April arrived and with it a bit of cooler weather was present in East TN. We even had a frost, something I hadn’t expected would happen after record days of heat. We brought the flat of eggplant in but the frost was rather mild in our area and nothing else was hurt.
Easter wasn’t as pretty this year. Most of the spring flowers had finished blossoming, and I was scurrying around the yard on Easter morning to try and make a bouquet for the church hospitality table. I improvised by adding a few small limbs from the plum and Japanese maple trees to help fill out the arrangement of yellow irises, clematis, and a few daffodils.
April 15th is the day of the year that I affectionately call “Magic Planting Day”. I’m looking forward to having my hands in the soil much of this week.
Now for the Independence Days Update:
Plant something: I haven’t planted anything since my last update—that will change very soon.
Harvest something: Asparagus, radishes, green onions, flowers for arrangements, rosemary, chives, parsley, and broccoli
Preserve something: Asparagus has been blanched and then frozen. Last year I was so glad that I did this because we enjoyed frittatas, omelets, and pasta dishes with asparagus well into the summer months.
Yesterday I made both pomegranate and fig jellies. I noticed that Three Rivers Market had both organic juices on sale, and since I received an additional 10% off because of my member discount this weekend, I was inspired to try it out. For years I grew up enjoying fig preserves that my aunts from TX and LA would make for us. My grandfather had fig trees in the back yard of his home in Memphis, and we would always try to eat them before the squirrels found the ripe ones. It remains one of my favorite treats, and next weekend we plan to add a few fig trees/bushes to the yard. I know we won’t be able to expect much of a harvest for a few years, but I think talking to the farmer from whom we plan to buy the trees about the fruit, whet my appetite for them.
This recipe was the only one that I found using juice to make fig jelly. I didn’t have quite enough juice so I added 1/2 cup 100% grape juice that I had leftover from Wednesday night to the mix. It was VERY loose when I made it, and after having cooled for a few hours it was still sloshing around in the jars like juice. I placed it in the fridge and overnight it thickened but is still quite a loose jelly. We’ll see how it tastes this morning.
Waste not: I’ve updated here and there about efforts to reduce waste at our church when I feed the kiddos at the children’s program. The first step was the addition of real plates over paper plates. Then we had some cups donated for them, and bowls trickled in here and there. We had a large supply of forks, knives and spoons. The last piece was napkins. We had been using the recycled paper napkins for a long time, and I mentioned to a friend a church wanting to start collecting cloth napkins for them. The next weekend she brought me a large bag that she had cleaned out of her home, and they have been perfect! With additional efforts to recycle and compost at the church kitchen, we have reduced the waste significantly. Love that!
Want Not: Nothing new in this category.
Eat the Food: Y’all saw the update on the rosemary quail recipe I posted to the blog. Other than that and enjoying the traditional foods that we make for Easter, I can’t think of anything new in this category.
Build community food systems: I participated in the 10 Days of Real Food Knoxville Challenge. I visited the opening day of the New Harvest Farmers Market—so happy to see the market open again! I’m trying to expose the kids at church to a greater variety of foods and less junk, and I’ve been pleased with the response so far.
Skill up: Most of the books I’ve been reading lately are on finance and leadership (and fairy books with our daughter—lots and lots of fairy books!), so I can’t really pinpoint any new skills I’ve developed from having read them. While not really a skill, I gained a tremendous amount from a long discussion with a local farmer about the fig trees/bushes we plan to plant next week. She was a wealth of information and so encouraging! Talking with local experts is one of the many reasons I enjoy attending the farmers markets.