Saturday, August 31, 2013

My time on a working farm. Learning, weeding and making two new friends.

Nicole, picking kale for our dinner. See the huge sunflowers with the multiple heads of flowers in the background? I brought back some seeds. They are gorgeous. 

I've had the most incredible week. I've had my hands in the most beautiful soil ever. I now know what healthy earth feels and smells like. I have been welcomed by people who didn't know me, and I learned so much from them. They were generous with their time, knowledge and food. They shared their vast knowledge with me. They also shared a HUGE box of potatoes. They are beautiful!!

Dirty feet...weird that just my toes and bottoms of my feet turned black.

The thousand gallon water tank and the pouring rain. The air smelled amazing.

Things I've learned. 
-Farming is fricking hard work. Everything I have hurts today. It's AWESOME. I feel like I've done something. 
-Farming happens rain or shine. Duh!! Of course it does, but do you picture your farmer pulling weeds and harvesting in the pouring rain? I do now. 
-You can learn a lot about gardening from books and the web....but being shown makes it very tangible and easier to absorb. We need to teach and help each other get back in touch with the earth. 
-Finally. And yes I'm yelling...WE DO NOT PAY FARMERS ENOUGH FOR THEIR WORK!!!! I do NOT understand the low cost of fresh, wholesome vegetables. The manure, water, mulch, work, weeding and the space a well grown cabbage takes for example. I really 'get' how stores like Walmart are killing our farmers. We need to pay fair value for our food.

Dirk and Nicole. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Making your own almond milk. Easy!

Making your own almond milk is so easy everyone should at least try it.

First take about 3/4 cup of almonds and 4 pitted dates and cover them with water. I leave them overnight.

In the morning drain the almonds and dates and rinse them. Put them in a powerful blender. I use a Vitamix but Blendtecs work too. Fill the blender with 7-8 cups water. I add a teaspoon of Vanilla Powder and blend. I blend until the water is turning whitish and then I put it into High Speed, or Warp Drive as I call it. Blend it on high for one minute. Some people strain the mixture through a nut bag. I like to have more of the almond and date meal in my milk for the nutrients. I strain the mix through my sieve. It settles in layers so you will need to shake the container each time you use it. 
You can use the meal that is left in muffins or whatever you like. I keep it in the freezer.

This is my recipe, but you can adapt it easily to you own taste. You might want more almonds, less vanilla, dates or no dates. No rules. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Kombucha is almost ready. And looking good this time!!

I tasted the Kombucha I made on about August 12. It is finally losing the sweetness. I don't like mine too sweet. I'm thinking about another week. Interesting that this batch is working again. I am wondering if the problem I had using green tea and both batches molding, may be that the green tea contained mold spores? This batch made with black tea is fine. Can't wait. I'm going to try ginger!! I love GT'S Organic Raw Kombucha Gingerade.

A healthy non molding Scoby.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Seed pods the size of cherries!!

Largest fuchsia seed pods I have ever seen. Wow. 
You can see my old Cross pen beside them. The big one is about an inch across.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I really love Pumpkin Bran Flax Muffins. It must be the organic chocolate chips I put in them.

I just made yet another batch of Pumpkin Bran Flax Muffins. Last week, I was hankering for a flax muffin so I bought a four pack of the organic bran flax muffins that I used to buy at my fave supermarket. I like to have one for lunch at the store. They are good enough....but I hadn't had any since I started making my own. was quite disappointing.....yet affirming. Disappointing cuz they aren't as good as mine, not by a long shot, but affirming because it made me realize, I KNOW WHAT I'M DOING!! Yummmm.

I am completely addicted to these muffins with a topping of Earth Balance Organic Coconut Flavour Spread. OMG. It's like candy to me.

This is me. This is what I look like when I come in out of the garden. This is my teeny tiny kitchen. What you see here, is pretty much the whole kitchen. You can see my favorite kitchen tools in this picture. My Kitchenaid in the corner. I've had it for, I dunno, about 15 years? Beside it is my Nespresso machine. Not really a kitchen tool, rather more of an obsession. Beside it is my Vitamix. Truly the most incredible thing if you follow a pretty healthy diet. I even make my own almond milk!! 

The recipe is here

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Making a Lavender Wreath

Making a Lavender Wreath

A wreath can be as fancy as you want it to be, and can be made with a variety of garden plants and flowers. But of course, lavender is the base for everything, and you can make a lovely pure lavender wreath fairly simply.
You will need
Flowering lavender. This wreath requires a lot of stems, so you’ll probably want to do it when your own plants bloom or after buying bunches on a trip to a lavender farm.
A circular base for the wreath, perhaps the willow or grapevine versions you can find in any craft store.
Moss, if you want to plump up the wreath. Elastic bands and a ball of twine or raffia.


