Saturday, June 26, 2010

Savoring and Saving the Fruit

It's been busy here at the homestead. Walt has been quite busy with our summer video clients so I've had to manage many things by my self. He hasn't been out to look at the garden for almost a week. He was surprised that the corn was already thigh high. Besides the usual household chores, cleaning, cooking, laundry and chauffeuring the kids, I've been working on fighting the weeds in the flower beds and in the kitchen garden. The broccoli is starting to form heads and I picked my first zucchini today.

Photobucket

Heirloom Raspberry

Photobucket

Wild Black Raspberry (also called Blackcap)

The wild raspberries and blackcaps (and golden blackcaps) have started getting ripe and I have picked a pound and a half already. They are in the freezer until I can some more for blackberry cordial. Soon the true blackberries will be ripe and I expect to have 25 pounds at least. I think we will try blackberry wine.

Some of the strawberries that I picked at Candellas were put in a pot with Pomona's and a little sugar and ladled into jars for "Low Sugar Strawberry Jam". The rest was put in a glass jar with some sugar and rum for a "RUMNTOFF"

I picked some grape leaves, washed them, bundled them, put them in some jars and pored on a hot vinegar "brine". Some day they will used for stuffed grape leaves.

I found a good sale on Bing Cherries. 1.88 lb. I bought 3 bags totaling 6.5 lbs. I quickly pitted them and bottled them as " brandied Cherries. A tray of cherries are in a low oven drying. I need more cherries.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Strawberry Days

Our strawberry patch has been putting out flavorful strawberries and we've been picking daily. We've been eating them raw, making strawberry Ice-cream, several batches of strawberry rhubarb crumble and a batch of strawberry rhubarb butter. But all good things come to an end so I found a little time to visit Candella's, a local U-Pick and farm-stand. I had not picked there before and was pleasantly surprised. After checking in we we're offered a ride in a muddy golf cart to the not-to distant field . The personable driver after learning that I planned on making jam, told me that they had 5 kinds of strawberries and told me where I could find the smaller more flavorful ones. One of the varieties was called Jewel.

We picked about 4 quarts and with those, along with the 4 quarts of strawberries that I was gifted, I immediately made a double batch of Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate. It's really not that concentrated, but is nice mixed with seltzer or club soda. I like to take a jar of the mix and add ice and rum.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Strawberry Rhubarb Butter

makes 2 pints or 4 half pints
4 cups chopped rhubarb
4 cups mashed strawberries
1 vanilla bean, split
1 1/2 cups sugar
Combine the rhubarb, berries, the split vanilla bean and a cup of the sugar in a large, non-reactive pot. Stir until the sugar has drawn some liquid out of the berries and then turn the heat onto medium low.
Cook over medium low heat, stirring regularly, until the pieces of rhubarb and strawberries have broken down. At this point, reduce the heat even further and let the butter simmer over very low heat.
When the butter has reduced to about half its original volume, taste it. Adjust the sugar to taste, adding up to another half cup. Cook until the sugar has dissolved into the butter. Remove the butter from the heat. Fish the vanilla bean pieces out and put them aside.
Fill your prepared jars, wipe the rims, apply lids and screw on bands. Process filled jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes (starting time when water returns to a boil)When time is up, remove jars from pot and let them cool on a towel-lined counter top. When jars are cool enough to handle, remove rings and check the seals.
This butter will keep 6 to 9 months if stored in a cool, dark place. It is good to eat right away, though

**************************************************************************************

Strawberry Lemonade

4 qts strawberries, washed and hulled

4 cups lemon juice (I use bottled- 1 large bottle)

3 qts water
6 cups sugar


1.Puree strawberries. For a clearer lemonade, extract juice of strawberries with a juicer. (you can use a food processor and strain it)
2. Place strawberries in an 8 qt pot. Add lemon juice, water and sugar. Place mixture over medium heat and heat to 165 degrees, stirring occasionally. Do not boil.
3. Remove from heat and skim off foam with a metal spoon.
4. Ladle hot juice into clean, hot jars, leaving 1/2" headspace; seal.
5. Process in boiling-water bath for 15 minutes.
Yield: 6-7 qts.

Photobucket

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Independence Day Challenge - JUNE 3

Independence Day Challenge - JUNE 3

What is an independence day? You can read about it here : Independence Day Challenge

Plant Something: parsley, companion plants for kitchen garden, cucumbers. The garden is almost in.

Harvest Something: Strawberries, Asparagus, Parsley, Onion tops

Preserve Something: - not yet.

Waste Not: Saving newspaper for the garden, egg boxes to offer to someone who is selling eggs, composting egg shells, coffee grounds, etc.

Want Not: sewing pillows and decorative things for camp from fabric remnants.

Build Community Food Systems: talking to gardeners, teaching and encouraging others.

Eat the Food: Sharing some jelly with sister-in law, baked Amish bread, eating as much asparagus and greens as we can pick.

Views of the Kitchen Garden

Photobucket

Photobucket

FEELING CRAFTY

I love my camp in the Adirondacks. It's comfortable and rustic. It's been neglected for a few years. I've been cleaning and decorating it - "Adirondack Style". I have been wanting to sew a quilt, pillows, etc. for camp so I've been collecting fabric. I started stitching this quilt top.

Photobucket

I was telling my sister-in-law Sue about my plans and she gifted me with a large pile of fabric pieces. This is just some of what she gave me.


Photobucket

In the pile was a flower garden piece that caught my eye. I selected two pieces one for a reverse and another to make a bias tape. I cut up a old towel for "batting" and quickly sewed a "table topper" for a small dresser that sits on our back porch.
Photobucket


Photobucket

By the way, I bought a small wire basket for $1, and filled it with things that we may need when we work outside including sunscreen and insect repellent.

The table top so inspired me that I rooted around in the fabric and came up with another combination that I'm turning into a pillow for camp. Here is what I've stitched so far.

Photobucket

I recently pulled out my knitting needles and yarn to work on making more dishcloths.


Photobucket

I need to finish up a "Bee Hat". I bought this straw hat for $3 at a "dollar store". I'm sewing black tulle around the brim for a makeshift bee keepers hat.

Photobucket

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A COOL JUNE DAY

The weather was pleasant this morning, a relief after unseasonable hot and dry days. I had not baked for a few weeks so I quickly made a batch of Amish Sweet Bread.

AMISH BREAD
2 cups warm water
2/3 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup oil
6 cups bread flour

Directions
In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in warm water, and then stir in yeast. Allow to proof until yeast resembles a creamy foam. Mix salt and oil into the yeast. Mix in flour one cup at a time. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Place in a well oiled bowl, and turn dough to coat. Cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes, and divide in half. Shape into loaves, and place into two well oiled loaf pans. Allow to rise for 30 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees.



After hanging 4 loads of laundry on the line, I poked about in the kitchen garden. I picked our first strawberries (1/2 lb.), weeded the onion and carrot beds, and noticed that despite the woodchuck, we have some young pea pods.

Photobucket