Snapshots of life on our little homestead

Botanical alphabet: Part 6

Another row finished, time to adjust the frame. Two more rows of letter blocks to finish the piece.  Really loving how this is turning out.

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The hard frosts at night have started and the daytime temperatures are sliding towards the low 30s this week, so it was time to harvest some of the last vegetables in the gardens and start bed cleanup and  fertilization.

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This morning I cleaned and blanched a laundry basket full of kale that will be dehydrated and then ground into powder for winter recipes. Then started shredding cabbage that would not fit in the sauerkraut crock for dehydration as well. 

Our gardens have been good to us an will keep us fed through the winter, but I will really be glad when all of our food prep is done….now I need to figure out what to do with all of the sweet peppers….

Fermented Cranberry Relish

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Started preparing a batch of cranberry relish for fermenting this morning for Christmas. Cutting my start a bit close this year, normally like the ferment to sit for 4 months before using. 

This is a very easy recipe to make. Take a bunch of fresh cranberries and rough chop them, add the berries to a jar along with some grated ginger and a cinnamon stick, and then cover the mixture with unfiltered local honey. Next, cover the jar and store out of direct sunlight for at least three months. Check the jar every week or so to assure the berries stay covered with the honey juice mixture — you may have to add a bit more honey now and again.

Winter Squash Soup

Our winter squash are coming in and it is soup time in our house again. For dinner tonight a made  arch and creamy winter squash soup with a side of corn muffins.

If you have some winter squash you may want to try this recipe.

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Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 6 cups chopped winter squash (I used kabocha squash for tonight’s recipe)
  • 1 pinch each sea salt and black pepper 
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk
  • 2 cups vegetable broth 
  • 2-3 Tbsp maple syrup (can use brown sugar or coconut sugar)
  • 1-2 tsp chili garlic paste (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Once hot, add oil, onion, and garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Add squash and season with a pinch each salt and pepper, curry powder, and ground cinnamon. Stir to coat. Then cover and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add coconut milk, vegetable broth, maple syrup or sugar, and chili garlic paste (optional – for heat).
  5. Bring to a low boil over medium heat and then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes or until squash is fork tender.
  6. Use an immersion blender, or transfer soup to a blender, and purée on high until creamy and smooth. If using a blender, return soup back to pot.
  7. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more curry powder, salt, or sweetener as needed. Continue cooking for a few more minutes over medium heat.
  8. Serve as is or with garnishes of your choice.

Small batch canning

It is just about the end of our vegetable gardens for this year, which allows for some small batch processing of special treats. Today I made apple chips, pickled jalapeños and a few jars of spicy green tomatoes.

Later today I will be pulling out the last of the kale and dehydrating it for the winter.

Hubbard Squash Pie

The winter squash harvest is starting to come in. Unfortunately, the squirrels have reeked havoc on crops this year. Many summer and winter squash were eaten prior to maturity or scared by their little nails.  Some of the Hubbard squash grew to maturity but were to scared for long term storage and needed to be processed immediately. I used one of these squash to make our first pie for the season since Hubbard, butternut, buttercup squash and pumpkin are interchangeable in pies and quick breads.

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The recipe that I used is as follows. I hope that your family enjoys it as much as mine does.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium Hubbard squash
  • 1/2 stick butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 unbaked pie crust
  • Maple Whipped Cream, optional, recipe follows

Maple Whipped Topping:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F.
  2. Slice into quarters, seed and bake squash for 1 hour in the oven on a baking sheet. When done, let cool.
  3. Scrape the pulp out of the skin, transfer to a large bowl, and mash. Set 4 cups of the mash aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat together butter, sugar, and brown sugar until creamy. Add eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and salt.
  5. Add evaporated milk and stir mixture into squash. Beat together with mixer until smooth and pour into an unbaked pie shell.
  6. Bake on bottom rack of oven for 1 hour or until center of pie is firm. Serve warm. Add dollop of whipped cream if desired.

Maple Whipped Topping:

In a medium bowl, beat together whipping cream and confectioners’ sugar. Add maple syrup. Beat together until soft peaks form.

 

Tree of Life Quilt: Part 3

The first of 22 trees of life completed. The quilt will be lovely but the piecing will be very tedious. Besides having many small pieces, the old technique of setting blocks on point will be used for the top. After creating the first block I can see why I had this pattern for 15 years before starting the project.

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Tree of Life Quilt: Part 2

To create the large number of half triangle squares for my tree of life quit the following quick piecing method was used to create 16 half triangle blocks at a time.

 

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To start with you will need: fabric pieces cut for both triangles in the block, mechanical pencil, rotary cutter, and ruler marked at the cut point. I am making 1 1/2 inch blocks so my fabric pieces were cut to 6 I inches by 9 iniches, and ruler is marked with painters tape at 1 7/8 iniches.

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Next on the back side of each of the light fabric pieces make a grid with pencil. An inch at the bottom and right, and in my case 1 7/8 iniches intervals up and from the right to left.

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Next add the stitch guides by drawing a diagonal line through the squares. For this 16 block piece you should end up with two diamond shapes inside of the grid. Then sandwich the marked fabric piece with the contrasting fabric piece face to face.

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Stitch a 1/4 inich away from each side of the diamond lines.

