Sunday, February 26, 2012

Espresso Pancakes

This morning I was making pancakes for the kids and drinking some espresso (well, OK, it was Italian Coffee) made in my new Moka Pot. More on that later. Anyhow, the daughter came over and said how wonderful the coffee smelled. She asked me if I had ever put coffee into pancake batter before. I immediately dumped a bunch into the batter.
Folks, you should try this. It was very delicious. I didn't measure, just added what was left in the pot. Probably about 3 Tbsp.

On to the moka pot- this thing is wonderful! We got the three cup pot by Bialetti. I thought of Minnesota coffee cups when we bought it. Not quite the same! The three cup pot filled about half a Minnesota sized coffee mug. But it was so deliciously strong! I looked on Wikipedia for more information about it, and they said that it is not a true espresso maker, since they have to be made at 9 bar (atmospheric pressure at sea level), but moka pots have a maximum pressure of 1.5 bar. But I am not a foodie, and I could care less if it is "true" espresso. Now I just need some little tiny espresso shot cups and I am all set!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Oh Sh..... Compost!

Yesterday, a big four ton dump truck from the beef farm down the hill came up to our house and took a huge dump next to my garden. Ah, glorious composted manure! Steaming hot and ready to spread. And only 4000 yen!
Already used 1/3 of it...

Immediately the youngest and I started spreading that compost thick over the sandbox I call my garden. 10cm thick. Oh, it was lovely! And it looks so nice!

It looks so good! I just want to roll around in it almost!

Composted rice hull bedding and steer manure
It should be enough to cover both the upper and lower gardens with 10cm of black gold. Looking forward to the season!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Seed Exchange Party Was A Success!

Today the seed exchange party was a great success, in my opinion. The first people started arriving at about 9:45, and we arranged our seeds on the tables set up in the middle of the room. We had a great time talking about the seeds- what they were, how to grow them, pest problems, and all sorts of gardening experiences. One of the seeds that got a lot of attention were the Tutankhamen's Peas. It is said that they were recovered from the tombs of Pharohs in Egypt, and successfully germinated after 3-4000 years. I think it more likely that a canny Egyptian sold some unusual peas to an overeager British botanist in the 1920s. At any rate, they were a big hit- the flowers and pods are purple, the picture they brought was quite striking. And they said the peas were quite tasty cooked in rice.
Including myself, nine adults showed up, and four children. A good friend helped with making signs and translations, and played with the children, another person brought some delicious snacks, and everyone went home with plenty of varieties of seeds. I think it was a great success, and I'm planning another exchange for late July, for fall planting seeds.

The youngest member, (a third grader's) selection of beautifully packaged seeds

Friday, February 17, 2012

Tonsils and Snowmen- Two Great (big) Things...

Tonsils and Snowmen, Two Great (Big) Things That Go Great Together...

The doctor looked in her mouth and said "Oh my goodness! Those are huge!" 
Not the thing you usually expect a doctor to say, but pretty accurate...

We finally got some snow, so the youngest and I made snowmen after dropping the older ones at school.

Only two more days to the Seed Exchange Party! The local area information magazine is planning to come and do a piece on it! 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Popcorn Cornbread

I had a hankering for some good old fashioned cornbread this morning. But, here in Japan, I have never seen cornmeal for sale. Anywhere.
Then I had an idea- what if I took some popcorn kernels, put them in the blender, and hit the button?
I am proud to tell you that it worked like a charm. The noise was intense, but the effect was wonderful cornmeal.

My recipe- adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook:

1c flour
3/4c cornmeal
3 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. salt

2 eggs
1c milk
1/4c veg. oil

Mix the dry ingredients in a medium-large bowl.
Mix the wet ingredients in a small bowl.
Add the wet to the dry and stir just until moistened.
Dump it in a cake pan, and chuck it in a 200C oven (400F) for 20 min.

That's good eating.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Shipping Container House

While this really has nothing to do with me or homesteading, I saw an interesting house near the beach today. It is made of two 40 foot shipping containers. The owner cut the sides off of them using a hand-held disc grinder and several dozen discs! Then he pushed them together and welded them tight. He cut the windows and doors the same way. And the best part is that he said that he could pay for it out of his savings, so no debt.

Shipping Container House

Shipping Container House
It got me thinking of all the cool ways that you could stack shipping containers to build a house. 

The Overhang

The Breezeway

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Year of the Dragon

Enter the Dragon!

Like most of you, I water my bottom field with a hose siphoning creek water from the bamboo grove above my rice paddy.... wait a minute, I suppose I should have said "Unlike"... but I digress.
I have discovered that when the temperature drops to -8C, even running water freezes in the hose.
But while it is getting there, it makes some pretty cool ice sculptures!