Making Japanese Kokedama’s For Indoors Or Out

Still life with blooming violet and garden shovel over grey background

japanese grass planted the kodedama method

Japanese Grass Planted The Kodedama Method -Image credit: Cafe Maria

Kokedama is a Japanese variant of the bonsai. Basically, kokedama, translation from Japanese literally means “moss ball.”

It is the practice of removing a plant with its roots from a planter or pot, then surrounding the roots with a mud cake, then wrapped with moss, and held together with string.

This type of planting works well with succulent plants, such as those that are placed in doors, as well as herbs, and other out door plants.

The Telegraph a newspaper distributed in the United Kingdom, says that the kokedama method of planting started in Japan, and skipped over to the Netherlands before finding its way to the United States, and since 2015 the method has found its way to England and into the hearts of plant lovers there.

Collage of Fedor Van der Valk ‘String Gardens’Fedor Van der Valk of the Netherlands acknowledged as the king of contemporary kokedama, took the planting method one step further and suspended his moss wrapped botanicals from pulleys. Mr. Van der Valk calls his creations string gardens.

There’s nothing new though about hanging garden’s. King Nebuchadnezzar of ancient Babylon indulged his queen with what is now one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the hanging gardens of Babylon, built around 600 B.C.

Marisa Lopez of Saving My Culture, says that kokedamas are elegant, and can be placed in any environment or in your garden.

This technique provides a simpler alternative to the bonsai, and is easy to grow – even for people who do not have much time to take care of plants.

Would you like to learn how to make your own Japanese kokedama to hang out in your garden from your trees or other support?

Lowe’s has a 40 second video demonstrating the ease of making kokedamas for inside your house or out in your garden.

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The Have To Know Food Preparation Techniques

college of hands of chefs in the process of cooking Sometimes preparing food to either cook or bake can seem like a tedious job. Yes a job which takes up far too much time that you just don’t have.

But there are ways to save time with your food prep so you can spend more time doing other things you like or want to get done. Check out these creative food preparation techniques to help you save time in the kitchen.

Peeling Garlic Cloves

Image GIF Credit: America Cooks For Health

Peeling Garlic Cloves – Lay the clove on the cutting board and place the side of your knife over the garlic.

Place the knife on the garlic clove and with the palm of your hand push lightly over the glove, and the papery skin will peel fight off.

Need to peel multiple garlic cloves? Hit the head of the garlic with the palm of your hand, and then put all the cloves in a large jar.

Place the lid on tightly and shake vigorously. Remove lid, and pour garlic cloves and paper skin into a large bowl. You’ll have these cloves peeled in less than ten seconds.

How To Soften Frozen Butter Fast – You know putting the frozen butter in the microwave can often end up melting instead of softening. You can never get it quite right. So instead, take a cheese grater to the frozen butter and shred it. It will be softened before you know it.

Peeling Pearl Onions – These little devils can be a royal pain to peel. Well, not anymore. Chop off the tip of the onion – the end opposite the root end.

Cook in boiling water for two minutes and drain. When they’re cool enough to touch, simply squeeze each one at the root end, and they’ll slip right out. Chop off the remaining roots, and you’re done.

Shucking Ears Of CornCorn on the cob is the perfect summer side dish, but preparing it can be a shucking mess. No longer do you have to sit there and peel ears of corn and pull off every little hairy strand.

Some individuals do, but if you don’t have any concerns using a microwave, than put two ears of corn in with the husks still on and microwave for 8 minutes – that’s 4 minutes for each ear of corn place into the microwave. Remove with a pot holder, cut off the end without the stringy parts, then simply squeeze the ear of corn right out of its husk, silky pieces and all.

Removing Tough Stems – You don’t even need a knife to separate those tough stems from vegetables like kale, collard greens, and chard. With one hand, hold a leaf at the bottom by the thickest part of the stem. Use your other hand to gently pinch the leaf with your index finger and thumb, and then pull it up and off along the stem.

Removing An Avocado Pit – Slice your avocado in half, lengthwise. Take your knife and chop into the exposed pit, then twist and pull. Out comes the pit. Watch your fingers when you remove the pit from the blade of the knife. Now you can scoop out all of the yummy avocado goodness.

