Home of Almost Paradise Designs Art Jewelry and Paradise Cove Fibers and Textiles

The Gardens at Paradise Cove: Specializing in Dye Plants, Culinary and Medicinal Herbs

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard ... Do Ahead Pulled Pork

I have another recipe for you in my series of freezer/do ahead meals.  Thriftway Market in Olympia had a great sale on pork butt roasts last week; $1.99 a pound!  I bought three of them, put one in the freezer whole and turned the other two into pulled pork.

First I cut the pork roasts in to large chunks (you do want to use a butt/shoulder roast, not a loin roast; loin won't pull into big shreds), seasoned them with some garlic powder and pepper, browned them on all sides in a big heavy skillet and then popped them into a crockpot.


I sliced up an onion and cooked it in the same pan I used for browning the meat until it was softened a bit, added 4 cloves of minced garlic and cooked for another minute or two and then added that to the crockpot along with a couple of bay leaves.  I had some poblano peppers in the freezer that I roasted and seeded last summer so I decided to chop up a couple of them and add them to the pot for a little extra flavor.


I added four cups of water, put the top on the pot and let it cook for about 6 hours on high, until the pork was "fall apart" tender.  I shredded the meat with two forks ...


After the meat cooled I portioned it out into freezer bags and popped them into the freezer ...


Hmmm ... what else is in there?  Chicken adobo, short ribs in balsamic vinegar, chicken cacciatore, arroz con pollo and some of the stuffed shells I made a while back.  I'll be adding recipes for all of the rest of these soon :)

So ... what will I do with the pulled pork?  How about tacos, enchiladas, burritos ... and the ever popular pulled pork sandwich ...


And one more thing ... all those plastic bags ... remember that unless they have had raw or partially cooked meat in them you can wash and reuse ... here's my handy dandy FitzGyver'd plastic bag dryer in action :)


I am adding this to Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard. Join Robin to find out what others are cooking up from their garden produce.

Enjoy!





Monday, April 23, 2012

Harvest Monday ... and Garden Evolution

I have a small harvest to report this week... just some Asian greens and a little bit of lettuce none of which stayed still long enough to photograph. I'm joining other bloggers over at Daphne's Dandelions as we share our weekly harvests...it's fun to see what others are harvesting and what they are cooking up with it...check it out!

I was looking at photos from a couple of years ago and realized how much my garden has evolved in just four years.  In 2009 FitzGyver built me my first raised beds out of some scrap lumber.  I got a pretty good harvest of potatoes even though I crowded the bed with squash plants, too!


By 2010 we added several more beds ... all with hinged covers and chicken wire because Mike was sure that the deer would get into the vegetable beds ...



That year I devoted more room to potatoes ... here interplanted with lettuce early in the season.  I was using hoops from an old barrel to hold up the plastic cover on this bed.  I made cages for the potato plants out of chicken wire and added more soil to the top as the plants grew ... my version of "potato boxes ...


Which actually worked quite well...



Later in 2010 I replaced the old wood boxes with plastic Square Foot Garden Beds ...


... and bought a little pop up greenhouse and these cute little bed covers. None of this lasted very long ... the plastic beds were too shallow and the zippers on the greenhouse and bed cover were really hard on my hands (and they tore pretty easily).

By January of 2011 FitzGyver stepped in and started "engineering" some new raised beds made of cedar with PVC hoops ...



He also built me some nice cedar potato boxes ...


Then in March we cleared out the brush on the side of our property and found room for more beds ...



In the spring I  found a great deal on half wine barrels at a local hardware store with a small garden shop.  I used a bunch of them to add "edible landscaping" to the lake side of the house.



This configuration worked pretty well ... by August some things were looking good ...


...  but the old pop up greenhouse was quite literally falling apart.  Mike started doing some research on a new greenhouse for me, found one he liked ... and we realized that in order to fit it into the  garden area we were once again going to have to reconfigure the raised beds ... so once again we tore everything out ...



... and put it back together again ...



Mike added power and water lines to the beds and the greenhouse ...


And by the middle of April I had an all new and improved garden ready to be planted.


The greenhouse, four 4x8' raised beds and one 3x12' bed in the back.  I decided that "potato boxes" weren't worth the trouble so this year they are "tomato boxes" ...


I'm putting the drip system back into the beds ...


... which are all planted now and growing well ...


... and I have realized something as I've written this post ... it wasn't so much the evolution of a garden as it was the evolution of a gardener.  I've learned a lot about what works and what doesn't. I've learned not to plant things that we really don't like eating (kale) or things that take a lot of room to grow and are easily purchased (dry beans) ...  so a smaller garden works and is easier to care for.  I'll still continue experimenting (and evolving) ... I'm trying out an heirloom blue corn this year (FitzGyver says I can't grow corn here ... we'll see).  I wonder what next season will bring?  I can't wait to find out :)

Enjoy!



