Butterfly Fund

Thursday, January 30, 2014

How to make and store chicken/turkey broth from throw away scraps

Make Chicken or Turkey Broth

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Homemade chicken or turkey broth is a kitchen project that we firmly believe everyone should try at least once. It's much easier to buy it at Walmart, and I do this too. But when you have bones left over from a roast chicken, it's so satisfying to use them up and turn out delicious stock for soup. All you need are chicken bones - ideally with a little meat still on them - and some basic vegetables. I like to take the opportunity to use up gnarled carrots and wilted celery tops too. The end result is invariably delicious and nourishing. Soup made with homemade chicken broth is always just a little extra special! Steps and pics below... This does take a while, but it's mostly hands off.
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1. Pull apart whatever is left of the chicken carcass. It's good to split small bones apart; this helps the stock jell. Cut up one or two onions, a few stalks of celery, and a couple carrots and pile into a large pot with the chicken pieces. Add a bay leaf, a handful of parsley, a few peppercorns and any other wilting greens you have around - leeks and turnips are good too.
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2. Fill the pot with water and put over high heat.
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3. Bring to a rolling boil then lower the heat. You don't want this to boil briskly; the water should just gurgle, with a few bubbles occasionally hitting the surface.
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4. If a foamy muck comes to the top, skim it off. This is just fat rising to the surface. Don't worry if you can't get all of it. Let simmer for about four hours - or however long you have. Two hours will produce a reasonably good chicken stock, although it is not ideal.
When you are done, remove from the heat and strain out the bones and vegetables, pressing on them to make sure extract all the liquid. Put in the fridge overnight to cool. The next day, skim any congealed fat off the top and discard or save for cooking. Put the stock in quart containers or bags to freeze. This will stay good in the freezer for several months, and good in the fridge for a few days.

One thing that I do on a regular basis, is to save ALL of my turkey and chicken carcasses after a meal.
All you have to do, is put the carcass into a freezer bag or container and save it until you have 3-4 of them.
Just yesterday, I made approximately 3 gallons of turkey broth from 4 carcasses.
I also tend to save my cut off celery tops, carrot tops, and onion skins. I just put them into a freezer bag and freeze until I am ready to make broth.

During the holidays, I ask my neighbors if I can have their turkey carcasses when they are done eating, if they will save them for me. Usually, they are more than happy to give them to me. Especially when I offer them a pint of the turkey broth as a payment. For something that they were going to throw away any how.

You can freeze your broth for future use, however, I prefer to can mine.

Freezing your broth

Freeze broth in small portions that are easy to use because it's not safe to thaw and then refreeze broth. Don’t forget to label with the type of broth, and date when freezing.

Ice cube trays make convenient portions to freeze broth in and can be added to sauces or gravy, or to saute veggies. The average ice cube is 2 tablespoons. Freeze in tray and transfer after solid to a zip top freezer quality bag for long term storage.

2 cup portions are another great size. It’s enough for a single portion of soup for a meal, to add to a stew, or to make flavorful rice or couscous. 1 cup portions however might work better if your only cooking for one or two people.

To freeze broth by the cup fill small freezer bags with 1 or 2 cups of broth. Leave a little bit of room for the liquid to expand but remove most the air from the bag. Lie flat on a cookie sheet or a freezer shelf to freeze flat so they are easy to stack.

Do not stack bags of broth or they will freeze in odd shapes. After about 3-4 hours you should be able to move and stack them leaving space to freeze more. Broth can also be frozen in small plastic freezer containers.

You can freeze broth for up to 1 year, but you’ll probably use it long before then.

Canning Your Prepared Broth

Process - Always adjust for your altitude.

Pints - process for 20 minutes
Quarts - process for 25 minutes

Adjustments for Pressure Canner
Altitude in Feet Dial Gauge Canner Weighted Gauge Canner
0-1000 10 10
1001-2000 11 15
2001-4000 12 15
4001-6000 13 15
6001-8000 14 15
8000-10,000 15 15

Isn't it cool knowing just what is in your homemade chicken or turkey broth!!



Sunday, January 26, 2014

Fastest Growing/Producing Fruit Trees

What you really want to know about fruit trees.... 
How long until I get fruit!!!

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Slow-Growing Fruit Trees

  • Few fruit trees are listed a slow growing. The actual growth rate in any category will depend on issues including the region of the country you are in, the amount of rainfall received and the quality of your soil. These are all key for any tree to achieve its true growth potential.

Medium-Growing Fruit Trees

  • Cherry trees and almost all plum trees are in the medium-growth category. There are also some species of apple trees that are listed as medium growth. These include the Lodi Apple and the Red Jonathan trees.

Fast-Growing Fruit Trees

  • Peach trees, pear trees and apricot trees are among the fast-growing varieties of fruit trees. There are also three varieties of apple trees that fall into this category. The Early Harvest Apple, the Red Delicious and the Yellow Delicious are all fast growing and can produce a significant crop.

Producing Fruit

  • Plum trees and cherry trees produce fruit when they are 4 to 5 years of age and live as long as 20 years. Pear trees produce fruit when they are 5 to 8 years of age and live as long as 45 years. Apple trees produce fruit when they are 6 to 10 years of age and live as long as 45 years.

Size of Fruit Trees

  • Most varieties of apple trees grow to a maximum of 25 feet in height. Apple trees generally have an oval shape. Peach trees grow to a maximum of 25 feet in height and have a round shape when mature. Plum trees average a height of 20 feet when fully grown and have an oval shape. Pear trees, when mature, are oval shaped and can can reach 20 feet tall. Cherry trees grow to 18 feet in height and have a round shape. Apricot trees can reach as tall as 20 feet when fully grown and have a distinctive round shape.

    Abiu Tree

    • The abiu tree is a small fruit tree that bears yellow, fleshy fruit about the size of a tennis ball. Each fruit contains a large cavity that holds the seeds and takes up about half of the inside volume. This is surrounded by juicy, caramel-flavored flesh that is pale yellow in color.
      The tree itself only grows to about 12 to 15 feet tall, but it bears fruit within two or three years of planting. Although this tree requires full sunlight to blossom, it bears its fruit in the middle of the winter.

    White Mountain Apple

    • The white mountain apple tree bears a kind of apple that is not usually sold in standard supermarkets. Like their name implies, these apples are white-colored with a slight greenish tint and look almost like they have been covered in candy or dye. The outside has a similar texture to a pear, but they are crunchy and round like apples. The fruit is very juicy and sweet.
      The tree is medium-sized and should be planted 25 feet apart from each other to allow plenty of room to grow. When the tree is getting ready to bear fruit, it will produce beautiful white flowers all over its branches. It bears fruit in about two to three years.



       Starapple

  • The starapple tree bears a gorgeous purple-shaded fruit that looks like a star when sliced open. Certain varieties come in a vibrant green. The inside is studded with seeds and the leaves have a bronze tint to them.
    The starapple tree is relatively large and should be planted 25 feet away from other trees, but it is fast growing. You should see fruit within three years.

