Go home

Go to the Recipe Archive.

Blog button

Go to Minute Meals.

About the Recipes

About the Cook

Visit the Blog Archives

Download the free cookbook ebook.

My Mobile Home Gourmet Blog

Sunday 2021.4.11

Basil

It's rooting! I put basil clippings in water on March 28th and checked them often. Nothing. Finally, on April 7th I not only saw roots, but I saw a lot of them. They weren't very long, but they're there. It was time to increase the intensity of the grow lamp.

I even had a dream about basil. I was trying to figure out the seeds. I removed some of the dried flowers from a plant outside and looked at them carefully. There were clusters of little brown seeds inside, more than enough to start new plants.

I decided I needed to do some research on (where else?) the internet. Basil seeds are not like I dreamed them to be. They're tiny and black. I went outside to my fading basil plant and cut off one of the branches with brown flowers on it. Then I followed the directions I read online and harvested a dozen little black seeds (and two spiders).

I plugged in my soldering pencil and melted three drainage holes in the bottom of a plastic cup. Then I filled it with fresh potting mix, planted the seeds, watered them, and placed the cup beneath my grow lamp. Germination is supposed to take place in five to ten days.

Green Onions

Almost a year ago I planted some green onions I took from a neighbor's yard (they didn't want them). I didn't think much about them, but I did water them as often as I watered my herbs. Once or twice I cut a green leaf and used it in cooking; otherwise, I mostly ignored them. Recently two started to bloom.

As usual, I went onto the internet to learn more. Green onions are biennials. They grow leaves and somewhat of a bulb the first year. In their second year they flower to produce seeds and then die. I already knew that green onions do not produce a usable bulb. They are grown for their green leaves, which are used in cooking or chopped raw for a garnish.

The flowers are edible, having a mild onion flavor. They might look and taste good in a salad. However, leave the flowers in place until they turn brown and then harvest them for their little black seeds.

One web site said to place the seeds in the freezer for a couple days to kill any insects that might be present, then let them warm up to room temperature and store in an envelope. When fall arrives, plant them and enjoy more green onions the following summer. So that's the plan.

What Are They?

A few years ago someone gave me their citrus trees. I have five. I know what four of them are — Buddha's hand, dwarf tangerine, grapefruit and orange — but one mystified me. It produced fruit again.

They are pale yellow and the largest is five inches in diameter. Could it be more grapefruit? Intrigued, I harvested the largest one and cut it in half. The rind is white and really thick. The edible part is mildly sweet, not bitter, and doesn't taste like any citrus fruit I know.

It isn't grapefruit. So, another trip onto the internet might have solved the puzzle. It appears to be a pomelo.

Two citrus trees I would really like to own are lemon and Meyer lemon. One of my plans is to replace the four ugly pots someone gave me. Home Depot sells a really nice resin pot I like. I own one (my orange tree grows in it), but it's expensive — $100 each. The wide ugly pots might make good beds for growing basil.

Do You Remember the Tomato Project?

Late yesterday afternoon, a little before sunset, I put the indeterminate tomato plant into a five gallon bucket with good soil. I followed the directions I saw online, adding some gypsum for calcium and some rock phosphate. I also mixed a small amount of tomato fertilizer into the soil. Then I positioned the tomato cage around it. I included one onion plant, which still hadn't formed a bulb because, supposedly, onion is good for keeping pests away from tomatoes. The other onion plants were put into cups and placed beneath the grow lamp. If they survive, they might find a home somewhere in my yard.

By the time I was done and all the tools were put away, it was a little too dark for photographs. I'll do those later.

Water

I'm on the subject of plants; so what's the water situation here? According to the county, we're at an all-time low for our 10-year average rainfall. Another drought could be coming. All the more reason to remove the Dymondia from my landscaping.

Quick Addendum

I had to buy more mortar mix at Home Depot yesterday; so I checked out the planter I like. The price was $10 less. I bought one.

Wednesday 2021.4.7

Landscaping

I am building up stamina. I started by doing one batch of mortar per day, each batch about 7½ pounds of dry mix to which I added water. Sunday I did four batches. I was tired afterward, but not too tired to cook dinner. I treated myself to some fried chicken wings prepped with my Finger Lickin' Chicken coating mix.

Vaccination

Yesterday was day 14 since my first Moderna vaccination against COVID-19. Current data indicate I am up to 90% protected from the virus. The protection rate from just one shot is so high, some agencies are considering delaying the second injection in favor of getting more people vaccinated with the first shot. When my time comes for my second shot, which will be around April 20 (see below), I'll get the second shot. My health insurance pays for it; so why not?

No Grout About It

The grouting with mortar continues. Some days I do more than others. Monday, after using 30 pounds of mortar mix the previous day, I went a little easy on myself. I did one batch — 7½ pounds is still progress. I also used part of the morning to pull up more Dymondia, enough to fill a five-gallon bucket. Then I collected loose soil and sifted it for leveling stones. In some areas the sandstone slumped almost an inch because of the gophers tunneling beneath it. For proper drainage, it needs to be raised until level with the road.

