Snapshots of life and crafts on our little homestead

Posts tagged ‘gardens’

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,

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July Gardens

Some of the produce in our gardens are really starting to produce and others we are fighting with the voles and chipmunks to get a share. When watering Thursday I noticed that there were a number of holes in the beet bed and some of the greens laying on their sides. Closer inspection noted that voles ate some for the beets and left their greens behind. So I picked the beets mature enough to use, pickling the beets and using the greens for a great pasta recipe found on Chowhound called “Beet Greens and Feta Pasta“. The recipe took all of 15 minutes to prepare and was delicious.

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This morning I thinned the kale bed and harvested about 15-20 pounds of greens and a small bunch of Swiss chard.  Some of the greens were used to make a Coconut Curried Kale and Sweet Potato dish that I found on the Cookie + Kate blog. The dish tasted wonderful and herbs and spices made the kitchen smell wonderful.

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Another portion of kale was used to  build a kale lasagna for the freezer and the balance went into the dehydrator to turn into kale powder for winter soups, stews and smoothies. The Swiss chard picked today will be turned into one of our favorite tarts tomorrow.

Today we finally got around to covering the grapes to protect them from the deer and birds who have been nibbling on the little green globes.

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This growing season we tried a few new varieties. Two that are looking promising are an orange eggplant and scarlet runner beans.

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For the first time our potato plants have developed seed potatoes. The cool evening this season and rich soil in the beds assisted the potato plants in producing a large number of flowers and seed pods.

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Sunny Days

The past couple of weeks have been just wonderful. It has been sunny and warm almost every day and evening rains have taken care of the garden watering. For the past week we have been able to pick blueberries, sour cherries, raspberries, asparagus and kale daily, so needless to say we had wonderful salads and smoothies for our meals.

Last week between tending the vegetable gardens and house chores I finally got around to splitting and re-planting a few of the hosta groupings around trees, by the pond and along the hillside on the side of the house. I was really surprised by the number of plants that I ended up with after the splitting… I really shouldn’t let this process go for so many years :(… this fall I need to attack the long overdue splitting of the iris patches…

Quite time on the patio has also allowed me to  work on a few needlepoint pillow tops (normally have 2-3 going at a time), and the late nights even provided time to finish a few of the units.

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Over the next few weeks I will be finishing up 2-3 more pillow tops before I move onto a few quilt projects waiting in the wings, and dehydrating and  canning of some of this seasons produce.

May Updates

May was a very busy and productive month. Vegetable gardens were planted, flower beds tended, a few craft projects moved forward and the first kayaking of the season was enjoyed.

This year we are growing: tomatoes, red and yellow peppers, various hot peppers, number of different herbs, two types of eggplant, collard greens, purple kohlrabi, cucumbers, pie pumpkins, three different types of kale, corn, delicata squash, zucchini, 3 types of beets, carrots, potatoes, radishes, onions, asparagus, and couple of different dried bean types. Our fruit trees and bushes are doing well and will provide us with: apples, 3 types of pears, plums, blueberries, grapes, and hazelnuts. The following are pictures of some of the developing produce.

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The heavy snows this winter really protected and provide a nice environment for the perennials to split. Although the plants were about four weeks late in breaking the ground, they rewarded us with the promise of a lovely display. The following pictures show some of the flowers we are being rewarded with this year.

It was wonderful to work in the gardens after the harsh winter and late start to the warm season. I look forward to the daily maintenance activities.

The April showers didn’t show up until May so I also had some time to work on a few unfinished craft objects. A needlepoint pillow top was completed, significant progress was made on a blackwork piece (will be given as a Christmas gift), and an English paper piecing project.

In June I hope to get to a few house projects and hopefully work on a few more UFOs.

Have a great day!

Why are summers so busy?

Summers always seem to be our busiest times of the year. This summer especially since we needed to build a new hen house and expand the raised bed section of our garden.

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The new hen house is now complete and the young chicks are installed, we have three of the new raised beds done and 5 more to build. The existing vegetable gardens have been so productive that we have seasonal veggie dishes every night for dinner, green smoothies have become a morning staple and the dehydrator, pressure cooker, and canning pots have been working overtime. It has been an enjoyable yet exhausting season so far.

One of our favorite smoothies is a carrot cake one that allows me to use some great veggies and the mixed greens power that I make from some of the garden bounty.

Carrot cake smoothy

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 banana
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • ¼ cup unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 tbsp mixed greens powder*
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened coconut
  • Hand full of raw walnuts
  • 4-6 ice cubes

Mixed green power is made by taking the greens from vegetables plans like turnips, beets, kohlrabi, brussels sprouts, and some kale and other greens that you have growing in the garden and dehydrating and then grinding the dried leaves into powder.

The fourth of July weekend we split a few cords of wood for the winter and then rewarded ourselves the following weekend with some kayaking on the Connecticut River. This past weekend we finished our chores up early enough that we were able to take the dog out to the river for a bit of swimming.

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Life is good…

First Day of June

I love this time of year. Each day provides new surprises in the yard.

