August 27, 2010
Finally today I got around to harvesting a big bunch of purple beans and rattlesnake beans which are a striking green bean with purple markings. I dug out the canning equipment at set to work in my outdoor “kitchen” ie: coleman stove, to do some pickling. The sad thing about processing or even cooking all my pretty heirloom beans is as soon as you add heat they resort to common green bean in appearance. I managed to get enough today to do 6 pint jars of spicy garlic dill beans and with a neighborly trade, the last of my plums for 2 long english cucumbers, I managed also to get 5 jars of pickles done too! I had dreams of pickling carrots until the cows come home but I grew these stupid little Romeo round heirloom carrots, which as nice as they taste are way way too small to do much with other than admire and eat from the garden, like a two bite brownie.
As I said the last of the plums are down and I yielded about 10 lbs of now frozen pitted diced plums along with the dozens we ate and baked, all and all the yield from this wiry old tree was entirely respectable.
I was really fortunate to join my neighbors for a short time yesterday while they harvested wheat and oats, 2 acres, naturally grown with no chemicals. The harvest was done with no combine or too much conventional farming equipment. It was amazing to take it all in. I have promised to clear my schedule in 3 weeks to participate fully in the Buckwheat harvest, I will bring my camera along and share images of the brilliant hand made farm equipment in use. I can’t wait.
I am trying to get my winter cold hardy veg in the ground, but I have so much in the bed I am waiting to seed I am finding it hard to make enough room, I really can’t procrastinate much longer.
August 21, 2010
Well I finally did a garden tour video, it’s no pro job, just a quickie with our little camera, and very little editing, but it will give those interested a little glimpse of how I am pulling all of these things together; the swale, the sheet multch, the kooch grass battles, the chicken tractor, our new garden shed, and you’ll see some of the beautiful food we have been eating. You’ll find the video here on youtube.
I have spent much of this week picking plums, elderberries, and squash. I also had to deal with 2 huge buckets of potatoes which with the help of my Mom and Tash we managed to get them all out of the ground. Now I need to put them back in the ground… the plan is to bury a big indistrial drum into the earth below the garden shed, and I will put some wood slating down the bottom, add a vent tube and keep the burlap bags of dusted potatoes in there for the season, hopefully along with many pumkins and squash to come.
Needing too use up all the plums and elderberries I made a few yummy baked goods: Elderberry Spelt and Oat scone, which I must say for my first stab at scones, I was pretty happy with the results, the recipe I loosely used was this one from 101 cookbooks one of my favourite whole food cooking sites. I also made a loaf of a savoury plum rye bread which Dylan has been devouring. I oven baked a batch of Elderberry syrup which yielded on large jar destine for buckwheat pancakes. I whipped up a big batch of fresh pesto using a monster basil plant just about to flower, so I grabed handfuls of leaves and will let the plant produce seed to keep. Speaking of seeds I am well on my way, collecting hot pepper seeds, and sunburst squash seeds too. I have bags of frozen plums and cherries now and I am planning to make jams and brown sauce. The grapes are bursting but not ready yet, but I had to net off the vines to keep the birds from eating them.
I know I keep saying my next project is the chicken coop for the winter, but I think I finally have a great idea to integrate some useful waste we have on site and I can’t wait to share the details of the build soon! The walls will incorporate food and water delivery systems, roosting boxes, and some insulation! More on that soon.
August 10, 2010
Well I just finished kimchi part 2 and it was sooooo very easy! I did 5 jars of squash kimchi, 1 large jar of sauerkraut all the while I drank gin with elderflower syrup and soda water. The drink is divine; slightly sour crisp with a floral finish, I used my best organic green juniper berry gin and I can’t imagine a more refreshing summer night drink. Next year I will collect way more elderflowers and make more than 3L of syrup, which is what I yielded after two batches. 2L I have ready to drink and I froze 1L down to use for making plum jelly, just as soon as my plumbs are ripe.
