"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Recent Rambles
Copyright © 2009 by Bill Scifres


The year is changing to 2009, but the calendar says we have just entered January. Donít be fooled by these mild or warm days. There still is plenty of winter in the offing . . . maybe even a few Alberta clippers.

Boil that set of facts down to its common denominator and you are smack-dab in the middle of all sorts of gardening projects . . . each of which can offer scads of fun (even hard work) that leads to bumper crops in the summer.

Just as we reveled at near 70-degree temperatures at Christmastime, there will be plenty of time for garden preparation before that first seed enters the earth. Cold, dark days of late winter still will dominate our anxious efforts.

Suffice it to say January was meant for garden planning -- even breaking of the soil and other chores, some very exercising.

Although I may have touched on this before, there are certain dried-up plants that need to be removed from a potential garden plot if a roto-tiller is to be used later for turning under last yearís residues.

There is nothing tougher that dried-up plants of tomatoes, egg plant and corn stalks. Tomatoes and eggplant, at least, are relatives of hemp. That says much for their durability. They are not to be simply pulled up and discarded as it may seem. Wet weather is an exception to this unwritten rule. Still, if this route is taken, muddy shoes may outweigh deep-rooted plants.

Incidentally, this wet treatment -- even man-made watering -- will go a long way toward eliminating other plants. When most weeds are wetted down, they pull up easier . . . roots and all. This eliminates the entire weed, not just the stem. Cutting weeds or hoeing is like waving a red hanky at a mean bull.

Best method I have found for removing unwanted garden plants is to completely encircle the dead plant by pushing a garden spade deep into the earth, then grasp the stalk (gloves on) and pull straight up. Some plants bear thorny growths.

Plowing will bury them and enrich the soil. A disc may obliterate the unwanted residue, and may not.

SANDWICH SHOP -- The much maligned Navy bean . . . dried beans in general . . . turns into a delicious sandwich when combined with mayonnaise, a smattering of mustard, and chopped onion. There are, of course many other variations of this cold delight. My version is fairly common in Indiana.

To fashion a cold-bean sandwich, cook dried beans in customary procedure, but when beans are almost tender to taste, allow most of the moisture to cook away. Refrigeration will eliminate most of remaining moisture in a few hours. 

Spread mayo and a bit of mustard on both inside surfaces of bread (rye is great, so is sourdough, or any homespun bread). Make a solid surface of cooked beans atop mayo/mustard on one piece of bread. Put on liberal cover of chopped onion.

Cooked beans can be fried to a crisp in bacon fryings to add zip to the sandwich. Crisp bacon chips can be spread over onion.

TRIAL COOKING -- As accidental as it may have been, I ran intosomething new recently for turning cold leftovers into a delightful dish.

In the refrigerator, I had a container of vegetables (carrot, onion and apple slices combined with the meat they were baked with). Not wanting these bland leftovers to slip into the garbage can, I armed a small skillet with a spoon of butter and a spoon of olive oil and put the leftovers in the skillet with a few raisins. I added salt and pepper with a spoon of shredded cheddar and had myself a snack of fried leftovers alone.

While we are discussing stuffing, it may be well to point out that when I make stuffing I make enough that there will be leftovers aplenty.

Leftovers are squeezed into patties, dipped in egg, dredged in flour or cornmeal, and fried to golden brown.

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All columns are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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