Gardening tower

At a recent gathering of budding companies, we met the owner of these vertical gardens. Needing only 20″ diameter for the pot itself (your plant needs may differ) they can stack up to 62″ high, and grow everything from basil to carrots to lavender. It uses a hydroponic system to water and nourish the plants. A base mounted on ball bearings allows it to turn readily for even light.

foody garden tower

We would imagine that our testers would pretty much decimate the lower level.

Trio of testers

Lily feels no threat with her guardian siblings: legs out and facing the wall. Oddly enough, she is the most curious bunny I know, and always wants to see what is happening, what needs to be investigated. We also call her Busy Bunny or Pince  Nez because of the marking around her face.

Flower, Lily, and Buttercup
Flower, Lily, and Buttercup

Maddie goes to vet again

Maddie went to the vet again. Her abscess came back with a vengeance, and the vet believed it to be a bad tooth causing it. The surgery was successful, with two teeth removed. the X-rays showed a tunnel created by the bad teeth, going to and blocking the tear duct. She is now on PenG, Baytril, Metacam, and  eyedrops until the culture comes back.

In a cabin in the woods, Little bunny at the window stood, saw a rabbit hopping by, so she rushed her to get her away from her territory.
In a cabin in the woods, Little bunny at the window stood, saw a rabbit hopping by, so she rushed her to get her away from her territory.

A makeover for bunny housing

When Rose, Lily, Buttercup, Flower, and Maddie joined the household, there was a major shift in the house layout. Rose gets along with everyone, but the trio (Lily, Buttercup, Flower) do not care for Maddie, especially the sister Lily and Flower. So we had to use the X-pens to accommodate everyone.

Here are some before and after pictures. RIP living room.

 

Living room before the bunnies took over
Living room before the bunnies took over
Living room after the bunnies took over with carpet squares and floor mats
Living room after the bunnies took over with carpet squares and floor mats

 

Violet guards the gate to make sure no one escapes and invades her kingdom
Violet guards the gate to make sure no one escapes and invades her kingdom

 

Washing veggies in hot water helps preserve them?

I admit it: I am still trying to wrap my head around this. How can hot water help preserve the raw veggies on my bunnies’ plates? I hate seeing how much can go to waste if I have to feed the guys a lot more than usual (e.g., leaving the house for more than 18 hours). Lettuce wilts and sticks to the plate, the carrots get mushy, and the fennel browns and hardens. So it was exciting to find this idea at the Modernist Cuisine site.

Food scientists, however, have discovered a remarkably effective way to extend the life of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables by days or even a week. It doesn’t involve the chlorine solutions, irradiation or peroxide baths sometimes used by produce packagers. And it’s easily done in any home by anyone.

This method, called heat-shocking, is 100 percent organic and uses just one ingredient that every cook has handy – hot water.

You may already be familiar with a related technique called blanching, a cooking method in which food is briefly dunked in boiling or very hot water. Blanching can extend the shelf life of broccoli and other plant foods, and it effectively reduces contamination by germs on the surface of the food. But blanching usually ruptures the cell walls of plants, causing color and nutrients to leach out. It also robs delicate produce of its raw taste.

Heat-shocking works differently. When the water is warm but not scalding – temperatures ranging from 105 F to 140 F (about 40 C to 60 C) work well for most fruits and vegetables – a brief plunge won’t rupture the cells. Rather, the right amount of heat alters the biochemistry of the tissue in ways that, for many kinds of produce, firm the flesh, delay browning and fading, slow wilting, and increase mold resistance.

A long list of scientific studies published during the past 15 years report success using heat-shocking to firm potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, and strawberries; to preserve the color of asparagus, broccoli, green beans, kiwi fruits, celery, and lettuce; to fend off overripe flavors in cantaloupe and other melons; and to generally add to the longevity of grapes, plums, bean sprouts and peaches, among others.

The optimum time and temperature combination for the quick dip seems to depend on many factors, but the procedure is quite simple. Just let the water run from your tap until it gets hot, then fill a large pot of water about two-thirds full, and use a thermometer to measure the temperature. It will probably be between 105 F and 140 F; if not, a few minutes on the stove should do the trick. Submerge the produce and hold it there for several minutes (the hotter the water, the less time is needed), then drain, dry and refrigerate as you normally would.

Researchers still are working out the details of how heat-shocking works, but it appears to change the food in several ways at once. Many of the fruits and vegetables you bring home from the store are still alive and respiring; the quick heat treatment tends to slow the rate at which they respire and produce ethylene, a gas that plays a crucial role in the ripening of many kinds of produce. In leafy greens, the shock of the hot water also seems to turn down production of enzymes that cause browning around wounded leaves, and to turn up the production of heat-shock proteins, which can have preservative effects.

For the home cook, the inner workings don’t really matter. The bottom line is that soaking your produce in hot water for a few minutes after you unpack it makes it cheaper and more nutritious because more fruits and veggies will end up in your family rather than in the trash.

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HEAT-SHOCKING GUIDELINES

The optimal time and temperature for heat-shocking fruits and vegetables varies in response to many factors – in particular, whether they were already treated before purchase. Use these as general guidelines.

