll have to figure out how to repot them into something larger one of these days.

(Thanks for the new dedicated forum, by the way!)



3 weeks ago
This was my first experiment in fermentation, and it's still my sentimental favorite. I always have at least two jars ongoing: one with added spices (peppercorns, coriander, mustard seed, and cinnamon) and one without. I keep the open jar in the fridge and sometimes just add to it: a cut-up lemon every now and then, sometimes some salt.

I've found so many ways to eat them! Of course they're great in tagines and similar dishes, but they're also really good anywhere you might use capers. Adding them potato salad has been the hands-down family favorite so far, though; my husband refuses to eat potato salad without them now.

Good luck with yours!
3 weeks ago
A walk through the garden first thing in the morning, often with coffee in hand. The weather has to be pretty foul for me to forgo this, and then I'll feel off all day.

And then at least two hours of reading every night. We don't watch television at our house, but I can't sleep without my nightly down time.
4 weeks ago
That sounds like a good system. My approach wavers somewhere between the organizational extremes of "spreadsheet for everything" and "booby trapped pantry: good luck with that." Sometimes it varies by area, sometimes by non-kitchen-related life context. I do try to pull things from the back, though I'm not 100% on it.

The one thing I do keep track of is my spices and herb supplies. I almost always buy bulk (when I don't grow and dehydrate) and then break the big bags down into vacuum-sealed smaller containers. They tend to get tucked here and there, so I started noting down what I've stashed where in a little steno pad. It helps. Somewhat.

Once a year or so I go through the home-canned stuff and make sure it's rotated. Ditto emergency supplies like powdered milk.
4 weeks ago
Stuffing muffins and savory bread puddings! I've done both, and though I haven't tried freezing any ahead, I'm sure it would work. Maybe make them a little moister than you might normally want them, to make up for freezing and reheating.

Since my hubby started baking bread, savory bread puddings have become a staple around here. I'm partial to using mushroom and whatever fresh herbs and leftover cheese we have.
1 month ago

Jay Angler wrote:L Allen wrote:

After all the excitement died down I put in a mosaic on the back wall instead.

That's a gorgeous mosaic!
Question though - what is on the bottom of the cabinet? Installing a metal sheet, preferably with heat resistant insulation in the small gap caused by the edges of the cabinet sticking a little lower than the bottom shelf, would be something I'd seriously consider. There are codes for how close "wood" can be to a hot surface for good reasons. Under normal operations, the gap seems plenty, but if a pot caught on fire, metal could make a difference.



Thanks for the suggestion; I hadn't thought of that.

I wonder if adding a layer of regular subway tile would help with fireproofing? I got a ton of it at a garage sale a couple of years ago, and part of the mosaic is made of it. I'd probably cut a sheet of decent ply to fit that space, and then tile it first and install it after it's grouted and sealed. The undercabinet is actually in really good shape, so minimizing damage to it would be a prioroty.
1 month ago

Pearl Sutton wrote:A random kitchen design flaw I just tripped over in this rental. The height of the stove hood off the top of the stove is 22 inches. I'm doing canning, and the height of my canner + a quart jar + the jar lifter + my knuckles is 24 inches at absolute minimum, 26 inches would be a MUCH better height for a hood if you are canning. Worth considering.
Trying to not drop a hot canning jar when you bark your knuckles is difficult... I haven't dropped any yet, knock on tile!



We just bought our new house this past year, and I actually had to rip the microwave/ventahood combo out completely because none of my large pots fit. I found out that my pressure canner wouldn't fit at all the day the "new" fridge went out; I dug the canner out and started frantically prepping to preserve all I could, but discovered that the lid with the pressure rocker was at least three inches too tall. Aargh!

We actually ripped that monster microwave down that day. There was already a downdraft exhaust on the stove, so that didn't matter, and the microwave was one of those overengineered jobs that was supposed to microwave, brown, toast, and who knows what but actually didn't do anything at all very well.

After all the excitement died down I put in a mosaic on the back wall instead.

1 month ago
I made one too; I couldn't resist. I used blueberries (frozen from earlier in the year) and blackberries (fresh) and the zest from half an orange I had left over from breakfast. No crust for mine, either. Making it required all of five minutes and one bowl. :-)

It's really good. Mine's a little stiffer than custard pie, but that's a good comparison.

I took this picture before it fell completely, but half an hour later, it's half-devoured and not anything like as pretty. My hubby says it would be great with whipped cream...but he'll eat whipped cream on almost anything, so your mileage may vary.

I'm totally putting this recipe in the rotation. Thanks!
1 month ago
This looks really good...and super simple! I can imagine whipping one of these up with whatever odd fruit I have lying around after canning.

Is the texture something like a souffle or a custard? Or is it more cake-like?
1 month ago
And don't be afraid to fail! For every lush, productive plant you see in a longtime gardener's garden, there were ten (maybe a hundred!) that went belly-up. You have to try things, see what works where, learn what you're good at growing in the space you're in. After gleaning some of the basics from books and guides and whatnot, experience is the very best teacher.

To paraphrase one of our NW garden gurus: "The best gardener is the one who's killed the most plants." :-)

And good luck!