Monday, November 23, 2009

Inspiration and Obsession

A meme for this quiet pre-holiday Wednesday...

Saying no to:

* Another cup of caffeinated coffee, what was I thinking!
* Too much chaos this weekend. Here's to home and hearth.
* Shopping of any kind in the next several days.

Saying yes to:

* A quiet day in the office for archiving and catching up.
* Knitting, crafting and puttering this weekend.
* Blessings all around.

Giddy about:

* Sleeping in tomorrow morning...and Friday...Saturday...Sunday!
* The carrots and beets still hiding under their fall covers, sweetening with everyday.
* The one-day-soon when I'll be smelling a little baby head.

Scared of:

* Being paralyzed by fear. Better to say "no" to fear all around.

Deeply inspired by:

* The Charter for Compassion (see link at the bottom of this page).
* My darlin's gentle and patient ways.
* Everything written by Wendell Berry.

Obsessed with:

* Beautiful yarn
* The colors of roasted pumpkin, butternut squash, cranberry cordial, kale...gorgous!

In love with:

* The man with the auburn ponytail and the beautiful hazel eyes

Haunted by:

* The thought of all of those who won't have a heaping table full of feasting tomorrow. And those that have never had the incredible luxuries that we enjoy everyday.

Saved by:

* Hope and determination.

What about you?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What the World Needs Now...

I came upon this Charter for Compassion in my few minutes of checking in with my cyber-neighbors today. I am inspired. Maybe you will be as well...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Some longies and the wait gets longer...

I find knitting calming. To me it is a moving meditation. Especially if I'm not working on something too intricate. And these days, I find myself reaching for my knitting frequently, as we've just reached our One Year mark of officially waiting for the Goober. For those not familiar with the adoption process, this significant time span necessitates the renewal of your home study. Which involved new physicals recorded and submitted to our agency, new background checks (to ensure that we are still not felons or abusers) and a renewal fee. We did not meet this date with any enthusiasm, never truly imagining that we would be waiting this long. Yes, we were told that the average wait for our program was about a year and that it could sometimes happen more quickly and sometimes take up to two years...but you tend to think of yourself on the positive side of those statistics. Well, we met a few couples the other night at an adoption lecture, one had their first placement in 5 months and had now been waiting over a year for their second, and another couple was now into their third year of waiting. Hmmm, statistics.

We also attended a local lecture given by physicians from the Floating Hospital for Children. The lecture was about medical issues in domestic adoption. And after two hours I thought my head would explode! More statistics! Some daunting, some encouraging, all sobering.

So, the latest piece off my needles is the above diaper soaker longies. These are not yet felted, but should felt up nicely like the short version below. The yarn is Fisherman's Wool by Lion Brand Yarns and the pattern is my riff on the Spare Rib Shoaker pattern at Ravelry.

We have made some progress in the Goober's future room, clearing off the changing area, and allocating some storage shelves for the room. We're still not planning to go crazy into the whole baby room thing, since the Goob will be cosleeping, we'll have time to create a well suited room before he/she will need it. So for now this is a bit of a baby stuff storage area, but the changing area will be critical, so here it is.

Michael is also finishing up the shelving in our second changing/bathing area in our first floor laundry room. Now if only I can find the time to finish the curtains we can check that area off our list.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Alternate titles: What to do with all of these lovely vegetables!

Farley and Zeke checking out the CSA boxes and bag.

Zeke is mostly interested in the box itself.

Carrots, acorn squash, and cabbages topping off this box.

It has been a few weeks now since we received this, our first distribution of the bounty from the Shared Harvest CSA Winter Share.

To give you some scale, my two feline helpers are big boys, so these boxes are huge!

Delicious apples!

To get my head straight and get myself organized about what we had, how and where to store it and how quickly we'd need to use it, I first had to explore the boxes and get everything out on the counters. It took up my whole little kitchen. But, casting my eyes over it all at once, pouring myself a cup of tea and getting out the notepad was exactly what was called for to integrate all of this into our kitchen and food storage.

Gretta Anderson, the mistress of ceremonies and organizer extraordinaire for the Shared Harvest CSA had kindly offered up references for how to store vegetables as well as some wonderful recipe links. Two incredibly useful services when faced with vegetables to last well into the winter including some new and unfamiliar items.

