Saturday, June 22, 2013

Junque Yard: picture blog of what's blooming in the garden

I accidentally posted these garden pictures in my other blog, and then forgot to put them here where they belong.

Don't get old people, you won't like it:

Evening Primrose (yellow) and Oriental Lilies (orange)

Siberian Irises
I love it when my sage is in bloom!
Trilliums make my heart happy.
The original caption on this was "the pansies are winning!" But is it really a race?? :)
Snapdragons, petunias, begonias, violas. OH MY!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Return of the Junque

It's been almost 6 months since I've posted. I constantly have ideas to write about, and they are all stored in my brain, but I haven't been getting them out at all lately in favor of learning.

During this past winter, I've studying and researching lots of stuff. Most of it health related, like I've become fascinated by essential oils for healthy and beauty. Also learning more about herbs in applications not just for cooking, but how they can add health and heal the body.

I  hated to be the person that learns something new and shiny and passes it on immediately without knowing how the results work. I mean, I could always preface it by saying, "This looks fascinating!" and let you make your own choices. And if you follow me on FaceBook, you see me do that all the time, but I just felt that I should sit back, reflect on findings, tweak stuff, etc, before just putting it out there.

However, with the weather (finally) turning warmer (it was a long, cold winter followed by a long, cold, RAINY spring), and me up to my elbows in soil and garden projects, again, I find myself neglecting this blog that while small, is still dear to me, and I need to force myself to share again.  :)

it doesn't help that in the past I've trained myself to get up early and blog during the wee hours, outside with my cup of coffee while the birds chirp.  That's impossible during half of the year here in the midwest, so I need to train myself to write inside like a normal person if I ever plan on being consistent. Which, if you know me, is tenuous at best.

Here's a teaser of some of the stuff I want to write up in the near future:

  • Updates on the No-Poo experiment.  If I can get a comment from the ladies that did the original with me, I break my nose attempting an cartwheel of joy!
  • My very favorite Rosemary Hair Rinse that I talk so much about that some of my friends want to strangle me when open my mouth about it.
  • My extremely long-term experiment in going off commercial deodorant, and how I kept people from running away from me while I was detoxing.
  • How I figured out that essential oils aren't just for smelling, and what I really do with them.
  • My gardens, and what I've done around here lately to turn my Junk yard into a Junque yard.
  • As always, recipes for meals that I love.
  • Getting rid of commercial cleaners, and my deep, abiding love of one cleaning agent that won't turn the world into a mess.

...and much, much more.

So if you see me futzing around on Face Book, you have my permission to yell at me to, "GO BLOG, YOU LAZY BITCH!"


Here's a snazzy pic of one of the irises from my garden. Pretty cool, huh?

Monday, December 31, 2012

Year End Review of Junqueology

Hello my friends,

Boy have I neglected this blog! I generally get busy in the early autumn, with harvesting the gardens, and canning the bounty it brings forth, and then....I get tired.  LOL.

Winter is a slow time at the micro-mini ranch, as it is for most people who garden in cold climates, but I thought I'd give you all a little update, mostly for myself to get me back into the "mood" of blogging again. Maybee this winter I'll be more motivated to write - espcially if the plans in my brain bear out!

1. I've been getting more and more into making home remedies for medicinal and for beauty, using  natural oils, essential oils, and general household items. I've been collecting tons of recipes, and working out some stuff on my own. If you want to see what I've been learning, I have several Pinteret pages.  Take a look at some of my stuff:

Alternative and Natural Beauty Ideas

Alternative and Natural Home Remedies: Internal

Alternative and Natural Home Remedies: External

Herbal uses and Essential Oils

I've also been researching more on gardening, especially Heirloom seeds (non-GMOs), and organic pest control.  Here are my gardening pages on Pinterest if you want to have a look:

Gardening: Fruits, Veggies, and Herbs

Gardening: Flowers and Landscaping Ideas

Gardening: Organic Pest Control Tips

If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I've devoted a significant time over the last year to learning and following the Paleo Lifestyle. Also known as the Anscestral Diet, or The Primal Blueprint, there are a tons of ways of saying that I've been trying to kick my addiction to processed foods, particularly those containing wheat and other grains.  I started another blog with a few friends, and you can read about our ups and downs as well as get food ideas and recipes that we developed by going over to:

Paleo Lifestyle in the Real World

and our companion Facebook support page: Paleo Lifestyle in the Real World on FB.

Anywhoo, I would like wish you all a Happy 2013. Here's hoping we all are happy and healthy through the coming year!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Junque Food: MATERS!

We are heavily in the midst of canning season here at the micro-mini ranch.

So many things to can, so little time!

If you have the canning bug, than this scenario is very familiar to you:

I had between 7-10 gallon sized freezer bags of tomatoes in the freezer. Since tomatoes don't ripen all at the same time, it's necessary for me to freeze them for awhile until I have enough to do a canning session.  The hubster and I had planned on doing up the tomatoes this past Sunday.

And then I went to the Saturday morning Farmer's Market.

And bought another bushel of tomatoes.


I couldn't help it!! They were extremely affordable, and we were gonna be canning anyway!!!

BTW, if anyone wants to know how much a bushel of tomatoes is, it's about the equivalent of a paper grocery bag filled to the top.

With a zillion tomatoes.

And it's heavy.

When it was all said an done, By the end of Sunday night, we had canned 17 quarts of tomatoes That's QUARTS. not pints. it's a lot. See here:

I googled this image, and it came off's website, but the URL is from I hope I've given all credit where it's due here.
In addition, I also processed and canned 4 quarts of pickled banana peppers.

