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A Great Day at the Garden

What a beautiful afternoon! Click on the photo above to see some gorgeous pix of the garden.

My jalapeno peppers yielded a few hot ones for the weekend. There's nothing better than fresh picked peppers. These aren't too firey hot, but they're a lot hotter than Poblanos or Anaheims. I used them in the breakfast omelette this morning! Nice...

Here they are, on the plant. I planted one pepper plant from our local feed and seed supply. It cost about $1.50 for the sprout. Peppers don't require much care. They just like to be left alone and do their thing without any muss or fuss.

Some people say the best thing you can do to your garden is plant it and leave it alone. There's a lot to be said for that approach. Sure, clean beds look pretty, but do your jalapenos care? I don't think so!

Here's some heirloom collard greens. I say heirloom and smile, but you can't see me, of course. Collard greens are southern food. Now, I know I am going to raise some eyebrows around the world by saying that. But, I am a southern boy, from way down south. I'm used to hearing that southern drawl. And, people in the south just smile a knowing smile when you tell them about how good collard greens are.

Ever been to a "soul food" restaurant? You will *always* see collard greens on the menu. Why? Well, I'll give you a bunch of reasons. One, they taste strong and good. Two, they are green and healthy. Three, they are hardy plants. They withstand lots of abuse. They are not delicate, lovely, melt like butter in your mouth greens. They have substance. They make you big and strong. They go well with corn bread, mashed potatoes, and you can treat them any way you want. People pass by the garden all the time and ask me what I'm growing. When I say collard greens, they just smile like I am a kindred spirit. That's because they know: collard greens are just good.

Here's a collard green that had a little too much exposure to the elements. You see, I messed up by pulling up all the Lambsquarters around it and left it all by itself, out in the sun, away from the shade and cool cover of those frisky Lambsquarters. The Lambsquarters just grow like weed in the garden. I've written about it before. Basically, it tastes compared to spinach like venison does to beef. It's wild and good. And, I believe it is one of the answers to world hunger, along with lentils. Look it up in Wikipedia. Well, OK - I will do it for you: Lambsquarter: "Lambsquarters is a close cousin to spinach, but far, far more nutritious. It ranks right up there with Dandelion, Watercress and Nettles as one of nature’s nutritional powerhouses. It has a mild, green flavor like our domestic greens. In fact it is a relative of Swiss chard, beets and a few exotic garden greens like orach, all in the Chenopodium family. Nutritional value: This food is low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Niacin, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamb%27s_quarters"

Did I make my point? Ha! Lambsquarters are so prolific in the garden that I have to yank it out, and I mean yank, every couple of months. It grows like a tree-vine. It's beastly and strong, and it grows everywhere. If all I wanted was Lambsquarters, I'd be happy as a pig in shorts. Shoot me, I'm never claimed to be a comedian.

This is my pole bean plant. I planted a bunch of pole beans that Bob gave me as seeds. Check out his page here. They are "Survivalist Seeds". A visit to Bob's page will bring you up to speed on Technocracy, too. Unfortunately, we had to quit using timers on our soaker hoses and I didn't manually water these plants enough. Also, I had never seen a pole been sprout before I planted these. I am horrified to think that I accidentally plucked a lot of these sprouts when I last weeded, but it's possible. At any rate, there were a few beans on this plant before I photographed it and I ate them right there, on the spot. Sweet and delicious. Bruce used to come to the garden with a bowl, some scizzors and some Bragg's Liquid Amino (liquid soy stuff good for salad dressing, among other things) and clip his dinner on the spot. He swears it saved him, medically.

My loofahs are also pretty sparse, like where are they? Bruce gave me some loofahs, which I sauteed when they were little zucchini looking things and turned into proper loofah sponges once they grew up. Some got so big, we took them to St Francis House down the street and gave them to the cook to serve up with their free dinner for the homeless. That's Bruce in the three videos below. He had some health issues, intestinal problems. He found that a diet of raw veg helped him immeasurably.

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Here's the continuation:

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And, here's part three:

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You'll have to pardon the audio quality on my video recordings. I used an Audiovox SMT5600 cellphone to record Bruce! You probably have to turn up the volume to hear or use headphones.

That's it above, and if you want to unshackle yourself from your cellphone provider, get one for about $50 and unlock it. Because, by unlocking it, you can use any SIM card from any cellphone provider in the world like I do. And, you can use it to take pix like I do and record videos, like the three above. Sorry for that commercial interruption, but it's in my blood. If I find out about a good thing, I just have to tell the world about it. Why? I don't know...

I have a beautiful "Loofah" sign in my garden that my neighbor from the patch next door made. She'll make one for you, too! Just ping Carol and ask her to make one for you. She'd be glad to.

This is what my patch looked like a few months ago, in the summer. You see a bunch of collard greens and in front are cinnamon basil. Ever hear of cinnamon basil? Me neither, but they taste just like basil with cinnamon. Go figure. I got them from the same local feed and seed. They made for some delicious stir fried basil, AKA Thai Krapow, like you see below.

