Monday, November 22, 2010

Odds and ends, catching up, a little bit of this and that...

I know, where the heck have I been?

Well, frankly, right here, but just not having a whole lot to say. So get off my back!! I'm only one person!!! Ahem, excuse the outburst, I think the pressure of blogging is getting to me. So much pressure...yawn...I think I'll have another back massage...

What was I saying?

Oh yeah, I've kicked back a little bit, resting before the next big push.  Bricking up the ground under the clothes line, putting down the first of our backyard paths and, eventually, building not one but two arbors.

But until then, I have been suffering from lack of rain. Usually we are getting buckets right now, but nothing measurable for well over a month and a half. WTF?

Once upon a time, in my primordial days, I worked in the film industry. While on set one day, out in the middle of the high Californian Desert, a few of us were talking about it being a tough shoot. (middle of summer in the upper 90's and over 100 at times) I expressed the want of rain. (that's a day ender in the film biz especially when the shoot is a fast food commercial and the stars have to give a convincing performance of how much they enjoy wolfing down near real tacos on a glorious sun kissed set)

One of my buddies told me a story about another shoot he was on. The same want of rain was rampent among the crew. One local hammer (grip), who also happened to be a Native-American, kneeled down and drew a crude version of a turtle in the dirt. He then told everyone to spit in it. They all looked at him confused. He told them, "you want rain, right? Well, spit in the turtle". The 1st AD (assistant director) got wind of this and laughed.

That inspired the rest of the crew to spit in the turtle. (AD's have a running rep of being jerks. Sorry Merle, I'm not including you in that reputation...really). Well, not 10 minutes later clouds began forming. One half hour later the shoot was called due to rain, which was now coming down in buckets. The moral of the story? Don't piss off the turtle.

What the heck am I eluding to? I've been drawing freaking turtles and clamming in them weekly and still no freakin' rain! There is some cruel joke going on here and I'M NOT IN ON IT!!!!

The monster tanks are just about empty and the back up barrels are done. I have to start using city water probably on Thursday. What's the big deal right? The big deal is, we are going through water averaging right now. That means whatever our water volume totals to during this time, that's what our water average rate per month will be for the rest of the year! This is why I used the monster tanks and the barrels. Otherwise our water bill would kill us. Sigh.

By whatever means y'all divine water, please sent it our way. (Yes, I'm pleading)

In the mean time, we have been dealing with this...

Beautiful isn't it? Yeah...well...that's after it is first, this...


A heartless eating machine. Leopard Moth Caterpillars.

Since I don't use any pesticides, natural or otherwise, I'm out there pulling these little buggers off the plants. There were, at one point, literally hundreds in my yard.  Frankly, I think we were a little lucky, we didn't get too much damage. Well, except my grape vine. Oh, the poor little thing. It's my little buddy and it got hit hard. I hope it makes it. I don't know if it will. :(

I pull these things off my plants and they act all insulted! They curl up and poop on me. ON ME!! Lousy little #$@%@#!!!

They appear to have finally tapered off. I thought that before, then they came back with a vengeance.

Now for the updates. Well, remember the mystery melons? Oddly, we got hit by a very bizarre, out of the blue, frost last Thursday. Here is the after pic of the melons...


I know, pretty grim. However...


They still live! Not only that, but still are growing. And get this...


Another type of mystery melon!! But here's the worst part; we are expecting another frost this coming Thursday evening. I will cover them up, but I fear the worst. :(

Funny thing though, while the melons suffered, my cabbage...


Shrugged it off as did my broccoli...


However, all is not well in Mudville...


That's my lettuce and those white dots? That's !#%$@#$^#R% White Fly!!!! Arggg!!!

It's all my fault, I planted a different type of lettuce than my usual type. This stuff is getting eaten alive. I couldn't fine my usual seed last month, so I had to use this stuff. Grrrrr...

However, I was able to get my hands on a packet of the good stuff, this past weekend. Oh man, really really good stuff. Wait, we are talking about lettuce right?

So I ripped out two of the four rows of the bad stuff, and put the good stuff down. I want to compare growth rates and pest effects. Frankly, due to the very unseasonably weird warm weather, many of the warm weather bugs are still around. Heck, I got bit by a mosquito tonight!  Little cretin.

We shall see...