Grasp your lavender by the handful and arrange the stems so that all the flowers are bunched closely together.
Cut the stems a few inches below the blossoms and secure them with an elastic band.
Lay the bunch along the wreath base and wrap the twine or raffia around the base and a lavender bunch, pulling it snug.
Lay the next bunch overlapping the stems of the first, and tightly wrap the twine around to bind it to the base.
Continue layering bunches all the way around, with the flowers pointing all in the same direction.
Tuck in the end of the twine or raffia beneath the first bundle.
Make a loop for hanging and attach it to the base.
• Let the wreath lay flat as it dries, so that the flower bunches don’t 
droop or sag.

You can tie a pretty bow to your wreath, or tuck in other dried flowers or some baby’s breath. It will last for several years; add a few drops of essential oil to the back of the wreath if the scent begins to fade. 

From the Maui Book of Lavender

And we are trying Kombucha again.

I love GT'S Organic Raw Kombucha. My favorite flavor is their Gingerade. It is delicious. Buying Kombucha gets expensive, so I keep trying to make my own. 

After my two mouldy Kombucha batches earlier this year...I've just not felt like trying it again. My two batches that did work were made with black tea and the two mouldy batches were made with green. I used black today, but came up one tea bag short, so it's a black tea with green tea chaser Kombucha. I have become a real Kombucha addict and I need to make my own.

The latest batch made with black tea again, is working beautifully. When I master Kombucha, I will post a how-to.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Oh my God!!! We got some potatoes from our dead plants.

This beautiful Hod {I've always called them Trugs} from Lee Valley was a gift from Allan this past Christmas. Isn't it lovely.

Our potato plants died. Turned yellow and died. Never got lush and green, never flowered. So today Allan and I went out to remove the wire, dirt and straw. I felt it was a recovery mission. No chance of live potatoes. Well, we were wrong. There wasn't a months worth or anything, but we aren't complaining. We were like a couple kids at Christmas. We had some for supper tonight and they were delicious!!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Zucchini Relish making is much better than I remember.

Isn't this the most beautiful relish. It is so yummy, it will be delicious as a side to potatoes. I cannot wait to try some different things with this. You can find the recipe here.

It cooks for half an hour. I didn't dare leave it for a second. I've waited a long time for this, 

All of my jars fell over and I literally called for help. Allan came to the rescue. There is nothing to hold the jars upright. They just fell over sitting on the wonky bars at the bottom. I am SOOOO getting a new rack before my next canning. 

Jeez...really Canner making people, did you ever try placing jars on the rack before you put it in production. Not.

Friday, August 09, 2013

The new Blueberry Walk. From beginning to end.

Back in May I came up with the idea of a blueberry walk. I was standing right in this spot in the photo....looking at my row of blueberries trying to figure out where to put the blueberry plant I bought sitting over on the left in the pot. Beside the fig. Total impulse buy, so no plan as to where it would go.  It lived in its pot for a long time.

I was gazing down the little path along the blueberry row, and it struck me suddenly that if I excavated the grass strip along the existing row of blueberries, I could move the path there and make a double sided Blueberry Walk. I knew that what seemed like a simple project, would not be. I have a yard of clay. It is awful. In the summer you literally cannot get a shovel into it. It needs to be chipped away.

I began with the excavation. It left blueberry roots exposed for a while. I covered the roots with a layer of straw and kept them well watered. Then I excavated the ridge of soil that was beside the path.   Each of these projects took a weekend. Then the bark mulch path was filled in.

So here it is August. This past weekend, I FINALLY GOT THE LAST BLUEBERRY PLANTED.  

I have not mounded the mulch on them yet, as I've made little moats around them to keep them intensively watered during this hot summer. I will mound in the winter. For all intents and purposes...the Blueberry Walk is complete. It took three months.  It looks much better than I had imagined. Also, I cannot believe how many blueberries we got this year. Oh gardening life is good. This pioneer woman is a happy camper.

Vates Blue Curled Scots Kale...thank God I have some seeds!!

Last winter I was eating kale that came from a Winter Kale Blend from West Coast Seeds. It was so delicious, I was eating it raw in salads. The few plants I had were all the same. I planted some in the spring for the summer garden. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when Winter Blend had a lot of different types of kale? I wrote West Coast Seeds and asked which variety I was in love with. Vates Blue Curled Scots. So I asked Dig This to bring it in for me. They were sold out and not expecting any more this season. Oh darn. So I planted my Winterbor and was happy with that. Got a call today that my VBCS Kale seeds are in. I am going to plant an awful lot of this kale. I have lettuce from March to November or so, so kale can fill in for those fresh greens free months.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Zucchini Relish Recipe

I made this great relish in 1981. It was our hamburger relish!! I am growing monster zucchini's to make this again this year. The recipe appeared in my old Harrowsmith Cookbook Book One. I have them all but the first is my favourite by far. The books are out of print, but I've bought the cookbooks on Abe books for my sister and my DIL. They are just the best recipes. Never complicated and turn out perfect every time.

