Monday, September 22, 2008

Pear Ginger Jam

I've been making jam. Local pears from the tree of a friend of my parent's. I use the regular pear jam recipe from the Ball Canning Blue book and add 1/3 C of grated fresh ginger for every 4 C of pears. Process in water bath for 15 minutes. I've got a headstart on my holiday gifts! Its a bit spicy and delicious.

Friday, September 12, 2008

More on Bread.

Interesting article.

homemade white bread

I can't recommend this site enough! Although new recipes are infrequent, they are amazing and they are the type to be made over and over again. Susan hasn't ever disappointed me. Her recipes are wonderful.

Now to be honest, I am not really a fan of white bread. But, that was before I made my own. I buy large quantities of flour from my food coop. Currently, I am using the Swany Flour. Wiki has some interesting info about them.

I am certain that there is nothing better in the world than a BLT on this bread with local bacon, your own homegrown heirloom yellow tomato and beet greens. I forgot to take a picture, but trust me, it was delicious!

Monday, May 12, 2008

The change of seasons

We found one, yes one, morel this spring. I was told that perhaps we were too early, but I don't believe that as the floor of the woods is already filling in nicely with foliage.

I've been taking pictures from the exact same spot in the barn to the barnyard. Look at how much greener it is now versus one month ago (the picture that is in the header). I was struck by the beauty of spring and how each season seems to be more beautiful than the previous one and how nice, cyclically that works out. When winter arrives, the snow is so beautiful. It tricks the mind to forget the vibrancy of the fall colors and the snow seems so peaceful and soft. When spring arrives, the new green is a feast for the eyes and the soul, and the bird songs filling the air make winter seem cold and cruel. Spring is the time of rebirth. Then summer. Ah, the dog days - the garden planting is done, we are enjoying the bounty of the garden with fresh veggies. Languorous canoe trips. It makes spring seem like hard work. Then fall. Crisp evenings, rooms with soft lit candles, something simmering on the stove, the beautiful colors.

Each season is more beautiful, fragrant and appealing than the last one. It continues on and on.

We sauteed the one morel with butter and savoured it. We also had a salad of dandelion greens and sauteed dandelion root from the yard.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Spreading compost

Oh, the fun of spring! Husband and I spread our composted manure on Wednesday night. It was 70 degrees in Chicago.
I've also attached a picture of our rain barrels. We were able to maintain our garden and plantings entirely by use of these barrels last year. These two are ganged together. We also have one off of the garage roof that is on a soaker hose for the serviceberry and other new shrubs that we getting established. Note that these are built up off the patio on a platform to use gravity in watering and also allows us to get our watering cans underneath.
We spread all 15 bags of compost. Husband put about 7 in the front parkway. I used the rest on the gardenbed shown above and on the side beds. I was also able to get a mesclun greens mix planted. Hope to be eating fresh, homegrown salads soon. I need to convince Husband to build me a small coldframe to extend my growing season for greens.
Happy Earth Day weekend!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Seasonal creek is running

OK, so its more like a drainage ditch. :) But, it sounds like a creek and looks like a creek, so I can call it a creek, right? During the spring thaw and after heavy rains we have a "creek" that runs. It is fed by the runoff of the valley as well as the spring-fed small pond next to the barn. By the way, tThe pond never froze all winter. We hope to dig it out a bit and turn it into a real pond with native wetland plants and maybe some fish?

The previous owner had scraped the barnyard and put the manure in a pile on the side of the barn. During our realtor negotiations when we were purchasing the farm, I had requested that it not be moved and left for us. No problem was the reply. ha! On Saturday, we dug up 15 reusable bags (or previously used the type that mulch or compost come in - the big un's) of that gorgeous, lovely, amazing composted manure and loaded up the trailer. We brought it home to Chicago to amend my vegetable bed and our parkway. We had a major water main repair done last fall and it destroyed our good parkway soil with lots of clay from the deep holes the plumbers had to dig to get to our water meter and vault.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

seedling pics

Slow going. I'm finally seeing some sprouting. No true leaves on anything yet. I'm a little bit worried about a few of my varieties. I've heard that heirloom (non-hybrid) are harder to start/grow. We'll see. Nothing happening at all on the basil front. I'll give it thru the weekend and if they still haven't sprouted, I'll re-do them.

A couple of the tomatoes are up. Brandywine, Green Zebra. And the kale is really rolling along. I think one of the brussel sprouts are also trying to peek thru. I started some herbs and peppers on Tuesday.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Seed starting

A list of the seeds that I have started so far:

English Thyme (2)
Parsley - Curly (3)
Parsley - Italian Flat (3)
Brussel Sprouts (2)

Tomatoes (all heirloom)
Illini Star (3)
Purple Russian (3)
White Beauty (3). Can't wait to see this one! A white tomato!!!
Yellow Brandywine (3)
Green Zebra (3)
Litchi Tomato (2). A fruity tomato that grows really tall with lots of thorns. Sounds like fun!

