Tag Archives: preserving

Progress

Jim has gotten the huge far hay field mowed.  We still have the east field and the near south field to do as well as mowing around the trees that we planted as a wind break, around the barn and up the small hill at the top of the driveway.  Between us, about half of the 30 acres has been mowed.

We will take turns riding the tractor to get it finished.  I do most of the close to the house and around the tree work, he likes to ride the long open areas.  One area, neither of us like to do as it has lots of rocks that are just high enough to cause the brush hog to clip them, just low enough to be hard to see when the grass is high.

Yesterday after the rain, I went out and weeded some in the garden, tossed pounds of spoiled and split tomatoes, overgrown cucumbers, and weeds to the chooks, hoping to lure them out into their new covered run.  I harvested somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 pounds of tomatoes, nearly 4 pounds of tomatillos, 2 1/2 pounds of mostly hot peppers.  The tomatillos have been husked, washed and bagged, and put in the freezer. The habañeros and Tabascos, along with a few tiny red jalapenos were added to the other hot peppers that I have been accumulating in the salted vinegar.  Since the jar was full and there were more peppers than space, I ground the mixture up together in the blender.  I will have to make a batch of hot sauce with it soon.  The jalapenos were pickled, adding two more pints for son and Jim to enjoy this winter.

jungle

This photo was taken standing in the jungle of tomatoes and peppers.  I can’t even find the path between them.  Last year the peppers stayed small, the tomatoes controllable.  The rain has changed that this year.  I need to go out, stake and tie up some of the peppers, trim some tomato branches, and cut down the dye seed sunflowers.  The Tabasco peppers are all red, so I am thinking about just pulling the plants to make some room.  They will dry nicely hanging upside down in the garage.

While out there to harvest, I got about half way down the row nearest the asparagus and met up with this critter.

spider

This was the biggest garden spider I have ever seen.  The spider’s body without the legs was about 2 inches long.  I am not a fan of spiders, but I also will not kill one outdoors unless it is a Black Widow (I have found and killed two of them this summer).  Though I won’t kill them, I also wasn’t going to try to reach around that critter and it’s web to pick tomatoes, so I took a stick and relocated the spider to the asparagus patch and continued to pick these.

tomatoes

 

I started the morning with more than 35 pounds of tomatoes.  I peeled and chopped the ones I froze a couple of weeks ago and dumped them in a huge pot.  Weighed out 18 pounds and set them aside and chopped the rest and cooked them just until they began to break down.  From that pot, I canned 9 pints and 4 quarts of diced plain tomatoes.  While the quarts were canning and the canner cooling down, I peeled and diced the 18 pounds, added them to a large chopped onion, some garlic, basil, oregano, and parsley and it is simmering in a huge pot on the stove waiting for the canner to fully de-pressurize so that it can be jarred and canned.

sauce

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This will be the routine several times a week for the next couple of months until we are threatened with a frost.  The Asian pears are ripe and Ginger Pear Conserve production is also in order.  The apples look like they are about ready too, though I haven’t tried eating one yet.  Applesauce production is also on the schedule.  Soon the basement shelves will begin to fill.

The basement refrigerator is filling with pickles, pickled jalapenos, and kraut.  The canning shelves being emptied of jars to be filled and replaced with filled jars of chutney, tomatoes, conserves, and spaghetti sauce.  Soon the applesauce will also begin to fill shelves.  Though the bunnies got all of my beans this year, there are peas in the freezer and still some squash from last summer.

Jim is out mowing the upper south field while I can.  Tomorrow, I will take over for a bit.

The chickens still won’t come out of their coop but for brief moments.  I have enticed them with split tomatoes, overripe cucumbers, and a whole bucket of compost veggies. Tonight after dark, B’rooster will be removed from the hens to the cull coop. He is tearing up the hens backs and I don’t want any more chicks this year.  There is one Buffy pullet and one Buffy cockerel in the cull coop that will be moved in with the hens. The cockerel will be next spring’s rooster. If I can figure out which of the half breeds are pullets, I may move one of them too.  With the loss of two of my layers this summer, egg production is down some, but we are still getting more than the family needs.   Soon it will be molting time and egg production will stop as I have no year old hens this year, but they will grow back their feathers and be clean and warm for the winter.

More putting by

I finally shredded the three remaining cabbages from the earlier harvest.  They were salted, rubbed and tightly packed in two clean quart wide mouth jars.  Two quarts of kraut are fermenting on the kitchen counter.

