A 504P Blog | Soap to Soil

504 SOAP

Pure. Simple. Soap.
Just a warning. This post will read like most discussions people have with me...it makes more sense in my head than it does when I attempt to speak it.

After I posted a picture of my lettuce patch yesterday, I felt a little guilty. See, there's nothing that bothers me more than when someone posts "look how cool I am" pics and I felt that my picture yesterday was just that...it had a hint of, "check out my awesome lettuce and how lucky I am to walk into the yard and grab handfuls of the stuff but only I can do it because lettuce is so hard to grow and I have perfected my soil composition to such an elite status that the lettuce seeds spring forth upon contacting the dirt."
That may have been a run on sentence, but most of my thoughts are.
The problem there is, that's bull poopie.
So here's my uber-secret method of growing a salad buffet in your backyard.

1. I saw a patch of earth that had grass happily growing on it.
2. I turned said patch of earth with a shovel. As in, I stuck a shovel into the dirt and flipped the shoveled portion over.
3. I took a pack of seeds (more of that later) and scattered them on the freshly exposed dirt.
4. Put some water on it.

That's about it. Translated onto a smaller scale, you can take a small bucket of dirt and do the same thing.

There's no reason for me to get into all the techniques of gardening and such, because I rarely use any, and that's what Google is for.
Regardless, I used to plan/plot/label/organize stuff and it got to be more annoying than anything, so now I just plant things in random places and see what happens; like lettuce.

I purchase all of my seeds from www.rareseeds.com because I'm a huge fan of heirloom/organic seeds and have never had a problem with them.

Their lettuces can be found here: http://www.rareseeds.com/store/vegetables/lettuce/ and as you can see, lettuce seeds can be purchased for less than a penny a seed.

So, now that that's off my chest, time to go collect dinner.

I know it's been forever since we've posted a blog and frankly, to be frank...frank is a funny word.

We ate steak last night!

It's been awhile since we've had a full on steak-night, but last night was a great example of why steak nights are to be revered and looked upon with sheer admiration. Without having completed this entry, I can already tell it will be a short one. There's no need to draw this out.

Certain parts of this you will need to do in slow-motion, so I hope you've been practicing.
For this steak-night, we had steak and one side that B made (she'll type the recipe); I will break this down into two parts/recipes for this entry's sake and then post each individual recipe on Pinterest for mix and matching.

The Perfect Steak

To start, you obviously need quality beef; for our home/family, we only eat grass fed and finished beef.*
I use a Big Green Egg and if you have one, you are familiar with how to cook a steak on one; therefore, I will cover the flat-grill/cast iron technique. Although, come to think of it, I'll throw in the true grill technique just in case your outdoor grill can get hot enough.
By the way, unless you have a fairly decent hood-vent over your range that vents to the outside (the ones that blow back into your face don't count), I highly recommend sticking a box fan in a kitchen window, with the air blowing out.

Ingredients used for this Steak-Night:
1 30oz. Sirloin steak, 1½” to 2” thick (same applies to multiple smaller steaks)
Steak Dry Rub
fresh ground coffee
ground cinnamon

Steak Dry Rub (all ingredients can be found in bulk section of Whole Foods)
Mix the following ingredients into a small bowl:
¼ cup “Real Salt” Sea Salt
2 tsp black pepper
½ tsp white pepper
¼ tsp chipotle chile pepper
½ tsp granulated garlic
½ tsp paprika
¼ tsp chili powder
¼ tsp kelp powder
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp curry powder
½ tsp Muchi curry powder
¼ tsp cumin

Flat-grill/cast-iron technique

  • Liberally apply the Steak Dry Rub to both sides of the steak. Sprinkle ground coffee and ground cinnamon (sparingly) to both sides of steak. Allow to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before grilling.
  • Place a 10-to-12-inch cast-iron skillet in the oven and heat the oven to 500˚ F.
  • When the oven reaches temperature and while wearing oven gloves with the strength of kryptonite, remove the skillet and place on the range over high heat.
  • Immediately place the steak in the middle of the hot, dry skillet.
  • Cook 30 seconds without moving.
  • Turn the steak over with tongs and cook another 30 seconds, then put the pan straight into the oven for 2 minutes.
  • Flip the steak and cook for another 2 minutes. (This time is for medium-rare steak. If you prefer medium, add a minute to both of the oven turns.)
  • Remove the steak from the skillet, cover loosely with foil and rest for 2 minutes.
  • Serve whole or slice thin and fan onto plate.

