Chinese Lamb Kabeb

This is a popular Chinese street dish influenced by the Muslims live in NW region of China. It is delicious and simple to make.
Here's the recipe:
1. Use leg of lamb or chicken thigh. Remove the gristle and Cut the meat into 1/2" squares. Cut lamb fat from the leg of lamb into small squares.
2. Marinate the meats with dry sherry, a couple slices of onions, salt and pepper for 2 hr.
3. Skew meat on bamboo skewers, place 2-3 small fat pieces on each skewer.
4. Mix together: Ground cumin, hot pepper flakes, salt and sesame seeds together. Dusk on the meat skewers on all sides.
5. Grill on a gas or electric grill until done. Serve hot with rice or flat bread.
Note: The meat is seasoned twice, once when marinating, once when grilling. Pay attention so you don't over season.

Fun with the chicks...

Q&A: Do seeds "expire" after the printed dates on the packet?

State and federal seed laws require seed companies print dates on the seed packages. Each state has different requirement, ranging from 9 to 18 month. West coast states usually have longer dates than eastern states, probably having to do with when the laws were set, western states were still the "frontier" states so they were allowing the seeds to be sold in a longer time period. Seeds don't "expire" Per Se after the 9-18 month after the printed dates. Vitality is used to measures how viable seeds are, the longer the time has passed, the poorer the vitality of the seeds. Different seeds maintain their vitality different. Beans, cucumbers and peas will last 5-6 years, while onions, lettuce and carrots probably only 1-2 years, that is from when the seeds were harvested, not what's printed on the seed package. Commercial seed sellers can sell their seeds as long as the germination meets the state requirement. Vitality is not a required element. So to answer your question, you can use past date seeds, just be aware that some may not come up fast. And avoid using old onion/leak seeds, because they have the least storage life.
Good luck and happy gardening!

The Story of Mr. Holland and Opus Eggplant

Opus Eggplant is a hard, round Asian eggplant that matures early. I like it not only because it matures early, also because of its exceptional quality in texture and taste. It was not a popular variety in my seed collection. I always thought maybe because people don't eat that many eggplants, or maybe because of their disappointing eggplant growing experience. I frequently hear people say:"My eggplant never produced!" or "My eggplant set fruit so late, by the time the weather turned cold, they were still size of a golf ball". I'd always told them they should try Opus Eggplant, it does not disappoint!
One such person I convinced was Mr. Holland. I met Mr. Holland in a local Flower and Garden Show. Mr. Holland loves eggplant, but complained how much work it is to get his eggplant to produce. I told Mr. Holland I can get my Opus Eggplant to produce at the end of June, good eating sized eggplants. He bought the seeds at the show, with certain amount of reservation.
The next year at the same garden show, an older gentleman walked straight up to me and said: "I got my eggplant to produce June 15th!" I was befuddled, and said: "And you are....", trying to search my brain where I had met him. "I am Mr. Holland, Karl. Remember me? You sold me Opus Eggplant last year." Ahh, now it all makes sense, eggplants!
Mr. Holland went on raved about how good the eggplant tastes: "It's sweet with no bitterness whatsoever, and it's firm, I made the best eggplant Parmesan ever! We just LOVE it!" Even though I knew all about Opus Eggplant, it is one of my favorite. Still, it was so nice to hear from someone else, especially from a enthusiastic eggplant lover.

We Are What WE Eat

The old saying "You are what you eat" reflects that people have long known that diet can affect one's health. Now scientific proof is finally on the way to explain why people eat "healthy" foods can avoid many of the calamities brought on by nature. In this captivating video you will learn that the "healthy foods" starve off the blood supply to support cancel cell growth, therefore, they never develop into something harmful. It turns out some of the foods are just as potent in fighting cancers as the highly priced pharmaceutical drugs. So make your next meal a gourmet cancer fighting feast. Eat more vegetables, drink red wines and have a great tea party with your friends. Do what you can to keep the health you have instead of treating the illness you get!

Time to Think Tomatoes

Just as we think spring is just around the corner, March surprised us with a blanket of snow. Don't let that dampen your spring fever, now should be the time to put your quest for the best tasting tomatoes in gear. There are so many good heirloom varieties available these days, the important thing is to select only the varieties that grow well in your region, and mature in time before winter (in our case, the rain) sets in. Ask around, talk to your local extension agents, don't leave it to chance!
There are a few things you can do to maximize your success.
(1) Use fresh seeds as much as you can, especially if you are new to grow your own starts. Fresh seeds have higher vitality, they germinate faster and produce healthier seedlings.
(2) Use only sterile soil with good drainage and wetting agent: Tomatoes are slow growing seedlings, be sure to start with clean soil with no containment so the seedlings will not die of premature death (called damping off). The soil you use should be a seed starting mix with wetting agent. I use a seedling mix that contains: 50% peat moss and 50% vermiculite.  Wetting agent, fertilizer and trace elements added.  Free of weeds, disease and insects.
(3) Germination: Assume the above two conditions are satisfied, three elements are essential for the tomatoes seeds to germinate: temperature, moisture and oxygen. The optimum temperature for tomato seeds to germinate is between 75F-80F. They will germinate at a lower temperature, it will take longer. You supply the moisture by watering. Keep the soil moist after sowing. The fluffy loose soil should allow good drainage and plenty oxygen to reach the roots. Your seeds will emerge in 3-14 days, depending on the freshness of the seeds and the conditions they are growing in.

(4) Seedling Growth: Once they seedlings emerge, they will need light and nutrients to grow. Transplant the seedlings to larger containers. Give them plenty of light, otherwise they will grow thin and tall. Keep the seedlings in a condition that is not too hot, let them get some air so they can grow strong. They will remain in the containers until you are ready to transplant then out to the garden.
(5) Seedling Care: Since tomato seedlings are going to remain in the pots for quite sometime, there are a few good practices you can use to keep them healthy and disease free.  You can keep the seedlings in the greenhouse with proper ventilation; or in a covered area, be sure to bring them in when the temperature drop below 40F, otherwise they could suffer frost burn. Other tips that are helpful are: cover the pots with a thin layer of chicken grits, these fine rocks act like a mulch. They keep the moisture in the pots and discourage molds from growing on the pots.
(6) Varieties I had success with:
Old German: A large sized meaty beefsteak type tomato with few seeds. Matures earlier than most beefsteak type tomatoes. Indeterminant with medium sized vine. Produces high quality tomatoes consistantly. Great for making tomato sandwiches.
Cuban Yellow Grape: A small yellow grape tomato with intense flavor. Matures early and holds up well in the fall. Great in mixed heirloom tomato salads. An early maturing indeterminant type cherry tomato, a prolific yielder.
Pick Red: An early, determinant plant, produces large slicing tomatoes with great taste.
Peron: An early, indeterminant plant,produces large slicing tomatoes with great taste. Very productive.
Isis Candy: A great tasting tomato when fully matured. It took longer to mature than I had hopped. It was quite sweet with very little acidity. I guess they were not ripe when I tasted them back in August. It sure takes a long time to mature, but it was worth it.
Roma Tomato: The variety I grew was very productive. Good for sauce and drying, not fresh eating.
Jet Star (Hybrid): This is a very early variety, produces large sized tomatoes that are great for fresh eating.
I have found a tomato list from LoveAppleFarm in California, it will provide some good references.