Sunday, October 15, 2017

My Late October Garden for Vitamin K

Every time I go to the grocery store to buy "fresh" produce, I cringe.  I don't know where the fruit and vegetables come from, how they grew with what, and how they were handled in the store.  Although the labels read 'organic', I question that and the price that goes with it.

Last week my husband had a scheduled appointment for an echo cardiogram and since he is on coumadin, the nurse checked his INR (International Normalized Ratio) and it was off the chart.  He ended up in the hospital and his cardiologist thought it was lack of green leafy vegetables.  Mostly.

Eventually,tests normalized and needles to say, we found it imperative to start a garden.  Ergo, me and  my Rollator headed out to the Back Forty and I started to pull the weeds, fast and furiously.

The first seedlings that go into the ground is the curly kale that contain vitamins A and C in addition to vitamin K.  One (1) cup of lightly cooked kale has 684% of the daily intake or 1230% of DRI (Dietary Reference Intake).  Vitamin K helps to normalize the clotting of the blood.  In warmer climate, it grows all winter long.  This is the most important vegetable in our garden on Back Forty.

Brussel Sprouts is another important vegetable that goes into the garden.  It contains 116% of the DRI of vitamin K, A and C.  !/2 cup of the sprouts meets the intake of vitamins C and K.  It's low in calories but high in protein which surprised me when I read it.  I usually finely slice them and stir fry them with onions.

Broccoli is the third most important vegetables for us here at Back Forty.  It contains 116% of the DRI of vitamins K, A and C.  If you don't want to eat it raw, cut it up in florets and lightly steam it.

Of course, the cabbage completes my October planting.  It contains 85% of DRI of vitamin K per up. It makes for strong bones which I need.  It is also good for diabetes type 2.

It may be too late for basil but I picked up a healthy looking plant in the grocery store.  Interestingly, only one (1) tbs of dried basil contains 107% of DRI while two (2) tbs of fresh chopped basil give you 27% of DRII

This, folks, is the power of food!

Disclaimer:  This information is mainly for us at the Back Forty.  Please, do your own research.

Good Sources for Additional Research: 13 Foods High in Vitamin K.
A List of Foods with vitamin K--Coumadin (found on the Internet)
The National Institutes of Health has an extensive article on Vitamin K.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Scalloped Tomato and Bread Casserole

I must confess that 'scalloped' is a bit fancy for a simple and easy bread and tomato pudding, but let's go with it because the end result is rather good.

Somebody in my household believes that cluster tomatoes are beautiful, red, nice and even.  So, we had more tomatoes than we could eat during the week.

First, I prepared the casserole dish by spreading a little oil on the inside.  Then I preheated the oven to 400 degrees F.

When that was done, I cut up day old bread into croutons, chunked three (3) tomatoes and mixed them with the bread in a bowl.  I drizzled the mixture with a generous amount of canola oil and kept mixing to make sure the bread and tomatoes got some oil.  I set this bowl aside

I diced onions, pepper, and celery and mixed them in another bowl.

I added this mixture to the bottom of the dish
and topped it off with the tomatoes and bread.

I was tempted to add cheese to the casserole but resisted; however, sweet basil goes well with tomatoes.

I baked the casserole for 30 minutes and it came out golden brown., sort of.

This tasty and easy dish may be served as a side dish with any meat or it may be served with a tossed salad too.

Happy Cooking!

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

The October Garden

I have done some serious manual weeding around the house among the bushes.  I have barely finished when it's time to start over again--an endless job.  I was going to fertilize and mulch the bushes but read in the local paper not to fertilize because it will encourage new growth that might be sensitive to cold weather.

Time flies when you are having fun, they say.  So true.  October is here and it's time for north-east Floridians to start planting a fall garden.  The broccoli and cabbage are a given in my garden.  I like cauliflower but it is a bit difficult to grow--the diva of the Brassica family.

I also plant the leafy vegetables such as kale and mustard.  At some point, I usually let the mustards go to seed and its small yellow flowers hopefully will attract pollinating helpers.

Another leafy seedling to plant is the Georgia Collard which will grow well and prosper in any condition.  It certainly has been more than enough for us but it is also nice to give away to friends and neighbors.

