The Failed Artichoke Farm

Earlier this year, I planted some artichoke saplings that I had started from seeds in the backyard, hoping that I could grow artichokes in the garden.

Well, growing season is over and my dreams of growing artichokes didn’t work out.  Of the five saplings I planted, only one made it through to November. A few weekends ago (before the first frost), I dug it up and brought it inside. It’s still alive, but I wouldn’t quite say it’s thriving.

I think there are a few reasons the artichokes didn’t work out. Actually, between the artichokes, beets and peppers I planted back in April, I only got one small pepper. The soil in the garden was really dry this summer. Also, when the contractors put in the fence I have a feeling they trampled everything, which didn’t help out the growing plants.

So I’ll try and get this little artichoke plant to grow throughout the winter. And if it lives or dies, I’ll be trying artichokes again next year.

You Won’t Find Ribs in the McRib

Recently, McDonalds re-introduced their McRib sandwich (available for a limited time only!). I can’t remember the last time I had one, although if I had to guess, I would say it was somewhere around six years ago.

I always wondered why the McRib would disappear and then come back a random number of years later. recently published an article solving many of the mysteries surrounding the McRib. Turns out, it disappears because the sandwich’s availability eats up the supply of the nation’s pork trimmings.

In what should be a surprise to no one, there are no ribs in the McRib.  Rather, the McRib is more like a frankensandwich:

Restructured meat products are commonly manufactured by using lower-valued meat trimmings reduced in size by comminution (flaking, chunking, grinding, chopping or slicing). The comminuted meat mixture is mixed with salt and water to extract salt-soluble proteins. These extracted proteins are critical to produce a “glue” which binds muscle pieces together. These muscle pieces may then be reformed to produce a “meat log” of specific form or shape. The log is then cut into steaks or chops which, when cooked, are similar in appearance and texture to their intact muscle counterparts.

And those lower-valued meat trimmings aren’t always what one would think of as meat. Rather, they’re comprised of things like the heart, tounge and other internal trimming. This is also pretty much how McDonalds makes their Chicken McNuggets.

I agree with the author of the ChicagoMag article- knowing this doesn’t gross me out. In fact, I wish I weren’t so squeamish about eating the non-traditional (to us Americans, but traditional to everywhere else in the world) animal parts. But I think it’s the whole process involved in making the McRib that puts me off.

A few summers ago, inspired by a visit to the Ohio State Fair, I started making porkburgers. I use ground pork (and the guy at the store told me it was freshly ground from pork butt (which is actually the shoulder)), and grill it. And I have to say my version is better than the ones they sell at the fair. And if I ever get the hankering for a McRib, all I have to do is make one of my porkburgers and add some onions and pickles.

Finishing Up The Farmers’ Market Haul

Over the weekend, The Civee, Hope and I went to a local farmers’ market.  We’ve been there a few times before, but it’s not like we’re regulars. Most of the good stuff sells out early and the place gets way too crowded on hot summer days.

Despite the drawbacks, we picked up a lot of peaches, stringbeans and tomatoes.  We ate a few peaches used some beans over the weekend, but had a bunch still left to eat.  Tonight, looking at these fruits and vegetables, I realized if I didn’t use them now, I would not have the chance later.

We were having salmon for dinner.  The beans were easy- they would be our vegetable. I could make the tomatoes into gazpacho. But we had six peaches, which I was drawing a blank on how to use. Then The Civee suggested I just use them with the salmon. Actually, it was a rather easy solution. Both are similar colors. Both go well with brown sugar. So why wouldn’t they go well together?

I sauteed the peaches and salmon separately, then added them together at the last minute. And it was good.  I have to say everything went together well.

Hope had some of everything. While she wasn’t really into the gazpacho, she did enjoy the combination of the peaches and salmon. I tried getting a picture of her eating, but I couldn’t get a good one. Instead, I’ll share this one taken at lunch today:

Hope’s Favorite Night? Ribs Night

So far, Hope has been really good with food.  There have been only a few things she doesn’t like, including eggs, ketchup and barbecue sauce.  Hope will even refuse to eat Montgomery Inn sauce, which to The Civee, is like a knife through the heart, as every Cincinnatians blood is 1/16th Montgomery Inn sauce.

But we can now scratch barbecue sauce off the list of things Hope won’t eat.  Tonight, we were having ribs (along with corn and green beans) and before we knew it, Hope was dominating the ribs.  Midway through the meal, we got gutsy and offered her some barbecue sauce.  She tried it, her face lit up, and all she wanted was more sauce.

I should probably mention that I made the sauce.

I’ve made ribs several times over the past few summers.  Each time, I also made my own sauce.  While always good, each time before tonight, something was off.  Whether the sauce was too watery or the ribs the wrong consistency, I was never fully happy with the result.  Until tonight.  The sauce was perfect (despite me having to make a vinegar substitution) and even though they were a little charred on the outside, the meat on the ribs fell off the bone.  And, as I mentioned, Hope loved them.

I started cooking the ribs around 4:00 and we ended up eating around 7:15.  Both The Civee and I think Hope had more of our ribs than we did.  Thankfully, even though we (with Hope’s assistance) polished off the ribs, there’s a lot more sauce left over.

