Tuesday, November 20, 2012

And Then There Were 6....

Well, with the arrival of Bodhin, I was struggling to find time to blog.  Now with Violet, I realized that I was just using kids as an excuse.  I started this blog with the intent to record some of my experiences in the garden.  Verbally my intent was not for other people to view through a window into a small piece of my life but the way I started writing changed slightly and I was no longer writing for my or my families benefit.

I want to continue the path of blogging because when the apocalypse doesn't happen, I want my kids and their kids to have something to read that is of my creation.  I want them to be able to read my experience, albeit limited, from my perspective and no one else.  
Onto it then.

Been a little more than a year My house is cozy and crazy, my life is wonderful.  4 kids, Jen and I, 2 dogs, 3 cats and 2 bee hives.  I certainly don't want any more indoor animals but we are adding more bee hives in the spring and we are considering chickens in the spring.    

More to come....thanks....


Food Harvested: 
None

Things Planted: 
None

Seeds Saved:
Nones

Preserved/Cooked: 
None

Things to Remember:
Breath

Sunday, September 18, 2011

After too long....

Well.....it has been a terribly long time since my last post. With my wife (Jen) posting on her blog, it has motivated me to at least apologize to the blogging world that I have gone away. Hopefully this will be longer term.

First, Bodhin. My third child, nothing but smiles. He is energetic, joyful and makes me smile each and every day. People have all warned me about having a third; the stress, non-stop horror that it can become. To those people.....breath.


Second....the garden.....a miserable disaster this year. Tomatoes: the squirrels are well fed. The blackberries? The deer. The Cherries....the birds and deer. Salad went to seed too early, weeds overtook the peppers. Cucumbers....very few straight, 50 lbs of pickling. More on this as I start to blog more. I overstepped my bounds with the confidence of god.....guess I was dyslexic because I now feel a little like a beaten dog.

Vegan Rice Pudding

  • 1 cup Long Grain Rice
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 2.5 cups Rice Milk
  • 2.5 cups Almond Milk
  • pinch of Nutmeg
  • 1 Vanilla Bean - scraped
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 1/2 cup Raisins (Optional)
Combine all ingredients into one pot. Slowly simmer the pot for 45 minutes. DO NOT BOIL. Once it has thickened sufficiently, remove from heat, remove Vanilla Bran and Cinnamon Stick and stir in raisins. Serve Warm.

Food Harvested:

5 lbs. Zuc,

Things Planted:

Nothing

Seeds Saved:
Castor Bean

Preserved/Cooked:
Chicken Soup
Vegan Rice Pudding


Things to Remember:
Breath

Friday, November 26, 2010

Been a Long Time....

Life has spun out of control...many good things and some not so good. On the good side....on October 22, 2010 my wife and I welcomed Bodhin James into the world. At 9lbs 7oz and 22", he is loved, kissed and embraced every day. On the not so good side is the adjusting to the new rhythms of life with a 3rd child.

Thanksgiving was great and the recipes are what prompted me to write tonight.

Sweet Potato Souffle
  • 3-4 lbs Sweet Potatoes
  • 2/3 cup of brown sugar
  • 6 Tbsp Melted Butter
  • 1 cup of evaporated milk (I used Rice Milk and it works as well)
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Cloves
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup marshmallows
  • 1 cup pecans
Peel, cube and roast the sweet potatoes in teh oven on a sheet pan at 400 for about 45 minutes or until they are soft (I coat with oil). When done, cool slightly, then in a large container, mash to a smooth consistency. Add sugar, spices, milk and butter and mix completely. Add eggs and combine. Fold into a 9x13 casserole dish and cook at 350 for 35 minutes. While it is cooking, combine the marshmallows and pecans. Once 25 mintues pass, put the mixture on top of the casserole and cook for the last few minutes unitl the marshmallows are melted and starting to brown. Serve hot.

And yet one last Thanksgiving Recipe

Sausage Apple Cranberry Stuffing

  • 3 cups leeks, sliced finely (about 3 large leeks)
  • 1.5lbs Sausage (out of casing)
  • 3 large Granny Smith Apples (peeled, cored and diced)
  • 2 cups celery (sliced)
  • 2 cups dried cranberries (rehydrated in boioing water for 10 mintues)
  • 4 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 cup parsley (chopped)
  • 3 Tbsp Rosemary (fresh, chopped)
  • 3 Tbsp Sage (fresh, chopped)
  • 2 Tbsp Poultry Seasoning
  • 6 cups bread crumbs (large pieces)
  • 4 cups Chicken Stock
In a large skillet, cook the sausage breaking up the larger pieces with the back of the spoon. When cooked, remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel. To the pan, add the butter, apples, leeks and celery and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add in Rosemary and Sage and combine, remove from heat and add to sausage. Add drained, re-hydrated cranberries and mix. Add in breadcrumbs and start adding chicken stock 1 cup at a time. The mixture should be damp but not dripping