True-Grill (outdoor) technique

  • Open all vents and heat grill to 650˚ then place the steaks on the grill, close lid, and sear for 2 minutes
  • Flip the steaks onto a new section of the grid, close lid. After 2 minutes, flip the steaks once more and close lid.
  • Shut all vents on the grill and let the steaks continue to cook for 3 minutes.
  • Remove steaks and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

*Using www.eatwild.com, we found a local farm,“Ozark Pasture Beef”, that grass feeds/finishes his cattle and purchase a half-cattle once a year (bulk is cheaper); have a small deep freezer specifically used to hold the meat (approximately 400lbs).

B's Brussel Sprout and Mushroom Surprise!
Surprise, you'll LOVE them!

Brussel sprouts is one of my FAVORITE veggie sides, AND, my kids like them! I'm a one bowl serving kinda gal, but it usually takes at least three pots/pans/steamers to make my food, I'm weird like that.

½ bag fresh brussel sprouts, quartered
¼ fresh lemon
½ cup chopped fresh mushrooms
1 package of
Miracle Noodles® (whatever variety you like, I used the Miracle Rice® when I made it)
1 Tbsp pesto
2 Tbsp Smart Balance®
Salt and Pepper to taste

Steam half a bag of fresh, quartered brussel sprouts for approximately 10min (you want them to still be BRIGHT green)

Cook a package of
Miracle Noodles® per cooking instructions on the package.

Heat a small saute pan at slightly less than medium heat, melt a tablespoon of Smart Balance®, toss in about a half cup of chopped mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms for about five minutes, then turn off the heat and leave in the pan until the rest of the ingredients are ready.

Once everything is ready, combine all three components in a pot, I used the one I used to boil the
Miracle Noodles®, melt in 1Tbsp of Smart Balance®, season with salt and pepper to taste, add one Tbsp of your favorite pesto, and top it off by squeezing ¼ of a lemon on top. Stir it all together and ENJOY!

Kale, broccoli, carrots, OH MY!

We recently decided to try increasing our fruit and veggie intake, and lowering our meat intake, to more accurately mimic our hunter gatherer origins. I've always been intrigued by the various diet rituals that gain popularity, they really are fascinating. What's always made sense to me is that we need to take it back to the basics, back to what we were made to eat. Humans are the only “animals” that have the ability to create food with science and chemistry, other than what is naturally available in our environment. We are also the only “animals” that have an obesity problem in our natural environment. So, why not eat what we were made to eat, fruits, veggies, nuts, berries, AND occasionally meat (just picture that random successful hunting trip where a mammoth was caught).
How it worked....Well, the first week was rough.
With the influx of fresh veggies to I had several challenges:
A) storage space in my fridge
B) keep fresh for an entire week (as I only brave the grocery store once a week) and
C) preparing them in their freshest form and keeping our hectic family schedule on track.

As with everything that we've decided to adopt in this family it just took a little time to adjust to the change, and the complimentingmitment to keeping things running for the benefit of my family. This week I made a few modifications...Instead of worrying with creating new, innovative veggie meals every night, I made one main dish of veggie, bean, and ground beef chili this weekend, and am complimenting it with different fresh veggie ideas each night. In retrospect, I could have made the chili without the beef to stick with our reduced meat portions, and I think I will do that in the future.

To remedy the fridge/storage issue, I added a great big silver bowl to my fridge and have simply loaded it to the gills with our yummy fresh veggies.

Freshness?! This week I stuck with the hearty kales, broccolis, cauliflowers variety of veggies that seem to stay fresh longer.

“Seriously?! You make your kids eat that?! Mine wouldn't touch veggies with a ten foot pole!!!!”

