Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Why I love Pinterest Today

I ran across a dessert recipe on Pinterest earlier this week.  It called for any old brownie mix, and a 15 oz can of pumpkin.  Mix til smooth and bake at 350 degrees/til set.  How's that for an easy way to use pumpkin?  We had it for dessert tonight.  You are actually supposed to let it cool and then frost it... but we really wanted to try it, so we did, as soon as it came out of the oven.  It was yummy.  I saved the other half, to let it cool, and I will frost it tonight or tomorrow morning.  So now I have another pumpkin recipe for all those pumpkins in my yard... yea!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Life is easier with a pickup truck

Instead of finishing up the ten bags of apples, or picking the rest, we cleared the "road" down to the the cornfields, so we can use the new pickup to haul the firewood back to the house (which is a darn sight more pleasant and convenient than trying to hand carry it a quarter mile uphill to the house.  It might not be quite as much fun as using the tractor to drag the garden cart, according to the kid who got to drive the tractor last year.)

So, tomorrow the plan is now early homeschool, then music lessons while I go to the grocery store, then apples.  I have to finish that job because the Ag School Fruit Sale is Friday, and that's when I purchase everything they have that I didn't manage to grow myself, for better prices than I can get anywhere else.

The Pirate finally lived up to her half of the deal she made with me, and cleaned out the chicken coop and filled it with new bedding.   The silly duck is still laying GIANT double-yolked eggs, which are great for replacing two extra large chicken eggs in my dessert recipes.

I have pointed out that English Mastiffs are HUGE.  As in, the HUGEST dogs around, and therefore EAT A LOT.  The Man's response was that we should just raise more rabbits.   Later I will point out that mastiffs run $1000+ each.  Plus another $1000 expenses every year.  I am not on board with the "Let's get another dog" thing, can you tell?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Dinner on, and from, the "Farm"

Dinner this evening is particularly tasty...
and I'm admittedly overly pleased with myself because the vast majority of it did not come from the grocery store.  We are having Chicken&Corn Chowder.  The yellow onion, garlic, chicken stock, russet taters, chicken breasts, and corn all came from our garden and our coop.  I did grow thyme this year, and it did well, but I admit I used the dried thyme I bought from the grocery store just to use it up.  We grew leeks last year, but not this year, so I had to buy two of those.  Other than that, the salt and the black pepper came from the store.   Then for dessert, I've got apple crumble, made from the apples off the trees that were here when we moved in (that are making up for last year's lack of production by outpacing my ability to process them this year).  The only thing in the Crumble that grew here is the apples.  The sugar, vanilla, oats, orange juice, and butter all came from elsewhere.  So... I'll be working on that.  I think I can come up with a dessert that uses my honey instead of sugar.  Oranges won't grow here.  Nor vanilla.  But I could grow oats and keep a goat...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Garden weirdness

I am not used to getting rhubarb in the fall.  My rhubarb has re-sprouted in the hoop house (it always dies back to the ground when it gets hot), and I have two plants still in a mess of bamboo and fencing near the barn that have stalks ready to eat.  Also, some of my asparagus (which I let go to seed months ago) has sent up new stalks.

I have been fighting the evil moles, voles, mice, rabbits, etc., that sneak into the hoop house behind my back all season.  They keep eating the leaves off the sweet potatoes.  I keep slapping milk jugs over the sweet potatoes, which keeps them off for awhile.  It's been such a problem I don't know if I'll get any sweet potatoes at all.  The plants are still green, so I'm going to keep letting them do their thing.  A couple vines did get into the cukes.  I think the cukes might have been prickly enough to keep the larger animals out.  Maybe.

We have some hideous plant disease from Canada that is taking out all the cukes.  Also the neighbor's zukes, and my pumpkin vines.  It won't matter much about the pumpkins - most of them are orange already, but I'm bummed about not having anymore zucchini bread.  I will have to plant ONE next year.  I know better than to plant a pack of that!  We've been told to burn all the dead vines, and to rotate the crops and not plant anything that had it this year in the same spot.  I just want to keep it out of my hoop house at this point.  May be hard to do when it is airborne.

No figs yet.

I have grapes.  The wild Concord kind.  With large seeds.  Growing all over the barn.  They have to come down.  (So does the barn, eventually, probably).  If I can do that before the birds get them all, I will have to make grape jelly.  I'd much rather have seedless grapes so I can make grape JAM, because a) it's easier to make; and b) I like jam better than jelly, mostly because of a).

