Prairie Views

~ Dreamy abstraction in Four Square House on the Pairie

Month: February 2012

Winter Diary, 2-28-2012

This weekend was a ruse of spring delight in weather. I confess that I was very delighted being able to work outside in a sunny 50 degree day. The bare wind landscape is brown and disorderly looking but some promise of spring displays in the trees and ground around. This has a wonderful boost of pleasure.  I worked in the herb garden to clear last years growth now brown and dry but new growth of Rue (ruta graveolens) is starting to grow. It is great to have some herbs that take care of themselves but the tend to crowd out the less vigorous. So today I went out to take some of the ones that are taking over other places such as the strawberry patch. This Butterfly Garden is around 12 by 18 feet.

 I got the plan from Adelma Simmons book “Herb Gardening in Five Seasons”. She begins with a Winter Diary with a day very much like the one I am experiencing. The brainchild of  Caprilands Gardens now called Caprilands Institue. She left her entire estate to the nonprofit educational institute. There is confusion if this site is available for visits.  The website is down but I have found they have a facebook site with an update done yesterday and they have reported to the IRS. So it appears they are still in open and have times posted. If seems you can view the garden but they do not have the high teas and lunches as they did years ago.  I do hope they organize some programs and events to prevent the place falling into total disarray.
I found it very interesting that the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued the 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. They put my area into another zone 6A from 5B. Climate oscillation is a on going occurrence and if you look into history you will find interesting evidence of change. Maybe the polar bears with be hit hard because of this climate change just as the wild horses and three-quarters of the large mammals in North America did at the end of the Pleistocene. Should we do restoration ecology and bring back the cheetahs, camels,  elephants and other mega fauna to North America? Heck, maybe an ecological history park , say in Manhattan, Kansas area, would bring in huge eco-tourism benefits.

Gardening 2/23/2012

This year I making good progress on my planting inside. I just need to get my cold house done so I can put plants I started in there to finish before planting outside. I still have my cold frame. I have had that for a long time and it has held up rather well with the wind and hail here in Kansas. All of the cabbage has germinated and is looking good. The chad has also germinated today. I am hoping the set up I have now will keep them from getting too spindly. That is a problem I have had before when starting them inside. I have different lights this year and so far they are going good. I am not sure I will grow start lettuce inside like I used to but will direct seed them under a row cover. I had problems with my row covers blowing over from the strong wind and had gotten some rebar to side poke into the soil and put the poles over. The plans I had just told you to stick the PVC poles in the ground but I could not get them to stay. I will put pictures up later after I progress with them.

I am going to try to do some weeding in my herb garden and get that looking nice. I want to transplant some asparagus that I plant on the edge thing is would look nice because of it lacy look and it is a plant to keep for years in one place but it has actually been a hindrance in working the garden. I will plant strawberries this year in the space which is a small strip.

The cabbage that I planted a couple days later germinated the other day and are going well. The Swiss chard germinated yesterday and seem to be growing well.

The American Black currant is a little more iffy. The germination of this plant is around 4 weeks but since I use the under-heat method I am hoping to be sooner. You normally do not want to grow currant by seed because they will not be the same as the parent you got the seed from . The seeds I are from wild currants so they have not been cultivated. These will be planted in the wood look and shaded by cedars. American Black Currants do not grow naturally in Kansas so I am not sure they will grow.  Three states surrounding Kansas -Colorado, Missouri and Nebraska have American Black Currants. It might be because there are not pine or cedar trees that normally grow in Kansas although introduced Cedars since to be doing extremely well. This is mostly because in many areas fire do not sweep through the areas like they did in  the 1800 and earlier.

I should be getting the trees I ordered in the middle of March. I have ordered 25 Black Walnuts, 25 Eastern Red cedar-Bessey and 25 Rocky Mountain Juniper. The walnuts and juniper are new additions but I think they will do well.

Almost Spring

We had promising weather of spring for a few days but in reality spring is a few more weeks ahead. The very limited spring that Kansas gets. I noticed the tulips and day lilies have started to grow and are now a few inches out. I did go out and give them a little fertilizer since they have started growing.