Friday, March 12, 2010

Seed Starting Time Again

All of my seeds finally arrived and yet again I bought too many!!! This year I decided to expand into starting more herbs which led me to buying from three different places - Seed Savers Exchange, Southern Exposure and Baker's Creek. Each year it seems that I need more and more space. I am going to go with 6 different types of tomatoes (16 plants), green arrow peas, bush string beans, I am bringing back the squash and zucchini, 1 sweet corn, 1 ornamental corn and 1 sweet corn, 6 type of lettuce, swiss chard, leeks, beets, peppers, cucumbers, butternut squash, 4 types of garlic, asparagus and 3 types of carrots. I am definitely going to regrow Aunt Molly's Ground Cherry as well as a new unusual cousin of the tomato - the Litchi Tomato. Supposedly it will grow in a pod and when the pod opens, it will reveal a small red cherry tomato ready for picking. Whats so unusually is it looks like a tomato plant with long thorns and the fruit has lingering hints of cherry......cannot wait for this one.....

We got hit with another snow storm one week after my last post. It dumped another 18 inches for an overall pretty snowy Feb. With a blanket of snow, it felt sort of weird trying to gear up for starting my seeds. Finally, once the weather hit 50 degrees (1 day after the snow) I realized I had to get going. This year, the kids started to tag along. With Jen being pregnant, I am trying to take the kids as much as possible to give her a break. For seed starting, it means Jackson and Charlotte needing to buy their own seed starting kits, seeds and soil. For my stuff, Jack helped fill the 200 peat starter pots with soil and I laid out the seeds. As always, covered them with the lids and sit back and wait. This year, the salad germinated first, followed by the chard and then beets.

Different this year are the herbs and heirloom perennials I am trying to start from seed. We are trying to start Borage, Lemon Bee Balm, German Chamomile, Peppermint, Lovage, Fennel and Dill. With 90% of the seeds now germinated or about to break the surface, I need to start thinking tomatoes and peppers. From a tomato perspective, I will have about 6 varieties equalling about 50-60 plants. The only varieties that I am sure of are Brandywine, Big Rainbow, Stupice, Dr Wyches, Mexican Midget, Charlies Mortgage Lifter, Wisconsin 55 and Nebraska Wedding. Peppers are a whole different story - I have hod zero, zilch, nada success with peppers here in planifield. If they grow, they produce little and what is produced doesn't last long enough to turn ripe.

Soon, very soon I will start digging outside - the garden is going to be rearranged a little, a pergola will be going up in April, bees are coming in May and I am going to Maui!!!

Food Harvested:
None

Things Planted:
Seeds Started - Greens, herbs, leeks, ....

Seeds Saved:
None

Preserved/Cooked:
Not too much

Things to Remember:
I can't remember

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Snow...Snow...Snow...

And who said sleigh riding isn't fun!!! So far, February has been packed with snow. Over the course of a week, we had two storms that piled up about 18" of snow for us. Although it is quite a bit of snow, 20 minutes south of us got over 2 feet and friends of ours in VA - over 3 feet. Although as I get older and now not looking to unfavorably at the snow, my kids are slowing changing that. Even with them still being on the young side, they are starting to build snow men, sleigh ride and just enjoy the snow like I should.

This is some fun between both snow storms

video

video

video

This video is after the all the snow

video
As the days are getting longer, I am starting to think more and more about the spring to-do lists. With Jen expecting our third, the plans need to be put into action which is much different than my philosophy of talking about it for 6 months before doing it The pergola needs to be build, foundation patched, house paint touched up, bee area built, 30 foot back bed retaining wall built and planted, garden gate built - and this is the only the outdoor stuff - - - -

Food Harvested:
None

Things Planted:
None

Seeds Saved:
None

Preserved/Cooked:
Apple Sauce - bucket and buckets of it
Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Spiced Carrot Soup
Cream of Mushroom Soup

Things to Remember:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sweet and Savory Together

Quick post today to make sure I get this recipe down....it was a huge hit and I will make it again and again..

Spiced Carrot and Lemongrass Soup
  • 5 c. carrots, peeled and chopped coarsely
  • 1 c. leek, white part only, chopped coarsely or
  • 1 c. onion
  • 1 c. celery, chopped coarsely
  • 2 oz. fresh ginger
  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 pinch cinnamon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsps. vegetable oil
  • 6 c. chicken stock or water
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a medium pot, heat 2 tbsps. oil. Saute leek, carrots, and celery until translucent. Add garlic, curry powder, cinnamon, and ginger and saute for a few more minutes. Add stock or water. Bring to a boil. Add honey, lemongrass, salt, and pepper and simmer until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat and transfer soup to blender. Puree until smooth, straining through a large sieve if necessary. Add lemon juice, taste and seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.


