Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Washing potatoes

Andy was having a blast washing the dirt off the potatoes that I dug up yesterday. He also got a science lesson out of it when he discovered that he created a rainbow.

Making Sauerkraut

I decided to make some sauerkraut - I haven't made any in years. It smells awful while it is making - but it is so much tastier than what you buy in the store. For some, it might be better to buy it - making it isn't for everyone - some would prefer not to see how what it goes through to become kraut!

I shredded up 5 lbs of cabbage (4 heads)

Sprinkle with salt. I used 3 tablespoons for the 5 lbs.

Make sure you use canning and pickling salt - do not use table salt!

After it was salted, I packed it into 2 small crocks. I prefer the small crocks so I can keep them on my kitchen counter and keep an eye on it. I put plates on them to weight them down. Pack it in tight.

4 hours later, it all fit into one crock - the salt pulls a lot of liquid out. You want to keep the plate on top weighted down to keep the cabbage under the liquid.

I tried to get a picture tonight of it 5 days later, but my cheap camera wouldn't take a good one. It is turning dark and getting a little smelly. That is normal. As it ferments, a scum forms on top that you want to take off daily. Other than that, you just keep it at room temperature until it is as fermented as you like. I will try and get a few more pictures of it as it is fermenting.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Andy and his watermelon

Andy thinks the biggest one is ready to pick - but the underside is still pale green, but it won't be long!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Pickled Summer Squash

Pickled Summer Squash

4 lbs assorted summer squash – any kind works, I like a mixture
2 lbs. onions sliced thinly
Water to cover veggies
½ cup pickling salt
1 quart vinegar
1 cup honey
2 teaspoons celery seed
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons dill seed

Thinly slice squash and onions. Cover veggies with water and add salt. Let stand 1 hour and then drain.

Combine remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and pour over veggies. Let stand 1 hour.

Return to heat, bring to boil and cook 3 minutes. Pack in sterilized jars (don’t forget to run a knife around the edges to release the hiding air bubbles), adjust lids and process in a boiling water bath or 10 minutes.

Makes 8 pints.

Random Pictures from my Garden this Weekend 7/23/07

The coneflowers are looking pretty!

Lots of tomatoes!

And one is starting to ripen!

A beautiful Daylilly

This native was seen in the garden most of the weekend (note to self - must hide face paints better)

This was the native's play area - must be related to a gardener!

Even though the Bell Peppers are small, they are producing peppers!

The cabbage continues to look wonderful!

And I have started picking cucumbers!

I sure hope it rains today so I don't have to water - I haven't finished reading Harry Potter yet!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Looking for Dinosaur Bones

My garden is the place that I reflect and get insight into things that may be bothering me. I find solutions seem to come more freely when my mind and body are engaged in gardening. But sometimes wisdom in the garden comes via my child.

Tonight I was thinning the green apples off the apple tree (I know that should have been done awhile ago, but better late than not at all) while Andy was happily digging near by. I asked him what he was digging for expecting to hear worms (his favorite digging activity) or to China (his second) and instead he told me he was digging for dinosaur bones. Now, normally I indulge his fantasies so I don't know what came over me when I said to him "well, good luck with that". He comes over to me and looks me right in the face like he does when he wants to make sure he has my attention and tells me "Mom, you just never know - I might find one. You know you won't find any dinosaur bones if you don't go looking for them".

How did this 7 year old get so wise? He is absolutely correct. So make sure you look for your dinosaur bones today and every day - and you just might find one!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

In My Garden Saturday 7/14/07

I thinned out some carrots and dug some new potatoes. I roasted them for dinner with a few onions from the garden - they were yummy. I just tossed a little olive oil on them and a little salt and pepper and roasted them in the oven at 350 degrees for an hour. YUM!

The two remaining hot pepper plants are getting lots of peppers on them.

The cauliflower is starting to form heads.

Andy's sunflowers are starting to form heads also - Andy can't wait for his flowers to bloom!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

My carrots are growing nicely

I was thinning the carrots today and most of them are big enough to be eaten and classified as baby carrots - at least these two varieties are. This is the Yellowstone and the Atomic Red. The Tendersweet and Nelson Hybrids are still quite a bit smaller.

Look what you can make from your garden

Not all of the ingredients came from my garden. I joined a CSA and some of the veggies were in this week's box. I wish I grew enough veggies so I didn't have to buy any, but sadly my suburban lot won't allow that - so a CSA is the next best thing.

