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Everything posted by djyee100

  1. I am warned. I recently bought a small plant of Moroccan Mint, and I was thinking of planting it in the ground. Guess not. It goes into a pot.
  2. Or the Bay Area. This plot of land in the Bay Area would cost over $1 million and it would be built over. Beautiful fields, Shelby. What kind of wheat are you growing? Do you grind your own wheatberries for flour?
  3. The lavender is blooming, my front deck garden is shaping up for summer. Since the last time I posted, I've added a pot of chervil to the mix.
  4. This year's herb patch on my front deck (with some ornamentals too). French and English thyme, tarragon, Italian oregano, marjoram, Genovese basil, Italian parsley, Berggarten sage, creeping winter savory, alpine strawberry, lavender, chives. I bought six-cell packs of the basil and parsley this year, not all shown. I predict a lot of pesto and tabbouleh on the table this summer.
  5. Shain, what is this? Is it something edible? ETA: Liked the pic of your two gardening assistants, also!
  6. Oh, this is amazing. I'm gone for a few weeks (project deadlines and some kind of flu, eww) and I come back to a new installation. Love the Gorilla tent. The other day I was thinking of reading The Martian again, you know the part where Mark Watney starts farming inside his habitat so he doesn't starve to death, and he creates soil from his own waste. I don't expect you to do that kind of extreme farming of course. Your wife and your neighbors... We've had a great deal of blessed rain this past month, and our state is recovering well from the Great Drought. Because of the cloudy gray weather, none of my plants have grown much in the past weeks. Their growth stalled without sunshine. They are, however, well-hydrated.
  7. Have you seen this? Info about plumeria, incl propagation from seeds, in this article from the Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service. http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/OF-24.pdf
  8. How hot is too hot? Some parts of my back deck get blasted with afternoon sun (I live on a ridge). Rosemary and Greek oregano do well there. Think harsh, hot Greek hills.   I saw this rosemary at the nursery and thought it could do well in a pot. http://www.anniesannuals.com/plants/view/?id=3934 This rosemary also sounds pot-friendly. I don't remember seeing it at the nursery, though. http://www.anniesannuals.com/plants/view/?id=3825   I tried this Greek oregano at the nursery (yes, I ate a bit of leaf), and it was so peppery I hesitated to buy it. But it intrigues me. I may grow it this year to satisfy my curiosity. Also, any deer that tries to eat this plant will be sorry. http://www.anniesannuals.com/plants/view/?id=4518   Do you grow mint? It has to be grown in a pot because of its invasiveness, and it thrives in heat and sun. It does grow fast, though, so it has to be repotted regularly. I love the flavor of Moroccan mint. http://www.anniesannuals.com/plants/view/?id=4729
  9. My berries were sweet and delicious in the summer. They became tart in the fall and winter because they didn't ripen as much in the weaker sunlight. Since you control light in your spaceship garden, you could have sweet berries for as long as the plant bears fruit.
  10. Very early spring on my front deck. Parma violets (in the blue pot) are always the first flowers to bloom in my garden. Also in the pic, thyme, parsley, creeping winter savory, chives. Lavender in the big pot on the right side. These plants stayed green and grew slowly over the winter. The plant in the foreground is alpine strawberry. I waited for it to freeze over, but in my protected front deck area it never did. It kept blooming and fruiting thru the winter, even though the fruit was tart. I'll grow this one again. It's an alpine strawberry cultivar named 'Mignonette' (Fragaria vesca 'Mignonette').   Everything else in my garden is coming up 2-3 weeks earlier than usual. My roses started sprouting two weeks ago, and my salvia is showing signs of life. It does worry me a bit. Global warming? What global warming? Well, I'm not in denial about it.
  11. I use a spatula scraper for bowls. It works Ok. There are curved bowl scrapers, held in your hand, that work faster. For a bench scraper, I use a straight-edge dough scraper. Works fine.
  12. A good digital thermometer with a probe you can hang off the side of the bowl. Chocolate mold of some kind if you're going to experiment with tempering. (Unless you're only planning on hand-dipping chocolates?) I always used the clear plastic chocolate molds, not the colored plastic ones. After filling the molds with tempered chocolate, I could see thru the plastic molds to check how the chocolate was doing. The chocolate pulls away from the mold as it cools and sets. That gives you a clue when you can unmold. Homemade chocolate peanut butter cups are better than anything store-bought, but more challenging than making simple chocolate shapes from a mold. There are molds that are a tray of little cups for making peanut butter cups or other filled chocolates. Oh, and make sure you have a good scraper to get the chocolate sludge off your bowls and the kitchen counter. You don't want to waste any of this stuff--chocolate's expensive. The scraped up sludge could be another batch of tempered chocolate on another day.
  13. I've done little confectionery in my time. Not my thing. But back in the day when I was playing with chocolate, I used Trader Joe's Pound Plus, which was a good quality chocolate for the price. I think it's only dark chocolate, not milk chocolate. I haven't tried it in years, so if anybody else has had more recent experience with this chocolate, pls say if it's still good.   I've done tempering with the microwave method and the classic mush method (groan). Microwave was easier for me, but the classic method gives a better temper.   I assume you have a good digital thermometer. It's important for tempering chocolate.   King Arthur Flour sells chocolate pastilles. I like Vahlrona and Guittard (though I haven't used them recently). Vahlrona chocolate was exceptional the last time I used it, both dark chocolate and milk chocolate. Stay away from Scharffen Berger chocolate. Since SB was taken over by Hershey's, SB chocolate has acquired that weird waxy filler you find in Hershey's chocolate bars. http://search.kingarthurflour.com/search?p=Q&asug=&deftab=products&w=chocolate   good luck. Pls let us know how it goes.
  14. This one's a toughie. How much is your housemate's son willing to spend? If I were in the same situation, I would find a local confectioner or culinary student willing to make the chocolates for me. If you want a high-quality chocolate product here, I think you're looking at a custom job. I would guess that local cooking schools or cooking programs would have job-posting boards. A small chocolate shop where the owner makes the chocolates is another possibility. The specialty chocolate molds and the high-quality chocolate itself will add to the cost of the job.
  15. djyee100

