Monday, May 31, 2010

Farmer's Market

I'm really excited! The couple who runs the local feed store is going to start hosting a Farmer's Market at the Saint Jo Square every Saturday morning from June until October. I'm going to set up a table and have crocheted reusable shopping bags and plum jam for sale to start. Other items I'm considering are zucchini bread, organic heirloom seedlings I start for people to have in their gardens, aprons I make from materials I find at the local consignment shops, and other types of jam. If you have any ideas or suggestions please let me know.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Natural Pesticides

I made some natural pesticides this week. The first is a tobacco spray and the second is a cayenne pepper spray. I'm using the tobacco spray on my ornamentals and the cayenne spray on my produce.

I picked a large colander full of plums yesterday evening and when I blanched them several worms started popping out, so I decided this morning to get up at the crack of dawn so I could go spray the green plums with the pepper spray. I sprayed them a little yesterday after I made a bottle of it, didn't wear protective gear and my face and arms burned the rest of the day. So this morning I made sure to wear some sunglasses, a dust mask and long cleaning gloves, then spray up wind. I was able to get the bottom half of the trees but not the top sadly. I do believe there are plenty of plums down low though to make several batches of plum jam.

Here are the recipes for the pesticides:

Tobacco Spray:

4 cups water
3 Tbs loose tobacco
Drop of dish soap

Cayenne Spray:

4 cups water
3 Tbs cayenne powder
Drop of dish soap


Bring water to a boil and turn off heat. Add tobacco or cayenne and let steep about 5-10 minutes. Strain mixutre, then pour water into a spray bottle with the drop of dish soap. Shake and use.

*Note: To strain I use a small colander and line it with a coffee filter, place over the top of a pitcher, then pour from the pitcher into the bottle. This is the same method I use for making iced tea since I use loose leaf tea.

This is very similar to the colander I use:

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Abandoned Kittens

Last night when we got home from doing some errands in Denton, we heard meowing. Someone dumped three 4-5 week old kittens in the fields around our home. Two of the three had red, swollen eyes so I didn't want to bring them in around our cats. Plus one of our cats is very nervous by nature and anytime we've tried bringing in other cats in the past she hasn't handled it well and would lick off all her fur or scratch it off.

I placed an add on Craigslist but since it said "free" kittens someone flagged it. I'm already angry enough that someone dumped the poor things, but then to have some douche bag think they're saving the kittens from my giving them to a science lab just was too much. I called around to some vets, shelters and rescue groups, but they are all full with waiting lists.

I took them to a local vet this morning and they have a contagious eye infection, so for the time being they are outdoor kittens while we give them their treatment. I have a potential home lined up for one of them, we'll see what happens with the others. Outdoor cats don't live long around here, so I'm nervous about that, but it would be great if they turn out to be mousers.

Speaking of mousers, when I was weed eating the yard yesterday I came across a snake that I'm hoping is a rat snake, but I could only see it's back, not the head or tail, so it could be a bull snake or diamondback rattler. Only the rattler is poisonous. He's made a home in a hole in the back yard, and I've noticed the past few weeks I haven't noticed any signs of mice, so for the time being I'm pretty accepting of having him hang around the house.

Here's one of the kittens. My husband named them Zero, One and Two for the number of infected eyes each one has. Zero is in the photo.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Name Change

I feel like I've come to a place where I need to change the name of the blog. I'm going to be opening an Etsy shop soon and I'd like to tie the blog and the shop together and after asking friends for suggestions, someone mentioned Diana Does Domestic and it felt right from the moment I first saw it. Goodbye Amateur Homemaker and hello next chapter.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Harvesting Onions

Yesterday we had some very heavy rain, our local area got about 3-4 inches and our yard flooded. I went out to check my little garden plots today and most of my onions had been washed up after being under water yesterday. The roots were the only thing holding them in place. About 1/3 of the tops had fallen over as well, so today I have been trying to figure out what to do next. Do I harvest them, try to anchor them back in the soil or leave them as is?

Since onions are one of those plants that can be harvested at any time I decided I am going to go ahead and harvest the plants with the fallen stems over the next week, I anchored some of the onions whose tops had not fallen but the entire plant had been washed up, and I'm leaving the others. I'm taking a wait and see attitude right now. I only have about 30 onion plants right now and as often as I use onions I can easily go through these in a couple of weeks since they are relatively small bulbs (larger than a golf ball, smaller than a tennis ball).

From what I've been reading, in Texas onions are harvested in May when 2/3 of the tops have fallen on the entire crop, where they are then pulled and laid in the sun to cure (outer layers dry to protect the inner layers), then the tops are cut off and they are stored or the tops can be braided and the onions hung until pulled off for use.

