Sunday, September 27, 2009

Primitive BBQ

Recently I picked up an amazing Cooking Book ( Jamie at home, Cook your way to the Good Life)by the Naked Chef, Jamie Oliver. In the book he shows some pics of primitive style BBQ. I pride myself on being somewhat of a pit master. But then I quickly realized that my skills as a BBQ man are made up of all the conveniences like charcoal and tools. So I got to thinking what if I took the conveniences away. Any one can grill meat over a fire when all the conveniences are in place. So with a little research on how indigenous people cook over an open fire I tried my first piece of meat primitive BBQ style. The first thing you have to do when cooking over an open fire is to get a substantial number of hot coals. And by hot coals I mean burnt down wood turned into the white chunks of nothing that most people don't care about. Those white chunks of ash and wood are the main source of heat that will keep your meat burning at an even temp. These coals are the trigger mechanism to cook and restart your fire when needed. I first started off by using all of the dead branches I had laying around the property. I cut the limbs and separated them by girth, keeping the little twigs together, medium sized twigs and thick saplings separate, varying the time I tossed them into the fire to keep it going and hot. The result, I produced a large amount of coals that were able to burn anything put on them and they were able to maintain a great deal of radiant heat. This is my first attempt at Primitive BBQ. I look forward to perfecting the art.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fish Head Soup

For many people eating the fish head is probably unacceptable. However to many more people the Fish head is the most delicious part of the fish. In many parts of the world fish head rivals the best part of steak and the reason for that is the gelatinous fat that surrounds the fish head which gives it tons of flavor and is loaded with healthy Omega 3 fatty Acids. In addition, The stock made from fish heads are served in the most expensive of restaurants and are saved for the staff at the end of the day.

I remember my mom who happens to be Liberian asking the guy at the fish market for the heads and for a while they were giving it to her for free. Because lets face it, who eats Fish Heads. But one day she went back to pick up her fish heads that they usually throw out and to her surprise they were on display for sale, she was shocked with disbelief. But apparently unknown to her, the Fish head Business was growing in full force and while my mom had her fair share of competition, the fish market found a new way to turn a profit.
One of my favorite parts of the fish head is the actual eye. Once you get over the idea of eating an actual eye, you will taste who wonderful they taste. For some reason the eye sucks up all of the flavor of the stock and taste so wonderful. Absolutely delicious!! For this soup we used shitake mushrooms, diakon radish, bok choy, cilantro, spring onions, carrots, salt and black pepper.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Make a Rain Garden For Drainage Issues

One of the projects that I have to address this upcoming year is the issue with rain settling on a spot of my property that does not get good drainage. I have been giving a lot of thought on how to address this issue and I literally hit a wall with no ideas until I came across a Manual for Rain Gardens on the net.

The idea is to plant a flower bed in these areas that tolerate alot of water and design it in a way that looks natural with the environment. The benefit of doing this is that the plant beds provide adequate drainage for areas in your yard that receive the water run off. I think its a great start to offset a big problem. The only issue I will have is plant bed design, materials to be used and plant species that specifically thrive off of alot of water. It will be challenge but I think I will be killing 2 birds by taking care of the drainage issue and using natural material to benefit from it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Growing Egg Plant Second Growing Season Zone 8

I planted this Eggplant back in the spring and he has shown to be a truly great producer. The oriental eggplant has been a great surprise to us with regards to harvest, taste, and texture. Here in GA the Second Growing season is in full swing and Mr Egg Plant is Showing his full appreciation, by setting forth several new flowers. Eggplants like tomatoes have the Perfect flower which means each flower has both male and female reproductive parts. For track stars this may not be a good thing, but for plants it is an efficient way to reproduce. We look forward to harvesting more Eggplants this season.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hello and a quick Goodbye! Mr CopperHead

Today began the opening of bow hunting season and I had a great time trekking through the woods and scouting for deer sign. I used today to familiarize myself with my hunting area. The deer have the advantage, it's going to be another tough game of chess this year, but I'll get one hopefully.

