Saturday, July 31, 2010

We've been so busy ...

Wow, a month has gone by and I haven't taken the time to post to this blog.
Here what's happenin' on the Little Homestead in the Village...

We harvested over 10 pounds of garlic around July 15. I placed the whole plants in a big box that I left on the deck to let the bulbs dry out and mature. It's a little bit of a trick to know when to harvest the bulbs. I wait until the top leaves start to brown. If you harvest them too early the cloves don't fill out. Let if you let it sit in the ground too long, it fills out too much and won't keep well.


Then on July 22, I cut the bulb from the dried leaves, cut off the beard (the roots), shook off the dried dirt and pulled off an outer layer of paper-like skin if needed. We now have a good sized box of garlic ready to store.


Before putting garlic away in the root cellar, I will sort it and select the biggest heads to become seed garlic that I will plant in the fall.


Harvesting a few tomatoes every day for the past few weeks. We have been slicing tomatoes for salads and sandwiches. We have planted several varieties so far, Big Boy has been the first we picked but that was because we paid extra for a large plant in a 1 gallon container. Our early crop is...

Grape ( average weight 1 oz each)


pony express (average 4 oz )


golden rave paste (average 2 oz)


I have plenty to share but not yet enough to can. I should be able to make sauce for dinner tomorrow. Or... Annie's Salsa!

The wood chuck devastated the 4 rows of bush beans, but at least (s)he saved a few for us. I don't have any for freezing or canning, but we have enough for meals. I've even been able to make a few pots of my Bean Stew.

Recipe for Bean Stew.

2 pieces (or more) of pork country ribs with bone
1 or more pound of green beans snapped into pieces
tomato (or tomato product i.e. any kind of canned tomato)
all spice
olive oil
onion salt

1. Drizzle olive oil in a dutch oven or large pot. Brown meat use as much as you like. the meat can flavor the beans or larger amounts can be used to satisfy meat eaters.
2. Add onion sauté for a few minutes
3. add a salt, and all spice (at least 1 tsp)
4. add as much tomato as you like. Sometimes I use a 28 oz. can or a quart jar of whole tomatoes that I smush up. Other times I use a small can of tomato paste. Or I peel and seed my garden tomatoes. Add enough water to cover the meat.
5. Simmer until the meat is almost done, remove bones and cut meat into smaller pieces if desired.
6. Put beans on top of meat. Add more water ifs needed. simmer until beans are done.
Serve with rice pilaf, new potatoes or crusty bread and butter.

We have been harvesting small amounts of new potatoes. It's like looking for buried treasure. We reach down under the potato plant and grope around in the soil until we feel one and pull it out. We repeat until we have enough for a meal. This is today's booty.


I've picked a few peppers for adding to stir fry or sauce and have given several pounds of peppers away. Don't you think these are just begging to be picked ?


About two weeks ago, I did the final thinning on the the swiss chard and the collards. The collards were cooked up using some smoked ham. I did not serve the batch right away, but let it mellow out for a day to let the flavors meld. During WWII collards were a Victory Garden favorite because they are very nutritious.


We've been picking broccoli every few days. I did not plant enough to freeze. I did plant varieties that form sideshoots after the main head is picked. This way I always have a bit of broccoli for a stir fry, or for a Broccoli Rice or Noodle side dish or... Broccoli soup!



We have picked over 30 pounds of blackberries. What will we do with all those berries? You'll have to wait untill the next post!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Raspberry Berry Berry

We are still picking Raspberries. Today a group of us visited " Brick House Acres " a farm market/ U-pick place with the plan to pick lots of raspberries.



It was a perfect picking day. We were able to pick buckets of berries to be made into Raspberry jam and Raspberry-Chocolate Jam.

Raspberry Chocolate 
2 3/4 lbs raspberries
3 1/2 cups sugar 

Juice of one lemon 

9 oz extra bittersweet chocolate (68% cocoa)

Pick over the raspberries. Omit rinsing them so as to keep their fragrance. Put the raspberries through a food mill (fine disk). In a preserving pan, mis the raspberry pulp with the sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes, stirring gently and skimming carefully. Add the chocolate, grated. Mix and then pour into a ceramic bowl. Cover with a sheet of parchment paper and refrigerate overnight. 
Next day return the mixture to a boil. Continue cooking on high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring and skimming if needed. Return to a boil. Check the set. Put the jam into jars immediately and seal.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Getting Prickley

Every day I've taken a container and visited the raspberry and the black cap patch. This brings me back to my childhood. Every summer , I'd grab a pail and bike to my "secret locations" , one being down the railroad tracks , the other farther away, a trail along the canal and pick wild berries. I was also the "designated picker" for the family raspberry patch. Every summer, my arms and legs would get get so scratched up and my fingers were stained from berry juices. 40 yeas later and nothing much has changed except that I no longer bike to find berries.


I spent a very pleasant day yesterday in the garden. It was cool and an occasional light breeze. the sky was blue with a spatular base of clouds. The mosquitoes were not biting. I did lots of weeding in the kitchen garden. The peppers and eggplants really needed it. I noticed some little two inch bell peppers. My only hot pepper is putting out 5 nice peppers.

I then moved on to the three carrot beds and pulled little weeds. The soil was perfect for weeding soft and not to wet, not to dry. After the carrots I tackled the 4 rows of bush beans. I found various sticks which I inserted into the sides of the bed so that the runners could climb up. Even though they are not labeled "Pole Beans" these can grow quite high. since the backside of the bean bed runs up against the weedy raspberry patch, I also pulled the big weeds such as dock and comfrey and attacked some of the berry canes with the loppers.

Then I weeded around the squash, parsley and corn and some of the potatoes. All of the weeds that I pulled will be added to the compost pile.

We killed a woodchuck the other day. He (she) kept eluding the have a hearty trap and was getting fatter on the neighborhood veggie gardens. Danny got him with the 22. dan friend Will was staying with us for a few days and he wanted to try "woodchuck" meat so we helped him have a go at it. he gutted and skinned the critter. washed it well with the garden hose. I then did a better washing in the kitchen sink, then since in was already after cpm, put the carcass in a large glass bowl with cold water and a handful of the salt. This was popped into the fridge overnight. Much to the relief of my children, Will had to go home the next morning, taking his woodchuck with him.

These beautiful lilies are in bloom.