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Showing posts from September, 2020

Foraging for Chanterelle Mushrooms

Our good friends Dan and Debbie enjoy foraging for chanterelle mushrooms. Yesterday, on Dan's outing into the Sol Duc forest, I felt very fortunate to be invited along. I had been hoping to have an opportunity to experience mushroom foraging out in the forest, as until now the only mushrooms I have foraged are the horse mushrooms that grow in our pasture . Safely identifying wild mushrooms in a forest is quite a different experience. Before going, I researched how to identify chanterelles in the Pacific Northwest as well as how to avoid picking similar-looking mushrooms, including false chanterelles and the more toxic Jack-O-Lantern mushrooms.  There are many great articles online with photos to help identify chanterelles ( here is one from Practical Self Reliance that I found especially helpful ), but even with photos and written descriptions to refer to, I was ever so grateful to be able to have an experienced forager there to verify.  While most of the online photos of chanterel

Apple Pie Filling for Canning and Fresh Apple Pie Baking

We were clued in by the deer that it was time to pick our apples. Mama deer was standing on her hind legs knocking 5 to 6 apples down at a time so all the baby deer could feast. To check and see if they were ripe, we ate an apple that very night, and sure enough, our tart and juicy apples were ready to harvest. So I got out there the next morning and picked all the apples from the tree. We are excited this year to make apple pie filling, applesauce and apple cider!  First step today was to make the apple pie filling, which I decided to put into quart jars for water bath canning. I ended up using about a third of the harvest to make 7 quarts of apple pie filling, which is enough for 7 pies. That should leave plenty of apples for applesauce and cider.  Paring the apples is a tedious chore and one I prefer to do with a knife so as to remove all of the tough bits of core.  I soaked the apple slices in a citric acid and water solution to keep them from browning. Here is a link to the apple

Caring for the Farm When Air is Hazardous

Apparently our air quality right now here in the northwest corner of Washington is the worst in the entire world. It's heartbreaking to see images in the news of entire towns in states along the west coast burned down, and we've been praying for the families who have lost their homes. I can't imagine what they are going through. Here on our little farm, we've been impacted by having to limit our time outdoors, closing up all windows and keeping the doors closed, and wearing ventilators or surgical masks when we go out to try to keep the toxic dust particles out of our lungs. Even with these precautions, we've had sore throats and headaches. We've been more than a little worried about our chickens and ducks living outside in the smoke. So far they seem okay, but to offer some help to them we are doing the following: We enclosed their coop better to reduce the amount of smoke that can blow inside.  We added a couple of tarps and other coverings.   On the day that

What's Growing in the Compost Pile?

 About three months ago we turned over the compost pile using the tractor, and suddenly there sprung to life several vegetable plants.  We haven't watered the pile at all, and still the vines and bushes grew, apparently loving the warm moist heat of the pile.  Squash flowers have been buzzing with bees.  Yesterday afternoon, my daughter and I looked through the pile to see what we've got growing out there. We found several squash that were edible.  I was happy to see that there were Costata Romanesco zucchini growing there, since I didn't have any of that variety in the garden.  Costata Romanesco zucchini has raised ridges along the fruit and the flesh has a wonderful creamy texture when cooked, very different from regular green zucchini. There were also odd yellow bumpy gourds.  I briefly recall throwing several old gourds in the pile maybe three years ago, after we'd moved here and discovered that our Halloween gourds were getting yucky. But the rotted gourds I threw

Super Easy Pizza Crust Recipe

We came across this pizza crust recipe from Bob's Red Mill. It is BY FAR the best pizza crust recipe we've tried, and believe me, we've tried many recipes before this one!  We've tried them all - including sourdough recipes that used sourdough starter, and nothing has beat this one.  This pizza crust tastes like it was made in a traditional pizza restaurant! Additionally, some of its awesomeness is due to the fact that it's pretty much foolproof (when you follow the easy technique laid out below) and it's super easy to make.   I will have to tell you that the BIGGEST part of what makes this pizza crust so great is the technique that we've come up with through trial and error. It has to do with exactly HOW you let your dough rise (you need to proof it at a good temperature for dough) and then how you bake it (you need to bake it on a hot pizza stone). If you do those two things, then this recipe will be AMAZING! During a pandemic when going out for pizza is