Sunday, June 10, 2018

Trashcan Potatoes - Guest Author La Motocycliste

Over the weekend, I tipped over the trashcan, and harvested enough French Fingerling potatoes for a good meal for two.

Growing potatoes in a trashcan is fun and easy. In case you think, "Potatoes are cheap, why do all this work?" price heirloom varieties at Whole Paycheck sometime.

A lot of communities have gone to high tech trashcans that can be emptied by an automated garbage truck. This leaves the householder with old trashcans, which can be used for low tech urban potato farming.

The first step is to locate a sunny spot. Potatoes are not really choosy, but they do like sun and water. If your sunny spot is over a patch of dirt, cut the bottom off the trashcan with a Sawzall or a hacksaw. If your sunny spot is over concrete, drill drainage holes in the bottom of the trashcan. If the trashcan is really disgusting, clean it up a bit.

Next, put your trashcan on your chosen spot and fill it with four inches of cheap potting soil with a handful of bone meal mixed in. Head off to choose your potatoes. You need about a quarter pound organic potatoes per trashcan. Look for potatoes with nice big prominent eyes. If you have potatoes that have started growing in your pantry, use those.

Cut up the potatoes so you have one or two eyes per piece. Many people leave the potatoes out overnight to skin over, but I have never bothered. Put the pieces about six inches apart on top of the dirt in the trashcan, then cover with another couple of inches of potting soil and another handful of bonemeal. Don't bother to tamp down. Water so that the dirt is as wet as a wrung out sponge. Cover the trashcan with a piece of chicken wire or an old screen to keep critters out.

Keep the dirt moist, and in 2-3 weeks you should see sprouts. Potatoes grow along the stems, so when the sprouts are 8 or nine inches tall and have nice glossy leaves, shake some more dirt along the stems. The plants will grow towards the light, so keep covering the stems as they grow. Keep them watered and the potato plants will grow for about three months. Eventually they will die down. Stop watering. When the plants are deceased, knock over the garbage can and pick out your potatoes.

Note: Reposted from dkos. For those who learn more easily from seeing than reading:

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

California Marrow Bones

I do not eat a lot of Beef or any meat these days. I occasionally am overcome with a desire for some and I indulge myself.

I love marrow. It never occurred to me it could be a whole course. I just always hung over the stockpot and ate marrow before anyone else could get to it. It was my own dirty little secret.

The beauty of vintage community cookbooks is that an odd recipe you find will open a new frontier. This Appetizer recipe comes from Los Angeles and the Farmers Market Cookbook by Florine Sikking published in 1975. Each stall in the market contibuted a recipe. This recipe is from Tunstall's Gift Shop,

La Brea Tarpits Marrow Bones

4 Marrow Bones (have the Butcher cut them in half lengthwise)
1/4 pound Margarine, unsalted
4 cloves Garlic, crushed
1/2 cup Bread Crumbs
1 teaspoon Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Salt

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine Margarine and Garlic and make into a paste. Spread the paste over the marrow side of the bone. Sprinkle Bread Crumbs, Paprika and Salt on each bone. Place Bones on cookie sheets and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the Marrow has turned creamy in color. Makes 8 servings.

Garden Notes #1 May 2018

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. - Margaret Atwood 
I was out in the garden today for the first time in bare arms. I am Ginger so I got a mild sunburn in about 20 minutes. I pruned the fig trees. We had a very cold Winter and I thought they froze. Figs are sprouting at their base. I removed the branches that were frozen.

I surveyed the damage to order. Order? Hah! The Birds eat Poison Ivy berries and defecate on my garden in flight. I have lots of new little Poison Ivy vines everywhere. The some for baby Mulberry trees.

The Squirrels who live in the Chinese Nut Trees ate a baby Hosta I planted. We have lots of wildlife In Philadelphia. Perhaps some marauding child hosta-napped because it was in a pot out front. God bless their evil little hearts. I love them.

Posters brought to you years ago by the United States Government, the Works Progress Administration, and American Graphic Artists. We need a Civilian Service Corps again in my humble opinion. When I come back from having some more coffee I will post a link to their source. And then I will write about some flowers that reseed themselves and take over like weeds. Especially if you mulch garden.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Green Revolution - Food is Politics and Vice Versa

Sometimes I am "seized by a rebellion so sickening" that I will not write. The chilly Spring rain outside is making music on my window and I seem, like my garden, to have thawed a bit.

I have an ongoing interest in feeding the children and myself good food. I must be interested in the economics of farming in America to that end. I have discovered a new source for GREEN information. Meet the American Farm Bureau. 

I was drawn to the site by an article Monarch Habitat Restoration Benefits Farmers and the Environment by Robert Giblin. I plan to make my garden Monarch friendly. I stayed for the informative articles about Farm Policy. No food without happy and prosperous Farmers. Photograph by C Watts.

The Monarch Butterfly is in trouble. Find out how to be a guardian of the Monarch Butterfly HERE. 

'No matter who you are or where you live, you can make a difference and help conserve the monarch butterfly. From a small pot on your front steps to a backyard pollinator garden, there are many ways individuals can provide essential habitat. We provide support to local communities, NGOs and private landowners through the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program with technical assistance and funding support for improving pollinator habitats.'

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Java Sweet and Hot

Coffee is good and good for you. Hallelujah! I am celebrating with a cup of Poor Richard's blend coffee from Reading Terminal Market. Life is good.

I was so happy to read this article. How much do we love coffee? We love coffee so much that we write songs about coffee. Coffee songs below.

Good to know that our love for that first cup in the morning is not in vain. And that drinking another two or three cups may have health benefits.

The illustration is a vintage tin sign. You can find more signs of this type HERE.

Why Coffee Is Good for You
Kris Gunnars, Authority Nutrition

It is more than just dark-colored liquid with caffeine. Coffee actually contains hundreds of different compounds, some of which have important health benefits.

Several massive studies have now shown that the people who drink the most coffee live longer and have a reduced risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s and diabetes. Read more ..

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Mrs. Ian Erskine's Deviled Eggs

This is not your standard Deviled Egg. The recipe comes from The Royal Blue and Gold Cookbook produced as a fundraiser by the Marchioness of Cambridge in 1974. The cookbook is long out of print. This is another glorious library book sale find.

Before World War II, Dorothy Hastings Cambridge had an idea of making a cook book using recipes from dinner parties she and George had given for their friends and guests. The Marchioness had interesting friends like Clark Gable and Joan Crawford. Dorothy was supported in this effort by Queen Mary, who donated many recipes. The book did not get published until 1974. Proceeds were donated to the Royal British Legion Women's Section. 

This recipe is verbatim. I will provide one or two of the Marchioness's creative recipes also in another section. Enough typing for this morning.

Devilled Eggs

Ingredients to serve 4

1 tablespoon Butter or Margarine
1 ounce Butter (editor's note - you may use Margarine here as well)
4 Eggs
2 tablespoons Milk 
Cayenne Pepper
1 and 1/2 teaspoons prepared Mustard
1 tablespoon Chutney
2 tablespoons Capers
2 Eggs


Melt the butter or margarine in a frying pan and fry the eggs carefully until the whites are set, but not hard. Meanwhile, melt the 1 ounce butter in a saucepan. Add the milk, the salt, and the cayenne and bring to a boil. Add the mustard, chutney, and the two eggs, well beaten. Stir the mixture over a low fire, until the sauce is like thick cream, never allowing it to come to a boil. Add the chopped capers and pour the sauce over the fried eggs. The dish may be warmed slightly under the grill or in a very hot oven for a few minutes, as it must be served very hot.