As I was heading back out of the woods I saw a game trail and I figured I would just follow along side of it to understand more of the area. Well as I walked parallel to the trail, I came to a dead stop, I didn't know why. But it was the same feeling when I came to a dead stop a few years back when I was in the presence of a box turtle and the other time when I almost stepped on a rattle snake two years ago. My senses were high for some reason and I didn't know why until I looked down and saw a Copperhead similar to the one in the photo perfectly camouflaged along the Forest floor. WOE!!! I moved back a little and just observed it. It was beautiful! I couldn't stop looking at it, I was in a trance just trying to make out the patterns along the leaves. I know that Copperheads are the least fatal of all the venomous snakes but I also know they are responsible for the most bites in the U.S. But I won't be a statistic today. Because today the woods belongs to the fire ants, hornets and Mr. Copperhead

Shiso Diva

It's official my wife has moved up in rank from Shiso novice, to Shiso Farmer, Shiso Queen, and now she can be Officially called the Shiso Diva. This growing season has been so productive for her Shiso. I think it was a combination of things that caused her to be so successful but the one overwhelming element that caused her success was determination. She was determined to grow a bounty of shiso this year and when it took off it heightened her curiosity to learn more and grow more. Chances are if you have eaten sushi from a real sushi bar you have eaten shiso. The Shiso is used as a garnish. My wife and I have been trying to identify the taste of shiso but it is very difficult because it doesn't taste like any other herb, it is unique in both texture and taste and ultimately defined as shiso according to the Diva herself;)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Overwintering Pepper Plants

This is a photo of my prized habanero plant. This plant grew to an enormous size and is producing flowers at an alarming rate. I have two other Thai Chili plants that are starting to flower this week and are starting to produce peppers. They are currently growing in containers. I have been doing alot of research on overwintering pepper plants. From what I understand peppers are really perennials, but most people plant every year because they allow the cold to destroy them. But to the contrary if you take your peppers indoors during the winter you can actually preserve them for years to come. I don't know how true this is but I think its worth a try. After all I can't wait for another season to try this when I have peppers now.

Overwintering pepper plants require that I take the plants indoor into comfortable surroundings. As subtropical plants they can not tolerate any freezing and therefore they need to be in a situation where they can receive warmth as well as light. It is recommended that you place them near a window that receives ample light from the sun but doesn't get cold. Unless you have windows that do not get cold the other alternative would be to use grow lights. Either way the plants will go dormant until spring. However it is not unusual for pepper plants to grow and produce more fruits throughout winter if conditions are right

As fall approaches and then winter "tis the season for soups and chili" and peppers are where it is at.

Growing ButterNut Squash

I have heard so many great stories about butternut squash that I had to try it myself this year. We used a variety that is perfect for small gardens. Any squash species is a sore subject with the wife. She feels squash are just little greedy bastards that take over as much space as possible. However I had to convince her that Butternut squash we are planting are specifically designed to grow on its own soap box. I have never tasted butternut but there are so many delicious recipes that accompany this vegetable that I have to see for myself. I hope all goes well. I have put a few plants in the raised beds and a few in containers. If the containers go well as planned growing the butternut in them will be the rule. We'll see....

Friday, September 4, 2009

Top 3 Essential Garden Tools

Over the past year I have spoken to many people who want to start gardening and begin to live a sustainable life. Im not sure how sustainable I am on the sustainable meter but I know I am headed in the right direction. But back to the top three tools that I feel are the most essential for my urban garden and they are as follows:

1:Wheel Barrel

2:Garden Hoe

3:Spade Shovel

I can honestly say that 99% of the work I do in my garden includes one if not all of these items. They have proved to be absolutely essential in transforming my garden plot into a productive edible garden. I guess the list may vary depending on what your needs are; because some people may have no use for a wheel barrel. I never thought I needed a wheel barrel until I wanted to fill my raised beds with compost from my pile. After carrying several shovel fulls of compost and losing half because of tripping to dragging filled garbage cans with compost, breaking the handles and straining my back from picking them up, I figured I would be a smart caveman instead of a strong one and invest in a wheel barrel. Over the next several weeks we are going to nurture our garden for this upcoming season, we hope we will be as successful as the first.

Urban Hunter?

