Saturday, March 29, 2014

And The Winner Of The Great Heirloom Tomato Seed Giveaway Is....

Rafflecopter has chosen the winner and results are in! The winner of the tomato seeds is....

Please get a hold of me on Facebook or via email so I can make sure I have your address and you'll be getting KILLER box o' tomato seeds. Thanks for playing, everyone!!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

My First Garden Post of 2014 in an RV

 My gardening season for 2014 has begun. It all started with this notebook this last winter. I have gotten into trading seeds and in a big way. My goal for this year, after getting permission to install raised garden beds, was to grow all of our produce. If you've read Baked Lava for any length of time, you'll know that every single year, I do have a container garden, but nothing on the level that I'm going to attempt to have this year.
 Here are a couple of the old planters that you may recognize from years past that I had in the RV park in Longview. This spring, they got a total soil, the whole nine yards.
This is the area that I have to work with. My neighbors were kind enough to allow me to use whatever yard space of theirs that I need. Of course, they will reap the benefits in the form of fresh produce.
 I tried a new technique this spring. I saw this being done online and I thought it was quite clever. We always have water jugs because we use bottled water in our Keurig and we drink bottled water, as well. I do not drink the tap water here because it has an odor to it...and it stinks! Like boiled eggs stink. Yuck!
 I was able to get some cool and unusual heirloom seeds together for lettuce, spinach, greens, etc.
 Bob used his razor knife to make these handy, recycled water jug mini greenhouses for me. I planted 24 varieties of misc. lettuce, spinach and greens for a total of 28 jugs, so far...I have more to plant still. I need to save up a few more jugs.
My hollow log got a makeover and will house red onions this year. It also got brand new soil.
 I have joined several local sell your stuff groups on Facebook. I had posted in one that I was looking for scrap wood to build raised beds with. A very kind lady offered me her old decking material. We went to Camas and were amazed because it was Trex and it was beautiful and they gave us the railings, too...we will be turning these into bean trellises and supports for melons that I plan on growing.
 I was able to get 2 broken up pallets that I hope Bob can turn into just one usable pallet garden for me. We've already got the landscape material to do it. I'm thinking about planting either cucumbers or lettuces in there.
The Trex decking material was turned into an awesome raised bed for me by Bob. He still needs to cut the smaller end boards to complete it. I hope that gets done today while the weather is nice out.
 This bed measures about 9 feet long, 3 feet wide and 18 inches tall. I plan on growing corn and beans in it.
This was one of the 2 new mini roses that Bob had got for me last summer. I pruned them back around Christmas-time and all of that is new growth. These will get repotted this year with new soil.

French Sorrel
 A new friend that I had initially met online, and then in person, gave me a huge planter full of strawberries. Gary is awesome!!
 This is the bed of Egyptian Walking Onions. They haven't started "walking" yet...they are still toddling.

This is my first year ever to grow tomatoes from seed. This is my germination station!
 This year, I'm trying my hand at a watercress garden. I potted up the seeds, watered them in just a bit and settled them into a tub full of good river water. Then, again, from one of the sell your stuff sites on Facebook, a super nice lady offered me her fish tank air pump, line and bubble stone to use so that the water does not stay stagnant. Watercress doesn't like standing wants the water to move and the air stone is perfect for that. We may go and get a splitter and run another stone in the bottom to aerate the water even more.
 My new neighbor, Meredith (not in the RV park, but the house next to the park) offered me some prickly pear cacti starts. I gladly accepted because I thought if people don't stop using my backyard as their short cut, I'll put these out there as a "fence" of some sort. About one time of running a shin into one of those, they'll use the road...I can guarantee that one! Besides, after they bloom, you can use the fruit to make an awesome jelly with!
Baby arugula from the mini water jug greenhouse.
 I seeded my small, trellised planter with sugar peas. They have all sprouted and most are starting to open their first set of leaves.
 One of my dear friends from the east coast went to a plant show and gifted me a whole bunch of different seeds. One of them was called Tom Thumb peas. These peas only grow about a foot tall. I have potted up 14 so far. I can't wait for these guys to show themselves!
 Another new friend from our local gardening group, Cathy, gifted me several iris bulbs that she had split up. I'm so happy about receiving these. Irises are, by far, my favorite flower. They are just gorgeous!
About 5 days after getting the heirloom tomato seeds into peat pellets, they decided to pop up and take a look around. Hello, babies!!! I'm sure happy to see you!
 Remember the above photos of the strawberries that I had brought in that old wooden planter and the ones that Gary had gifted to me? The other day, we split them all up and gave them new homes. My ground space is limited, so I asked Bob if he had any ideas on how to get them up in the air. He's a genius, not to mention a master at tying knots, so now most of my strawberry garden is in the air...7 pots of them, anyhow!
 Here's Bob standing in the middle of the first run of them.
 We went to Vancouver and bought a cubic yard of organic potting soil. We figure it is going to take about 5 yards to do what we want to do. I used to buy bags, but at about $10 per bag versus $27 per yard, this is just the least inexpensive way to go! This is an organic Scottish 3-way blend. We'll be hauling our second yard in after Bob puts in a few more raised beds today and tomorrow. That stuff is like black gold!! He's also putting the 2 end boards on that bed to make it complete. In the winter, we plan on using one end of this for composting. I haven't decided if I want to box off one small end of this to raise potatoes in or not yet. We may have enough scrap wood left from everything else for Bob to just build a potato box instead.

