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Topics - Ragun Gardener

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Homesteading Skills / Pit Boss Copperhead pellet smoker on sale
« on: February 09, 2019, 12:40:44 PM »
It was on sale so I had to buy it. 1/2 price at wally World so go find it if you need one.
I bought it late that afternoon and had to do a fast and hot cook, it doesn't have a strong enough smoke flavor but it was good. Next time I'll follow directions just to see what flavor it brings. Since then I figured out that the hotter you cook on it the less smoke flavor it gives off. That makes sense considering it actually burns the pellets for heat.

If you make jerky and sausage then this works like a dream, it has a smoke setting and temps stay below 160.

This thing is bigger than it looks and will work great for smoking my sausage.

Some other cooks

Loaded up with a rack of pork and beef ribs and squach

BBQ on the right and Chinese BBQ on the left

Chinese style


Beef ribs


I also made a batch of jerky and this thing worked like a dream

Half deer and pork smoked sausage from this week.

I loaded it up with finger food for the Superbowl

I tried Shake-n-Bake wings on the smoker and they were good, nice and crispy just like an oven

Buffalo wings and fresh sausage

Stuffed banana peppers with sausage and bacon wrapped, the others are cream cheese stuffed jalapenos. The round ones are onion bombs

I even cooked Deviled crabs, this was a killer plate

Onion bomb sliced open

I also made some BBQ gizzards, boiled first then topped with Jack Millers sauce. These didn't last long enough to make it to the plate.

General Discussion / Time to start peppers!!!
« on: January 03, 2019, 12:10:30 PM »
Here's my list so far, I'm growing more sweet peppers this year and all are new to me.
aji arnucho
Aji Dulce
aji limo rojo
aji Pineapple
Alma Paprika
Big Jim Lumbre
Billy Biker jalapeno
Dolce Di Mineryino
giant marconi f-2
Hatch Chili
hot cherry bomb
Jimmy Nordelo
Leutschauer paprika
peach habanero
Piment D Espelette
scotch bonnet freeport orange
sugar rush cream
sugar rush peach
sweet pickle
Yellow Pequin

Fruit Trees / Fig tree identification
« on: October 27, 2018, 11:47:30 AM »
Can someone help identify this tree? I don't know much about the tree.

All I know is what he told me about the tree. About 25 years ago he was working at a sheet metal fab shop in Lafayette La and an old guy came in asking for sheet metal to plug holes in his barn and my uncle gave him a bunch of scraps. A few days later the old guy came back and brought him the tree for the metal. He said he bred the tree in Lafayette. He's never seen the guy again.

I started this tree last fall from cuttings.

Fruit Trees / Who's picking pecans?
« on: October 21, 2018, 11:27:15 AM »
The Pecan trees are raining pecans. All 11 trees are littered with so many pecans you can't walk under them without stepping on one. I barely picked from the two trees near the house and filled two crawfish sacks already.

Fruit Trees / It's fruit picking time down here!!!!
« on: October 04, 2018, 04:48:12 PM »
I walked around and snapped a few pics of the fruit trees today.
Japanese Plum is in full bloom, it should be a great year.

I call this the Charlie Brown orange tree, it's about 7" tall but puts on so much fruit the branches sag.

Kumquats starting to change color

This has been a good year for Persimmons

The other orange tree is lagging behind.

This was a small round Kumquat tree I planted 2 years ago but the freeze last year killed it or I thought. I think this is the root stock growing and it's making fruit. You can see a Kumquat to the left of the flower hiding behind the leaves. I'll have to do a taste test to check the flavor, if it taste bad then I'll graft a blood orange branch on it.

Recipes / I'm a Youtube foodie junkie and I have to try that awesome food
« on: September 19, 2018, 10:58:09 PM »
I've been wanting tacos since I watched a video Mark Wiens posted about taquitos. I'll leave a link at the bottom. The soup is Birria and I had to try it. So I watched a few vids, checked some recipes and decided to do my own thing using a few methods from some recipes I liked.

I dug through the freezer and found some leftover mole I made and pork chunks I needed to cook so I went shopping for the other ingredients. I'm making regular tacos too for the fam in case they don't like the Birria.

Starting on the marinade

I saved some mole to add later

Next was the salsa verde, I roasted the tomatillos, garlic, hatch peppers and onions

I cleaned out the pepper seeds and then it was all the kids in the pool with salt, black pepper, about 5 sprigs of cilantro stems and all, 1/2 cup of water and some chicken bouillon powder for a little flavor.

