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
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.