I am short of jam for the year, too.   Must find a source for fall raspberries.  Or I will be buying strange fruit in the grocery store and testing odd recipes on my family again.  (Kiwi jam, anyone?)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Harvest! Part Two

The Princess and I spent the afternoon digging taters because it is supposed to rain for the next several days.  Now there is a laundry basket full in the living room.  I think that is a smashing success for that experiment.  We planted all the taters in the new hugelkultur beds.  Even the Yukon Golds from the grocery store that I planted after they sprouted in my pantry (to replace the ones the raccoon ate) produced well.  So hooey on all the internet naysayers who said they wouldn't grow at all.  We have room for one more hugelkultur bed in that area of the yard (next to the little chicken coop).  So there is some ditch-digging and rotten log dragging in my future.  And I have to find room for at least one more this year.  Next year, I will plant strawberries on the ones that held taters and onions this year... which means I'll need a few more beds after that for taters, so I can keep rotating the crops, since the strawberries will be there 3-5 years.  I need to fence that, too, because the chickens had a little too much fun playing in the straw that I put on the potatoes.  If I cannot find the space for more H-beds, (I'm tired of typing that word), then we'll experiment with taters in straw bales, and taters in burlap bags (seeing as how I have so many of the darn things in the barn, and they do not work well at all for keeping down the weeds).  NOTE TO SELF_ cardboard works better keeping down the weeds and it doesn't get tangled in the mower.

Oh yeah, I harvested the rest of the onions - should have done it sooner - I lost four of them to rot.  There is enough for relish and salsa, but not enough for anything else.  Obviously, I must plant more onions next year.  And since Dan can't eat the red ones, I need to find a good yellow storage onion for that. 


Due to the possibility of frost (which ultimately didn't happen), I harvested the remaining corn from my little stand (that would be what remained after the depredations of the rabbits, deer, birds, etc) yesterday.  Last night, the Princess shucked about a 100 ears, of which 90 were usable.  I blanched them, threw them in a cooler full of ice water, scraped the corn from the cobs, and froze ten bags of corn (about 3 packed cups per bag).  Then I tossed the shucks in the composter, and put the cobs out for the chickens to clean up.  Considering that I had to plant that corn twice, weed it repeatedly, (only had to water it three times though) and put up my "make-do" fencing - which only worked 'til the corn was actually ripe - I may have burned more calories than I would ingest by eating the corn.  In defense of the expenditure of time, energy and aggravation, it was mighty good sweet corn, and I definitely liked the red, even though the cobs were smaller than the yellow.  The red corn stayed red when microwaved for eating on the cob, but it turned a weird shade of purple/blue when blanched in boiling water on the stove - although the part of the kernel that attaches to the cob stayed red, and made the corn look like it was bleeding when it was scraped.  I thought it was freaky. 

Next year I would plant the corn closer together (no skipping rows).  I would NOT plant Big Doris pumpkins or beans or anything else in the same patch.  (This year I planted those in the skipped rows - the bunnies at the beans, and the pumpkins went haywire and tried to take over the world.  What I am going to do with all those gigantic pumpkins, I do not know.  Next year, we will have little pie pumpkins, in their own little patch away from the corn.  And the beans will have to be in the hoophouse, or be MUCH better fenced.  If I get any beans at all, it will be the ones I planted late in the hoophouse that are just now blooming.

I finally do have some tomatoes.  We've eaten the four that actually ripened.  All the rest are still green.  I think I will have to go to the Farmers' market this week and buy some in order to have any for salsa.  Also, I think I will not be able to can any chutneys this year due to my lack of maters.  Annoying, especially since i have the apples for the tomato-apple chutney, and the curried apple chutney...

In fact, I have ten grocery bags of apples from our trees sitting in my kitchen, waiting to be turned into apple fritters (breakfast tomorrow) and applesauce (tomorrow's canning) and dehydrated apples (the next couple days).  And the pears are just beginning to ripen.  I hope they wait til I'm done with the apples.  The apple trees aren't even half picked yet, either.  This may be the year of the apple...

I have two more batches of sweet relish to can with the remaining cukes tomorrow, too.  I am sick of the cukes.  If I can enough this year to last for two years, then I will only plant enough cukes to make fridge pickles and one cuke salad a week next year.

The peppers are only just now beginning to ripen.  There should be enough for salsa if I can get the maters.