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Personal blatherings, living simply, gardening, cooking, canning, dehydrating, knitting, spinning and more.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

I am dirty...in a good way. Blather and Black Thumb of Death Gardening

Okay, that title is untrue. I just got out of the shower. We have been slowly getting the garden ready, with seeds already planted for the veggies that did not mind 40°F soil. (It is almost 60°F now.)

 Oh! I found a cool site:
Soil Temperature Maps

You can get a good bead on what your soil temps are in your area, (you keep clicking on the map to get closer until your tiny hamlet is shown). I plant by the moon, and with this addition, it really helps, especially if one is impatient like I am.

I digressed, as usual. When I come in, usually no later than 2 p.m., I am filthy. My gardening shoes protect my feet from little stones and leavings of pine cones, but not from my socks filling with dirt. The rest of me is not very tidy, either. I am usually smiling when I come in, except if I was bombed by pine cone missiles from the (cuss word) ponderosa pines have not been harvested yet. Himself agreed that we can have all giant pines and firs removed, including the ones that line the driveway. The ponderosas push out all other trees, being an invasive, nasty pine variety. With them gone, the other firs and pines can properly grow.

I am getting fruit trees, (that thrive in our area), instead. Yea! with drooling. Apples, pears and cherries will go in. There is supposed to be a peach that thrives in cooler regions. I have not researched it yet.

What about the moose, elk and deer eating the fruit trees? The area will be fenced off. It is the only way. We tossed a few pounds of buckwheat seed on the slightly wild, (we refuse pie-zoning of the area), slope under the power lines and more on the wilds area we leave alone for the critters to use (it is also one of their paths). It is great for the soil and gives them something more interesting than my garden. This is an experiment, btw. Deer will eat tobacco plants down to the ground, they will come back nightly if the area is not fenced off. (So goes that theory it would kill them.) Deer, when hungry, will eat anything, even the "deer resistant" items. There is no such thing as "deer proof", though, if a male will pee around the planting area daily, it holds them at bay. That is the only "cheap" barrier that actually worked. Himself does not carry that much urine. Our beds and plots total up to over 1660 sq. ft. now.

The lettuces and spinach are already sprouting. Yea! I think one of the kale came up, too. The onions and garlic were planted last fall. I had to move some when I redesigned the garden for optimal placement of various veggies, those survived the shock well. Did you know that if you cut the leaves down to 2" a few times while they are maturing it quickens them into bulbing? Rather cool trick I read years ago. Even the garlic gets a "haircut" when the leaves get a good 6" to 8" long. Sadly, the leeks at the nursery are not in yet. I will not get to enjoy them until late fall.

For our greenhouse plant starts, we have tried all sorts of things. In the house, there is no longer room for tables and lights or even a little pop-up greenhouse unit. The garage was a failure. Cement stays cold, competing with the grow light warmth, even if the plants are also in a small pop-up greenhouse. I have an old EZ-Up unit from my pottery/sculpture craft and Ren fair days. The top rotted years ago. Replacing it is more expensive than buying a new unit.

We came up with The Hillybilly Greenhouse©. (grinning- not really copyrighted...) We bought clear gardening plastic. Too big, because I was not sure how tall the sides would need nor how much on top when the peak thingie was used. I could of gotten away with 8'x25' (I got 10'x25') for the sides and 12'x12' (I got 20'x25') for the top. With some clipping for the entrance, the overly big top still works. Our clips are on their last legs, they will have to do for now. We put in lights for night use only to keep it warm inside. They have kept the greenhouse over 60°F at night. Not bad. Our normal summer is around 80°F during the day. I hope it does the trick.

Enough of that for now...

