Stacking Functions Garden

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Hennepin County Master Gardener program

I found out today that I’ve been accepted into the 2010 Hennepin County Master Gardener program!  YAY!  This is going to be a huge time commitment, but I really like how the program is structured.  I get to learn a lot about horticulture, but the education is practically free in exchange for volunteer time.  Perfect for my budget and my interests.  2010 is going to be a very interesting year.


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My backyard canvas

Adam cleaned out the gutters this weekend, and as long as he was risking his life up on the roof anyway I asked him to take a few pictures of the yard. I sewed them together in Photoshop to create a visual map of our yard. It’s not perfect, but still interesting. Click to enlarge:


The area highlighted in yellow is the area I’d like to figure out this winter.  It is relatively sunny, but I’m not sure it’s sunny enough. Most of it is shaded by the house through the morning hours, then by the trees to the west in the late afternoon hours.  It gets solid, really hot sun from 1-3 p.m. at least.  I am going to need to do some careful measuring to determine what I can realistically plant here.

Also, from a landscaping point of view, we need to have access to the electric meter, the window wells, the A/C unit (currently non-functional), and the outside faucet.

My wish list for this area includes a dwarf fruit tree, such as a cherry.  Then some nice fruit bushes such as gooseberry and/or currant.  I also have quite a few perennial vegetables I’m interested in trying.  I have the whole winter to dream and scheme, and now here’s my canvas.

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Recipe: Buffalo Sauerbraten

I’m sorta obsessed with German food lately, can you tell?  I don’t really know why.  I don’t even know what Sauerbraten means, but I can now tell you that it’s basically a roast.

We split 1/4 of a buffalo with Adam’s brother about a month ago, so we have a freezer full of bison meat.  Buffalo aren’t quite as domesticated as cows, so they can’t survive in a feedlot situation — they must be raised on grass, with some room to roam.  So if you buy buffalo meat you know the animal was at least allowed to live the life that it evolved to live.  I honestly can’t really tell the difference in flavor between buffalo and beef, but we eat grass-fed beef so that might be part of the reason.

Buffalo Sauerbraten (crockpot style)
Around 6-8 servings

1 buffalo (or beef) roast (round rump roast), 2-3 lbs.
1 1/2 c. red wine
1/2 c. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. dry mustard
A pinch of ground cloves or 3-4 whole cloves
1-3 cloves garlic, minced
5 carrots
1 onion
1 c. broth (beef or chicken)
About 1 c. canned or fresh tomato, chopped
1/4 c. raisins
1/3 c. gingersnaps, crushed

1. Combine the wine, red wine vinegar, mustard, cloves, garlic, and salt & pepper in a gallon-size plastic bag.  Place the roast in the bag and marinate for 24 hours in the ‘fridge, turning occasionally.

2. Chop the carrots and onion and place in your crockpot.  Sprinkle the raisins over top.

3. Remove your roast from the marinade bag (save the marinade juices), and brown each side of it for a minute or so in a hot oiled frying pan:

roast1Note: if your roast had butcher strings around it, leave them on.  I took them off and my roast kinda fell apart.  Oh well.  Place the roast on top of the vegetables.

4. Combine the leftover marinade juices with the broth and the tomatoes, and pour it over your meat and veggies:


5. Put the cover on and cook on high for 5-6 hours or low for 9-10 hours.

6. Remove the meat and veggies from the crockpot.  Now you will make a quick gravy with the juices.  I used whole cloves, so I strained the juices to get them out at this point:


7. Put the juices in a small frying pan or sauce pan, stir in the crushed gingersnaps, and bring to a boil over med. heat.  When it gets all thick and bubbly it’s done.  It took about 2-3 minutes:


For authentic German-style, serve it over spaetzle with a dollop of sauerrüben on the side:


Adam made the spaetzle while I was making the gravy.  Spaetzle is ridiculously easy, though a little messy.  If you’ve never made your own pasta, it’s a fun one to try.  Holler if you’d like me to post that recipe as well.

Does this look like a huge portion or what?  It’s not, I’m not that big of a glutton.  It’s a salad-size plate.  We eat most of our meals on them to try and control ourselves a little bit.

This was not a huge effort, but it was spread out here and there over 2 days.  So it takes a little planning.  Basically, it’s a roast, and tasted like a roast, but had more interesting flavors than roasts I’ve made before.

If you’re not up for making spaetzle, I think this would be good over mashed potatoes, or even just on its own with a piece of bread to mop up the extra gravy.



New Fall-ish header

I’ve redesigned the header again now that we’re half-way through a new season.  Left to right:

Anneke at the State Fair — not posed.  She picked up a piece of straw and put it in her mouth and started walking around like an old farmer.  It was hilarious.

Raspberry bushes with a brand new blanket of about 10 inches of maple leaves, generously dumped on our back yard over the last week or so.

Apple sauce!

Dried beans!  We’ve already eaten almost all of them.

Rowan eating homemade sushi.