       Starfruit

  • Starfruit is a cousin of the starapple tree because both look like a star when sliced open and both trees grow quickly. Starfruits come in a yellow or pale green and have five ridges running lengthwise across the body of the fruit. This makes for a five-pointed star when they are cut across. The fruit is sweet, but slightly tangy in flavor and extremely juicy. The tree grows quickly and bears fruit within two to three years.

The 12 Fastest Growing Vegetables

The 12 Fastest Growing Vegetables

I found this on another blog and knew that I had to share this with you! (growthis.com)

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Not all vegetables take from spring from fall to mature.  If you’re getting a late start on your home garden or live in a region with a short growing season, fear not.  There are many healthy, delicious vegetables that are quick to harvest. Here are the 12 fastest growing vegetables to get your garden jumpstarted.

RADISHES
One of the fastest growing vegetables are radishes. Most varieties will be ready for harvest in just 25 to 30 days after planting.

GREEN ONIONS
While it can take 6 months for onion bulbs to mature, the green onion stalks can be harvested after just 3 or 4 weeks. You can also grow onion microgreens and have baby onion greens in two to three weeks.

LETTUCE
Leaf lettuce such as Romaine can begin to be harvested about 30 days after planting.  Cut the leaves once they reach at least 3 inches.

BABY CARROTS
Baby carrots can be harvested after about 30 days.  Other carrot varieties may take between 50 and 80 days to mature.

SPINACH
Spinach is ready in as little as 4 to 6 weeks after planting.

KALE & OTHER LEAFY GREENS
Kale, mustard greens and watercress are just a few delicious, super healthy greens that are fast growers.  Most take about 50 to 65 days to mature, but baby leaves can be picked as early as 25 days.

PEAS
Snow peas take only about 10 days to germinate and are ready for harvest in about 60 days.

BUSH BEANS
Most varieties of bush beans are ready to harvest within 40 to 65 days from planting.

TURNIPS
Turnip roots are ready for harvest after about 60 days, however the highly edible leaves can be harvested in only 40 days.

CUCUMBER
Most varieties of cucumbers can be harvested about 50 to 70 days after planting.

SQUASH
Many varieties of squash, including zucchini, are usually ready after about 70 days.  For best flavor, harvest squash when they are still small.

10 Rules for Front Yard Gardens

1. Be beautiful. Looks matter.
It’s true. Looks matter. If you want to grow your vegetables in the front yard, it’s good to remember that you aren’t the only one who will be seeing your tomatoes and peppers. Now, I’m one of those people who believes even the homeliest vegetable plant is beautiful. But, I know my neighbors might not agree. And, sometimes, it only takes one complaint from one neighbor to bring the “authorities” down on a front yard vegetable garden. Reduce the risks of complaints; grow a beautiful garden.

Front yard vegetable gardens should be beautiful!

2. Be friendly. Say hello.
It’s simple. Your neighbors are more likely to like your garden if they like you. You don’t need to be BFFs with the folks across the street, but it’s good to be nice. Make eye contact. Smile. Say hello. Chat about the weather. And, if folks ask about the garden, share it with them. Take them for a tour. If they are gardeners too, ask them their opinion. In short, treat them like you’d want to be treated yourself. Yeah, I know, we covered all this stuff in kindergarten.

3. Be generous. Share.
Once you’ve smiled and said hello, why not offer your neighbors a bit of the harvest? You might be a bit, ah, tired of that squash you’ve been eating every single day for breakfast, lunch, dinner and midnight snacks, but your neighbors will probably be thrilled with the gift. [Note: Unless they are also gardeners. Never give summer squash to vegetable gardeners. That's like giving a dozen eggs to a chicken farmer. It's a nice thought, but a bit misdirected.]

If you’re a writer, you’ve certainly heard the phrase: Don’t tell. Show. Well, this is a bit like that. Don’t tell. Share. I can’t think of a better way to promote front yard vegetable gardens than by sharing the fabulous taste of homegrown produce. Give your neighbors a just-picked front-yard-grown tomato. Go ahead and give them the best one you picked that day. It’ll be worth it; the next day, you might see them taking a shovel to their front lawns. Grass just doesn’t compare to homegrown tomatoes.

4. Be respectful. Keep things tidy.
This gets back to Rule #1: Be beautiful. Because, again, looks matter. It’s ok to leave wheelbarrows and shovels and hats and rakes and gardening gloves strewn across the garden if you’ve got your veggies hidden out back. But, when the garden is literally front and center, all that stuff has got to go. Oh, by all means, pull out that rusty ol’ wheelbarrow (mine is bright orange; certainly no beauty) when you need to haul a bunch of manure or compost. But, please, put it away at the end of the day. It’s good for your tools. But, more importantly, it’s good for your neighborly relations (which, let’s be honest, is good for your garden).

Here’s the thing. If you are going to grow veggies in your front yard, you are probably going to grow veggies in view of your neighbors’ front yards. They will drive past your tomatoes and beans and overgrown, powdery-mildew-infested summer squash every single day. They will see you garden whenever they collect their mail, walk their dog or mow their lawn. What they see will determine what they think and how they feel. If you want allies, you’ve got to give them something for that alliance. Beauty and tidiness is a small price to pay for friendship and support in the neighborhood. So, put away that wheelbarrow at the end of the day. Please.

5. Be ruthless. No mercy for unhealthy plants.
Are you sensing a theme? There’s a reason for that: Looks matter. You might have a gorgeous landscape. You might remember to put away your wheelbarrow and shovels every single night. But, none of that will really matter if you don’t also deep-six the squash plants when they’ve lost their battle to powdery mildew, squash bugs and general end-of-summer malaise (I haven’t found this condition described in any of my gardening books, which I view as a real oversight on the part of gardening publishers).

Let’s be honest here. Sometimes, vegetable plants go ugly. The mildew overruns the squash. The tomatoes finally cry “uncle” after yet another drought-then-downpour cycle. The flea beetles dominate the eggplant. Another cliché applies here: The best defense is a good offense. The best defense is a damn good defense. But, it's the cliché, so we'll run with it. So, first you try to prevent the mildew and flea beetles and water stress. But, sometimes prevention doesn’t cut it, and a plant just loses. When that happens, it’s best to get it over with quickly. Pull the plant. Send it to the compost heap. Do it now. It won’t recover, and it’ll just look worse tomorrow. And, really, nobody wants to watch a squash plant waste away in your front yard. It’s just not pretty.

6. Be flexible. Use containers.
What do you do with the bare spot that’s left after pulling that ugly, mildew-ridden, bug-invested squash plant? That’s easy. Put a container there. Ideally a container with a plant in it. An edible plant, if at all possible (Hey, we are growing a vegetable garden, right?).

7. Be creative. Experiment.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. All that knowledge in all those gardening books? Sure, that’s all good knowledge (at least, the stuff you find in the good gardening books). But, it was all, once-upon-a-time, an experiment. Someone, at some point, figured out that trellising tomatoes — a non-climbing plant — was worth the effort. Someone else (I’m guessing) discovered that potatoes produce more tubers when their stems are buried. Blanching celery, forcing rhubarb, pinching back basil. Someone, at some point, did something different and discovered that it worked better, and that’s how we’ve come to know all these things about how to plant, tend and harvest our most popular vegetables.