Friday, April 20, 2012

Greenhouse Update ...

The greenhouse is starting to fill up!


I have a station for potting in the least sunny corner ... and my boombox :)  Tomatoes and peppers under lights at the far end of the shelf.


More tomatoes, peppers and some eggplants under the snazy grow light that came with the greenhouse kit.  The potatoes are still sittin' and chittin' while my hanging baskets are starting to look really good.  Yep!  Deb's a happy camper!  Thanks, FitzGyver!

Enjoy!



Wednesday, April 18, 2012

So Many Tomatoes, So Little Room ...

Just a quick little post today.  Cindy of SB Canning (if you do any canning you NEED to check out this web site!) has come up with an incredible guide to the bazillion different varieties of tomatoes out there and gave me an OK to share it with you here on my blog ...

I have highlighted the ones that I am growing this year.  I'd be interested in hearing what varieties you plant and why you like them ...



Isn't this great??!!

If you know of a variety not listed Cindy would love to hear about it so she can add it to the list.

And if you are on Facebook check out the SB Canning Page ... tons of great information there!

Enjoy!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Harvest Monday ... and the Cold Frame

Wow!  What a difference a few warm days with a little bit of sunshine can make.  I swear the Asian vegetables in the cold frame doubled in size overnight!


I harvested a few of these yesterday afternoon ...


... and made a stir fry with some chicken, egg, rice and soy sauce ...



Yum!

I'm joining other bloggers over at Daphne's Dandelions as we share our weekly harvests...it's fun to see what others are harvesting and what they are cooking up with it...check it out!

Enjoy!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bullchit!!

I'm pretty sure that's what these potatoes think about the fact that they are hanging around in the greenhouse instead of luxuriating in some nice soft soil....



... but last year I kept records on the progress of the potatoes that I planted early and "encouraged" with a germination heating pad versus the ones that I just popped into wine barrels or big buckets later in the season and found that the later planted potatoes caught up with the early birds.  So this year my "Red Golds" are going to be sitting around chitting for a couple more weeks whether they like it or not ; )

Enjoy!

Monday, April 9, 2012

No Harvest Monday ... and Greenhouse Raising!

I have no harvest to report this week. Some of my Asian Greens are almost harvestable but I'd like to give them another week to size up a bit. I'm joining other bloggers over at Daphne's Dandelions as we share our weekly harvests...it's fun to see what others are harvesting and what they are cooking up with it...check it out!


It's time to show you the progress on the greenhouse and tell you how it happened :)  Mike and I settled into a tradition early in our relationship.  When it came time for all the "gift giving' occasions (birthday, Christmas, anniversary, Valentine's et.al. ) we decided that instead of trying to figure out what to give each other (given that we were in our 50's when we met and each had more "stuff" than we really needed) we would give each other a "gift certificate" that could be redeemed any time during the year for something that was really wanted.  Some years we have gone without redeeming them since there was nothing that was really wanted or needed.  This year Mike redeemed his for a compressor to fill our scuba tanks.  I redeemed mine for a greenhouse :)

I looked at several styles and brands of greenhouses and let FitzGyver have a lot of input with regards to energy efficiency, ease of construction etc. and we decided on a Sunglo greenhouse manufactured here in Washington and sold by Costco (and on sale for $400 dollars off that month! :)  We started construction about 3 weeks ago and I thought it would be fun to show you the process ....


First we had a local landscape company trim the limbs from several trees to give the
greenhouse area more light ...


... the greenhouse arrives in several BIG boxes.  As FitzGyver put it "What Costco doesn't tell you is that there are 251 parts that need to be assembled with 330 long and short rivets PLUS the foundation, utilities and ancillarily equipment for growing plants!!! But that said, it goes together fairly easily for a handy mechanical engineer! And the rain showers are helping because I get one thing done and then have to come in to watch the DVD or read the directions for the next step... "


The foundation with water and power lines ...


The bottom railings and first side goes up ... (You can see that it is wet ... FitzGyver wasn't kidding about working between rain showers!)


Three sides up!


Starting on the top section ... Yes!  The sun finally came out to play!


Getting ready to start on the roof ... the blue plastic pieces all over the place were protective coverings on the plexiglass sheets.


The roof is on!


The cedar shelves go in ...


... and the first plants settle into their new home :)


The fourth raised bed goes into position and trenches are dug for a power line to the greenhouse and water lines to the raised beds ... FitzGyver said I need steel toed boots and a hard hat if I wanted to enter the construction zone!


There's still some work to be done on the electrical panel.  The greenhouse came with controllers for the fan and vent, temperature and a timer for the lights!


At this point in time one half of the greenhouse is still FitzGyver's ...


... and the other half is mine!  Mike says he should be done with the electrical work sometime this week ... I'll keep you posted on the "Grand Opening" celebration :)

Enjoy!