Here are the other 3 pots of strawberries. I ran out of hanging pots to put them in. No matter...things have a way of working out.
Hanging strawberry garden

 The local plant nursery here where I live has a recycle bin for pots. I've been stopping by on a regular basis and grabbing all sorts of goodies. What I don't wind up using this year will be taken back and put in the recycle bin. That's where I found all those hanging pots and I'm still looking for more. I've found quite a few that are large enough for tomatoes. I've not found anywhere close to enough for ALL the tomatoes, but I'm getting there. I've also gone to local supermarkets with in-store bakeries and they usually just give me the 5-gallon icing buckets that they have emptied. Those are perfect to grow a tomato plant in!
 The side view of one half of the hanging strawberry garden. The great thing is that this is not damaging the fir trees in the least...and it can be taken completely down without cutting the rope.

 Here are my tomato babies as of this morning. I took the lid off of the tray. I'll put it back on at night to keep the heat up. Tomatoes are pretty finicky.
But, I think it's safe to say that I'll have more tomato plants than I'll know what to do with and I still have another tray to plant!!
Thanks for taking the garden tour with me...PEACE!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Monkey On Your Back Cake in an RV

 It was raining out yesterday. I did get some seeds planted up, including some of the cool seeds that my friend, Maggie, sent me. It was the perfect day to bake something. I do have cake mixes in my cabinet for those occasions when I feel lazy and not very inventive, but yesterday was not one of those days. For some reason, a banana cake sounded good to me.
My friends know that I do not like bananas. I mean, I love the flavor of them. I'll eat banana flavored popsicles until they come out my ears. I do not like the texture of bananas. I've tried to eat them when they are a bit on the green side, but they don't have that wonderful banana flavor that I love. I bite the bullet and make myself eat one every single day because the potassium helps with my leg cramps. I really don't like leg cramps more than I don't like bananas. I do wait until they are a bit more ripe than most people like, though...if I'm going to eat mush, it's gotta taste good. Yeah, I know...I don't get it can a person like the taste of something so much but abhor the mushy texture? Oh,'s my own personal issue.
Like I said, a banana cake just sounded good to me. I wanted to add chocolate chips to my banana cake, but I couldn't find them anywhere. I did find a bag of white chocolate chips that I had leftover from Christmas, though. Not to be deterred, I thought I would just chocolate up the frosting, instead. While looking for the chocolate chips, Bob ran across some hazelnuts. PERFECT!! So, now I have a banana-white chocolate-hazelnut cake...but, wait...there's more.

 I have to say that this took a long time to bake up. Over an hour in my EBOoS (Easy Bake Oven on Steroids).

 You cannot have cake without frosting. Well, I suppose you can...but if you're like me, there MUST be frosting!! Not that stuff in the can, either, (which I do have to go along with the lazy boxed cake mixes) but rich, decadent frosting. Every single recipe that I looked at online said cream cheese frosting with banana cake. I didn't want cream cheese frosting. I turned to buttercream! Yes, buttercream. This stuff was fantastic!! Although, it did make enough to ice the Empire State Building...not to be discouraged or wasteful, Bob and I ate the surplus. Like I said, it was a rainy day and we weren't driving or indulge in that stuff!
Baked Lava's Monkey On Your Back Cake

For the cake:
3 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 9-inch square baking pan. In a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer or by hand), with the paddle attachment, combine the first 7 ingredients and mix, on a lower speed, for about 3 minutes. Sift the flour with the baking soda and salt. Add into wet ingredients in thirds, mixing until just combined after each addition. Mix in white chocolate chips and hazelnuts.
Pour into prepared baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Cool completely on wire rack before frosting.

For the frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened and at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons Dutch processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons strong-brewed coffee (I used a Rwandan coffee bean)
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream

In stand mixer, with whisk attachment, cream butter for about 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar in, 1/2 cup at a time, making sure that it is fully incorporated before adding the next 1/2 cup. When all the sugar has been incorporated, add in cocoa powder. Whisk thoroughly. Add in coffee and vanilla and whisk until completely combined. Add in 1 tablespoon of heavy cream at a time until frosting has reached desired consistency.
Use to frost the above cake recipe or whatever you want to put it on. I also recommend eating it straight out of the bowl!