Peppers, Basil, Chard, and oh so many others are next on my list.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Beer bread

My version of Farmgirl Susan's beerbread.

Whole Wheat Beer Bread with Homebrew

2 C. flour (organic please)
1 C. whole wheat flour (organic)
1 T. of baking powder
1/2 T. sugar
2 heaping T. of dried oregano
1/2 (or 1) t. of red pepper flakes
1 C. (more or less) of hand-shredded parmesan (I buy it in large 1 lb hunks - none of that green can junk from the supermarket)
12 oz of beer. This it the part that brings it all home. I use a homebrewed Nut Brown Ale. It makes all the difference in the world. Our Nut Brown Ale is thick and brown and flavorful. It gives the bread a gorgeous brown color. A storebought Nut Brown ale would most likely work as well. (Those mass marketed large brewery beers work but I really recommend you just pony up the $9 for a good local microbrew.) When we bottle our beer, I save the extra that doesn't quite fit in a bottle in the fridge in a canning jar. Will keep for up to 2 weeks. Has no carbonation but that doesn't matter for this recipe.

Preheat oven to 375.

Stir together all the ingredients except the beer. Add the beer and mix - it will be thick and sticky. Let sit for 20 minutes so the flour can hydrate (very important step!!). Turn into an oiled loaf pan (I use a generous amount of vegetable oil). Bake for 55+ minutes. Remove from oven, cool on rack for 10 minutes, turn out onto rack. Cool completely. I store in a thick paper bag.

Keeps well. Makes beautiful sandwiches. Toasts well. Gorgeous breadcrumbs.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Homemade Yogurt Recipe

I prefer to use raw milk, if you can find it. Otherwise, organic milk is a must. I also like to use whole milk.

Find a plain yogurt that you like – I love Stonyfield Farm. This will be your starter.

Freeze your storebought yogurt in ice cube trays and store cubes in Ziploc bag. Each cube is approx 1T.

I like to make a large batch – we eat a lot of yogurt, so I use a ½ gallon of milk each time – which yields two quarts.

If using frozen yogurt as your starter, pull the number of needed cubes (see below) out at the start so they can thaw.

Gently/slowly heat 8 cups of milk to 180 degrees.

While the milk is heating, fill your teapot with tap water and bring to a boil. Make sure you have enough to fill 2 quart jars. Once the water boils rapidly, fill the jars, cover and put in a small cooler (like a 6 pack size) and insulate with an additional towel or two. I like to do this right at the beginning of the milk heating process because I have found that if the water jars are too hot in the cooler it retards the incubating process.

Once milk reaches 180, turn off the heat, cover and let cool to 116. Stir in 4 T of the thawed yogurt (4 cubes) or 4 T of yogurt from a previous batch. Stir gently but very well.

Pour warm milk into 2 quart size canning jars. Place in the small cooler with the (now warm/hot) water jars and close the cover and let sit for at least six hours or overnight. Chill. Keeps very well. Enjoy with fresh fruit, nuts, honey and raw oats (fabulous – let the oats sit for about 5 mins to absorb a little moisture), or just plain. Its also fabulous on a baked potato with fresh chives.

Feel free to use your batch as a starter next time. I only use the frozen cubes if I feel that my yogurt is losing its tangy-yogurtish taste.

Adapted from Liz at Pocket Farm, who unfortunately, has stopped blogged.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Homebrew and homemade pizza

DH and I bottled up 4 cases of homebrew this past week. This should keep us in suds for a bit.

We also took advantage of our kitchen day to make and freeze pizzas. I made a whole wheat pizza dough and we used some of our homecanned tomatoes from last summer for the sauce. The sauce was absolutely delicious. The toppings, alas, had some miles: a zucchini, some mushrooms, a can of artichokes. The garlic was homegrown. The sauce was homegrown/homemade. The crust was homemade - although the flour had some miles on it. We bought the cheese from a local creamery in Wisc and shredded it ourselves.

We live in Chicago (land of great pizza!) but we much prefer our homemade. We froze 4 pizzas for quick weeknight meals. YUUMM!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Georgie, the barn cat

This is Georgie and she lives in our barn. She is an absolute cutie. I found her outside and had her spayed and then set her up in the barn. The horses are keeping her company.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Red, White & Blue

Aren't old barns beautiful?

No owls living in the barn anymore. They have moved on to other mice-filled barns. However, we've had a cat move in. Her name is Georgie. I'll post her picture tomorrow.

I'm hosting my knitting circle tonight. I think I'll start some holiday gifts for friends. I'm thinking about knitting them stockings for their cabin.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Always know where you've been!

Isn't this cool? We were snowshoeing and when I turned around to look at where we had been, I was struck by the power of knowing where you have been and where you want to go.

Hope to get some seeds started soon. Still unsure of what we are planting and where we are planting it.