Archive for the ‘Food and Drink’ Category

Getting Ready For Fall

It feels much too hot out to be worried about fall. That said, with longer germination later in the year, it’s time to put those newspaper seedling cups to use. I want to grow produce year round, not just at the peak of summer, so as we approach cooler temperatures I’ll be replanting a number of things that we grew in the spring. Currently being sprouted indoors for planting after temperatures drop off a bit are beets, spinach, radishes, arugula, carrots, and lettuce. I’ll be adding kale, swiss chard, turnips, and bok choy once I have more seedling cups made.

I’m also trying to get a few blueberry bushes and peach trees going as a bit of an experiment. They’ll be grown in containers.

We’ve started trying to put away extras for the winter when possible. Tomatoes are being canned one jar at a time as they ripen, and blueberries have filled the freezer a couple of gallons at a time.

The shed is also coming along. With any luck, the goat side (not really visible in this picture) will be completed within the next week. All the rafters are in place, hurricane clips have been attached (to prevent the roof from blowing off in a storm), roofing is going up, and siding will soon follow. I think Cai and Vi are ready to move into their more long term home.

Summer Yum

Summer is in full swing, we have more tomatoes and blueberries than we can eat (and keep getting more via the CSA), and the heat is still oppressive, especially midday. Still, there are signs that autumn is on its way.

There are green muscadines popping up on wild wines throughout the forest. I’m looking forward to hiding in the shade to pick them in a few weeks. If my dandelion wine turns out well, I may try a batch of muscadine wine this fall.

For some reason, it seems that our area had a rather poor yield of eggplant this year. None of our neighbors had any that yielded, and I’ve found surprisingly few that have filtered through the CSA. Still we’ve had few, and with the bounty of tomatoes we’ve had, eggplant parmesan in an ample pool of marinara has been a good meal choice for us after a long, hot day of clearing brush and debris.

If all goes as planned, the site will be cleared and ready to start on by this fall. I’m hoping to have building permit in hand and the ability to pour the slab after high temperatures start to edge down closer to the low 80’s every day. Given that the site of our future home was used as a glorified dump site for construction leftovers and broken machinery for the last 20 something years and the floods last year gave everything a good tossing around, this is going to be no small task. For now, it’s just one step at a time, some praying that the road won’t be long, and lots of salad and cold soup to cool off and re-energize after a round of people vs. the insane mess that people are capable of leaving behind them.

Sunny Side Cafe – Support A Local Business

I had been wanting to write something up about supporting local businesses for awhile, but this one deserves it’s own post. On recommendations from some of the hubby’s co-workers, we had a family breakfast at the Sunny Side Cafe on Sunday morning. I was expecting a pancake diner type establishment where I would eat to not be hungry anymore and then move on, filing it away in my mind with other establishments I’ve been to that offered flavorless pancakes and burnt coffee. What I found was a very pleasant surprise.

I shouldn’t have been caught so off guard I suppose. When your building backs up to a farmer’s market and your space is two doors down from a CSA’s base of operations, it seems obvious that you would do well to utilize those resources. My search for a place to eat out that offered food that followed the same guidelines as our nutritional adventures at home seems to have ended over an omelet made with locally grown produce and locally lain eggs. Even their meat is pastured raised, grass fed, hormone free and local. That is something that has seemed to fall into the realm of “too much to ask” even for the few restaurants I’ve known to use some local produce.

Supporting a local business that supports other local businesses is the ultimate on my list of ways to stimulate the local economy. When that stimulus also comes with great service, wonderfully tasty food, and a little concern for the quality of the ingredients they’re working with, consider me sold!

A Sea Of Green

Summer has hit for sure. It’s now hot and mostly dry. The garden isn’t growing at the phenomenal rate it boasted in late spring, but it continues on.

The no till, permaculture based, companion planted method we’re trying leaves the garden looking more than a bit wild at times, even when well weeded and neatly tended. My pole beans are as virulent as ivy or kudzu. They, more than anything else, have made me rethink what qualifies a plant as a “weed”. The whole garden looks like a sea of green, with summer breezes rolling leaves a bit like waves. It is producing fairly well, however, and I can’t say I have many complaints about the system. Pests have been minimal (a few beetles, some worms on my tomatoes, and strange ants that are very fond of eggplant have been it), wildlife has kept out, and the weeds have mostly provided excellent mulch. I’ve also found myself with so many peppers that in addition to eating them, pickling them, and using them in relishes and salads, I’m now finding myself participating in a time honored southern tradition of pawning off unused garden grown produce to unsuspecting relatives before it can go to waste.

