Tag Archives: cooking

A Month on the Farm – 12/20/2018

Tomorrow marks the first official day of winter and the shortest day of the year here on the farm, though the meteorologic winter began weeks ago.  I’m ready for the days to lengthen.  Being much a creature of natural light cycles, I awake each day around 5 or 5:15 a.m., but don’t want to get up and disturb the household until the sky starts to lighten in the east.  By sundown and full on dark, I am ready to snuggle in for the night, trying to stay up and awake with night owl hubby at least until 10 or 10:30 p.m., often to fall asleep in my chair before drifting off to bed.

The month has been a whirlwind with 5 craft markets in 5 weeks that require loading and unloading the set up and product from the car.

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This Saturday is the last one for the year with no more until spring.

The month also has included 3 Christmas celebrations, two in costume at Wilderness Road Regional Museum for their music, Christmas treats, and evening lighted tours as I spun on a beautiful old Walking Wheel that with a tiny bit of TLC by me, now works.

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I love this photo with the shadow of the wheel on the wall.  This one is credited to April the organizer of the events.  There will be one more on Old Christmas that I will also attend in costume.  The third celebration was with the spinning group to which I belong.  I have not been a very good participant of late with everything else going on, but made a point of joining them for that as many folks that don’t get to come regularly come for this event and I enjoy seeing my friends.  I hope to get back to the weekly spin days after the holidays.

The month provided another challenge as I bought a dozen winter chicks about 4 1/2 weeks ago.  They were fortunately already 2 weeks old and beginning to feather out.  The “brooder” I use is a huge 110 gallon flexible plastic stock tank with a heat table for warmth.  Not a fan of having the birds in the house, the stock tank is in the garage on a carpet covered platform about 4 inches off the ground.  It was cold when we brought them home and ended up adding a 250W red heat lamp and covering half of the top with a mylar sheet to help retain the heat.  This was functioning okay until we were threatened with and received more than a foot of snow.  Wet snow this time of year often results in loss of power, so the brooder was dragged around the back of the house and into the walk out finished basement where there is a wood stove, before the snow began.  The stove was kept going until we were sure the power was not going out, about 3 days.

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The snow was beautiful and before it was totally gone, the brooder was loaded onto a sled and dragged back to the garage.  By Monday, the littles were 6 weeks old, fully feathered and too big for the stock tank, so the thoroughly cleaned coop was layered with about a foot of straw and they were moved to tough it out without the benefit of supplemental heat.  We have had several very cold nights and all is well in the coop.  The basement then received a deep cleaning to remove the dust from having the chicks indoors for a week.

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I am working on teaching them to use the adult no waste feeder and no waste waterer, while providing the hanging feeder as well.  They are beginning to get their adult colorations.  By mid week next week they should know that food and water are in the coop and that is where to return when hungry and at night and they will be let out into the run.  I fear they are still small enough to get through the holes in the fence though and I don’t like to panic them by trying to catch them but until they will follow me back to the run for treats, they can’t free range.

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This view if you have followed the blog for long, often appears.  The end of that ridge in the distance drops to a gap to the New River.  That view is one of my favorites from the farm and it was just over 13 years ago that we saw this property for the first time in early December.  By January, it was ours to plan and build on.  If you can love a property in the bleak of winter, you can really love it anytime.

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The deck progressed in the past month as well, with a Thanksgiving weekend being spent by son and daughter in law preparing it for the decking, rails, and balusters.  Those materials are to be delivered tomorrow and by the first of the year, hopefully, we will be able to safely step out of the French doors of the dining room onto a solid surface, not a one story drop.  It is deceptive as the stairs come down on a flat created and held in place by a gorgeous stone retaining wall.  The deck itself is one story up from the grade below.

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With the prep for Christmas, the various events, cooking for family for Thanksgiving and preparing to cook for Christmas, little knitting or spinning have been done except for two pair of wool socks for a tiny farmer, the toddler son of one of the regular vendors at the market.  They have been knit this week after she asked last Saturday.  I hope they fit the little guy and can be passed down to his baby brother in another couple of years.