Kathi’s July Vegetable Soup

2 tablespoons gfcf margarine (or butter if you are not gfcf)
½ cup minced onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 baby bok choy, thinly sliced
4 cups chicken stock (use vegetable stock if you are vegetarian)
2 cups water
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1 carrot, peeled and grated
2 kohlrabies
1 head broccoli
½ teaspoon fresh ginger root, grated
Fresh herbs from the garden – I used parsley, cilantro, oregano and basil – I didn’t measure, just a small amount of each
Salt and pepper
2 ounces bean threads, softened (if you aren’t gfcf you could use vermicelli)

Sautee onions and garlic in margarine until soft

Add the rest of the ingredients except the bean threads. Bring to boil and then turn down and simmer for 25 minutes.

Add softened bean threads and cook another 10 minutes.

Currant Sorbet

It was also suggested that I try sorbet so I did. I am trying to avoid using processed white sugar or corn syrup in my creations - so I used Brown Rice Syrup and Maple Syrup. It wasn't bad, but you can taste the Rice Syrup a little too strongly - next time I think I'll do 1/2 cup of each instead of what's listed.

Currant Sorbet

2 cups currant juice
1 cup brown rice syrup
¼ cup maple syrup

To make currant juice – place currants in sauce pan and crush – do not add water. Bring to a boil. Turn off, cover and let cool. When cool strain through a jelly bag or several layers of cheesecloth.

To make sorbet: Mix all ingredients together – make sure the currant juice is cold or at least room temperature. Place in ice cream maker and process until desired consistency – about 40 minutes.

Currant Pie

Someone suggested that I make a currant pie with all of my currants. I haven't ever had a currant pie - it was wonderful - I can't believe I never thought of making a pie with them before!

Here it is before it went in the oven:

And here is it looking beautiful coming out:

And here is the recipe I used: I am gfcf (gluten free and casien/dairy free) - so just substitute a normal pie crust if you are not. I also am trying to use all natural/organic items so I am avoiding white refined sugar as much as possible. Enjoy!

Currant Pie

2 uncooked pie crusts (I made mine using a mix from Miss Robens)
4 cups fresh currants
¼ cup tapioca
½ cup raw honey*
2 tablespoons margarine melted (I used Earth Balance Sticks)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Roll out ½ of the pastry and line a pie plate (I only cook in glass pie plates – using aluminum is not good for your health)

In a medium bowl mix currants, tapioca, honey, margarine, cinnamon and nutmeg

Pour mixture into pie crust

Roll out remaining dough and place over the filling – or cut into strips and place on pie lattice style. Trim, seal and crimp edges – if you put a solid top crust on, be sure and cut steam vents in it.

Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake for 45 to 60 minutes more. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack before serving.

*Adjust the amount of honey to your preferred level of sweetness

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Currant Jelly

I made 33 jars of currant jelly yesterday on the 4th of July. It is a very good year for currants - some years I fight the birds to get enough for one batch of jelly - but not this year. I'm excited to be able to make so much - I have a friend who also has a child with autism - and our children are so different from each other and yet they have some of the same problems in life. One of the ways they are different is that my kid will eat just about anything and he just loves fruits and veggies. She has always struggled with her child eating anything. At one point there were only 5 things he would eat and they had to be particular brands - so frustrating. Anyway one of the things he loves and eats is currant jelly - has to be red and not black. The last year I had a bumper crop I made two extra batches just for him. I believe his eating is better but I think he still like currant jelly so I am excited to be able to do this and help them out.

Anyway jelly making is really easy - not hard at all. When I go to the bother of making jelly, I make several batches at a time. No sense in heating up the kitchen for just a few. I don't have a dishwasher so I have to heat the jars in boiling water to sterilize them and that seems to take the longest - so while you have hot water you may as well sterilize the next batch and keep going.

Does anyone know what else you can make with currants? Andy and I like to just eat them, but they don't last very long. Dan only likes the jelly. One year I tried to dry them and they were all hard and little, not like the dried currants you buy in the store that look like raisins - so I did a little research and learned that the dried currants you buy in the store are a different plant entirely - something from Europe with the same common name. Who knew? I didn't. So if anyone else knows what I should do with my currants (other than feed the birds), post a comment and let me know.

In My Garden Thursday, July 5, 2007

The cucumbers are vining nicely and starting to flower.

A new lilly is blooming. I don't remember what kind of a lilly it is - I planted it years ago when I first bought this house and I have memory any more.

The biggest baby watermelon is growing nicely. Andy talks to it every day to make it grow. I have to get a picture of him talking to it one day.

The pole beans are growing up the strings and starting to flower. I can't wait for that first taste of fresh green beans.

The Opkala tomatoes are doing nicely. All of them survived the hail. Of the other two varieties I planted only one plant each survived and were replaced with grape tomatoes from the nursery (grape tomatoes was all the nursery had left that late in the season).