Brimming counter-tops. Let the games begin!

Once I had everything spread out, I began to list items on my notepad and indicate where it was stored with a hypothetical expiration date...(use by this Wednesday, use by first of November, etc.). I had my trusty instructions for how to store and got to work bagging in our reusable miraculous green bags, to stow in the fridge, laying out on trays for basement storage and planning our first few meals.

Since then, we've been enjoying lots of wonderful meals, including the delicious Three Sister's Soup, and Mexican Casserole from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair; Broiled Beet Slices with Maple Teryaki from the Shared Harvest Recipe Wiki, Kohlrabi stir-fry, sauted Kale and mushroom topped pizza, oven roasted potatoes and more. We have two more shares of the winter CSA coming our way, one this weekend and one in December and I am determined that with good planning, nothing will go to waste and we'll be well-nourished through the Winter.

We also picked up our share of delicious sustainably raised pork, our usual supply of organic eggs, and a Capon and stew birds from Pete and Jen's Backyard Birds, so we are really fully stocked with the chest freezer topped up.

This wonderful, locally grown and raised food, carefully organized and stored has been one of my greatest weapons against the continuing economic news, job stress and flu-season worries. All of this and a stocked pantry of healthy canned and drygoods (oatmeal, tomatoes, beans, honey, etc) are better to me than money in the bank. This is piece of mind, and a different kind of health insurance.

So, if you haven't joined a CSA, or grown food to put by for the Winter, or you don't feel like you have the space... give it some thought. Supporting local farmers, having good food tucked away in your own home, knowing where you food comes from... it's good medicine!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

First Frost and graham crackers

Well, it came. The first frost of Fall. We've been watching for it and trying to gauge when to clear out the last of the green tomatoes and eggplants. And luckily we got them out and into the kitchen just in time. Our first frost came on Tuesday evening, and we awoke to 29° F at 5:30 on Wednesday morning. Brrr! We're trying to hold off a little longer before turning on the furnace, for both environmental and economical reasons. Time for layers in the house!

Meanwhile, this adoption waiting has been sitting heavily with both of us. We've passed our 11 months of officially waiting and soon we'll need to update our home study. We know that the average wait with our agency is a year, but had hoped (and heard encouraging words from the agency) that it might have been sooner. I know that when you think of all the stories of people waiting years, this doesn't sound like that long...but it sure is feeling long right now.

The blue funk we've both been in called for a little extra attention (chocolate). On my way home from work the other day, Michael let me know that we were critically low on chocolate, and that some was needed. Meanwhile, I'd been fantasizing about lovely english whole wheat biscuits coated with chocolate ( I think they were called Hobnobs or something), or even the dark chocolate dipped graham crackers from Starbucks. Things we try not to eat, since we try to stick with good wholesome foods from home. But we were clearly hankering for a chocolate treat.

So, after stopping to replenish our supply of organic dark chocolate from Trader Joe's, I found a recipe for honey graham crackers in the MaryJane's Ideabook, Cookbook, Lifebook changed the brown sugar to sucanat, and commenced to baking. I used a jar as a cutter, since I had round cookies in my head. The outcome, crispy, wheaty, delicious and so I took the next step. Melting a few organic chocolate chips on each round at the end of the baking and then quickly sandwiching two together. Oh, glory be! They totally scratched my itch. And made for a delicious and only moderately decadent treat. Good for what ailed us.

I highly recommend this book for inspiration and recipes for a homestead kind of life. The photography is beautiful and the recipes I've made, delicious!

And the humble graham cracker has been elevated in status at our house to a new fav.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Shades of late summer greens and yellows...

...and a bit of belated catching up!

A dragonfly resting on a bean leaf

A lazy bee on the native sunflowers

The surprising polka dots of Tansy flowers waving over the drying Yarrow

Many many jars of refrigerator pickles...with my honey herb recipe...yum!

The first of the Fall crop of Mizuna.

Well, between the incredibly busy work-life right now, gearing up for singing at the Harvest Fair, a big birthday bash for Michael and just the everyday busy-ness of home...with (truth be told) a little bit of the waiting-for-baby-blues; I've been sadly remiss in keeping up with the blog. My apologies! Above are a few pictures of what's going on in the garden...and the kitchen.