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas or other seasonal holiday of this time of year and a Happy New Year.

Wind down, wind up – 11/24/2018

The first craft show is done.  It wasn’t a bust, but not a great success either.  There were many vendors with holiday decorations made with artificial flowers and purchased craft store doodads, a few nice country furniture makers, and too many vendors of body products.  My spot, though on an inside aisle corner was toward the end of the path though, so many other soap makers had already tempted the buyers.  My hand spun, hand knit wearables were out of the price market for most of the buyers.  It was an experiment and probably won’t be repeated.

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Additional hats and mitts are being knit to further supply the upcoming three weekend holiday markets.

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Two new 3 step displays have been purchased for the soaps, lotion bars, and salves.  They need to be stained and poly finished before next weekend.

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Their footprint is about the same as the crates, but raises the product to a more visible position.  As most of my soaps are vegan, I have purchased some organic soy wax and will make vegan lotion bars and salves as well and will have a vegan display and a soy free display.  They will be raised above the table height enough that men’s grooming boxes and beard/body oils can be displayed below.

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Each of my children were given a crewel work Christmas stocking that I made when they were infants and which they still use.  Each grandchild has been given one, either quilted or knitted intarsia.  Our 7th grandchild was born this past summer and she will get her stocking this year.  It still needs to be lined and some add on ornamentation sewn on and each stocking has a tag sewn inside that is a cross stitched message that says “Made with love, Mom or Grandmom, year” that needs to be stitched and added.

The afternoon of the craft show, our eldest son arrived on a bus to continue working on rebuilding our deck and reinstalling the Direct TV dish.  Toward the end of summer, he and his wife set in concrete, a metal post off the corner of the house for it to be mounted on, but it needed to set.  In the meantime, they had a medical emergency now ok which delayed further work, but he came to get more done.  His wife and son came Wednesday after work to celebrate Thanksgiving.

On one of our excursions out to get supplies for the deck and dish, we went to Rural King and they had chicks.  We came home with the lumber and hardware, set up the big rubber brooder tub and heat table with plans to go back the next day to get the chicks.  Instead, we had to go back out that afternoon as we realized that something had been left at one of the shops, so bedding, feed, and a new water base were purchased and a dozen two week old chicks were brought home for spring laying.

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The Buff Orpington and Welsummers that are almost two have not resumed laying since they molted and we have not gotten a single egg in a month.  Eggs had to be purchased for the family staying here and for Thanksgiving cooking.  We got 3 each Welsummers, Mottled Javas, New Hampshires, and Olive Eggers.  Being almost three weeks old now, they are feathering out and will soon try to fly out of the brooder.  A screen is over the top and the heat lamp that had to be added with the heat table because of the cold in the garage will hopefully thwart that attempt.  The hens will be moved to the cull coop as soon as the fence is fixed there and the coop will be scrubbed and sanitized so the chicks can be relocated out there when they are 6 or 7 weeks old.

Thanksgiving dinner was celebrated with two of our children and their families.  The almost 17 pound local turkey was spatchcocked by eldest son, the sides assembled and a delicious, hearty, mostly local meal was group prepared and enjoyed by all.  The left over turkey enjoyed again for lunch yesterday, and gallons of turkey broth made and frozen for cooking over the next few weeks.  Eldest son went home with some.

Today is our local granddaughter’s 7th birthday and we will be celebrating her birthday and her Mom’s tonight as her Mom will be away for hers.  That will end the November birthday’s for our family. Jim took me to my favorite local restaurant for my birthday last week and I had an awesome risotto with pumpkin, mushrooms, cranberries, and pecans.

During evening hours after a day’s work and knitting have worn me out, caused joint pain, or just stress from the day, I have turned to the calming, meditative art of Zentangle.  The two tiles below are the efforts of the past week, never spending more than about 20 minutes a day of refocus and calming.

