Tuesday, January 6, 2009

TVP and other things

The compost is finally sifted and moved! To sift it I used a black basket type thing they hand out at the nursey to corral plants when taking them home. It was very effective. In the end I got about two and a half buckets of good compost. I was a little discouraged at first because I wasn't getting a whole lot of finished compost but towards the bottom it was practically all gold. I used the compost to enrich the ground and smother weeds where I am planning on planting borage, along the brick pathway. I also used some as a mulch/fertilizer in the planterbox outside my kitchen window and I used the last bit to mulch/fertilize one cage of peas that was sorely lacking. How fast it went. I could use about twenty more buckets of the stuff.
The new compost pile is a thing of beauty, very tall. I'm toying with the idea of starting a new compost somewhere else, letting the current one break down nice and good, and planting some squash in it for the summer.
I planted another rotation of spinach, mustard, chard and lettuce. I'm thinking they'll have just enough time to grow before the weather gets too hot. Cross your fingers. We're getting a decent crop of spinach these days.
While I was sowing those seeds I watched a hummingbird build a nest in the back bushes. One hummingbird built while another hovered around. There are things I notice in the nest. Dryer lint from the compost and I think some threads from yarn I tossed. I can see the nest from our dining room window, not a good view, but still it pleases me to know it's there. Today I listened to one of my favorite podcasts, the alternative kitchen garden. It was all about birds and what to feed them. One of my resolutions this year was to finally make a birdfeeder and get a birdbath. Now I am even more determined! I love birds in the garden. Especially the weird yellow and black one that comes around and does mating dances inbetween the rows of vegetables. He's a hoot!

Now TVP (textured vegetable protein). I've been cooking with it for awhile, experimenting is a better word. Lately I've tried pushing it on my vegetarian sister-in-law. I bought her a big bag of her own as a parting gift when she left for college after winter break. I don't know how thrilled she was, I hope she uses it. Anyway, I say experimenting because I can't find recipes that includes the stuff anywhere! I've searched online, I've searched my vegetarian cookbooks, even the library system came up short. It's bad when the library doesn't have anything on it. Oops! I just realized I haven't explained what it is yet, for those who don't know. TVP is essentially soy flour formed into granules. You can buy it enriched or un-enriched, though obviously enriched is better since it has iron and lovely things like that. I use it mostly as a substitute for ground beef. Each serving has a ridiculous amount of fiber in it, something like 16 grams! I can't say definitively since I lack the motivation to actually go look at the bag. Because of this astounding amount of fiber I would advise caution when adding it to your diet. Some in our family, Greg especially, have had some unfortunate cramping. So work it in slowly people.
TVP is great because it's so effortless. I throw a handful of the dry stuff into spaghetti sauces and soups and I rehydrate some in hot water to add to meatloaf and taco meat. Here is my mother-in-law's recipe for meatloaf (the best ever!) adjusted to include a large portion of TVP (also the amount of veggies is upped). The recipe still retains some meat, but if you're a vegetarian I don't see why you couldn't just make it all TVP, or maybe experiment with some chopped nuts. Do what pleases you.

In a medium size bowl mix:

1/2 lb ground beef
3/4 of a cup dry TVP, rehydrated. After soaking in hot water for a bit the 3/4 cup should now equal two cups. Wring it out in a papertowel or cheesecloth.
3/4 cup quick oats
2 eggs
4-5 green onions sliced
1 tsp salt
some black pepper
about 3/4 cup shredded carrot (I used juicer pulp)
1/2 cup chopped celery (again, pulp)
A handful of parsley chopped (pulp)
3 Chard leaves chopped (pulp)
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
good swig of worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup milk.

Mix it all up and spread into a greased 8x8 glass pan, spread special sauce on top, cook at 350 for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Enjoy. The special sauce is 1/2 cup of ketchup, 3 tablespoons of brown sugar and 2 teaspoons of mustard mixed up. If you are new to TVP I would reccommend trying this recipe with 1 pound of meat and half the amount of TVP, decrease the milk to 1/2 cup. Everything else stays the same. This recipe makes 6-8 servings.


siobhan said...

i used to have so much fun turning my compost. you just let it sit, yeah? i haven't been out to our compost bins in a while. it's the big girls' job to take kitchen and house waste out and yard waste hasn't made it in there for a while because we haven't been good about yardwork lately. i can't wait to go check them out! turning the compost is GREAT exercise.

let me know if you find a birdbath! i've been wanting one forEVER. my mom got a gorgeous one from a friend for christmas and i've been plotting to steal it away. and birdseed is something we actually splurge on. after we used a bag of audobon society seed, the birds refused to come back for anything else. so, audobon it is! i guess they know their stuff. but the bluejays have been tearing apart my pom tree (which berek still hasn't checked out). i doubt they've left us anything. :(

Amanda said...

