Month: November 2020

Autumn Wrap-up and Winter Projects

Autumn is coming to a close. We had an great growing season this year — I covered the lettuce beds with fabric tents three or four nights in November because temps would be near freezing. We had a few nights where our small pond froze on the surface, but tomorrow night will be the first sustained sub-freezing temperature. I got a bit of a late start to outdoor gardening because we rebuilt the garden beds in a sunnier location, but I still managed a 200 day growing season. Adding another six weeks for the seeds started indoors, I had plants growing for 244 days — about 2/3 of the year! Moving the beds to a sunnier location greatly increased productivity, and the compost in the garden area has turned into a large pile of dirt. We’ve been adding new stuff to the north side of the pile, and I’ve been moving everything south as I turn the pile. It is impressive how much the pile of grass and leaves shrinks down as it decomposes. In early autumn, I put about 16 cubic feet of compost into the garden beds to make a lettuce and kale bed. Yesterday, I amended another fifteen cubic feet of the lettuce bed. Anya and I used two cucumber A-frame trellises and a few of the tomato trellises to create a structure and covered the lettuce bed with greenhouse plastic. Hopefully we’ll be able to continue growing lettuce throughout the winter. I also plan on planting the broccoli, brussle sprouts, and cabbage under the cover next April.

I was worried the chicks we got in August would be too small when the temps dropped, but they are fifteen weeks old today. They love being outside and fluff up really big when it gets cold. Both the coop and chicken tractor have a wide roost so they can keep their toes under their warm feathers.

In the next few weeks, we’ll build some nesting boxes and get the coop finalized. I also want to finish making packets for the seeds we harvested this year and file them into my seed storage boxes. In the next week or two, I will be making a lot of candied almonds — vanilla cinnamon candied almonds, maple roasted salted almonds, and some plain candied almonds — for us and to give away to neighbors.

This winter, I want to finish the crochet blanket I am making for our family room. It should be a thick, warm blanket that we can all snuggle under. I want to finish Anya’s new Peppermint Swirl dress. I also want to make her micro-corduroy dress/tunic/shirt to replace the one she outgrew this past year. Both will be worn in the spring/summer, but sewing is a cold/snowy day activity for me.

Chicken Fodder

I wanted to grow a little treat for our chickens to eat as winter sets in and green leafy things become scarce. I took about half a cup of wheat, a quarter cup of barley, and a quarter cup of oats and mixed the seeds together. I covered the seeds with water and soaked them for about 20 hours. I then spread the seeds in a 8″x8″ aluminium tray that has holes poked into the bottom. This sits into its plastic lid to keep from dripping water everywhere. Twice a day, I run water into the tray and let it drip out. No soil used — the roots and seeds form a fairly solid mass as the seeds sprout. One week later, I have lots of bright green shoots. Hopefully they think it’s a tasty treat!

Chicken Tractor

We put together a chicken tractor to give our chicks to keep them where they’re supposed to be. We’ll put a tarp over one half of the tractor so they’ll have somewhere to hide when the eagle come about (and a place to hide from the rain). And it’s got a low-motion swing!

We used a 1×4 for the swing and mounted the rope to both the top and bottom of the tractor. This approach leaves the swing move a few inches each way, but it doesn’t swing when they hop on and off. They seem to like it — I’ve seen each chicken hanging out on the swing today.

High Density Apple Pie

I have been following the “roast apple slices before putting into pie crust” approach from Bon App├ętit when making apple pies. The Thanksgiving pie this year was about five pounds of sliced apples, mixed with about a cup of maple syrup, and roasted at 350 F for 25 minutes. They should be tender but not dehydrated (a big *no* on the convection oven). The roasted apples are mixed with 2-3 tablespoons of flour and drizzled with more maple syrup. They are then added to a walnut pie crust and baked for another 20-30 minutes.

Maple Cranberry Sauce

I made a maple cranberry sauce tonight — add about a cup of water and a cup of maple syrup to a saucepan and stir. Rinse a bag (12 oz) of cranberries and add them to the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the temp and simmer for twenty minutes or so until the cranberries break up. It’s really good warm and cold.

Shiitake Mushroom Jerky

We saw jerky-style shiitake mushrooms on Shark Tank a few days ago, and their SEO isn’t awesome because searching for “shiitake mushroom jerky” doesn’t show their company’s site in the first page. And, since I didn’t remember the company’s name … that makes ordering it difficult. The first page of results does, however, provide a lot of recipes. So I picked up a pound of shiitake mushrooms at the grocery store (a.k.a. every not-dodgy-looking shiitake they had in the bulk mushroom section). I marinated them for 24 hours in a combination of 1/4 c soy sauce, 1/4 c low-sodium soy sauce, 1/4 c apple vinegar, a clove of garlic (diced into small pieces), and a sprinkle of crushed red pepper (ground). I roasted them at 200 F for a LONG time. The recipes said 90 minutes to two hours, but it was after midnight when I turned off the oven, and I had started cooking the things at 7PM. So that’s at least five hours. A food dehydrator would be a good investment if we’re going to keep making mushroom jerky!

End result — it’s way too salty. Possibly using 1/2 c of low sodium soy would have been OK … but thinking of using veggie stock for some of the soy. And possibly making one with a few tablespoons of maple syrup instead of garlic.

VSCode Search/Replace Using Regex Capture Groups

Regex adds a lot of flexibility to search/replace operations. Capture groups allow you to manipulate the found data in the replacement text. As an example, I have simple mathematical equations that are not spaced out reasonably. I could replace “+” with ” + “, “-” with ” – “, “*” with ” * “, “/” with ” / “, and “=” with ” = “, but using a capture group to identify non-whitespace characters and the range of operators allows a single search/replace operation to add spaces to my equations.

Selecting the regex option (in blue below), I can use the regular expression (\S+)([\+,\-,\*,\/])(\S+)=(\S+) as my search string. This means the first capture group is one or more non-whitespace characters, the second capture group is one of the characters +,-,*,/, the third capture group is one or more non-whitespace characters, there’s an equal sign (which I could make into a fourth capture group), and the fourth capture group is one or more non-whitespace characters.

An alternate regex finds zero or more whitespace characters — (\S*)([\+,\-,\*,\/])(\S*)=(\S*)

The replacement text then uses each capture group — $1 $2 $3 = $4 — to add spaces around the operators and around the equal sign.