Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Joyful Laundress

Fresh green peas, raspberries and calendula have been filling my baskets the past week.  The peas have made it into salads, fresh pea soup, and some peas and pastry that Joseph grew up eating.  Last night, I tried a recipe for tomato cream sauce with peas over pasta.  It was good, but not what I was trying to recreate, so I'll keep looking.  If you've got a good pea recipe, please do share.  Raspberries have been eaten fresh, mixed with other fruits.  The calendula is being dried, for soaps and salves.  The first salad from spring lettuces was eaten last night.  The tender leaves of just-picked lettuces are heavenly.

The sewing machine is back out on the kitchen table.  Yesterday, I worked on a couple of things for our home, including a rag bag made out of a pillowcase, and some new things for the shop.  There will be eye pillows, therapy pillows and laundry bags listed, once I have time to take pictures.  There is one new listing in the shop, consisting of a laundry bag, dryer balls and laundry soap, called The Joyful Laundress.  I'm looking forward to a bit more sewing on this lovely rainy day.

Friday, May 25, 2012

An Herb Lemonade for Memorial Weekend

There's a new mint lemonade to add to the herbal lemonade repertoire.  It was a hit at a recent family gathering, which is good, as there's a lot of mint around here.  In fact, I'm slowly but surely working on pulling up all the Kentucky Colonel mint that has taken a foothold in the garden.  It seems a piece came in with some leeks that were transplanted into the garden.   Sneaky stuff, that mint.

The music Playlist is now turned off, due to some feedback I received.  It's still there, at the bottom of the page.  The only difference is you'll have to turn it on now, instead of it coming on automatically.

I recently prepared a salad dressing from Eat To Live, which we're enjoying, with a nice blend of flavors.  It was tweaked a little, as you may have guessed.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/2 c water
1/4 c seasoned (basil & oregano) rice vinegar
2 tbs roasted garlic olive oil
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1/4 c raisins
4 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp garlic salt

Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy.  Have a safe & wonderful Memorial weekend, friends!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Goats Rue & Straw

Thanks to a farmer neighbor, Joseph & I put 4 round bales of straw between the garden beds this weekend.  That's a lot of straw.  One corner of the garden still needs some.  From previous experience, the garden will be a lot moister and happier.  It's already a nicer place to be, and the weeding doesn't seem so overwhelming now.  When I walked past the winterberry bush recently, I couldn't help but notice it was abuzz with pollinators of all sorts.  Click on the picture above to see happy honeybees.  A lovely thing for a gardener to see.  The wild roses have been blooming too.

We recently enjoyed this nettle soup recipe.  For the chicken stock, I used water with a bit of extra "juice' from some cooked lima beans.  I think next time, I'll try adding some carrots and play with the spices a bit, but will definitely be making it again.

Do you know this plant?  It's Goat's Rue, Tephrosia virginiana, a native plant here.  Isn't it lovely?  I'm thinking I may need to transplant some to a flower bed, but will research it a bit first.  I don't want it to end up like the purslane in the garden.... something you don't want to do friends.  It reseeds everywhere!  Oh, the lessons to be learned as a gardener.

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Healthy Carrot Salad

Not long ago, I mentioned shifting to eating more raw foods.  I'm still working on expanding that repertoire. Last night, I tried a healthier carrot salad that's a keeper.

Carrot Salad

2-3 cups shredded carrots
1 oz. packet of Craisins soaked in water for 5 mins
1/2 cup plain yogurt
8 oz. crushed pineapple with juice

Combine and enjoy.  I used 3+ cups of carrots, instead of the 2c called for in the recipe, 1/2 can of pineapple instead of the whole can, and craisins in place of 1/2 cup raisins.  Improvise with what you like and what's on hand.  I wanted an alternative to a mayonnaise-based salad, and this fits the bill nicely.  It's hard to believe this is my 400th post.  Happy Friday!

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Garden Learning Moment

The honeysuckle was smelling sweet on our walk tonight.  The pups charged ahead, Guinness in the lead, and McNibs not far from me, as is their usual.  The hay in the back field has been cut, and rolled into large, round bales.  It's a pretty spot, back there.

     I had a garden learning moment this evening.  I learned from Google that rutabaga leaves are edible. But then those purple-topped vegetables in the garden I'd been told were rutabagas turned out to be turnips.  They had none of the earthy sweetness I love in rutabagas, just that unpleasant hot taste.  Oh well, good thing there will be plenty else to eat, because these are all for Joseph.   I'm still working on cleaning out the freezer from last year's harvest, so okra and patty pan squash are on the menu.  There are also little potatoes, from last year's harvest.  We tried something new with our potatoes that Joseph remembers his grandfather doing.  We stored them on the ground in the woods, with lots of pine straw over them, a sprinkling of lime to keep insects at bay, and topped with tin.  They lasted wonderfully well  for months this way.   Around February, the quality started deteriorating, but lo and behold, they began making potatoes.  Free food, with no added work.  What's not to like? 

