Monthly Archives: February 2010

Better Than Rocks

As gardener frustrated by poorly drained and weighty rock-filled containers, I discovered the best back-saving container garden product on the market. If your potted plants are turning yellow from the bottom or wilting even though they are getting enough water the cause may be insufficient drainage and aeration.

Better Than Rocks produces healthier plants, lighter containers, drains excess water away from plants and keeps the soil in the planter. BTR is inexpensive, recycled and reusable. If it is not in your garden center yet, order it online.

This product, like good tools, are a one time purchase. The Better than Rocks product I bought three years ago is the same product I will use this spring. What I like about this product is that you buy it one time then use it and reuse it forever.

Line the bottom of containers with Better Than Rocks. Smaller pots require one layer for good water drainage and to keep your potting soil from washing away. Big, deep pots can handle several layers of Better Than Rocks to lighten up the container and reduce the amount of pricey potting soil. Better Than Rocks can stay in the pot as long as you like. If you empty the containers at the end of the season, hose off the recycled plastic material and BTR is ready to reuse.

Sarah B. Atkins, who discovered the material, has used and reused the same Better Than Rocks product in various containers for ten years. What could be better than a garden product so good that you never have to buy it again?

Better Than Rocks How It Works

Better Than Rocks Where to Buy

Grow your own Chili Rellenos

How To: Make Chili Rellenos

Patsy Bell Hobson Patsy Bell Hobson is a garden writer and a travel writer. For her, it’s a great day when she can combine the two things she enjoys most: gardening and traveling. Visit her personal blog at and read her travel writings at

Chili rellenos are one of my favorite Mexican restaurant foods. Last year, when I had a bountiful crop of mild chilis, I attempted to make chili rellenos. I never got the hang of it. The best I could do was make a greasy, cheesy mess. I did become a master at charing peppers.

The cook at El Acapulco Mexican Restaurant in Cape Girardeau, Missouri showed me the secret. Ramon Soriano Cruz is the cook at El Acapulco. He shared the secret about how to make chili rellenos from scratch..

Ramon had already blackened, peeled and stuffed the peppers. That is how the restaurant is able to serve chili rellenos in less than an hour.

Gradually add flour to eggs a little at a time. Five egg whites are beaten until stiff.
Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

My lesson started after the whole peppers were charred, peeled and stuffed. At this point the chilis were frozen. Ramon began by rolling the frozen chilis in flour and set them aside while making the batter.

Chili Relleno Instructions

Separate 1 egg for every chili. Beat the whites until stiff then sprinkle in flour to the egg whites as they begin to stiffen. With Ramon’s expertise, he mixed an unmeasured amount of flour into the eggs—I think a scant ½ of a cup of all purpose flour. He set aside the batter and rolled each frozen pepper in the flour again.

Then, he used the kitchen’s deep fryer to cook the chilis. At home, heat cooking oil 1- to 2-inch deep in a big frying pan to about 375 degrees.

Hold the chili by the stem, dip it in the egg batter until well coated. Use a rubber spatula to help spread batter if it doesn’t cover the entire chili.

Ramon Soriano Cruz can serve a full restaurant. The sauce served over the chili is a mild seasoned tomato sauce.
Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

Gently place the battered pepper in the hot oil, carefully turn the chili until it is well browned. You can cook two or three at a time, just don’t fry so many that it lowers the temperature of the oil. As each chili is browned, place it carefully on the plate. Ladle heated tomato sauce, over the pepper. Serve with beans and rice.

Once the beans and rice are on the plate, a quick zap in the microwave insures the complete meal is served steamy hot.
Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

Look for ancho or poblano pepper seeds or plants. Find seeds and plants in most of the seed catalogs. Wait on the last frost date in your area and hold off for another week or two before planting peppers. The seedling and plants do not like wet feet.

Thanks Ramon!
Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

Resource: El Acapulco Mexican Restaurant; 202 South Mount Auburn Road; Cape Girardeau, MO, 63703.

1. 2. 3. 4.

1. Chips and salsa with happy hour Margarita.

2. The cheese stuffed pepper should be completely melted. If not, a few seconds in the microwave will heat it through.

3. Removing the stem from the outside of the pepper, the seeds, (where the heat is) insides of the pepper were removed bef0re it was stuffed.

4. Handsome volunteer model, “discovered” in El Alcapulco Restaurant in Cape Girardeau MO.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...