Sunday, January 31

A Container Garden Gives the Cook Fresh Vegetables and Herbs

Container Gardens Bring Fresh Vegetables and Herbs to Your Table
With snow on the ground, it's time to be thinking about spring gardens. So, as promised, here's how I made my container garden. You've seen it before, this photo showing a part of my 6'x24' raised container garden that has given me so many delicious vegetables and herbs over the past three years. It's waist high and makes planting and harvesting very easy, indeed.  Using the postage stamp method of broadcasting seeds, closer plant placement, and trellising, the produce yield is closer to 720 square feet than a linear 144 square feet for standard gardening. There's more than enough for both meals and preserving, although not quite enough to feed your family and also let others pick what they want. This is a family garden and there is a limit to its bounty. You can always help friends build their own!

Also visible is my fairly large yard, balancing the size of this garden. The concrete block sides are 3 horizontal blocks high with a 2" capper. If you want a similar garden but plan on stopping at two blocks, bear in mind

Friday, January 29

Leftovers Make Solar Cooked Meal New Again!

A Little Twist on the Coconut Mahi Mahi Recipe
 What do you do with the extra servings from a previous recipe -- play!  A few days ago, I shared the recipe I created for the January Royal Foodie Joust at site.  Voting won't start until February 1st, but it's there midst all the other entries. Remember that I mentioned I would prefer grouper or cod instead of mahi mahi?  Well, looking at the leftover coconut rice, I decided to get some cod and see if my theory was on track, or not.
So, using the same recipe as my original plus a few minor adjustments, a delicious second meal was created! This time around, I chose not to use fennel bulbs. But, since I was still working with the coconut flavorings, I decided to use the coconut flakes drained from the Coconut Milk with pine nuts for a coating.

Wednesday, January 27

January 28, 2010 is the Day! Haiti Disaster Relief Includes Solar Ovens

It's not too late to send help to Haiti and bring safe water and warm food to its victims. Tomorrow is the day a major shipment of food, clothing, and shelter will be going to Haiti. This shipment will also include solar ovens so that victims can have warm meals and purified water -- with more shipments to follow. Global Sun Ovens is partnering with the Friends of Haiti Organization (FOHO) to send as many Sun Ovens as they can to Haiti.  All donations will be forwarded to FOHO. FOHO will issue a receipt by mail. FOHO is a 501c3 nonprofit organization so all donations will be tax deductible. 100% of the donation will go directly to sending Sun Ovens to Haiti. No administrative expenses will be deducted. Please donate whatever you can, here.  Haiti needs your help.

If you like the button to the left on helping Haiti, somebody needs to tell me how to make it available for you to have it on your sites.  It's my design and I don't mind sharing, just don't know how to get it to you!

Monday, January 25

Save Your Back - Use Lasagna Gardening for Flowers & Vegetables

Lasagna Gardening Done in Half a Day
Springtime is just around the corner and it's time to think about planting in our gardens or, if you're new to this, getting a garden started. You've seen my container garden (more about how to do the same thing in plastic tubs, later), but I wanted you to see just how easy it is to lay out a whole new garden -- with no digging! It's called Lasagna Gardening and you can find a book by Patricia Lanza here. Even though I found it hard to believe, I bought the book back in '98 and it changed my gardening, forever!
At left, you see my results after just 5-1/2 weeks. Beautiful loam just waiting for my 'birthing sheets'.

This is really a case of pictures telling a story that's easy to follow and then, do it yourself! Just so happened I

Thursday, January 21

Coconut Nutmeg Mahi Mahi is Great - Hot or Cold - Solar Baked

Coconut Nutmeg Mahi Mahi Benefits from Solar Cooking
Boy, time flies! The February Royal Food Joust deadline at is upon me and it's time to submit, so keep your fingers crossed for me. If you have a food blog, you can sign up and vote for me here and that would be really cool! The three contest ingredients were coconut milk, nutmeg, and any kind of fish. My first thought was to use grouper, but, when I walked by the mahi-mahi, it screamed, "ME! ME! TRY ME!" and I couldn't resist. This dinner was served hot, but with just a little rearranging, it is delicious served cold, as well.