The tomatoes from the other day and an apron full of paste tomatoes harvested today were chopped, seasoned, and made into 4 pints of tomato sauce and a quart and a half of marinara sauce.  The tomato sauce was canned and is cooling on the counter.  The marinara sauce is earmarked for a huge lasagna that I will make on Wednesday when we have a house full of 9 people.  The lasagna will be served up with a salad of Farmers’ Market lettuce, our cucumbers, beets, and onions.  If there is a slicer tomato ripe, it will also be added to the salad.  Lasagna is generally well received and will feed many at one time.

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The hens are beginning to lay more eggs each day.  We are back to getting 4 or 5 each day. With 7 laying hens, I am hoping that we will start again getting half a dozen each day.  It will be Thanksgiving before this  spring’s chicks begin to lay.

I love this time of year, with the fresh produce, fresh eggs, and flowers.  It is a lovely few months to savor each year.

In a few more weeks we will be harvesting Asian pears and cooking apples.  With jars of chutney left from last year’s harvest, most of the apples will be made into sauce.  Some of the pears will become Ginger Pear Conserve and the ones not eaten fresh will be made into sauce as well.

A Week On The Farm

This has been the beginning of really harvesting from our garden.  The last of the beets were brought in today, the onions have been pulled and are curing.  The garlic is cured and needs to have the leaves trimmed, sorted into shallow boxes and put in the root cellar to begin to use.  Some of each will be held out to plant in the fall for next year’s crop.

Harvest

Today I bought in the first of the tomatoes, two heirlooms and one paste.  Not a lot, but a start.  There were almost enough Jalapenos to pickled another pint.  And enough cucumbers to have some fresh and to make 4 quarts of icicle pickles.  I need to steam the beets, peel them, slice and freeze the remaining ones.  I pulled a good size chunk of horseradish root and used it to make a half pint of grated horseradish, I used a couple tablespoons of it to make a pint of Horseradish Mustard that is fermenting on the counter for 3 days.  That is my favorite mustard.

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Earlier this week, Jim, daughter, and I went out one night after dark, when the 13 chicks all cooped up together and we sorted them into culls and keeps, keeping 4 Buff Orpington pullets to replace the one that died, Broody Mama Wannabe who has not proven herself, and to add two to the layer flock.  I will have 11 layers if they really prove to be pullets.

This week, we have had a series of horrendous thunderstorms.  The garden has been ok in this, but the newly graded, regravelled road to our driveway, and the upper part of our driveway really took a hit, with deep ruts crisscrossing the roadbed.

This is a very yellow time of year in the gardens with the Rudbeckia, False Dahlia, and Sunflowers blooming.  The Sunflowers in the corn, tomato, and pepper jungle are Hopi Dye Seed.  I am hoping to get enough of the seed to dye a skein or so of yarn the lovely purple that they produce.  There are also Russian Mammoth sunflowers and a smaller cluster sunflower that produces flowers about 7 or 8″ across.

 

Browneyed susan False Dahlia Jungle

 

We love our life on our mountain farm.

Labor Day of Love

I may be retired, but not idle. If anything, I am busier than when I worked outside our home, coming home to prepare dinner and keep household chores under control

.This weekend, I chose to dedicate to putting by, as the old timers say. No sitting around for me. The harvested basket of mostly pears and some apples from our young orchard, along with about ten pounds of purchased apples were preserved so as not to lose them to spoilage.

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This basket plus the purchased apples, produced with lots of labor and love, and the help of several  recipes:

8 pints of Pear sauce with vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger; 4 pints of applesauce ( must get more apples); 5 1/2 pints of Ginger Pear Conserve with walnuts; 5 pints of Apple Pear and Cranberry Chutney; 4 1/2  pints of a nice spicy Pear Apple Chutney.

While the Chutney was cooking today, I harvested a bucket of tomatoes, tomatillos, and various hot and mild peppers. One pint of jalapeños was pickled, tomatillos were frozen until I’m ready to use them in a sauce or salsa, tomatoes were frozen to make them easier to peel later this week when another batch of pasta sauce or chili tomatoes is canned. There is still a pile of mammoth jalapeños that need to be sliced and frozen and the Bell peppers that aren’t going into tonight’s Greek stew need to be sliced into strips or diced and frozen for winter use.

The peppers are thriving with the seasonable days and cooler nights. The pumpkins are threatening to engulf the entire garden. Something has been munching on the sweet potato vines, perhaps it is time to dig them and let them begin to cure. The heirloom paste tomatoes are beginning to redden and there are many left to pick, though I am sure there will be far fewer canned tomatoes and salsas than last year. The tiny Tabsco peppers are ripening and there are many of them, so some hot sauce will be made later in the season.