Significant Other and I have been wanting to plant a fruit tree of some sort. We COULD just go out and buy a sapling, but what kind of fun would that be? Why do it the easy way? My middle name is: take the hard road. Hmmm, that's four middle names. Well, that's not really my middle name. It's actually Vincent, but on some planet in the universe it translates to "Take the hard road!". That has to be a very weird planet.


We are trying to grow a peach tree from scratch! (what is "from scratch" mean anyway?)

First eat a peach...


The Prez and I go way back...

Then take the husk...

and a hammer and crack it...



Peach pit...


Then take a medium ball jar, put in some top soil, some compost and a bit of water. Make it moist but not soaked. Too wet and the pit will rot.

Push the pit down about 2 inches, put on the cap real tight and stick it in your refrigerator...


After about 4 weeks you should see some whispy white roots forming. At that point, put it in a pot with potting soil and lightly water. Hopefully, it will begin to grow.

Ideally, you want to begin this process in early November (zone 8).

I will keep you updated as it grows. Keep your fingers crossed.

Come the spring, your peach tree should be ready to plant.

Other than that, I planted my garlic 2 weeks ago. 72...cloves...(thanks Sis).


Half of which have already sprouted!

And I have my first...


Mutant Strawberry...kind of freaky isn't it?

Anyway, that's the latest. Just a smattering of stuff. Hopefully, after a day of bloating myself on turkey, I will be inspired to go sweat off my food baby doing yard work.


Anyway, the hallowed season of competitive food eating is now upon us. Y'all have a wonderful giving of thanks and thanks for giving this week. Think of those who who don't have enough to eat and think of those who have too much to eat. Then think of a way in which we can make those even. :)

Green is Good.

Drive safe. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

We interrupt our regular programming...

Several weeks ago I blogged about how I made my own stevia extract.

In case you weren't around for that, or just like looking at the pretty pictures, here is a link back in time...

Oddly, this particular post had a higher than normal number of hits than all my other rants and raves.  I had a grand total of 7 1/2 people!! 2 more than my regular views!  I don't know if I could handle such fame.

Anyway, other than the goat herder in upper volta with his wi-fi stapled to the back of his yak, the other was a company from up Seattle way.

They are Steviva.

If they found my site interesting, they didn't say, I guess they were trying to be polite. :)


They wrote me and asked if I would review a few of their products.  Completely perplexed by this, I didn't know what else to say, but YES!

(To quote Ghostbusters, "when someone asks if you are a god, you say yes!)

In my grand moment of a momentary ego boost, the only thought that flew through my head was, "They love me! They really love me!!!" (Honestly, I have been trying to work in that movie quote for some time.)

Here are the products they sent me...


The appear to be a very socially and environmentally friendly company.

From their website:

-all plastic packaging is made from 100% recycled PET plastic.

-fleet vehicles run on alt fuels

-manufacturing and offices are powered by renewable energy sources

-all paper is recycled

and best of all...

-they give a portion of their net profits to environmental concerns.

This was enough for me to try their product. :)

I had a chance to try the Fructevia and the Stevia.

Steviva is a concentrate of stevia in powdered form.  I found this works very well as a sugar substitute.  It dissolves very well in hot tea or coffee.   In ice tea, it clumps a little bit, but with a little stirring it dissolves nicely.

It had a very nice flavor. (If you aren't accustomed to it, stevia will taste little different than sugar, but after a while you won't even notice)

The Fructevia has a very nice smooth sugary flavor due to the infusion of fructose fruit sugar.  I found this dissolved a little better in cold drinks. No problem with hot drinks.

Fructevia is used for baking and they suggest using half as much as you would normally use when using sugar for baking.  I will have to give that a shot.  I will give my findings in future blogs.

Overall, I believe these to be two very fine products.  I would suggest their use to anyone looking for a high quality sugar substitute.

Check out their site and give them a try. :)

Meanwhile, out in the garden...

I put in my garlic for the season: 77 dealies.  (Honestly, please someone tell me what each little wedge of garlic is called.  It's a little tough talking seriously about gardening with other gardeners and referring to the garlic things as "dealies". LOL)

And I think I finally put to rest the mystery behind the Mystery Plant...


(Thank you, Mr. Hand)

Looks like watermelon to me.  I took this pic yesterday.  It's already about doubled in size.  So, yeah, watermelon.

