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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Radish Pickles

Jackson loves radishes, he is the only one in the family.  Yes, I can make a radish soup, which is tasty, but there isn't a whole lot I can do with radishes that the rest of the family finds appetizing.  This year I decided to try radish pickles.  I searched different sites looking for a recipe, but they were all refrigerator pickles, and I just don't have room to store jars of pickles in my refrigerator.  Then, I found this one recipe.  It looked like something Jackson would like, not a lot of sugar, more of a savory pickle (if there is such a thing).  So please visit this blog for the recipe

We did adapt the recipe a bit.  I doubled the brine, and I had no idea how many radishes were in three bunches, so I just guessed at 30.  Jackson, who loves "hot" and also garlic, actually sliced up three jalapenos for the pickles as well as put in a handful of garlic cloves.  The whole mixture is supposed to sit for four days before you process but I had to cut that short (I just could not stand the smell) and processed them after two days.  The color had permeated the whole mixture and everything was a nice shade of radish pink.  It made 4 pint jars.  I do think next time I might try slicing the radishes.  I had one radish left over, that I just couldn't squeeze into a jar, Jackson ate that one.  And he loved it, of course his breath was a little "strong" for a couple of days after, LOL. 

I want to warn you to open the jars outside, and only eat them if everyone else in the room is also eating them or you have a pack of gum on hand for "emergencies". 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

No~Can Green Bean Casserole

This is another dish from the Zucchini Parmesan supper we had a couple of nights ago.  I love green beans but wanted something different from just plain, cooked green beans.  So I came up with this.

I took about 4 cups of green beans and steamed them until knife tender.  While those were cooking I diced up one onion and stir fried that in about a TBSP of olive oil.  In an oven safe dish add 3/4 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup milk, 1 TBSP potato starch (or corn starch or flour), S&P to taste.  Stir that up so that everything is blended smooth, then add 1/2 cup cheddar cheese and mix.  Once the beans are done, drain and add the green beans and onions to the dish.  Mix thoroughly and top with a sprinkling of cheddar cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes until everything is all bubbly and the cheese is melted. 

My boys loved this dish so much they asked for it for lunch yesterday.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Zucchini Parmesan

OK so not really parmesan, but this is our take on eggplant parmesan.  I like eggplant just not the texture once it is baked in the oven, seems like it gets cooked too much and is soft, I don't like soft veggies, prefer my eggplant to still have *some* form to it.  So we make Zucchini Parmesan. 

Here is a picture of our supper, mostly from the garden, well the zucchini, cucumbers and green beans were.

To make the zucchini I took a fresh zucchini and sliced it in about 3/4 to 1 inch thick slices.  Here is where Jackson took over, while I made the green bean dish.  He mixed up a bread crumb type of mixture, started with crushed gluten free crackers, I think he used a vegetable flavor cracker but not 100% sure, then he added dried basil, oregano, S&P.  The cracker crumb mixture went on a plate and in a bowl he beat three eggs.  Dipped the zucchini slices into the egg and then into the cracker crumbs.  He added those to a preheated pan on the stove with just a bit of olive oil in the pan.  Just pan fried them a bit until crispy on both sides, only take a couple of minutes per side. 
Jackson then arranged those in an over safe dish.  Next step is to top them with your favorite spaghetti sauce, either home made or store bought. 

Top with a little bit of mozz. cheese and bake at 350 until the cheese is melted and a little brown on top.  Delicious and I love the flavor of the zucchini. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Supper Tonight

OK so let's start with a tour of our upper garden, we have a garden that is down the hill a bit but today I will show you our upper garden, it is producing so well this year!!  I give credit to the composted horse manure we added last year,courtesy of our friend's horses.  That and a lot of hard work, planning, weeding, watering and tending. 

First I have to have my chair, there is nothing more peaceful to me that working in the garden then taking a short break, looking at everything in the shade of the apple tree, eating some cherry tomatoes.  So my chair is up in the garden.
Doesn't it look so nice and comfy and shady!  Below is a picture from my chair, it is a shelling bean plant, the plant at the end of the row. 