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It feels good seeing the shelves begin to fill, the freezer with beans, squash, and beets. The basement refrigerator with pickled cucumbers and peppers and soon to have kraut and kimchi. Knowing that there are 26 chickens being raised humanely to help put pasture raised meat on the table. And greens growing in the garden.

Daughter and her family are due back soon from their weekend away, so the rest of dinner prep and some kitchen clean up is in order. Hope you enjoyed your Labor Day as much as I did mine.

Olio – July 19, 2015

Olio- A miscellaneous collection of things.

The heat has returned. . . and the humidity.  With the heat and humidity, we also get intense thunder storms with half an hour of rain, of course, right after I watered the wilting deck herbs and flowers.

The chicks watch is still on.  Not a single egg hatched from the clutch that the Momma Hen was driven off of by the Broody Hen who took it over.  They should have begun hatching on Friday, but not a one so far.  I will wait until tomorrow then remove the eggs and begin breaking the Broody, or maybe wait until tomorrow night when all the girls are sleeping and take the eggs and give her the two 4 week old chicks in the garage and see what she does with them.  It is a good thing that I ordered Red Rangers for mid August as the Buff Orpington experiment sure has not provided the culls that we had hoped to put in the freezer for winter.

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Littles, Teens, and Hens enjoying the scraps and overgrown squash and cukes.

After I shucked the corn from yesterday’s Farmers’ Market to go with our steak, I took the husks out to the chickens and wandered into the garden to see if there was a cucumber to slice for dinner too.  This is what I brought back to the house.

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Two overlooked yellow squash and one huge cucumber went straight into the chicken pen.

After dinner, Daughter and I cut up and froze 6 more quarts of summer squash for the winter soups, pasta sauces and casseroles.  After she and SIL left to go to a movie, I made the first two pints of Dill Pickles from one of my favorite cookbooks, preserving by the pint, for storage.

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On the spinning front, I am still plodding along on the pound of Coopsworth with about 700 yards of yarn finished, washed and dried and another bobbin nearly full.  I fear that I am going to end up with 3 bobbins and have to wind off the last one into two balls to ply it.

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I wish the teal color showed better in the artificial light.  It is going to make a luscious sweater when I am finished with it.

As for knitting, I am working on the first sleeve of the sweater that has been in the works for months.  It is just too hot to sit with a sweater body in my lap, so it only gets picked up on cooler evenings.  Unlike most knitters that I know, I generally don’t have multiple projects going at once, but the sweater is too big and too hot to be a carry around project, so I cast on another project.  One of my friends is an Indie yarn dyer and she and her husband have several causes and organizations that they strongly support.  Upon the Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage, to support Urban Peak in Denver, CO, a shelter for homeless youth, she dyed a special yarn, Rainbow Unicorn of Love.  For every skein she sells, they are donating 10 pairs of new socks to this shelter for the homeless young folks staying there.  The cause seemed worthy to me so a skein of her delicious sock yarn joined my stash.

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So what do you do with Rainbow Sock yarn, why make socks, the perfect portable project.  Unfortunately, I have about an inch of ribbing and the pattern that I though I was ordering as a download is actually being mailed to me and I haven’t received a shipping notice yet.  I may do another favorite sock pattern of mine, designed by a knitting friend for the Bejing Olympics Sockapalloza,  Olympian Socks.  I have another skein of Unplanned Peacock Sock yarn in Botanicals colorway that can be made into the other pattern once it arrives and this pair is finished.

Loving life on our mountain farm.

Arctic Zone

Yesterday was cold and wet, rain at our elevation, snow about 800 feet above us.  With the cold was wind, stripping the gold and red leaves from the trees that had not lost their leaves yet.  A good day to stay indoors, but it was Farmers’ Market day and if we were to have meat this week, other than chicken, a trip to town was necessary.  We dallied, not leaving to have breakfast as on most weekends and knowing that there was a home game at the University in town, an attempt to try to miss the traffic seeking to find parking on side streets or failing that, paying $10/car in church lots or people’s yards. Home games are madness in our little town as the university is huge and the alumni dedicated, even in a cold rain.  The market was done, the vendors all thanking us for coming out in such nastiness, but we came home with ground beef, stew meat, onions and radishes, still having greens in the garden and a bit of the last salad in the refrigerator.  Our usual meat vendor wasn’t there, so I was unable to get the ground pork that I wanted to make a stuffed pumpkin this week, unless I can find a package in the chest freezer.   Or perhaps, I will make a pumpkin, chicken curry in a pumpkin shell, there is plenty of coconut milk and red curry in the pantry.

Once home, the winter squash picked over the prior two days were toted down to the root cellar in the basement, two big canvas sacks at a time, many, many trips up and down the stairs.  The shelves look ready to provide well this winter.