How To Peel A Hard Boiled Egg – Soft boil the eggs for about 12 minutes (or until eggs are hard boiled) with about two inches of water above the eggs and one teaspoon of baking soda.

How to cool boiled eggsRemove eggs from water. While still warm, give one end of the egg a tap on the counter and remove the shell pieces from the tip. Repeat with the other end of the egg.

Now cup your hands with the egg, raise your cupped hands with the egg to your mouth and blow. The egg falls right out of the shell! No peeling necessary.

Be sure to get your hard boiled eggs into cold water right away. If not you will have some issues as demonstrated here in the image to your right.

Peeling A Potato – Simply cut the peel lengthwise with a knife, all around the potato. Put in a pot of boiling water and boil until it’s soft inside. Then immediately remove from the water into ice water. Allow to soak in the ice water for 10 seconds and remove. Rub between your hands and the peel falls right off.

a womans hand squeezing a lemonHow To Get All Of The Juice Out Of Citrus Fruits – No need to purchase expensive juicing tools. Get all of the juice out with a simple pair of tongs.

Cut the fruit in half, place between tongs over a bowl or pitcher with the cut half down, and squeeze. You’ll be amazed at how much juice you have been missing from your fruit.

You can also place the palm of your hand over the citrus fruit while rolling it back and forth over the kitchen counter-top. Cut the fruit in half and see all the juice squeezed from it.

How To Peel A Kiwi – Slice both ends off the kiwi. Put a tablespoon between the flesh of the fruit and the skin and move the spoon all around the kiwi. This will ease the kiwi right out of its peel.

Fishing Out Egg Shells – We’ve all accidentally dropped a small fragment of egg shell in the mixing bowl from time to time. You wouldn’t think it would be so difficult to fish this minuscule piece of shell out of the yolk, but it can be one of the most frustrating moments of cooking when it happens.

Simply wet the tip of your finger with water and lightly place your finger over the egg shell, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly that piece of shell will stick right to your finger.

cutting round vegetables Cutting Round Vegetables – Nothing can be more frustrating like chasing down that carrot, or potato to chop it up.

Next time you have to cut a round vegetable, cut a thin slice along the length of the vegetable to create a flat side, turn it cut-side down on the cutting board and slice away.

When you get to the point where it starts to roll again, flip it onto the flat side from your last cut and continue to slice.

Separate Egg Yolks From Egg Whites – This might not be a time saver, but it’s a fun way to separate an egg. Crack an egg into a bowl. Gently squeeze an empty plastic water bottle and hold it over the egg yolk. It should suck up just the egg yolk, allowing you to transfer it to another bowl.

Prevent A Pot From Boiling Over – They say a watched pot never boils, but if you don’t watch it then you have a mess on your hands. So to keep that pot from boiling over. Simply place a wooden spoon over the top of the pot. Any spoon will do really, but a wooden spoon won’t get scalding hot.

These are just a few food preparation tips we have used. There are many more. Tell us, what are some of your  Food Preparation Techniques?

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Citrus Fennel and Avocado Salad

Citrus Fennel and Avocado SaladAccording to Vegetarian Times,  avocado and grapefruit are a common salad combination in Spain and France. Citrus Fennel and Avocado Salad is like capturing sunshine in a dish!

Our featured recipe couples the citrus fruits of navel oranges, and ruby-red grapefruit with zesty arugula, the unique flavor of fennel, and creamy avocado. It also has a homemade vinaigrette that includes extra-virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, Italian parsley, and the unique flavor of fresh thyme leaves.

dill and fennel flowersAre you wondering about fennel? Well, fennel is a bulb shaped vegetable with tall, thin, wispy, fronds that have the appearance of dill.

Though the two are from different plant spices. Dill is from the celery family, and fennel is from the carrot family.

Apart from the crunchy rather spicy vegetable, the fronds can be used in salads as well.

Fennel is a firm and crunchy vegetable, and has a flavor much like licorice and anise. Sometimes in the market, the produce worker will refer to fennel as anise, though it is not. Just like comparing yams and sweet potatoes, also very different from one another.

Now for our featured recipe: – Citrus Fennel and Avocado Salad – and here is what you will need.

