How to Grow Super Healthy Tomatoes in Containers: Using Organic Techniques

I have always used banana peels with my roses but never thought of using them for tomatoes! What she says about the egg shells, I have always done this. There have been times when it looks like it snowed around my tomato plants because of all the egg shells I’ve crushed up and worked into the soil.

Bread, Recipe

Breads Made With Lard

These came into my inbox and I just had to share.  I don’t see too many recipes out there that specifically call for the use of lard.

Pueblo Oven Bread

Approximately 9 cups of white flour

1 Package of Dry Yeast

2 Tablespoons of Salt

2 Tablespoons of Lard (you can substitute with butter)

2 Cups of Water


Native American Bread

1/2 -ounce active dry yeast (2 (1/4-ounce) packets)
1 1/4 cups warm water (105 to 110 degrees F)
8 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup salt
1 cup lard

Lemon, Pie, Recipe

Lemon Whey Pie

Yes, you read that right. It’s a lemon meringue pie that calls for whey!

1 pre-baked 9″ pie pastry shell (Get my super-simple recipe that uses healthy fats here.)


1 1/2 cups whey (it must be fresh whey, any sort of powdered whey stuff will not work. Here’s my post that explains more about real whey.)
1 cup organic sugar (or if you must, regular white sugar will work in a pinch)
3 1/2 Tablespoons arrowroot powder or organic cornstarch
3 egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue topping below)
1 1/2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup lemon juice (I like the 100% real organic stuff like this kind)

Meringue Topping:

3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract
6 Tablespoons organic sugar

Bread, Cake, Recipe

Blueberry Muffins

O.k.  I was on a mission to find the closest replacement for Costco’s Blueberry Muffins.  I tried 4 or 5 different recipes, with only one being a true bust (I messed with the recipe so much that I threw the whole batch out … the muffins were gummy and I had to scrape them off the muffin liners).  This, right here, is the closest I will ever get because I’m not taking the chance of wasting any more of these delicious blueberries!  This recipe was adapted from here.  Take a look at the picture of the muffins on that page … that’s what these looked like!  Yum!  This recipe would be wonderful baked in loaf pans (maybe to standard-sized) … for about an hour or so.  The texture would be firm enough to slice and make french toast with it (if you are that kind of a person *grin*).

Blueberry Muffins

  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter (1  1/2 sticks),  softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 cups blueberries (I used still frozen berries)

Preheat oven to 375°F with a rack in middle of the oven.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients—the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together, until fluffy (easiest and best consistency if using an electric hand mixer or Kitchenaid).  Add the eggs to the mixture one at a time, beating well after each one (at this point, it should look like fluffy frosting).  Now, add the vanilla and mix in well.

Add one third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar/egg mixture and beat until just incorporated.  Mix in one third of the yogurt.  Repeat until all the flour and yogurt are mixed in.  Do not over mix (though, for this entire process I used my electric hand mixer and the batter remained light and fluffy, unlike the rocks I ended up with the first time, where I gently mixed in all the ingredients by hand)!

Gently fold the blueberries into the mixture (I found it easiest to sprinkle the frozen berries over the entire surface of the batter, instead of in a giant pile in the center).

Place a muffin liner in each well of the muffin tin, or if you don’t have muffin liners, coat the inside of the muffin tin wells with vegetable oil or butter with a pastry brush or with cooking spray.  Distribute the dough equally among the cups (I use a standard ice cream scoop).  Don’t be afraid to fill them high.

Place in the oven and bake until the muffins are golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Test with a tooth pick to make sure the centers of the muffins are done.  Let the muffins cool in the muffin tin for 5 minutes, then remove them from the tin and let sit on a wire rack for 10 more minutes.  Serve slightly warm.  If you have any left once they are cool, store in a sealed container so they don’t dry out.

Yield: Makes 12-16 standard muffins.

Garden, Supplies

Unusual and Everyday Plants for Food Hedges (Fedges) – Survival Podcast

Hedge laying is an ancient practice and at one time many “productive plants” were part of the plant.  Sometimes this was done with fruit tree grafted together, hazelnuts or even old cottage roses that provided thorns and huge hips as a crop.  Other times the “productivity” took on a different bent like using willow and gaining material for weaving or making charcoal (specifically artist charcoal).

Hedges were seen as a permanent fence that required only a little maintenance and largely took care of themselves.  In the 1600s one didn’t run down to Home Depot and order delivery of say 25 6 foot tall, 8 food wide cedar fence panels and some posts if they needed two hundred feet of fencing.  They established a hedge.  This hedge would serve their great grandchildren and feed both the family and animals during all those generations.

In this modern era a hedge has become a bunch of unproductive “Red Tips”, the grow fast and hide the busy street or block out your neighbors but they tend to just die one day (usually at 6-12 years of age) and then you  have to cut them down and start over.  They provide nothing but a requirement that you trim them and clean up after them.  There has to be a better way!  Today we discuss that.

