Monday, February 28, 2011

Sour Grapes

A few days ago I bought a few pounds of seedless green grapes. The price actually a good deal - 99 cents a pound. Maybe the one I tasted was good but Walt just said the grapes I gave him for snacking seemed to be not quite ripe enough. No problem... I'll put them in jars and cover them with a light syrup and that will be a nice addition to a fruit salad when I don't have fresh grapes.


An average of a pound is needed per pint. Choose unripe, tight-skinned, preferably green seedless grapes.

Stem, wash, and drain grapes. Prepare very light, or light syrup. [ very light syrup: bring to boil 10-1/2 cups water and 1-1/4 cup sugar ]

Fill sterilized jars with grapes and hot syrup, leaving 1-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process 15 minutes in boiling water bath.


So when life gives you Sour Grapes ... just put them in jars!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

"Fast Food" Little Homestead Style

Although the Real food Challenge has not yet officially begin ... We've started it here at the Little Homestead in the Village. This turned out to be a great real food day . Breakfast was a large pot of old fashioned oatmeal. I don't like mine sweet so I sprinkled it with some cinnamon. That a big cup of coffee started my day.

Lunch -We had a business on meeting on friday and by the time I got home we only had time for 'fast food'- Little Homestead style". I decided on making a huge pot of chili. I sautéed a large onion, then into the pot I poured 3 quarts of my homemade kidney beans, 1 quart of my canned hamburger, a quart of our whole tomatoes and a pint of chunky garden Salsa. This was seasoned with some salt. cumin, chili powder, pepper, our fresh garlic, my dehydrated basil and umm...the kids and hubby helped themselves big bowls. This was a good choice because they came in from the cold from shoveling and snow-blowing.

Dinner was a steak I pulled from the deep recesses of the freezer. I like to slice it thin, sauté it with lots of garlic and onions and add whatever vegetables I could find. In this case frozen peas. Then it's tossed with pasta and whatever herbs I feel like adding.

I wonder how the rest of the weeks meals will go,

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Making List - Checking it Twice - (Part 3)


These are the herb seed I have to date.

BASIL - summer-long, opal, lettuce leaf, red rubin, lime, genovese basil
DILL - fern leaf
LAVENDER munstead, english spike, lady
PARSLEY - plain leaf Italian
THYME - french, german

Do you grow any herbs?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Real Food Challenge 2011

The Little Homestead in the Village will be participating in 2011 edition of the Real Food Challenge.

Last year when we first encountered the real food challenge, I observed and participated form afar. The challenge asks you to take the next step toward serving and eating "real food" (as opposed to processed) for some it might be giving a soda for a glass of water or home-brewed ice tea, or it may be a made from scratch meal a week, or for others, it's going the distance. and becoming a locovoir. This is the comment that we posted on the "Real Food @ Not Dabbling in Normal"

"Count me in. We have a good sized garden and I put away some of the harvest. I’m going to try to double what we do – enlarge the garden, maybe get a few chickens add another bee hive or two. I hope to double the canning ,,,- I’ve run out of salsa, apple butter, spiced peaches, roasted tomato garlic soup. I hope to live out of the garden (mostly) except for bulks rice, potato, flour, cornmeal, spices, sugar, coffee and meats."


from the 2010 kitchen garden

Fast or what you might call quick foods are a problem here at the Little Homestead. Our schedule gets crazy - so sometimes I have very little time to put a meal on the table (and I'm a master of the 30 minute or less meals). Also, Danny (our second oldest) works odd hours at his job and wants to take meals from home to save his money. Sometimes we just don't have any leftovers when someone comes in very hungary - so we've been relying on canned soups and sometimes stews. I've canned a few batches of soup but need to do more. I need to fill the freezer with my burritos, and sliders and hungry manfood.

Today's breakfast -
The youngsters made Toad's in the Hole with store bought butter and eggs but home made bread.
Walt and I made some toast from the homemade bead and enjoyed it with homemade low sugar jam that I had from fruit picked from a U-pick farm in June

Making a List - Checking It Twice (part 2)

I love flowers. I love putting a few into the kitchen garden. I like having some for cutting and lots for the butterflies and bees. Here are the flower seeds I have so far.


