Friday, August 12, 2016

Dehydrating to save space...


Since we are now in a considerably smaller house, and my food storage space is much reduced, I've been doing a lot more dehydrating this year.  I've canned a few things, But now all of that space is filled.  Here is the shelf where I have the things I've dehydrated.

It is so convenient to make soup in a pressure saucepan, and I really enjoy having these items to use.  It only takes 10 minutes, at pressure, for the soup to be ready and as good as if I had simmered it all day.

I think these are the things I have done: green beans, sweet corn, diced potatoes, kale powder, tomatoes, tomato powder, small yellow tomatoes, summer squash, celery, cucumbers, green tomato slices, oyster mushrooms and okra.


Thursday, August 11, 2016

A view from my kitchen...


There is a lot going on in the kitchen these days...

     On the kitchen island this morning, I can see...

          A bucket of brined dills, a bucket of 14 - day sweet pickles, jars of dehydrated vegetables,

               jars of garlic seeds, canned tomatoes, cucumbers, spaghetti squash, sweet corn...

                    Right in the middle is a jar with a little bit of sauerkraut.  A friend gave me a small cabbage from her garden, so I made kraut for her and will take it to her this afternoon.  :)

I love this time of year.




Thursday, August 4, 2016

Re-post - Preserving Fresh Basil!

I would like to remind you that if you still have fresh basil, you can very easily save it to use all winter long!  Here is a post I did a few years ago about that:

How to Preserve fresh Genovese Basil

I have never tried companion planting before. I grew my own Genovese basil transplants this year and so had quite a few and decided to plant them next to tomato plants, as I had heard that is a good combination. It must be. I've never had such glorious basil before! The basil is on the left next to the tomato plant.



I went out this afternoon and cut a basketful of the fresh basil.



Then I removed the leaves from the stems, washed them well and gave them a few spins in the salad spinner.



Next I chopped them in the food processor and put them into a quart jar.



Finally, I covered them with raw apple cider vinegar and put a lid on the jar.



If my house was cooler, I'd just let it sit in a cupboard, but the house gets pretty hot this time of year, so I will store it in the refrigerator. When I want basil for cooking (pesto, spaghetti sauce, pizza, soup, roast, chicken.. etc.) I can just retrieve what I need and it will be like having fresh basil all year!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Dehydrating Kale - Kale Powder!


This is a pint (2 cup) jar.  There you can see some dehydrated powdered kale that I made today.  This was made from 15 large kale leaves!  

I will add this to soups and smoothies through the winter when the fresh kale is not available.

Here is how I do it.

1. Pick the Kale
2. Wash the Kale in cold water and drain.
3. Remove the tough center ribs.
4. Bring a large pot of water to the boil.
5. Immerse the Kale for only 15 seconds.
6. Drain in colander.
7. Plunge into ice water and stir until the heat is out of the leaves.
8. Drain and run it through a salad spinner or pat dry on clean towels.
9. Arrange on dehydrator trays, only one layer deep.
10. Set temperature at 135 degrees F.
11.  After 2 hours, check it.  It could take as long as 3.  It should be completely dry and crisp.
12.  At this point you can just pack it into a jar with an air-tight lid, OR, you can powder it in a food processor or blender, and then store it in a jar, out of the light.  

This will keep nicely for a long time.  It actually tastes nice and slightly sweet.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Tiny Tip - working stretching into my day...

I am 67 years old now.  When I was about 50, I started having trouble with knee pain.  So... I decided that every time I need to get in a bottom drawer, pick up something off the floor or reach into a bottom cupboard, I would squat all the way down.  Before long, that cured my knee trouble and I am still doing that.

Fast forward to last year when we moved into our trailer.  This little house is  considerably smaller than the old house we lived in, and before long I noticed that I need to work a little harder to get enough exercise.  To the squatting routine, I've added something else.  When I need to bend and reach, I always bend and reach "harder" than I would need to, in order to complete the task.  When I bend over at the waist to blow dry my hair, I bed way down so it stretches the back of my legs.  It is kind of hard to describe, but I think you probably get the idea.

It's a small change, but has made a world of difference in my flexibility.  Along with that, instead of walking on the road for exercise, most of the time I walk in the woods.  It is uneven ground and up and down hills.  That has improved my balance.  After falling 3 times in two days, I decided it was time to do something about it.

It's amazing to me how working these small changes into my routine has improved my health.  These things don't take any longer.  Please think about what you could do similar.  You will probably be happy with the results!


Friday, July 1, 2016

Sauerkraut 2016 - I had help!

Our granddaughter is visiting us and today, she helped me make this year's sauerkraut!  She picked the cabbages and while I was cleaning them, she shredded them all in the food processor.  Then she swept the floor.  She loves to cook and enjoyed it.



If you are new to my blog, you can find the recipe for sauerkraut HERE.  Today's batch was 6 pounds.  I have a big jar full left from last year and it is still delicious and nicely crisp.  Kraut lasts a LONG time in cold storage. Here is the jar from last year.


Monday, June 6, 2016

Garden - June 2016

Because we had so much rain last year, my garden was horrible.  I worked SO hard on it, and it was beautiful and everything came up gloriously, and then the rain started.  It rained and rained and rained.  When I picked vegetables, I went barefooted and walked in mud up to my ankles.

You can't hoe mud, you know.  The weeds flourished.  They completely took over.  It was the worst I've ever seen and it broke my heart.  "I am too old for this," I kept thinking.  So much effort (and food) was wasted.  Not. Good.

So... I decided to go to a permanent mulch system, like Ruth Stout described in her wonderful books.  I also cut the area I am planting in half and gave half of that half to my Garden Fairy to use, so I am only gardening in 1/4th the area I have had for the last several years.  I've covered it all with lots of hay and will continue to add mulch as I can get it.  I am hoping for some wood chips at some point.

This spring has been very wet and the garden is still soggy...  I don't really expect to have a stellar year this year, but I will fool around out there and try my best to grow some food.  Well, I already have food... we've eaten Nappa cabbage, chives, basil, parsley, asparagus and radishes.  The thornless red raspberries are looking promising.  The tomatoes nearly died, but are coming back.  Some of the peppers died and my GF replanted for me.  The corn is up.  Some of the winter and summer squashes are up.  I have a few carrots up and looking very happy.  There is lots of volunteer garlic!

See this?  It is some volunteer mullein in my small herb patch.  When mullein is well fed and has plenty of sunlight, it can get quite spectacular!  The leaves are good for dyeing wool, and the blossoms have medicinal properties.


A closer look at the  mullein flower stalk.


Rhubarb


Comfrey patch


Red raspberries


"Herb Patch"


Pole bean teepees


Potato patch


The corn is emerging!


In the middle, here, you can see my Egyptian onions


And here is a close up of the little bulb-lets they make


I discovered something new today.  If you like the taste of onions (I do if they are not too strong) you can pick these little bulb-lets and...


... bite carefully and the insides will come out and you can eat it!  Right there in the garden.  It was a delightful treat!


A pretty cabbage!


Tomato cages.  The tomato plants are barely hanging on.


View across part of our garden plots.


Volunteer garlic where the trellis fence used to be


Cucumbers


Sugar Snap Peas


Baby carrots!


Pepper plants that my GF put in for me.  :)


Some very happy dandelion growing with the comfrey.  I will use this to make noodles.


See that feathery stuff over there?  That is the asparagus.  My GF and I dug that up near a railroad track 2 years ago and transplanted it into our garden.   


So... that is where we are today.  I replanted some things this morning - more carrots, sugar pie pumpkins, winter squash, pole beans, and some green bush beans.  I will report back as time goes on.

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