And as far as at least 3 weeks of the Independence Days Challenge:

Plant Something:

buckwheat, clover, transplanted Calendula and Mint

Harvest Something:
Eggplants, cucumbers, dill, calendula, beans, radishes, radish pods, carrots, tomatoes, onions

Preserve Something:
Calendula oil, apple cordial (Calvados), yogurt, sourdough pizza dough, refrigerator bread & butter pickles, pumpkin and apricot breads for the deep freeze

Waste Not:
Using up all the whey from the yogurt for various lacto-fermented breads and pancakes, used up oddments of veggies in a huge mexican casserole, used all compostable paper goods at our party and topped up the compost piles with them, Sent off 75 used books to Powell's for credit towards our Christmas shopping.

Want Not:
Reading "Gardening When It Counts" by Steve Solomon, Topped up the pantry with this month's "big shop", Organized more jar storage and hung the garlic braids for winter storage, found some Patagonia organic canvas pants on a good sale for Michael's birthday

Build Community:
Preparing to sing at New Entry Sustainable Farming Project , working as a volunteer "farmer" at work on the organic raised bed project, donating food to an emergency center in Quincy, MA.

Eat the Food:
Sourdough pizza dough for our weekly za, yogurt, radish green fritatta, garlic green beans, mexican casserole with all the bits of beans, cabbage, etc.

Meanwhile, Michael and I are working our way through the list of late Summer into Fall projects around the house, and trying to focus a little attention each week on preparing for the baby. Things like, putting up shelves in the kitchen to hold pots and pans and make room for a little energy star dishwasher, improve drainage around house foundation, replace a few rotted shingles, look into getting the woodstove brought up to code so that we can use it, create more storage in the Goobers room for clothes and diapers, move bookshelves, build a cold frame for cold weather veggies, etc.

I'll be back again soon!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Gearing up for the Harvest Festival

Well, I've been neglecting this blog shamelessly due to incredibly busy times. I'll be updating lots of planting, harvesting, music making, birthday celebrating in the next few days. But, for now an it's all about the New Entry Sustainable Farming Projects' 8th Annual Harvest Festival. Michael and I have been asked to do all the music for the day, so we've asked our good friends Gail and Allen Wiegner to join us for an afternoon of old-timey live music.

The festival is all to support a great cause, training and supporting new farmers in their endeavors to bring sustainable farming back to their own countries. Jennifer Hashley, the Director of the NESFP is an awesome and inspiring soul as well as the supplier of our delicious farm fresh eggs, assorted organic produce and most of the meat we eat. She and her husband Pete are the Pete and Jen's Backyard Birds .

So, if you happen to be around the Boston area next Sunday, particularly near Dracut. We hope you'll come on by for some delicious food, games, a farmer's market and some old-time music by yours truly. For all the details, go here.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Adult t-shirt to Baby Gown Remake

In honor of taking the 6 months pledge at Wardrobe refashion, and since the challenge doesn't start until September 1st, I thought I'd post a project I did a little while back.

This used to be a favorite t-shirt of my husband's that went the way of most of his t-shirts...getting too worn at the neck to be acceptable peaking out of his scrubs. This one also has some sentimental value as it is from a friend's (mentor and producer of my CD) tour company. So, I thought I'd take the plunge and try a remake.

I used McCall's 8574 baby layette pattern. I only have a straight and zig-zag stitch on my old Singer workhorse of a machine. So, I used zig-zag stitch for all the the seaming. The neckline is a little wonky, but I figure it'll be covered in spit-up and drool, so there's room for a little imperfection. Now I just need to sew in the casing at the bottom for a piece of cord or elastic and it's all set.

While I was in the re-purposing mode, I took another t-shirt to make some baby wipes. We have some gifted to us, that I used as a rough guide. The purchased ones are terry on one side and flannel on the other. So, I backed these with some ultra-soft flannel scraps I had lying around. I figure it's a great thing to use up my flannel and cotton-knit scraps. And someday they'll do extra duty as dust and clean up rags. A win, win, win!

Now, I wonder what I can do with the rest of these old t-shirts?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A few days behind and weekend updates

Hard to believe that it is already Wednesday evening! Yikes, where has the weekend gone??? It was a busy weekend (and week!) so here are a few pictures...