ALYSSUM - Rosie O'Day, Maritime Tall, Royal Carpet
ASTER - Crego, Giant princess Mix
COLEUS - mix
CARNATION - marguerite
COSMO - Picotee, Sensation Mix
DELPHINUM - Pacific giants
FOXGLOVE - dwarf Foxy
GYPSOPHLIA- covenent Garden
LARKSPUR - Giant Imperial Mix
MAIDEN PINKS -Brilliancy
MARIGOLD- Scarlet Starlet, petite Orange, Disco Mix
MARIGOLD, FRENCH - "boy 'o boy"
MALVA -Zebrina
NASTURTIUM- Cherry rose
SCABIOSA - Summer Berries
SNAPDRAGON - 1st ladies Mix
ZINNIA, Giants of California


What kinds of flowers are you planning on starting from seed?

Monday, February 21, 2011


I noticed today that all of my home harvested garlic is starting to sprout despite being stored in a dark cold root cellar. I took about half of my garlic and made pickled garlic.

Blanch 2 cups of garlic cloves in simmering water for 1 minute.

Rinse with cold water and slip off skins.


Simmer 2 1/2 cups of white vinegar and 1/2 cup dry white wine.


Add the following to each of 4 hot and sterile jars half-pint jars.

1/2 tablespoon mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon of dill

1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon pickling salt

1/2 teaspoon celery seeds

1/2 teaspoon whole black pepper

1/4 teaspoon coriander

Add garlic and cover with hot vinegar, leaving 1/4 inch head space.

Process for 5 minutes in a boiling water bath.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Making A List - Checking It Twice (part 1)

The recent February thaw make me and other gardeners I'm sure anxious to begin planting and getting our hands dirty. Ok, so there is still at least a half foot of snow on the ground, but it really is time to think about the upcoming growing season. Yesterday I emptied my shoe boxes of seeds and took inventory. I have seeds left over from last year and seeds that I purchased on sale in the fall. That coupled with my Artistic Garden seeds and a few new ones I bought this year makes for quite a stash.

This year, I plan on getting more serious than ever in the garden. Now that food prices are really climbing up we need to rely on our own food. But just as important to me is that I want to know what's in my food.

Here are the seeds I have so far

BEAN, GREEN -Contender, Derby, Romano Bush, Blue Lake Stringless, fresh fillet, Royal Burgundy
BEAN,YELLOW- Golden Butterwax, Cherokee Wax, Dragon Tongue
BEAN, POLE - Romano, Early Riser, Kentucky wonder
BEET - Detroit Dark red, Chioggia, White, Cylindra
BROCCOLI - Calabrese, Southern Comet, Green Mountain, Raab
CABBAGE - royal Savoy, Early Golden Acre, Late Flat Dutch
CARROT - Envy, purple haze, yellowstripe, Kaleidoscope mix, Danvers Halve Long, Scarlet Nates, Toucho, Short ' Sweet.
CELERY - Tall Utah
CORN - early Golden Bantam
CUCUMBER Armenian, Bupee Pickles, National Pickling, Sumter, Lemon, West Indies Gerkin
EGGPLANT - Long Purple
KALE - Judy's
KOHLRABI -Purple Vienna
LEEK - blau Gruener Winter, American Flag
LETTUCE - Bibb, Salad bowl, Gourmet Blend{priseleaf, Royal Oak leaf, salad Bowl, Red salad bowl. Asley{, Prize-head Early, Kagraner Sommer, freckles
Onion _ Florence Red, red Burgundy, white lisbon Bunching, evergreen bunching
PARSNIP Demi-Long Guernsey,
PEA - Wando, Little Marvel, Karina, Burpeeana Early, Wando, Progress #9,
PEA, SNOW - Mammoth Melting Sugar, snow bird, goliath
PEA, SNAP = sugar lode, super snappy
PEPPER, Tabasco, Carnival mix, Chinese Giant, Yellow Banana
PUMPKIN - Small Sugar, Amish Pie
RADISH - early Scarlet Globe, Cherry Belle, French Breakfast, Red Meat
SPINACH- Baby Leaf hybrid, Minstreux de Virofaly, Giant Noble, Bloomsdale long Standing, Teragone, Satin, Geant d'Hiver
SQUASH, YELLOW- Early Crook Neck
SQUASH, ZUCCHINI -Grey Zucchini, Boston Marrow
SQUASH, WINTER - Native American Hidatsa
SWISS CHARD - Rhubarb, Bright lights
TOMATILLO - Mexican Husk
TOMATO - Rutgers, Marglobe, Marmande, Lemon Plum, Mortgage Lifter, Yellow Pear, Crimson Cushion, Omar's Lebanese, Dutchman, Djene Lee's Golden Girl, Aunt Ruby's German Green, golden sunburst, Black Russian


Do you have any seeds left over from last year?