There are 13 new quarts of lima beans on the pantry shelf, and 4 1/2 quarts of crowder peas cooling.  Oh, I hope our sweet corn does well this year!  That Southern delicacy of crowder peas and corn is good eating.  Wishing you a wonderful weekend, friends!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Beans, Beer, Bees and Basil

I harvested the first basil of the season tonight.  Aaaaahhh.... is it just me, or do you also think that smell is heavenly?  It was a rainy evening, and zucchini soup seemed in order.  Actually, it was tromboncino soup.  The squash was some I froze last summer. I also defrosted a bag of grated  tromboncino, for bread within the next day or two.  There's a bag of patty pan squash I'll bake soon, and I believe that finishes up the squash in the freezer.  Luckily, we've got some squash seedlings in the ground.

Tomorrow I'll be canning beans I dried from last summer's harvest.  It's nice to have some on hand that just need heating up, once the temps start climbing.  I'll start with heirloom limas that are a deep purple color, and if I have time, I'll can some crowder peas.  I try to do chores in a way that leave the lightest footprint on the planet.    Things such as laundry, canning and baking; keeping an eye on dry days and cooler days.  And of course, by not using the clothes dryer or the air conditioner, money is saved as well. 

I planted 15 coleus in the shade garden, and the chickens are bound and determined to scratch them up.  One of these days, they will have a large lot that rambles through the woods, but in the meantime, I'll have to go after them, and rescue the tender plants I haven't caged or protected in some manner.  There's a quart of Lavender ale going flat, in preparation for a batch of 930 Pint soap.  If you caught the bee in the title, and are wondering why, there's a honeybee on the lavender in the first picture.  There are no plans for bees, when Rick can supply us with such wonderful organic honey.  Wishing you sweet days, friends!

Monday, May 7, 2012

When Life Gives You Lemons...

My lemonade is branching out.  I've mentioned lavender lemonade.  This weekend, I tried rosemary lemonade, which was surprisingly good and mild.  Visiting friends suggested both mint and cumin lemonades, so these will probably be next.  I'm loving the lavender, but I need to be harvesting most of it for my soaps, and eye and therapy pillows.  Plus, mixing it up keeps it interesting.

Not long ago, I mentioned a tufted titmouse landing in my hair.  And the sweetness of holding a yellow finch fledgling.  Putting on a pair of jeans this weekend, I found the beginnings of a birdnest in one of the pockets.  Being honored by all of this bird energy made me curious.  I  consulted Animal-Speak, which tells me birds have an ability to respond automatically to whatever presents itself, intuitively.  They can also teach us about lightness of being & air/breath.  Finch energy is about new experiences.  Interesting!

This weekend, I switched out all my summer/winter clothes and linens.  Flannel sheets are delightful when it's chilly, but I'm welcoming the return of crisp cotton sheets.  I planted a bachelor button mix this year, and am loving the deep purple one on the bottom right.  May it prosper and spread seed!  Have a wonderful week, friends!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Pride and Passionfruit

Well, the Oxford Biodiesel Plant is now officially open.  I must say, the photo they're using for the link is somewhere other than there.  The plant is in a bucolic setting, amid farmland and pastures with horses and cows.  Neal, in the center below, is a gentleman they enjoyed working with during the build.  I know many folks come here for more homestead-type news, but I'm so proud of these guys, forgive me for posting a few pics of the day.

There were several speakers, including Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack.  Well done, guys!

OK, now on to the homestead.  Several types of fruit were frozen at the end of last season, and knowing I needed to make room for the coming season spurred me on to canning them this week.  I made an elderberry/blackberry jam, an elderberry/blueberry jam, and a passionfruit/lemon/vanilla curd that made the house smell heavenly. 

Joseph & I planted seeds this week of suyo long & national pickling cucumber, tromboncino squash, early golden crookneck squash, and Georgia candy roaster squash.  Corn was also planted, though I'm not sure which variety. Something chewed off one of our tomato plants... grrr.  I'm off to begin listing some of my glass garden flowers in the shop.  Figuring out shipping is going to be the toughest thing, as they will all be different due to varying weights and sizes.  Wish me luck!