Zucchini Relish

10 cups zucchini
4 cups Onions
5 tbsp pickling salt
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
2 1/4 cups Vinegar
3 cups sugar
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp corn starch
2 tbsp celery seed
1/2 tsp pepper

Grind* zucchini, onions, and salt and let stand overnight. Drain and rinse twice to remove salt. 
Grind* red and green peppers together. Add to zucchini with remaining ingredients. Cook for 30 minutes. 
Ladle while hot into sterile jars and seal. {I also processed them for 15 minutes in a canning pot of boiling water.}
Makes 5-6 pints. 

*Grind is old school speak for use a food processor. Just a little at a time and it comes out perfect. 

-One HUGE and one medium size zucchini made ten cups. 
-1 1/2 HUGE onions made four cups. 

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Another pile of debris for my poor husband to deal with.

So, yet again I have forgotten to take a before picture. I just get into a project and go into a zen like zone. I am one with the ratcheting loppers...and then a mere three hours later, I'm done! Annnnnnnnd...'Oh, man I forgot to take a before picture'.
This incredibly fantastic lilac pruning job is my latest rampage in the yard. This gorgeous lilac started the day, much taller than I am. About ten feet tall maybe. It had been suckering in that spot for about twenty years. Dozens of suckers. It was full of twigs and debris, and lots of grass and leaves. What got my attention in the first place today was the grass. It actually looked like wheat was coming out of the tree at about the three to four feet mark. I tried pulling it out didn't work...again. So I started lopping it. And the rest is history. Do you think it's extreme?

Monday, August 05, 2013

Zucchini. It only took two years.

Last year I did not get a single zucchini from my two plants. It was quite disheartening not to be able to grow what seems to be the easiest veggie!! As you can see, they are growing quite well now.
This year I have several zucchini's. I am already planning. I am going to make a Chocolate Zucchini Cake and some Zucchini Relish. I made the relish about....OMG...35 years ago. REALLY!!! It tastes like hamburger relish. It is perfect. 

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Processing raspberries to make jam later.

I bought a flat of raspberries from my favourite farmer, Dan. What I do, is rather than mash the berries, I buzz them up to a thick liquid. I got enough to make four batches of jam. I put each batch in a freezer bag with the amount, the date and Raspberry written with a Sharpie. Then I can make the jam at my leisure. For the first time, I have blended them in the Vitamix. My jam has always been more like jelly than jam except for the little seeds. I am hoping that the Vitamix pulverized the seeds too. I will report back. 

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Today's projects...a great day off.

I have several Spaghetti Squash. This one is about eight inches long. The others are about four. I have never tasted Spaghetti Squash, but I have heard it is delicious. I was going to buy one last fall to make sure I liked it before going to all the work seeding and planting, and loving and harvesting...and blech..hating it. I weighed the squash and was kind of shocked that it was eight dollars. I was at the supermarket at the time, and thought, I hate MOST supermarket veg, so just plant the seeds and give it a go.

I took my brother's beautiful Rhubarb out from under the holly. It was meant to be temporary, but I was planning to dig it up in the spring. Today one of my fuzzy kids { have met him...Beamer the cat who follows me like a dog} decided to attack and kill a young bunny that I had just watched cross my yard. I ran out to grab Beamer so he didn't get any ideas. He seemed uninterested in it. No surprise. I turned my head for a second and saw something out of the corner of my eye. Beamer was gone. I frantically went screaming across the yard in the direction of the bunny. Nothing. No noise, nothing. I rounded the greenhouse and there was my peace loving Beamer with the bunny. I won't horrify you with the whole story, but it involved my yelling and holding Beamer around his shoulder neck area so he couldn't do any more damage. When he finally let go I was pretty sure the bunny was gone. I wrapped her in a towel and put her in the cool shed in case she was playing possum. She wasn't. She was gone. I dug up the rhubarb and put her under the holly. Beamer hasn't been a killer for the ten years I have had him. He had been abandoned in a common dumping ground for cats. He must have known how to hunt and in his old age, has reverted back to it. There is a collar and bell in his very near future. I gave him 'stink eye' all day. I am so sorry little bunny. My fault entirely. I should have belled Beamer just in case years ago. 

On a happier note. I planted 16 Winterbor Kale. Kale is so delicious in the winter you just wouldn't believe it. It is sweet and juicy and more lettuce like than kale. Kale is summer is better for kale chips in my opinion. Raw in salad in the winter. Yummm.