Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Check your seed catalogs for bargains!

The seed catalogs have started arriving in my mailbox.

A lot of them contain offers - they want your business!

Yesterday, I got one from Gurney's that had a coupon on the front for $20 off a purchase of $20 or more! And the $20 comes off after shipping is applied so if your total including shipping is $20 or less - you pay nothing!

I placed my order this morning -

11250 White Onion Sets for $5.99
14880 Mixed Bell Pepper seeds for $2.99
76100 Snow Pea seeds for $2.99
Shipping $6.95
Total was $18.92 before coupon and $0.00 after coupon!

There is more that I will want to order but I am sure I will get other offers from other seed catalogs and I need to make my money go as far as possible.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Harvesting Brussels Sprouts in the Snow

Winter came early this year in Minnesota. I purposely hadn't harvested my Brussels sprouts yet because they always taste better after a frost and I really wanted to serve them on Thanksgiving.

Little did I know that by Thanksgiving, they would be covered with snow! I had read that you could still harvest them as long as you cooked them right away (still frozen). I had even heard that they taste better once nature has frozen them. I wasn't about to waste anything as tasty as Brussels Sprouts so it was time to find out.

I had to dig down quite a bit to get to them. The mound where they were wasn't that high so I thought I would just brush the snow away and there they would be, but no, it just couldn't be that simple. They had actually fallen down and were laying flat on the ground and the snow was more like ice and I had to chip away to get to them, but once I got a look at those beauties I knew I had to keep working to free them!

And free them I did. Here they are laying frozen on my kitchen counter.

And here they are all steamed up and ready to eat. They were very tasty indeed. I can't say they were any tastier than before a frost, I really didn't notice a taste difference at all.
So, if your Brussels spouts get caught out in the garden under snow, do not hesitate to harvest and enjoy them.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Typical Day in my Harvest Kitchen

Saturday was a busy day in my kitchen. I didn't take pictures of everything - like the last 2 buckets of plums that we picked - but this gives you an idea.

The cucumbers are coming strong. We are picking this many or more every day. The neighbors are starting to hide when they see us coming with cucumbers to give away!

I made another batch of plum jam.

I made some yummy plum sorbet

And I made a batch of relish
Plum Sorbet Recipe
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
Combine on stove and heat until sugar dissolves.
Mix in 1 1/2 cups plum puree and 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (optional).
Pour into ice cream maker and let it do its thing.

Friday, August 13, 2010

My monkey picking plums!

I haven't shared any photos of Andy helping in the garden in some time so when I caught him climbing the plum tree and picking plums for me, I just had to grab the camera.

He blends in pretty good.

Here he is all serious about picking (he did pick a whole pail full for me).

But here, he is getting a little silly - notice the half eaten plum in his mouth!
The plum tree is having a very good year! That kind of takes the sting away from the peach tree that died - again. I don't think I will replace it again.

Food I put up this week

Here is a load of sliced plums on my dehydrator.

Here is a close up of the same plums.

And here they are all ready to come off - see how much they have shrunk and how far apart they are now.

Canned green beans ready for the pantry.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Plum Jam

I just love taking these

and turning them into this!
This was the first batch I made of plum jam from my plum tree.
Last year we got enough plums for fresh eating and I made some fruit leathers.
This year the tree is loaded and there are going to be plums for lots of things.
I may have to find some new plum recipes - anyone have a favorite they would like to share?

To make this plum jam I pretty much followed the directions on the Sure-Jell box (the lower sugar one). Except that instead of finely chopping the plums, I just quartered them and then when they were soft I used a hand blender to puree them.
Plums contain a lot of pectin so you can make plum jam or jelly without adding any commercial pectin at all - but since I haven't done that in years, I stuck with the sure thing for my first batch.
It is so yummy!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dill Pickles

This is an old recipe of mine - I like this one because it requires no brining at all. It is simple and easy to follow.
Dill Pickles

8 pounds cucumbers
4 cups vinegar
12 cups water
2/3 cup pickling or canning salt (do not use table salt)

Fresh Dill
Grape Leaves

Wash cucumbers and cut off blossom end. (The blossoms contain an enzyme that will make your pickles soft and dark)

Soak cucumbers in ice water bath for about 4 hours, adding ice as needed. (this will make them crunchy)

Sterilize 7 to 8 quart jars (or twice as many pint jars if you prefer)

Cut cucumbers into spears if desired.

In a large saucepan or stock pot, combine the vinegar, water and salt. Bring brine to a rapid boil.