I recently bought a small pot each of dill and thyme.  I divided the dill and set it out in my still living and growing herb garden by the summer kitchen.  I find thyme a little tricky to grow but I always give it a try.  It is not too late to plant basil but I would set it out in a pot that I can bring in when the weather
gets chilly.

Parsley is always nice to have and it grows well in cooler weather.  So does sage.  It's good to be able to pick your own seasoning for the Thanksgiving stuffing.

Other herbs to plant are Rosemary, of course, borage, lovage, and chervil   These herbs like cooler weather.

All the vegetables and herbs that are on my and yours wish list are subject to availability at nurseries and home improvement stores.

Happy Gardening and thank you for visiting my blog.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Landscaping by Irma

Early this month, hurricane Irma came blowing by the Back Forty and dumped a lot of rain and littered the yard with debris.  My husband and I left with our cat for a beautiful place west of Tallahassee and weathered the storm in a small motel.  We sat in a slow moving parking lot to reach our destination.

We made it home after a few days stay by the Seminole Lake.  We found that the boarded up house had not taken in any water and although we lost the electricity for a few hours, no food had spoiled.

The Back Forty was filled with downed cedar trees.  Behind the shed, we had a wild cherry tree with small berries for us to eat and share with the birds.  We cleared it.

We had an assortment of downed cedar trees that at one time was home to many birds and a play area for squirrels.  Some of the trees were leaning from last year's hurricane and another had lost most of its greenery.  Altogether four cedar trees had blown down.

Our neighbor across the street also had downed trees and workers were already cutting and removing the debris.  My husband went over to see if they could take care of our trees too.  Sure, they could.

A strong and dedicated tree cutter came over with a chain saw and a large Bobcat.  In no time had he stripped the trees of the branches, cut up the trunks, and neatly piled it all up.

Using his Bobcat, he hauled the debris to the front yard to be picked up by the city.  The tree cutter was done in less than three hours.  We were impressed and we were grateful.  It was a load off our minds.

The loss of trees has opened up the Back Forty to a lot of sunshine.

We still have a lot of small dead trees to cut and remove.

We feel blessed that Irma left us with some downed trees  with a lot of debris.  It could have been so much worse and we think about the people whose homes were destroyed byt this powerful hurricane.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

End of Summer

To look forward to fall and the planting of a garden, we say good bye to the summer.  We have had some changes in our landscape at the Back Forty lately and it is doubtful that we will have a full fledged garden this fall.


Thank you for visiting my blog.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Hurricane Harvey

I remember all too well last year's hurricane, Matthew, that left the east coast with a lot o damage.  We were strongly urged to evacuate and we did.  The best reason for us to evacuate was that there would not be any police, fire, and ambulance service.  Both my husband and myself were under doctors care at the time and we still are so we might need for emergency service.

Also, the bridges from the islands would close when the wind reached 35 miles per hour, sustainable.

Before we left, I put low-lying books, decorations, cloth and clothing on higher shelves and tables.

We packed up some of our clothing, medicines, and vital papers.  We also took our cat with us.

We headed west and we had to drive many miles before we found a place to stay for a few days.  Actually, friends in Atlanta searched the Internet and they found a fishing camp, reserved a room for us, and told us about it.  We found it to be a wonderful place, peaceful and quiet.

As always, it seems that in emergencies, people come together and help each other.  I know that when hurricane Matthew came through, we had a lot of people help us and show their concern for us.  We are thankful for our friends and neighbors.

Stay safe.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

A Simple Pin Hole Camera

The Solar Eclipse on the upcoming Monday is fast approaching and I initially thought that I would watch it on TV, safely.  At this point, it is too late to obtain sunglasses and they may not be safe.  Well, a little bug bit me and I researched how to make a pin hole camera.  How difficult can it be?

Perhaps you will be able to see the eclipse:  This is its path across this country:

I found out that it is not difficult at all and the material may already be available in your household. Looking to see what NASA recommend, I found the following listing:

Two (2) sheets of white card stock
Aluminum foil
Pin or paperclip

Pinhole Camera materials

For the best instruction, see 

The way I understand it is that one sheet of the card stock will be put on the ground.  On the other sheet, foil is taped to the middle and a small hole is made by a pin or paperclip.  With this second paper, I should stand with my back towards the sun at all times, and hold the paper over my shoulder.  The eclipse will be reflected on the paper on the ground.