Artistic Gardens Samples

Attention gardeners If you're not familiar with Artistic Gardens - you should take the time to pop into their site . Ok, I'll admit that the website is not slick, but they have something most seed companies don't have. 35 cent seed packages. Yes that's right, only 35 cents. I order everything I want. This is a fantastic way to try some thing new or get a few seeds for something that I only want a little bit of. Take tomatoes for example, I usually plant about 40 tomato plants. After I plant my backbone - good producers such as Celebrity and Roma, I want a plant or two of various heirlooms.
I'll be writing more about seeds in my next post.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Simple Woman's Daybook 2-14-2011


Outside my window...grey and wonderfully warm it's 43 degrees outside. It was below zero about a week ago.

I am thinking...I wish we had a maple tree (or two, or three or more). February is maple sugaring time here in upstate NY. When the days are warm but the nights are still below freezing, the sap flows.

I am thankful for... my husband, my lover, my best friend, my partner, father of my children, my better half. Happy Valentines Day Hon!

From the kitchen... ham leftover from Sunday dinner, enough for several dinners. There are also three kinds of chocolate truffles (spiced rum, mint and peanut butter) my valentines day gift to my family. In the refrigerator are some boneless, skinless chicken breast and a bottle of champagne . I'm planning a special dinner of of lemon chicken.

I am wearing...grey slacks and a grey and black striped fitted blouse- smart looking- great for a business meeting.

I am creating...knitting washcloths. We love watching old movies, also the history channel, so while we were watching a program on Sherman (Civil War), I was busy knitting.

I am meet the mayor of a nearby city. We need to be marketing our company more, so Walt and I are going on a round of 'go meets'.

I am reading..."HONEY from hive to honeypot" by Sue Style

I am hoping...That my oldest son is doing OK. He's been late for work quite a few times.

I am hearing...the television in the background.

Around the house...projects waiting to get done. Seeds to plant, rooms to clean and paint.

One of my favorite things...unexpected flowers!
A Valentines Day gift from my Dear Husband.

A few plans for the rest of the week:clean the apartment so we can get it rented, do some winter-sowing, dehydrate the rest of the carrots and some potatoes, can potatoes and butternut squash.

Here is picture I am sharing...
Ice Dripping From the Roof - warm weather - WOOT!


You can read about the lives of other wonderful women at The Simple Womens Daybook.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

We're still harvesting from the garden

Well, sort of. We had a nice crop of carrots in last summers garden. We had enough to store for future use.

There are several ways to store fresh carrots for long term storage. In a root cellar, they can be placed in damp sand to keep them from drying out. Two years ago, I placed a deep layer of straw on a row that wasn't yet harvested. The straw kept the soil from freezing so we were able to go out and dig carrots even when there was a foot of snow on the ground.

This year I found a better way. On a cold November day I harvested the remaining carrots. I snapped off the green leaves and proceeded to dig a deep hole in a vegetable bed. The whole was big enough hold a 5 gallon nursery pot the kind that hold small shrubs or large perennials.


Anyway, After the pot was set in at soil level I placed a layer of dried leaves on the bottom then I carefully put in the carrots- I counted 73. These were covered with more dried leaves, some soil and then covered with straw I marked the spot wit a a tomato steak and walked away. The other day I decided that I should harvest some carrots. After shoveling off the snow, I removed the straw and leaves. There, in the pot were carrots. Delicious sweet carrot. The carrots were coated with soil but once I washed them they were firm and sweet. In-fact some had new growth of small leaves.


Doesn't this bowl of carrots look good ? And believe me they taste so much better than store bought carrots. This year I plan on planning a extra row of carrots so that we can have carrots through the winter.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The simple Woman's Daybook 2-8


Outside my window ... the temp is dropping, going from a high of 33 yesterday, to very cold!.


I am thinking ... Monday will be Valentines Day, I should plan on making a craft and some treats, maybe homemade chocolate truffles?

I am thankful for... my sister-in-law Sue.

From the kitchen... Yesterdays homemade beef vegetable soup, leftover Pizza from Sunday, breakfast of french toast made of the remains of some bread I baked a few days ago. It smells so good, 3 eggs, 1 cup milk, 1 tbs. vanilla, 2 TBS brown sugar, 1/4 tbs. cloves and 1 tsp cinnamon.

For dinner, I have a corned beef defrosting, I'll simmer that with potatoes, cabbage, carrots and onions.

I'm canning some Butternut squash today. Butternut stores well in the root cellar, in face under ideal conditions I should keep almost a year. However, there are times that I just can't be bothered with peeling and scraping out the seeds. I look at my canning endeavors this way... convience food Little homestead style




I am wearing... Cotton red bandana print pants, a red cotton sleeveless tee and a 3/4 sleeve length warm sweater.