Most of these rules work best in a traditional vegetable garden. Yes, many of them translate perfectly to the front yard — basil always needs to be pinched back — but many of them don’t. Or, at least, not necessarily. Last year, totally by accident, I discovered that indeterminate tomatoes make a fun and attractive groundcover. This year, I’m testing this discovery by deliberately growing several indeterminate varieties without trellis. We’ll see what happens. If it works well, I may have figured out a way to incorporate tomatoes — not always the most attractive plant in the garden — into the front yard vegetable garden in a low-profile way.

My point? Try something new. It could be fantastic.

8. Be thorough. Plan for all four seasons.
Summer is easy living in the vegetable garden. Seed + dirt + sunshine + water + summer = crazy intense almost uncontrollable growth. In short, it’s good.

But, summer is really only around for a few months every year (unless you live in California or Florida or some other bizarrely warm and winter-free region). And — news flash — your front yard is around every single month of the year. It’s there, looking lush and gorgeous in July. And, it’s there, looking barren and sad in January.

But, it’s also about more than vegetables, and more than plants. Think about incorporating trellises or fences or sculpture. Consider adding a non-edible for its winter color.  Don’t stress. No one really expects your January garden to look like your July garden. But, think about it some. A little goes a long way, especially in January.

9. Be incognito. Grow flowers.
Does this really need further explanation? Plant the flowers. Yes, I know, if you plant flowers, you reduce the amount of ground available for vegetables. It’s a tough decision to make. But, trust me here, it is so very very worth it.

Flowers add beauty and charm and color to the garden. Also, butterflies and hummingbirds and native bees and all manner of beneficial insects; flowers add all those things too. And — bonus — some flowers are edible. See? Don’t you feel delightfully sneaky now?

10. Be ready. Just in case.
It could happen. Someone could challenge your garden. See an eye-sore where you see bounty. Raise a ruckus and cause trouble. This person could live across the street, down the road or nowhere nearby. Doesn’t matter. It could happen.

So, be ready. Be ready to be vocal. Be ready to defend your garden. Be ready to explain the benefits of homegrown produce, fresh vegetables and time spent in the sun. Be ready to call on neighbors for signatures or support. Be ready to rally neighborhood children and gardeners and folks who like the idea of homegrown veggies, even if they don’t want to dirty their own nails. Be ready to defend your garden.

Because, while we hope it will never happen, it could. Someone could complain. Someone could make a fuss. And, then, someone could knock on your door and demand an explanation. If that happens, be ready.

Making your own alcohol for personal use and Federal Government Statements

So, you want to make Beer, Wine, Spirits?
These are the Federal Statutes concerning that.
(Your state laws may vary)

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Beer:

Sec. 25.205
Production


(a) Any adult may produce beer, without payment of tax, for personal or family use and not for sale. An adult is any individual who is 18 years of age or older. If the locality in which the household is located requires a greater minimum age for the sale of beer to individuals, the adult shall be that age before commencing the production of beer. This exemption does not authorize the production of beer for use contrary to state or local law.
(b) The production of beer per household, without payment of tax, for personal or family use may not exceed:
    (1) 200 gallons per calendar year if there are two or more adults residing in the household, or (2) 100 gallons per calendar year if there is only one adult residing in the household.
(c) Partnerships except as provided in Sec. 25.207, corporations or associations may not produce beer, without payment of tax, for personal or family use.
(Sec. 201, Pub. L. 85-859, 72 Stat. 1334, as amended (26 U.S.C. 5053))

This was last updated on September 17, 1999

Sec. 25.206
Removal of beer

Beer made under Sec. 25.205 may be removed from the premises where made for personal or family use including use at organized affairs, exhibitions or competitions such as homemaker's contests, tastings or judging. Beer removed under this section may not be sold or offered for sale.
(Sec. 201, Pub. L. 85-859, 72 Stat. 1334, as amended (26 U.S.C. 5053))
Sec. 25.207 Removal from brewery for personal or family use.
Any adult, as defined in Sec. 25.205, who operates a brewery under this part as an individual owner or in partnership with others, may remove beer from the brewery without payment of tax for personal or family use. The amount of beer removed for each household, without payment of tax, per calendar year may not exceed 100 gallons if there is one adult residing in the household or 200 gallons if there are two or more adults residing in the household. Beer removed in excess of the above limitations will be reported as a taxable removal.
(Sec. 201, Pub. L. 85-859, 72 Stat. 1334, as amended (26 U.S.C. 5053))

This was last updated on September 17, 1999



Wine:

Code of Federal Regulations
  Title 27 - Alcohol, Tobacco Products and FirearmsVolume: 1Date: 2006-04-01Original Date: 2006-04-01Title: Section 24.75 - Wine for personal or family use.Context:
     Title 27 - Alcohol, Tobacco Products and Firearms. CHAPTER I - ALCOHOL AND TOBACCO TAX AND TRADE BUREAU, DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY. SUBCHAPTER A - LIQUORS. PART 24 - WINE. Subpart C - Administrative and Miscellaneous Provisions.  - Tax Exempt Wine.
 
    § 24.75
    Wine for personal or family use.
    (a) General. Any adult may, without payment of tax, produce wine for personal or family use and not for sale.
    (b) Quantity. The aggregate amount of wine that may be produced exempt from tax with respect to any household may not exceed:
    (1) 200 gallons per calendar year for a household in which two or more adults reside, or
    (2) 100 gallons per calendar year if there is only one adult residing in the household.
    (c) Definition of an adult. For the purposes of this section, an adult is any individual who is 18 years of age or older. However, if the locality in which the household is located has established by law a greater minimum age at which wine may be sold to individuals, the term “adult” will mean an individual who has attained that age.
    (d) Proprietors of bonded wine premises. Any adult, defined in § 24.75(c), who operates a bonded wine premises as an individual owner or in partnership with others, may produce wine and remove it from the bonded wine premises free of tax for personal or family use, subject to the limitations in § 24.75(b).
    (e) Limitation. This exemption should not in any manner be construed as authorizing the production of wine in violation of applicable State or local law. Except as provided in § 24.75(d), this exemption does not otherwise apply to partnerships, corporations, or associations.
    (f) Removal. Wine produced under this section may be removed from the premises where made for personal or family use including use at organized affairs, exhibitions or competitions, such as home winemaker's contests, tastings or judgings, but may not under any circumstances be sold or offered for sale. The proprietor of a bonded wine premises shall pay the tax on any wine removed for personal or family use in excess of the limitations provided in this section and shall also enter all quantities removed for personal or family use on TTB F 5120.17, Report of Bonded Wine Premises Operations. (Sec. 201, Pub. L. 85-859, 72 Stat. 1331, as amended (26 U.S.C. 5042))
    (Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control number 1512-0216)
    [T.D. ATF-299, 55 FR 24989, June 19, 1991, as amended by T.D. ATF-338, 58 FR 19064, Apr. 12, 1993; T.D. ATF-344, 58 FR 40354, July 28, 1993]


Spirits:

You cannot produce spirits for beverage purposes without paying taxes and without prior approval of paperwork to operate a distilled spirits plant. [See 26 U.S.C. 5601 & 5602 for some of the criminal penalties.] There are numerous requirements that must be met that make it impractical to produce spirits for personal or beverage use. Some of these requirements are paying excise tax, filing an extensive application, filing a bond, providing adequate equipment to measure spirits, providing suitable tanks and pipelines, providing a separate building (other than a dwelling) and maintaining detailed records, and filing reports. All of these requirements are listed in 27 CFR Part 19.