Today the weather is very windy but still a rather mild temperature of 46 degrees F. The date to begin planting winter/early spring was the 15th of February but I did get a late start and started planting February 17, 2012.. Today I am planning to plant a couple more trays.  I still make soil blocks since I have found them the easiest and cheapest way to produce seedlings. It is almost like just growing in a tray but you do not have to transplant by trying to carefully dig out the seedlings since the are going in little cubes. It seems like a chore and you have less of a survival rate. It is amazing how well the cubes stay in contact without falling apart if you are careful with the watering. The technique is slowly picking up in the United States but has been used for years in Europe.

The following were the seeds planted 2/17/20:

Garden Wild Kale

This is a new variety that I am trying this year that I  purchased from Bountiful Gardens. This is a variety you can select strains that are adaptable to your own farm environment.  I am not sure if I will collect seeds yet but will wait for them to grow and see if I like them.

January King

This is a cabbage that has been around before 1885. It will be the first time I have grown the variety myself and will see how it does in this area. 

Cabbage, Savory, Samantha 

This is a another savory cabbage. It is a compact growing type. My seeds were from Johnny’s Select Seeds. I did not see them for sale in this years catalog but it is still poplar in Europe. Maybe Americans do not like the pointed heads on this type.

Chard, Swiss “Rainbow”

I really like this Swiss chard. It is both colorful and flavorful. I use it in stir-fries and in soups. I grow this every year now.

Today My plant is to plant:

American Blackcurrant

This seed was purchased from Bountiful Gardens to grow as  permaculture at the edge of my wood lot. I have had them in the fridge for over 60 so I will try planing them.

Wonderberry, Garden Huckleberry, Sunberry

I have tried growing these before and still have seeds I purchased from Baker Creek Heirloom seeds. I will again grow these seeds. The wonderberry is a cross made by Luther Burbank. The fruit is only good for deserts so I am not sure if it will be a plant I will keep growing. I have wild plums, grapes and other. The seeds might be worthwhile to keep in long storage just in case.

Today I will plant some more cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables.

Chinese Cabbage “Michihil”-Ferry Morse
Broccoli “De Cicco” – Ferry Morse
Gonzales Mini Cabbage- Pinetree
  At first I thought this would be great because it produces a small head. I do not      think I will grow again after these seeds are gone.

Cauliflower “Summer Harvest Hybrid” – Burpee
This is the first year to try this cauliflower. Cauliflower does not like to grow for me in Kansas. The weather goes from winter to summer very quickly with little or no real spring type weather.

Brussels Sprouts “Catskill” – Ferry Morse
I have started to have some luck with brussell spouts. This type has so far been the best. Brussels Sprouts are still a little tricky. I will try again starting them in August to over winter. I seem to have luck growing them that way.

Update 2/20/2012:

The cabbage planted 2/15/2012 has started to germinate.

I find it interesting that the USDA zones this area as the Smokey hills while the KU website shows the area as the Flint Hill and most of Dickerson County is.  It gets rather flat between here and the Smokey Hills near Salina, KS. We used to be  zone 5 but a few years ago they changed the area to zone 5b.

 USDA Gardening and Plant Hardiness Zone Map for Kansas

USDA Hardiness Zone:
Zone 5b: -15F to -10F
PlantMaps Hardiness Zone:
Zone 5b: -15F to -10F
Days Where Temp Exceeds 86°F:
61 – 90 days
27a – Smoky Hills
Freeze Data:
Average First Frost October 11 – 20
Average Last Frost: April 11 – 20
Current Drought Data:
Drought Conditions: Normal
Palmer Drought Index: 0.30
Local Climate Data
Mon Min F Max F Precip In.
Jan 17 39 .81
Feb 22 46 1.03
Mar 32 57 2.59
Apr 42 68 2.94
May 53 77 4.73
Jun 63 87 4.64
Jul 68 92 4.4
Aug 66 91 3.43
Sep 56 82 2.98
Oct 44 71 2.69
Nov 32 54 1.99
Dec 21 43 1.17
Ann 43 67 33.4

Flint Hills Map
drawing of outline of this region on Kansas map

Dash Diet Meals # 3- Omelet, Honey Garlic Lamb Ribs

Dash Diet Day # 3

I found some lab ribs while shopping at the store last night. It is rare to find lamb so I  decided I will make a meal with reduced salt.  The problem with the ribs is the same with pork ribs is that it is a very fatty cut. Lamb chops a better for the diet and you could most certainly use those instead.  I reduced the amount of fat by trimming as much fat away as possible before cooking as I do this with most meats. 