Now, the question is: will it make it to full size before our first freeze?  That is the 64 thousand dollar question.

I will post updates on the potentially ill fated watermelon.

This was a quick one.

Next week: I have no idea what I'm going to write about!!

Until then: Green is Good and sometimes very mysterious.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Okra, it's not slimy anymore!

Well, sort of...

Okra; natures little joke on us to see if we will eat anything. What the heck is it? It's this alien looking vegetable straight out of "invasion of the body snatchers".


Ask any good southerner how they like to eat it and they will say, "Well, let's see. I might like it fried".  Well, duh, everything tastes better fried. Heck, you could deep fry a Buick and it would taste good, "Mmmm, you can really taste the radiator!".

But have you ever had them...pickled? Few folks have.  I discovered them many years ago, purely by accident.

Me: what are those.

not me: taste it.

Me: but what is it?

not me: if I tell you, you won't want to try it.

Me: grrrrr, just. tell. me. what. it. is...

not me: pickled okra...

"Hmmmm", I thought to myself, "I like pickled stuff and I haven't the foggiest idea what okra is, so as long as it is soaked deeply in brine, it must be good!".

You see, pickling up north (where I originally come from), is like fried in the south. (not really, we fry things to an inch of their lives as well).

First, let's step into the way back machine to the crazy bawdy days of last year.

Significant Other sent me to the farmers' market for veggies. While there, I noticed and abundance of Okra. I thought to myself, "Well, I had it pickled and it was mighty fine dang good!" So eagerly, I picked up a bunch.

You have to remember something about okra, if you aren't a big fan of the raw stuff, you will be first struck by it's slimy texture, and also, it will seem like it never goes away.

Me: Oh for the love of pete! We still have Okra left??

SO: I know. It's been like 30 years.

Me: Why does it haunt me!

SO: Um, it's just a vegetable.

What to do? I got this crazy fritter recipe for okra out of a local mag. I was desperate. Mince, chop, mix, fry. They came out painfully aweful. However, I'm always pained to throw away perfectly good food, no matter how bad it tastes. SO gave up on them (I don't blame her), but I choked down the rest of them, more out of stubbornness than anything.

With clinched fist shaking at the sky, I vowed to pickle next time!

So here we are.

First more background! Ugh, I know. When will I get to the freaking point?????

SO, is an unbelievable cook.  And as such, about 3 years ago, chose to study under the tutelage of Jessica Prentice of Three Stone Hearth out in San Franscico.

Check out their website, they are amazing:

Jessica Prentice is also the author of a great cookbook called, Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection

It is an exceptional book of old world traditional cooking. It contains some of the most tasty recipes plus, more so, an insightful philosophy regarding how we should be eating and why.

One of the many parts of the book deals with fermenting foods.  Now, a few of you may say, "Hmm, where did I hear about that?" or "I just read something about this in the NY Times".  Food-wise it's something of a new pet rock, but don't be fooled, fermented foods are very good for you.  All societies have fermented foods of one kind or another in their past.  Fermenting foods is yet another way to preserve foods, but more so, it also unlock and creates additional nutrients in that same food.

Since SO's apprenticeship 3 years ago, we have been fermenting foods of one kind or another.

As a side note: I recall, as a kid, my dad would regale me with tails from history and one in particular would be about Hannibal, "Hannibal, while crossing the Alps, fed all his men sauerkraut!". It's no wonder he did, because it was fermented. It's high in nutrients and stores very well for the long term. Traditionally, sauerkraut is a fermented food, so is root beer, ginger ale, kimchi, oatmeal, yogurt, wine, beer plus a whole lot more.

Fermented foods provide good gut bacteria and promote digestion.  Plus, they are really tasty!

So why am I just prattling on?  Because, that slimy old okra, is about to get a yummy make over.  No frying for us!  (I think I just heard someone wail out in disgust).

SO's good friend over at Liberty Oaks Farm (Located in beautiful Libery Hill, Texas), gave us a big bag of fresh okra.

Here is their website:

I'm not going to lie, when I say the first thought that ran through my head was regarding those awful fritters.  But I was dang blasted to allow this little slimy buggers get the best of me.

Weaving the tail of my pickled okra experience to my SO, we decided to ferment them!

Step one: Get a mess of okra! Check.

