On Thursday, I’m baking cream and/or fruit+almond paste pastries for 100+ people. Just whipped up the dough today. After cracking many eggs, I can tell you that about 5 large eggs yields a cup of liquid. More realizations later.
Archive for March, 2009
Yesterday, the cold front that dumped feet of snow on Colorado and South Dakota, but only inches of snow on Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, and Oklahoma finally made it to Arkansas. The air was quite chilly, and the wind was unforgiving. The air temperature dipped down to 39F at night, but the “wind chill” was in the low 30′s all day long.
This caused my worried farmer father to give me a call and warn me to cover the garden. We scoured our linen closet for blankets that had seen better days. I also decided to sacrifice the sheets I had in high school. Ty completely despises them, so that felt good.
I had everything covered by 4PM just to get it over with, and also to be able to see each little seedling. We were told by some other newcomers to the Conway area that the locals won’t put in their tomatoes until April 1st. After this cold snap, I know why. There is going to be a run on cages on Monday, I believe.
So here it is, the list of our fallen vegetables:
-one tomato has lost all of its leaves, although I have a feeling this was either from the wind, or from it being on the end and the blanket harming it. Luckily, I have 20 more tomato plants
-one pepper has completely disappeared, again lost from me placing the blanket.
-a few cabbage and kohlrabi seedlings in small planters holding down the blankets down were overturned.
-some spices look horrible, but may recuperate.
-some okra died in the wind, some okra died under the blanket. Clearly okra loves heat.
In better news, we’re up to 60F, sunny, with a light wind. The beets and snap peas are finally peeking through, along with some lettuce, completing our cold weather perimeter crops. Talked to a couple of transplanted Nebraskans this weekend about gardening in Arkansas. They let me in on a secret: rhubarb doesn’t like to grow here. I let them know that the roots my mother brought are shooting out leaves at inches per day. They said that the first year, this will happen, but because there isn’t a good hard freeze in the ground, the plant gets confused and either doesn’t shut down properly, or shoots leaves too early.
This is the rhubarb at my surrogate garden a week ago. This was taken the day after I planted it. Note: there were no leaves out when I planted it. There is probably a 9 inch leaf on the top now!
Still applying for jobs, but I can do this while baking. Today I am making a baguette, roasted red pepper fougasse, and a regular sandwich loaf.
Also, my friend Jeff was searching for pictures of 1950s domestica, and ran across the Needled blog. Sometimes I wish I lived in a place a little colder so I could go around making socks and shawls all of the time. The warm weather has really been putting a crimp in the wool works. The blog is so well done and the pictures are wonderful. It makes me feel better about my foray into yeastworks. Take a look at it if you have time.
One of the advantages of living in a tower is being able to take pictures from the top of the tower! Today I took some pictures from directly above the container garden.
Click on the picture to see the full map.
This garden could be categorized as a high density garden. The radishes, lettuce, and spinach will all be done, and sometimes re-planted before the tomatoes hit even half size.
It rained .25 inches last night. The radishes are coming up after 5 days.
I thought after living here for a while, I thought I was being too hard on Conway about public courtesies I had grown accustomed to in Nebraska. After my parents visited, I heard them saying the same things:
“Where are the sidewalks?”
Today in the local paper, The Log Cabin Democrat, there was a story about Conway pricing a bus system. That is pretty exciting, but I don’t understand how there could be a bus system without sidewalks to the bus stops.
My friend David is spearheading the effort to get some sidewalks in Conway with his website and group, the Conway Association of Pedestrians. Looks like we’re going to start meeting soon!
For other Conway, Arkansas folks who believe in alternate forms of transportation, or at least ones where you can keep the mud off of your feet, there is also a bike association too!
Finally, the Faulkner County Association for Sustainable Communities is meeting April 4th. They do a lot to connect people interested in making sure the growth Conway is experiencing is sustainable.
In other news, the victory garden just got dumped on! In the past 1.5 hours, we received 1.25 inches of rainfall! Ty and I had to walk through it! Thanks for the rain gauge Mom and Dad.
Took the parents to the Petit Jean Automobile and Firearm Museum. My father did not like the drive to the top of the mountain.
We ate at Mather Lodge, and had a good semi-hike to find the cave with the cave drawings. We never made it there since it started to rain, but we saw some really cool mini waterfalls.
I was never positive my father would come down for a visit. He left getting to talk to a few more folks that made him believe Arkansas isn’t that far away from Nebraska, people-wise. The next time someone wants to take him to a state park, he will first ask, “Is it on a mountain?”
My parents are down for a visit, and after seeing the nice planters Katie and I made, and after feeling the warm weather, they decided to help me get them planted.
We purchased some cotton gin waste. It was a new medium for my father. As an expert in compost, manure, and topsoil, he approves of cotton gin waste, except for the chunks of gray clay we found in a little bit of hit.
He helped me spread the dirt in the rectangular planters, and fill the large barrel planters Tyrone gave me for Christmas. Once filled, he started leveling and packing the soil. As you can see from the pictures, we had a little bit of soil left over. It rained this morning, and we saw a little bit of settling, so it is good we have a little bit of fill.
We planted 10 tomatoes, 3 cabbages, and 5 hungarian wax peppers. I had a jalapeno and bell pepper from last year that are still producing, so we stuck them in the planter too. Mom thinks they will thrive and produce, Dad thinks they’ll die in 2 weeks. We also planted some pole beans, cucumber, a muskmelon, and some asparagus.