I had been on the look out for a good, basic plain cake recipe. I want it as the base of my Raspberry Zinger Cake, or for other cakes of that nature. I know, I eat organic. So what? Not having dessert and nibbling on nuts and berries as a substitute is a quality of life thing. I am a proud American of Celtic ancestry, not a squirrel. My great-grandma lived well into her 90s, and a tobacco user, with only old-age sorts of ailments. She ate dessert, (and real food, being a farmer). She used to keep berries in washed out milk cartons in her freezer that was kept outside. (Try that today and they void your warranty.) The boxes were taped shut with freezer tape. She wrote what was in them with a thick black marker. She made the BEST cobblers one ever had. She never sprinkled sugar on top, which ruins a good cobbler. It is amazing I still remember all that at my age. She had boysenberries,vblackberries, raspberries, and I think marion berries. I have very fond memories of her, great-grandpa when he came home from the fields and their home. They were good people.


I found a Hot Milk Cake recipe that is perfect. At my elevation of about 2200', (and one that is ignored in recipes by all "experts" except for canning recipes),  I have issues if I do not use the recipe changes for cakes baked at 3000' and above. The middle sinks- a little or most of the cake becomes a crater. I am a very good cook and knew something was not right. After reseaarching, the USDA, of all "people" noted that elevation changes are needed at 200o' and above. It turns out they are right. This recipe had a very slight indent that was hard to find except by taking a photo. The recipe is below, along with a link to the original. The photos in this are are of the cake unfrosted. The frosted one below, I made and used chocolate buttercream. It was very good.


From Taste of Home:
Hot Milk Cake



Hot Milk Cake


This cake takes about 10 to 20 minutes to put together. I use my chicken's fresh, soy-free eggs and for the rest of the ingredients, I used organic/GMO-free. If you care about the calories and other stuff, go to their website, above, for their stats using their suggested form of ingredients. I am putting how I made it, not the site's. Go to the site if you want their method.

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups flour
2-1/4 tsp baking powder
1-1/4 cups WHOLE milk (low/non-fat milk ruins baked goods texture and flavor)
10 tbsp REAL butter, cubed (that is one whole cube [1/2 cup] + 2 tbsp)

In a large bowl, beat the eggs on high speed until thick and lemon-colored. Add sugar, beating until mixture is light and fluffy; add in vanilla and beat until just mixed in.

Combine flour and baking powder.

In a small saucepan, heat milk and butter just until butter is melted.

Stir flour mixture into batter. Slowly add milk mixture to batter; beat or stir in, just until combined. (Over-beating is as bad as under-beating.)

Pour into a buttered and floured 13" x 9" baking pan. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. (I have no clue as to the times for two 8" or 9" pans- most likely 25 minutes or so.)

Frost with favorite frosting when cool. I made Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, as stated above.

They say- Yield: 12-16 servings, (sure- if cut for small children, those on strict diets, or only allowed to eat teeny-weeny squares because someone is a stingy git).

Normal servings yield for consenting adults: 8.



I am filling in the background on the dragon locker hook rug I posted about the last time. It is going well. I am watching Chinese movies as I work. I love the old kung fu movies. Netflix is our one splurge. They have a limited selection, luckily half are the mythical tales ("fairy tales" to Americans) of their old culture (when they were used to be allowed to have one).

Once the garden is all in, I will be able to start back at my sewing. I plan on making myself pants and dresses. I am still looking for decent blouse recipes. I found an old stocking recipe, as in old fashioned leggings with feet or "pantyhose", for those who do not know what they are. Oh, and some directions for making leggings. Mine will not be spandex, but of a weave that has some give and warm enough to wear under dresses in the winter. They will be worn under dresses or long, tunic-length tops. Only children should wear leggings in public with short tops. On adult women.... gads- People of Walmart moments. It will be nice to have some well-made clothes again. I am sick of the garbage at the stores. Did you know that the sizes at the stores are called "vanity sizing"? They changed the numbers to half of standardized pattern sizes so women can think they are thinner than they are.

Coming soon:
The BEST Lard Soap recipe I came up with, along with a lard-based lotion or cream. (I am still testing the latter.)  The lard soap is great in the hair, I have normally oily hair, so that says something about the recipe, no?

1 comment :

  1. Glad to see you. Goats are fresh and will make the milk cake yums. Good memory at your age? Mmmmf you are a snippet compared to me. Glad you are well and dirty.

    ReplyDelete