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Showing posts from July, 2020

Finding Time to Harvest and Preserve Every Day

Finding time to harvest and preserve every day is challenging, but during this time of year it's our goal to carve out a bit of time in the schedule each day to do so.  In order to take advantage of all the food growing in the garden, as well as to make sure we have home grown food to last us all year, diligence is required. Doing a little bit each day helps ensure we don't become overwhelmed.   When we first started preserving food, we didn't know what we were doing.  Canning initially seemed to be the thing to do, however, canning is very time consuming. We've come to realize how much easier it is to freeze food and how more nutrients are saved by freezing rather than canning. We still enjoy having a portion of our preserved food as canned for the sake of convenience and because we have limited freezer space.  But at least half of what we save nowadays is either frozen, fermented or dehydrated. I wanted to share with you the ways in which we have been preserving the h

Canning Sour Cherry Pie Filling

As the cherries have been ripening over the past few weeks, we've periodically picked a big bowl full from the old sour cherry tree in our pasture. Sour cherries need to be pitted right away and placed in lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.  We've found it best to go ahead and freeze the cherries once they're cleaned and pitted, placing them in gallon-sized freezer bags and tucking them away into our upright freezer.  This also makes the chore easier by breaking it down into multiple segments; we don't have to worry about canning the cherries until later.  Yesterday, as I was going through the freezer, I realized we had squirreled away 4 gallon-sized bags of cherries. Since we're harvesting more vegetables and need freezer space, it was time to take all the frozen cherries out and make cherry pie filling.   The beautiful, enormous jars of sour cherry pie filling are one of my favorite pantry foods. Cherry pie filling comes in handy when we need to make a qu

Favorite Zucchini Relish Recipe

The zucchini is going gangbusters and so it's time get out my favorite zucchini relish recipe. Quite a few years ago, my amazing sister, Cathy, introduced me to the wonders of zucchini relish and I have been making it every summer since then. Zucchini relish is one of the best ways to use up extra zucchini and it's as easy to make as jam.  If you regularly enjoy water bath canning homemade jams, then you will want to add this easy, versatile relish to your pantry as well.   While homemade zucchini relish is wonderful as a spread on sandwiches and hot dogs, it is also the secret ingredient that enhances many other recipes.  For example, we use our homemade zucchini relish when we make thousand island dressing, tarter sauce, potato salad, egg salad sandwiches and tuna sandwiches. Once you experience the sweet and zesty flavor of homemade zucchini relish, you will be spoiled forever and won't be able to tolerate commercial relish.  My favorite zucchini relish recipe comes from

Flowers in the Garden

Flowers in a riot of colors are growing everywhere in the garden.  Most of the flowers are donors that took root on their own. I've never seen flowers grow so tall.  We had an enormous patch of cilantro that was all donor plants, growing in among the asparagus and potatoes.  Now the cilantro has produced lacy white flowers that tower over us at 7 feet tall.  Eventually these will give us coriander seeds and I suppose this year I'd better harvest all of it before it sends an even greater proliferation of seeds into the ground for next year. Six foot tall blue cornflower (below) is helping to stake up the tomato bushes on one side. I'm not sure how we're going to pick tomatoes since the cornflowers have bushed out into the aisle.  Once spiders begin making their home here, it will be dicey trying to pick tomatoes every day. We finally harvested the rest of the peas and tore out all the pea plants, exposing nasturtiums growing underneath. Below is the fencing the peas were

Dairy-Free Lemon Cake Recipe

My daughter made the most luscious, from-scratch birthday cake for me the other day. It was a white cake with lemon filling and lemon frosting. She even made a decoration for the top: the word "love" which she wrote on waxed paper with melted carob, and then refrigerated until it was hard. We enjoyed the cake so much that we thought we would share our alteration of the vintage Betty Crocker recipes.  We've altered the ingredients so that the cake would be dairy free. Dairy-Free Snowflake Cake Originally from the 1961 Betty Crocker Cookbook, altered to be lactose free 2 cups plus 2 Tbsp. all purpose flour 1 1/2 cups sugar 3 1/2 tsp. baking powder 1 tsp. salt 1/2 cup shortening 1 cup soy milk 1 tsp. vanilla 4 egg whites (1/2 to 2/3 cup) Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch layer pans. Using a whisk, thoroughly blend flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Add shortening, soy milk, and vanilla, and beat for 2 minutes, scraping bowl.  Add egg