 And here is a view, from my comfy chair to the right, looking at the edge of my tomatoes, my zucchini and beyond are my hubby's grape vines. 
 A view to the left of my chair, you can see all my bean plants, shell beans and bush beans, below those toward the road are some sad looking corn plants, I only planted a few, just not my favorite. 
 This is looking at the okra and beets, to the right, just out of the picture are radishes and greens.  The okra is a little sad, hot out today.  They will perk up later on this evening.  They are just starting to flower now, I love okra blossoms, so beautiful in the garden!  Beyond the okra are cucumbers, and just in the front of the picture you can see the tops of some onions. 
 Here is a view of my pepper plants, not growing as well as I would like this year but producing well already!  And my tomatoes.  LOL.  Jackson and I disagree every year about how far apart to plant the tomatoes.  I vote for further apart, so that I can get in between the plants to weed and harvest, he always wants them closer together.  Then when they look like this he says next year we will have to space them further apart, and the cycle starts again, LOL.  What you can't see in the front of the picture just before the peppers are my eggplant.  I planted I think 6 or 8 seedlings, and the VERY next day bugs had eaten them to the ground.  It was funny and NOT funny.  So we have two there now.  That will have to do for this year.
 Here are my zucchini.  And I picked one good size zucchini off today, for supper tonight.  Still have a few small ones that will be ready in another couple of days. 
 Here is one of the smaller zucchini, isn't he cute!  Must be a "he" right?
 Cherry tomatoes.  I have NEVER enjoyed eating tomatoes raw, only cooked in things like sauces or soups.  But last year I developed a new found LOVE of tomatoes, so last year and this year it has been a treat to pick a handful, take a break, sit in my chair and eat cherry tomatoes, YUM!
 Oh, my pretty butterfly bush, and the butterflies love it.  It sits on the hill just past my garden.  Lovely. 
 Today's harvest included a colander of green beans.  I am going to put those with the colander I picked yesterday and can beans today.  I will save out some for supper and can the rest.  I have plenty more where those came from, another YUM!!
 And some cucumbers, that looked so pretty.  While I was up in the garden today I ate some green beans, a cucumber, some tomatoes and lettuce for my lunch.  It brought back memories of when I was a kid and used to go pick fresh veggies out in the garden and just stand there eating.  Delicious and warm!  I went from there to the raspberry patch, which has increased 10 times since we planted the few plants last year, and picked a handful of raspberries for dessert!  I need to go back out to the raspberries and pick all the ripe ones later on today.  And I think I will be having a zucchini parmesan tonight for supper, with a side of cucumbers and maybe a side of green beans!
 On the way into the house today I heard this chirping, and I couldn't find where it was coming from.  I looked and looked and finally found this nest.  The brick is our house, the wood is a railing along the edge of our back deck.  There is a HUGE crock sitting in that corner and on the floor behind the crock was this nest.  You can only see one little birdie in the picture but he must have siblings in there somewhere, cause there was a lot of noise coming from that corner.  Just too cute, and the perfect find for a perfect day. 
My next chore is to go out and sit with my hens.  The last few days they have not been laying well at all, so I need to go sit with them and talk to them about that! 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Beet Risotto

I know it doesn't look real appealing in the photo, but it is DELICIOUS!  This was another side dish for our father's day meal last Friday.  If you like beets you will LOVE this dish it is so creamy and good, and really simple to make  YUM!

1 onion

2 large beets
1 cup rice
4 cups vegetable broth
Olive Oil
S&P to taste
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

 I can't remember where I saw the original recipe, but I morphed that into something I thought my family would enjoy!

Add a couple of TBSP olive oil to the bottom of a stock pot on medium heat. Dice the onion and add to the O Oil. You are just going to cook the onion to soften and add that nice cooked onion flavor (plus it makes my whole house smell delicious). While the onion is cooking, peel the beets if they need it, if the skin is not tough you could leave the skins on the beets. Then quarter the beets and add them to a food processor. "pulse" until the beets are all chopped up pretty fine, but not a paste. (there were a couple of larger chunks left in mine, I just tossed those into the compost bin) Add the vegetable broth and beets to the pot with the cooked onion and let that simmer, covered, for 12 minutes. (LOL actually that doesn't have to be exact but I was cooking the frittata in the oven and the timer had 12 minutes left so that is how long I cooked the beets).

Next you add the rice. I think I used a cup of an organic jasmine rice but you can use any rice you want just remember that if you use a brown rice it will need to cook longer. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes (40-45 for brown rice) or until the rice is tender. S&P to taste. Next add in the goat cheese and stir until the cheese is melted and you have a nice creamy texture. Serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Dirty Life

I just finished reading The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball.  What a wonderful short read.  Great for your summer reading.  I loved the authors descriptions of food!  Just made you want to start farming so you could make the deliciousness for yourself!  Oh yeah, I do a little farming myself, will have to try a couple of the dishes she elaborates on in the book.  :-)

I especially loved this clip from the book:

"You can't really own a farm, no matter what the deed says.  It has a life of its own.  You can love it beyond measure, and you are responsible for it, but at most you're married to it."

