Squash Vine Borer and what I do when I find one

Seems like squash vine borers have been in full force this summer and last.  Most of my squash plants droun in the Texas flood this year, but the one remaining zucchini plant had an intruder.  Any time I hear someone say their squash plant died I immediately blame the vine borer.  You can learn more about them here.  The important question is how do you know when you have a vine borer larva eating away inside your plant and what to do about it.


The above picture is my sad little zucchini plant.  It looked a little droopy today.  You might think it just need some water.  And, I promise everything needs water in the 100 degree heat we are having this week.


A closer look at the stem will give you a clue that you have a squash vine borer larva eating away inside.  It is not always easy to spot, but look closely and notice the light brown stuff on the stem.


Here is what I do.  I get a box cutter and slice lengthwise down the stem until you find the culprit.


Once you find it you will need some tweezers.  Use the tweezers to open the stem.


There it is.


Now a chicken will get a tasty snack.  Unfortunately, I missed my window of opportunity on the chicken snacking photo.


There is a good chance my plant will survive this surgical removal and I will finally get some zucchini this year.

What’s Growing in January 2014

I am dreaming of a warm spring and thankful for each warm (60-70 degree) day in the middle of winter here in Texas.

The hens are back to laying a good amount of eggs.  They are much happier that I am letting them out in the afternoons to explore the back yard for green weeds and bugs.

Onions are growing well.  These have been under the mini hoop house all winter.

And these onions were just planted.  If you are in Texas you can plant onion starts now.

Lettuce is perfect size.  There are salads in our near future.  This doesn’t look like much, but I picked enough for a large salad the other day and it didn’t make a dent.

Snow peas will be ready come spring.  These were planted under the mini hoop house when winter started.  By the time they start flowering it should be warm enough to open up the hoop house and let the bees in to do their part.

Garlic!  These were from the garlic we grew last year.

A few beets… after these two I think there are only a couple more.

New plants!  It is already time to start seeds.  We have a great set up this year.  Really excited about these little plants.  Mostly peppers and tomatoes with a few eggplant and broccoli.

Gluten-Free Banana Raisin Teff Muffins

We are giving up gluten again.  So I am going back to gluten free sourdough.  This recipe can be made without the sourdough starter if you prefer.


Banana Raisin Teff Muffins (Gluten Free)



1/2 cup coconut sugar 2 eggs
3/8 cup + 1 tbs Teff Flour 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
3/8 cup + 1 Tbs Brown rice flour 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup Brown rice starter 1/3 cup coconut oil; melted, but not hot
1/2 cup Tapioca starch 1 1/2 teaspoons Baking powder
2/3 cup Milk; or water raisins
1 Bananas


In a large bowl combine coconut sugar, teff flour, brown rice flour, brown rice starter, tapioca starch, and milk. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and let set out on the counter for 12 hours or overnight.

In a medium bowl smash a banana the add eggs, cinnamon, salt, and coconut oil. Whisk until combined. Add raisins and baking powder. Then pour into large bowl with the rest of the ingredients.

Pour into muffin cups filling about 3/4 full. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

I topped the muffin with a mix of cream cheese, butter, and honey.  They are great plain too.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

It was a productive day in the kitchen and garden.  We harvested lots of bell peppers among other things.  Many of the peppers were diced and frozen for later, but these lucky winners in the picture made excellent stuffed peppers.  I saved a few stuffed peppers for the freezer too.  Hopefully those turn out just as well.




Stuffed Bell Peppers

Sized to 6 Servings


6 large Bell pepper; or 12 on the small side 2 tab Caribbean spice blend
1 pound Ground beef 1 cup Long grain rice
1 Onion; chopped 1 1/2 cups Beef broth; homemade
2 cloves Garlic; minced 3 cups crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoon Salt 1 tablespoon lard; or butter


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Cook rice in beef broth until tender

3. Prepare bell peppers for baking by cutting off the tops and removing the spines and seeds and discard.

4. In a large skillet over medium-high heat cook onions in butter or lard until soft, then add ground beef and spices, cook until brown. Be sure to separate beef into small pieces while stirring. Next add garlic and cook rice. Stir in tomato sauce and salt.