Sunny, freshly picked calendula blossoms drying on a thrifted railroad plate in the window before becoming the main ingredient in a bottle of calendula oil. Great for dry, irritated skin.

My first attempt at lacto-fermented pickles. I found the recipe in Sally Fallon's book Nourishing Traditions. A very easy process using yogurt whey, salt, herbs and water. This fermentation method is supposed to maintain and promote lots of beneficial probiotics. Good for overall health and easy to make. Read more about it at the Weston Price Foundation. The jury, however, is still out on the taste tests. Tastes a bit like old-fashioned deli style dill pickles but, too early to tell for sure.

Some fresh dill for the jars...

Some of the dried dill seed heads from the garden, harvested when I was out getting the fresh sprigs. I'm thinking with the number of seeds I'm harvesting, I'll have plenty to top my home-made crackers and still be ahead of the game for next year's planting.

I made a big batch of sourdough pizza dough. The humid weather was just right for rising!

And my finger is finally fit enough for a bit of knitting so I thought I'd start on the beautiful sock yarn that Michael gave me for Valentines Day...Malabrigo Sock Yarn called "Chocolate Amargo" or as my bilingual friend translated..."bitter chocolate" mmmm nice. I'm using the free Jaywalker pattern from Ravelry. Should be just the ticket for a nice new pair of socks for Fall.

And a tardy but well-meaning update for the IDC challenge...

Plant Something:

buckwheat and clover

Harvest Something:
Eggplants, cucumbers, dill, calendula, beans, radishes, a couple of carrots and potatoes

Preserve Something:
Calendula oil, dried dill, made sourdough pizza dough and lacto-fermented pickles

Waste Not:
Just the usual

Want Not:
bought a few more homeopathic remedies for the medicine cabinet and picked up two books on foraging for wild food and medicine plants

Build Community:
Met with the organizer for the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project about providing the music for their annual harvest festival. Looking forward to singing in that beautiful field!

Eat the Food:
Sourdough pizza dough for our weekly za, granola, yogurt and radish green and local sausage fritatta

Hope you're having a good week!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Pledge

I took the pledge. See below and check out the awesome blog itself at Wardrobe Refashion

6 month pledge

The Pledge

I Marie, pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of "new" manufactured items of clothing, for the period of 6 months. I pledge that I shall refashion, renovate, recycle preloved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract. I pledge that I will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovated, recycled, crafted or created item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog, so that others may share the joy that thy thriftiness brings! Signed me.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Maine, Fudge and catching up on the IDC Challenge

Last week, we had some much needed time away on the ocean, in Kennebunk, ME. It was a quick get-away and we did our best to appreciate the beautiful weather in Maine.

We found our way to a great little farm for some berry picking! Would have loved to have stayed longer, but since time was so short, we picked for about an hour and ended up with a little more than 3 Quarts! Nice!

We also spent some nice time walking, reading and enjoying the beach. A great little breather.

And when we got back home, we found that my pound of fudge had arrived. I contributed some flavor ideas to a contest that Roberts Roost was having to come up with some new goat milk fudge flavors. My Chocolate Espresso idea was a hit and so they sent us a batch by way of thanks! So incredibly good!!! Sorry, no pictures. Some is hidden away in the freezer and the rest went too fast!

Then, this weekend, we were off to New Hampshire to perform at the 6th Annual Peach Festival. The sun was blazing and the weather was fine. Nice after the heart-stopping thunder storms of last year. We had a great set and enjoyed meeting up with Dan the wonderful sound man again. We came home with some delicious peaches, tomatoes, pies and jam.

And managed to accomplish a few things for the IDC as well...

Plant Something:
Nothing this week

Harvest Something:
summer squash, eggplant, beans, cucumbers, calendula flowers

Preserve Something:
Making my first batch of calendula oil

Waste Not:
Processed a whole lot of paper, dryer lint and fabric scraps into the grass clipping compost

Want Not:
Did the big monthly shop. Topped up the cupboards with oatmeal, dried beans, maple syrup, olive oil and other staples. Made a new blouse out of remnant fabric.

Build Community:
Bought this weeks produce from a small farm in New Hampshire after our set on the festival stage.

Eat the Food:
Sourdough herb bread, lots of cucumber salad, grilled eggplant and zucchini

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

So Happy that the Sun is out!