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Olio- Nov. 16, 2018

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

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The ice storm came, half an inch of glassy coating on every surface, but we didn’t lose power.

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Followed last night by the first accumulation of snow, only a trace.  And wind, freeze your nose off cold.  The chickens think it must be my fault.  After not letting them out in the ice storm yesterday, the coop was opened this morning and the coop cleaned of “fowled” straw, new straw added.  They panicked around me as I did that and then hunkered down in the new straw rather than go out in the cold and snow.

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Last night’s break from craft show prep to work on finishing the Christmas stocking for our 7th grand child, born last summer.  Each grandchild has a personalized stocking made with love by me.  Most given for their first Christmas, but all having one.  Now they are all knitted, but our children’s are crewel work and one grandson’s is quilted, but all handmade by me.

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Canning was supposed to be done except for enchilada sauce once the peppers are all dried, but the bag of cranberries at the grocer was huge.  I guess I could have used part and frozen part, but instead, 4 1/2 pints of cranberry orange relish were made and three of them canned this morning.  One left unsealed for Thanksgiving, the small one to be used for oatmeal.

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Eldest grandson likes Cranberry sauces and relishes, especially when I make them.  Perhaps he can take a jar home after Thanksgiving.

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My 200 pound goofy helper sunning his belly in his favorite spot, right behind where I was working.

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One of the 4 pumpkins spoiled, so the remaining three will be cooked this afternoon and the pulp frozen in 2 cup amounts for pies and breads for the upcoming holidays.  There is a tiny one in the fall table display, it may be cooked and replaced with one of the slightly larger ones so that a stuffed pumpkin can be enjoyed in the near future.  The chooks will get the spoiled one with the bad spots removed once they come out of hiding.

The header picture though several years old looks like it did yesterday after the ice and was coated white this morning.

Kitchen Chemistry – Nov. 11, 2018

The day dawned very, very cold for this time of year.  According to our local weather blogger, the last time it was this cold this early was 1995 and a couple of weeks later they had a record snowfall.  I hope we aren’t headed for a repeat of that.

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More work has been put into the Asymmetrical Scarf of hand spun Merino and bamboo, the ball of yarn is getting thinner and the scarf is getting longer.  Hopefully it will be done by Saturday for the first craft show.

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I love the colors and realized that it blends with the project bag that is containing it.

The afternoon was spent with more kitchen chemistry.  The lotion bars that were molded yesterday weren’t firm enough and there was no more beeswax in the house.  A quick trip out to resupply it and get two essential oils.  Since the metal measure that was the top of the double boiler had another batch to be poured, beeswax was added to it and remelted, the soft bars that I froze overnight so they could be removed from the silicon molds were dumped on a labelled sheet so I wouldn’t mix the scents, the molds washed and refilled with a Man bar scent and some unscented ones and while they were setting up, one of the scents from yesterday was remelted and more wax added.  This process was repeated until all had been remade with a more solid mixture.

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While they were setting up, one of yesterday’s soap molds was sliced into bars to cure.  The other mold wasn’t quite ready yet.  A third batch was measured out and made, Moroccan Red Clay and Cocoa soap.  I am anxious to see how this one unmolds as it was divided in half.  One half getting the red clay, the other half getting the dark cocoa, they were then poured in two layers and swirled.  This was a new technique for me.

Once the soap was wrapped in a towel to set up overnight, the lotion bars were tinned up, labelled, and sealed with shrink bands.

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The big crate has 8 sections and seven of them have different scents of lotion bars leaving a jumble of salves in the front and a need for a way to display them.  There was a smaller deeper box that looked promising if altered.  The top part was sawed off and the slats broken apart, the two long ones cut to the length of the two shorter ones and the parts painted with the Melted Chocolate color paint that has been used on the other crates and frames.

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It is about half the size and once all the parts are dry, the slats will be glued in to provide spacers for the smaller tins of salves.  A bit of table arranging will be necessary to make it all fit, but it will work.

