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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It's harvest time already!

It's not even July yet and we have a bounty.  It's too hot today to get a lot canned, but we are blanching and freezing.  We've got the broccoli raab (I also have seen that it is spelled broccoli rabe, but it's still pronounced rahb whichever way you spell it), beets (we had to thin them out), and turnips (thinned those out too).   The pea pods were frozen, but I don't know that we'll do too many more frozen pods, so we'll try out this pea pod soup recipe with the next harvest.
We are using up the lettuce tonight.  I'm having to pull the rest because of the heat.  It's getting leggy and bitter, so most of it was pulled already.  Though not preservable, we'll be using it in the compost.  I question whether I should continue to plant lettuce considering we don't eat much of it, but I've got the seeds and it's nice to have something ready early in the season. 
I've harvested the garlic, and it needs to be brushed off and cured for a few weeks.  Some of the bulbs are a bit tiny, but it will be fun braiding them when they are cured.  We go through a lot of garlic in a year, so this won't be enough for next year, but it was a good experiment.  I'd like to get some more at the farmer's market and make garlic oil, as well as pickle some.  Those will come in handy when there is the inevitable winter cold coming on. After pulling the garlic and lettuce, we also have half of a bed to plant some more things in July and August.
The volunteer plants have been popping up all over.  We have several volunteer tomato plants, ground cherries, pumpkins, a melon plant, and of course, the cilantro.
The herbs are growing like crazy.  We'll be making all sorts of pesto, including broccoli raab, nasturtium leaf (we'll likely eat the flowers raw), mint, thyme, basil, parsley, oregano, cilantro, greens (from the turnips and beets), and combinations of them.  Pesto will go great on pasta, but also as a spread on sandwiches. 

We subscribe to Mother Earth News, and this month's issue suggests Ball's website for canning recipes. There's over 200 recipes, so we'll have fun testing out some new ones this year.  There were also some books listed for sale in the issue, and though we don't have the moola to buy all the ones I'm interested in, we're fortunate to have a library that offers inter-library loans.  The library system will even bring it to my local library and send me an e-mail when they have arrived.  I'm excited to try pear butter (we'll have to buy the pears at the farmer's market because our tree is not going to produce for a few more years) and yellow tomato jam.  Those recipes can be found in The Big Book of Preserving The Harvest.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Menu plan Monday

We're home from camping, when meals are pretty specifically planned but then changed as needed to use things up before coming home.  We had two feasts during the camping trip, which means potluck, which means a great variety of foods and only having to prepare one thing.  For the first feast, Jaimie cooked a lamb and I made a pie. 
For the second feast, Jaimie made corn and grease.  In corn and grease, it's basically half a package of bacon cooked, then 5 cans of hominy (he uses two yellow and three white), then add several handfuls of cranberries right before you're done, mixing it up quickly and serving immediately.

Our harvest has started to come in, so we'll be making dinners based on what is growing.  We've already got peas and beans to freeze. 

Monday:  Pasta with (store-bought) tomatoes, peas, olive oil, and onions.  Jaimie also made a second pasta dish with golden raisins, onions, and balsamic vinegar.

Tuesday:  Quesadillas.  We need to use up some cheese, and the beans will be a great form of protein.  Some homemade salsa would be a tasty addition.  This is one of those meals that we need to prepare ahead of time, because the beans need to soak and then cook. 

Wednesday:  Falafel.  We'll need to prep the dried chickpeas ahead of time, so this week we need to be up on knowing what is on the week's menu.  We have some baba ganoush in the freezer still, and some tomatoes to use up that we bought while camping.

Thursday:  Chicken, with roasted corn, and green beans. 

Friday:  Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa), made with chicken broth, covered in whatever fresh veggies we have from the garden. 

Saturday:  Potluck at our friends' house.  I'm thinking a strawberry rhubarb pie.  

Sunday:  BBQ chicken sandwiches made with the leftover chicken from Thursday. 

Some good reads

This past week we were camping.  We all had a great time.  Jaimie was able to cook another lamb over the fire for a community feast, and I was able to make an apple pie in the NuWave oven.  I'll post more about it later, possibly, but in the meantime, here is a bunch of stuff I'd love to check out further because it's interesting to me. 

Grafting your own fruit trees (because we have several trees that need pruning but it seems difficult to just cut it off and toss them).

Extreme whiting solution (because our camping laundry gets grungy and I couldn't find our regular camping sheets so I used white sheets because they were the least expensive).

Making soap.  We attended a workshop on making candles, which seemed easy enough, and they said that anyone who can make candles can make soap, and vice versa.  (Lily and I made very cute sand candles).

Seed saving instructions, because it's good to be self-sufficient and store your own.

Getting rid of cat urine smells, because our cat peed on our bed while we were gone.

Making hard cider in 5 minutes.  That's just cool.  (By the way, I got all these links from Homestead Survival, an awesome blog).

Must-have essential oils, because they are must-haves.

Homemade ginger ale, because Jaimie likes ginger ale and it's cool to be able to make your own and know what's in it.

Carrot cake jam, because it's something new and interesting and we have carrots planted.

Blackhead remover, because I got a free sample of Biore pore cleanser in the mail and if you had blackheads, this is a much more natural solution with stuff you likely have in your home already.

Poison ivy remedies, because there was a bunch of poison ivy where we were camping if anyone was foolish enough to wander into the woods off the mowed paths. 

When we made it home, I picked the last of the strawberries, a gallon each of beans and peas, and the first few ground cherries.  The tomato plants, though planted in a raised bed two feet off the ground, are almost as tall as me.  I am really hopeful to post about the garden soon too, though I am likely going to spend more time in the garden the next few months than writing about it.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Kitchen gadgets as birthday gifts

Jaimie can post if he wants about his baster, pretzel maker and pizza peel he got as birthday gifts. 

Pizza peel with homemade pitas

Here, however, is our 3-year-old's garden tools in action that she received for her birthday.

Menu plan

We'll be switching the falafel from Sunday to this Wednesday.

Sunday (today):  Pasta with garlic scapes from our garden, probably with an alfredo sauce.

Monday:  Baked tilapia over rice, with turnips and peas from the freezer.

Tuesday:  Chili with ground beef and leftover beans, made with some tomato sauces canned last year.

Wednesday:  Falafel with homemade garbanzo bean hummus and baba ganoush from the freezer.  I think we may even try homemade pita bread too.

Making the falafel

All done and ready to put in the homemade pitas

Thursday:  tacos - either fish or ground meat, or vegetarian

Friday: Pizza - homemade crust with homemade sauce from last year's tomatoes, basil from the garden, and mozzarella.  Just writing this, I want it already.

Saturday:  must-goes

Next Sunday we'll be leaving to go camping for a week.  We'll have a menu plan of stuff that we can make outside, but with a griddle, a NuWave oven, and other kitchen gadgets, we will likely have an ability to make just about anything we want.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Menu plan

With eating the leftover chicken and lamb for most of the week, I am just about unable to handle any more meat.  This week will be very slim on that form of protein.  With all the lettuce we're getting, we'll be having salads most nights.

Sunday:  Dinner at the in-laws' place

Monday:  Cheese tortellini, and since Jaimie found them and couldn't resist, pierogis.

Tuesday:  chicken tacos.  We have to use up the chicken and they can have this dinner while I'm at yoga class.  Then I'll have some other leftovers when I get home.

Wednesday:  Black bean quesadillas with salsa.

Thursday:  quinoa burgers with pickled veggies. 

Friday: rehearsal dinner for a wedding

Saturday:  dinner at a wedding

Sunday:  Falafel with tahini and homemade hummus, and leftover baba ganoush from the freezer.