Friday, July 31, 2009

Garden Photos

Chicory
Chicory This is chicory that we planted last year. It came back this year and we are letting it go to seed so we can save them for next year.

Mallow Bud
Mallow Bud We didn't plant this mallow, a bird or mysterious visitor did.

Beets Growing in Greenhouse
Beets Growing in Greenhouse The beets in the greenhouse are looking good!

Lavender Plant in Pot

Lavender Plant in Pot Usually this lavender plant will have flowers by now!

Black-eyed Susans
Black-eyed SusansRoad-side beauties!

Pickled Beets

Beets Growing in Greenhouse
Pickled Beets
1 pound beets
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 small onion; sliced
1/2 cup water
1 cup vinegar
1/4 cup honey

Peel and slice beets. Cook until tender.
Put beets, caraway seeds and onions in a one quart jar.
Heat the water, vinegar and honey and pour over the beet mixture.
Cool and store in the refrigerator. Let sit 4-6 weeks for best flavor.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Easy to Make Tags for Marking Plants

Trying to remember which plant is which without marking them can be difficult(especially if you have more than one variety of a certain plant). Here is an simple (and inexpensive) way to make name tags for plants.
ribbon for making plant tags
From a roll of marking tape/ribbon (the type surveyors use) cut pieces 6" to 8" long (length will depend upon the side of the plant/branch you want to tag).

Using a whole punch, punch out a slit about 1 1/2" long about 1/2" up from one end of the ribbon.

Punch out "notches" a little ways up from the slit (see photo)
plant tag

Using a permanent marker, write your plant name on the tag.

Loop tag around branch and slide end into slot.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Easy to Make Calf Feeding Bucket

Feeding calves with a bottle can be quite a chore, especially if you have more than one to feed. Our friend, Shawn, made up this bucket which makes the job of feeding a very easy one.

Bucket for Feeding Calves
Shawn took a 15 gallon bucket and cut off about half of the top, leaving the handle. About 4" from the top he drilled three holes and inserted a rubber nipple into each hole. He then cut three pieces of clear rubber (plastic) tubing long enough to reach the bottom of the barrel. One tube was inserted into each nipple.The opposite end of the tubes (at the bottom of the barrel) were slipped through a metal washer (to act as a weight to hold the tubes at the bottom of the bucket). A check valve was attached to the end of each piece tube.

Inside View of Bucket

We found that, after putting the milk/starter into the bucket, if we put a finger at the end of the nipple and squeezed it a few times so that the milk would work its way up the tube it made it a lot easier for the calves to start drinking.

This bucket has saved us so much work and made calf feeding much more enjoyable!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Garden Photos

We have had so much rain this year that the garden is not producing like it usually does, however there are still many beautiful flowers and some food on the way!

Mallow
MallowThis mallow was a "gift" from a bird, or someone unknown to us.

Bee Balm
Bee BalmEvery year we dry bee balm for tea.

Cherry Tree
CherriesLast year we got about 6 cherries, looks like we might get a few more this year. We have had 2 cherry trees for 5 years and they are starting to do well.

Cabbage
Cabbage

Broccoli

Broccoli

Grapes Growing Up Arbor

Grapes Growing Up Arbor We use cedar posts and concrete reinforcement wire to make our grape arbors. We now have 5 of them.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Curried Rice and Lentils

Curries Rice and Lentils

This makes a nice side dish, warm or cold!

Curried Rice and Lentils
3 1/2 cups water or vegetable stock
1 cup lentils; dried
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 clove garlic; chopped
1 large onion; chopped
1/2 cup white rice; uncooked
1/2 cup yogurt
1 avocado
1/4 cup parsley; fresh, chopped
1 salt and pepper; to taste

Put water or stock, lentils, curry powder, garlic and onions in a sauce pan.
curried rice and lentils, cooking
Heat to boiling, reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes.

Stir in rice, cover. Heat to boil, reduce and simmer 25 to 30 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice and lentils are tender.

Mix yogurt, avocado and parsley. Mash together (using the back of a fork) until well mixed. Stir into rice/lentil mixture.

Salt and pepper to taste.

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Lentils

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Red Clover

Red Clover
An easy plant to grow in our garden pharmacy is the healing herb red clover. Most of us have red clover growing without ever having to plant it. It is abundant on roadsides and in fields. (Be sure if you are gathering herbs away from your home that you are certain they have not been sprayed.)

Red clover can be used to make wine, tea and tinctures. The part used in the flower. It also dries well. We dry some every summer to be sure to have a good winter supply.

By itself as a tea, red clover can taste very bland, so we combine it with other herbs such as lemon balm or mint. Honey can be added as a sweetener, if desired.

Red clover contains bioflavonoid, zinc, magnesium, choline, A, B & C vitamins and much more, so it is not surprising that it is reputed to be a blood purifier and cleanser.

It is said to help menopausal complaints, as well as kidney problems, liver disease, skin inflammations and helps a weakened immune system. It is also said to help prevent cancer.

For livestock, red clover is used in remedies for tumors, blood cleanser and infertility.
Drying Red Clover

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lemon Chocolate Chip Cookies

Easy Baking; Lemon Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
Lemon Chocolate Chip Cookies 1/4 cup butter; room temperature
1/2 cup honey
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon peel
2 1/2 cups flour; we use whole wheat
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease your cookie sheets.