5. Remove skillet from heat. Mix all ingredients well then stuff mixture into peppers.

6. Place stuffed bell peppers upright into shallow baking dish. Bake stuffed bell peppers uncovered at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until peppers are tender.

Lasagna with Eggplant and Swiss Chard

Many of our recipes these days include eggplant.  It is one of the vegetable we are harvesting out of the garden and I am always looking new ways to cook it.


Megan’s Lasagna with eggplant

Excellent! Includes eggplant and Swiss Chard.


1 small onion; chopped 16 ounces ricotta cheese
1 pound ground beef 8 oz Mozzarella Cheese
2 Tbs dried oregano 1/4 c Fresh basil; finely chopped
2 Tbs dried basil 1/4 cup Parmesan grated
1 Eggplant; chopped 6 Lasagna rice noodles
2 cloves garlic; minced


Heat oven to 400-F. Cook lasagna according to package directions. Drain; rinse with cold water. 2. meanwhile, heat butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft. Add ground beef, oregano, and basil and cook until slightly pink and add eggplant; partially cover and cook 6 to 8 minutes, until eggplant is just tender. Stir in tomato sauce, garlic, and salt, heat through. 3. Meanwhile, combine ricotta, 1/4 cup parmesan, 3 tablespoons fresh basil. 4. Spread eggplant sauce over bottom of 9×13-inch-square baking dish. Spread three lasagna noodles, then ricotta mixture, then sauce, then noodles, then ricotta mixture and lastly mozzarella. 5. Bake, covered, in 400-F oven for 10 minutes. Uncover; bake 5 minutes.

Today was a sourdough kind of day.

I took a couple years off of sourdough, and I am excited to be working with it again.  This time I am working with a rye sourdough starter feeding it sprouted rye flour.  By using sprouted flour in my sourdough I hope to get double benefits.  If you are unfamiliar with the benefits of sprouted flour I think this gives a good explanation.  I also like this introduction to sourdough and it’s benefits over other bread.     So, here is what my sourdough made today.


Sourdough waffles with raw cream and strawberries



Sourdough crackers


Sourdough noodles

What are you making with sourdough?





Sized to 6 Servings

One of my favorites Greek dishes.


2 medium Eggplant 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 medium Onion; chopped Parmesan cheese
1 pound ground beef; or ground lamb 6 tablespoons Butter
1 Tomato; peeled and diced 6 tablespoons brown rice flour
1 cup Tomato sauce 2 cups raw milk
1 tablespoon Dried oregano Salt to taste
1 teaspoon salt butter extra
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice


Make a roux with butter flour and milk. Set aside to cool.

Slice eggplant length wise by 1/4 or 1/2″ Cook eggplant on skillet or griddle in a small amount of butter or lard. When cooked set aside.

Saute onion until soft and add ground beef and spices. Saute until cooked then add tomato and tomato sauce. Cook until flavors meld.

In a greased casserole dish layer eggplant, parmesan, meat mixture, parmesan, eggplant.

Whisk 6 eggs into cooled roux and pour on top of eggplant in casserole.

Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes

Cheeseburger Soup Tonight

This is one of my favorite meals.  I don’t make it often enough.  It really hit the spot tonight.


Cheeseburger Soup

4 – 6 Servings


1 pound Ground beef 1/2 quart Beef broth homemade
1 Onion; chopped 4 tablespoons Lard
1 cup Celery chopped; optional 1/3 cup Rice flour
2 Russet potatoes; cubed 2 cups Raw Milk
1 teaspoon Dried oregano 8 ounces Cheddar cheese raw
1 teaspoon Dried thyme Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Garlic powder


1. Brown ground beef seasoning with oregano, thyme, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a large stock pot. Add onion, and celery to the ground beef until no longer pink. . Add the broth, and potatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

2. In a saucepan, heat lard over low heat; stir in flour until smooth, about 30 seconds. Slowly stir in the milk. Continue cooking until it simmers. Stir the milk mixture into the soup mixture until well blended.Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Heat thoroughly. Serve with shredded cheese. Serves 6 to 8.