Get a really big sealable jar...


This 3 quart baby was purchased over at Michael's. If you don't know what a "Michael's" is, it's an arts and crafts place. Yeah, I thought it odd they sold these there too, but what-the-hey.

Then begin filling it up.


You would be surprised how much it holds.

Now you have to prepare the things needed for fermentation. Take good notes here because it's a very long list...


Water and, wait for it, salt.

Whew! I think I got writers cramp.

But it's the mixture that is the hard part.

Basically, 1/2 teaspoon of salt to every 1/3 of of a cup of water.

(if you ever read the fantastic book, Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky the author will tell you how the perfect messurement was determined by the ancient folks. They were able to float a raw egg on the briny mixture. If you want to go hardcore and try it out).

We mixed 2 teaspoons of salt to 1 1/3 cup of water. With the ball jar filled with okra, it took about 5 of these mixtures.

That done, you have to now protect the okra. Protect against what? Mold. Moldy, moldy, mold...mold. (thank you Austin Powers)


First get one of this...


Wait! That's not right! Aaaak!

You need one of these!


A cabbage. We so happened to have a red one (which leads to interesting results, you'll see later), but a regular one will work as well. Cabbages, as you did or did not know, are very dense and hold enormous amounts of water. So if you are ever stuck in the desert and happen across a cabbage patch, you will be in luck! You will have your fill of obnoxious dolls for the rest of your life.

Gently pull off a few of the leaves and lay them over the brine okra mixture.




(note the guess appearance of Mrs. Hand)

You want to have it completely covered. Now you will need a heavy weight of some kind. With our little set up, we are able to use a medium sized ball jar.

Now this may get a little vague as I try to explain what you are trying to do here next.

First and foremost, you are weighting down the cabbage leaf covered okra so it stays submerged. That is vitally important. If any is exposed, it will be subject to mold.

The medium ball jar fits nicely through the throat of the 3 quart ball jar. Instead of "weighing" it down, we used pressure of the lid to push it down.

Here's a pic...


You can see the smaller ball jar pressing down on the cabbage leaves. It's pressing down on the full contents due to the lid pushing it down. In olden times, they would use a very heavy rock. THAT had to be one valuable rock. I'm sure they passed down through the ages.

Daughter: Mama, do I have your blessing to marry Ogdon?

Mama: Yes, daughter and I also pass the rock on to you!

Daughter: Oh mama, but that is grandma's great rock, I couldn't...

Mama: You will take it and you will weigh down many a cabbage!

Daughter: I got the rock!!!

Life was simpler back then.

With all this done, you have to make sure the jar has a good seal. These types of large jars have the rubber gasket configuration dealy.

But suppose you get a little mold? It's not tragic, just skim it off, then make sure your seal is okay.

Now we has to pickle/ferment.

two weeks passes...

We popped it open. Mmmmmmm pickly.

Here is our yield.


You have pickled okra. Mmmmmm.

(Purple...Um, yeah, this what happens when you use a red cabbage)

It will last you a good long time. We just finished up some sauerkraut recently that we made back in the first week of August. Still just as good as the day we first jarred it. :)

You can repeat this same process with just about anything. Onions, carrots, beets, garlic, etc. A friend tried it with fruit but I don't know how they turned out. Could be good, sweet and salty.

So there it is: fermenting foods. :) Give it shot. If you have any questions drop me an email. :) However, I would suggest doing a little reading up on it first. Get Jessica's book, you won't regret it.

And I take no responsibility if you get ill and suffer projectile vomiting. :)

Wow, this was a long one!

Before I go, a few updates...

My first few Jalapenos and Cayenne peppers...


The Jalapenos were moronically easy to grow. I did virtually nothing. We are fermenting this little buggers right now. (I just tasted one. Flames! HOT!! But oh so gooooooood) As far as the Cayennes go, these two got red right away, odd. I have a bunch more still on the plant, but still are green. So I wait...

And now for what you all have been waiting for!!! The mystery plant update!


-Shrugs- I know, I haven't the foggiest. I know what it's not. It's not a summer squash. The blossoms are orangie, so I'm thinking either a melon or pumpkin (I really want it to be pumpkin since mine croaked this past summer)

Here's a close up of a butterfly getting its lunch...


Anyway, that's it for this week. I know I have been slacking on the weekly posting promise, but I will be better, don't beat me!