Step 4: Try it out

Thank you for visiting my blog.  Be careful on Monday and do not look at the sun.  Be safe.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Carrots in Bloom

The other day, I rode the tractor to the garden and I found the garden wild and overgrown.  Some gardeners believe that it is beneficial for the garden to take a break once in a while--a long break, that is.  Here at the Back Forty, we are slowly reclaiming our land and we are finding a few surprises.

While riding around what used to
be one of the garden plots, I came
upon these white flowers and they
reminded me of Queen Anne's Lace.

Oh, I haven't seen them in  long time. Furthermore, I have never come across them in Florida.

No, it wasn't Queen Anne's Lace:  they were blooming carrot plants!  Various pollinators had also found them which was good news.

I could not resist picking a few of the blooming carrots: taken only what I needed.

The Plumbago has really spread put in front of the shed and they were also attracting pollinators.  We will prune them back later, before winter sets in.

I broke off a few small branches of the Plumbago:  I thought the blooming carrots and the light blue Plumbago would look good together in a vase in my Summer Kitchen for me to enjoy.  I am surprised that they have lasted so long.

They are nice and I enjoy the few blooms inside, bringing a little bit of nature in doors.

Summer will be gone before you know it.  
School has already started. 
Please, take it easy and watch out for our children

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Picking Butter Beans

The Butter Beans is a hot weather vegetable and it is ready for its first picking in the beginning of August.  My trusted gardener here on the Back Forty may have been a little too anxious to pick the beans this morning;  some of them were not fully mature and had to be put into the compost.

I also have another helper with the garden and she proclaims "that you are not a Southerner, unless you like butter beans."  That may be true, but who does not like butter beans?

We have the pole butter beans climbing up on permanent trellises:  it is easier for us to pick them that way, but they also come as bush beans.

Also, some people call the butter beans Lima beans or baby Lima beans.  It really dos not matter.

This young girl shelled the beans, I cooked them, and we ate them.

Some butter beans are pale green and others are off white.  When they are blanched before freezing, they turn up slightly greener and glossier.  Ordinarily, I cook the beans in plenty of water and serve them with a dab of margarine.

Of course, the beans also add interest to a vegetable soup.

Last year, our butter beans lasted long into the spring because of the mild winter weather.  They could have used some fertilizer.  In addition, the pole beans also make for a very nice and natural privacy hedge.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Yellow Cantaloupes

The other day, we went to the Farmers Market downtown in Jacksonville.  I try to pick up a fruit or a vegetable that I have not had before and always ask for suggestions how to prepare it and/or eat it.  That is another way to get to know the farmers too and it is always nice to see them.

We went to the market to get a water melon and my husband did.  We looked and admired the South Carolina peaches that were sky high in price.  How come?  The weather.  It was too hot, too cold, too much rain.  It had been a stormy season for the growers.

A yellow fruit/vegetable caught my eye:  I thought it was a spaghetti squash, but it turned out to be a cantaloupe.  I was surprised.

The farmer had a cantaloupe already cut up and she gave me a piece to taste.  It was firm and crisp with a pleasant taste--not too sweet, but refreshing.

We ended up having the cantaloupe for breakfast several mornings, taking in our natural C-vitamins and antioxidants.

Cantaloupes like moisture, sunlight, and two to three months long growing season in the heat.  They take up a lot of space in the home garden because they like to spread out and ramble.  Some gardeners like to use black plastic put down on the ground to keep the moisture and heat in and also keep the weed at bay.  The black plastic will add to the growing season in cooler climates.

Thank you for visiting my blog and enjoy some refreshing cantaloupe.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Time for Muscadine

August is here with its hot and humid days and the muscadine grapes are loving it.  They are fast ripening--getting ready for picking and eating.  Here at the Back Forty, we don't have to worry about making any jams or jellies; we are going to enjoy eating 'em.

Red grapes as well as the red
muscadines are healthful.  To mention a few benefits, they boost the heart functions; lower cholesterol and the blood pressure; aid the immune system and may aid in prevention of mild memory loss; and finally reduce signs of aging.  What more can you ask for?