Hunting season is upon us. Here in GA the season really gets kicked off by Dove season. I lived in an Urban Environment all of my life and when most people find out how much I am into hunting and fishing they are amazed that an ol city boy can get down with the best of them. I even challenged an active member of the Klu Klux Klan that I could gut and clean a deer faster than he can. He was actually shocked and for a moment it seemed as though he was talking to one of his brothers. It goes to show that when people are on common ground stereotypes and prejudices can be pushed aside even if it's for a split second.

I am an Urban Hunter and in a nutshell it means that I support conservation. Now this may seem like an Oxymoron to some because the very notion of hunting seems counter productive to conservation. But to the contrary, my hunting license that I purchase every year goes to the Fish and wild life services to maintain our Forrest and public lands that are on the outskirts of our urban sprawls. Hunters believe it or not do more for conservation than is commonly known.

Our History has been clouded by the actions of the "Great White Hunters" who trek all over the Globe to kill defenceless animals for sport with no sense of preservation. These things inevitably changed by the actions of one man (President Theodore Roosevelt) who I have the honor of calling my hero. He single handily attacked the issues of preservation (the preserving of resources for the few) and conservation ( the the careful utilization of a natural resource in order to prevent depletion.) By tackling these two issues and providing a place for hunters to pursue game and at the same time manage our precious resources; the idea of our National Parks were spawned and along with that were myriads of laws and regulations that would guide our behavior to maintain the beauty of our rich resources.

So here I am a century later living in an urban sprawl; fine tuning my Bow, zeroing my arrows, dusting off the ole shotgun and preparing for this years falconry season. I'm looking forward to preparing a meal of wild Boar loins, grilled venison back straps, fried rabbit, stewed squirrel and wine braised quail, freshly made with the Harvest from my Urban Garden. For some people it's a way of life, for me the beat of my drum signals a different tune, As an Urban Hunter I find pleasure shopping and eating great food downtown but I find peace leaning against an ol tree stump somewhere deep among the hard woods.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Growing habanero peppers

Alas my first HOT PEPPERS EVER!! My Habanero plants did extremely well this season. The plant itself was waist high and is still producing many peppers. These things are ATOMIC!! HANDLE WITH CARE!! I mean literally. Don't do what I did several years ago; while cooking some amazing venison chili and chuggin a few coronas, I had to go to the bathroom and Habanero residue was still on my hands. I need say no more.........
So while picking these grenades I was so excited to test them out. I picked one up, smelt it and I could literally smell the heat. My mouth started to water, my brain new that I was about to do something stupid and I did. I bit right into it. I thought...... not so bad....... WOE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That bite was a delayed reaction for the heat that ravaged through my mouth. OMG!! HOT, HOT, STUPID SERIOUS HEAT HOT. But sooooo Goood!!
The peppers thrived off a good mixture of compost and regular feeding of fertilizer. With all of this Georgia heat the peppers are in nirvana. To give you an idea of the type of heat habanero produces, I will compare them to jalapeno peppers. All peppers are rated on the heat index in scoville units. Green peppers are obviously Zero; jalapenos are between 2000 and 5000 scoville units and Habaneros, "the devils candy," run at amazing 200,000 - 300,000 scoville units. HOT AS HELL!! BUT UMMMMM SOO GOOD!! But please before cooking with these WASH YOUR HANDS BEFORE HEADING TO THE BATHROOM!!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Reflections of our summer harvest

This was our first summer that we actually grew something. There were a period of highs and lows but all in all the experience was great. Ironically most of the growing season was left to my wife to develop and maintain and being a cherry, she did amazingly well. Our plan to use raised beds proved to be very easy to maintain and resulted in amazing produce from virtually everything grown in them. Some of the highlights for this summer are my almost 6' green pepper plants. I have never seen green pepper plants so tall and they are so productive. The Cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, and melons produced so many fruits that my wife huffed and puffed when she went to harvest them everyday. We learned so much about gardening this year and sharing our experiences. The wealth of information that we receive from all the home growers who we follow on the blogosphere has been hands down the best source of information that we have received. Thank God for Georgias Second Growing Season, we already have seeds sprouting out of the Seed tray ready to be planted in the beds.