In each sterilized jar, place garlic and dill to taste (I use 3 medium cloves garlic halved per jar and 2 heads of dill) and 2 small grape leaves (the grape leaves are optional but if you have them available – don’t leave them out – they will keep your pickles crunchy!)

Fill jars with the cucumbers and then add brine (it should be boiling as you add it). Using a spatula, remove air bubbles, clean the rim of the jars and seal.

Process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.

The longer you can wait to open the pickles, the better tasting they will be. I usually try to wait 6 to 8 weeks before testing but sometimes they get opened much quicker!

Grilled Chicken Spinach Salad with Raspberry Dressing

Earlier this summer my oldest brother took me out for dinner and I had this wonderful spinach salad with grilled chicken breast and a wonderful creamy raspberry dressing. With so many raspberries in my garden, I was sure I could replicate it and I was not disappointed.

Here is the salad all nicely layered before adding the chicken - I used what I had available - spinach, cucumbers, radishes, kohlarabi, and carrots - use whatever you like. I generously sprinkled craisins over the whole thing and topped it with slivered almonds.

Next I grilled up a chicken breast and sliced it on top.

And here is the finished salad with the dressing on top. It was delish!

Raspberry Salad Dressing

14 oz Silken Tofu
1/3 cup Agave Nectar (or maple syrup)
14 oz fresh or frozen raspberries (thawed)
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons coconut oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon sea salt

Mix all ingredients until smooth in a blender. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving

Makes about 1 quart

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Lots of early bounty in my garden

I continue to be amazed at how well everything is doing this year - and how early it still is! I just can't believe that it is barely June and I am eating from my garden! I love it!

Look at those pea plants. I know you are probably getting tired of seeing pictures of my peas, but I haven't grown peas in several years. I am so glad that Andy suggested we should grow them - they are so tasty and yummy!

And here is some of today's harvest of peas - this is the second time I have picked them. The first time two nights ago I added them to the bourbon chicken I made for dinner - so very yummy. I think I will just steam these for tonight's dinner.

And look at this - a ripe raspberry! Going to be a good raspberry year - the bushes are loaded and to think that they are already ripening!

This is all I picked today - but it was a tasty start - I think there may have been more but the kid beat me to them. Speaking of the kid, it is hard to believe that he was preschool when I started this blog and he is going to middle school in the fall! Where has the time gone? They grow up way too fast.

And here is today's harvest of strawberries. I think they are nearing their end already - this is the smallest amount I have picked in a single day - of course the kid and his friends could have beaten me to them also............
I hope all of your gardens are doing as well as mine! Happy Gardening!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

What a great spring!

I am really loving this spring. I finished planting most of my garden last week - phenomenal to have it done so early. I do have a couple of tomatoes and some herbs that are still on the patio waiting to be planted - but otherwise it is done - and thriving!

Take a look at the peas! Aren't they gorgeous? Mmmmm I can already taste them and they haven't even flowered yet - but I know that isn't long now.

And look what is popping up less than a week after planting - green beans! Those helicopters from the neighbor's maple tree are also plentiful this year!

I have already eaten lettuce, radishes, rhubarb and even a couple of strawberries from the garden - and it isn't even Memorial Day yet! Here's to hoping the rest of the growing season is just as great!

My Mothers' Day Present

I got just what I wanted this year for Mothers' Day. I ordered it myself and then when Dan asked me what I wanted the day before I told him it was already taken care of!

I have been intrigued for some time by those topsy turvy tomato planters - but not intrigued enough to buy one. They just looked so cheap - I was afraid that I would damage the plant getting it through the hole - and I heard that they needed watering constantly. That's why when I saw the Gardener's Revolution Planter from Gardener's Supply Company I just had to have it.

There is nothing cheap looking about these. I must admit it took me awhile to figure out how to put together the first one - I don't do so good looking at pictures - but once it was together the rest went real fast. These have heavy duty wire cages and thick fabric bags that open up - the bags zip shut and then you close the metal cages and clip them. Very sturdy. And they have a reservoir so you aren't watering them constantly - and they send lots of extra wicks!

I also ordered the 4-Arm Plant Hanger to hang the tomatoes. It is very tall and sturdy. No instructions came with it so I struggled a little with assembling it also - but luckily my child was helping me and he figured it out right away!

I planted 4 different types of tomatoes - I thought it might be interesting to see which ones do better. I planted Golden Rave, Roma, Amish Paste and Eva Purple Ball Heirloom.

I'm hoping this will be a better solution for me than staking or caging my tomatoes. I always struggle with keeping them off the ground. Of course I planted many more tomatoes that I am staking and or caging. I just used my last jar of home canned tomatoes from last year last week so I am anxious for fresh ones.