In a large bowl combine butter and honey and mix until creamed. Add eggs and mix well. Add lemon extract, peel, flour and baking powder and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop by teaspoonful on to cookie sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes. Remove from pan and place on a wire rack to cool.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Saturday, July 11, 2009

"Warming" Shelf

Bread Rising On Shelf
We have a propane refrigerator, which has a vent pipe on the back for the heat to escape.Vent Pipe On Frig A few weeks ago my husband came up with the idea to put a shelf up to take advantage of that heat from the vent for rising bread, making yogurt etc. We had two of these glass shelves that we salvaged from someone's remodeling project and thought one would work quite nicely. It does. We use the shelf for all our bread rising, we set our jars of homemade yogurt on them for easy yogurt making and the other night I made sour cream and set it on the shelf to sour. I placed a thermometer on the shelf and the temperature stays in the mid 80's right over the pipe, slightly less farther away from the vent. I place the yogurt right over the vent, and the rising bread a little away from it.

Shelf Over Frig

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Apple Crushing Made Easy

apple press
Each fall we harvest many bushels of apples for making cider and vinegar. Our apple press has a built in crusher, but it is very hard to turn, so we came up with a solution. A garbage disposal. Of course it is a brand new disposal that is used only for apple crushing.

We mounted a separate sink in our kitchen right next to our regular sink, and mounted the disposal to it. Instead of being hardwired, we just put a plug on the disposal and plug it in when we need it (we could have hardwired it in, but this was easier for us).sinkdisposal mounted to sink

The disposal is not hooked into our plumbing, instead we keep a stainless steel kettle under it to catch the crushed apples.

When we are not using the disposal (or crusher, as we like to call it) we place a cutting board on top of it. sink, when not in use

We get a lot more juice from the apples because they are crushed much more then we could do them by hand, the apples come out almost as mush.

The only draw back is that we have to do small batches, about 5 to 10 gallons of apples at a time, because the disposal will over heat.

This has made our pressing so much easier and faster.

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Starting Seeds In The Greenhouse

Inside Greenhouse, Seeds Planted
Our goal is to use Eliot Coleman's ideas from his book Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Longin our greenhouse. Last year we planted spinach, kale and chicory in half the greenhouse, but did not get the floating row cover on early enough, so we didn't get any greens through the winter. Most of the plants, however came back this spring and we are letting them go to seed so we can save seeds for next year.

In June we planted carrots, beets and lettuce in the other half of the greenhouse to harvest some this year and leave some for winter (we hope). Early fall we will harvest the lettuce and plant a spinach, or another type of cold loving green.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Making Herbal Vinegars

Herbal Apple Cider Vinegar

Herbal vinegars add unique flavors to a vast variety of foods, from salads to desserts, and can even be used in home remedies.

We have been experimenting with different herb and spice combinations for a few years with some very satisfying results. A great reference book is Herbal Vinegar: Flavored Vinegars, Mustards, Chutneys, Preserves, Conserves, Salsas, Cosmetic Uses, Household TipsThis is where we have gotten a lot of our ideas and also the book has delicious recipes using flavored vinegar, as well as cosmetic and medicinal uses.

Use about a cup of herbs to two cups of vinegar. A lot of times we don’t measure, just be sure to use plenty of herbs, you want to be sure to get good flavors. For spices, use two to four tablespoons per cup of vinegar. For a fruit vinegar, be sure the fruit is well covered- we have only done a few fruit vinegars, but this year plan on trying rhubarb with white wine vinegar.

Place herbs, spice or fruit in a sterilized jar, add the vinegar and let steep in a dark place about a week or two, then taste. If it’s not to your liking, let it sit another week and try again. Once you are satisfied, strain the herbs and put the vinegar into a clean, sterilized jar. Be sure to label (we often don’t and have to guess what kinds we have; this can be a fun game).

Below are some of our favorite combinations:

White Wine Vinegar:

Savory, bay leaves, cloves and thyme
Raspberries and lemon verbena
Basil and hot peppers, or plain basil
Mint
Peppercorns, tarragon and chive blossoms
Rosemary and peaches
Strawberries and mint
Lavender flowers

Apple Cider Vinegar:
Sage and hot peppers
Dried cucumber, peppercorns and garlic
Lemon balm and tarragon
Ginger root and lemon balm
Dill and chive blossoms

Red Wine Vinegar:
Hot peppers, rosemary and tarragon
Sage, rosemary and garlic
Oregano and peppercorns
Cinnamon stick, sage and mint
Ginger root and cilantro
Parsley, garlic, rosemary and thyme

Experiment with different combinations, or just use single herbs to find what you like. This is the first year we are incorporating some of our dried vegetables into out vinegars, and we have only used cucumbers so far (dried cucumber, peppercorns and garlic in homemade apple cider vinegar). The flavor is wonderful!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Baby Bull Arrives

New Baby
Molly, our Dexter cow, had her baby some time last night. I got up this morning to check on her and there was a baby bull along side her.
Molly's Calf

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Food, Inc The Movie

We watched this trailer the other day on You Tube and thought it was worth sharing.