The kitchen chemistry for the day ended with the magic of making pizza dough and a homemade pizza with the fresh mozzarella purchased at the Farmers Market yesterday.  A jar of the pizza sauce I canned, a Farmers Market red onion and Italian Sausage, some mushrooms, and pepperoni from the grocer and again we enjoyed great pizza.  The chickens will enjoy the crust bits and the whey from the cheese tomorrow.

Back to knitting while the paint dried.

From Fall to Winter – November 3, 2018

Yesterday’s rain and wind blew through last night and the night was chilly, it was quite cool this morning still blowing strong making it feel colder.  Animal chores were done and after not making it to the Farmers Market in a few weeks, we headed in to town to get breakfast and shop at the Farmers Market.  We knew today was a home football game that always makes traffic worse and eating in local restaurants nearly impossible.  We didn’t know that it was Homecoming, there must have been 40 people waiting in the cold to get in to the little local diner where we often get our breakfast on Saturday.  The Waffle House and fast food places all had lines.  A little further out, not in walking distance is a bagel shop and we got there, got breakfast and sat down just as the line snaked out the door.

It was cold enough to warrant my winter coat, a knit hat, and gloves for the market, but veggies, bread, and meat came home for the week.  One stall has whole hog sausage, fresh mozzarella, and fresh cultured butter.  The Italian sausage and fresh mozzarella purchased decided dinner.

Once home, the huge 2 gallon bag of frozen red cue balls that have been in my way were dumped in the sink, some warm water run over them so the skins would slip off, chopped with the big butcher knife and seasoned with onion, garlic, and Italian herbs and set to simmer.  When started, I wasn’t sure if it would be pasta sauce or pizza sauce.  My recipes are basically the same but the pizza sauce if reduced until it is thickened.  There is 1 ripe tomato sitting in the kitchen window, it will be part of my breakfast tomorrow with a scrambled egg and a slice of toasted bread.

Because of the morning’s purchases and because we really like pizza prepared from scratch at home now that I have a crust we like, the decision was to reduce it to pizza sauce.  Seven half pints were canned plus one left out for dinner.  I had them about half canned when I remembered that I hadn’t added citric acid or lemon juice, so pulled them from the canner and we left to take a walk in the woods and around the pond.

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The pond always had a dozen or so geese and ducks, but this huge flock must be passing through and taking a feed and rest break.  There must have been more than 100, diving and honking at each other.

The walked relieved my frustration at myself for forgetting the lemon juice and once home, each jar was unsealed and reheated, lemon juice added and re-canned with fresh lids.

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Other than enchilada sauce once the Anaheims are all dry and toasted, the canning is done for this year.  There are many jars of Rotel style tomatoes for chili, plain canned tomato sauce, pizza sauce, apple sauce, bbq sauce, and jams to enjoy this winter.

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The remaining cup of sauce with the local sausage, fresh mozzarella, Farmer’s Market red onion, our own green peppers and pizza was made.  The trouble with making it is that one pizza is too big for the two of us and neither of us like cold pizza, so we both always eat too much and one slice always goes to the chickens.

When I went to the fiber retreat last month, I came home with 2 pounds of fiber.  One pound was more of some that I had purchased at Shenandoah Fiber Festival as I decided to spin and knit myself another sweater.  The other pound was a light green alpaca/merino blend.  Almost half of that has been spun and is to be plyed.

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4 ounces

Once it is plyed, I think I will change colors for a while.  Tomorrow I am going to introduce spinning to a new wanna be spinner.  Hopefully she will fall in love with the art as I have.  And later this month, I have two new wanna be’s to teach.