I simmered it for 15 minutes to thicken it up a little. The Hatch peppers go fantastic in this sauce!!!! Very flavorful!!

I finished off the toppings, this is a killer Pico with roasted Hatch peppers.

I made pickled onions too, I'm sure everyone knows the normal taco toppings from this pic.

Street sized tacos and tostados were the snack while I took a break before starting on the main meal I wanted to eat.

I skimmed the red oily fat off the soup to coat the corn tortillas to make taquitos stuffed with the soup meat. I cooked 4 then started on the quesadillas but before I was done they ate all my taquitos so I had to make more.

The meat marinaded for 3 hours, added to a pot with enough water to cover the meat. I added 3 Bay leaves and some more chicken powder. It cooked for about 5 hours total but it was done in 3, I just kept it simmering and adding more water as it cooked down. This turned out to be the secret, it's like a meat soup with a depth of flavor.

Finally I sat down to eat like it was a buffet.

The taquito dipped in the soup was like au jus!

The quesadillas are perfect to add toppings and drizzle that awesome soup broth over.

Good to the last bite and I drank that broth like it was the fountain of youth.

This is the video that started me wanting tacos and taquitos.

Salsa Verde recipe

and this is what I followed for the Birria recipe. I didn't add the mole I saved at the end, after I tasted it I didn't think it could get any better. The flavor is absolutely awesome, nothing like you would think looking at the red/mole broth. I also didn't add the thyme and allspice. I made this with pork and didn't want those flavors involved and I was right, this is an awesome soup for a cold day. Soul Soothing!!!!

Recipes / Hot Pepper salt method
« on: September 16, 2018, 02:30:59 PM »
I made some yesterday with 7 Pot Primo peppers. It needs to be cut with more salt, this stuff is nasal clearing. It has a fruit flavor then the heat kicks in. I ended up making a course and normal grind. I used 8 of these to a 3lb box of Kosher salt. I also ran the dehydrator for the others, they'll also work to make this salt.

It made a beautiful colored innocent looking salt!!!!! ;)

Here's how I made it.

(Note: You can do this with any chilli though, superhots add more zing to give people the wow factor ;D)

1. Get approximately 50% salt, to 50% chillies, de-seed the chillies if you want a more refined product. Use your judgement, if you have superhot peppers then obviously you don't want to use a 50/50 mixture.
2. Get a good food processor, blend the chillies until a paste or leave some small chunks to give it more color, it's up to you. I used about a 1/4 cup of lime juice to make a slurry.
3. Add salt and pulse until you get a nicely blended chunky paste. You may need to add a little water if it too thick to mix together. Don't worry about adding water to salt, it'll dry out in the oven.
4. Get a baking tray and line it with parchment paper.
5. Smear the salty paste over the sheet of paper.
6. Place in an oven on your lowest possible temperature (I used the convection set at 170F, that's the lowest setting on my oven).
7. Let it bake, infuse and crystallize for a couple of hours (cooking time depends on amount of product).
8. Break up 2 or 3 times throughout baking, to stop it from sticking and clumping together.
9. KEEP AN EYE ON IT FROM TIME TO TIME AND OPEN A WINDOW! Keep checking and stirring the salt around to dry the salt completely.
10. Let it cool and set for a couple of hours, or even leaving overnight in the oven.

 You can either just bottle up in mason jars, or grind it to a finer consistency. It can be used as a finishing salt or season anything you cook. I'm gonna make a BBQ rub with some to try on hot wings.

I'm really curious to try some on cooked greens.

General Discussion / Aphid Eaters Block House
« on: September 10, 2018, 01:00:39 PM »
Check this out. It shouldn't be hard to make.

Wood block with proper size holes to attract wasps which eat aphids that attack roses and other garden flowers.  Hanging this house on a fence post or a tree will attract the wasps naturally.

General Discussion / FYI!! Free shipping, take a look
« on: August 31, 2018, 04:42:20 PM »
Am Leonard offers free shipping a few times a year so sign up for the email notification.

They are a full service gardening/greenhouse supply company but they don't sell seeds. I buy perlite half the price of local stores and I just ordered  3.8cuft bag of organic seed starting mix for $28. That's a deal for my area so I stock up for future planting.

The free shipping applies to only 80 lbs and they list the weight of the product under the price in the description.

This is good till Sep 3rd so take a look soon.

General Discussion / Hummingbirds are back
« on: August 24, 2018, 11:47:09 AM »
I noticed 3 days ago a few showed up looking for food so I cleaned and loaded up the feeders. It's getting closer to cooler weather finally so clean and fill up those feeders!!!