The Aspiring Farmer’s Almanac

Last year, for our first spring/summer in our new house, I planted some beets and peppers in our backyard.  Despite planting the seeds late in the season (I think I planted the beets in late May and the peppers in mid-June), by fall, we had a number of good beets and small, if not decent-sized peppers.

Well this year, I’m slowly expanding the backyard garden.  I’ve bought beet and pepper seeds, and have decided to try out artichokes.  Even though artichokes usually are grown in California, the seed packet says they can be grown (and will even come back for a second year) in Ohio.

It’s been pretty rainy and cold lately, so I haven’t planted anything outside yet.  I did have a small pot and just enough dirt to start something inside, so I started some of the artichoke seeds.

I put those in the pot maybe two and a half weeks ago.  I hope the weather clears so I can plant these, as well as some beet and pepper seeds soon.

I know I can do peppers and beets.  It would be great if the artichokes work out.  Although I should mention that I may not be the only one eating the beets when it’s harvesting time.  Last weekend, Hope had some beets and went crazy (in a good way) over them.  It’s a good thing I know a few ways to cook them.

These Aren’t The Recipes You’re Looking For

I was in the rare books section of a local library when I saw this:

Naturally, I was interested.  I wasn’t allowed to touch the book (I’m surprised I was even allowed to look at it), but I wanted to learn more. The book is available on, and after checking it out, I’m sad to say the spine is a case of false advertising.

Because People Like To Say Salsa

Last week, I went to a n Italian place here in Columbus and was befuddled by an item on the sandwich menu:

I don’t know what’s more odd- the melting cheese or the salsa on a meatball sandwich that clearly has none. It’s probably just a case of false advertising. After all, salsa is America’s favorite condiment.

GEORGE: Why don’t they have salsa on the table?

JERRY: What do you need salsa for?

GEORGE: Salsa is now the number one condiment in America.

JERRY: You know why? Because people like to say “salsa.” “Excuse me, do
you have salsa?” “We need more salsa.” “Where is the salsa? No salsa?”

GEORGE: You know it must be impossible for a Spanish person to order
seltzer and not get salsa. (Angry) “I wanted seltzer, not salsa.”

JERRY: “Don’t you know the difference between seltzer and salsa?? You
have the seltezer after the salsa!”

Dinnertime for Hope

This week, Hope started eating real food.

She’s been eating rice cereal and oat cereal for a few weeks.  Now that she has her stitches and stents out, we were told we can start her on other types of food.  So I pureed some green peas.  Yesterday, our first attempt didn’t go so well.  After the fifth or sixth spoonful, she got crabby.  But tonight, she liked them a bit better.  Sure, a lot of the peas ended up in places other than her mouth, but she seemed to have fun.  See for yourself:

Tonight peas, next week, steak!

King Tom’s Beet Farm

One of the great things about owning your own place is you can do whatever you want to your house and property.

Since moving in back in March, The Civee and I have already made some modifications to our house.  As for our backyard, it has needed a lot of work-when we bought the place, there was nothing in the backyard other than a big patch of grass.  No fence, no garden, nothing.

In just a few months, the backyard has come a long way.  The grill stands proudly above an herb garden.  We’ve successfully grown some tasty strawberries.  And while we want to grow our own vegetables, for our first year, we decided to start small.  I had a packet of beet seeds left over from when I thought we’d do some gardening back in our apartment days. The seeds went in the ground early last month and they’ve already grown quite a lot.

We have a nice patch of beets, although they’re growing a bit close together and have to be separated. Separating them is a pain and I have to admit, some of the ones I’ve re-planted haven’t survived.

Hopefully, some of them will survive to be eaten (by the Civee and I, not bugs or animals).  Beets are among the most versatile of all vegetables.  In addition to eating the roots, you can use the greens (also known as chard) also.  You can grill the roots, roast them, shred them and eat them raw with some olive oil and lemon juice.

Next year, I’m sure we’ll plant a few other vegetables and use what I’ve learned this year to make next year’s beets even better.  But hopefully, this year, even with the beets being as crowded as they are, we get enough to do some interesting things with this fall.  Or whenever the beet harvest is- I’m not exactly Dwight Schrute when it comes to beet farming.

Food That Waits For You

Awesome Town is getting a new gas station/mini mart.  They’ve been building the place for the past few months, but put signs up last week and decorated the inside this week.

While walking past and peeking in the windows, I noticed something- three quarters of the shelves in the place are already filled with foodstuffs–chips, twinkies, candy, etc.  They haven’t said when the place will open, but I’m guessing it’s another week or two away.  This got me to thinking- that’s a lot of stuff that will be sitting around before people even get a chance to buy it.  But somehow, because of all the chemicals contained within each item, they will still legally be able to sell it and people will be able to eat it.

I’ve had a lot of junk food in my day.  But this got me thinking- with all this stuff in there sitting around, waiting to be bought and eaten, it can’t be that nutritious, or otherwise good for you.

So welcome to Awesome Town, new gas station.  I may stop to fill up my car.  But after seeing all that food sitting around, I probably won’t be stopping to fill myself up.