I was pretty chuffed by the end of Sunday.

And sore.

And tired

More pics later.  LOL

Friday, September 14, 2012

Junque Yard: Wanna see my Pumpkins?

Last year's pumpkins were a smaller variety, and I had great success with growing them and making pumpkin puree for pies. They also produced the best seeds for roasting and eating.

My only complaint about them was that the rind was sooooo tough, I needed a chain saw to cut through them.

Ok, that might have been a slight exageration.  However, I did have to call upon DaHubster to use his massive bulging biceps to help out his wife....

....ok, I'm back. Sorry, got lost in a fantasy for a minute there.  Heh.

This year I tried a different variety of pumpkin.  It was a variety I got from my "Seeds of the Month" club from Mike the Gardner Enterprises.

Don't judge me.

Anywhoo, I didn't realize that this variety of pumpkin grows to HUMONGOUS sizes.  I have a pumpkin that's too large for me to lift. It has to weigh over 40lbs.

Where's DaHubster? (drool)

This shot doesn't really show how massive it really is.  Those leaves could be worn as hats!
This dude is about 10lbs, and was hiding in a bunch of weeds.

this little dude is about 5 lbs.

this one is the smallest of the bunch, but it's a really pretty shape.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Junque Food: Lacto-Fermented Pickles

Hey Folks!

I've been on a quest to make REALLY GOOD dill pickles.

I've done the canning thing, and I don't care what recipe you bring me, any pickle that is water-bath canned (meaning heated up to process) SUCKS.

Don't give me that "alum" and "grape leaves" bull-crappy...if they get heated, they get soggy.

I hate soggy pickles.

Do you remember those old fashioned deli style pickles?  The ones that were in a crock on the top of a deli counter? I do.  Big, fat pickles that crunched, and were sour and garlicky, and your mouth would water just by looking at them?

Dang, I need a napkin.

Well, folks, the secret is out. Those really good, and CRUNCHY deli-style sour pickles were "lacto-fermented."  This means they are made the same way sauerkraut is made - but putting them into a brine of salt water and spices, covered and left to ferment for about a week.

I've made one successful batch, and before that a not so successful batch.This was partly because the recipe I used had the salt to water ratio too high, so I adjusted it the second time to much better results.

The other reason is because I, um, sort of forgot about them, and they sat in the brine for 3 weeks before I tasted them. So they were infinitely salty, and basically inedible.

Live and learn!

I printed out the recipe I used, but I didn't save the URL, so I can't give the author credit. I'm sorry.  If you happen on this recipe, and it's yours, please tell me and I will give you all the credit you deserve.

Sour Pickles

These are a favorite of many and a lot of people miss them when going on a Paleo diet, but the naturally lacto-fermented kind is perfectly healthy, curncy and sour. This version is flavoried with garlic and dill. Your garlic will too lacto-ferment and can be enjoyed afterwards as it will be packed with flavor.

  • 1 gallon (16 cups) picking cucumbers, unwaxed ( I didn't have a gallon of pickles, I just used what I had, which was probably 5-6 cups)
  • 2 bunches of fresh dill (I didn't have any fresh, so I used dried, and way more, about 5-6 heads)
  • 16 cloves garlic (I used about 8)
  • 3T pickling spices (peppercorns, mustard seeds, bay leaves, cloves) (I used all but the cloves)
  • 5 or 6 T of sea salt (I used 5)
  •  12 cups of water (distilled if possible, but it's not necessary. I have city water, and they came out just fine)


  1. Soak the cucumbers in cold water for a few hours, then scrub them thoroughly to prevent any mold from forming during the fermentation process. (I also cut the tips off the cukes so that they wouldn't be bitter)
  2. Place the cucumbers,  dill, garlic and spices in your fermentation jar and sprinkle a bit of sea salt as you go a long (I did not add any extra salt, only what was in the brine).
  3. Prepare the brine of 5T of sea salt to 8 cups (I raised that to 12) of water, making sure to stir well to dissolve the salt and fill the fermentation jar with the brine so it covers the cucumbers.
  4. cover the jar and place it in a warm spot in your kitchen and allow the cukes to ferment for 5 to 10 days.
  5. A good way to know when it's ready is to taste it during the fermentation process. It's ready when you are satisfied with the taste.

Ok, so let's talk about a few things:
  1. it's best to use a glass container or an old fashioned crock. Metal will interfere with the fermentation process. I did see (and will reference below) a YouTube video where the author used plastic containers, and he said his results were just fine. I'm not gonna get all up in your business about it. The important thing about the container you use is that you have to have a lid that covers well and makes the pickles stay under the water. In the olden days, hypothetical Grandma would put her pickles in a crock and cover it with a plate held down with a stone. I put mine in an old crock-pot crock and inverted the dome lid it came with to hold everything under the water. Worked like a charm.
  2. Once the pickles taste the way you want them to taste ( and mine did after 3 days, so please test early and often), you can move them from your fermenting container to a smaller one with just enough brine to cover, and then refrigerate them.  This will slow the fermenting process, and keep your pickles from getting moooooooshy.
  3. You cannot can these pickles. Well, I mean, you can, but that means heating them up, and they will get moooooooshy.  Just eat them.  And then make more.  Seriously. They are easy, healthy, and best of all TASTY! I took some into work with me last week, and got some pretty darn good reviews.
  4. In my picture above, I also added some banana peppers to see if they tasted good lacto-fermented. they got bitter, so I'm not recommending them
 Here are a couple of YouTube Vids that I watched when I was coming to grips with purposefully fermenting food items that I was going to eat: