Archive for June, 2011

Cleaning an Overgrown Garden Bed — Video!

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Noel and I made another video last week demonstrating how he uses a few different tools to help him clean out a totally overgrown, weedy garden bed. As you can see in the video, a few of the beds in the vegetable garden have grown out of control. The daunting task of clearing the beds was made quite a lot easier with the use of proper hand tools.

Roasted Asparagus Potato Salad

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

We have polished off the last of the garden asparagus.  I did freeze a couple of containers of blanched asparagus puree with lemon for seasoning.  Since I’m always reading recipes I don’t remember where I saw that idea.  We’ll see how we like it this winter tossed with pasta or perhaps as a soup seasoning.

My new favorite way to serve this tasty spring morsel is roasted. And what better way to enhance the dish than to toss it with roasted potatoes.  Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and your dish is done.  How easy it that?

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

6 to 8 medium potatoes, scrubbed & peeled or not, cut into ¾” dice

2-3 T. Olive Oil

¾ to 1 tsp. seasoned salt

Toss potatoes, oil & salt, and place on greased oven proof pan and roast for 30 minutes or until crispy but not overdone.  Remove from pan and place in serving bowl.

1 lb fresh asparagus cut into 1” pieces

2 T. Olive Oil

½  T.  to 1 T.  Tamari

Toss asparagus pieces, olive oil and tamari, and place on same greased pan that was used for potatoes.  Roast for 15 minutes, remove from oven and add to the potatoes in the bowl.

Add 2 T., or to taste, of balsamic vinegar, mix in and serve at room temperature.

I roasted the ingredients separately for several reasons.  One, they require different roasting times;  two, I didn’t want the steam from the asparagus keeping the potatoes from getting crispy;  three, I was able to season the two vegetables differently.  Enjoy!


We Meet the Nicest People at Trade Shows

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Last weekend Anneliese, Judy and I exhibited at the 2011 MREA Energy Fair.  I’ve posted about this show in previous years because it is one of our favorites.  MREA attracts an audience that is far more in tune with the issues of sustainability than the general population, and many of the attendees are home gardeners.  In other words, it’s a friendly audience that will buy our tools.

Trade shows where we can sell product can be great for us because we have an opportunity to recoup some or all of the costs of doing the show.  Using trade shows as a marketing tool has helped us immensely.  We know that when we sell tools to a consumer at the show, that buyer has an excellent chance of really liking the tools and letting their friends and relatives know about them and about CobraHead.  We find that when we do shows for the second, third, and fourth time, happy customers will find us to tell us they like our products, and often will buy more tools for gifts.

The other great thing about trade shows is the people you meet who are also exhibiting at the show.  The network opportunities for a little company like ours are tremendous.  We find people who want to sell our tools and become wholesale buyers.  Other exhibitors often have contacts that help us either in finding new customers, or they may solve marketing problems for us because they’ve  already come up with a solution for an issue that can work for us.

Our next door neighbor at MREA this year was Backwoods Home Magazine.  While the magazine editors and publishers, who work out of Oregon did not attend the show, they were represented by one of their main writers, Jackie Clay, who lives in northern Minnesota.  As happens at these events, you talk to your neighbors a lot and I found out that Jackie not only grew up in Warren, Michigan, my boyhood home, but she attended the same high school I did and graduated in my younger brother’s class just two years after I did.  Small world.

Jackie is very well known as a writer on self-reliant living. She has written numerous articles for magazines such as Mother Earth News, Countryside Magazine, and other magazines that promote living a self-sufficient lifestyle.  She is now writing mostly for Backwoods Home.  Jackie is also a prolific book author with quite a few books published on homesteading and self-reliance, and we found out that she is also a novelist with several westerns waiting in the wings, ready to be published.

Here’s a link to a typical very useful article that Jackie recently posted for Backwoods Home.  It’s about seed saving and it gives non-technical, easy-to-read instructions advising the home gardener how to both save money and add to their food security by saving seeds.

Jackie, her new husband, Will, and their friend Tom Richardson were wonderful neighbors and we are happy to have had the chance to meet them.  We’re already looking forward to next year’s MREA so we can resume our friendship.



Beautiful and Bountiful Berries

Monday, June 20th, 2011

We came home late last night from four days on the road after a trade show.  It’s the time of the season when we should be picking strawberries twice a day, so we lost a few berries to birds and over ripeness, but we still had a huge amount waiting for us, which I harvested this morning.  We’ll be freezing some, turning some into strawberry jam, and enjoying mouthfuls of the rest eaten fresh.


Oven-baked Sweet Potato Fries

Friday, June 17th, 2011

With all of the sweet potato recipes that we like to cook, we’ve had yet to make sweet potato fries.  So last week I had some friends over to test my oven-baked version of this dish.

The cut sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes peeled and cut

Per tray:

Enough Peeled and sliced sweet potatoes to cover tray without touching each other

¾ teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon cumin

Black pepper

Enough olive oil to completely cover potatoes thoroughly

On the sheet and ready for the oven

On the sheet and ready for the oven

Preheat oven to 425-450 (depending on oven)

Peel sweet potatoes and cut into ½ inch wide fries

Add enough olive oil to completely coat the fries without drenching them

Add salt, cumin and black pepper

Lay fries out on sheet so that they fill the pan without touching

Bake 15 minutes on bottom shelf

Flip potatoes and bake 10 more minutes

Sweet Potato Fries

Out of the oven and into the mouth

Note:  After the first batch I switched from a metal cookie sheet to a glass pan.  With the glass the fries didn’t get quite as crispy, but none of them got blackened on the edges either.

These fries were good by themselves, but I also served them with two sauces.  I made a chipotle mayo that much to the surprise of my guests contained chipotle and mayo.  I also made a cilantro-lime yogurt sauce.

1 cup plain yogurt

Chopped cilantro

Juice of two or three small limes

One chopped hot pepper (like Serrano)

Throw all the ingredients in a blender.  That’s it.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day June 2011

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Welcome once again to Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, where garden bloggers around the world share the flowers they’re enjoying in their own gardens.

You’ll have to forgive my pictures for this month. By the time I was able to take photos, the sky was dark and overcast, so I hurried through the garden a bit quickly. You’ll also have to forgive the complete lack of identification of all blooms. I can name some of the flowers and not others, and unfortunately I don’t have enough time today to spend a couple of hours doing Google image searches to try to figure out what I’ve got growing. However, I think it’s better to post several pics of lovely unnamed blooms than to skip Bloom Day altogether.

Please enjoy!

Using the CobraHead Long Handle as a Scuffle Hoe

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Noel and I decided to seize upon the nice weather we had today and shoot a few short videos in the garden. Here, he’s demonstrating how the CobraHead Long Handle® can be used as a scuffling hoe. Please enjoy!

We plan to post more videos as the summer progresses. Please let us know if there’s something you like to see from us!