Join me today as we discuss…

  • What is a hedge vs. a fedge
  • Can you put layers into a hedge system
  • Do hedges have to be continuous to be effective
  • Why is a hedge a good idea even if you have a fence
  • How to select plants for your hedge system
  • 14 Forgotten or Unusual Plants for Fedge Systems
    • Chilean and Pineapple Guava
    • Filberts
    • Nanking Cherry
    • Goumi
    • Medlar
    • Mulberry
    • Pomegranate
    • Roses
    • Sea Berries
    • Aronia
    • Currants
    • Elderberries
    • Goji Berry
    • Gooseberries
  • Old standbys that make great fedges
    • Blueberry
    • Blackberry
    • Raspberry
    • Semi Dwarf Fruit Trees
    • Chinese Chestnut
  • Thoughts on some unique ideas
    • Food forests with a fedge as the herbaceous layer
    • A food forest system of multitiered fedges
    • Hugulkulture based fedge systems
    • Managing animals in hedge/fedge systems
    • The fedge based paddock system (padfeging?)
brown bread on white and red floral textile
Bread, Recipe


Well, I saw a web page with instructions on how to make “30 second bread”.  I read it several times because it was being touted as the perfect ‘survival’ bread … it was tortillas (but that’s not what they called it … anywhere).  I thought, well, I have the directions for tortillas on my blog!  They could have just looked there … but I don’t (I will now)!

Tortillas … I’ll be completely honest.  I have the directions to make corn tortillas.  I made them once, and they tasted like mashed cornmeal mush, fried.  Nothing like the tortillas in the store.  I think I was using the wrong kind of masa.  I was thinking today (I know, shocker) that the method for making corn tortillas can be used for any grain flour.  You don’t rely on gluten in any way.  Anyway, here are the recipes for both flour and corn tortillas.


These are adapted from The Border Cookbook:

Sonoran Flour Tortillas

Makes ten 8-inch, eight 10-inch, or six 12-inch tortillas

  • 2 cups high-gluten bread or all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening (NO!  Use lard … they aren’t the same without animal fat)
  • 3/4 cup warm water

Stir together the flour and salt in a large bowl.  With your fingertips, mix in the shortening (LARD *grin*).  Add the water, working the liquid into the dough until a sticky ball forms (Kitchenaid with a dough hook works wonders).

Dust a counter or pastry board with flour and knead the dough vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes.  The mixture should be soft but no longer sticky.  Let the dough rest, covered with a damp cloth, for about 15 minutes.  Divide the dough into 6 or 8 balls, cover them again with the damp cloth, and let them rest for at least 45 minutes longer (this is to allow the gluten to form … if you don’t have the time, it won’t hurt them too much).  If not for use immediately, the dough can be greased lightly and refrigerated for up to 12 hours.  Bring the dough back to room temperature before proceeding.

Lightly flour your counter or pastry board.  Flatten a ball with your hand, then roll the dough from the center outward, turn the tortilla a few inches and roll again, attempting to keep the growing circle even.  Roll out the dough into a circle as thin as possible, preferably 1/16 to 1/8 inch thick.  They don’t have to be perfectly round … just make sure you do not have any folds.

Heat a dry griddle or large, heavy skillet over high heat.  Cook each tortilla 10 seconds on each side, then continue flipping (about 10 seconds on each side) until the dough looks slightly dry and wrinkled with a few brown speckles on the surface.  It helps to use a cloth or paper towel to pop any air bubbles that form but be careful … that steam is HOT!

Place cooked tortillas between two cloth towels until you are finished cooking.  Once cool, you can put them into a 1 gallon Ziploc bag and place in the fridge (if you do this while they are still warm, the steam will cause them to become mushy, and nothing’s worse than a mushy tortilla).  I don’t know how long these will last … they are so good, they are gone in no time!

To see how it’s done (none of the videos I found are the same recipe), here’s a great video:
How To Make Tortillas de Harina (flour tortillas)

Corn Tortillas

Makes twelve 5-inch or 6-inch tortillas

  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water, or more as needed

There are two types available in the stores.  One is for tamales, the other is for tortillas.  The difference is the grind.  The masa harina for tortillas is a fine flour, the tamale one is courser but not as course as corn meal.  For authentic tortillas, you cannot use corn flour.  Masa harina is made by taking the dried corn and soaking it in a water/lime solution (to read more about this, go here: What is Masa Harina?).  For any other grain, just grind to a fine flour.

Heat a dry griddle or heavy skillet over medium-high heat.

In a large bowl, mix the ingredients with a sturdy spoon or your hands until the dough is smooth and forms a ball.  The dough should be quite moist but hold its shape.  Add a little more water or masa harina, if needed, to achieve the proper consistency.

Form the dough into 12 balls approximately 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Cover the balls with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out.  If any of the balls do dry out before cooking, knead more water into them.  Unlike the dough for flour tortillas, this dough can be reworked.

Place one ball of dough in a tortilla press between the two sheets of plastic that are sometimes sold with the tortillas press or two a 1 gallon freezer bag, cut into two sections.  If you don’t have a tortilla press, you can either roll each ball between two sheets of waxed paper or press between two sheets of waxed paper with a heavy, flat bottomed pot (my pressure canner worked great for this). Flatten to about 1/8 inch thick.  Carefully pull the plastic from the tortilla and lay on the hot griddle or skillet.

Cook for 30 seconds, flip over and cook about another minute, flip and cook the first side an additional 30 seconds.  Place the cooked tortillas between two cloth towels until all tortillas are cooked.  Store as above (once cooled, place in a gallon Ziploc bag and store in fridge).

Here’s a video for making corn tortillas (these videos are to show the techniques):
Making Tortillas in Puebla, Mexico