Organic Homemade Pesticide for Your Garden

A jug and a spray bottle. a batch of organic pesticide.

A jug and a spray bottle. a batch of organic pesticide.

Last year, I decided to build a raised bed garden, so that I might grow a few things on my otherwise desolate little spot of earth. I was moderately successful…I had a bunch of squash and grape tomatoes, some jalapenos and bigger tomatoes…my green beans were a bust.

Raised garden. About 6'x12'

Raised garden. About 6’x12′

But I’m learning! Last year, I found on Pinterest, an organic pesticide that I made at home. This year, I’m starting to get something chewing on my pepper plants, mainly and some Swiss Chard. So, I went to look it up on my board and found that the link was dead. I did a little searching and found another similar recipe. It called for a fresh jalapeno, which I did not have; so I remembered the other recipe used cayenne powder and that the important thing is the capsaicin, the “hot” ingredient in peppers. The following recipe is what I put together for this year. A couple of notes: first, be VERY aware of your hands, eyes and tender tissues. You may want to wear gloves. Do NOT rub your eyes, scratch your nose or use the bathroom during this process without thoroughly scrubbing your hands FIRST! Second, my recipe isn’t 100% organic when I use Dawn brand dish detergent; but, if you get something like Seventh Generation or other brand of dish detergent that is vegetable based and organic, you can get back that last 1%. Happy bug deterrence!

Ingredients in food processor.

Ingredients in food processor.

 

Homemade Organic Pesticide

1 Onion, peeled, cut into large pieces

1 teaspoon Cayenne Powder

1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes

1 gallon Water, hot (not boiling, just hot from the tap)

1 tablespoon of dish detergent. (Use 2 tablespoons if using organic)

In a pot big enough to hold more than a gallon of water, add the water. In a food processor or blender, add the other ingredients except the detergent and process at high speed for about a minute.

Puree mixed with a gallon of hot water.

Puree mixed with a gallon of hot water.

Onions, cayenne, red pepper flakes, pureed.

Onions, cayenne, red pepper flakes, pureed.

 

Stop, scrape the sides down, and process a little longer. Using a couple of layers of cheesecloth (or an old t-shirt you can discard afterwards), strain the pulp from the liquids.

Pot with cheeseloth.

Pot with cheeseloth.

The pulp can be composted or thrown away. Using a funnel, add the detergent to a storage container with a closable cap or lid and the dish detergent. I use a class carboy from my local brewshop, but you could wash out an empty milk jug. Fill a spray bottle with the solution and make sure you mark it with a warning and use it only for this purpose!

A jug and a spray bottle. a batch of organic pesticide.

A jug and a spray bottle. a batch of organic pesticide.

Clean all your supplies well…the dishwasher is a good idea for anything that will fit. And WASH YOUR HANDS THOROUGHLY!!!

Apply as a mist or spray on your plants. This is not a bug killer, it is a deterrent. You don’t need to spray streams on the bugs themselves.

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Strawberry Pie in a Graham Cracker Crust

Strawberry Pie...fresh!

Strawberry Pie…fresh!

Many years ago, in another life and when I still had amazing stamina, I worked for the restaurant chain: Shoney’s. I worked my butt off from 60 to 80 hours a week. It was definitely a burnout job, only suited for the young! I worked there for a few years through and, for awhile, out of college. I worked as a cook, a kitchen manager and an assistant manager. While I was glad to move on, I did learn a few things. In addition to peeling, butterflying and breading shrimp, 20lbs at a time, and learning to make really good onion rings, I also learned how to make strawberry pies. LOTS of strawberry pies. I washed and capped flat after flat of strawberries and assembled pies using very specific techniques. Mother’s Day was a strawberry pie circus!

All these years later, I’ve decided to make one strawberry pie. That’s right: one. I happen to like graham cracker crumb pie crusts,,,and they’re easy to make! So, instead of making and pre-baking a pie dough crust. I’m going the graham cracker crumb route. I mixed 1-1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs with 3 tbsp. sugar and then added 1/3 c. melted butter and mixed well. I lined a 8″ round cake pan with plastic wrap and dumped the crumb mixture into it. I then pressed the crust down on the bottom to form an even layer and also pressed up the sides. I covered the crust and popped it in the refrigerator.

Press in the graham cracker crumb, sugar and butter mixture.

Press in the graham cracker crumb, sugar and butter mixture.

Lined a pan with plastic wrap.

Lined a pan with plastic wrap.

Next, I took a pint of strawberries that I had already capped and made the strawberry glaze. This is a step I didn’t have to do before, because Shoney’s got their glaze in a bucket, already made. I found a recipe on Pinterest and gave it a try. In hindsight, I think I will try my juice extractor next time and not just mash the berries for the sauce…it doesn’t come out nice and clear…and it was a little thick. The recipe called for a  pint of strawberries, a cup of sugar, 3 tblsp corn starch dissolved in a little cold water.