I continue to use small stones and pebbles to decorate some of the grout. They're embedded deep enough not to create a tripping hazard. It's easy to see where I was working. The grout looks dark gray while it hardens. By the following day it has a light gray color, similar to concrete.

The color of the sandstone annoys me now because it looks so dirty. It's not from the mortar. I carefully sponge with clean water around the seams when I finish grouting. The discoloration is from dirt that settled into place beneath the Dymondia as it grew over the stones. After the mortar has had time to fully cure, which takes up to 28 days, I'll hose it down and maybe use my pressure washer to clean it.

Meanwhile, I asked a friend to tell me when he next plans to shop at Costco. I don't need anything at the store, but it's in the same shopping center as Home Depot. The hope is that he'll meet me out front and help me with some bags of mortar mix. They're 60 pounds each. I can handle one, but if I have his help (he's a lot younger) I'll buy four bags — fewer trips to the store. He shops at Costco often; so getting his help shouldn't be difficult.

And One More Thing

This morning I scheduled my second Moderna vaccination shot for April 20th. I also ordered a "Vaccinated" lapel pin from Amazon.

Sunday 2021.4.4

Happy Easter

When I was a child in New England Easter was an important time. It wasn't just the tradition of the family dyeing Easter eggs. There was a special mass at church. We usually visited my grandmothers in Webster, Mass. My mother's mother sometimes gave us some Greek bread, in the middle of which was an egg died dark red.

My mom sometimes said she wondered how the Greeks got the eggs so red. A little research on the internet provides one answer. They collected the skins from red onions, sometimes taking some of the skins that fell off into the onion bin at the grocery store. There is a simple method for extracting the red color and then using it to dye the eggs.

Reminiscing

Now that I feel like I'm beginning to make some real progress in my yard, I went back and looked at the photographs I took of the initial work in 2015 — digging up all my lawn, sifting the dirt to remove roots, leveling the ground, and placing big pieces of heavy sandstone. Then there was all the Dymondia I planted and watching it grow to fill in the gaps. It was a lot of work. It took two months and cost me about $6,000 in materials. I did the labor myself. And I had a beautiful yard — for a while. Then the gophers moved in.

Looking at the photographs gives me confidence I can complete this new project. Six years hasn't made too much of a difference in my health. Yes, there has been an entire year of sitting in front of my computer everyday and watching TV in the evening like a couch potato. How many of us have seen our activity decline and our waist size expand during these past 12 months? I plead guilty.

In the next few weeks I hope to have some new photographs to share again. Some work has been done already, but not enough to be worthy of photography.

Maybe after another month we will enter the days when the sky is overcast because of the marine layer. It's a bank of low clouds and fog that moves in from the ocean at night and it doesn't leave until around noon the next day. Some days it lingers all day. We call it May Gray and June Gloom. Some people find the cloudy weather depressing, but I see it as an opportunity to work outside more. I need the fresh air and the exercise. Hooray for gray!

And I'm looking forward to even less maintenance. I got rid of my lawn because mowing and weeding was too much work. Now, even trimming Dymondia seems like too much effort. At most, I might need to pressure wash my stones once or twice each year, and that can be done in a single day. As for the debris that falls from the Juniper tree, it will be even easier to clean up. I will have a beautiful yard again.

Meanwhile…

Thursday was a good day. I laid two batches of grout, using up the last of that bag of concrete mix I mistakenly bought. I started early; so I was done by 10AM. And a good thing too. The day was predicted to be warm, 79°F, but by 2:00 in the afternoon the temperature had climbed to nearly 90°.

So, after a light lunch and a cup of coffee, I drove to Home Depot and bought some mortar mix, type N. That's the stuff I should have bought initially. A 60-pound bag is only $4.60. I bought two. Sixty pounds was so difficult to manage, I wondered how I got a 90-pound bag of concrete mix into a shopping cart a week ago. Then I drove to a gas station to fill my SUV's tank. You might not believe this:

I drive so little now, I fill my tank only once per year. I keep my receipts. My last fill up was March 15, 2020. I even checked my credit card history to make certain I hadn't lost a receipt. And that's why I need to charge my battery with a trickle charger occasionally. I don't drive enough to keep it charged.

Friday and yesterday were even better. I did two batches of mortar — 15 pounds each day — in the morning and prepped more area for grouting the following day.

Ode to Mortar

Inexpensive, soft as clay.
Easy mix and easy trowel.
Go you gophers, run away.
Or dare you linger and cry foul.

It really is easy stuff to work with, and the working time is 90 minutes — plenty of time for me to fuss with it. I anticipate a day may come when I can use up an entire 60-pound bag in a single day. Maybe June.

And One More Thing

On my calendar I have a note for April 1: "Bought my home 1994." If you want to see and hear me talk about my living in a mobile home, check out this Kitchen Vlog link from a few years ago:

https://youtu.be/1ZBlGypSKg8