Spirits may be produced for non-beverage purposes for fuel use only without payment of tax, but you also must file an application, receive TTB's approval, and follow requirements, such as construction, use, records and reports.

***************************************

What all this basically comes down to is ...
1. Americans can own a still, but it must be no larger than 1 gallon, and may only be used for water purification or the extraction of essential oils from plants.

2.Dealers/manufacturers of stills in the United States must surrender any address or other info on any customer who buys a still to the BATF, when they request it.(no warrant is required.)

What this means is that anyone who buys a still in America can at any time expect a knock at the door and a man with a badge demanding to see what is being done with the still they bought. How this effects the companies seen advertising 5 gallon stills for use as a water purifier, was not listed, nor is there any info on solar stills. It is probably VERY illegal to import a still too.
 
Whats the cost of doing it right ?
    State (varies from $75-$3,150 per year) & a Federal license ($500 per year) plus State & Fed. production taxes. Registration of all supplies, suppliers, formulas (Subject to classification and approval) and label reg. (Subject to classification and approval). More paperwork than money. If you already have a brewery or winery (bonded premisis) an "alternation of premisis" may be obtained to operate a distillery (with the additional license) on site. Well worth the trouble, because there is still room at the top.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

How to grow food, from food you already have

How to grow more food from food you already have.
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Did you know that you have the possibility of free food already in your home?
You can plant food from the scraps of food that you use daily!
The following links that I am going to share with you, I have already done and some of them I use regularly.

Grow celery from celery. I personally have done this. The texture and taste of the celery that was re-grown from the pant in my opinion was a lot stronger and tougher than the original celery, but it does work well in soups and stews. I do this throughout the summer months when I can put it outside with my other plants. This is also a great way to always have fresh celery leaves. At the end of this last summer, I let the celery plants go to seed, and harvested those seeds for my spices. I am also using those seeds this year to see if I can grow more celery plants.

Growing green onions from green onions. I do this during the winter months. In my personal opinion, you can only do this a couple of times per planting as the onion greens that grow seem to get weaker in taste from the original plant. In the spring and summer, I grow my own outside. I also cultivate wild onions, that I harvest throughout the winter months, so I rarely purchase any green onions any more, unless I am specifically wanting to use the bulb part of the plant for a recipe.

Grow potatoes from the potatoes that start to bud in your pantry. You know that bag of potatoes that you forgot to use that is in your pantry? I know that you know what I am talking about! We have all done it. We have forgotten those last few potatoes in the bag. Did you know that you can grow more potatoes from those wimpy little spuds you have left? I have done this and I have friends that have done this. Potato plants are actually quite pretty. I do not recommend this as your main way to grow potatoes, but it is a fun project.

Leeks, Scallions, Spring Onions and Fennel
You can either use the white root end of a vegetable that you have already cut, or buy a handful of new vegetables to use specifically for growing.
Simply place the white root end in a glass jar with a little water, and leave it in a sunny position. I keep mine in the kitchen window. The green leafy part of the plant will continue to shoot. When it’s time to cook, just snip off what you need from the green growth and leave the white root end in water to keep growing. Freshen up the water each week or so, and you’ll never have to buy them again.

Lemongrass
Lemongrass grows just like any other grass. To propagate it, place the root end (after you’ve cut the rest off) in a glass jar with a little water, and leave it in a sunny position.
Within a week or so, new growth will start to appear. Transplant your lemongrass into a pot and leave it in a sunny outdoor position. You can harvest your lemongrass when the stalks reach around a foot tall – just cut off what you need and leave the plant to keep growing.

Bok Choi, Romaine Lettuce & Cabbage
Similar to leeks, these vegetables will re-grow from the white root end. Cut the stalks off as you normally would, and place the root end in a shallow bowl of water – enough to cover the roots but not the top of your cutting. Place it in a sunny window position, occasionally spraying your cutting with water to keep the top moist.
After a few days, you should start to see roots and new leaves appear. After a week or so, transplant it into soil with just the leaves showing above the level of the soil. The plant will continue to grow, and within a few weeks it will sprout a whole new head.
Alternatively you can plant your cutting directly into soil (without starting the process in water) but you will need to keep the soil very moist for the first week until the new shoots start to appear. 

Ginger & Turmeric
Ginger is very easy to re-grow. Simply plant a spare piece of ginger rhizome (the thick knobbly bit you cook with) in potting soil with the newest (ie. smallest) buds facing upward. Ginger enjoys filtered, not direct, sunlight in a warm moist environment.
Before long it will start to grow new shoots and roots. Once the plant is established and you’re ready to harvest, pull up the whole plant, roots and all. Remove a piece of the rhizome, and re-plant it to repeat the process.
Ginger also makes a very attractive house-plant, so if you don’t use a lot of ginger in your cooking you can still enjoy the lovely plant between harvests.

Garlic
You can re-grow a plant from just a single clove – just plant it, root-end down, in a warm position with plenty of direct sunlight. The garlic will root itself and produce new shoots. Once established, cut back the shoots and the plant will put all its energy into producing a tasty big garlic bulb. And like ginger, you can repeat the process with your new bulb.

Onions
Onions are one of the easiest vegetables to propagate. Just cut off the root end of your onion, leaving a ½ inch of onion on the roots. Place it in a sunny position in your garden and cover the top with soil. Ensure the soil is kept moist. Onions prefer a warm sunny environment, so if you live in a colder climate, keep them in pots and move them indoors during frostier months.
As you use your home-grown onions, keep re-planting the root ends you cut off, and you’ll never need to buy onions again.

Sweet Potatoes
When planted, sweet potato will produce eye-shoots much like a potato. Bury all or part of a sweet potato under a thin layer of soil in a moist sunny location. New shoots will start to appear through the soil in a week or so. Once the shoots reach around four inches in height, remove them and re-plant them, allowing about 12 inches space between each plant. It will take around 4 months for your sweet potatoes to be ready. In the meantime, keep an eye out for slugs… they love sweet potatoes.
To propagate sweet potatoes, it is essential to use an organic source since most commercial growers spray their sweet potatoes to prevent them from shooting.

Mushroom
Mushrooms can be propagated from cuttings, but they’re one of the more difficult veggies to re-grow. They enjoy warm humidity and nutrient-rich soil, but have to compete with other fungus for survival in that environment. Although it is not their preferred climate, cooler environments give mushrooms a better chance of winning the race against other fungi.
Prepare a mix of soil and compost in a pot (not in the ground) so your re-growth is portable and you can control the temperature of your mushroom. I have found most success with a warm filtered light during the day and a cool temperature at night. Just remove the head of the mushroom and plant the stalk in the soil, leaving just the top exposed. In the right conditions, the base will grow a whole new head. (In my experience, you’ll know fairly quickly if your mushroom has taken to the soil as it will either start to grow or start to rot in the first few days).