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Pumpkins, sweet potatoes, garlic and canned goodies.  This is what is left after loads to northern Virginia and what is upstairs in the pantry.  The freezer stocked with green beans, peas, apples, chicken and a bit of pork and beef stockpiled from weekend trips to the Farmers’ Market.  Our favorite meat vendor toughs it out at the market on all but the worst winter Saturday’s throughout the upcoming winter.

As the wind blew last night, and the temperature dropped, our power failed.  Quickly gathering up the battery lanterns and flashlights and tossing a down blanket on the two quilts on the bed, I settled in with my tablet that had a good charge and the ebook that I am currently reading.  Fortunately, the power only stayed out a couple of hours and we were awakened by the TV and lights coming on and the computer printer doing a self start, though it had been powered off before.

The morning dawned an hour earlier, thanks to the time change last night from daylight savings time.  Yes, I know, an extra hour to sleep, hmmmph, I awake with the sun and get up once awake, my body doesn’t just switch gears like the clock.  As I let the pups out, I realized that we were seeing our first snow flurries and the lightest of dusting on the ground and decks.

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Mountain snow showers are a common occurrence, rarely amounting to anything, whenever there is moisture in the air and the temperature below freezing.  The freeze last night, the first freeze burned back the pumpkin patch and the bean patch.  The greens look sad this morning but will perk back up as the daytime temperatures rise above freezing.

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After feeding the chickens and breaking the ice on their water, a walk through the ruined patch revealed as I suspected, several more pumpkins.  The largest, not damaged ones gathered and brought in, like I really need more in the house.

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Happily, several of them were Buttercup squash.  A couple were tossed into the chicken pen and the rest left to be gathered in the garage or thrown immediately to the chickens over this week once the wind dies down and the temperature rises to a more comfortable range.  This was the first morning that I had to don the heavy barn coat to go deal with the birds.

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The peppers that were gathered prior to the expected Arctic chill have all been processed, the tiny jalapenos sliced and frozen, some used in last night’s chili with cornbread for dinner.  The small bell peppers, sliced and frozen, the ripe habeneros packed whole in freezer bags, the green ones set in a bowl to ripen as you can see they are doing.  They too will be bagged and frozen.  The tiny hot orange pepper that I still haven’t identified, was pureed with vinegar they had been soaking in for the past few weeks and a Tabasco-like sauce made that a single drop burned my mouth for an hour.  The rest of them are ripening on the upside down plants in the garage.  The tomatillos that we gathered were rid of their husks, washed and packed whole in freezer bags, another 3 pounds to be used in Pozole this winter.  A chicken, some tomatillos, a bag of dried hominy soaked, a handful of Mexican spices and a hearty soup to feed a small army is made.

We are lovin’ life on our mountain farm and now must accept another winter is upon us.  We were lucky this year, we got an extra 2-3 weeks before the first frost.

Salsa Season

With tomatoes and peppers taking over the empty spaces in my kitchen, sauces and salsas are the order of the day most days.  The lion’s share of the tomatoes become pasta sauce for the quick winter meal.  With or without meat added on serving day, spaghetti or penne cooked al dente and a salad or green beans sauteed in olive oil with a splash of lemon juice and sometimes a chunk of bread if I have been baking.

Another couple dozen jars will be canned tomato chunks with green chilies for using when I make my prize winning pot of chili on a cold eve.

Hubby and Son#1 love salsa, fresh or canned, green or red.  I have made one batch of tomatillo/jalapeno salsa and will make more with the next harvest of tomatillos.  Pico de Gallo is always welcome, but only happens when everything is fresh from the garden.  This year, I am going to try canning my own salsa as the brand of choice here has risen in price to nearly $5 per pint. To make this, I am going to use the one referenced in yesterday’s XXX hot sauce post.  We were visiting our cousin at their casa in Mexico and they have a husband and wife staff.  He cares for the grounds and does maintenance, she cleans, deals with linens and if you purchase food, will prepare breakfast and dinner for you for a very small fee.  If you want a great place to visit, check out www.Casadelplatero.net .  Our cousin likes his salsa too and this was served with breakfast and dinner’s in.

Casa del Platero Salsa

2 medium tomatoes, cut in half

1 medium onion cut in halves or quarters

2 jalapeno peppers cut in half lengthwise

2 cloves garlic

salt and pepper to taste

In a skillet in a small amount of cooking oil (I use Olive or grapeseed) cook the tomatoes, onion and peppers cut side down until lightly browned and softened.  Add garlic and cook just until fragrant, don’t let it brown, it gets bitter.  Place all in a blender or food processor and blend until a chunky salsa consistency.  Salt and pepper to taste.  May be served warm or chilled.  It will keep for a week or two in a jar in the refrigerator.  If you want it less spicy, just use less jalapeno, if you want more fire, add more or add a half of a habanero pepper.