 

What was old is new again – 7/29/18

Our ancestors lacked a local grocer easily accessible by a quick trip to town, they grew their own produce and meat or hunted for meat and had to have ways to preserve it for the winter.  When the garden comes in, it is a busy time.  They also lacked electric refrigerators and gas or electric stoves and heating the stove that provided both heat and cooking surface was undesirable in mid summer.  Canning in jars was done, usually over an open fire outdoors and some foods don’t safely can in boiling water, pressure canners were a product of the future.  Sugar when it was available and salt were found to be great preservers of foods.  Meats were smoked and hung in the smokehouse.  Most homes had either a spring house, root cellar, or basement that stayed cool and dark thus was a good place to store home canned foods.  Fruits were made into jams and butters, or canned in syrups.  Beans were often left to dry and shelled or strung in long strings whole while green to become leather britches and reconstituted when desired, they are a vegetable that does not safely can in boiling water.  Potatoes, yams, carrots, onions, garlic, pumpkins, and whole apples can be put in the cool dark and used as needed without further processing.  Some greens will grow well into the fall or winter, if covered with straw and some, like cabbages will store in the cool dark for a while, but not all winter.

Storing  whole green beans, whole or cut cucumbers in heavily salted water in crocks in the cool storage produced very desirable pickled vegetables that could be enjoyed until the garden produced again the next season.  Cabbage, sliced thin and salted then mashed into a crock did the same thing. Though they didn’t know what the processes was called or why it worked, they knew it did produce safe delicious food.

The process we now know is lacto fermentation.  In the absence of air, anaerobic, the salted vegetables produce lactic acid which ferments the vegetables into pickles or sauerkraut.  Kraut can be seasoned with caraway seed, mixed with shredded beets, or left plain, and nothing is better than Farmers’ Market brats with homemade sauerkraut on a crisp fall day.  The cucumbers can be spiced up with crushed red pepper, black peppercorns, heads of dill, garlic, whole cloves, and ground ginger.  Green beans are best with dill and crushed red pepper.  What is best is this process doesn’t heat up the kitchen.  It can be done a quart jar at a time or in a crock (even a food safe plastic bucket if you use them, I don’t).

Some vegetables can be lacto fermented, but don’t last as long on the shelf, even have to be refrigerated such as the tiny heirloom tomatoes with basil, or eggplant.  They are best done in smaller batches that can be enjoyed within a couple of weeks.

Lacto fermenting is a newer passion with me.  I made sure that there were pickling cucumbers in the garden this year, and they are doing nicely.  It only takes 4 or 5 to make one quart jar and about 10 minutes prep time, no heat, no mess.

Though the fall garden will have a few cabbages for cold storage, the Farmers Market already has some, so a small, about 2 pound one was shredded and salted this morning to produce a quart of saukerkraut.

The cucumbers only take 2 to 5 days to be ready to enjoy dill slices or quarters, the dilly beans and kraut take about two weeks to fully finish their ferment.  The longer you leave them at room temperature, the stronger the flavor.

We do have an unheated section of our basement that is good for water bath or pressure canned goods, onions, garlic, pumpkins, and the like, it is a bit too warm to stop the fermentation, so those vegetables are stored in the extra refrigerator in the basement along with the vinegar brine pickled jalapenos.  If the power fails, they are still safe in the cool dark space, just like when the pioneers in this region and their ancestors did in their spring houses and root cellars.

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Another Day, Another 16 pints – 7/14/18

Of canned goods.  Saturday mornings are Farmers’ Market morning and breakfast out.  For the past 3 weekends with the farm apprentice here, we have gone to our local diner that is open only for breakfast and lunch.  For the past two Saturday’s, that breakfast has not sat well with me.  I don’t know if they have changed cooking oil or brand of bacon or whether I have just become intolerant to anything with oil in the morning, I have been eating whole grain toast with homemade jam for several weeks.  Today however, after a couple of hours, grandson said his stomach hurt too, so something wasn’t right.

Since I had just been to market Wednesday evening and with him going home tomorrow, I only got pickling cucumbers and zucchini to make pickles, along with a bit of salad greens.

Son arrived around lunch time and daughter had asked him if he would put is stone masonry skills to work to reset a huge rock in her driveway retaining wall before her homeowner’s association got after her about it.  Once I had fixed him a sandwich, we loaded the Xterra with mortar mix, sand, lime, the metal wheelbarrow that doesn’t go in my garden, and the tools.  A stop at Lowe’s to get a bit more sand and an afternoon of his toil and labor while daughter and I sideline supervised and the wall is repaired.