Just a loving account of getting started farming, the ups and downs, as well as getting started in a new relationship.  How the farm and the relationship develop in this new community. 

If you love farming or reading about farming and farmers you will enjoy this book.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Always Busy

Once the garden really starts growing it seems like there is so much to "blog" about but so little time to sit and write.  LOL.  Good news is that the gardens are all weeded and a good part mulched.  Whew!  Never ending, wonderful seasons.  I do have plans for more fall planting this year, but that is for another post.  Today I wanted to share Jackson's Father's Day meal.  Much of it from our mini-farm.  It was comprised of collard greens, a frittata, beet risotto, and a nice salad.  Lettuce, collards, beets, radishes, green peppers all from the garden and eggs from our wonderful hens. 

OK I have the recipe for the frittata for you today and will post the recipe for the beet risotto on another day.

Dice up one green bell pepper and one onion, stir fry for just a bit until soft.  Dice one potato into about 1/4-1/2 inch chunks, and boil until knife tender.  Let these cool just a bit.  Meanwhile, add 10 large eggs, 1/4 cup Romano cheese, 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese to a bowl and whisk.  Add how much S&P you like, stir.  Then add your onion, pepper and potato to the egg/cheese mixture.  Stir that all up.  Pour into a greased pie plate, and bake on 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.  Until the top is nice and golden brown.  Let it sit for about 10 minutes before serving. Delicious!!!  I think I like this frittata better than the collard green and onion frittata!


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Saving Seeds

Do you all save seeds from year to year?  I have, but only a little, like last year I saved okra, tomato, pepper, and watermelon seeds.  This year my goal is to save so many more seeds.  I mean the seeds are out there, sitting in my garden, I just need to take the time to harvest them. 

Now my peas are dying off, just too hot.  The peas were great while they lasted.  It has taken me a few years to have successful peas.  Being from the north, I was not used to planting things in Feb, I mean up there the ground is still frozen.  LOL.  This year I planted earlier than I ever though I would, mid-February, and had a very successful season of early produce.  Next year I will plant a lot more peas.  But as I am pulling the peas I am harvesting those last few, wilting pods, to save the seeds for next year.  Here are just a few.  I am "hoping" to be well organized, label everything and have lots and lots of seeds waiting for next year.  We will see if that happens.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Green Smoothies

I was just reading another blog about smoothies.  On this blog there were two categories of smoothies,  one was just for fun, and in that you couldn't taste the vegetables, the other was nutritious and wouldn't contain things like honey.  Of course there was more of a description, but those two things stuck out at me.  I don't believe that for something to be nutritious you have to taste the vegetables.  Or that not tasting the vegetables is somehow less nutritious.  Also I believe honey to be very health-FULL.  And I have, probably in the past 6 months or so, started including honey on purpose in our smoothies so that we reap the benefits of local, great, raw honey. 

In our smoothies, which I make almost daily, we each get probably 1 1/2-2 servings of vegetables.  Which is so important for me, that is one area that is probably most lacking in my diet.  I love vegetables, just don't eat enough.  We also get probably 1 1/2-2 servings of fruit as well.  Sometimes you can taste the delicious vegetables and sometimes you can't, but either way they are nutritious and fun!

Honey has so many health benefits.  I guess I have known that all along.  It's healing properties.  But this morning I just googled "health benefits of local honey" to see what came up.  It is amazing.  And as I said, I have started adding honey to our smoothies on purpose, probably about 1 Tbsp per person.  Our daily dose of great, local raw honey, nutritious and fun.  Here are a couple of links about honey if you are interested in reading more:

Local Honey and Allergies  The whole blog is amazing, Local Honey Blog
Raw Honey is Not Only Tasty

Of course there is more out there if you want to look for it :-)  I just really believe that smoothies can be "both in one", nutritious and fun!  And for my boys, I love that they don't see food as fun OR nutritious, but can see that food can be all in one, and that we have the ability to make it so. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Fire Wood

Yes firewood from unexpected places.  This spring has been a turbulent spring.  The weather went from 80s one day to 50s the next, terrible rain on almost a daily basis.  Thunder storms and more tornado warnings in one season than in all the years we have lived here put together.  We lost 4 tree limbs to the weather, 4 more than ever before.  So this past weekend Jackson and our youngest son, Phillip, spent one day just cleaning up the limbs and branches, chipping the smaller stuff for mulch for the garden and cutting up the larger stuff for firewood.  It has plenty of time to dry and will come in handy when the chill hits the air, but this was not what we had in mind for firewood. 

The trees are doing OK, a little bare in spots, but nothing they can't recover from.  No damage to person or  property, thankfully.