As I plan to can it this year, I will add 1 Tbs lemon juice and 1/2 tsp pickling salt to each hot pint jar before spooning in the salsa and will water bath can it for 25 minutes (I live above 2000 feet so adjust to your altitude) or pressure can it for 15 minutes.

The remaining tomatoes will be eaten fresh or canned plain for those days when I just need canned tomatoes for a recipe.  It looks like a bumper crop this year.

A Week on and off the Farm – June 14, 2014

This week, two of our grandchildren celebrated birthdays.  Our eldest, son of our eldest turned 9, our first granddaughter, daughter of our youngest, turned 3.  Though we didn’t actually get to spend their birthday with either of them, they are special.

The garden is growing.  The garlic looks like it is ready to harvest and cure.  Agree?

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I never did make garlic scape pesto.   Oh well, there is always next year as it is a crop we plant annually in quantity to share with our kids.  The peas are or so close to being ready for the first batch of lightly steamed or sauteed fresh peas.  My mouth is watering at the thought.  The raspberry patch is starting to ripen.  It is really going to be a challenge to bring enough in to make jam or smoothies with as I graze as I am in the garden, they are so delicious fresh.

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A few weeks ago, while in Lowes, I purchased two new garden implements, a hoe with a two tine rake on the other end and a loop hoe.  The loop hoe is an okay tool in bare soil.  The other implement bent the very first time I used it and it will be returned to Lowes along with a wire brush they sold us for our new grill that has coated cast iron grates and specifically says DO NOT USE A WIRE BRUSH ON THE GRILL PLATES.  A few days after I purchased them, I received a copy of one of the only two magazines to which I subscribe and they had an article on must have garden tools, one of which is a new Rogue Tool Hoe that has a tapered, sharpened end, flat at the end and a 3 tine rake on the other end.  It is American made, forged and solid.  I ordered one and was notified that they were backordered and it would be several weeks.  I okayed that and two days later, was notified that it shipped.  It is a great tool, well worth the money and the wait.  Used on its side, it cuts right through the weeds.  The end cuts deeper for heavier rooted weeds and the rake grabs even young tap rooted plants and pulls them right up.  The wooden handle is thick and well balanced.  They aren’t paying me or giving me anything, but I highly endorse their products.

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This is the first week of the summer that we have had house guests.  Jim’s cousin and his wife spend Thursday night with us on the way to Pennsylvania to pick up his youngest son from college and will spend tonight with us on their way home to Georgia.  They brought us two bags of Georgia peaches to enjoy along with pecans and a lovely loaf of bread.  Some of the peaches were very ripe and after they left yesterday morning to finish their trip north, I prepared about half of them for peach jam.

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In 25 or more years of making jam and jelly, this was my first experience with peaches and it didn’t set up properly.  Last evening, we went to town to purchase more fresh pectic, new lids and while there, I bought another case of 1 cup jelly jars and reprocessed it last night with a bit more lemon juice and a new package of pectin.  It turned out perfectly and they will get to take a jar home with them tomorrow along with a couple of jars of berry jams from last season, some of the cured garlic still left from last year and a dozen of my fresh eggs to enjoy once they are home.

I subscribe to a delightful magazine called taproot.  It comes out 4 times a year, contains no advertisements, often contains a gift, such as a small notebook or some notecards with artwork from one of their many artist contributors.  It always has wonderful recipes, craft ideas and generally a knit, crochet or sewing pattern in it.  This issue has infused vinegars and three fermented mustard recipes that I want to try.  Today while making a vinaigrette from it for our salad tonight, since I already had the small blender out, I made the Horseradish mustard to sit and ferment for three days before adding in the last two ingredients.  Once it is completed, I will divide it into 4 oz jars and share the finished product with our kids that want to try it. (It tasted delicious even without the fermentation and last two ingredients, so I bet it is going to be great.)

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There are two more recipes for other mustards in the magazine, but I bet it will be hard to beat this one.

I must have been born in the wrong century.  I love preserving, growing a garden, spinning yarn, knitting, and cooking from fresh ingredients.  As we await their return for the night, I am preparing a meal of roasted radishes, turnips, yellow squash, garlic, spring onions, rosemary from our garden and the Farmers’ Market.  Local grass finished beef kabobs with Monterey seasoning that I make.  Shrimp with mustard basil marinade.  Salad with local vegetables added and the vinaigrette from taproot magazine with fresh from my garden thyme.

Life is good here on our mountain farm.