Added sugar and corn starch...cooking the glaze.

Added sugar and corn starch…cooking the glaze.

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I used a potato masher to mash the berries and added the sugar and corn starch.The mixture was brought to a boil, the heat reduced, and the mixture stirred constantly for about 10 minutes. I transferred the glaze to the refrigerator to cool.

Finished glaze...a little thick. I'll rework the recipe before next time.

Finished glaze…a little thick. I’ll rework the recipe before next time.

The pie assembly is pretty simple. Pre-bake your pie crust, if you’re using a dough crust, and cool. Bring the glaze to room temperature. Spread a fairly thin layer of the glaze on the pie crust to act as glue for the berries.

Positioning the berries, pointed side up.

Positioning the berries, pointed side up.

Arrange whole berries, point side facing up, in the pie crust, until snugly filled. Ideally, the glaze should be loose enough to pour off the side of a large spoon as you move the spoon from right to left in a motion that drapes the glaze evenly over the berries. You want the berries completely covered by the glaze, so there is no exposed berry. If the glaze is too thick, do the best you can. (Like I did this time!) It will still taste good!

Glazed strawberries.

Glazed strawberries.

Just try to avoid having it clump too much in any one spot. Serve immediately with whipped cream or refrigerate for up to a couple of hours.

To serve mine, I use the plastic wrap to help carefully remove the piece of pie from the pan and then  top with whipped cream.

The final product...yum!!!

The final product…yum!!!

Slice of fresh strawberry pie.

Slice of fresh strawberry pie.

You can certainly buy a pre-made crust , either dough or crumb. Just remember to bake your crust, if using a dough crust, according to recipe, before filling…and enjoy!

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Strawberry Jam, Simple but Awesome Recipe

Pints of Strawberry Jam

Pints of Strawberry Jam

In 2012, my older daughter got married. As a small token to our wedding guests, I made a 4 0z  jar of  homemade strawberry jam with a little fabric cover and a label with the wedding date, the bride and groom’s names and the message “Spread the Love”. Oh, and I made two hundred and twenty-five of them!

Wedding favors.

Wedding favors.

I had help picking some of the strawberries and a little help with the jam process from my younger daughter, but I did make several backache producing strawberry picking trips on my own. In  that time, I became rather proficient at making jam. The guests all gave the jam rave reviews! The recipe is basically the one that comes in the Sure-Jell box. It’s simple. Just follow easy directions. I haven’t tried low sugar or no sugar recipes, but I know you have to follow directions for the specific pectin product that you use, to ensure success. And do NOT try to double the recipe. Make a single batch at a time, or it will not gel. Strawberry season is almost over in my area for picking them yourself, so hurry!!! Make sure you plan for enough extra strawberries to make a fresh pie, serve over shortcake or simply with whipped cream! And enjoy!

Strawberry Jam

5 cups prepared fruit (about 2 quarts fully ripe strawberries)

1 box SURE-JELL Fruit Pectin

½ tsp. butter or margarine (optional)

7 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl

Bring boiling-water canner, half full with water or enough water to cover jars by at least 2 inches, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Add jars to the canner to santize. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling. Make sure you have all your utensils handy.

Stem and crush or chop strawberries. Measure exactly 5 cups of prepared fruit into 6- or 8-quart pot. Stir pectin into prepared fruit in sauce pot. Add butter to reduce foaming, if desired. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar.

Bringing the berries, Sure-Jell and sugar to a boil.

Bringing the berries, Sure-Jell and sugar to a boil.

Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.

Ladle immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads with a damp clean cloth or paper towel. Cover with 2-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner.  (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches.DSC04882

Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process for 10 minutes. Remove jars and place upright on a towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals and tighten screw rings, if necessary. Allow to set -up for 24 hours. Once sealed and set, the screw rings can be removed and the jars stored. Recipe makes eight 1/2 pint (8 oz) jars or four pint (16 oz) jars.

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Eastern North Carolina Style Cole Slaw by Bob Garner

Classic BBQ Sandwich and chips.

Classic BBQ Sandwich and chips.

Growing up in the heart of North Carolina, I was exposed to a lot of pork barbecue. Everybody has their own way of doing it and everyone has their own sauce. But there’s another necessary componant: cole slaw. Whether you’re eating your BBQ on a bun or as a “plate” with hushpuppies or corn bread, you have to have slaw. And there’s about as many recipes for slaw as there are for BBQ sauce. And I’m picky about mine. Oh, I’ll eat some kinds of slaw as a side dish. I’ve even had a pineapple-cole slaw that I liked. But if I’m eating it with or on pork BBQ…or on a hotdog  or with fried fish, for that matter, the recipe that follows is what I want! This recipe comes from a well known authority on North Carolina BBQ and it is spot on! I basically eyeballed my ingredients to make a half batch, because I’m not making it for a crowd. I wound up with enough to fill a two pound deli container. I also used dill pickle cubes instead of sweet, because I don’t keep sweet pickles or sweet pickle relish on hand. It’s still good, though, just not quite as sweet. Enjoy!  