Finding low sodium ham may be a problem. While shopping last night at the super Wal-Mart I was not able to find any. You want the sodium content to be 140 mg or less.

I will have to find a source of WellShire Farm which claims 80 to 90 mg depending on they type or Sara Lee is another source on low fat ham. I will be on the search. 


Daily Goal: 2,000 [1,600] (1,200) calories 

Omelet Breakfast

Omelet with 1/2 diced tomato
2 slices whole wheat toast [1](0) 
4 teaspoons jam [2 teaspoons] (0)
1 Small banana
8 oz. nonfat milk


Ham and Swiss Sandwich:
  2slices whole grain bread [(1)]
  2 oz. ham
  1 oz. low-sodium, low fat Swiss cheese [(.6 oz.)]
  1/4 cup shredded cabbage or lettuce mix
   2 slices tomato
1/2 cup baby Carrots
8 grape tomatoes
1 apple [(small)]


2 oz (2 ribs) .Honey Garlic lamb ribs 
1 baked potato [(1/2)]
1 cup steamed broccoli
1 1/2 cup mixed salad with 2 T. low fat and salt dressing [(1 T.)]
Skinny Cow Ice cream sandwich



1/2 cup egg substitutes or 4 egg whites
1/4 cup diced red peppers
1/2 tomato chopped
1/4 cup onions

Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat, spray with nonstick cooking spray. saute the peppers and onions until slightly soft.

Pour the eggs over the peppers and onions. Carefully lift the sides of the omelet as eggs starts to set and let the uncooked egg flow under. Repeat until the egg is almost all the way set. Add chopped tomatoes to one side. Fold the egg over the tomatoes. Slip onto a plate. 
Honey Garlic Lamb Ribs
3 lbs. lamb ribs
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Small amount of ginger crushed or 1 teas. dried ginger
1/2 c. soy sauce, low salt
1/2 cup sake wine or pineapple juice
1/2 cup honey
Make sure you take the extra fat off of the ribs to moderate the lamb taste and make the dish less fattening.
Place the lamb in a baking dish. Crush the garlic and ginger on the bottom of a mixing bowl. Add the other ingredients. Mix well; pour over lamb. refrigerate at least three hours or over night, turning occasionally. Place lamb on grill reserving marinade. You could also pan broil the lamb.If using a grill cook 6 to 7 inches from heat source or bake in the oven at 400 degree F (200 degrees C). Cook at least15 to 17 minutes each side or until it is done to your preference. Make sure you brush frequently with the marinade you reserved. 4 servings.
Servings Per Recipe: 6
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 510
  • Total Fat: 37g
  • Cholesterol: 112mg
  • Sodium:  276.33mg 34% 
  • Total Carbs: 10.4g
  •     Dietary Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 25.8g

Dash Diet- Day 2 – Salmon

DASH DIET Day  # 2

This is the second DASH diet I have worked on. The breakfast takes a little more time but can be made quickly. The breakfast has orange juice and you will need to be careful on the amount. The juice has a high calorie count. I suggest that you measure everything until you get to the point you can eyeball amounts. A scale and a measuring cup is you friend. Most people are not aware of the REAL portions you should eat. The 1200 diet has no toast and the 1600 has only one slice and the amount of the jam is reduced. Make sure you have you milk. If you do not like milk or cannot drink it try to find something you can drink that is not high in sodium. I usually do not have a snack but it it is good to have the ingredients around in case you have a hungry day. If you limit the amount of food too much you will difficult to stay on the diet.