I guess that's what a month of straight rain will do to you. I'm still recovering! I feel such a boost every morning that the sun graces us these days...and so do the plants.

So, with this new burst of sunshine and energy, we've been getting lots accomplished on the Independence Days Challenge.

Plant Something:
Planted Kale, cabbage, mizuna, carrots and spinach

Harvest Something:
Picked lots of beans, a few straggling raspberries, a few small turnips, garlic, herbs and lots of cucumbers

Preserve Something:
Froze green beans, hung sage, oregano and garlic to dry, made more yogurt.

Waste Not:
Yet another bag of clothes for donation. Layered the grass pile with paper and cardboard to compost.

Want Not:
Not much this week

Build Community Food Systems:
Bought eggs, greens and beef from the local farm. Bought peaches, potatoes and beets from the farmer's market. Gave a friend some whole wheat sour dough starter.

Eat the Food:
Blueberry Cobbler, cucumber salads, sourdough herb bread, fresh oregano and carmelized onion fritatta, crock pot beef shanks and vegetables over rice.

What about you?

Friday, July 31, 2009

Monkey Mind

So, to keep the monkey somewhat under control, I'm going to create a "Monkey Mind" post once a week... a little recap or list of sorts. Just a way to sum up the bigger thoughts and activities occupying my mind each week. Maybe you'll be thinking of some of the same things, maybe you'll have ideas of your own or ideas for me. We'll see how this goes. Since the Independence Days Challenge keeps me pretty regular about posting at the beginning of the week, I'll try for Fridays for Monkey Mind to use as a bit of a recap but also a spring-board for the weekend. Let me know if you decide to do your own Monkey Mind list, please leave me a comment or lead us over to your post.

So, here we go...

Monkey Mind
Next to my reading chair:

• I'm really enjoying everything written by Laurie R. King. I've had my nose pretty much constantly in one of her books for the last several weeks. I have become a complete fool for the Mary Russell series and enjoy the Kate Martinelli series almost as much. I've been alternating between the two series and am coming to the end of the King pile. Boo. This week I read "The Game," "With Child," "Locked Rooms," and I'm in the midst of "Night Work." Sooooo good!

• Michael gave me "the Encyclopedia of Country Living" for my birthday and I'm itching to dive in. I plan on reading the first chapter tomorrow morning over coffee.

• I cracked open "Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health" last night. I'm wanting to read up on ways to harvest and use the plants and herbs we grow most efficiently. We have so many things growing in our garden that can be brewed into soothing and medicinal teas, tinctures and supplements. I'm not wanting to waste a bit of that goodness!

• And on a connected note, this morning's reading was the beginning of "Gaia's Garden" an interesting and inspiring book on permaculture, to help us utilize and vitilize our little quarter acre for growing food, conserving energy, welcoming wild-life and restoring a little positive environment. I'm really excited about what this books holds in store!

In the Garden:

• I'm feeling the need to get a better handle on what's going on and growing in the garden. We've had some crop failures with the wet and cold Spring, but some things have fared well, and others are perking up. I need to spend some time on weeding! Cutting back the raspberry canes, and drying the raspberry leaves for tea and medicinals, pinching off suckers and spotted leaves on the tomatoes, weeding, planting some fall crops, weeding, stacking the grass cutting compost ...did I say weeding?

• Wouldn't it be cool to build an outdoor Cob Oven or fireplace...for solstice gatherings, outdoor cooking and cozy music making. I would love that!

Keeping my Eye Out:

• for canning jars and bottles for preserving food.

• for interesting garden statuary that we BOTH like!

• for picnic/garden furniture...benches, tables, etc.

• good sources of local meat, eggs and milk. Trying to cut down my weekly wandering for sustainable food.

On the Baby Front:

• I need to get a handle on the vaccination issue. It is so daunting and huge I have been trying to think of it from a place of education and empowerment...not a place of fear. But, GOSH! There is so much scary stuff out there! So, since we may not have all of the choices of biological parents and since this is too big for a single approach. I'm going to chip away at the puzzle, one shot and one disease at a time. Beginning with the Hep B shot they will likely try to give the Goob on the very first day!!! I've got my hands on "The Vaccine Book" by Robert Sears, "Natural Baby and Childcare" by Lauren Feder has a great section on vaccinations, and the National Vaccine Information Center and the CDC also have lots of information. Whooh! Alot to absorb. But, we need to make the best decisions possible for this new little life, when he/she comes.