Food Harvested:
None

Things Planted:
None

Seeds Saved:
Black Eyed Susans

Preserved/Cooked:
Pizza - Every Week
Yogurt - 1/2 Gallon every week
Spiced Carrot and Lemongrass Soup

Things to Remember:
Its too cold to think.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

What's Next?

With winter half over and spring 8 weeks away, its time to think about finishing up the projects from last year...particularly the patio!! All the brick is down, all of the new planting beds are built. All that is left is to patch the foundation, re-paint, build a pergola and finally plant the new beds. If all goes as planned, we are looking to have this all finished in the first of second week of March, just in time for the kids birthdays. Is it perfect, no - but it was a great experience and although I wish it didn't take as long as it did, there is a great sense of satisfaction in how it looks. I cannot wait until it is all complete.
For the rest of the outdoor projects still to be finished:
  • I now have 10 yards of dirt (excavated from the patio area) lining the back fence. The goal is to build a small stone retaining wall and make this a 30 foot planting bed
  • I have to level an area by May in the back corner of the yard and replant for the purpose of my new beehive. I saved some cement squares and about 1/2 yard of stone dust to help combat weeds that I will be reluctant to pull in the summer with 50,000 bees flying around me.
  • I also still have to rebuild the gate and an arbor for my garden area. This is a project from 2008 that keeps not getting done. The new puppy loves laying in the garden which is fine for now....once plants are in there, I don't think I will be as OK with it.
Each and every month, Jen and I go through finances and we inevitably look at the biggest ticket item ... food. At about $1,200 a month for a family of 4, we are starting to look for ways to spend less without sacrificing what we believe in. We try to eat as organically as we can; where we can't, we avoid HFCS and food dyes. This means Trader Joe's for most everything with an occasional visit to Whole Foods. A Local butcher carries mostly organic proteins and we visit farmer markets in the summertime. Each time we talk, the more we realize that we should cook more like our ancestors - meals from scratch. Will this impact our food budget? I guess only time will tell...

3 basic recipes that I need to make more...

Pasta Dough
  • 3 cups bread flour (all purpose if you do not have)
  • 3 eggs + a 4th yolk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil

Put all flour, sugar and sale in a pile and make a well in the center. Place the eggs and yolk in the well. Lightly scramble the eggs and begin to pull in the flour little by little. Once all flour is incorporated (it will look messy)scrape it all together into a ball.. Knead for a few minutes to work the gluten. When done, form into a ball, wrap in plastic and let sit for 30 minutes to allow the gluten to relax before you use. If you put in the fridge for use at a later time, let it sit out for 30 minutes before you use it to allow it to come back to room temp.

Pizza Dough

  • 2-1/2 cups of bread flour (or all purpose flour)
  • 1 package (2.5 ounces) of active yeast
  • 1-1/4 cups of luke warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
In 1/4 cup of warm water, add the dry active yeast and a pinch of sugar; mix well with a fork. Let sit for 10 minutes. If the the mixture has not foamed at all, the yeast is not good and you should start over with new yeast. In a large mixing bowl, put all dry ingredients. Add all wet and mix well with one hand. It will be very sticky for he first few minutes. Take your time and mix until a ball forms. At this time, remove from the bowl, clean and dry your hands and start to knead the dough for a few minutes until it is all consistent and easily forms a ball (if using a mixer with a dough hook, let hook work the dough for 5-7 minutes in place of kneading). Coat the ball with a little olive oil, place back in bowl and cover with a rag. Let sit for 1.5 hours until it doubles in size. Punch down and let sit for 10-15 minutes before using.

Apple Pie Crust

For a double crust:
  • 2-1/2 cups flour (all purpose)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp
  • sugar
  • 1 stick of cold butter
  • 2-6 tbsp cold water
For me, the best result is in a food processor. Put in all dry ingredients and pulse for a minute or two. Cut butter into 10-12 pieces and add pulsing between each addition. Once all butter is added, begin to process as you add 1 tbsp of water at a time. Before you reach 6 tbsp, the dough will begin to look like thousand of teeny tiny balls. Stop, add no more water, and dump out onto your counter. mound and mold into a ball, divide it into two equal parts. If it is still too crumbly at this stage, work 1 tbsp of water in by hand. Make two discs, cover with plastic wrap and put in fridge for 30 minutes. Let it rest at room temperature for 5 minutes before you roll out.

Food Harvested:
None

Things Planted:
None

Seeds Saved:
None

Preserved/Cooked:
Yogurt
Bread
Mozzarella
Pizza!!!

Things to Remember:
Too Much...