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The stitched fabric sandwich should look like this picture.

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Cut along all of the pencil lines. It is easiest to cut all of the straight line first, then move onto the diagonal cuts.

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Once all of the pencil lines have been cut you will have 16 half square blocks that can be pressed and tails trimmed.

Tree of Life Quilt: Part 1

Our crops are almost done and the canning and dehydrating of our fruits and vegetables has slowed to a trickle, so now I can dedicate some more time to my fiber art projects. The big project I will be working on this winter is a tree of life quit. Thus far all of the base fabric pieces have been cut, a few blocks started, and I have started marking grids on the fabric pieces that will be cut into half triangle squares. Since the quilt top will require 1,528 half triangle squares, 1,184 of them which are only 1 1/2 inches square, I will be using a speed piecing method that will be covered in detail in my next post for this project.

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Tea time

This summer I moved my craft space from the family to one of the small rooms in the basement. I the process of unpacking my fabric in the new space I ran across a tea pot print fabric that i bought about 10 years ago, placed in the fabric bin and completely forgot about. Before it was forgotten again it was moved to my cutting table for my summer rainy day project.

The rains yesterday and today allowed me to finish the top that I have named tea time, since I love a good cup of tea on a overcast rainy days.

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Teatime top 64 x 72 I inichs in size

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Closeup of Teatime

Harvest season is in full force on our homestead so there is little time to do anything other than can and dehydrate the bounty. After a couple of weeks of picking and processing the fruits and vegetables from the garden we were able to escape for a long weekend with friends to a lakefront cabin for a bit of kayaking and a lot of talking. We returned home to a lot of ripe produce, especially tomatoes that needed to be picked and processed.

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Pickled hot peppers, green beans and pasta sauce canned from yesterday’s harvest

Today I prepared and canned green beans, eggplant and tomato pasta sauce, pickled hot peppers, and also filled the dehydrator with tomato slices and skins that were processed into tomato powder and stored as slices for winter dishes.

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Dehydrated tomato slices, 1/4 inch pieces dried down to these thin wafers. They make a great snack if the slices are sprinkled with an herb salt prior to being dehydrated.

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We try to not waste anything in our kitchen. These dehydrated skins will be ground and added to the tomato powder.

I also dehydrated some almond pulp leftover from almond milk we made, and started a batch of goat cheese (goat milk was from a farm near the camp).

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Dried almond pulp that will be ground into flour

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Ground almond flour ready to be used in baked goods

It is alsotime to start working on vinegars for dressings and marinades. This season I am making chive, wild violet, peach, pear and apple vinegars. The fruit vinegars are a great way to use up skins and other bits that are left over from canning projects.

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Dehydrated tomato slices, peach vinegar on its second ferment, apple cider vinegar on the first ferment, and tomato powderthat is used as a replacement for tomato paste

 

Now it is time to clean the kitchen and kick back for a while.

Hope you all have had a productive day.

Summer kitchen

It is currently the point in the growing season where I spend a large portion of my time in the kitchen. This morning I filled the dehydrator with some of the items picked from our gardens last night (they will be used in soups and stews), started some pasta sauce in the crockpot (will can it in pint containers tomorrow), made some eggplant meatless balls for the freezer, made a peach crumble (oven was already on so why not), and started a batch of peach scraps fermenting  for salad dressings and marinades.

What has your day been like?

 

Fresh tomato and herb tart

Dinner tonight is fresh from the garden. Tomato herb tart topped with fresh goat cheese, and a bowl of mixed greens. 

The tart is made with a herb crust that was blind baked for 20 minutes so it stayed crispy. After letting the crust rest for 10 minutes I topped it with chopped mixed herbs, sliced tomatoes, fresh goat milk feta, basil salt, pepper, and finished the layers with a drizzle of olive oil. Then baked the tart at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. The resulting tart had a flaky crisp crust and juicy topping.

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With the very warm wet summer this year we have a bumper crop of green beans, tomatoes and eggplant. This morning I used 12 pounds of our tomatoes and 4 pounds of eggplant to make some lovely jars of aubergine pasta sauce.

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The recipe I use is as follows. Please keep in mind that the canning method is the one that I use in my house. Please follow the canning method and times that are appropriate for your household.

INGREDIENTS

    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 large onion , chopped
    • 6 garlic cloves , chopped
    • 1 large bell pepper , chopped
    • 2 lbs eggplants, cubed
    • 8 cups tomatoes , peeled & cubed
    • 1/4 cup tomato powder or 1-6 ounce can of tomato paste
    • 4 tablespoons fresh basil
    • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    • 2 teaspoons dry oregano
    • 1/3 cup date sugar (can substitute brown sugar)
    • 2 teaspoons sea salt 
    • 1 teaspoon pepper
    • 1 cup dry red wine

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and garlic; cook until the onion is soft.
  3. Add tomatoes, eggplant, bell pepper, tomato paste, basil, oregano, hot pepper flakes, sugar, salt, pepper, and wine; stir.
  4. Bring to boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Blend mixture with an emersion blender. 
  6. Put into hot jars and add prepared lids and rings. Screw rings on until finger tight.
  7. Process in hot water bath for 40 minutes.

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No matter how much canning I do, the reduction in volume when fresh produce is processed always amazes me. 

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