The bleeding heart in the shade garden next to the deck is doing well

The bleeding heart in the shade garden next to the deck is doing well

Even the flowering bushes are starting to show their stuff

Even the flowering bushes are starting to show their stuff

Tiger lilies will be showing off their oranges and reds soon

Tiger lilies will be showing off their oranges and reds soon

Rhododendron  are flowering, unfortunately we have to fence them to keep the deer for making meals of the leaves

Rhododendron are flowering, unfortunately we have to fence them to keep the deer for making meals of the leaves

Smaller irises are starting to bloom Soon there will will be a carpet of purple on the side of the house

Smaller irises are starting to bloom Soon there will will be a carpet of purple on the side of the house

Kale and chard bed coming along nicely

Kale and chard bed coming along nicely

Squash bed is starting to flower

Squash bed is starting to flower

Finished painting the new hen house. Next week we will build the run.

Finished painting the new hen house. Next week we will build the run.

A is for Apple

We ended up with about 1/2 a bushel of apples, a large quantity of asian pears and root vegetables to process this weekend, so I decided to see how many ways I could prepare apples in one weekend.

Turnips and rutabagas from the garden. We had so much rain this season that many of them rotted in the ground, but we have lots of greens that can be dried for the winter months.

Turnips and rutabagas from the garden. We had so much rain this season that many of them rotted in the ground, but we have lots of greens that can be dried for the winter months.

Thought it was time to pull a few of the mountain carrots. Used some in a curry cauliflower soup and  will use some of the others in a curry carrot soup later in the week.

Thought it was time to pull a few of the mountain carrots — evan a few parsnips for a stew (still a little early for them). Used some in a curry cauliflower soup and will use some of the others in a curry carrot soup later in the week.

Apples and asian pears that  we processed this weekend.

Apples and asian pears that we processed this weekend.

The first thing that I decided to make was apple and pear chips. They are very easy to make and are a great snack.

Sliced the apples and pears thinly, laid them out on the dehydrator screens and sprinkled lightly with cinnamon sugar and then placed in the dryer for 4 hours.

Sliced the apples and pears thinly, laid them out on the dehydrator screens and sprinkled lightly with cinnamon sugar and then placed in the dryer for 4 hours.

Finished apple and asian pear chips.

Finished apple and asian pear chips.

Next I made the first batch of applesauce for winter canning.  Ended up canning 10 jars of applesauce for the winter.

I love using a crockpot to make applesauce. Load the crockpot up and move on to other things...

I love using a crockpot to make applesauce. Load the crockpot up and move on to other things…

Next I made another crockpot full of applesauce to make fruit leather. I filled all 9 trays of the dehydrator with the apple mixture and let it process for 4 hours. The leather was then cut, rolled and stored in air tight containers that can be used as treats for the next few months.

Apple/cranberry fruit leather rollups. Added some dried cranberries to the applesauce mixture prior to spreading the mixture on the dehydrator trays.

Apple/cranberry fruit leather rollups. Added some dried cranberries to the applesauce mixture prior to spreading the mixture on the dehydrator trays.

The last apple item that I made this weekend were some baked apples as an after dinner treat for Sunday.

Baked, stuffed apple with some fresh whip cream. Whip cream is a bit over the top, but it was worth it after a busy weekend.

Baked, stuffed apple with some fresh whip cream. Whip cream is a bit over the top, but it was worth it after a busy weekend.

We love apple season — the trees promise to provide some more apples this season, so it should be interesting to see what other apple treats we create this season.

Our cold season food preparation is starting to slow down, so maybe I can get back to quilting in the near future… a girl can alway hope…

Hope you had a wonderful weekend.

Flowers from the Garden

We had a bumper crop of peonies this year. They have kept the house smelling sweet for the past month.

What a wonderful Saturday!

After a week of rain we were blessed with a wonderful Saturday. The morning started out drizzly and overcast — by 10am the fog burned off and the day was sunny and warm.

We spent almost the entire day outside. We planted all of the seeds we started in March: hubbard squash, pie pumpkins, little cabbages, yellow and green squash, peas, green beans cucumbers, romaine lettuce and micro greens. They all joined the: radishes, carrots, beets, turnips and parsnips that were planed in the raised beds a couple of weeks ago. We also planted 3 types of tomatoes and two type of eggplant. If all goes well this season we will not have to spend as much time at the farmers market and will even have some produce to can. Lots of work but something that we really enjoy.

Oh by the way, the bear that was walking through the back field on Wednesday did a bit of damage on his way through our property. The compost container was peeled open like a banana. The bear didn’t appear to eat anything out of it — but also didn’t want all of the kitchen waste to be under cover anymore. I guess the next time that we go to Farmway we will have to pick up a bear resistant compost bin.

After a full day in the yard and a nice shower I sat at my sewing machine and started quilting a wall hanging that I created for the employee art show that will take place this fall. It is one of a set that I will post pictures of once they are complete.

To end this perfect day the dogs and I went outside for their last yard time for the evening and my opportunity to look at the stars. Tonight the moon was so bright and close that the trees on the side of the house were bathed by moon light and the stars appeared dim in comparison. Nature is just amazing….

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