General Discussion / What Happened?
« on: August 21, 2018, 04:09:19 PM »
To the "What did you do in the garden today" thread? I saw it locked earlier and now it's gone. Must be those Russians hacking again.....

Recipes / What's up Doc?
« on: August 06, 2018, 09:16:16 AM »
I had some farm raised rabbits in the freezer and it was time to cook them, defrosted and chopped them up'

I forgot to get a pic of the price, that's crazy for rabbit.

After that butcher work I soaked them in a salty brine for 15 minutes then rinsed and seasoned to marinate over night.

I pan fried the meat to a good color with EVOO to build a fond in the pan.

I added the onions, bell peppers and celery to deglaze the pan

Then added 1/2 tsp of each for flavor and to darken the gravy a little

Chicken back in with parsley and added enough water to almost cover the meat

I cooked it 12 minutes under pressure which was too long, the meat is falling off the bones

While that was cooking I made cornbread in a black iron skillet warmed in the oven before coating it with bacon fat, it makes a perfect crust and has great flavor

I warmed a can of creamy Great Northern beans and the meat is done

Served with a splash of Sriracha.

Recipes / "Shrimp, sausage & chicken Creole"
« on: July 25, 2018, 12:17:22 PM »
"Shrimp, sausage & chicken Creole"

1/2 lb chicken diced
1 lb deveined shrimps
2 links good smoked sausage, I used my homemade sausage that's more like andouille
1 chopped onion
1/2 cup each of celery and bell pepper
2 cloves garlic minced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1/2 stick of butter

1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1 tsp Cavenders seasoning=it's Greek seasoning, Italian seasoning blend will work
1 tsp of your favorite Cajun seasoning
1 tbs dried parsley

Melt butter on medium heat then saute the onions, bells and celery for 5 minutes till soft, add the garlic and cook an additional 5 minutes, stir so nothing burns
Turn up heat to medium high add the diced tomatoes and juice, cook for 5 minutes. I add 1 tsp of suger and a 1/4 tsp of baking soda to reduce the acid in the tomatoes=your choice.
Add all the seasonings and cook for 5 minutes stirring to blend all those flavors, the house should smell awesome at this time
Add the tomato sauce, sausage, chicken and let cook for 15 minutes.
Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning to what you like.
Add shrimp and simmer for 5-8 minutes

Serve over rice and enjoy!

Recipes / Cajun Alfredo with fresh pasta and rolls
« on: July 06, 2018, 09:38:40 AM »
Excuse me while Paw Paw brags a little.

My granddaughter is spending a few weeks here and we made fresh pasta, homemade rolls and a Cajun shrimp Alfredo. She wanted to help so I set her loose with a few instructions. I think she's hooked on all the kitchen gadgets and is already asking what are we cooking tomorrow.

From dough to the plate, we had fun and it's good to see her have interest in cooking.
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Here's all the recipes!

Dinner Rolls
• 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
• 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
• 2 tablespoons white sugar
• 2 tablespoons melted butter
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 4 cups bread flour
1. In a large bowl, stir together warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let stand about 10 minutes till yeast blooms..
2. To the yeast mixture, add the butter, salt, and 2 cups flour. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and about 8 minutes. You might not need all of the flour, knead till it no longer sticks to your hands. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat. Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
3. Deflate the dough, and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces, and form into round balls. Place on lightly greased baking sheets at least 1 inch apart. Cover the rolls with a damp cloth, and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
4. Lightly brush the tops with melted butter and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.

1.5 cups 00 flour
1/2 cup of semolina flour
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1. Pour flour on counter top and make a well to add the other ingredients.
2. Mix with a fork till most of the flour is mixed then knead with your hands till all the flour is mixed and the dough no longer sticks to your hands. About 7 minutes.
3. Wrap in plastic and let rest for 30 minutes.
4. Cut dough in 4 pieces, work all 4 pieces into a flat pancake shape to fit in the pasta machine.
5. Roll the dough to the desired thickness. I have a Marcato Atlas 150 and roll the dough down to the #2 setting.
6. Use the pasta cutter attachment and cut the noodles. Spread them on a tray and lightly flour them to prevent sticking them spread them out to dry a few minutes.
*** If you don't have a pasta machine you can roll the dough with a rolling pin. It should be thin enough that if you lay the rolled pasta at the edge of a counter top and blow under it, the dough should ruffle a little.
*** To cut the pasta, lightly flour it and fold it till it's about 2" wide and use a sharp knife to slice noodles to your desired width.
*******************Cooking the noodles******************
Bring water to a boil
add noodles and cook 3-5 minutes
Drain and serve.
==These noodles cook faster than dried noodles, start tasting noodles for doneness after 3 minutes.