Last Day! 30-Day Farm Photo Challenge

There is so much to harvest and preserve! Yesterday and today we spent some time in the garden, picking peas, cauliflower, cabbage, zucchini, broccoli, onions, herbs, and blueberries.  We also dug out one big area of potatoes and harvested cherries from the sour cherry tree.  In the evenings we shell peas. This kind of chore is more enjoyable with a glass of wine and the TV. Thank you for joining us as we shared 30 days of photos from our little farm.

Before and After: Flowers by the Front Door

We were looking back through photos of the house and property from when we first bought this place 3 years ago to now, and it's amazing how far we've come during that time.  There have been both major updates to the house and many small improvements as well.  One small change we made was simply cleaning up the flowerbed at the front of the house. Below is a photo of the flowerbed in 2017 before we did anything to it. As you can see, the little flowerbed had been neglected for years and it showed.  It had multiple problems, the first of which being that the flowerbed had been lined with landscape fabric and then covered with rocks.  As time marched by, grass then grew over the rocks.  Because of this, weeding was going to take a lot of effort.  Additionally, hornets and wasps had built nests in the ground and on the  siding of the house.  Needless to say, the flowerbed was not an inviting spot. We finally cleaned up the flowerbed this past April. Alternating between using a shov

5-Minute Video of Our Ducks

These ducks are so cute that it's worth sharing a video of them splashing and swimming in their little blue pool. Joining them are their two favorite hens, Simon and Garfunkel, who hang out with them every day and watch curiously from the sidelines. The duck's names are Big Duck, Cheese and Quackers. We're not sure yet, but we think we might have accidentally gotten a male and female pair (the two gray ones, which are Khaki Cambell ducks).  The duck with the poof of feathers on it's head might be a male.  We had ordered all females, but sometimes this happens.  If we do have a male, no worries, we've decided it would be pretty awesome to let them nest on their eggs and see if we will have ducklings some day!

Blueberry Farm Update

The blueberries are ripening! We've been picking handfuls of them every day for the past week, and yesterday we picked a small bowl full.  This year our harvest is going to be on the small side since our plants are still young. In a few years, we'll hopefully have a big enough harvest to share some and eventually begin a u-pick farm. The deer have been very interested in the blueberry plants, but fortunately we put netting up that keeps the deer and birds out.  We purchased our netting from American Nettings & Fabric Inc.  located in Ferndale, Washington.  They provide giant rolls of netting for commercial farms.  The netting we selected is a durable white hexagon mesh that is for multi-row purposes and has a 10-year life expectancy.  The size we chose is 17 feet wide by 328 feet long, allowing us to cover 5 rows of blueberries.  We used t-posts to hold up the netting.  On top of each t-post, we zip-tied pieces of foam to make sure that the top of the post didn't break

The Inside of a Pickled Egg

It's been four days since I pickled some eggs with beets. Time to cut into one of the eggs and see how it looks and tastes!  We were excited to see that the dark pink from the beet juice made it all the way inside the egg white to the yolk. The texture of the egg surpised me the most. As soon as I removed the egg from the jar, I noticed how firm the egg had become.  It also felt heavier from having soaked up some of the beet juice. The flavor of the egg has changed to take on a mild, sweet pickle taste.  Interestingly, the beets now taste a little bit like egg.  Overall, it was a very pleasant experience, and my daughter and I both enjoyed eating one of the eggs and several of the beets from the jar. See the pickled egg recipe