Pineapple
To re-grow pineapples, you need to remove the green leafy piece at the top and ensure that no fruit remains attached. Either hold the crown firmly by the leaves and twist the stalk out, or you can cut the top off the pineapple and remove the remaining fruit flesh with a knife (otherwise it will rot after planting and may kill your plant). Carefully slice small, horizontal sections from the bottom of the crown until you see root buds (the small circles on the flat base of the stalk). Remove the bottom few layers of leaves leaving about an inch base at the bottom of the stalk.
Plant your pineapple crown in a warm and well drained environment. Water your plant regularly at first, reducing to weekly watering once the plant is established. You will see growth in the first few months but it will take around 2-3 years before you are eating your own home-grown pineapples.
You may or may not get a pineapple from this plant, I personally have, but they are fun to grow and quite pretty. Also, if you have children, they will get a total kick out of this!



Friday, January 24, 2014

Remembering Wally Rankin (Papa)

Wallace (Wally) Rankin
(Papa)

 Wally (Papa) Rankin
8/31/1944 - 1/24/2007

Beloved Papa! We miss you!

Dear Wally,
You were there for me and my girls when no one else ever was.
You gave so much of yourself, not just to your family and friends, but to your Country and your Community!
I love you! My girls love you! Your friends love you!
I miss you more than I have words for, and you are always close to my heart.
Your sense of humor has been unmatched, your love and generosity renown!
I only pray that there is an afterlife. That you are there enjoying the sunshine and the beaches. That you are walking hand-in-hand with our Sandra. That you are at peace.
I miss you!
Thank you for being the father and friend that I needed.
I will forever have a hole in my heart without you here!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Seed Starting Time!

Seed Starting Time!


I live in Southwest Central Louisiana. In my area, I am in Zone 8 for gardening zones. It is mid-January, so for me, it is seed starting time!

I have already started many different plants, but I am also starting many others.

Broccoli, cauliflower, different peppers, nasturtiums, marigolds, brussel sprouts, cabbage, artichokes, and many more....
Cilantro, dill, lemon basil, parsley, more...

I have used plants pots, egg cartons, Dixie cups, and now I am getting ready to start making newspaper pots.

I have a specific reason for wanting to use newspaper pots. I want to start some of my corn inside this year, and some of my okra inside this year. Corn has a fragile root system, and with the newspaper pots, I can transplant directly into the ground with very little shock to the root system. I have noticed that the starter pots that I purchase, they do not break down as easily, and cause some issues with the plant root system. So I normally remove them from the pots before putting into the ground.

I found this link for making newspaper pots: Here

Vermiculite 
I like to use a mixture of potting soil, peat, and vermiculite for starting my seeds in. I use my old potting soil from my inside plants and then mix that with vermiculite and peat. I also use a fertilizer when wetting and mixing.
 










This is a great way to use up egg cartons, old plastic lids, old cookie sheets, and other household items that you do not use any more.

The Tomato Hornworm

Tomato Hornworm

by National Gardening Association Editors
 

Tomato hornworms can grow as large as 5 inches long.
Found throughout the United States, these large, fat caterpillars feed voraciously on the leaves and fruits of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and potatoes. Adults are rather spectacular sphinx moths: grayish-brown with orange spots on the body and a 4- to 5-inch wing span. After overwintering in the soil in 2-inch brown spindle-shaped pupal cases, moths emerge in late spring to early summer to lay greenish-yellow eggs on the undersides of leaves. Caterpillars feed for about a month, then enter the soil to pupate. There is one generation per year in the North; two or more in the South.

 

 

Controls

Use Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) when caterpillars are small. Hand-pick and destroy large caterpillars. Don't worry -- caterpillars cannot sting with their ″horn.″

*** If you find a caterpillar with what looks like grains of white rice attached to its body, do not remove it. The ″grains″ are the pupae of a parasitic wasp that attacks hornworms. Leave the parasitized caterpillar in the garden so the pupae it carries can turn into more wasps to help control other hornworms. ***

Planning your garden by zone

Do you know your garden zone?


Before you plant outside, you need to know your hardiness zone!
Finding out what zone you are in, is as easy as knowing your zipcode.


You will need to know this information to give you an idea of what to plant, when to plant, and even how to plant.

I personally live in zone 8. For me, this means a MUCH longer growing season, and a much earlier time to plant in the Spring. Also, there are many more winter plants that I can grow with little chance of them freezing and dying.

But, even if you cannot plant outside any time soon, there is a LOT you can plant inside even now.

Start your tomatoes! There is no such thing as having tomatoes too early! If needed you can grow them quite easily in 5 gallon buckets. Tomatoes are self pollinating, so as much as I love bees, I do not need them as much for my tomatoes!

Start your cool weather veggies!!! Brussel Sprouts. Broccoli. Cauliflower. 

Greens! 
Prepare for those greens!
Start your garden beds for those wonderful greens!

Onions? Are you planning onions? Get those beds ready!

Do you need to turn under more natural manure? Time to get that rocking!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Daddy Longlegs are our Garden FRIENDS!!

Daddy Long Legs


Besides having a good name, what are these creatures doing in your garden?
So many Daddy Long Legs have crawled on me this week, I was beginning to wonder if I was wearing a color they liked or if I smelled like food.  I know enough about daddy long legs not to be afraid of them...they usually brush right off. But I was beginning to wonder why there were so many!

If I had just known another common name for this leggy creatures, “harvestmen”, I could have guessed what they do. They “harvest” or eat bugs, especially aphids.  So once again, I discovered I have yet another friend in the garden, helping me produce food and flowers.  There were two good reasons Daddy long legs were in my garden. I had lots of aphids and I had been irrigating so everything was nice and moist which these arachnids like. I may think I do all the work in the garden, but while I'm puttering around pulling weeds, the beneficial daddy long legs is eating aphids, helping keep my garden healthy.  It also eats other bugs and mites, dead insects and bird droppings.  Yum.

Daddy Long Legs are our friends and not something to fear or kill.  They are related to the spider family but have no venom sac and no fangs.  So we are safe from harm.  When they were crawling all over me I assume it was just because I was kneeling in the way of their dinner....the aphids on the plant next to me.

Sometimes the best way to learn is by watching videos made for kids....here's a great National Geographic video for kids about daddy long legs!
video.nationalgeographic.com/video/kids/animals-pets-kids/bugs-kids/spider-daddylonglegs-kids/

Slow Braised Beef Ribs with Heirloom Tomatoes Served on Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Slow Braised Beef Ribs with Heirloom Tomatoes Served on Garlic Mashed Potatoes


1/4 cup olive oil
6 pounds beef short ribs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes sliced in half
1 lb. cooked tender green beans
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup red wine
3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
2 cups diced plum tomatoes finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary finely chopped
3 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 orange, zested
1-tablespoon fresh basil chopped, for garnish
2 tablespoons butter (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350. Heat about 2-tablespoons of the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat.
Season the ribs well with salt and pepper. Over medium heat, brown ribs for 5 to 6 minutes on each side. You may need to brown them in batches. Remove the browned short ribs to a plate and repeat with remaining ribs and more oil if necessary.
Add onion, red pepper, garlic, and salt and pepper to the Dutch oven and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add plum tomatoes and sauté for an additional 4 minutes. Add the wine, chicken stock, and tomato paste to the vegetables and cook, stirring, about 1 minute. Add the thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf. Return the browned short ribs and any juices that have accumulated back into the Dutch oven. Add the orange zest and butter (optional). Cover with a heavy lid and place in the oven and braise for 3 hours or until the meat is very tender and falling off the bone.
Once the ribs are tender, remove the ribs to a platter. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Serve the short ribs over garlic mashed potatoes, if desired. Add cooked tender green beans, sliced cheery tomatoes, and drizzle some juice on top. Garnish with fresh chopped basil. Enjoy!