    An Overload of Eggs

    Agree. I've only eaten century eggs a few times, but I have pleasant memories. No way I'd eat something that reminded me of spoiled eggs.
  16. djyee100

    An Overload of Eggs

    How about pickled eggs and beets? I've made this recipe and liked it. http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Pickled-Beets-and-Hard-Cooked-Eggs   I noticed your piles of zucchini on the Gardening thread. Zucchini frittata is a good combo.
  17. djyee100

    An Overload of Eggs

    It's the idea and the looks of it that put you off. I first ate a "century egg" in a pastry when I was a kid. I didn't know what it was. I just ate it, and I liked it. The yolk tastes like a sweet jelly. But the white is blah, forget that.
  18. djyee100

    An Overload of Eggs

    Wish I had those eggs myself. I'd make lots of cookie doughs, like Toll House cookie dough or icebox cookie doughs. I'd roll the dough up in parchment paper, like slice 'n' bake cookies, freeze 'em, then bake cookies over the holidays. Since the eggs are not standard size, you'll have to weigh them. One large-size egg, the standard egg size for baking recipes, weighs 50 grams or 1.75 oz without the shell. Also you can make Popovers. Brioche if you want to get fancy. Pasta carbonara for dinner. I like to make frittata for a quick dinner, 10-12 eggs in one frittata. I make mine in a (greased) nonstick 10" skillet, and I never flip it over (too messy and nervewracking). I put the pan under the broiler to finish cooking the top. The leftovers are good in sandwiches the next day.
  19. Did you see this forum on Chowhound? It's a old link. http://www.chowhound.com/post/thai-basils-find-358736 Or any other Southeast Asian food market might have it. You could even ask a Thai restaurant where they get theirs. I agree that Italian basil doesn't cut it in Thai food. But you don't have to use holy basil. I think Thai basil, which is anise-y and purple, is just as good in stirfries. Basil is out of season. But in the summer try contacting your local herbalists' association for a supplier. Someone may be growing it for ayurvedic reasons. http://herbalists.on.ca/ This is a long shot: I notice that Amma, or Mata Amritanandamayi, visits Toronto in the summer. She was mentioned in heidih's link. When I have visited her ashram in San Ramon, Ca, during her summer tour there, I have noticed a table of tulsi/holy basil plants for sale. I don't know if tulsi plants would also be available at her Toronto venue. What can I say? It might be a source for you. Try emailing Amma's Toronto group--maybe someone local grows the herb. http://amma.org/meeting-amma/north-america/toronto/canada
  20. Edward, I've grown tulsi or holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) in my garden in the Bay Area. If you can grow Italian basil, you can grow holy basil. Have you searched online for it under its Latin name "Ocimum tenuiflorum" or "Ocimum sanctum"? Specialty nurseries may sell the plants. You can buy seeds online. The website Dave's Garden lists vendors. http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/930/   Horton Spice Mills is selling culinary Italian basil. Holy basil is a specialty plant and not that readily available.   As far as I know, holy basil is usually associated with Southeast Asian cooking, not Japanese cooking. It has a spicy flavor. The plant is considered medicinal in the Indian Ayurvedic tradition, but I wouldn't call it a drug in the conventional sense. It is an herb that is supposed to promote health and well-being. It's also popular in Thai stirfries, which is how I use it.  
  21. We've gotten our first real rain today since last April. That's normal for our climate: no rain from April to October, with maybe a sprinkle in June or July. The rain is good news for us. It's fire season here, and the rain lessens the fire danger and brings relief to the birds and animals. Weather is still warm, 60's to 70's, and the rain will help us recover from the previous years' severe drought. Most reservoirs are still well below capacity.   People here plant in the fall to take advantage of the winter rains. Even though the plants don't grow much, if at all, they settle in during the winter and they're ready to burst out in early spring. This past week I did some transplanting and repotting.     On the back deck, the kaffir lime tree could use some pruning soon. Not much fruit this year, but that's OK. Bay leaf shrub is doing fine, roses and lavenders are going dormant. Camellias are budding though the plants are still scrawny (the two very big containers, left and right sides of pic). The camellias almost died during the drought. They will bloom in the late fall and winter.     Also off the back deck, roses on the left side of the pic, a patch of dwarf Greek oregano in the middle, and the newly transplanted 'Spice Islands' rosemary on the right side of the pic. The rain puddle is a welcome sight.