• Need to finish up the little green scrap baby jacket I'm making. I keep running into obstacles, like wounded finger, not enough yarn, etc. But, one way or another I've got the get that done!

• Need to get leg extensions for the co-sleeper

• Need to line up cat-care options now that we're losing our amazing cat sitter.

Other Monkey Miscellany:

• I really need to find the perfect pattern and whip up a few summer-weight nightgowns. My preferred summer sleeping attire. I've got lots of great bits of fabric lined up. Maybe this?

• Gotta finish sorting through and getting rid of too many clothes that I don't wear! Cut down on the chaos in the bedroom.

• Thoughts on curtains for the Dining Room and bedroom. Finish the kitchen/laundryoom curtains!

• Organize the recipe, baby-care, house and knitting binders.

Okay, now! That seems to be the big stuff. What is on your monkey mind?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Making yogurt and a little of the harvest

I've now got my yogurt making routine pretty well down. And it's such a good feeling to be making this myself. It sure cuts down on the plastic to be recycled! And since I've been able to find grass-fed, low-heat pasteurized, un-homogenized milk from Sky Top Farm, we've got a healthier, tastier yogurt! I'm diggin' the french canning jars I got. They work really well for making cordials as well as making yogurt.

I'm using a starter "bulgarian" I found at the New England Cheesemaking site. And I have a very low-tech process.

I heat 1/2 gallon of milk in a stainless steel double boiler to 185F while stirring. Meanwhile, I've filled a small six-pack cooler with hot water – about 120F, and close the lid. I've also sterilized my jars by pouring boiling water in them to the top (and in the lids as well) When the milk is at 185F, I remove it from the heat and cool in an ice-water bath in the sink until at just 120F. That's when I add either the dry starter or approx. 1/2 cup of yogurt from the last batch. I use an old-fashioned egg beater to make sure the milk and starter are well blended. Then I pour the boiling water out of my clean jars, pour in the yogurt, close the jars, place in the cooler, checking that the water is still between 110F and 120F and only comes up to just below the lids. I close the cooler, wrap in a towel and let it sit for about 7-8 hours. The yogurt is not as thick as store-bought but very tasty.

We like our yogurt thicker so I place the jars in the fridge over night, to stop the culturing process. Then I pour the yogurt into a butter muslin lined strainer placed in a pitcher to catch the whey. I fold the butter muslin over and cover with a plate, weight with a jar and place in the fridge. A few hours makes a greek-style yogurt and a day makes a rich creamy yogurt cheese. delish! my favorite is throwing some raspberries fresh from the garden in the thick yogurt and drizzle with a little local honey. A scrumptious snack!

And as for this week's IDC challenge:
Plant Something:
Planted some raspberry and borage transplants

Harvest Something:
Picked the last of the peas and started prepping the bed for cabbage and mezuna, picked raspberries, and lots of beans. Harvested the last of the garlic.

Preserve Something:
Froze raspberries and green beans. Bottled another batch of raspberry cordial. Braided the first half the garlic crop for storage. Hung the second half the crop for storage.

Waste Not:
Michael brought another bag of clothes for donation. Whipped up a peach/blueberry cobbler with some peaches that had started going over to the dark side.

Want Not:
Picked up three chickens from the local farm (meat CSA) for our freezer. Had one today. Delish!

Build Community Food Systems:
Bought eggs, greens and chickens from the local farm. Talked with a friend about "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle".

Eat the Food:
Cobblers, salads, chocolate chip zucchini bread, turnip green fritatta, garlic green beans

And a few gratuitous shots of the garden...

A lacy dill flower

A an echinacea bloom

Stay cool!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cordially yours

We're working on a new craft around here. Its a way to save some fruit in a form that we'll enjoy. We're not really big jam eaters, so I haven't felt the need to throw myself into the jam-making arena just yet. (But, I can tell it's in the wind and once I figure out the method that is most "whole", least processed and sugar-sweetened, I'll be there.) For now, we're jumping into the world of cordials, alcoholic cordials to begin, and maybe some non-alcoholic cordials to follow. In particular I'm inspired by our prolific raspberry bushes and this website. So far the going is easy. We've bottled our first batch of Raspberry cordial, have another batch in it's first sitting phase with the whole fruit still in. We've also started a small batch of cranberry cordial with some frozen organic cranberries we had hanging around.