1 teaspoon Himalayan salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, remove leaves from stems

2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley chopped

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

1 large pink grapefruit, peeled and pith removed, cut segments into 3’s

1 large navel orange, peeled and pith removed, cut segments into 3’s

1 fennel bulb, quartered and thinly sliced, reserve fronds (optional)

4 cups arugula

1 ripe avocado peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks

lemon and olive oil dressingMix first six ingredients in a large bowl, and set aside.

grape fruit with peel removed grapefruit segmentsPrepare fruit, fennel, leaving avocado last so flesh doesn’t brown.

Using a knife remove peel from both the orange and grape fruit. Be careful while cutting away at the peel, so as to remove as little of the fruit as be possible.

Next slice away any white pith, again removing as little fruit as possible.

Arugala and Fennel in a salad bowl with dressingAdd the arugula and fennel to the vinaigrette and mix until well coated.

Citrus Fennel and Avocado Salad - image2On individual plate’s spoon salad mix and top with 1/3 cup grapefruit segments and 1/3 cup orange segments. Next add 4 to 6 chunks of avocado. Before serving add a few cut fronds to the plated salad. Prepares about 4 salad plates.

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Homemade Yogurt

Homemade Yogurt - garnished with fruitTo make homemade yogurt all you need is a half gallon of whole fat pastured fed milk and about a half cup of organic yogurt or a yogurt starter. We used the latter. If you do decide to use yogurt as your starter, avoid any flavorings and stick to plain, unflavored yogurts.

We are so amazed that we could do this. Why you may ask? Because we did not make it with a yogurt maker incubator. It was made with a crock-pot and the oven. Here is how it is done.

crockpot with fresh homemade yogurtUsing a crock-pot able to hold 4 cups of milk (1/2 gallon) pour milk into the ceramic bowel and place crock on low for 2 to 3 1/2 hours or until the milk reaches 180 degrees. Our crock-pot warmed the milk to 180 in about an hour and forty minutes.

According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, this heating step is necessary to change the protein structure in the milk so it sets as a solid instead of separating.

Next, remove one cup of the warm milk, and incorporate the yogurt starter into the milk then add it back into the crock-pot and mix in well.

Heat the oven to about 200 degrees for about 5 to 10 minutes and turn the oven off. Remove the ceramic pot insert from the crock-pot heating element and with the lid on wrap the pot in a large towel. Place a cookie sheet on the center rack of the oven, and put the towel wrapped pot onto the cookie sheet.

comparing store bought Greek yogurt to homemade yogurtClose the oven door and turn inside oven light on (if your stove is electric – if gas, it is not necessary) and let the milk and starter incubate for up to 12 hours.

The towel will help hold the heat in, and turning on the incandescent light bulb will help maintain warmth in the oven. If your oven is gas, the small flame that is always lit will help maintain heat. 

jar of Homemade YogurtTo stop the process or the fermentation of the milk, remove the pot and unwrap it, putting the pot into the refrigerator for up to six hours and then transfer to a clean sterile jar.

The yogurt has a thin consistency like Yoplait or Dannon yogurtBut to get a thicker yogurt like Greek yogurt or possibly Bulgarian style yogurt, you need to put the yogurt into a clean cheesecloth and let the whey drip off.

In the dairy farm community, some farmers take the whey, which is mostly water with some lactose or milk sugars, protein, and yogurt cultures, and mixes it up with the cows’ feed.

Some dairy farms are now adding the whey to their anaerobic digesters, which is a septic tank for cow poo. By adding the whey to the manure and letting it brew to the point of releasing a stinky gas that is then converted into electricity.

One upstate New York farmer’s digester produces enough electricity to run the farm and sell some back to the grid (Consumerist).

Homemade YogurtThe whey from strained yogurt and even cottage cheese is an acid whey, also referred to as sour whey, and there is the sweet whey from cheese making. They two types of whey are used for many things, with two just mentioned.

Link here to a recipe using whey to make Lacto-fermented Applesauce.

Enjoy your homemade probiotic or cultured yogurt with fresh or frozen fruit. We tried a little real maple syrup, and oh boy what a treat.