  22. Definitely agree about springerle if you have the molds. So beautiful. Also vote for shortbread and gingerbread/spice cookies. Spritz cookies and Mexican wedding cookies are a variation on the shortbread theme.   Also recommend biscotti and quaresimali. My favorite biscotti recipe, which my friends gobble up like teenagers, from Zuni Cafe cookbook: https://shadowcook.com/2008/10/18/judy-rodgers-cornmeal-biscotti/   The blogger initially had difficulty with this recipe. I haven't. My advice is to follow the recipe carefully. Judy Rodgers put a great deal of care in writing her recipes. She means what she says.   - I make these biscotti with unsalted butter because I prefer the taste, and I add 1/8 tsp salt to compensate. - I've subbed Pernod for anisette with success. - I combine the butter mixture with the flour mixture by hand to prevent overbeating. - It's important to keep the logs 1" in diameter per the instructions for best results. These are small biscotti. - Slice the logs when they are still very warm but not hot to the touch.   I've eaten these biscotti with sultana raisins at the Zuni restaurant, and they are darn good that way, too. ETA: I gave out the link to the Zuni Cafe biscotti recipe because it reproduces what is in the cookbook. However, I think the blogger's notes can throw you off. My warning.   Below, a recipe for shortbread cookies that I've made since I was 11 years old. The recipe came from an aunt who loved to bake. (I still have her original typewritten copy.) These cookies keep extremely well if they're not eaten up ASAP.   SHORTBREAD 1 cup lightly salted butter 5/8 cup sugar (1/2 cup plus 2 TB) 2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour   Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Place all ingredients in a large bowl and knead with your hands until the mixture is well-blended into a soft dough.  If necessary, chill the dough briefly. Then roll out into 1/2-inch thickness, and cut into bars or other shapes. Prick the cookies with a fork.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cookies are slightly browned on top and golden at the edges. Do not overbake, or the cookies will toughen. Allow the cookies to cool thoroughly before serving.  Note: Use a good-quality salted butter, such as Challenge.
  23. Wayne, I can't help you with collards, except to say I really like to eat them. They are sturdy greens, with a strong flavor, and I expect that if you blanche them they will freeze well. I like to cook Kim Shook's recipe for collards that she gave on the Dinner thread. Here, Kim's post 6/22/2010: https://forums.egullet.org/topic/143505-dinner-2010/?page=26   Yesterday was pickage and clean-up day in the herb garden. Our warm weather is supposed to continue, even hit 90+ over the weekend, so I decided to trim back plants and clip basil flowers to encourage more growth.   My system is to dry herbs on a plate on the kitchen counter, using the half-dried herbs as I might need them in cooking. When the herbs are completely dry, I store them in plastic bags or containers. Yesterday's pickage was mostly French and English thyme, with some marjoram and winter savory, and a single lavender spike, the only one in the garden. Lavender is supposed to bloom in the spring. This plant didn't get the memo.
  24. Depending on your weather and other conditions, you can also consider keeping certain crops in the ground for the winter, covered with a deep mulch. More about this method here: http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/garden/keep-them-cozy-right-ground   I was reading about this method in Edna Lewis's memoir-cookbook, The Taste of Country Cooking, just this week. Ms Lewis grew up in rural Virginia in the 1910s, 1920s. Her family used this method to store winter vegs.
  25. I used to have a sorrel plant that just wouldn't quit. I blanched the extra leaves, dried them, then chopped them with oil in a food processor and froze the mixture for later use. I recently finished reading The Culinary Herbal by Susan Belsinger and Arthur O. Tucker (2016, Timber Press). To preserve herbs, the authors suggest syrups, vinegars, herbal pastes and butters. They don't blanche the herbs for the pastes, and they freeze the pastes and butters. To make herbal paste: Clean, de-stem, and completely dry approx 4 cups of herb leaves. Have 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup olive oil ready for use. Coarsely chop herbs in food processor or blender by pulsing with 2 TB olive oil. Continue pulsing, adding just enough oil to coat herbs and make a thick paste. The herbs should not be floating in oil. Pack in small plastic containers or ziploc bags. Freeze. The pastes should be good until the next harvest. Note: For pastes that might be used in desserts or baked goods, like mint, lemon balm, or lemon verbena, use a bland vegetable oil or nut oil instead of olive oil. The authors like sunflower seed oil. They use sweet herbal pastes in making scones, muffins, pound cakes, cookies. To make herb butter: Using a spatula, combine 8 oz (1 stick) unsalted softened butter with 2 to 6 TB minced fresh herbs. To keep the butter from freezing so hard, add 1 TB oil. Form logs with wax paper or plastic wrap, and freeze. Good for 6 months. You can slice off pieces without unwrapping the log; simply pull the spirals of paper or plastic wrap off the slices. I'm thinking of making rose syrup from my heirloom roses next year.
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