To make jam, prepare the grapes by removing the seeds and I will keep the skin but chop the grapes.  For 2 quarts of grapes, 6 cups of sugar is recommended.  The cooking time is a bit long without store bought pectin.  Let it simmer and stir often.

So far, we have only gotten less than a quart (I'm sure) of dark red mescadine grapes.  They are somewhat bitter or sour and contain rather large seeds, but eating the grapes will aid in whatever ails me.

Only muscadine grapes are grown in Florida.  It is too hot for other grapes; however, juices of other grapes are trucked in for wine making.

There are some vineyards that offer "pick your own" and that is always fun.  Try it!

Thank you for visiting my blog.  Enjoy the rest of the summer.  School will start soon.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Harvesting My Herbs

This morning I harvested my herbs outside the summer kitchen.  The herbs have grown and taken care of themselves without interference from me.  I gave them a scant cup of fertilizer when I first planted out the seedlings and we have had lots of rain.

I snipped off plenty of the Oregano that lends itself to be tied up with a pretty ribbon and hang up to dry for later use in stews.

I also got plenty of Sweet Basil that is so good with corn and tomatoes.  The basil had paled a little because of being out in the strong morning sun.  I plan to let it lay on the kitchen towel and dry.

In addition, I cut the parsley that as far as I am concerned is a cool weather plant.  I use it often for decorating food that is otherwise bland and I use it in stir fried foods.

Finally, I am leaving out the herbs in a cup of water to be used as I go along doing my cooking from breakfast though dinner.  Oh, I forgot to tell you that I also got a few sprigs of Rosemary for my memory.

I must say that the few herbs that I do have is nothing to brag about but it makes me happy to have them and they have to do fine for a garden this summer.  Ah, a handful of the herbs smell so fresh and so delightful.  They will go a long way in the summer kitchen.

Thank you for visiting my blog and I hope that you have a wonderful summer.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Florida Heat Pump

Bottom Portion of the Pump
Top Portion of the Pump
We have what is known as a Florida Heat Pump.  It  pumps the water out of a shallow well in the ground

In the summer time, it uses the coolness of the water to centrally cool our house to what we have set the thermostat to read inside.

It works in reverse in the winter time.  It takes the warmth out of the water to warm the house to desire room temperature.

When we bought the house, we found the Florida Heat Pump to be the most efficient and economical heating and air conditioning system.  The water is being circulated though the unit in the garage and the pump is on the outside of the house drawig water from a shallow well.

After the water has been circulated through, it could be returned to the ground; however, we use it to water the lawn and/or the garden..  We also use it to refresh the water in the pond.

Most often, people don't have big enough yards or gardens to use the water so they use more conventional methods of cooling and heating their houses.

The blue Pressurized Well System Tank may be replaced should it fail and it often does.  It is imperative that electricity to the pump is turned off and that the tank is de-pressurized otherwise it may take off as well as any projectile from Cape Canaveral.

Nowadays, it is a lot of work to put in a Florida Heat Pump and it is being done less and less.  Also, we are finding that few technicians know how to work this particular system in general.

Thank you for visiting my blog.  Stay cool and drink plenty of water.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Fresh Fruit in Season

It is so interesting and tempting to go to the grocery store or the Farmer's Market for fresh fruit to eat and preserve.  Fresh fruit is such an integral part of nutrition.

The only fresh fruit that we have growing now on the Back Forty
are figs and we have to share them with some of the birds.

We have a small fig tree against the garage window.  It is easy to bend the branches to reach most of the figs that are high up.

The tree gives some shade.  It is the first tree to loose its leaves in the fall and it is the first to put out new leaves in the spring.

Both red and green grapes are available at the grocery store at a reasonable price. My husband tells me that we have muscadine grapes maturing on the vines that he planted a few years ago  We have neglected the grape vines this year:  we didn't trim them but let them grow wild.  The weeding has been minimal, not to mention the feeding  I don't believe that we will be making any vine or preserves  any time soon.  The grapes below are from Lucky's Market

Cherries are also available in the grocery store at a nice price.  They may have to travel a bit to get to Florida but sometimes that cannot be avoided.  It is interesting that some stores let you know in their ads how far some of their produce have been transported.  

It seems that bananas are always in season and they are so sweet and rich in potassium.  My husband cuts them up over his oatmeal and I prefer to peel them and eat them.  I am sure that kids will like a peanut butter sandwich with mashed bananas instead of jam.  It makes for a good change.