I made it with seitan, which I thought was a variation on the soy thing. I never cease to be amazed by all the cool stuff you can make with soy beans. But, actually (Thanks, Pete) seitan is made from wheat!

Time for a Zoobird lesson on using the website. I wanted to find a photo I knew was here in the Zoobird community website somewhere. Have you wondered what these things called "Tags" you see room to type in everywhere are? Well, I put a photo about soy and local tempeh guy "Artie" in an article I wrote about Villin Cycle Works. So, when I saved it, I made sure to add a the word "soy" as a tag. So, when I wanted to find it, I just typed "soy" and "Artie" into the search box. Voila! Here it is:

Artie is a local artisan whose whole business is making tempeh. Tempeh (don't worry, I had no idea what tempeh was once, too) is a crunchy type of soy product that still has some soybean husks in it. You can use it like meat when you're cooking. It's pretty good. High in protein, low fat (no fat, I think!) and it's vegetarian.

There are the most beautiful sunflowers in the garden. Year round, you'll see them towering happily above everything else. So nice to see these perky, uplifting flowers, especially in the dead of winter. We are in the Swamp, after all...

The garden is full of color. Here are some orange flowers that just look florescent in the evening glow.

This absolutely stunning Morning Glory just peeped up at me while I was snapping photos. Isn't it lovely?

Looking across the garden, you'll see more lovely flowers. There, in the background...do you see the Spanish hanging moss? That's all over this area, and Florida in general. Henry Ford used to use it in his Model T's as upholstery stuffing.

What's this? That, friends, is a tasty broccoli plant. And, now it's a part of moi. Because I ate it right there, on the spot. Raw food, especially fresh, raw food right off the plant, is something else. You should try it, if you haven't. Por ejemplo, let's say you're hungry for a snack. Forget about all that processed food. Unless you have no other choice. Like, have you ever tried a Larabar? I guess if you're not around some fresh snacks, that's a good thing to have on hand. In fact, it's pretty delicious. But, I was getting peckish in the garden. There it was. That very broccoli you see in the photo above. It was so delicious, sweet, crunchy, good, satisfying. I felt the little satisfaction your body feels when it's hungry and you eat something. That juice, sugar, mixed with the special taste broccoli has was just perfect.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this trip to the garden. Thanks, as always, to Shmal. He gave me his patch when he moved to Seattle. And, thanks to Maura for organizing the garden. She's the community garden manager. Thanks to the City of Gainesville, FL for donating the area for a community garden. And, most of all, thank you guys at Zoobird for filling Zoobird up with holiday cheer from all over the world. Glad you're enjoying it here.

If you really want to give the community a big gift, please write something in your Zoobird blog. Update your profile photo. We like seeing who we're talking with. Add some photos or videos. It's easy! Michael Pluznick is a great example of a Zoobird member who's shared some music on Zoobird. Use the Invite feature on the top menu and tell your friends and family about Zoobird. It takes a village, as they say...to make it work. Stay tuned...

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Comment by Michael Levin on December 28, 2009 at 10:15am
Pete, Thanks for the info. I followed that link to the wikipedia article, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seitan, and of course learned more than I set out to learn in the first place. The article reminded me that I once ate regularly at a macrobiotic restaraunt because it was close to my office, good tasting, healthy and checp. They had huge portions, too! The article also has a section on the Codex Alementarius. Titiger has written a bit about it here on Zoobird. I did a quick search http://www.zoobird.com/main/search/search?q=codex and found it.

Very cool how , in the wikipedia article, there are photos showing texturized seitan and describing how to cook it to enhance its flavor. It turned out great in my Thai Krapow. I'll correct the reference to soy and seitan in the article. Cheers!
Comment by pete korhonen on December 28, 2009 at 8:27am

looking really good over there!

Just one point I noticed concerning the seitan, you said:
"I made it with seitan, which is a variation on the soy thing. I never cease to be amazed by all the cool stuff you can make with soy beans."

but actually seitan is not made out of soy, but wheat:


"Wheat gluten, also called seitan (pronounced /ˈseɪtæn/), wheat meat, gluten meat, or simply gluten, is a food made from the gluten of wheat"

Comment by Michael Levin on December 27, 2009 at 11:20am

I hear you, Phoenix. We freeze garbanzos and use them in a weak attempt to imitate a recipe that's eluded us (me) for a long time: Chickpea and Cauliflower Curry, the way they make it at our local haven for excellent food, Buddha Belly. I swear, I have tried more times than I can tell you to make it they way they do. Maybe today I'll break down and ask for the recipe.
Comment by Phoenix Rogers on December 27, 2009 at 10:50am
Another answer to world hunger: The HIGHEST protein content THING in the Vegi world is Garbanzos


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