Friday, August 18, 2017

It's Almost Harvest Time

Japanese Cucumbers 

Back in May I planted some Japanese cucumbers, passionfruit, and Peruvian Gooseberries. They have been growing vigorously in the last 3 months. The cucumbers had a lot of flowers. I used a little brush to help with pollination between female and male flowers. Unfortunately, most of the baby cucumbers just dried up except the 2 in the photo above.  I am letting them grow a little bit before cutting them off.

I also propagated a small cutting that already rooted from our previous location in El Cerrito. In 3 months, it branched out to all directions and bloomed its first flower.  It's getting a bit late in the summer, so it might not have any fruit this year.  If the flower successfully grows into a fruit, it will not be ripe until late winter. Next year, it shall have a lot of passion fruit as the vines continue to grow through the winter.

Passion Fruit

I also propagated a bunch of Peruvian gooseberry cuttings. All of them died off except one. It went from the tiny plant to a good sized bush with a bunch of little berries hanging. The husks on a couple of the berries are starting to dry up. Soon they will be ready for picking or fall off on their own. I also found an accidental Peruvian gooseberry plant growing next to the passion fruit vine (see the photo above in red circled area).  I was worried that the Passion Fruit would takeover, but it has been growing slowly and steadily. It looks like it will continue to grow bigger. I guess there must had been a seed that got mixed in the soil when I propagated over the passion fruit vine.  I love this kind of surprise!

Peruvian Gooseberries

Sunday, June 25, 2017

A Sore Throat Elixir that Works!


Earlier this month I had a cold. It started with coughing and then runny nose and then a severe sore throat.  I think in the past, it normally started with a sore throat when I was catching a cold. Lately it's always been the cough first.  Very often the cough would just go away after a couple days but not this time. My voice became hoarse after I started coughing for 3 days. When the sore throat kicked in, I had to take my first sick day at my new job.  By this time, I had already squeezed 4 fresh lemons for making hot turmeric lemon tea and drank it for several days. That was one of the home remedies someone gave me. It might have kept me hydrated but certainly didn't cure the cough.  As I laid in my bed, I figured there had to be other home remedies I could try. There had to be something that would actually work.

I stumbled upon a youtube video of a woman making a raw garlic, cayenne pepper, and honey elixir to cure her sore throat. I also watched a woman who swallowed a tablespoon of pure honey, and a few other video clips which all claimed they would work. I have tried the pure honey method in the past. It didn't cure my sore throat. After watching a few more videos, I wanted to see the raw garlic video again but could not find it.  I started to Google the internet for any reference of that remedy and found an article on Dr. Christopher's Herbal Legacy. I remembered that woman in the youtube video saying that Dr. Christopher was the person who she learned the remedy from.  At this time I had taken extra strength Tylenol for several days. I also took some cough syrup.  I figured that I had nothing lose to try this safe home remedy.  I quickly walked to the grocery across the street in my pajama to get the ingredients I needed and made the elixir.  Below is the formula:

* One tablespoon of pure honey
* ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
* Four cloves of garlic pressed through a garlic press


Those are the proportions, but you’ll need more than that, so take four tablespoons of honey, one teaspoon of cayenne pepper and sixteen pressed cloves of garlic, and mix that all together.  Take ½ teaspoon to one teaspoon of the formula every 30-60 minutes.
Don’t wash it down - let the honey coat the throat.


I do not have a garlic press, so I just minced all 16 cloves of garlic with a knife. I swallowed this elixir every 30 minutes until the whole thing was gone. I felt the heat in my face and inside of my ears after swallowing the garlic and cayenne pepper; however, it was not unbearable due to the sweetness of honey.  It felt like something was actually working with the burning sensation.  Before I finished it all, my throat no longer hurt. It actually worked like a miracle just like the article says. I was very excited. Now knowing this magic potion, I shall not suffer from sore throat anymore.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Making Carnitas for the First Time


I have always loved tacos with carnitas. It's crispy, tender, flavorful and juicy all at once. I always thought about making it, but you can't just make a cup of carnitas. You are either going to make enough for 10 people or you just go buy some from a taqueria. As I started learning Spanish recently, I am more interested in Mexican and South American cuisines than ever.  When a taco potluck at work is coming up, I decided to bring some homemade carnitas. I searched the internet for a simple and delicious carnitas recipe, and this is the one I decided on.  However, I don't have a slow cooker big enough for a piece of 5 lbs of meat, so I had to cook it in the oven.  I can't even remember the last time I bought a piece of meat that big; however, I do have a roasting pan.  It baked in the oven at 325 F. for almost 3 hours.