Flies in the Chicken Coop and Duck Pen

Look how big the ducks have gotten! They were born in early April and so they are about 13 weeks old now. We've been enjoying their antics as they swim around in the little blue pool, ducking their heads and shaking their tails as ducks will do. Adding ducks to the coop has resulted in a huge water mess every day and likely due to this we have begun to see more flies than ever before. Most of the flies swarm around in the duck pen. To get control of the situation, we decided to try using Black Flag Fly Paper. I've never used fly paper before as we've never had this many flies, but I was encouraged by Black Flag's claim that "once they land, they never leave." Intending to hang the fly paper from the rafters in the duck pen, I grabbed a couple of thumb tacks from the cork board and took the fly paper outside. Sometimes things just don't work out as planned. Once in the duck pen, I unwound the fly trap and it immediately got stuck to my hair, arm, and shirt

Learning How to Ferment

Last year I tried and failed horribly at making sauerkraut. My beautiful homegrown cabbage that was fermenting in a salt brine on the counter turned into a terrifying science project with white mold growing on top of gray, smelly, soggy-looking cabbage.  The jar of yuck turned so horrible that I tossed it into the compost pile and figured I'd never give home fermentation a try again.  Then I started reading a book about fermentation that a friend gave me for my birthday last year, Fermented Vegetables: Creative Recipes for Fermenting 64 Vegetables & Herbs in Krauts, Kimchis, Brined Pickles, Chutneys, Relishes & Pastes  by Kirsten and Christopher Shockey.   After giving it significant consideration, I decided fermentation was worth another try.  After all, fermented foods (when properly prepared and not moldy science projects) have enormous health benefits from the probiotics they contain, which promotes healthy digestive and immune systems.  A strong immune system is someth

These Telephone Peas Don't Work

We bought a packet of Tall Telephone Peas from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and planted them in the garden in early spring.  The pea plants have indeed grown tall like telephone poles.  But when we tried to make a call with one, nothing happened.  So it doesn't appear these telephone peas work.  We are somewhat disappointed. Seriously though, we have been harvesting peas like crazy. Peas have made it into nearly every meal, and have been especially enjoyed in soups and salads.  We've also been eating them fresh by the handful.  Along the way, we have also blanched about 8 bags of peas and put them in the freezer for enjoying later in the year. There is nothing quite like sweet, yummy peas fresh from the garden.

Pickling Eggs with Beets on Independence Day

Are you enjoying a quiet Independence Day? It's so strange not having a big gathering or going to watch fireworks.  While some people are boldly getting out despite the risk of spreading COVID-19, our family is playing it safe and keeping things simple.  Life has been so quiet here, in fact, that I have had time to think about making pickled eggs.   How do you pickle an egg?  I had never given it a try, but after curiosity got the better of me I decided to do some research.  The only prior experience I've ever had with pickled eggs is seeing them on the counter at a convenience store and thinking how strange they looked.  I wasn't brave enough then to try one.  How far I've come to now consider embracing the mysterious pickled egg... Our hens have been providing an abundance of eggs.  Initially, I wanted to try pickling some of our extra eggs using dill pickle juice (which in my limited experience seemed to be the only way it was done).  However, as soon as I looked onl

Creating a Home Herbal Apothecary

The idea of creating a home herbal apothecary near to the kitchen has appealed to me for some time.  So today, I finally found a few hours to reorganize the storage spaces in the kitchen, dining room and mudroom, in order to make room for storing herbs and home canned goods in this giant hutch my father-in-law built for us. So far, as you can see the herbs take up only the two middle shelves on one side.  There are culinary herbs, teas, tinctures and infusions.  The lower shelf has a few home canned goods.  On the counter is a batch of kombucha that is brewing. The wooden container with lid (upper right corner, above) was also made by my father-in-law and it now holds our essential oils. Inside the lower shelves of the cabinet, so far only on one side, are more home canned goods along with empty jars waiting to be filled as the garden progresses this summer.  This late in the year we've already consumed nearly all of our home canned food that we preserved last summer, and are just