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.


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


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.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Oyster mushroom season!

We have had some good rain, and I was very happy to see a wonderful bloom of Oyster Mushrooms on the Tulip Poplar stumps in our yard yesterday!  I waited until today to harvest them, so they could grow a little more.  We got about 3.5 pounds.  :)

I soaked them in cold water for a while to drive off the hitchhikers, then carefully rinsed them under cool running water and put them through my salad spinner.  Voila!

If you've never had oyster mushrooms (and you enjoy mushrooms) you are missing a real treat.  They are the best I've ever eaten.  PLEASE do not go out and try to gather these on your own if you are not familiar with them.  Get someone knowledgeable to show you first.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Kefir - Chapter 18

I have been brewing milk kefir since 2009, and as you can see on the right hand column of my blog, have posted many "chapters" about it.  I admit that it is an "acquired taste", but I really do love kefir and it didn't take long to get there.  Mine is quite sour, smooth and with a full body.  It is wonderful, not only for drinking, but for baking, and the "kefir cheese" can be used in place of cream cheese.

I have reported a few "cures" I have observed through the ensuing years.  Well... I am here to tell you one of my own.  It is slightly embarrassing, but such a wonderful turn of events for me that I have to tell you about it.

About 12 years ago I contracted a food-borne illness from some tainted table grapes.  They were sold in a local store at a deeply discounted rate, so I stocked up.  The package that I used first had a little mold in it.  It never occurred to me  that would be a problem.  I took off the bad grapes, gave the others a good rinse and chowed down.  Big mistake!!!  I came down with the worst case of diarrhea I had ever had... and it continued.  After several days I was forced to go to the doctor.  He gave me an antibiotic, and something for amoebic dysentery and one other thing that I can't remember right now. The icky sickness I was feeling went away, however, the diarrhea did not.  And I have struggled with that ever since, every day.  Ugh.  It was embarrassing and exceedingly inconvenient. A gastroenterologist diagnosed me with collagenous cholitis and he said it was nothing to be concerned about, as far as it causing anything serious, so I thought, "Ok.  I'll just ignore it as much as I can and not keep trying to 'cure' it."  Now... on to the kefir part:

I generally only drank a small glass of the kefir every day, because for most of those years, we had milk goats and I wanted to be able to drink more fresh goat milk.  At the end of May, our milk goat, Heidi, died. So, I have been using the whole milk from the store since then.  About 2 months ago I started drinking a whole glass of milk kefir at breakfast.  After a couple of weeks I noticed my gut problem improving, and before long, I was almost completely normal. 

I am astounded and oh so grateful.  People talk a lot about probiotics.  The milk kefir is full of them - some articles say as many as 20 varieties.  Fermented foods of all kinds are very good for the gut flora and of course the kefir is fermented.

There you go!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Feeding the birds.... Happy Mothers Day :)

At the back of our house is a nice flowering dogwood tree that makes a perfect place for my bird feeding station.  It is so close to the house that I can watch the birds while I cook and I have been enjoying it very much!

In the small hanging feeder on the left are black oil sunflower seeds.  The milk jug has the suet crumbles I made 3 months ago, and of course you can see the regular block of suet at the right.

I took this picture through the kitchen window.  The area was LOADED with birds before I came to the window, and I think I can only see one in the photo.  They saw me.  :)

Here is the list of the birds I've had to far:

black-capped chickadee
nut hatch
tufted titmouse
gold finch
house wren
brown thrush
hairy woodpecker
house finch
common grackle
downy woodpecker
rufus-sided towhee
purple finch
blue jay
rose-breasted gross beak
AND a very happy grey squirrel (He's rather greedy.)

My mother was a great bird watcher.  I have her wonderful book Birds of America that she got in 1959.  It contains many notes that she wrote.  It is well used and well loved.  She always kept a pair of binoculars handy at the table, which was beside the window where she watched the birds.  She's been gone since 1984 and I still miss her every day.

Hence, this post - my Mother's Day tribute - if your mother is still alive, please enjoy her today.  I think mine must be pleased about my bird list.  :)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Rhubarb - did you know?

Sliced thinly, and added to a tossed salad, rhubarb is very nice!

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