Huevos Rancheros Salsa Verde with Slow Roasted Pork

Huevos Rancheros Salsa Verde
with Slow Roasted Pork

        
 Roasted Salsa Verde

1 1/2 lb. tomatillos
2 Jalapeño peppers OR 2 serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Salt to taste

Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well.

Cut in half and place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place under a broiler for about 5-7 minutes to lightly blacken the skin.

Place tomatillos, lime juice, onions, cilantro, chili peppers, sugar, and cumin in a food processor (or blender) and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and mixed. Season with salt to taste.

Makes 3 cups. You will use 1 cup for this recipe and have 2 cups to refrigerate and use on other dishes or with chips. 

 Huevos Rancheros & Slow Roasted Pork

1 (4 lb.) pork shoulder butt, roast
4 garlic cloves
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons (or more) butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 corn tortillas
8 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (packed) grated Monterey Jack cheese (about 6 ounces)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Rub pork with olive oil, crushed garlic, salt & pepper. Place in a roasting pan and brown all side on the stovetop.
Turn roast fat side up and add ½ cup of chicken broth to roasting pan and place in oven. Bake at 500 degrees for 30 minutes. Bake at 250 degrees for an additional 3 ½ to 4 hours.
Transfer roast to cutting board and let stand 15 minutes. Pull    shreds apart with tongs into chunks.
In a small saucepan, use 1 cup of salsa verde and ½ cup of chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 5 minutes.

In a nonstick skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Add 2 tortillas; cook about 1 minute per side. Transfer to baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas, adding more butter to skillet as necessary. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in same skillet over medium heat. Crack 4 eggs into skillet. Cook eggs to desired doneness.

Add ¼ cup of salsa verde to plate, place tortilla on top, add shredded pork and top with eggs. You can add a little more salsa verde to the top of your eggs. Sprinkle with Monterey jack cheese and fresh cilantro. You can place plates in the oven to melt the cheese. Enjoy!
 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Make your own Granola cereal - SAVE massive money!!!

Why are you buying Granola?

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  • Do you have any idea what is in your granola?
  • Make it yourself and control what your family eats!
  • It is SO EASY to make!

Granola is basically toasted oats. It’s incredibly easy to buy for exorbitant prices, yet incredibly easy to make at home. Here is a basic granola base to which you can add whatever dried fruit, nuts, or other tasty bits make you happy. Feel free to tweak this recipe if you like other spices, a little less honey, more salt—it’s pretty forgiving, and customizing your own blend is fun.
What to buy: If you want to experiment even more, try using other rolled grains such as rye, spelt, kamut, or barley instead of rolled oats.
You can 1/2 these ingredients.
Make it your own! Add what you like, take away what you don't like!
INGREDIENTS
  • 6 cups rolled oats (not instant)
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar (or less to personal taste)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (optional)
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I do NOT recommend olive oil)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup small-dice dried fruit (Our family loves a mixture of fruits)
  • 1 1/2 cup coarsely chopped raw or toasted nuts or seeds (If you are using raw nuts, bake with the granola)
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Heat the oven to 300°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
  2. Place the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl and stir to combine; set aside.
  3. Place the honey, oil, and vanilla in a small bowl and stir to combine. Pour over the oat mixture and mix until the oats are thoroughly coated.
  4. Spread the mixture in a thin, even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then stir and continue baking until the granola is very light golden brown, about 5 to 15 minutes more.
  5. Place the baking sheet on a wire rack and cool the granola to room temperature, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. (Note: It will harden as it cools.)
  6. Add the fruit and nuts or seeds to the baking sheet and toss to combine. Store the granola in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

That delicious, aromatic, flavorfull, lovliness, known as COFFEE!

Coffee, The Fluid of Life!

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Storing your coffee

Airtight and Cool

Storage is integral to maintaining your coffee's freshness and flavor. It is important to keep it away from excessive air, moisture, heat, and light -- in that order -- in order to preserve its fresh-roast flavor as long as possible.  Coffee beans are decorative and beautiful to look at but you will compromise the taste of your coffee if you store your beans in ornamental, glass canisters on your kitchen countertop.  Doing so will cause them to become stale and your coffee will quickly lose its fresh flavor.

Storing Your Daily Coffee

It is important not to refrigerate or freeze your daily supply of coffee because contact with moisture will cause it to deteriorate.  Instead, store coffee in air-tight glass or ceramic containers and keep it in a convenient, but dark and cool, location. Remember that a cabinet near the oven is often too warm, as is a cabinet on an outside wall of your kitchen if it receives heat from a strong afternoon or summer sun.
The commercial coffee containers that you purchased your coffee in are generally not appropriate for long-term storage. Appropriate coffee storage canisters with an airtight seal are a worthwhile investment.

Buy Right

It is wise to purchase coffee in amounts proportionate to how quickly it will used. Coffee begins to lose its freshness almost immediately after roasting so it is far better to purchase it in smaller quantities. Purchase freshly roasted coffee frequently and buy only what you will use in the next 1 or 2 weeks. And because exposure to air is your coffee's worst enemy, it is a good idea to divide your coffee supply into several smaller portions, keeping the larger, unused portion in an air-tight container.

Storing Larger Quantities of Coffee

If you've purchased a large quantity of coffee that you will not use immediately, small portions, wrapped in airtight bags, can be stored for up to a month in the freezer.  Once you have removed them from the freezer, however, do not return them. Instead, move them to an air-tight container and store in a cool, dry place.

Brewing Your Coffee

The Definitive Guide

There are many methods for brewing a fine cup of coffee -- no single technique is right for everyone. The method you choose for brewing your coffee should be based on your needs and your unique coffee preferences. Do you want a hearty mug of coffee for breakfast?  An afternoon cappucino? Or a dessert espresso? Do you prefer a milder coffee or a more robust coffee flavor?

The quality and flavor of your coffee is not only determined by the brewing process you prefer but also by the type of coffee you select.  For example, what country is the coffee from, what region and what variety of coffee tree?  Or is it a blend from several countries, regions or varieties?  Do you favor a dark roast coffee, a light blend or something in between?  What kind of grind have you selected?  Remember to be creative -- you can choose a dark espresso roast coffee and still have it ground to be brewed in a drip system.

But no matter how you choose to brew your coffee, there are guidelines to follow which will give you the best cup of coffee possible.  To optimize the quality of every cup of coffee you prepare, fine-tune your brewing routine by incorporating these suggestions.
 

How to Brew Coffee


The Equipment

Make sure that your equipment is thoroughly cleaned after each use by rinsing it with clear, hot water and drying it with an absorbant towel. Check that no grounds have been left to collect on any part of the equipment and that there is no build-up of coffee oil. Such residue can impart a bitter, rancid flavor to future cups of coffee.