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The Kitchen Tools Needed To Achieve Healthy Cooking

The Kitchen Tools Needed To Achieve Healthy Cooking

The following video is thanks to “The Weston A. Price Foundation.” The video is themed: “Journey Back to the Kitchen” and hosted by Sarah Pope, who is a local chapter leader in Florida since 2002.

She will present the appropriate kitchen utensils to use, and the undesirable kitchen tools to toss out. Sarah Pope also blogs at The Healthy Home Economist.

The following information, video and written script is credited to “The Weston A. Price Foundation”.

INTRO

Hi Everyone, my name is Sarah Pope. You may know me from my blog TheHealthyHomeEconomist. I’ve also been a Chapter Leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation since 2002.

In the next few minutes, I’m going to talk to you about setting up your kitchen with the right equipment to prepare nutritious meals for your family. Time spent in the lost art of traditional food preparation is absolutely essential for you and especially your children to avoid the plague of degenerative illness that is sweeping across our modern culture.

You can be very encouraged that traditional cooking need not be a mind numbing chore, however! Modern equipment makes all the difference but it is important to make wise choices which can sometimes be difficult with the dazzling array of gadgets available.

I have been cooking meals for my family from scratch for over 10 years and have spent only a few hundred dollars during that entire time on equipment. Considering that I didn’t have much to start with as I rarely cooked before my children were born, that’s saying a lot!

So which appliances can be considered essential and which optional or even undesirable in your kitchen?

COOKWARE

Let’s start with cookware. Good quality cookware is a very wise investment and the most important use of your financial resources when prioritizing kitchen equipment.

You simply must get rid of any aluminum and nonstick cookware even if aimed at the gourmet market and made from high end materials. Aluminum dissolves when acidic or salty foods are cooked in it and many researchers feel that intake of aluminum is linked to a number of diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.

Nonstick cookware also poses a danger to your health. The chemical PFOA is used in the production of nonstick coatings and this carcinogen can get into your food and pollute the air in your home. PFOA has been linked with birth defects, cancer, and abnormal changes to vital organs.

Instead of nonstick pans, you can use a well-seasoned cast iron pan instead.

Glass, enamel, ceramic, stainless steel and titanium are all suitable materials for general purpose cookware. If you cook acidic foods frequently or suffer from heavy metal toxicity, stainless steel may not be the best choice as nickel and other alloys that are bound with iron in the making of stainless steel have been found to leech into food in small amounts.

BAKEWARE

Bakeware is another essential tool in the kitchen of an established cook. Please note, however, that aluminum bakeware does not necessarily need to be thrown out. Lining aluminum cookie sheets with parchment paper before baking protects the food from contact with the aluminum and is a good stopgap if funds for kitchen equipment are tight.

The same goes for aluminum muffin tins which can be lined with paper baking cups.

If you are in the beginning stages of putting your kitchen together, be sure to invest in stainless steel pans and cookie sheets as they really do not cost much more than aluminum pans.

When buying bread pans new, stoneware or glass are both excellent choices. Stoneware is also good for muffin tins.

STOCKPOT

A good quality stockpot made of stainless steel or enamel is a very important item to have in your kitchen. In my kitchen, I have 3 sizes, an 8 quart, a 12 quart, and a 16 quart. I use at least one of these stockpots on a weekly basis, usually making large batches of homemade broths and soups, portions of which can be frozen for fast meals at a later date.

GLASS OR ENAMEL CASSEROLES

Casserole dishes made of glass or enamel in a variety of sizes make one-dish meals an easy and nontoxic experience. I personally prefer glass dishes with lids so that leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator in the same dish they were cooked in.

CUTTING BOARDS/KNIVES

Good quality knives are an obvious necessity for the person who prepares homemade meals. Serrated knives are best for cutting bread and vegetables while tempered steel knives are optimal for cutting meat. A large chopping knife is a helpful tool as well.

Cutting boards are best made of wood, which is far less likely to harbor pathogenic bacteria than ones made of plastic. Bamboo is my favorite wood for this purpose as it is a sustainable natural resource.

FOOD PROCESSORS

Food processors can be an expensive investment but there is no need to spend a fortune.

In my own kitchen, I have my Mother’s old 1950’s glass blender which still works beautifully, a small Cuisinart food processor that cost about $30 and a handheld blender.

