July 20, 2011

Independence Days Update—Harvesting and Preserving

 DSC_6936 This week I’ve been tending my friend’s garden.  She’s out of town, and we swap out garden duties when each other is away.  She’s lucky enough to have a large garden in the county with a couple of chickens who lay some gorgeous eggs.  When she asked me to check on things and said I could take the eggs and produce, I didn’t hesitate one bit. 

I held a food preservation class at our church with the local chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation.  On Saturday morning, I still hadn’t put the finishing touches to my handout and speech, and I joked to a friend that I didn’t have time to get ready for my food preservation class because I was so busy preserving foods.  I set the pickling and canning aside for a few hours, and I was so pleased that I did.  We had a great turnout of some really kind and generous people, and I was happy to share a few techniques and tips with them. 

The weather has been hot this week.  We’ve had a bit of rain here and there which has kept the rain barrel full and me from having to lug buckets of water to the plants.  Today was so humid that I came home and have hidden indoors with the AC running.  Daughter and I had planned a trip to the zoo tomorrow, but we talked it over and decided to wait a few days.  The weather forecast shows that it might cool off a few degrees, and we think that both the animals and us will feel better on a cooler day. 

What did I plant this week?—Nothing added, but it is time to order bulbs and plan the fall garden….and start scheming for next year.  I say scheming because Hubby gives me a funny grin when I say, “I’d really like to add another bed of this and I think we should plant a few more of that,” knowing that he will soon be doing some digging.

Planted to date in 2011--

Super Sugar Snap Peas, 7 tomatoes (brandywine, grape, Early Girl, Better Boy), Choko Baby bok choy, One Kilo Chinese cabbage, 4 eggplant, Blue Lake Pole Beans, Christmas Lima Beans, Kestral Baby Beets, Touchstone Gold Beets, Chioggia Beets, Bull’s Blood Beets, Waltham 29 Broccoli, Rouge d’Hiver Romaine Lettuce, Matina Sweet Butterhead Lettuce, Galia Melon, Gooligan White Baby Pumpkin, Gourmet Rainbow Radish Mix, Gigante Inverno Spinach, Cavili Zucchini Squash, Milano Black Zucchini Squash, Supersett Yellow Crookneck squash, Sweet Beauty Watermelon, Marketmore cucumber, Genovese Basil, dill, flat leaf parsley, Jenny Lind melons, Butternut Squash, Garlic (planted in the fall), yellow and red onions, 8 bell peppers, 6 jalapeno peppers, 4 cabbage plants, 4 broccoli plants, daylilies, surprise lilies, sedum, 4 o’clocks, hollyhocks, red cockscomb, moonflower, zinnias, sunflower mix, marigold, butterfly flower garden seed mix, thyme, chives, carrots, coriander, horseradish, garlic chives, Peace Vine tomato, another type of basil (friend gave it to me), Sweet Million Tomatoes.

What did I harvest this week?—We made a trip to Blueberry Hill Farms in Norris, TN with friends and picked almost two gallons of berries.  We only stopped then because the kiddos were ready to go.  I need to make another trip for berries and might check out the place in Maryville that sells them, as a couple of friends have raved about that farm.  From our garden I harvested—onions, red onions, herbs, carrots, flowers for arranging, jalapenos, all 3 types of summer squashes, cucumbers (finally!!), all types of tomatoes, and dill.  From my friend’s garden, I harvested—tomatoes, bell peppers, carrots, purple hull peas, okra, cucumbers, and yellow squash.  From my dad’s garden, I harvested—zucchini, cucumbers, and cayenne peppers.  My friend Jeanette from church dropped off a huge amount of zucchini for me to use.  I have been trying to preserve some of it to use for the kiddos at our children’s program in the fall when we serve them supper. 

What did I preserve this week?—I made 2 batches of blueberry jam.  I didn’t have enough to do anything really creative, but I have my eyes on blueberry syrup and blueberry vinegar recipes in hopes of making them.  I made 3 batches of Hannah’s squash pickles.  In the second and third batches I replaced about a quarter cup of the bell peppers with jalapenos and banana peppers.  The result was a deliciously hot/sweet flavor that is perfect on sausages and hot dogs.  I made 2 batches of bread and butter pickles (will try to post the recipe soon) and another couple of jars of refrigerator dill pickles.  I dehydrated 3 batches of zucchini.  To some of them, I gave them a dunk in apple cider vinegar and salted them right before putting them in the dehydrator upon recommendation from April, one of my readers.  The result was a really nice zuke chip that even kids will like.  I also froze about 15 cups of shredded zucchini that I’ll use later for zuke bread.  At the food preservation class we made green tomato pickles (will post the recipe soon), refrigerator dills, and froze corn.

How did I work to reduce waste and live more simply?— Hmmm, nothing really out of the ordinary in this area.  Even with me saying that the AC is running steadily this afternoon, it is still set at 80 degrees.  We continue to recycle, use our rain barrel, compost and try to reduce waste.

How did I work at building and strengthening community food systems?—  I led the food preservation class, as mentioned above.  We continue to regularly visit farmers markets.  Friends and I have a co-op and placed a Frontier order.  We are planning a coconut oil order in the next month or so.

Did I try any new recipes or were there any special meals at our table?— The squash pickles are my new favorite food preservation recipes.  They were pretty easy and fun to make with Hubby, and I look forward to giving them as gifts this Christmas.  We’ve had a lot of veggie meals since I last updated.  I can make an entire meal out of rice and purple hull peas with a little okra in them.  So good!  And dare I not forget to mention the tomato sandwiches!  Are your lips smacking yet?

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