Friday Foodblogging: All-Natural General Pest Repellant

This week, let’s look at a general pest repellant for the garden. I’m a fan of natural solutions when the science behind them is sound. I’m also a fan of making things yourself whenever possible, because that’s the only surefire guarantee that you know what the ingredients are.

Pest repellant

The intent of this spray repellant is to annoy pests like chipmunks, squirrels, and small insects.

Ingredients

  • 2 raw, whole jalapeños
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 leaves of the citronella plant
  • 1 tablespoon of an organic castile soap
  • 750 ml of tap water

Tools

  • High speed blender
  • Paper towels or coffee filter
  • Funnel
  • Spray bottle

Directions

  • Put all the ingredients in your blender.
  • Blend on high for 45 seconds.
  • Let sit for 5 minutes.
  • Blend on high again for 45 seconds.
  • Line funnel with paper towels to act as a filter, or use a standard coffee filter.
  • Slowly pour contents through funnel into spray bottle.
  • Spray wherever pests are.
Pest repellant

A cautionary note: while none of these ingredients are toxic to humans, they can be irritating. Never blend hot peppers indoors; always blend outdoors in a well-ventilated area. Know which way the wind is blowing and stand upwind.

You’ll need to re-apply this spray once a week in dry weather and after every rain.


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Friday Foodblogging: Hot Salad

Grilled hot salad

Salad isn’t always the most exciting thing to eat. It’s healthy, to be sure, but not always as savory or rich as we’d like – at least not without losing all the health benefits.

A hot salad is one way to deliver a bit more punch to the dish without overloading on high calorie dressings. It delivers a nice grilled flavor while still being healthy.

You’ll need a barbecue and a frying/sauté pan, as well as a large metal bowl.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, thickly sliced
  • 1 head of broccoli, thickly sliced
  • 1 bag or 4 cups of uncooked spinach, dry
  • Garlic salt
  • Non-stick Cooking spray
  • Optional: peeled uncooked shrimp

Directions

Spray broccoli and cauliflower with cooking spray on both sides of each slice.

Lightly salt with garlic salt.

Put the thick slices of broccoli and cauliflower on the grill over very high heat. Cook them like burgers, turning every 3 minutes or so until the stem is softened and a few fringes are blackened. I find this takes about 12 minutes total. Place in the metal bowl.

Once blackened on the edges, spray, salt, and put the onions and bell peppers on. Cook those similarly; I find they take only 6 minutes (3 minutes per side). Place in the metal bowl.

Spray the frying pan with cooking spray and add the spinach. Toss over high heat until the spinach is wilted but not cooked thoroughly; you still want a vibrant green leaf. Once done, put in the metal bowl. This takes less than a minute usually. If you’ve got shrimp, repeat this step with shrimp.

Place the metal bowl on the grill over low heat and toss vigorously to reheat all contents to roughly the same temperature. Mix, add additional garlic salt or other non-fat dressings (balsamic vinegar or lemon juice are both quite nice) and serve while hot.


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Friday Foodblogging: Grilled Rice

Grilled rice

My friend Chris Brogan enjoys making the joke, “It’d be like grilling rice”, a way of suggesting that an effort is futile or highly impractical. Conceptually, grilling rice does seem absurd.

Why would you ever attempt something like grilling rice? If you’ve ever been to a hibachi grill, you’ve likely had the fried rice made on the grill. If you’ve ever been to a Korean restaurant and ordered a stone pot bibimbap, you’ve had the same type of rice. Rice fried at very high temperatures develops a wonderful crispy exterior and amazing flavor as the starches and sugars undergo the Maillard reaction.

Creating the same kind of food on the stovetop takes a long time and often yields underwhelming results because stovetops just don’t get hot enough. Unlike your stovetop, a good grill – gas or charcoal – can reach very high temperatures, sometimes in excess of 800 degrees. That’s hot enough to create the Maillard reaction quickly, so that the rice doesn’t dry out and become tough.

Thus, we should grill our rice! Of course, the logical question is, how do you prevent it from falling through the grill grating? The answer is: don’t put it on the grill grating. Put it on a baking sheet.

Here’s the recipe for an amazing fried rice at home, on the grill.

Ingredients

  • Japanese short grain sushi rice or any other sticky rice, 8 cups cooked
  • Sesame oil, 1 tsp
  • Soy sauce, 4 tbsp
  • Sugar, 1 tbsp
  • Butter, unsalted, 1 tbsp
  • Peanut or other high-heat tolerant vegetable oil, 1 tbsp
  • Sesame seeds

Procedure

  1. Cook the rice in a rice cooker according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  2. Let the rice cool until you can comfortably handle it, about 120F/49C.
  3. Pre-heat your grill to high.
  4. While the rice cools, melt the butter.
  5. Combine melted butter, sesame oil, and vegetable oil together.
  6. Brush a large baking sheet with 2/3 of the mixed oil. Reserve 1/3.
  7. Mix soy sauce and sugar together in a small cup until the sugar is dissolved.
  8. Fold sesame seeds into the cooled rice.
  9. Spread the rice over the baking sheet in a thin, compact layer. Press down to ensure it’s compacted.
  10. Using a brush, lightly spread the remaining oil over the surface of the rice after it’s spread over the baking sheet.
  11. Place the baking sheet on the grill and grill for 3-5 minutes until the bottom of the rice turns a light brown. Do not let it burn!
  12. Once the first side is lightly browned, use a spatula and flip portions of the rice like burgers to the other side.
  13. Cook the second side until lightly browned.
  14. Lightly drizzle the soy sauce on the cooked rice while it is still on the grill.
  15. Remove rice from grill immediately and serve.

The key to this recipe is the rice. If you use a long grain, non-sticky rice, you’re going to have a really bad time. Sticky rices form patties, essentially, making the rice much easier to cook on the grill.

Enjoy this recipe!


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