The first hurdle was locating the coconut milk. Not to be confused with the liquid inside of a coconut, which is really coconut water (and very nutritious), canned coconut milk can be found at most well-stocked grocery stores.  Our local Harris Teeter was out of it (what?!? how many people cook with this stuff?) so I decided to  make my own Coconut Milk: To 1-1/4 cups of whole milk, add 1 cup of unsweetened flaked coconut; stir thoroughly, cover and leave overnight in refrigerator. Line a large strainer with four layers of cheesecloth and place over large bowl. Gently pour coconut and milk into center of strainer, being careful not to catch

Saturday, January 16

You Can Help Bring Hot Food and Water Purification to Haiti

Disaster Relief Includes Hot Meals and Purified Water Through Solar Ovens

I've been using the Global Sun Oven for more than three years for some absolutely delicious meals. But, one of the most outstanding uses for this incredible oven is for feeding hundreds of hungry people during disasters, such as the one just suffered by Haitians.  I can't put it better than what Paul Munson, President of Sun Ovens, International, has on his site, so I've simply copied and pasted it for those of you who want to share in helping these unfortunate people. 

Haiti Needs Your Help (Copied from

Help Us Help Haiti
Sun Ovens International has been working in Haiti for the past 11 years. During that time deforestation has increased the need for an alternative to cooking with wood and charcoal. The recent earthquake has intensified the need for solar cooking and water purification. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians are homeless and camps will need to be opened to provide food and shelter for Haiti's Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Plans are underway to provide Sun Ovens to the IDPs in Haiti. We are partnering with the Friends of Haiti Organization (FOHO) to send as many Sun Ovens as we can to Haiti. On January 28, 2010, FOHO in partnership with Feed My Starving Children will be sending a shipping container with 270,000 meals and Sun Ovens to Port au Prince, Haiti. There is room for additional Sun Ovens to be included with this shipment and additional shipments are being planned.
Donations of any amount will be greatly appreciated. Checks should be made payable to:
Friends of Haiti Organization
P. O. Box 222
Holland, OH 43528

(Please note the donation is for the Sun Oven project.)

FOHO is a 501C3 nonprofit prganization so all donations will be tax deductable. 100% of the donation will go directly to sending Sun Ovens to Haiti. No administrative expenses will be deducted. FOHO has been working in Haiti for 45 years and has sent over 1,400 Global Sun Ovens and 12 Villager Sun Ovens to Haiti.

Thank You
We never know when we'll find ourselves in need of help from others because of natural disasters and/or man-made horrors. I hope you'll be able to find even a few dollars to send to this most worthwhile cause.

Tuesday, January 12

Lancashire Hotpot - Solar Variation

Lancashire Hotpot Perfect Winter Meal
Today's top 9 recipe choices at, one of my favorite sites for creative recipes, included Lancashire Hotpot by gourmet traveller with lamb, onions and potatoes. We had been having some very cold weather and overcast skies, but the sun was shining bright and I could have everything prepped and in the solar oven by 1:00PM.

Missing Main Ingredient Requires Solar Variation of Hotpot
No lamb in my freezer and this was one day I wasn't leaving the house. Time to perform the old variation-on-a-theme magic. Decided it was just fine to use some fresh boneless pork chops, onions, and potatoes.
I used the same preparation steps of the recipe but added some of my own ingredients and seasonings.

Friday, January 8

Seed Catalogs, January, Must be Time to Plant

January Means Catalogs, and That Means TV Planting Time
Seed catalogs arrive in my mailbox with ever-increasing frequency, so I know it must be January. The photos are beautiful, the vegetables luscious, and, well, I want it all. Unfortunately, I'm limited by the size of my gardens and, because the spring season is so short here in NC, there will only be a few cooler-month veggies and more focusing on an early summer garden.

But, planting has already begun! "What?," you say. That's right. Planting has already begun. Long before the seed merchants began using seed tapes and charging so much more for less, I had developed a method of not only planting my garden, but thinning and mulching at the same time. Doing it in the comfort of my living room. Watching TV.

Saturday, January 2

My First Recipe Contest with Champagne, Mushrooms and Oranges

Solar Cooking, Winter Skies, 30-Degrees and High Winds

I love a challenge -- and, apparently, deadlines. Food Buzz, a cooking website for all chefs to enjoy, has a monthly Royal Food Joust, a cooking contest where contestants can only use three ingredients chosen by the previous month's winner. This month's deadline was extended to noon, January 3rd, 2010. Always looking for an opportunity to show folks that you can cook with a solar oven in the middle of winter, I had sunny skies, high winds and it was 30-degrees F. Perfect -- and I almost knew just what to make.
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