– Asparagus: 2 to 3 minutes at 131 F (55 C)

– Broccoli: 7 to 8 minutes at 117 F (47 C)

– Cantaloupe (whole): 60 minutes at 122 F (50 C)

– Celery: 90 seconds at 122 F (50 C)

– Grapes: 8 minutes at 113 F (45 C)

– Kiwi fruit: 15 to 20 minutes at 104 F (40 C)

– Lettuce: 1 to 2 minutes at 122 F (50 C)

– Oranges (whole): 40 to 45 minutes at 113 F (45 C)

– Peaches (whole): 40 minutes at 104 F (40 C)

 

A shocking (and hot!) tip for preserving produce

Photo credit: AP Photo/Modernist Cuisine, LLC, Chris Hoover

Tilbert makes Seattle Met top pet

Tilbert was selected as one of the city’s top pets in Seattle Met Magazine February 2014 issue. Of the hundreds of photos received, he was the only bunny (!) and placed 3rd runner up. The photoshoot was pretty funny, with Violet hopping around getting all nosey, and Tilbert knocking over a glass of port causing the room to smell like a big party.

Tilbert graces the Pets and Vets of Seattle Metropolitan Magazine February 2014
Tilbert graces the Pets and Vets of Seattle Metropolitan Magazine February 2014

Rabbits, Moon, Grass, and Clouds: symbols of Japanese Autumn

furoshiki-moon-rabbit-tsuki-usagi2

Last Autumn, we attended a little lecture on the Japanese tea ceremony and the Four Seasonal Icons of Japanese autumn culture – “Mangetsu (full moon), Oborozuki (moon obscured by clouds), Susuki (autumn grass), and of course, Usagi (rabbits). We learned why rabbits and autumn grass are paired and why the moon hides behind clouds in so many images of autumn, just as we Westerners will depict Autumn with dried corn, falling leaves, a pumpkin, or turkey.

At the tea ceremony, we were even given a sweet shaped like a rabbit.

Mochi bunny for autumn moon viewing tea ceremony
Mochi bunny for autumn moon viewing tea ceremony

Long blog short, the grass produces the seed heads at about the same time as the full moon, clouds are common at the time but also serve as a means of enhancing the fullness and brightness of the moon. The rabbit, meanwhile, is seen on the moon itself in many cultures, including Asian, indigenous Latin American, and native Pacific Northwest tribes.  In Japanese culture, the rabbit pounds rice into mochi.

Rabbit pounds mochi
Rabbit pounds mochi

The Japanese celebrate this full autumn moon much as we have Harvest Moon parties. Not surprisingly, the festival tend to be hundreds of years old and much more zen.

Tsukimi or Otsukimi, literally moon-viewing, refers to Japanese festivals honoring the autumn moon. The celebration of the full moon typically takes place on the 15th day of the eighth month of the traditional Japanese lunisolar calendar; the waxing moon is celebrated on the 13th day of the ninth month. These days normally fall in September and October of the modern solar calendar.

The tradition dates to the Heian era, and is now so popular in Japan that some people repeat the activities for several evenings following the appearance of the full moon during the eighth lunisolar month.

Tsukimi traditions include displaying decorations made from Japanese pampas grass (susuki) and eating rice dumplings called Tsukimi dango in order to celebrate the beauty of the moon. Seasonal produce are also displayed as offerings to the moon. Sweet potatoes are offered to the full moon, while beans or chestnuts are offered to the waxing moon the following month. The alternate names of the celebrations, Imomeigetsu (literally “potato harvest moon”) and Mamemeigetsu (“bean harvest moon”) or Kurimeigetsu (“chestnut harvest moon”) are derived from these offerings.

Tsukimi refers to the Japanese tradition of holding parties to view the harvest moon. The custom is thought to have originated with Japanese aristocrats during theHeian period, who would gather to recite poetry under the full moon of the eighth month of the lunisolar calendar, known as the “Mid-Autumn Moon.” Since ancient times, Japanese people have described the eighth lunisolar month (corresponding to September on the contemporary Gregorian calendar) as the best time for looking at the moon, since the relative positions of the earth, sun, and moon cause the moon to appear especially bright. On the evening of the full moon, it is traditional to gather in a place where the moon can be seen clearly, decorate the scene with Japanese pampas grass, and to serve white rice dumplings (known as Tsukimi dango), taro, edamame, chestnuts and other seasonal foods, plus sake as offerings to the moon in order to pray for an abundant harvest. These dishes are known collectively as Tsukimi dishes (???? tsukimi ry?ri)

As International Rabbit Day (4th Saturday of September) falls so close to the same period, we would like to get bunny lovers better acquainted with this fascinating celebration.

Frosted Biscotti

Our “frosted” biscotti are now available at Bunny Bytes. Banana Bunny Biscotti is frosted with a puree of carrot, beet, or parsley in our new flower shape. Our testers seem to prefer this shape as it is easier to grab and run–talking to you Tilbert, Flower and Buttercup!