The Coffee

Purchase coffee as soon after it has been roasted as possible. Fresh roasted coffee is essential to a superb cup of coffee. And purchase your coffee in small amounts—only as much as you can use in a given period of time. Ideally you should purchase your coffee fresh every 1-2 weeks.

The Grind

If you purchase whole bean coffee, always grind your beans as close to the brew time as possible. A burr or mill grinder is preferable because all of the coffee is ground to a consistent size.  A blade grinder is less preferable because some coffee will be ground more finely than the rest. If you normally grind your coffee at home with a blade grinder, try having it ground at the store with a burr grinder. You may be surprised at the difference!
Do not underestimate the importance of the size of the grind to the taste of your coffee. If your coffee tastes bitter, it may be overextracted, or ground too fine.  On the other hand, if your coffee tastes flat, it may be underextracted, meaning that your grind is too coarse. Tell the professionals where you purchase your coffee exactly how you will be brewing it. For example, will you be using a plunger pot?  A flat drip filter? A cone drip filter?  A gold mesh filter? They will grind it specifically for the preparation method you have chosen and the equipment you use.
Before using the coffee, try rubbing some of the grounds between your fingers so that you can 'feel' the grind and become acquainted with the differences in size.
Never reuse your coffee grounds. Once brewed, the desirable coffee flavors have been extracted and only the bitter undesirable ones are left.

The Water

The water you use is VERY important to the quality of your coffee. Use filtered or bottled water if your tap water is not good or imparts a strong odor or taste, such as chlorine. If you are using tap water let it run a few seconds before filling your coffee pot. Be sure to use cold water. Do not use distilled or softened water.

Ratio of Coffee to Water

Use the proper amount of coffee for every six ounces of water that is actually brewed, remembering that some water is lost to evaporation in certain brewing methods. A general guideline is 1 to 2 tablespoons of ground coffee for every six ounces of water. This can be adjusted to suit individual taste preferences.  Be sure to check the 'cup' lines on your brewer to see how they actually measure.

Water Temperature During Brewing

Your brewer should maintain a water temperature between 195 - 205 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal extraction.  Colder water will result in flat, underextracted coffee while water that is too hot will also cause a loss of quality in the taste of the coffee.  If you are brewing the coffee manually, let the water come to a full boil, but do not overboil. Turn off the heat source and allow the water to rest a minute before pouring it over the grounds.

Brewing Time

The amount of time that the water is in contact with the coffee grounds is another important factor affecting the taste of your coffee. In a drip system, the contact time should be approximately 5 minutes. If you are making your coffee using a plunger pot, the contact time should be 2-4 minutes. Espresso, as the name implies, means that the brew time is short—the coffee is in contact with the water for only 20-30 seconds. If the taste of your coffee is not optimal, it is possible that you are either overextracting (the brew time is too long) or underextracting (the brew time is too short) your coffee. Experiment with the contact time until you can make a cup of coffee that suits your tastes perfectly.
 

After Your Coffee Has Been Brewed


Brewed coffee should be enjoyed immediately!

Pour it into a warmed mug or coffee cup so that it will maintain its temperature as long as possible. Brewed coffee begins to lose its optimal taste moments after brewing so only brew as much coffee as will be consumed immediately. If it will be a few minutes before it will be served, the temperature should be maintained at 180 - 185 degrees Fahrenheit.  It should never be left on an electric burner for longer than 15 minutes because it will begin to develop a burned taste. If the coffee is not to be served immediately after brewing, it should be poured into a warmed, insulated thermos and used within the next 45 minutes.
Never reheat your coffee.

Enjoy Your Coffee!

A finely prepared cup of coffee should be enjoyed as thoughtfully as it was brewed.  Take a moment to smell the aroma. Take a sip and notice your coffee's flavor. How does it compare to other coffees with regard to body, acidity and balance?  If it is a coffee that is new to you, notice how it is different.  If it is what you normally drink, note its degree of freshness or how simple changes in preparation affect the cup's flavor.

A steeping cup of coffee will not last long, but every sip is meant to be savored and enjoyed!

Friday, January 10, 2014

How to Preserve Onions

Preserving Onions

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Storage is the great thing about onions - there aren't many vegetables that keep as well and taste as fresh as onions do after storage.

Storage Tips

Here are a few storage pointers:
  • Don't wash your onions before storing them.
  • You probably can't store all your onions. Use up the immature, soft and big-necked ones first, and store just the mature and thoroughly cured bulbs. Hanging them in mesh bags (sorted by size) is a good way to store them in a root cellar.(You can use the legs of old pantyhose for this.)
  • Onions will keep best at temperatures between 32&deg F and 40&deg F, and the closer to 32&deg F the better. The temperature in a root cellar is usually a little higher. That's okay - root cellar temperature is a compromise anyway. (You can't please all the vegetables.)
  • The humidity should be low, too, to slow down root development and the spread of rot organisms. Good ventilation is also important.
  • It's not necessary to have a root cellar to store onions. If you follow the basics of onion storage, you'll have satisfactory results.

Storage Basics

The storage basics are:
  • Store only mature, well-cured onions.
  • Keep onions in a cool dry, dark spot.
  • Allow for good ventilation.
  • Check occasionally for soft spots, sprouting, etc.

Braiding

If you want to braid onions together - an old, effective and attractive way to store them - do it soon after the harvest while the tops are still flexible. You might want to use some twine to reinforce the tops, and be sure to hang the braids in a well-ventilated, warm, shady spot to cure. After the onions have cured, store them in a cool, dark place, and bring out one braid at a time to use. The braids are pretty to look at, and they're a handy way to keep onions. (Garlic can be braided, too.)

Drying

Onions are easy to dry, and being lightweight, they reconstitute easily. Peel and slice them in rings about 1/8 inch thick and put them in a dehydrator at about 140° F until they're nearly dry. To keep the pieces from browning, bring the temperature down to 130&deg F for the last hour or so and keep testing for dryness. If you don't own a dehydrator, try drying onions in your oven. Spread them on a cookie sheet and leave them in a barely warm oven for several hours, checking periodically.
When the onions are dry, remove them from the dehydrator, cool them and store them in sealed containers in a cool, dry place.
If you like snack foods, onion rings that have been French-fried and then dried in a dehydrator are a delicious party treat. They don't store well unless they've been vacuum sealed, but they're so good they won't stay around long enough to need storage!

Freezing

Onions are so easy to store for fresh use that you probably won't want to bother freezing any. However, if some of your onions aren't keeping well or are starting to sprout, you can salvage them by peeling and pureeing them in a blender. Pour the puree into ice trays, cover them with plastic (so the odor won't affect other foods) and freeze them. After the onion cubes have frozen, transfer them to a plastic bag in your freezer. They're good for gravies and taking the "canned" taste away from canned soup.
If you want to freeze whole onions, however, here's how: Peel and wash the onions and blanch them in scalding water until the centers are heated (three minutes for small onions, seven minutes for medium to large ones). Cool, drain and put the onions on cookie sheets, and place the sheets in the freezer. After they're frozen, put the onions in a plastic bag for convenient storage. Freezing them in this two-step way makes them easier to use; they stay separate, so it's easy to take out only the amount you need.
To keep large, European onions that don't store well, wash, chop and freeze them without blanching. Pack them in small containers, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.
For the best flavor, use frozen onions within a month or two.