These 3 items perform all the tasks that I require, from grinding nuts and chopping vegetables to blending smoothies.Larger and more expensive food processors are helpful, but certainly not a necessity!

FOOD/BEVERAGE CONTAINERS

Moving on to food storage containers, be aware that plastic is not the best option. Glass mason jars of various sizes are very important to have on hand for lactofermenting fruits and vegetables and for cultured dairy products that you make at home. I myself use pint, quart, and half gallon sized mason jars with regularity.

I also use small glass pyrex bowls for storage of leftovers and for lunchboxes.

Limiting the use of plastic containers in your home is wise, but large plastic jugs do seem to be best for freezing homemade stock and soups. Just be sure never to put plastic containers in the dishwasher as overly hot water breaks down the integrity of the plastic which risks leeching of contaminants into food.

Also for this reason, stock should be put into the plastic jugs after it has cooled.

Always hand wash plastic containers in warm water with a mild dishsoap.

OPTIONAL EQUIPMENT

As you gain traditional cooking experience, you may choose to add a grain grinder, an ice cream maker, or a dehydrator to your collection of kitchen equipment.

All of these appliances are optional. I myself do not have a dehydrator, preferring instead to use the convenience and size of a warm oven to dry my nuts, seeds, and sprouted grains.

I do use an ice cream maker and find this particular appliance of tremendous benefit to my family, as homemade ice cream made with grassfed cream is such a superior snack to store ice cream, even high end brands like Haagen Dazs.

Grain grinders are very helpful once you begin learning how to traditionally prepare grain based foods With a grain grinder, you can grind the flour just before you need it, ensuring that it is always fresh.

AVOID THE MICROWAVE

While popular, the microwave is not a desirable appliance to use in preparing healthy meals for your family. The small amount of research on microwaved foods is not favorable and indications are that abnormal changes to vitamin content and availability occurs when food is microwaved. The blood profiles of those who consume microwaved food is similar to the blood profiles of people in the early stages of cancer.

Microwaving milk is especially dangerous as it alters the amino acids in a manner that can be toxic to the liver and nervous system.

It is best to resist using a microwave for any culinary purpose. However, there is no need to remove it from your kitchen. It does serve as an excellent, airtight cupboard for storing birthday cakes and other freshly made baked goods.

ENDING SEGMENT

As you can see, there is no need to break the bank when setting up your kitchen for traditional cooking.

The minimum to get started is really just a high-quality saucepan and frying pan, some cutting knives and cutting boards.

The most important thing is to not let yourself get bogged down in decisions about appliances and rather just get started cooking!

A JOURNEY BACK TO THE KITCHEN VIDEO
By Sarah Pope

——————————————

Read more information on the dangers of non-stick aluminum cookware: Non Stick Ceramic Cookware versus Non Stick Teflon

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Natural Bug Repellents

Natural Bug Repellents

happy romantic couple outdoorsSummer is a time to get outside and enjoy the garden, go to the park, camping, or the beach. We may even choose to put on a swim suit, shorts, or maybe nothing at all (if you’re a practicing nudist) to enjoy the summer warmth and sun.

midge to drink blood from hand of the personBut there is one pesky creature we have to also worry about, the bugs and insects, and most of them like to attach themselves to our skin. Therefore, out comes the bug repellent.

Poisons or chemicals that you would not ordinarily consume, doesn’t make since to apply them to your skin either. Many bug repellents have such non-eatable chemicals.

They may work at repelling bugs, but your skin is absorbing the repellent as well, and your liver is working hard to metabolize the toxins once they pass the epidermis and enter your blood stream.

The question arises, are there natural bug repellents that can work as well as chemical-induced repellents? Yes there is. Let’s examine a few ways you can keep obnoxious insects from invading your home and your body this summer.

 

Natural Bug Repellents and How to Make Them

Fleas

Spray cedar oil on carpets, floors and in your pet’s bedding.  d-Limonene, produced by the citrus industry, can be sprayed safely to prevent fleas.

Man with his dogWhat about your best friend, the dog that is? They can also be invaded by fleas, which can in turn be bothersome for you.

Try diatomaceous earth or powdered pyrethrum (purchased at any natural foods and herbal store) and sprinkle on your pet’s clean bedding and carpets in your home.