I feel that I've been fairly successful with the onions and I'd be comfortable planting them again in the future, so I think I'll plant many more in future years. It'll be a great money saver since I use them almost daily in my cooking. 

Here is my onion plot when I went to check on it today before I started playing around in it. I also have a yellow squash and zucchini planted in there two in the bare spots where onions didn't make it. When I tried stepping into the middle of the plot to help prop up a couple of the onions I ended up sinking down about 8 inches into the mud the soil is that soft right now.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Starting Seeds

I promise I do more than just cook all the time!!! I tried starting some seeds in January and had horrible luck. Mold took over and the seedlings were very slow to grow. Now that it's warmer I have decided to try growing some kitchen herbs from seeds. Here's some changes I made that seem to be making things much easier:

First I mixed all purpose potting soil in with the seed starting soil since the seed starting soil didn't seem to want to hold water well.

Next I sterilized the soil by microwaving it in 2 minute increments until it reached an internal temperature of 200 F.

I started saving my plastic containers to grow the herbs in. If needed I can move most of them into bigger pots later. I decided not to grow cilantro because it specifically does not like to be transplanted. I poked 3 holes in the bottom of each container, added the soil and dampened it. I sprinkled about half a dozen seeds on the top of the soil in each container, added another touch of water, put on the lids and set on the germination mat with a paper towel underneath to capture drainage.

Each morning and afternoon I check to see if the seeds have sprouted. Once they do, I promptly remove them from the heat, remove the lid and use it as a drainage base. I put them under a light and leave the light on 24/7. The plants are not placed back on the germination mat because this will cause the soil to dry out too much.

Keep the soil damp but not wet.

That's really it for now. The photo posted above I took a few minutes ago and it's been 3 days since I started them. I have parsley (which isn't showing any signs of germination yet), feverfew (which I'll probably remove the lid from tomorrow morning), basil (which is doing the best), and chives.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Veggie Pizza

Week two of Meatless Mondays and I made a homemade veggie pizza. For those of you in the Dallas/Fort Worth area the crust recipe I found is almost exactly like what you'll find at Joe's Pizza. I was so thrilled that what I made at home tonight could rival any pizza joint. I limited the salt by using a no salt added tomato sauce and fresh veggies for toppings.

Crust recipe:


8 oz can no salt added tomato sauce
garlic powder
onion powder
crushed red pepper
Italian seasoning (herb mixture)

2 cups mozzarella cheese
2 thinly sliced crimini mushrooms
thinly sliced tomato
green onion
sliced black olives
sliced garlic cloves

Heat oven to 500 and prepare crust according to website.

While yeast and water are prepping, combine sauce ingredients in small sauce pan, bring to a boil and simmer on low while prepping crust.

Top crust with sauce, cheese and veggies. Bake 12-15 minutes until golden and bubbly.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Easy Fish Tacos

My dear friend Lupita showed me how she makes her fish tacos last summer when we were stuck indoors while it was 106 outside and summer hadn't technically started yet. It was so unbelievably easy I've made it a few times when I can find fish I'm comfortable purchasing. My personal favorite, for many reasons, is USA farm-raised catfish. It doesn't have the fishy taste, is sustainable, costs less than many other types of fish, helps support jobs here at home, and hopefully doesn't exploit impoverished workers.

There are a couple of ways you can make these tacos. Lupita used corn tortillas, sealed the filling in with three toothpicks after softening the tortillas in a skillet (makes them more pliable) and deep fried them. She then served them with sour cream thinned with milk. They were amazing!!! Since I am trying to avoid deep frying anything, here is my version which are still excellent (this can make 8-10 tacos and costs less than $10 to make):

1 lb catfish fillets (or any white fish)
olive oil
1 onion, diced
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, diced
1-2 tomatoes, diced
lime juice
flour or wheat tortillas

Garnishes (Optional):
sour cream (add a little lime juice for flavor and milk to thin like a sauce)
homemade ranch dressing (this is what I used tonight and it was very yummy)
salsa (we used salsa taqueria)
monterey jack or cheddar cheese
shredded cabbage or lettuce

Heat oven to 350. Put fish in greased baking dish and season with salt, pepper and a little squeeze of lime juice. Cook until fish flakes apart easily with a fork.

While fish is cooking, in a skillet saute onion, garlic and jalapenos in olive oil until onions are translucent. Turn off heat if more time is required for the fish.

Once fish is ready, flake and add to skillet along with tomato and more lime juice. Season with a little more salt and pepper. Cook about 5 minutes on medium heat.

Warm tortillas in a skillet or microwave if needed, add 3-4 Tbs filling and top with garnishes. I also served this with some canned black beans that I mashed for for fat free refried beans.