Next week: We interrupt our regular programming...

What could that mean? Tune in and find out!

And as always...

Green is so wonderfully good. :)


Sunday, October 3, 2010 it bald in here or is it just me?

Now that I'm planting, I will be back to my once a week Sunday/Monday postings again. Yayyyy!!

The weather here has gotten down right normal. 85 during the day, the 50's at night.

I had to actually put on my jammies and add a blanket to the bed! Oh the humanity!!

I know you folks north of the Mason-Dixon are rolling your eyes.  Fine, roll your eyes at my cold weather wimpiness! I dare you to enjoy the sun scorching temps of Texas in August! (Puffing up my own sense of self importance!)

But then again the high temp today in my old hometown was...gulp, 56 degrees and raining! Ugh. (shudders) Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh how I don't miss that.

So probably the last thing you are thinking about is gardening. In a few weeks you will be at pains to just put a shovel in the ground without breaking the handle.

So what to do?

Basically, only 3 things go on during those tundra like months: sex, drinking and...muuuuuuuurder...moooooohoooohahahahaha!!! Oh and lots of card games!.

But If you still want fresh greens, during the dark daylight starved days of January of February, what do you do?

I can just imagine a conversation going something like this:

Husband: I need something, but I can't put my finger on it.

Wife: Sex?

Husband: What?!! No!

Wife: (sad) oh, then what is it?

Husband: (big grin on his face) I know! I need a Salad!! (jumps from chair and sprints out the door)

Wife: Wait! Wait! I can pour some thousand island dressing on myself!!!

Uh, right, I was saying? Oh yeah, Cold Frame Gardening! Wait, no I wasn't...But I am now! (nice segue, huh?)

If you have the will and the determination, you folks in the land of snow who want to still garden through the winter, can!

It's called Cold Frame Gardening. 

Think of it like mini-green houses. Very mini. 

Here's a pic and a link...


This is probably the best site with the simplest to follow information regarding cold frames gardening that I have found.

What cold frames do is keep the veggies anywhere from 5-10 degrees warmer than the outside temps. Sometimes that's all you need to keep things from croaking. (with a little bit more work, you could squeeze out a few more degrees).

Search the net under "cold frame gardening" and you will see all sorts of creative ways people have built their own cold frames. Some folks use old double hung windows.

It's a commitment, but you will have lettuce and all sorts of other veggies throughout the winter. And remember the larger and taller the plant, the larger and taller the cold frame has to be to accommodate it.

Snow and bone chilling temps with iron hard ground is not for the faint of heart.

I admit readily, that I have it easy. I suffer maybe a handful of freezes throughout the winter. So a quick sprint with some shrouds is all that I need to keep things covered and alive. No, I'm not rubbing it in...much.

Give it a shot. My advice; start small.

Mean while, out in the garden, a few updates...

The Beets goes on...


Lettuce chat...


And the Mystery dance...


I'm thinking squash, but still not sure.

And lastly, here are the pics of the Morning Glory's from my backyard fence.


I'm ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille...


That's it for this week.

Next week: Okra, it's not slimy anymore!

And as always,

Green is Good, especially, when it gets a bit cooler outside. :)


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Esta Caliente!

Okay, where the H-E-Double Hockey Sticks have I been?

Well, frankly, since the August scorch-a-thon baked what I had growing into a crispy early death, not much.

No squash, no freakin' punkins, nothing. SuburbanGuy got into a "mother-nature-hates-my-guts" type of funk.

Not having punkins hit me hard. No punkin pieeeeeeeeee, no punkin seeds, no Jack O'Lantern, no freakin' nothin!! (I sit with pouty bottom lip protruding while arms crossed, and yes, I know it's spelled "pumpkin").

So SuburbanGuy would just sit at the window breathing nose fogs upon it, looking at my garden, and sigh with images of me running bare foot through it; dancing in my head. Ahem, excuse me, that maybe a little too much information.

But there was a ray of hope. While my dead punkins mercilessly crushed my soul to tiny bits, a spark of life remained. Oddly, it was something that I tried on a lark. Something that, if it remained alive, would replace that punkin pie with the hot firery  zap of FLAVOR!

My crazy lark you ask? Jalapenos and Cayenne peppers!!! Get a load of these bad boys!