I am creating... The quilt is finally finished and I'm still looking for my next project. I did cut up old towels to be used as a replacement for paper towels.


This "basket" was given to me by a friend many years ago. I liked it but never really had a place for it. A few days ago Walt hung it on my kitchen wall near the sink. Don't you think t makes a nice place for my towels?

I am going... to stay home and start cleaning out the apartment. Hope we can rent it out soon.

I am reading...
Adirondack Life, National Geographic and some of my favorite blogs.

I am hoping... for the best and preparing for the worst.

I am hearing ... the television, the warm air blowing into the warm when the furnace kicked in.

Around the house ... Chaos. We just finished turning the spare(junk/storage) room into a game room for David and Katie. Now I have piles of extra sheets and blankets and some clothing. The clothing will be boxed up to give to charity. Sheets need to be sorted and put into sets. Some for home, some for camp some for a craft project and ? with the rest.

One of my favorite things ... White buckets from the bakery. I get them for free. Great for storing extra rice, flour , sugar or to use as a food prep bucket.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Paint the apartment, bake bread, inventory the fruit cellar.

Here is picture I am sharing ...


As you can see, it's time to put on tall boots and trudge out through the deep snow to fill the feeders with birdseed.

You can read about the lives of other wonderful women by visiting the Simple Woman's Daybook.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Winter Garden

A garden "gate" constructed by Katie and David, made of plastic sleds and rain barrels.

not much evidence of flower beds

or of the bees


Kale still in the garden


Columbine seeds heads




A lone cat tail stands as a sentry - and marks the location of the pond.

All that remains of larkspur


the gazebo blanketed with snow

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Simple Woman's Daybook -February 1, 2011


Outside my window...10 degrees. Although it's not snowing right now, a big snowstorm storm is on the way. It should be hitting us around 10pm. Most likely the kids wont have school tomorrow.

I am thinking... wondering how bad the storm will be. Chicago got it quite bad and the same storm is headed toward the East Coast.

I am thankful for... Danny working. Although it's a "cart wrangler" job and he's outside for most of his shift, he finally has some money. He is contributing to the household budget and still has money to save and some to spend.

From the kitchen... 8 pints of navy beans in the pressure canner with another 7 quarts of pinto beans ready as soon as the canner is available. I also have a bowl of bagels that I made yesterday.

I am wearing...a wine colored flowered cotton sleeveless shift, cozy slippers and my "the bees know" hat. The house is very cold but the kitchen is warm when I work so I'm comfortable for now.

I am creating...finishing up the scrappy quilt. All of the squares are done and all I have to to is sew together 3 more rows and attach them to the quilt. The quilt should be finished in a day or two.

I also finished the curtain for my bedroom. This curtain a single panel is behind the television to be pulled across the window if the sun is shinning in.

I am going... nowhere. We're gonna hunker down. We have everything we need here at the little homestead- 1.5 gallons of milk, a dozen plus eggs and a panty sufficient for me to prepare almost anything we want to eat. Some planned meals are chili and cornbread, chicken soup, shepherds pie, chili, enchiladas and big batches of sweet potato donuts and no-flour peanut butter cookies.

I am reading... a copy of the Constitution of the United States

I am hoping... that we will be able to rent out 2 apartments soon.

I am hearing...Quiet. Kids are in school, Dan just work up and is sipping a cup of coffee. Rush is on the radio

Around the house...Walt finished the new "game room" yesterday. The kids couldn't wait to fill it with gaming furniture.

One of my favorite things... geraniums in bloom when it's snowing outside.

A few plans for the rest of the week: clean out the freezer, inventory food storage, can a load of potatoes or butternut squash.

Here is picture t I am sharing...Photobucket


Read about the lives of other wonderful women at the Simple Women's Day

Beans are not magical

nor are they a fruit, but they are a pantry staple here at the Little Homestead in the Village. Beans are great for a quick meal, beans and rice, chili, mashed for a mexican dish. I've been out of canned beans for about a week. At any time we do have at least several quart jars filled with dried beans, but it does take some planning to cook those up into a tasty dish for dinner. So todays project is to can a double canner full of beans. Last night I soaked a large pot of pinto beans (2 lbs) and a smaller pot filled with navy beans. This morning I boiled the beans for 30 minutes. While they were cooking, I fixed a flavored "sauce" made of a little ketchup, tomato juice, molasses and a pinch of powdered mustard. Then I added a small piece of salt pork.