When I think about micro-management of people, I cringe. Micro-management of plants is much easier since they don’t really go anywhere. Ever since I have had a place of my own, there has been this urge to cast my will upon the soil. It started with a packet of morning glories, and soon I was attempting to grow my own food.
At the dome house, there were too many trees, weird drainage, and oddly shaped lots to have a real garden. I’m working on an Instructable for a planter Katie and I made while she was here. You will have to wait for me to unveil that.
In the mean time, I’ve got some kind friends that will let me express my obsessive-compulsive farming disorder. You ask, “Farming is a disorder?” If you must ask you have clearly not lived with a farmer. Though both of my parents had teaching jobs, they were both really farmers at heart. My dad farms vegetables as well as soy and corn on a business scale. One of his favorite past times is sitting there worrying about the rain, or lack of rain, or price of seed, or price of sale. How do you deal with these uncontrollable forces? The answer is that you compulsively control all of the other forces that you can possibly control.
With a good hoe, you can take out all of your frustrations, and control the ground that way. There is also a fine-tuned precision in cultivating the crops: knowing which seedlings are weeds, knowing how to steak a tomato, knowing when things are ripe, knowing when picking some fruit will encourage further growth. Really, farming is the original addictive facebook game, only you can get a tan and fed at the same time. I have inherited this mental illness from both sides of my family. This illness also comes with a twinge of, “When the apocalypse comes, at least we’ll have something to eat.”
This illness evolved because many years ago, only people with the illness had enough food to survive the winter. There also evolved only one type of woman that would put up with the intense displayed characteristics of men afflicted with the farming disease. Even today, the great great great granddaughters of these women may offer you a delicious jar of salsa or pickles from last year’s harvest. Unless you are a close family member, you should probably know that you are getting a jar from the batch that just turned out “OK”.
To this day, I believe casinos may have been invented for farmers’ entertainment. My farmer relatives love to go to casinos! After hearing one of my uncles talk about hail damage in a cornfield, and how he had a trip to Vegas scheduled right after that, he said something like, “In Vegas, you can only loose money, not an entire crop.” Sure, you could lose some money, but the fear of starving kept you well within your entertainment budget.
So, this weekend my enablers, ahem, friends rented a rototiller and we went to town on their back yard.
It was a dreary day, but it felt good to figure out what sort of plot David and Sasha wanted. After tilling, we were too tired to plant.
On Monday, the sun came out at noon, and I just couldn’t stay indoors anymore.
I planted what was left of my green beans, along with so many other things. I think I planted 6-7 12 foot rows, and got a sunburn in the meantime! The second picture shows the bunny proof garden next to the squash and cucumber mounds.
Still don’t believe farming/gardening is a mental illness? Check out these tomatoes:
I only planted 18 peat starters with tomatoes. In each starter, I put 2-3 seeds. As I started to thin out each starter, I noticed the tomato roots were still intact. This allowed me to almost double (almost triple) the number of tomatoes I started. (Note: this does not work with peppers.) Keep in mind, I really have nowhere to plant other than containers, and at the time, I didn’t have my 4×8′ planter yet either. I could have 16 tomatoes in there at the most. David and Sasha have started their own tomatoes, but mine are 1 ft tall and getting tempered on the back deck right now! YAY! I will have some to plant over there too.
Just counted. There are 46 tomato plants in equal portions: brandywine, cherry, and either roma or beefsteak. I forgot which one I planted at the end. Maybe I planted 4 rows of 6? I’m obviously at the early stages of farming mental illness, because none of the plants are labeled.
Our local BBQ place sells a slab of ribs for $20. For take out, they give you the lid of a paper box turned upside down, with the ribs wrapped in foil inside.
Their rib dinner is $12, and has bunches of sides. It is all very tasty, but I never end up having enough room to eat the sides and the Texas Toast. What little amount is left is wasted.
What is great about getting take out ribs is that you can have a beer with your ribs. Faulkner county is a dry county for the most part, and none of the rib joints serve beer. During Katie’s visit, we decided to get a little Texas envy and drink Pearl Light.
I can now attest to the wateriness of Pearl Light. A quick online search shows that it has less alcohol than the law’s favorite loophole three-two (3.2%) beer. DO NOT BUY. DO NOT ENVY TEXAS.
We walked our ribs home on the highway shoulders and ditches of Conway, because there are no sidewalks between the tower and our favorite rib joint. We were offered rides, but the point was to get out and enjoy the 80-degree humidity in March.
Three grown people ate as much ribs as they could, and there were still more to be had! We saved the gnawed bones and cartilage and made beans a couple of days later. Katie found an awesome South American beans & rice recipe that required a ham bone, and she wanted to go out and buy one. Little did she know the bones we already had were even more delicious than a ham bone. Mmmmm, gelatin, my favorite kind of latin. I take it back, this is the best thing about take out ribs.
Note all of the containers of bread dough in that last one. Luckily, we still had some Stag beer. I’m so glad Tyrone found it at the store.
It is much better than Pearl Light.
With Katie’s visit, we have determined a number of factors needed to create the ideal vacation.
The number one requirement is nice weather. It was the warmest it has been all year, and we took advantage of it, walking to dinner, working on projects outside, and hiking in the mountains. However, at the end of Katie’s visit, we had sleet!
The second requirement is great food. We had time to bake a bunch of bread and had salads at every lunch. Katie raved about the freshness of the produce here compared to Lincoln this time of year. There is nothing like a really fresh cucumber after a really cold winter.
The third requirement is a goal: climb a mountain, build a building, crafting a world takeover.
I’ve got more pictures coming up that detail all of these goals!