Eastern North Carolina Coleslaw  by Bob Garner 

Half a head of cabbage, cut into pieces.

Half a head of cabbage, cut into pieces.

Bob says:This is my wife Ruthie’s recipe, and it’s typical of the coleslaw that’s served at pig pickings and fish fries along the Roanoke River in Halifax and Martin counties.“

Ingredients

1 medium-size, firm head of cabbage

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

1/3 cup mustard

3/4 cup sweet pickle cubes

2 tablespoons apple-cider vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon celery seed

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Cole slaw dressing.

Cole slaw dressing.

Keep cabbage refrigerated until ready to use, and do not allow it to reach room temperature once you begin. Remove outer leaves and core from cabbage. Cut head in half and grate fine, using food processor or hand grater. (I used the “s” blade and pulsed in the processor.) In large bowl, combine cabbage, mayonnaise, mustard, sweet pickle cubes, vinegar, sugar and seasonings. Mix thoroughly and chill for one hour before serving.

On a bun with pulled pork BBQ and some sauce.

On a bun with pulled pork BBQ and some sauce.

Combined dressing with chopped cabbage.

Combined dressing with chopped cabbage.

Makes 20 servings

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Extra Edition: Spent Grain Doggie Treats!

mmmfoodies:

A tie-in with my beer brewing hobby…making easy doggie treats from the used grains.

Originally posted on Brewing stuff:

Spent grain from my brew in a bag session.

Spent grain from my brew in a bag session.

Spent Grain Dog Treats

The following recipe came from the home brewer’s forum that I frequent at www.homebrewtalk.com and is put there by one of the members who, in turn, gives credit to another member and they all go by screen names, so it may not matter to them if I credit them, but it was added by Schweaty and credited to Beerrific. No, really!

So, If you are or know a brewer and can get your hands on some used or “spent” brewing grains, then you can make these easily at home, The spent grains typically are barley, wheat and sometimes rye. It doesn’t really matter, unless it’s something you or your animals may be allergic to; in which case: never mind! If okay for you and your pets, then cheers!

Ingredients:

4 cups spent grain
2 cups flour
1…

View original 300 more words

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Potato Au Gratin. It’s Probably Easier Than You Think!

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When was the last time you had potatoes au gratin? I mean, not dehydrated slices from a box and powdered cheese in a packet, but the real deal? It’s probably easier than you think! And if you have a decent food processor, it’s pretty quick, too. A quick search on Pinterest and I found a recipe by the ever-reliable Betty Crocker. Follow the link for the recipe:

http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/au-gratin-potatoes/9fd8b127-ae50-4bb0-b1f3-98ed1f6e917e

I like to give credit where credit is due. It is nice to have some non-professional photos and personal experiences to encourage you, though! So, the most time consuming step is peeling the potatoes. Buck up, soldier! It’s not so bad, but learn to do it with a paring knife! Peelers are fine for carrots, but not so great for spuds. Next, slice the potatoes in uniform disks, about 1/8″ thick. I used the slicer disk in my food processor and zipped right through them.

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Then grate the onion with your grater attachment or finely chop by hand. (If my kids can’t see the onions, they are more likely to try the dish, so I grate them.) Then saute the onions in the butter and add the flour to make a roux.

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Add the milk and salt/pepper and whisk until fairly thick.

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Combine the sauce with the shredded cheese and whisk until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth.In an oven-safe casserole dish, spread out the potato slices in a layer, slightly overlapping. You may have enough for more that one layer. Cover with sauce and repeat as needed.

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Bake at 375F for one hour, uncovered. Mix breadcrumbs with the rest of the shredded cheese and top the casserole and pop back in oven for about 10 minutes more. Let rest ten minutes and serve.Image

Note: I used my processor to make bread crumbs from a dried out, leftover. Canned breadcrumbs would be fine here, as well. Enjoy!

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Finalist in City Barbecue Sauce Contest, April 12, 2014 1-4 pm

If anyone living in the Cary, North Carolina area sees this and would be able to attend the opening of City Barbecue on Kildaire Farm Rd. between 1 and 4 pm, please vote for my sauce: Matt Miller’s Knobby Sauce! I am one of six finalists and I really need to “get out the vote”!!! Thanks!

Matt Miller's Knobby Sauce ...mmm MMM!!!

Matt Miller’s Knobby Sauce …mmm MMM!!!

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