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Before he arrived, I had cut the cucumbers, onions, and peppers and salted them to put in the fridge to wilt and drain.  The zucchini and remaining cucumbers were made into dill spears and zucchini pickles and canned.

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Tonight after dinner was prepared, enjoyed, and cleaned up, he installed the replacement burner for my glass top stove.  My preferred small burner, due to being a lefty, is the front left and it has burned out twice in the eleven years we have been here.  I had ordered a new one, but didn’t get brave enough to install it myself. After the stove was cleaned up, repaired, and put back in place, the cucumbers that had been sitting in salt all day were drained and rinsed and the bread and butter brine made.  Eight pints of spicy bread and butter pickles were made and canned tonight.  A total of 16 pints of pickles made today.

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Tomorrow, daughter and grands are going to come over to pick wild berries so that I can make and can a batch of wildberry jam for her household.

Grandson spent the afternoon and evening still dealing with a tummy ache.  Hopefully, he will be better tomorrow before they have to drive back to their home with a box of jams and pickles, as well as the poster and basketball he got at camp.  It has been wonderful having him here for the past 3 1/2 weeks.

When the Cat’s Away… 7/10/18

The mouse will work her rear off and eat the things that aren’t usually served here.

My morning began early as Jim and eldest grandson took off for a history tour of eastern Virginia.  Though grandson has spent all but a few weeks of his life in Virginia, it has been mostly here in the mountains or in the northern part of the state.  The eastern part of the state is ripe with history with Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown, as well as a Busch Gardens, so off they went.  Today was to be the history tour with granddad narrating and tomorrow a fun day at Busch Gardens.  I stayed home with the farm to deal with the critters, the garden, and work on the flower bed that has been evolving over the past couple of years down the east side of the garage and around the back on the south side.

After seeing them off, I donned long pants, long sleeves, boots, and sprayed myself generously with Deep Woods Off, and headed out with a metal sieve to pick berries, the blackberries are just beginning to ripen and the wineberries are ripe and the canes heavy.  Enough of a mixture of them were gathered to make a batch of wild berry jam tonight.

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The first pick of the day

Once they were rinsed, crushed, and sealed in a container until this evening, I took off to a friend’s farm with some daylily divisions to trade with one she was dividing.  I won, not only did I get daylilies, but I came home with kale and zucchini, plus some coreopsis divisions and Columbine seed.  Tomorrow, I am taking her a division of another daylily that I had and she did not.

A trip to Lowes and a trunk full of bagged mulch set me up to finish what I started yesterday and continue the flower bed another 15 feet across the back of the garage.  The new daylily starts were planted in two spots, the coreopsis divided with some in the ground and some in the last barrel that had not been planted this spring and the Columbine seed along with some poppy seed joined it in the barrel.

The entire bed from the front of the garage, down the east side, and continuing across the south side were mulched down with dark brown hardwood mulch.

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The beast overseeing my efforts.

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The upside down flower pots are chicken deterents, but a better solution must be found or all of the newly spread mulch will be in the grass and there will be dustbaths in the beds.

When I met Jim more than 4 decades ago, I was a vegetarian and he is a Texan, meat and potatoes preferred.  He likes some vegetables, tolerates other, and refuses some.  In deference to his tastes and so I am not preparing two different meals, I eat a little meat and limit the vegetables to the ones he likes and occasionally one he will tolerate. Kale and summer squash are in his tolerate occasionally list, so with him away tonight, the gifted kale and zucchini were cooked along with an ear of corn and I am feasting to my delight on vegetables.

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And I have left overs for tomorrow night as well.

It is wild berry jam making time.  The header shot are bees busy at work on the two volunteer sunflowers.  Not a single one that I planted came up.  I think this fall, I will just throw a handful of sunflower seed around the perimeter of the garden and let the volunteers happen in the spring.

Love our mountain farm.