Perhaps, someday we'll get into brewing the alcohol ourselves. For now we're purchasing the brandy and or vodka that goes into these recipes. Otherwise its fruit (home-grown mostly) and local honey. Considering all the anti-oxidants, and health benefits packed into our little berries, and the goodness, immunity boosting, allergy-aiding of our local honey...well we're doing this for our health. A little sip of "Mama's medicine" on a cold night could just do the trick to keep off the chill! At least that's what we're telling ourselves.

And the first small sampling of the filtered, un-aged first batch of raspberry was delicious; fruity with a little extra glow. Yum! Now we'll try to wait patiently and officially open the first bottle for Michael's birthday in mid-September. Maybe there'll be a little nip in the air!

Meanwhile, now that we've had some sun...let me say it the past week, the garden is really beginning to show some summer spirit. The bush beans have taken off and we should be into daily harvesting very soon. The pole beans and cucumbers are close behind. I'm also happy to report some signs of life in our second planting of all the root crops (the first lot were decimated by cutworms or some other evil) and the tomatoes, surviving eggplant and pepper plants are beginning to perk up. Sadly our entire crop of basil looks to be lost. I'll start a flat this week to see if I can get any in the ground.

And an Independence Days Challenge update.

Harvest Something:
Raspberries, peas, lettuce and a few bush beans. Also our first two heads of garlic...we'll leave the rest a little longer.

Preserve Something:

Froze raspberries made two batches of raspberry and one batch of cranberry cordial.

Waste Not:
Used yogurt and cheese whey for pancakes. Michael found an over-the-toilet cabinet on Freecycle and refurbished it for our upstairs bathroom, freeing up a small (trash-picked) cabinet in the upstairs hall for front porch storage, which moved the mission-style low bookcase (also trash-picked) to a place of honor in the living room.

Want Not:
Lots of lists

Build Community Food Systems:

Bought eggs, meat and greens from the local farm. Talked with a friend about seed-saving.

Eat the Food:
raspberry-rhubarb cobbler, rasp-blueberry cobbler and blueberry crisp. so good! Fresh salads. Sourdough pancakes (made with whey from cheese and yogurt making) Home-made yogurt with fresh berries and a drizzle of local honey. Local grass-fed steaks on the grill served over a bed of wilted home-grown greens. Mizuna, garlic and cheese fritatta.

Hope your summer is filled with lightening bugs, light and laughter!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rain and rain and more rain

Ah yes, the rain! Feels like we’re all growing a thin layer of mold. I thought about taking pictures of the mushrooms and strange molds and particularly the Caca de Luna, Fuligo Septica or (not to be gross, but) "Dog Vomit Mold" which is loving all the wet mulch and raised beds at our house. But, I really didn't have the stomach for it. Nice!

A few quick snaps I took between raindrops...

The marguerite daisys have begun to bloom. These are called "Kelway"

And these antique black violas seem to have self-seeded below the hanging basket from last year. Love these!

And we did manage a few things between the showers. So here's our IDC update for the week.

Plant Something:

Planted carrots, turnips, beets and onions round two. Planted some perrenials. Transplanted borage.

Harvest Something:
More strawberries…although the rain is turning most of them into moldy mess, the first of the raspberries, lettuce and peas.

Preserve Something:

Froze strawberries and raspberries (saving up the raspberries to make cordial)

Waste Not:
Used cheese whey for bread and pancake dough. Started two hot compost bins. Made berry picking buckets out of milk jugs for two handed picking.

Want Not:
Found some french soda bottles with rubber ring tops for cordial making. Scored a new baby wrap and baby sling as well as a very nice diaper bag at the local thrift store.

Build Community Food Systems:

Bought eggs and greens from the local farm. Loaned “In Defense of Food” to a friend.

Eat the Food:
Strawberry rhubarb pie, oh yeah! Made sourdough bread and sourdough pancakes. Lots of fresh peas, and salads.

Happy Summer!