I hear that a lot from parents, and YES, my kids eat veggies like they're goin' outta style.
They request carrots, they devour broccoli stalks, and they will wrestle through the various steamed veggies I offer. Why?! Noooooo, we don't beat them into submission, it's they way they have been taught to eat.
Steaming the veggies then adding a bit of salt, pepper, and fresh lemon is a very fresh and yummy way to eat them. I used to add Smart Balance to that mix, but recently tried without it, and was pleasantly surprised at how yummy it is!

Now that the kids are older we talk to them about why they eat the way they do. We talk about healthy eating as a way to extend our healthy lives, and keep us kickin' as long as possible. That's how we also attack the working out situation, not as a battle to stay slim from a vanity standpoint, but from a keep the bodies we've been gifted standpoint.

As with the MULTITUDE of changes we've made to our lifestyle since our oldest was born, this change has presented some challenges and has taken a little time, but as with everything else it's just a matter of mind over matter and is possible with an adjusted mindset. It's actually lit a fire in my cooking passion and I've been creating new and exciting veggie meals and am LOVING the excitement and passion I feel for it.

I'm looking at the produce section of the grocery store with new eyes, and I feel like a kid in the candy store, the possibilities seem endless...


Even if you don't have kids, putting up a tire swing is an easy weekend project that adds an aura of chill to any backyard. The only difficulty is choosing between using a rope and using chain; what separates the two is cost. This past weekend, I left my house determined to go throw up a tire swing for the kids. I'm fairly confident in my layman’s building ability, and I can follow a set of plans like a champ, so I Google'd “tire swing”. Little did I know that selling a rope and tire, in a combo-pack, is big business. There are NUMEROUS sites selling their own tire/rope combo, with each explaining why theirs are the bidness.

I'll keep this short...you hang a tire, from a tree, with a rope. No need to effect interstate commerce.
I browsed through a bunch of sites looking for the perfect plans and this is what it about boiled down to:

Again, it's just a tire swing; those that know me are well aware of how simple projects become overkill.

With my notepad full of items to get from Lowe's, I headed out. I expected to spend about $20 on supplies, I knew I had an old used tire at the office, and figured I'd be back in about 15 minutes.

45 Minutes Later

I stood staring at a shelf of eye-bolts, hinges, etc., with a guy who immediately made a good impression by commenting on my “awesome beard”, but ended up being fairly useless...and by useless, I mean he shouldn't have been working at a hardware/home/place-to-buy-parts-to-a-tire-swing store. I won't go into all the details to qualify me to make such a statement, but trust. I had several lengths of chain and several bags of bolts and washers, but none of it was EXACTLY what the plans called for. So I was to wing it with about $80 worth of chain and hardware.
And then I gave up.
I told the guy I didn't feel comfortable buying all this stuff, just to have to go to another store to find the right stuff. I saved myself from being that guy who buys a bunch of the wrong stuff, just because he feels guilty about how long the dude helped him. I refused to be that guy...this time.
I apologized as if he's just spent the day molding the chain links by hand, and settled for a consolation purchase of about 30 feet of nylon rope. I figured that I would get to it some other time and for now the kids wouldn't mind 30 feet of rope. Plus, I didn't feel like driving in to the office at this point. I took my 30 feet of rope (“no thanks, I don't need a bag...it pretty much has a handle”) and headed home.
And then it happened.
Lying on the side of the road, the piece I needed to complete my rope/tire combo-pack; an old, used tire. Albeit, a little large, but I was gonna try. I had a new wind about me and I was going to build that damn thing, or rather, hang it...whatever.
I was determined to have the swing with the tire hanging horizontally to accommodate as many heinies as possible, but settled on hanging it vertically with the intent on finding better plans.
After folding the rope in half and throwing the looped end over a branch, I pulled the two ends through the loop. I then looped the ends of the rope around the tire, a bunch of times, and tied it off with a constrictor knot and called it a day. I could have left it like this for good, because the kids loved it, but I didn't like how unsecure it was at the branch, and it really looked like what it was...half-assed.

The next day, I succeeded in getting it done.

Here are my plans for a tire-swing.

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I’ve got my little island in the interwebs and I plan on utilizing it as well as I can.
I’ll be posting about things I dig, things I use, and things I want, to make as much use of this thing called life.
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