Thank you for visiting my blog.  Continue to have a great summer.  Enjoy the fruit but be sure to wash them first.  And drink plenty of water and use your sunscreen.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Simple Strawberry Jam

I went to the Farmers Market downtown in Jacksonville and I had my taste buds set on large juicy Georgia or South Carolina peaches.  It was not to be:  the weather messed up that harvest.  Oh, well. the California strawberries are still inexpensive and plentiful and we need some for eating and some for jam to see us through with sweetness for a while.

For a very basic and simple strawberry jam recipe, I used 2 lbs of strawberries and 2 cups of sugar.

Wash, hull, cut and dice, and/or mash the berries.  The berries and sugar was brought to a roiling boil in my large enameled pot while stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from sticking//burning. I  turned down the heat and let the mixture simmer for about an hour.

Forget simple and let's jazz it up some by adding a handful of cherries that are also in season.  I also added a bit of lemon for added pectin and I added a few full leaves of minced sweet basil from my herb garden.

Just before I removed the pot from the heat, I added a little bit of Southern Comfort to the jam.  Hmm!  Pretty good jam!

This time, I poured the jam into a large bowl and covered with a lid.  I let it cool down and sit on the drainboard for several hours to let the strawberries/fruit soak up the juice.  I got this idea from the PBS program, The Farmer and The Chef with Vivian Howard whose mother made strawberry jam this way and it made sense to me.

Finally, I ladled the jam into a couple of jars and sealed them with hot wax.

Thank you for visiting my blog and continue to enjoy the hot summer.

Saturday, July 1, 2017


It is summertime.  It is hot and only the figs thrive in this heat  This one tree is against the garage in hopes that it will give us some shade but the tree is rather small.  The leaves break out early in the spring and they are the first to turn color (brown) and fall from the tree as soon as there is a hint of autumn in the air.

The other year, I made fig preserves and they turned out very sweet.  This year, we are going to eat them as soon as we can pick them.  Our competition are squirrels and birds.  That is OK:  we share.

Figs don't last very long once picked and the greenish ones don't mature.  Let's eat 'em and enjoy 'em!

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Monster Monstera Plant

This giant Monstera Plant, also known as split leaf philodendron, likes the hot and humid Florida weather.

If unchecked, it may climb fences and trees.  It may also hide a small shed in no time.

The Monstera plant grows in sunny areas as well as in the shade and it need little or no watering although it has a rather massive root system.

It is easy to trim in spite of its size.  The "branches" are easily picked up and large enough to be removed by sanitation workers without being bundled up or put in containers.

I transplanted a few Monstera plants digging as any holes, willy-nilly, and put the roots down, covered them up with soil and mulch, Watered.  Waited.  They did very well.

I am carefully monitoring the giant evergreen plants.  I have never seen this plant flowering but when "you see the plant pop out in what looks like a little bunch of green bananas and then loose their shells to reveal an attractive inner core, that is what reproduction looks like on these plants" according to an article in a recent Times Union (Jacksonville, Fl).  Yes, maybe I have seen it in different stages and not knowing what was happening.

One thing for sure, these plants are huge for the home landscape, but attractive and green, so it is important to keep in mind that they will grow tall and wide if you should decide to plant one or two.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Midsummer's Eve

It is the longest day of the year.  It is midsummer.  It is a time to create our own maypole with green branches and flowers.  We should dance around it until the sun comes up, enjoy good food and drink, and each other.

If I had a maypole, it would look very similar to this one in this picture that I snagged.  Once I had dressed the pole, I would make a beautiful garland with wild flowers and wear it in my hair.  It must be part of my Scandinavian heritage that makes my feet tap in rhythm with the rain drops falling down on the roof of my summer kitchen.

Celebrate the summer solstice.  Do it responsibly.  

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day

Not too long ago, my granddaughter asked me why I called my husband "dad."  Once a dad, always a dad and that goes for grandfathers, too, and so they are called.

Dads in all capacities and roles are important to us.

Thank you, Father, for letting them be in our lives.

Happy Father's Day to all.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Flag Day

Today is he American Flag Day.  
I sincerely hope that we can fly it proudly at top of its post.

Bless America!