That and the one where we fry things. Green tomatoes in this particular instance.

Green isn’t the only color to be found in abundance. Lilies, marigolds, and hydrangeas are in full bloom. Everything is awash with color.

If only it weren’t for the the heat. As things stand right now, I’m trying to stay out of the midday sun, but otherwise am continuing on as normal, just a bit closer to dawn and dusk. I can’t complain too much. It’s allowed me to witness some stunning sunsets.

There is nothing quite like the hum of crickets in the garden, a beautiful sunset, a homegrown meal, and a good night’s sleep.

Rainy Memorial Day Weekend

The weekend was on and off rainy. It would stop from time to time, but everything was a muddy mess. The garden has been growing with leaps and bounds due to all the wet weather though!

While certain things just had to be done, rainy or not, for the most part I stayed in. There was a little crafting done..

..but I mostly stuck to the kitchen. I was on a quest to use some of the radishes from the garden so they wouldn’t turn peppery and pithy before I got to them, to use up some of the contents of the fridge, and to stock up on some edibles to leave for the guys while I’m away (the birth of my second favorite little girl is imminent!).

The radishes themselves became pickles.

The radish leaves became pesto.

The pesto (about half of it) became muffins.

I was thrilled with how these came out. They’re a bit dense, but have a good flavor and freeze really well.

On Saturday we went to visit Pop-pop and Nena who were hosting a pre-Memorial Day crawfish boil. Mellie got to visit, touch a crawfish, and pull Pop-pop’s beard.

It was a pretty decent weekend, despite the weather.

A Rainy Morning

I had big plans for work in the garden this morning while I had help. The plan was to finish mulching the pathways in the front of the garden, set up more poles for the beans and some morning glories that have popped up, transplant some of the eggplant seedlings that need thinning to an empty space on another row, move the small pen to a spot that’s rather overgrown so the goats can clean it up for us after they arrive, and get a little experiment with growing onions in a vertical, green wall inspired set up going. Nice, clear plan right? Unfortunately it was dependent on the weather.

It stormed all night and i s continuing to sprinkle this morning. The water is good for the plants at least. Check out the blooms that are popping up on one of my sweet banana pepper plants!

Since gardening was out, I made breakfast and we hung out inside eating pancakes and catching up on reading. Cal is trying to learn some programming, so he read his manual and occasionally did a little experimenting on our laptop while I cooked.

I also did some fresh henna on myself while I had the free time. The last round was getting pretty faded, though you can still see the faintest impression of it on my second toe.

I was kind of hoping that the sun might come back out and be drying things up by the time I finished the henna, but that isn’t the case. I suppose it’s just going to be an indoor kind of day. Time to catch up on some crafting!

Playing Catch Up

Yesterday was CSA pick up day, and I realized that I never posted last week’s CSA contents. Mellie has been ready for a nap right after getting home both weeks, so neither box has been photographed before being put away. In any case, the last two weeks have included radishes, strawberries, spinach, oyster mushrooms, lettuce, onions (green last week, sweet yellow this week), sugar peas, beets and green beans.

Out of our own garden we’re also getting radishes now. The first eggplants of the year are visible of the plants now too! I love eggplant so much and am really looking forward to these.

I haven’t been giving the garden the love and attention it deserves lately in favor of other projects (though I spent a good portion of yesterday catching up on weeding, thinning and moving seedlings, and laying out some fresh mulch). I’ve been finishing up half finished sewing projects (I had a box full of them) so I can start some new ones.

I have a bunch of fleece remnants I’ve been collecting that I’d like to turn into a small horde of plushies, some for gifts and others for sale. I keep my fabric scraps to reuse as stuffing, and I’ve accrued enough that it’s really time to use some.

I also got word yesterday that there is a Dwarf Nigerian doeling available for us to reserve from Flights of Fancy Farm (dam: Indy, sire: Koda)! I was hoping to get a pair of does, but we’re going to get a pet wether to keep her company instead.

She will be our first dairy goat. No name yet, but I think she looks like a “Violet”. We need to do a little more work to get every thing ready for her, but there is time. She’ll be staying with her mama for a few more weeks until she is weaned. I can’t wait to have her join our little setup here. In addition to being super cute, she will give us milk and manure in trade for a little space, hay, and grain.