Alfredo Sauce
• ½ stick of unsalted butter
• 2 TBS olive oil
• 2garlic cloves minced
• 1 onion diced
• ½ bell pepper diced
• 1/8th cup of chopped parsley
• ½ cup of diced smoked sausage
• 3 TBS of flour
• 1 cup of shrimp stock(you can use vegetable or chicken stock, water as a last resort)
• 1 pint of heavy whipping cream
• ½ cup of grated parmesan cheese
• 1/2 TSP of Old Bay’s seafood seasoning(this is crab boil without the salt)
• 1/2 TSP of Tony’s
1. Add oil and butter to a pan and sweat the sausage, onions, bell peppers and garlic. Cook on medium heat just enough to sweat the vegetables without burning.
2. Sprinkle the flour and turn the heat up to medium high, stir the flour till all the vegetables absorb it and cook for 2 minutes to make a blonde roux. You won’t see much of the flour or roux but it’s there and you shouldn’t have any oil/butter left in the pan left.
3. Add the stock and stir to mix the roux, this will make a thick sauce.
4. Add seasonings and stir.
5. Add the cream and parsley, cook on medium heat while stirring to reduce the sauce, about 5 minutes ***This is where you can decide how thick you want the sauce. If you want a thinner sauce you can add the cheese before reducing the sauce or continue to reduce the sauce and add the cheese later. Remember to stir so the sauce doesn't stick and burn.
6. Add the cooked noodles and stir. If the sauce is too thin you can add more cheese but remember sauce will thicken when it cools down.
7. Serve topped with chopped parsley, more grated cheese and a dinner roll.

General Discussion / Free tomatoes!!!
« on: July 01, 2018, 12:59:45 PM »
Does anyone want to help me do a Fall grow out of a cross I made last winter? Even if it's only a few plants, that will help. All I ask is to send me seeds of the best tasting round and heart shaped fruit. I only need about 30 seeds from each shape and the rest is yours. You can continue growing these, make your own tomato variety and name it yourself.

Growing out a cross isn't hard, just grow it like you normally do and select the best tasting plants to keep seeds from. The more plants you grow, the more variation you'll get.

I crossed a Campari with a Brad's Black Heart and grew the F-1 seeds this spring. The flavor is great, old time tomato flavor with a high acid taste. I used the Campari because they're a great tomato and very productive, the BHH tomato is a big plant that makes big hearts with good flavor.

These F-2 seeds should produce red, black and yellow fruit with all sizes and shapes from round, plum and heart. Some plants will grow like a cherry plant, some like a normal indeterminate and others should be a huge plant like Brad's BH.

The F-1 plants also grew like a cherry tomato with clusters of 4-8 tomatoes. Some tomatoes were round while others are closer to a plum shape. I don't know if that will make a difference in the next plant but I did keep seeds separate to check. These plants are still making tomatoes even in the heat so I know they'll grow good for a fall crop. They also handled the cold last year in the green house so maybe they will last longer in fall if we don't get a killing frost.

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General Discussion / Is anybody tired of summer yet?
« on: June 27, 2018, 05:01:40 PM »

General Discussion / Louisiana Oblong Green Eggplant
« on: June 19, 2018, 08:46:01 AM »
I tried to find seeds last year and couldn't, I looked all over the web and nothing then I found one hardware store in Baton Rouge that sells a few plants each year and was ready to take a trip to get plants.  My Aunt was here when they called me back saying that they would have some in a few weeks so she asked what I was looking for. A few hours later she comes back with a pill bottle of seeds and the original plant tag from years ago. She couldn't remember how old the seeds are and if they'll even grow. I planted and had almost 100% germination and gave plants away to spread the seeds.

They're growing and looking good so if anyone wants seeds for next year let me know and I'll send seeds to keep this variety going.

If anybody has any other information about this variety let me know.

Happy Hour / RIP Anthony Bordain & Cajun Mardi Gras tonight
« on: June 17, 2018, 10:25:40 AM »
Anthony Bourdain's visit to Cajun Mardi Gras debuts tonight along with a "Remembering Bordain" show. Starts at 7c.

This is one of the only times I ever watch CNN.

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