Herbal extracts such as rosemary, citronella, wormwood and pennyroyal are all natural treatments to repel fleas as well.

Mosquitoes

Marigolds, an annual flower are great at repelling mosquitoes. Plant them in around your garden and the areas were you sit, like the deck or patio.

Clove oil is effective against mosquitoes, but use sparingly as it may irritate the skin. Citronella (rose geranium), eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender and cedar oil are some of the most common insect repellents.

Flies

 Citronella can be diluted in oil, such as almond oil, and can be rubbed on the skin to keep almost any flying insects away. Eating herbs like basil, and mint on a regular basis will repel flies. Your skin will ooze the odor of the herbs which the flies do not like. Tansy as well as the smell of pennyroyal oil will keep flies away.

You can also use coconut oil to dilute the citronella, and hit two birds with one stone as they say:

  1. Repel the insects
  2. Retain the Moister of Your Skin and Make it More Youthful

Lemon and limes with cloves - natural insect repellent If your out in the yard enjoying family and friends with a meal, camping, picnicking at the beach or park you can naturally repel bugs and insects with lemon or lime slices stabbed with cloves.

All bugs and insects do not like the odor of cloves, it might be for the the oil it contains, which is eugenol oil, also found in cinnamon, basil, and bay leaves.

spray bottle Any of the natural herbal extracts noted in this article can be used in the following fashion.

Using a spray bottle, add an organic liquid detergent mixed with white wine vinegar and the plant extracts, like eucalyptus, lavender or tea tree oil, and any of the others noted above, and apply to skin.

Try some of these homemade natural bug repellents to repel bugs and insects before purchasing the extremely harmful products that contain poisonous chemicals that can only harm your health and the environment.

 

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Remembering With A BBQ On Memorial Day

Remembering With A BBQ On Memorial Day

In the northern hemisphere summer officially starts the 20th or 21st of June until the first day of the autumn equinox. But for many in the USA Memorial Day kicks off the summer for many, if not for all residence.

History notes that the first Memorial Day June 3, 1861 in Warrenton, Virginia. The first widely-publicized observance of a Memorial Day-type observance after the Civil War, was in Charleston, South Carolina, on May 1, 1865. In that same year, 1865 the federal government began creating national military cemeteries for those who died and were enlisted in the Union Army.

decorating grave site with flowers

May 30th was the official chosen date to celebrate the fallen war veterans, and as the custom was and is to decorate the grave sites with flowers, in 2010 Barack Obama stated that May 30th was selected as an appropriate date to memorialize all who have died while in the armed forces, as it coincides with the time when flowers are in bloom.

Flaming Empty BBQ Grill Many will stay at home, fly or drive to visit loved ones and friends or maybe go to a national park this Memorial Day weekend.

It’s only appropriate to get the grill fired up, as you can’t come together for good conversation and remembering times past without a good plate of food in your hand.

Here at Splendid Recipes and More, we have a few recipe suggestions to BBQ on your grill.

Bacon Wrapped Garlic Lemon Stuffed Chicken Breast

Bacon Wrapped Garlic Lemon Stuffed Chicken Breast

This recipe is baked in the oven, but can be BBQ on the grill.

Just heat your grill, closing the lid to contain the heat.

Place the bacon wrapped chicken breast in an aluminum container and place that on the heated grill.

Keep in mind the meat will cook faster on the BBQ grill than in your electric oven.

 BBQ Garlic Lemon Vegetable Platter

BBQ Garlic Lemon Vegetable PlatterIf your planing a trip to the park to BBQ, just cut the vegetables ahead of time at home, as well as prepare the dipping sauce.

 Mediterranean BBQ Chicken

Mediterranean BBQ Chicken and a side of Garlic Lemon Vegetables

 BBQ Beef and Sweet Pepper Fajitas

BBQ Beef and Sweet Pepper Fajitas

You can also make some tacos on the grill with Mexican Marinated Steak Fajitas

Marinated Steak Fajitas

 

If you don’t have a menu planned yet, we hope you enjoy these selections as part of your Memorial Day BBQ? If you have a planned menu for your BBQ, share it with us in the comment section below.

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