Pulling the pork apart was the most labor intensive step of this process. Maybe I needed bigger forks. My fingers were sore when I was done. At this stage, the pork doesn't taste like the carnitas I know at all. It didn't taste or look all that good to be honest. There are a few more steps in the recipe, and these steps are "not optional" according to the poster. I was so tired by the time I was done pulling the pork apart, I put everything in the fridge and went to sleep.


When I got up this morning, I was hungry. I made some coffee and proceeded to make some carnitas for breakfast. I fried up some of the pulled pork and warmed up some tortillas. I didn't have anything else to put in the tacos, but who needed anything else when you had homemade carnitas? I ate 4 street size tacos for brunch this morning.  I better save the rest for the potluck!


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What is This Fruit Tree?


This year I work with a couple fruit enthusiasts. Sometimes the three of us would take a break during our work day to walk and check out different plants in the neighborhood. Since I work just 4 blocks away from home, we are basically checking out the edible plants in my neighborhood.  A couple months ago we looked at this tree in the photo above. At the time it did not have fruits.  Today we went back to the same tree with a book called Tropical Fruits and Other Edible Plants of the World by Rolf Blancke in attempt to identify this tree.   Unfortunately, we could not find anything in the book that looks exactly like what we saw.  In addition to the flowers and premature fruits on the tree, I also found a ripened fruit on the ground.  I picked it up to show my coworkers. One of them pulled it apart using her hands. We all had a good look inside of it.  I even tasted it by touching it with my finger first. It was sweet.


Since both of my coworkers have been looking through the tropical fruits book for the past several weeks, it was my turn to look at the pictures.  As I flipped through the pages, I saw a fruit which could possibly be what we saw today. The photos in the book for each fruit are very limited. It has either one or two photos only and usually they are pictures of the fruit and leaves.   Every time I saw a possible candidate, I typed it into Google Images for more photos. After about 3 tries, I found the mystery fruit. It turned out to be white sapote!  I was able to find many images of the trees, flowers, ripe fruits and fruits on the trees, etc.  It was a perfect match. By the descriptions of white sapote, it sounded delicious. We didn't really try the slightly rotted fruit on the ground because we didn't really know what it was even though we suspected it was edible.

I will be walking Cracus toward the direction of the white sapote tree from here on.


Monday, May 29, 2017

Free Lime (?) Tree on Memorial Day

Free lemon and lime trees on the street corner

I have a new "Free" site that I used.  Craigslist.org used to be my "free" site, but in the past year Nextdoor.com has become my favorite free site. Now I only pick up free stuff from my own neighborhood and very often I just walk over to pick them up.  This morning I walked the dogs to a house not too far away pick up some free Calandrinia grandiflora cuttings.  I have seen these flowers in the neighborhood and thought they were really pretty, so I was very excited to get some free cuttings. A few hours later, someone else nearby posted "free lemon and lime tree (see photo above)". Initially, I was going to pass, then I thought how I have wanted a lime tree for many years.  I Googled how to tell a lemon from a lime tree, and decided to swing by the trees with the car. I smelled both trees, but I really could not tell the difference, so I just had to pick the one with smaller leaves (the one on the right) and hope that is a lime tree. I already have unlimited access to free lemons, so it would be a waste of effort if I had picked the wrong one.

the jade plant had to go

Initially I was going to plant the lime tree in a planter, but I decided it would be best to plant it in the garden. I have always thought the big jade plant was wasting a prime spot in the garden. It's not particularly pretty, and it doesn't produce anything useful.  A couple weeks ago, the 13-year-old girl next door even said that jade tree is kinda ugly, and that I should get rid of it and plant something else!  I just started cutting down the jade plant with my Pocket Boy.  It didn't take long for me to get to the roots. I dug up as much roots as I possibly could.  My arms were shaking as I finished prepping for the planting location.


Before I put the lime tree into its place, I clipped off some branches that didn't look too good. They were covered in scale pests. I also removed some soil around the roots.  As I placed it in the hole on the ground, I mixed in some compost and covered it all up with soil before watering the tree really well.  It looked a bit dry.

My new lime tree (I hope)

It took over 2 hours to complete this project. The weather got warm as I worked the soil and dug up the river rocks and the roots.  I was pleased how good the new tree looks in its new home. It already has several buds and possibly baby limes. It would be so cool to pick limes from my own garden. I guess I will find out soon enough.