Thursday, August 18, 2011

pallet bench

Manthing was stumbling around the internet last week and ran across this upcycled pallet bench. We both thought it was a cute idea and that we could replicate it even though it did not have any destructions to go along with the photos. Since he is having a slack work week and he needed a project, I suggested he work on it today while I worked on a school paper. It turned out to be another one of those "it's as simple as that" type projects that although it looks quite simple, it aint.

He started with two pallets that were not identical in size which caused the first little stumbling block. This meant the pallets could not just interlock and be portable. This meant that he had to come up with a plan b which was fine as we don't need it to be stored away.

With one pallet he removed the pieces and parts to make it look like the picture below.
On the second pallet he removed a slat so that the first pallet could slide through.
Next he slid the first pallet through the second to form the bench
Because our bench is not going to be stored away and will be sitting out in the elements he added pressure treated 4x4 blocks under the back legs. He then added a 1x4 to hide the 4x4's and to hold things in place.Next, he cut the front legs so that it would sit level and added a piece of 1x6 to keep the front legs off the ground. Then he screwed the two pallets together where they connected and added in a couple small blocks of wood for extra bracing. To fill the gaps in the pallets he used slats from the pallet that he removed most of them from. To finish it up he sanded it lightly to get any splinters off to protect our butts and where our legs will hang over.
All in all, it is quite comfortable and is plenty big for two people to sit comfortably. Cost was free but for the few screws. The whole process took about 4 hours including a bit of pondering time to figure out how it was going to be done.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

simple supper- Mexican cornbread casserole

After running out of ideas for easy dinners using fresh veggies from the gardens I decided that I was going to make a meal using many different ones with a Mexican flair to it. Though there are many different mexican casserole dishes out on the web, none sounded all that appealing to me so I made my own recipe up. The dish cost a total of about 2 dollars to make and will easily serve 6. Chopping up the veggies is the hardest part of making the meal. Just remember to use a large enough casserole dish or pan so that it doesn't boil over everywhere like mine did.

1 lb ground beef or turkey
one large onion
3-4 cloves garlic
4 large tomatoes
1 cup corn/hominy
1 cup zucchini/summer squash
1 can kidney or pinto beans
1 cup winter squash
2 jalapenos
1 tsp cumin
4 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup corn meal
1 cup flour
1 egg
1 cup water
Brown the ground beef with the diced onion and garlic, drain. Chop all other veggies and spices and mix in with the burger mixture in a 9x13 pan. Mix together. Mix the corn meal, egg, and water in a bowl then spread over the top of the veggie/burger mix. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes. Garnish with shredded cheese of your choice and sour cream. Serve with a side salad and you have a meal.

Because I cook over wood I put the entire mess into a large deep cast iron pan and covered it while cooking. This would work well in a dutch oven in a fire pit too. The type and amount of veggies is entirely up to you and a boxed corn bread mix can be used instead of making your own. A polenta on the bottom in a regular oven would also taste yummy, but I would not recommend it if cooking over wood unless you are very good at controlling temperatures so that it doesn't burn.

the changing of the garden

It's the time of year when the summer gardens are dying off and it is time to plant the fall crops. This year, however,and I am not complaining, I am finding myself short of places to plant the fall veggies because so many of the summer ones are still rocking along quite nicely.

The other day I pulled everything out of the pacman bed but for the walking onions and chard. In it, I put about 40 of the baby cabbage plants that were getting ravaged by wormies in the greenhouse. now they are being ravaged by the heat outside instead.
In the big bed across from the GH I pulled the carrots, and the cucumbers this morning. The cukes were still making fruit but I had to get lettuce in, bok choy and more cabbage plants. I did leave the beans as they are still pretty and green unlike the cukes that were starting to look ugly. Yes, often times crops get pulled here based upon how they look rather than on production. If they aren't appealing, out they go!
Down in "the bowl" two beds have been cleared and planted with collard, turnip, and mustard greens along with some kale.I have one more large bed in the bowl that will be planted with cabbage babies as soon as I know we will be getting a good rain to water them in. The corn down there is ready to be pulled, but, all my volunteer tomatoes are mixed among the corn so I don't really want to pull them all out. This is the best year we have had for tomatoes in awhile so it is stock up time on them.
I still have turnips, onions, carrots and more lettuce to go in as well as cabbage. I will need to buy some broccoli plants as the worms in the GH devoured all my starts while I was gone. By the time I got home it was just too late to salvage the little darlings.

Monday, August 15, 2011

half baked rolls

Over the last couple years I have all but mastered cooking on the top of our wood fired stove top. I can make almost everything on there and not have to fire up the oven. I make everything just as I normally would make it but instead of baking it I half bake it. A fire is built under the cook top and then I place two bricks on the top of the cook top. Then I place an old oven rack on top of the bricks and throw whatever it is I want to cook on top of the rack. For the rolls, I just turn them over about half way through cooking so that both sides can be browned nicely. It does make the rolls flat on both sides but does not affect the flavor in any way. Things typically cook in about the same amount of time that they would in an oven. For things that cannot be flipped half way through cooking, I top them with a lid that fits loosely over the pan I am cooking in. We even do pizza this way.