I also broke down and made zucchini bread today; I know I know everyone hates the stuff, but inspired by “A home made Life by Molly Wizenberg” and her ginger chocolate banana bread so I tricked my daughter into making chocolate ginger bread with just a little bit of zucchini 🙂 instead of bananas. I used the Joy of Cooking’s zucchini bread recipe with lots of tweaks (as I usually do) I added cocoa powder, diced candy ginger, and lots of Callebaut chocolate chunks, and it passed the Mia test!
More on fermenting in my last post…
August 9, 2010
Another exciting week of food adventures to report! This week I am playing with lactic acid fermentation, I know it sounds scary but it is super exciting! Also I am flush with squash and zuc’s from the garden… thus the final inspiration to get me fermenting: spicy kimchi here I come! I have a huge jar of kombucha on the go right now, which Dylan’s mom started for me last weekend with one of her mother mushrooms. Talk about a daunting entrance to the world of fermenting. I have a massive Costco size pickle jar on my shelf full of pink fluid with what looks like a piece of pig skin floating in it; kinda like a science lab jar with a baby something in formaldehyde! Fortunately our family has experienced the benefits of kombucha already; both Dylan’s grandparents, his mom, and him have all reported an easing of stomach ailments upon using commercially purchased kombucha in a jar, and thanks to Helens efforts to buck the system we are now brewing our own! So let me take this all back a step and get you thinking about more commonly used fermented foods: yogurt, sauerkraut, kosher pickles, & Korean kimchi… not too scary right? Well all of these are made using a super simple, old world method of preserving foods which doesn’t require heat, which in turn doesn’t diminish the health benefits of the food being stored, and in fact in most cases the natural bacteria within the process are extremely beneficial, does PRO BIOTICS ring a bell? So not too long ago the universe seemed to be hitting me over the head with the idea of fermenting foods; A truly talented and inspiring chef from back home and fellow Permie Valerie Andrews, did a demo of sauerkraut making simply using salt and water for our PDC class in Nelson, this happened only weeks after meeting with yet another Permie who was racing home to Vancouver Island and his bucket of fermenting cabbage, I then read an earlier mentioned book “Independance Days”, where the author raved to no end about her adventures in kimchi making, right around this time Helen got her first starter kombucha mushroom, and now that I am diving deeply into any and all methods of putting up food that don’t require heat other than the sun for drying (namely because I still don’t have a stove top), my current drowning in squash situation was really the straw that broke the camels back, enough encouragement for me to get on the fermenting band wagon. I am thrilled to share my adventures thus far!
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August 6, 2010
Busy days on the home front! The past week was spent cooking for the troops and unfortunately less time in the garden. However I have been harvesting some amazing things! I have no end of huge Yukon Gold potatoes, and I have been gushing at all the tri coloured star burst squash.
The other day my garden made the best ever salad: butter letus, endive, yellow starburst squash, purple pole beans, cucumber (the first one), purple basil, lemon basil, dill and anise greens: OMG with a little goat cheese from down the street and a handful of sunflower seeds with lemon mustard vinaigrette, it was a sunny summer day in ever bite!
I finished my first batch of elderflower syrup, and found my neighbours tree was flush with a dozen new flower bursts so I started a second batch. I also harvested some more saskatoon berries which are drying, shucked some peas (although I didn’t plant nearly enough), I also collected some pineapple chammomile growing wild on the driveway, which is also drying for tea.
All of these tasty adventures and by far the most exciting thing I have to report is my sheet mulch garden has been pretty darn successful! I dug out a volunteer potato plant that crept up in the middle of my lasagne garden bed and low and behold when I dug the tatters out I found soil! Deep black earth full of fat and juicy worms and critters, the soil was deep and dark and from the sandy stale state it was in back in May, it has come a long way!
The chooks are growing and we ‘ll have eggs soon enough! I can’t wait to have a rainbow of eggs collected fresh each day. I have been watching the plum tree for the first sight of ripe plums, and I am eager to harvest elderberries too! I have also just been told about small dukabor bear apples growing all along the rails to trails pathway, I plan to harvest and dry in cinnamon rings this fall too. I had better get my old vintage stove top running in time to do some canning and preserving soon!
The image in the slide show of the stunning spread of squash was my fabulous dinner the other night: one huge squash cut razor thin and raw drown in a citrus garlic dressing. It was divine.