Friday, April 23, 2010

I just LOVE this time of year!

What's not to love about spring? Especially an early spring like this year. It is just so heartwarming to witness everything in nature coming back to life. Hope springs eternal this time of year.

I'm still afraid to plant too much for fear that winter might come back but I have planted a lot more than in previous years.

Look at those beautiful pea plants. They are doing so great. Rain is coming in this evening and we are going to have a rainy weekend which is going to make those plants really start to climb.

The lettuce plants actually look like lettuce now. Yum yum - those delectable babies are going to welcome the rain as well.

I just planted the onion plants so they don't look so hot but give them a week and they will bounce right back.

What's this? Blossoms on my replacement peach tree that I just planted last year? Wow - I sure didn't expect that this year. We'll see if any of them actually set any fruit. That would be a pleasant surprise. I guess I know the new tree is healthy.

My strawberries are also blooming. It won't be long and we will be enjoying fresh everything from the garden.
I have also planted carrots outside. The peppers I planted inside never came up and it is too late now to try and plant more so I am just going to buy pepper plants this year. Everything else that is started indoors is thriving.
Did I mention how much I LOVE spring? I really do. Even if my allergies don't!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Wow! My plum tree is blooming early!

Isn't that a beautiful site? Last year I posted pics of the plum tree blooming on May 13th - it is blooming a full month earlier this year - and it is loaded with blooms.

Yummmmmm, I can just taste those fresh plums. I can't wait.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My peas say "Thank You" for the morning rain!

I can't believe I have peas growing already. It is only April 13th! This is Minnesota! I'm not complaining though. I'm loving having an early spring. And my peas are enjoying the rain this morning!
They might be barely out of the ground right now, but it won't be long and we will be enjoying them with our dinner!

Here's a closer shot of the sprouts!

And a fuzzy shot of lettuce and/or radish sprouts - kind of hard to tell which is which when they are this little.

And a couple of pics of the seedlings in the basement - all that are up are doing great!

Another shot from under the lights indoors!
My pepper plants (both the bells and the hot ones) have not sprouted yet - nor have my golden rave tomatoes. I'm thinking I may need to replant those - they should have sprouted my now.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Planting in the Garden in March?

Hard to believe it is still March. It is 72 degrees right now.

I got out in the garden this afternoon and planted sugar snap peas, lettuce and radishes.

It just felt so good to be out there actually digging in the soil. Gardening is the best cure for anything that ails you. I love it.

All of my cabbage family plants inside are doing well 10 days after planting.

And look - a tomato plant is pushing its way up - this is Golden Rave. I'm sure the other tomato varieties will be up soon also.
The peppers aren't showing any signs of germinating yet - but they are always the last to come up.
And here they all are - in my egg carton planters - they will be tall before you know it!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Time to start gardening again!

I finally got around to starting my plants under lights yesterday. This is the latest that I have ever started them. They will do fine and catch up - it's not that late yet. Actually I think that some years I have been chomping at the bit to get gardening and have started my plants too early. Some of my plants have gotten too leggy before the weather outside was warm enough to transplant them so I think we will be fine this year.

Speaking of the weather, Spring has decided to come very early to Minnesota this year. It is so hard to believe that a couple of weeks ago we had tons of snow and now it is all gone and everything is coming to life! I also know though that it is way early and winter could still decide to return. It is still nice to have the warmer weather.

I used old egg cartons to start my seeds in this year. I use Eggland's Best eggs and my recylcing company doesn't take the styrofoam cartons so I decided to get one more use out of them before they become trash. I don't know why I didn't think to use them before - they are just the right size. I cut holes in the bottom for drainage and then I cut them into sections of how ever many I wanted - some (like tomatoes and peppers that I plant a lot of) I kept as a dozen - others are cut into sections of 4 or 6 - very versitale. I wrote on the side with a sharpie what I had planted inside.

Here's to a fantastic gardening season for all gardener's everywhere!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Seed ordering time again!

There may be tons of snow covering the ground - and here in Minnesota there is LOTS of snow this year, but now is actually the time to be placing your seed orders. If you are starting seeds indoors, March will be here before you know it.
I prefer ordering seeds from a nursery over buying them at my local supermarket. I think you get a better selection.

Andy and I spent the afternoon looking through the seeds and throwing out the ones that are too old and making a list of what we want to order. I do use seeds that are a year old - I rarely use the whole packet - I just plant twice as many to make sure enough germinate.

Here are some of what we are planting this year:

Red Pontiac Potates

Long Island Brussels Sprouts

I am so ready for winter to be over.