Mosquito Repellent

Have you seen the commercials for Off!'s new mosquito repellent? I have to admit, I was rather skeptical. My Mom got a coupon, and I gave it a try. I've only used it twice, but didn't get a single bite either time. I should pause her to explain that I am a mosquito magnet. Other people say it's because of my sweet personality. Whatever the reason, bites swell up to the size of a quarter, and only an ice cube on my bare skin relieves the initial itch/swelling. While spray-on repellents work, I inevitably miss a spot that the mosquitoes find. Plus, I'm sure that spray-on repellent's aren't very healthy for my skin.

Back to the Clip On - the first time I used it was on a bike ride around 8 PM. I was amazed when I got back to have no bites. Instead of clipping it to my clothes where I was worried about it falling off, I clipped it to a cable on my bike.

The second time I used it was this past Sunday, the Fourth of July. My pastor and his wife invited me, and some other folks, over for a cookout; later we went to see the town fireworks display. I was outside for a good 3+ hours. One of the girls who joined us got a couple of bites, but I was bite free!

The other bonus for me is that there is no discernible scent. So, go look for a coupon, and get yourself one...or two...or buy them for the whole family!
*Off! has not asked me to blog about their product, nor am I receiving any compensation for blogging about it.*


Blog Posts IV

You would think that with no job, I'd be keeping up with my blogging. Obviously that has not been the case. Here are the latest blog posts that I've enjoyed and want to share.

Benefit with vermicompost from your own wormery!
If I put a vermicomposter on my Christmas list, do you think I might get one? This post at Garden Desk shows a side-by-side comparison of peas, half composted, half un-composted. (Is 'un-composted' a word?)

How to Water Small Seeds and Seedlings
Have you ever watered your seedlings, then realized that your watering can (or kitchen glass) has flattened your precious seedlings? Mr. Brown Thumb has the perfect solution!

Fruit Brushetta
The pictures in this post at Rosemary's Blog Spot look absolutely delicious! The fruit possibilities are endless!

Are Vegetables Underused?
From The Veggie Patch Re-imagined, this was an interesting read. The post talks about parts of plants that you might not think of using, such as squash blossoms, garlic scapes, and various leaves.

Deluxe Grow Box Self-Watering Planter
Mr. Brown Thumb had previously made his own from scratch self-watering planters. He wanted to see how they compared to the real thing, and received a Grow Box from Clean Air Gardening to review. Check out his post to see the results!

You Know You're a Cheap Gardener When...
Posts like this one, from In the Garden Online, make me smile. Not so much because I find them funny, but because I've done some of those things myself. It's nice to know I'm not alone in my...cheapness.

How to Reuse Mesh Produce Bags in the Garden
This post is also from In the Garden Online, and might save some money! I use one to store garlic, and it has worked very well. I will be trying some of the other ideas as well.

Rose of Many Colors
A lovely rose collage at My Iowa Garden.


Lemon Basil Pesto

This is my herb pot. I couldn't fit all the herbs into my herb garden, so there are a few pots of herbs in the front garden. This picture was taken after planting on 6-10-10; the pot has a Creeping Rosemary, Lemon Basil, Genovese Basil, and Italian Parsley. At some point last week I realized that the Lemon Basil was trying to flower, and the parsley wasn't very far behind. My Mom never quite knows what to do with the more unique herbs that I grow, so the catch-all solution seems to be pesto.

This is what I started with; mostly Lemon Basil, a little Genovese Basil, and 4 or 5 sprigs of Parsley. After removing all the stems and bug-eaten leaves, I had approximately 2 cups of leaves. My parents just got a food processor, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. It did a pretty good job, but if you like smooth pesto, I'd recommend doing a larger quantity. I prefer slightly chunky pesto, and the texture is nearly perfect for me. Normally, I chop everything by hand, then put a little at a time into our 2 cup food processor. The flavor is good though. I've heard that making the heat from food processor blades can generate enough heat to wilt the basil and cause pesto to lose a lot of flavour.
The recipe I use can be found here. I only use this recipe for quantities, though. I completely change the directions. Here's what I do:
  1. If I remember, I toast the pine nuts lightly.  My how-to link seems to have vanished, but basically you just throw them in a small fry pan over medium heat. Keep them moving so they don't burn. They should be toasted in under 10 minutes, if I remember right. They will give off a sweet aroma, and start to brown. Just don't over-toast (burn) them! 
  2. Next wash the Basil (or other herb/green) and remove all the stems. This is the fun, messy part. Start chopping! Chop into the tiniest bits possible. 
  3. Chop your garlic. Or use a garlic press. I prefer chopping - I learned this from watching the Food Network - sprinkle a little salt on your garlic (about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon) then start chopping/smooshing with knife that has a wide blade. The salt helps break the garlic down, and I think it draws more flavor out of the garlic. It doesn't have to be minuscule since it will be processed further in the next step.
  4. In your food processor, combine the pine nuts, cheese, garlic, and enough oil to make a thick paste. At this point, you want to get the pine nuts and garlic to the size you want them to be in your finished pesto. 
  5. Alternately add more oil and basil leaves. Because the processor I usually use only holds two cups, I have to add about 1/3 cup of leaves at a time. Don't run the processor for long amounts of time, just pulse until things break down. Once all the basil is in, you can run it for a bit longer, just until the desired consistency is reached. 
  6. Enjoy your pesto, or freeze it. I freeze mine in saran-lined ice cube trays. Once the 'pesto cubes' are frozen, I just slide them right out and store them in a freezer safe zip top bag. Be sure to label your bag!

I have also made Radish Leaf Pesto, Zucchini Pesto (best slathered on chicken!), Garlic Scape Pesto, and Cilantro Pesto. I'm not sure where I got the Cilantro Pest recipe from - I may have used this one and simply substituted Cilantro for Basil. Googling produces many yummy-looking recipes as well.