I have a bird feeder and a bath. It's so much fun! Last month I bought a California field guide and have started identifying the birds...very cool. I think you're the one who told me that keeping birds arounds was good to keep bugs out of the garden.

Amanda said...

Oh...and my mom used to cut Hannah and my hair outside so that we could find it cushioning baby birds in their mothers' nests. That was so cool!

Clong said...

Amanda your mom is awesome. And Siobhan I turn my compost, almost every day actually, ellen sandbeck reccommended turning it every day in her book Eat More Dirt. It's really made a difference in the amount of time it takes to break down. I really tweaked my arm turning it last week, so since then I've been turning sections of it every day.

I was thinking of making a bird bath. I really like the simplicity of those birdbaths that are just an upturned terracotta pot with the terracotta watercatching bottom set atop. I've been toying with the idea of doing something with the pitchfork that broke, it looks so pretty, I could totally superglue something to something and have a bird bath.

And lastly I made a birdfeeder today out of am old oatmeal cylinder. I put a smear of crisco (trying to get that out of the house) and sprinkled it with Jonas's leftover muffin scraps and some other crumbs. A podcast I listen to (the alternative kitchen garden) had some lovely tips on what to feed birds in the winter.

NIKOL said...

Can I introduce you to my friend Google? Because I put in Textured Vegetable Protein and found a bunch of recipes. Including one for something called "My Hammy" which is a substitute for ham or bacon.

I just don't think I can keep up with the other Mongooses in terms of gardening, composting, and generally being awesome Earth Mamas. I am clueless, and I barely have time to keep my house clean, much less to keep track of how fast my kitchen waste is breaking down. *sigh!*

Clong said...

Google must like you better than me. I put in textured vegetable protein and came up with a bunch of miscellaneous crapola.

And also, you're an awesome earth mama too. Produce produce? Who else but an awesome earth mama could come up with that?

NIKOL said...

I actually Googled "Textured Vegetable Protein Recipes." Maybe the addition of the word recipes makes a difference? Who knows?

Where do you buy TVP? I've heard of it before, but I've never used it. Sounds very healthy, though. I'm all about sneaking healthy stuff into my family's food.

Clong said...

I used to buy my TVP at sprouts, they keep it on a bottom rack thing over by the baking supplies. What is with sprouts putting random things in the baking aisle? Must be the catchall for unpopular ingredients. Now I buy it at the Henry's in Santee. As much as I hate that store and it's super tiny aisles and bulk section FULL of candy, it's the only place I've found enriched TVP. They have it in the bulk bins, again, next to baking ingredients. Honestly it's really easy to sneak into stuff. Greg didn't know the meatloaf was different until I told him. It's almost like a game to me, see what I can slip into his food and then ask him afterwards..."so, how did the (insert food here) taste? Notice anything different?" I also do it to my sister, she's learned to be very wary of the things I make.

siobhan said...

oh, i thought you just let your compost sit? i must be confused! i never turned mine every day because i just never had the time, but i turned it as often as possible, aiming for weekly. it's REALLY good exercise.

nikol, cassie and i (but mostly cassie) are going to get you all hooked up with your square foot garden this spring. you'll love it and you'll feel all crunchy-crunch in no time, picking leaves of lettuce and a carrot or two for your salad.

and for composting, we'll build you a chicken wire compost bin and you can make the big kids take kitchen waste out as one of their chores. turn it when you're bored or just leave it sit. don't let matt turn it, though. he'll go and broked his back again.

siobhan said...

also, you guys need to give trader joe's a whirl. and ingrid was right, we're supposed to be getting a fresh and easy where the old alpha beta was by my house... but i'll believe it when i see it. walgreen's already pulled out of there, last i heard. and ditto for believing the farmer's market. could they have picked a worse place than the lake? i mean, it won't be IN the park, will it? blech.

Clong said...

I love the term "Crunchy-crunch." And thanks for volunteering me by the way! Why would I want to help NIKOL set up a garden. I mean, it's not like we're BFF Mongooses or anything. Just a joke. Let's set up a date when we can go overhaul Nikol's yard with goodness. Hooray! I love gardening in other people's yards almost as much as I love cleaning other people's houses! Yeah, I'm a dork. And save the, "come over to my house" comment Siobhan. I've heard it. From you:) But seriously I'll help you on your garden if you want. Hell, any mongoose that wants garden help, call me.