Canning

Onions can be canned in a pressure canner, but they discolor and lose their shape. It's easier and more satisfactory to pickle them, freeze them or just store them. Even the "canned" onions you find in the store aren't plain - they're usually pickled with a brine and spices.

How to preserve garlic

How to Preserve Garlic

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Freezing Garlic

Perhaps the easiest way to preserve garlic is to freeze it. Just peel the cloves and place them in freezer bags in the freezer. Easier yet, simply place the unpeeled garlic in freezer bags and remove as needed. With both these methods, the cloves become a little mushy when they are thawed, but their flavor remains good.
Another method for freezing garlic is to chop it and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. With this method, you can simply grate or break off small amounts of chopped garlic as needed, which is helpful for cooks who often must quickly throw a meal together.
You can also freeze garlic that has been pureed in oil. This is nice because the oil keeps the mixture from freezing solid and it can be spooned out as needed, another help for busy cooks. To make frozen garlic oil puree, place one part peeled garlic cloves in a blender or food processor along with two parts olive oil. Puree the mixture, then immediately transfer it to a freezer container. Cover the container and place it in the freezer. Do not store the garlic oil puree at room temperature or in the refrigerator because the mixture can support the growth of Clostridium botulism bacteria.

Drying Garlic

Peel the garlic, making sure to discard any bruised or damaged cloves. Cut the cloves in half lengthwise, place them in an electric food dehydrator, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying.
If you do not have a food dehydrator, you can dry the garlic in your oven. Make drying racks by stretching cheesecloth over the oven racks and securing it with toothpicks. Place the garlic on the racks and turn the oven to 140 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours, then lower it to 130 degrees until the garlic is completely dry and crisp.

Garlic Vinegar

To make garlic vinegar, take a bottle of white or red wine vinegar and drop in either whole or chopped garlic. Use as much garlic as you wish, as long as it is completely submerged in the vinegar. Store your garlic vinegar in the refrigerator and use both the vinegar and the garlic in salad dressings or any dish that calls for both vinegar and garlic. Garlic vinegar will keep, refrigerated, for about four months. If mold develops, discard the mixture.

Garlic Salt

Place dried garlic in a blender and process it until it turns to powder. Add four parts sea salt for each one part garlic powder and process for just a second or two to combine the two ingredients. Do not process the garlic salt too long because it will cake. Store the garlic salt in an airtight glass jar.

Garlic Oil

Fresh garlic and oil are a dangerous combination if left at room temperature. Because of garlic’s low acidity and oil’s lack of oxygen, they can cause botulism toxin to develop. However, peeled cloves of garlic can be added to oil and stored in the freezer for several months.
Commercially prepared garlic in oil contains a preservative to increase the acidity of the mixture and keep it safe. To make garlic-flavored oil at home, add dehydrated garlic to olive oil in a wide mouth jar, screw on the lid, and place the jar in the refrigerator. If the olive oil turns solid, just spoon it out. Be careful, however, to always use a dry spoon.

Refrigerator Garlic Pickles

Loosely fill a glass jar with peeled garlic cloves. Add enough red or white wine vinegar to cover the garlic and then add about one tablespoon of sea salt per cup of vinegar. Dried (not fresh) herbs such as red pepper flakes, bay leaves, and oregano may be added to taste. Cover the jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake to distribute the salt and herbs. Refrigerator garlic pickles will keep almost indefinitely in the refrigerator, as long as the garlic remains submerged in the vinegar.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sandra Ann Collins Neff ~ 20 Years of Sunshine and Love!

Sandra Ann Collins Neff

My reason for starting The Butterfly Bonsai


My child. My child who is now gone. My Sandra.

Sandra Ann Collins Neff
Sandra helping to plant flowers at the housing office on Fort Polk.

Sandra was born July 3, 1990. She was 6 weeks early, but still weighed in at 6 pounds 11 ounces.
Sandra was born with a genetic defect called 18Q-. Nope, you have not heard of it, and probably never will.
She had both physical and mental handicaps. But, she was exceptionally smart and genuinely loving.

Sandra proud of her 1st place ribbon for the County Special Olympics.
Sandra loved being a part of The Special Olympics. She did several sports. Softball throw, long jump, bowling, and basketball. In the picture above, she won 1st Place in the softball throw that year in the District games. 
Sandra stayed active in Special Olympics from grade school through high school. Both summer and winter games. Many times, she would have to not compete in the summer games, due to inability to tolerate the heat, but she would at a minimum be there for her fellow athletes.
When we had Sandra's funeral, The Special Olympics of Louisiana were very kind and sent us a Special Olympics flag for her casket. We now have that flag in a case in her room.

Sandra Loved to Smile!

When I talk about 20 years of Sunshine and Love, that is what I mean. Sunshine. Sandra smiled almost all the time, and had true love for everyone within her sight. Sandra never knew a stranger. She loved everyone, and honestly believed that everyone loved her. This could get very scary, especially when she was younger, as she would go off with anyone. People used to think I was the most horrific mother, because I had to keep her on a leash if we went shopping. At that time, they did not make the leashes that they do for children now, so I modified a really pretty pink cat leash and let Sandra help me to make it all hers. I would keep it clipped to her belt loop. It only took one time of her slipping away from me, that I incorporated this into our lives. I was terrified of what could happen. So I braved the insults and nasty looks. I kept my child safe.

 This is the only time we ever went on a "vacation". Sandra got to meet The Grinch, Rocky & Bullwinkle, The Cat in the Hat, and a few other characters.
Sandra and her sister loved this vacation.
Their Papa provided this truly wonderful experience for them.


Do not get me wrong, Sandra's mental handicaps also involved psychological handicaps, and not everything was peaches and cream. We had our problems. But I choose now, to only look back onto the great memories. Because even with all the bad, I would gladly give anything to have her back within my life and home. I miss my child.




Sandra loved racing. NASCAR style. Her daddy, loves NASCAR also. But that is the only thing they have in common with that. Sandra loved Jimmy Johnson. She thought he was "The Bees Knees". Her words. She would have loved to have met him, but we were never able to afford a NASCAR race. But she did get to see one of his cars at Lowe's, and the mechanic that was there, gave her a set of lug nuts from his car. She was in heaven with that one. She did not stop talking about that encounter for over a month.
Me? I like going to the fights, and watching a hockey game break out. :)

Sandra had her first date, shortly before she left us. She was invited to the Jr ROTC ball by her dear friend.
She got to dress up, and I do have to admit that she was BEAUTIFUL! Angelic even! She had the most fabulous time! This is one of my most favorite pictures!

Sandra's first date

This is why I started The Butterfly Bonsai! My Sandra! 
My mother taught me how to cook and garden, but my Sandra, taught me how to love.

Sandra Ann Collins Neff
Named for my mother: Sandra Ann Brown
Born: July 3, 1990
Left us: January 9, 2011 - My mother's birthday

~ 20 Years of Sunshine and Love ~