Garden and Prep

Late yesterday afternoon I went out to pick the last of the peas and enough bush beans for dinner.  I ended up picking the peas and pulling spent vines for the chickens to peck through.  The bean patch was full of ripe beans and a whole basket was brought in, some enjoyed with dinner, the rest blanched and frozen for winter meals.  There was now a 4 by 8 foot bed empty from the peas and another planting of beans will be made there, the local natural foods store carries the Southern Exposure seed that I prefer and they still had the beans in stock today.

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My plan for today was to make fermented horseradish mustard for eldest son and one for me.  Going over to dig the horseradish root ended up with a major weeding in that corner of the garden that is my compost area every other year.  It was full of tall lambs quarters, some plant from the mint family that doesn’t smell particularly good, and other intruders.  That done, I could get to the horseradish and dug a good handful to soak, scrape, and grate.  Two pints of mustard are fermenting on the counter.

Each time we have enjoyed sweet corn this summer, bought at the local village store (I don’t grow sweet corn), I come home with three because they always have it priced at 3 for $1.59, but we usually only eat two, so the third one has been cooked and cut from the cob and frozen.  Today, it was turned into 4 half pints of corn and tomato relish, a slightly spicy one with a chopped jalapeño in it.  The peppers are beginning to provide in small quantities.

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While I was moving through the aisles to get to that corner of the garden, I realized that the onion tops had toppled, the clue to harvest them, so a wheelbarrow full of onions was brought into the root cellar and they were spread out on the shelves to cure.

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In the midst of all of this, a friend texted and asked if I wanted part of a daylily she was dividing and I never turn down perennials, but my bed was in need of some work, so grandson and I got it weeded, a new edge cut in, divided two of mine that needed it and planted them.  She will get a division of the peachy colored one in the header.

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And just because they are pretty while blooming, the barrels of herbs and flowers are included.

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It is a good time of year, with produce to put by, flowers to enjoy, and fresh herbs for cooking.

Still love my life on this mountain farm.

Jam session and soon in a pickle-7/8/18

Not music, canning.  As the raspberries ripened a cup or two a day, they were enjoyed fresh, but most frozen.  Once enough had been accumulated, the first canning session of the year was conducted.  Realizing that I should have crushed the berries prior to freezing so that the amount I had was accurate.  The first batch was made and canned in tiny quarter pint jars, there are many of them in the house and they don’t have much other use, though I think I may just freeze herbs and pesto in the rest of them this year.  The lesson to crush before freezing was heeded and the next week or so of berry collection was frozen crushed and batch number two made when enough were accumulated, this time canned in half pints.  At yesterday’s Farmers’ Market, we purchased several pounds of blueberries.  We had planned to go pick them, but each time we planned to go, it was either blazing hot or raining.  Also  peaches and plums that were brought in from far enough away but still within the 50 mile limit that they survived the mid April freezes and snows. Yesterday before we took off to go see a play at Blackfriars American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, I made a batch of Blueberry Double Ginger jam, this morning, a batch of Blueberry Maple Jam, and this afternoon, a batch of Peach-Plum-Ginger Jam.  That shelf is filling for gifts, family sharing, and our use.

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The wild raspberries and blackberries are just beginning to ripen.  We will gather them and depending on the quantity, batches will be made into either individual jams or a mixed berry jam.

Soon the cucumbers will begin and the peppers will develop and pickle making will commence.  The only pickles made so far are a few jars of dilly beans.  There aren’t enough of our beans to make too many jars of them.  I will be freezing as many of the remaining ones as possible for our enjoyment when the season ends and we can no longer pick them from the garden or purchase them from the Farmers’ Market.

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The pickle shelf will begin to fill soon.  I generally store the canned goods other than jams in the root cellar, but I love the look of the pretty jams and pickles in my beautiful open cabinets, so this year, two shelves will be dedicated to them and the over flow along with the fruit sauces, tomato sauces and salsas will go to the root cellar with the garlic, onions, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins as they are harvested.