2 slices whole wheat toast [1] (0) 
4 teaspoons jam [2 teaspoons] (0)
1 cup mixed berries
6 oz. orange juice [(4 oz.)]
8 oz. nonfat milk

Turkey and Swiss Sandwich:
  2 slices whole wheat bread [(1)]
  2 oz. ham and 1 oz. low-sodium Swiss cheese [(0.6)]
  1/4 cup shredded cabbage
  2 slices tomato
1/2 cup Baby carrots 
8 grape tomatoes
1 med apple [(small)]
1/4 cup Mixed nuts [1 T.)] 
6 oz artificially sweeten yogurt
4 oz. Mixed fruit


 4 oz. Roasted Salmon
1/2 cup baked Sweet Potato
1 cup steamed broccoli
1 1/2 cups Mixed Salad with 2 Tablespoons Vinaigrette dressing [(1 T.)]
1 slice Italian bread (0)
1/2 c. nonfat artificially sweetened frozen yogurt

Breakfast Omelet – 1 serving

1/2 cup egg substitute or 4 egg whites
1 1/2 tbsp. water
Diced onions
Sliced mushrooms
3 fresh basil leaves or any spices you enjoy.
ground pepper

Spray pan with non-stick cooking spray. Saute the vegetable. Pour egg whites in pan. Let it cook until bottom is set and then gently flip. Finish eggs and then fold in half. Slip onto plate.

Roast Salmon– 2 servings

2 4 oz. pieces of salmon with skin
2 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chives

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Rub the salmon with the olive oil. Roast in the oven skin side down for around 12 minutes or until fish flakes easily. Remove skin off the salmon and place the salmon on a serving plate. Discard the skin. Sprinkle with herbs or slat free spices, as desired.

      Dash Meals – Day One

      This is a Dash Diet one meal for a 2,000 [1,600] and (1,200) calorie meals. If you have different calorie amounts adjust as needed. The breakfast is for a quick breakfast using the convenience of Quaker Oats Weight Control Oatmeal. The problem with most convenience foods and processed foods is that they tend to contain a lot of salt so  you will have to be careful the remainder of the day with your salt consumption. I carefully made the other meals very with restricted salt.  I usually do not have a problem with the calories, fiber and protein. If you are just beginning to lower your salt intake start small. Make the meals and add a small amount of salt until you get to the point of not adding salt to your meals. If you slowing reduce the amount it will make it much easier to get to the lower salt levels without giving up. This is the same for going to whole wheat and lower fat dairy products. Both of the recipes for dinner are very easy. I put a link for the Chicken Piccata.  The potatoes recipe is below. If you are on the lower calorie diets you will not want to make the potatoes. The good think about this diet is you will not get a good amount of fiber in your diet. Make sure you drink enough water per day. You can adjust the meals as needed. I am not having the snack so will add  the one slice of wheat bread to my lunch. The tuna with the added vegetables add a lot of fiber and vitamins.

      DASH DIET – #1 Breakfast

      Cereal, Dates, Skim Milk

      1 package QuakerOats Weight Control Oatmeal
      8 oz. skimmilk
      ¼ cup (40g.) Chopped dates
      Half Tuna Sandwich:1 slice whole wheat bread (0) , ½ c. low sodium light tuna salad [(1/3 cup)] topped with ¼ cupcucumber slices
      Salad: 1romaine lettuce with 8 grape tomatoes and 2 T nonfat Italian dressing, no salt
      8 oz. nonfatmilk
      ½ cup nosugar added fruit cocktail
      3 oz. Low-Sodium Chicken Piccata
      1 servingParmesan Potatoes (0)
      ½ cup Greenbeans, Salt Free
      Green Salad:Mixed greens with 2 T. oil and vinegar dressing [(1 t)]
      2 chocolatechip cookies [(0)]
      1 cup grapes(0)
      ¼ cup almonds[(1 T)]
      6 oz.nonfat, artificially sweetened, peach yogurt

      Below is the recipe for the Dash Diet Chicken Piccata

      Parmesan Potatoes

      1 pound potatoes (small red potatoes) or sliced baking potatoes
      1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
      non-stick cooking spray
      1 teaspoon dried oregano
      1 teaspoon dried basil

      Preheat over to 400 degrees F. Place the potatoes in a small roasting pan. Spray with the non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle with the cheese, oregano, and basil. Cook for about 40 minutes, or until tender.

      Low Salt/Fat chicken salad

      6 oz. can low-sodium tuna
      2 tablespoons low fat mayonnaise
      1/4 cup celery
      1/4 grated carrots
      ground pepper

      Mix together the ingredients.

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