Sunday, February 22, 2009

That recipe I promised

The Nascar racing season is underway! Snack foods required!

I always celebrate the the first race of the season (that's Daytona, for you non-race fans) at Rich's Racin' Party. It's a delightful annual event where Rich (and everyone else) show off their culinary skills. This years buffet featured FIVE deep fried turkeys, fancy mac & cheese, hot chicken queso dip, cheesy potatoes, homemade bread, hot mamas, brownies and cherry cheese blintzes.

And my gluten free Scotch eggs. They took MUCH less time to assemble before I had to make my own sausage and my own bread for breadcrumbs. But the extra effort was worth it! I'm glad to have this gf recipe in my repertoire. They can be a great pitch-in dish for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks.

Scotch eggs

1 doz. large eggs, hard boiled and peeled
2 lbs. ground sausage
2 raw eggs, scrambled
1 t dry mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1 C (about) DRY gf bread crumbs
Canola oil for deep frying

Put a piece of waxed paper on your counter. Grab a handful of sausage a little bigger than your egg and flatten it with another piece of waxed paper.

Wrap it around your egg, so the sausage layer is even.

Scramble your 2 eggs and add dry mustard, salt and pepper. Dip your sausage covered eggs in the raw egg and roll in a small bowl of bread crumbs.

Heat your oil in a pan or deep fryer to 350 degrees. Place a couple of the eggs in the oil. (Note: if you used moist bread crumbs, the oil will boil over.) I cooked my eggs for about 8 minutes, turning to make sure the browning was even. Then I put them on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels, and put them in the over (at 350) for about 10 minutes. You can cut one open to see of the sausage is done. You don't want raw sausage next to the egg.

Cut the eggs in quarters for serving. Scotch eggs can be served hot, cold or at room temperature.

I made a dipping sauce for mine with mayonnaise, grainy mustard, cayenne and paprika. It was well received.

And here's the THIRD bloom from my amaryllis! Hey, it's all I've got in February. Maybe in another week or so I'll have some basement greenhouse vegetable sprouts to show you.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Kay's Leaning Tree WORM Farm!

The Red Wigglers arrived in Wednesday's mail! Who knew two thousand worms would fit in my mailbox?! I was looking for a big box on my porch.

I had gathered all my materials, but thought I had a couple more days for construction. So I was drilling holes and putting things together until after midnight on Wednesday. I wore out two power packs on my cordless drill.

Since this is my first worm farming experiment, I wanted to test several types of containers. I have two large farms, and three different smaller ones. I think I have about 800-900 worms in each of the big tubs, and 50-100 in the small ones. I didn't count them, of course. It was a calculated guessing game.

I decided to use stack systems to make harvesting my worm castings easier. When the worms have digested all the food and bedding in the bottom layer, I can add another tub or bucket (with holes drilled in the bottom) above it. The worms will migrate up to the new layer for fresh food. Their original tub will contain the rich compost I can add to my gardens, and I won't have to sort out all the worms. I really hope it works!

Here's the largest of the small worm farms. I used recycled 2 gallon buckets. These buckets are delivered to my Butler kitchen a couple of times a month, so I have a stack of them. When nested, there's about 2" of space between the bottoms of the buckets. So that gives me a little air space.

I drilled a line of air holes in the side of the bucket, just below the line where the next bucket will nest.

Then I drilled drip/air holes in the bottom of the second bucket, and air holes in the lid. I used a paint scraper to clean off the drilled holes, so they wouldn't have sharp edges. A file might have worked better, but I don't have one.

The worm homestead was done. Time for food and furnishings. I used shredded newspaper and cardboard and a few crunched leaves for the bottom bedding. I sprayed it down with a mister until everything was about as damp as a wrung out sponge. Then I added a sprinkling of garden soil. Worms need a little grit so their gizzards can work on the food grinding process.

The used food layer included egg shells, coffee grounds, apple peel, potato peel, strawberry tops and mushroom stems. I froze the peels and tops to help break them down. I let them get back to room temperature before adding them to the worm condo.

Welcome to your new home, Red Wigglers! I added the worms on top of the food. Then another layer of newspaper and cardboard bedding, misted and damp.

Not only to I get to generate my own organic compost, but I'm cutting down on the trash I send to the landfill.

Now I have a whole worm neighborhood! I'll move Wormland to the basement eventually. It's in my breakfast room right now. I'm still admiring my work. In about three months, I hope to have some worm castings to make my tomato plants big and strong. In the meantime, any liquid that drips out can be used to fertilize my houseplants.

Speaking of houseplants, this amarylis just bloomed for a second time! I got it for a Christmas present in 2007. It bloomed last year and spent the summer outside. I've never had one last this long and bloom again.

I promise my next post will contain a recipe. I've been eating cave man food for a while. Too dull for most of you. But NASCAR season starts with the Daytona race on Sunday. Rich will be deep frying turkeys and I'm making gluten free Scotch eggs to take along to the party. With racin' underway, Spring can't be far off!

My green onions have sprouted. I'm ready for Spring!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Thyme is on my side

Guess I wasn't the only one waiting for the thaw. These thyme sprigs popped out of the melting snow to greet me.

Darn groundhog! Okay, so we've got six more weeks of winter. I've had a lot of winter in the past 10 days! After the snow day of my last post, I shoveled many sidewalks many times, tended my frozen pond, had some very expensive work done on my minivan, shivered through several sub-zero nights, got six more inches of snow (no snow day, rats!) and took Daddy Cat to the vet for some mouth surgery. He's fine and has already forgiven me.

And . . . I called Uncle Jim's Worm Farm. My 2000 Red Wigglers are on their way! I've made a big worm farm out of three Rubbermaid tubs. This one will stay in my basement. For my own amusement, I think I'll also have a smaller worm farm in the kitchen. I'll build it out of cast-off buckets. Fresh fruit salad is delivered to the sorority house in these buckets. I couldn't bear to throw them out. Now I'm glad I kept them.

The BIG THAW started today. It was probably in the 50's. I had the back door open most of the afternoon. We'll hit 60 degrees next week. Naturally, my thoughts turned to spring.

In Indiana (zone 5) we can plant lettuce in March, providing the ground isn't frozen. Lettuce can endure cold nights that are above freezing. So I dug out my planting plug trays and planted lettuce seeds, spinach seeds and leek seeds. I planted some bunching green onion seeds about a week ago. They've sprouted already. I'll move my little plants outside on warm days as soon as weather permits, bringing them in at night when temps drop below freezing. For sprouting, I use old disposable catering trays with clear lids for my indoor greenhouses. When the plants get bigger, they don't need the lids anymore. I put the trays under shop lights in my basement.

I planted several different lettuces. I found a bibb mix that had red and green varieties. I also planted seeds from a mesclun mix and some Romaine. My favorite red oak leaf is Brunia, so I planted some of that, too. I'm looking forward to salad days!

I'll be placing my order for summer crop seeds soon. I'm still studying my seed catalogs and looking for weird offerings. I'll plant my summer crop seeds in the basement greenhouse over Spring Break in early March.

Then I'll start thinking about potatoes and peas, which can be planted outdoors on Good Friday, weather permitting. That's April 10 this year.

(Melissa - has this banished your winter doldrums? Think Spring!)