Snapshots of life on our little homestead

Archive for the ‘Homestead life’ Category

Preparing for the cold months to come

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.

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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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Preparing Chicken of the Woods Mushrooms

Fresh batch of aubergine pasta sauce

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. 

Carrot pesto: moving towards zero waste

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The hard never ending rains this summer required that we use everything that we are able to harvest this year. This morning I picked carrots, green beans, egg plant, tomatoes and cabbage. The cabbage is now sliced seasoned and in the crock to ferment. Carrots, egg plant and green beans will be prepped for the dehydrator – I really prefer dehydrated veggies in winter soups and stews.

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This morning carrot greens were turned into pesto – several batches for the freezer and one put aside for a pasta dish on Sunday.

What yummy things are you making today?

preparing for the colder months

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It was time to thin the kale this morning. The cutting rendered 8 pints of greens and a half gallon container chopped stems for fermenting.

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While waiting on the pressure canner I blanched yesterday’s green bean harvest and placed them in the dehydrator for drying. We really prefer to use dehydrated green beans rather than frozen in winter soups and stews. For the next month or so our dehydrator, pressure cooker and water bath canner will be running almost daily.

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Making Vegetable Broth

Our gardens are starting to produce fairly well so I have been doing a lot of canning and dehydrating of vegetables, which has also produces a lot veggie scraps. By the end of this weekend I had enough to fill a large crockpot and make a batch of vegitable broth this afternoon.

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I find that making my own vegitable broth saves us a fair amount of money and taste better than any brand I have found in the market. To make your own broth fill a slow cooker with vegitable scraps. For this batch I used onion, mushroom stems,  celery, tomatoes, beets, kale stems, broccoli, cabbage, carrot tops, and green bean tips (keep in mind that you can always store scraps in the freezer until you have enough to make a batch of broth). Cover the scraps with water until it is about an inch above the scraps, add salt, pepper and herbs to the pot and cook on low for about 10-12 hours.

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Run the cooked scrap mixture through press to render as much liquid as possible and then pour through a fine mesh seive to remove the larger vegitable particles that made it through the press.

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Place the pressed scraps in to your compost container.

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Pour the the warm broth into prepared canning jars and pressure cook for 75 minutes at the pressure recommended for pressure in your area.

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Pistachio, Farro and Kale Salad

We are currently living through the wettest summer in a good number of years. The upside is that we have not needed to water our crops in almost two months and we are seeing a bumper crop of all types of green beans, pinto beans and kale. The downside is our tomatoes are splitting, cabbage is starting to rot, and the pumpkins and butternut squash are slow to produce, and slugs are starting to become a real problem. In an effort to reduces some of the water related issues we have let the ducks loose in the fields to help with bugs, have been canning and running the dehydrators at least twice a week, covered every flat surface in the house with tomatoes that need to finish ripening, and cooking all types of kale and Swiss chard dishes. For dinner today I made a Pistachio, Farro and Kale Salad with hot water cornbread. The dish was very easy to make, used several items from our gardens and was very tasty. If you would like to try the salad recipe it can be found at https://dailyburn.com/life/recipes/farro-kale-salad-recipe/

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How are your gardens doing?

Blueberry season has started

Thanks to a nice neighbor who lets us pick blueberries in their orchard, I was able to process 18 jars of berries in a very light syrup for snacking fall through spring. I just love the pinging sound the lids make when they seal.

The next picking of berries will be mixed with our raspberries and turned into juice. 

Time for ferments

It is time to start  vegetable fermentation today. Each year a portion of our veritable are set aside to be fermented. This process provides very healthy products that require little or not refrigeration.
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I wanted to try a different flavor profile for sauerkraut so a small batch taster was started. If we like the flavor I will start a large stone crock of the flavored sauerkraut, if not we will make a large batch of a more traditional flavor. A jar of spicy green beans was also started. It is to bad that we have to wait three months to dig into those lovely green gems.

Tomorrow I will start carrots and korhabi fermenting. What type of vegetables do you ferment?

Spicy eggplant and tofu

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We have finally arrived at the Time in the growing season hat we can eat mainly out of our gardens. This morning I picked eggplant, sweet peppers, green beans, tomatoes and onions. A number of the fresh veggies noted earlier, and a block of tofu made by a local farm were used to create a Sriracha-spiced Stir-Fried tofu with eggplant and  red bell peppers for dinner. There is nothing quite like the taste of garden ripened produce to make a very memorable meal.

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If you would like to try this dish the base recipe can be found on Kalyn’s blog.

I made some minor adjustments to her recipe to fit what I had available in my gardens. I replaced the Thai basil with fresh Italian basil, the green onion with a freshly picked shallot, peanut oil with canola oil, and stevia with maple syrup. I also sliced the fried garlic and added it back to the dish at the same time as the sauce was added,

Cranberry hazelnut rainforest crackers

4898A25B-E41E-448D-A467-32AB0557DE90Between other cooking and canning projects I restocked the pantry with some speciality crackers. These cranberry hazelnut rainforest crackers are full of protein and fiber and have some rich flavor in every bite. I like to make these crackers when I have to be in the kitchen because they take two days to complete from start to finish. Not that they are difficult to make, but there is a fair amount of wait time between the mixing of the batter and the actual production of the cracker. 

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Generally a batter is made, poured into mini bread pans then baked. The cool beard is then placed in the refrigerator over night so that it easer to slice. The next day the bread is sliced very thinly and placed on dehydrator trays. The slices are then dehydrated on the jerky setting  until Crisp (in my dehydrator this takes about 4 hours).

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These crispy, slightly sweet treats are wonderful served with almost any type of soft cheese. The recipe that I use can be found on the Wives with Knives blog. This recipe will makes a little over six dozen crackers.

One of the things that I like to to do is package the finished crackers into appetizer size packages and store them in the pantry so they can be brought out when unexpected guest arrive or for that special family meal. If you would rather have small batches of crackers on hand, then just freeze the baked breads and defrost and prepare the crackers on an as needed basis.

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If you try the recipe noted above I strongly suggest that you use a dehydrator instead of the oven to dry the crisps. This will reduce the time needed to watch an oven, address any uneven thickness in the slices, and do away with any possibly of the sugars in the crisps burning. 

New start

26FDFFF6-8E9A-4754-B9E1-A2093316661ENew project start. Shades of Plum by Northern Expressions Needlework. Stitching on a gray 20 count fabric using Threadworx threads. 

Fruity Oatmeal Cookie Bars

My wonderful honey volunteered me to make a desert for the monthly community choir board meeting. So I made one of my standby deserts that is always receive well, fruity oatmeal cookie bars. Not only is this desert quick and easy to make but it uses few ingredients and allows me to use up some of the jam I can each year. 

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Today I used a cherry pie jam I made and canned last year as the center in the bars. Please excuse the plastic Christmas tray in the first picture. Over the years I have learned to only send food items on trays I don’t mind loosing, since the love of my life often forgets to bring them home from events.

The recipe I use is:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt (omit if you are using salted butter)
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 small container of homemade jam or 3/4 cup of store bought jam

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Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease an 8 inch pan and line it with parchment paper
  3. Combine brown sugar, flour, baking soda, salt and rolled oats. Rub in butter with your hands to form a crumbly mixture
  4. Press 2 cups of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan

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  1. Spread the jam to within /4 inch of the edge
  2. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the top, and lightly press it into the jam

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  1. Bake 35 to 40 minutes in preheated oven until lightly brown
  2. Allow to cool before cutting into bars

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Based on recipe at Allrecipes
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