This little guys are tough! I really didn't do much at all. A little fertilizer and mulch was it. They pretty much raised themselves and now I get to eat them! As things got hotter and everything else took the dirt nap, they said, MEH! Heat? HEAT? I ain't afraid of no stinking heat! BRING IT ON!!! (I just can't use enough exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Not having grown these before, I have to consult the Pepper King. A gentleman by the name of David,  whom I work with, grows peppers as pretty much his only thing. I will be bending his ear right off his head for info. Who knew that these things would grow so well??

In the mean time, while I moped around, I wasn't completely idle. I emptied out my composter and remediated my soil. Aka dug up the soil, l put down the compost, spread the soil back and sweated bullets.

That was 2 weeks ago. Between then and now, our August derth of rain has been replaced by the monsoons of September. The monster tanks are topped off and better yet, the rain was spaced in such a way, that I haven't had to water for the past week and a half!!! That's a mini-vacation to me.

The temps are getting somewhat normal as well. No more crispy leaves. Stuff grows like it should. And in out of places I would have never suspected. (you can use your imagination with that one.) I forgot to take a photo of it (I will get one soon and  post it next week), but our back fence is virtually covered with wild Morning Glories. Really beautiful.

Now that the weather is cooperating again, with seeds in hand, (and a few starter plants) I attacked the garden yesterday.

I went with a few favs and a few new faces this time around.



(There are actually 6 of these)



I kept my second round of tomatoes, just to see what happens. Now the temps at night are cooling off, they should start baring fruit again...I hope.


My experimental new faces: Kale, Chard and Brussels Sprouts


I also put down Beets and Lettuce, but they are just rows of dirt so I thought I would spare you the over exciting photos.

However, since I did put down my compost and since the green part of the compost is made up of scraps from our kitchen, something very interesting has happened...


Any idea what they heck this is? I'm thinking it's a melon of some sort, but I haven't the foggiest as to what kind it could be.

So for the moment, I'm just going to leave it and see what happens.

I don't have to put in my onions and garlic until next month so I can just let this grow.

As a friend once said, "Mysterioso".

I will keep you all updated as things change. I know you are all on the edge of your seats, personally I can hardly contain yeah.

That's it for this week. I just want to give a shout out to my old friend James whom I haven't seen in a few years.  He stumbled across this blog of insanity and has joined the other 5 1/2 people that read it. My readership is now up to a grand total of 6 1/2 people!!! Thanks James for the very kind words. :)

For those folks in the hotter climes, now is the time to put in your fall/winter crops. And for you folks, with more ambition that I pretend to have, now is the time to get out your winter frames, if you haven't done so already. Just what are Winter frames? I think I just found the topic for my next blog! Whew! I hadn't a clue as to what to write about next week.

So with all that said and until next time!

Green is Good and can be muy caliente!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I got your Stevia, right here!

I must make a confession (hangs head in shame) I love the sweet stuff.


I will take it just about any form. Chocolate, lemon drops, lollipops, cake, cupcakes, heck, if you had road kill and covered it in sugar, I would probably eat that too. It's that bad. 

I have to be good. I could easily go on a major sugar eating frenzy. 

Like that scene from the Simpsons where Homer steals a truck load of Sugar. He mumbles in his delirious sugar stupor...

Homer: First you get the sugar, then you get the money, then you get the women. 

Paraphrasing Scare Face. 

Problem is, the money and the woman part would never enter my consciousness. I would be dead from sugar overdose. 

Significate Other: Doctor!! What killed him???!!!! 

Doctor: Jelly Belly Jelly Beans. 

No one wants as their epitaph "killed by beans". 


Instead, I have been growing some Stevia. 

Okay. That's nice, but what the heck is it? 

Well, wikipedia explains it better than I do:

"subtropical and tropical regions from western North America to South America. The species Stevia rebaudiana, commonly known as sweetleafsweet leafsugarleaf, or simply stevia, is widely grown for its sweet leaves. As a sweetener and sugar substitute, stevia's taste has a slower onset and longer duration than that of sugar, although some of its extracts may have a bitter or licorice-like aftertaste at high concentrations."

But wait there is more!!!

"Other studies have shown stevia to improve insulin sensitivity in rats[45] and possibly even to promote additional insulin production,[46] helping to reverse diabetes and metabolic syndrome.[47] Preliminary human studies suggest that stevia can help reduce hypertension[48] although another study has shown it to have no effect on hypertension.[49] Indeed, millions of Japanese have been using stevia for over thirty years with no reported or known harmful effects.[50] Similarly, stevia leaves have been used for centuries in South America spanning multiple generations in ethnomedical tradition as a treatment for type II diabetes.[51]"

But here is the kicker...

"10-15 times sweeter than table sugar"

But you say, "That's some pretty sick stuff there SuburbanDweller, but what does this have to do with me?" I'm glad you asked that! (don't you love how I put words in your mouth?)

I made my own Stevia extract!! Yes, no longer will I be a Sugar junkie!!! Well, okay,  that's total BS. I just won't be as bad...really.
This is how I did it. 

First get a million dollars, oh wait, that's how you become a millionaire.

First, grow your own...


It's fairly easy to find and grow. I got my starter plant from our good friends at Home Desperate.

One teeny tiny 6 inch plant.

Partial shade is a must. It's supposed to do well in blazing heat, but I say BS on that. Out in the sun it would crisp in a matter of hours.

Mine gets about 4 hours of direct sun, then shade for the rest of the day.

I put this in our herb pot around April. I let the stems grow to about 2 feet tall. If I let it go, it would probably continue growing but the "sweetness" gets a little...gnarly. So you want to harvest the stems when they are about 1 1/2 feet to 2 feet tall.

When harvesting, you only want the top 2/3's of the stem. You want to leave at least a 1/3 standing. It must still have leaves. We learned the hard way the first time around. If you cut it down to the base, it will die.

So with your stems cut...


You want to give them a good course chop...


You want to be able to pack two cups worth of the stuff.

Get a large 3 quart Ball jar and dump your chopped Stevia into it.


Next, the fun part...


It's not just for screw drivers any more! Or shots...Not that I did any of that while making the extract...hic...

Measure off one liquid cup of your favorite variety. OR you can just get the cheap stuff. It doesn't effect the flavor, however it will effect your hangover. If you wish to have a "flavored" Stevia, you can buy one of those flavored vodkas out there.

I choose not to go the "flavored" route, mainly because the "flavoring" that is added to those vodkas isn't very...natural, regardless of their "natural flavoring" moniker.

If you really wanted to go hardcore, you could always soak some vanilla beans and add the soaked juice from them to the final project, but I digress...

Pour the one cup of vodka into the jar, tighten down the lid and shake well.

Let stand for 24 hours but not longer than 48. If you do, it will go from sweet to bitter.

You want to shake and turn it periodically.

Sooooooooooooo....I wait...shake...wait...shake...

Now through the incredible technology of the internet tubes, here's the result...


Looks like soggy spinach. Actually, it's more like pickled lettuce. Pickled as in 3 sheets to the wind.

Get a bowl, a wire strainer and some cheese cloth.


Open up the jar and dump its contents in the cheese cloth and drain.

Frankly, that will take forever.

Once in the cheese cloth, wrap up the cheese cloth around the soggy stevia and squeeze the living...poop out of it! Through the cheese cloth and drain through the sieve, that is.

This is what it should look like...


Mmmmmm, green.

Okay, this stuff is still alkie-hol soaked. While some of you might enjoy the taste of sweet vodka (tried it. all I'll say is, It was sickly sweet with a punch.)

Dump the drained green liquid into a small pot...


And simmer for 30 minutes. NEVER EVER let it boil. Keep it on the lowest possible heat. All you are trying to do here is cook off the alcohol.

After 30 minutes, turn off the heat and let it cool down.

Find your favorite funnel and a tiny jar and pour off your now extracted Stevia. Here is what you get...


That's it?????

You must remember, this is concentrated evil, I mean, sweetness.

Try a drop, it's powerfully sweet stuff.

You might want to dilute it a little. I did. I added about a tablespoon of water.

And because it's so concentrated, it will last quite a while.

Right now, we use it primarily in all our drinks we wish to sweeten, but in the future, I will be experimenting with it in baking. As I do, I will report the results.

So there it is, the sweet stuff. Home grown. Now if I could figure out how to make my own vodka. Well, if society collapses, I will post on how to make your own still!

Fun times.

Until then...

Remember, Green is Good!!!