Monday, August 22, 2022

Alternatives to Chicken Feed & A New Jam

Hello, friends.  Last week, I harvested several sprigs of rosemary, and made some rosemary lemonade, which was nice and refreshing.  On Monday, figs and pawpaws most needed attention, so I canned vanilla fig preserves, then pawpaw butter.  These were set aside for gifts, though I did have a small amount of the fig preserves left, and enjoyed it's goodness on toast.  Daily goals were made on Swagbucks each day.  Several cucuzza squash were grated, and frozen in 1/2 cup pucks in a muffin tin, to use in recipes over the winter.  My Mom's zucchini soup was made with our cucuzza, tomatoes, onion, garlic and herbs.  Squash has been cooked in many forms... in a dish with quinoa and lime, in my Mom's soup, and sauteed with onions.  Water from rinsing vegetables and from canning were used to water plants.  My gift cupboard is filling up nicely.  There have been two more batches added since this pic was taken, including Cantaloupe Vanilla Jam by Food in Jars, which Staci kindly shared with me.  It's really delicious.  

Our Dixie Lee & Iron and Clay cowpeas had been dehydrated so far.  I wanted to freeze some fresh, and blanched and froze four bags.  They'll cook more quickly, and I generally prefer the flavor over dried beans.  Two quarts of figs were chopped and frozen.  We lost the cantaloupe fight.  All the ones in the house had soft spots, and some had started growing mold.  I tackled them, and saved maybe half of the melon, gave the seeds to the chickens, and composted the rest.  Though I'm not sure what we'll do with all of it, it's chopped and in bags in the fridge, joining the already chopped melons in there.  Most years we've had no luck growing them.  Feast or famine.  I've been listening to lots of podcasts and videos while doing chores, particularly during the time I'm in the kitchen dealing with the harvest.  A favorite is Three Rivers Homestead.  I believe I've mentioned the chicks we bought as supposedly Rhode Island Red pullets are Modern Game Bantams.  We're now sure that the one on the left is a rooster, as he's been crowing away.  Sheesh.  They're such fast movers, this is the best pic I could get.

Knowing I won't have all the fresh produce coming in to use for chicken mash during the cold months, I've been gathering some things to use to supplement their diet, as I've been doing this summer.   J had two large bags of cereal he no longer wants, being he can't have milk (& doesn't care for plant milk), so I've saved them to crush up as part of their mash.  When he organized our seeds, he brought me a basket of corn cobs we had saved for seed.  As we're not planning on growing corn any longer, and I can't eat it on my current lifestyle, I'll grind the corn for the chickens.  I've also found homemade bread crumbs in the freezer, from pre-GF days, so they will also be used.  We've left a couple vines of tromboncino to ripen into winter squash for them, and quite a few are already huge and turning color.  Much of the year, I can also bring them various greens, and I'm thinking of collecting some of the numerous seed heads of dock on the homestead.  I feel better knowing if there are supply chain issues, or the price of their feed becomes too much to bear, I have a number of foods to give them to at least stretch any bought food.

In the garden, we harvested tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, tromboncino and cucuzza squash, figs, apples, pears, plums, cowpeas, carrots, basil, parsley, thyme, cantaloupe, honeydew, and pawpaws.  I tried making "zucchini chips" with cucuzza for the first time.  They tasted nice, with salt, dill and lemon juice.  A mandoline was recommended for cutting, but they were paper thin once dehydrated, and stuck to the trays.  Though I do have stainless mesh to go in the trays when needed, my experience has been that very thin items stick just the same.  I'm disappointed, as I was really hoping to be able to provide my own snacks for a time, instead of buying them.  I may try hand cutting them thicker, but the mandoline sure did make quick work of it.  If you've made them before, I welcome suggestions.  For purchases for my business, I used a 15% off code, and went through Rakuten for 10% back.

A few more flower seeds were found at Dollar Tree, to use in my Garden sets, but when putting them away, I noticed 4/6 packets were from '21.  They only charged me .10 a packet, so I can't really complain, but that was something I never thought to look for.  I have been hearing about people buying expired food in these times, so I guess it pays to look at everything.  Sweet potato leaves were harvested to have in my morning smoothies.  It's a super easy way to get in more leafy greens, and is not even noticeable.  On the way to the library, I dropped off cucumbers and squash to a friend.  Magazines were dropped off at the library's free basket, when dropping off a book.    Leftover small steamed potatoes were fried with our onion and sweet pepper.  With a little smoked paprika and garlic powder, they were yummy, and all homegrown, except for the oil and spices.  It's a great way to use up the smaller potatoes, and I want to remember to make more of these during the winter.  

I woke up very early one morning, and made hummingbird food and golden paste for the pups, then packed orders and wrapped soap until J woke up.  I made my Fall soap last week, Pumpkin Chai, so it's curing on the shelf, and should be ready to wrap Labor Day weekend.  We had J's family reunion to go to on Saturday.  I made GF pawpaw oat bars, a vegan broccoli mac & cheese, and brought a big salad for myself.   My niece and sister have both recently expressed interest in learning to can, which really excites me.  My sister is coming today to learn to can tomatoes, and has asked for some canning supplies for Christmas.  I love sharing this simple lifestyle with others.  We have a fun date night coming up this week.  May your week contain many good things.  


daisy g said...

My experience with growing cantaloupe has been hit or miss. Have you tried kajari melons? They do well for me and are oh-so-sweet! The taste is a cross between cantaloupe and honeydew. They are one person-sized, but grow without much trouble.

You are harvesting and preserving so much food! I'm so glad that you will be able to pass along some of your homesteading skills to your family. Once we replace our glass-top stove, I'd like to venture into canning myself.

Enjoy your week. Bee well.

Laurie said...

I've not heard of kajari melons, but sounds like I need to try them!

Staci said...

Hooray! So happy you enjoyed the cantaloupe vanilla jam! Also, happy to hear you have family members interested in canning. It's nice that you'll be able to share your knowledge with them.

You aren't kidding about squash in everything. I've been doing the same. We've been keeping up with it though!

Regarding the plant milk. I had quite a hard time adjusting to it once I found out I was allergic to dairy. I even stopped drinking coffee (previously 3 cups a day!) because I couldn't stand the dairy-free alternatives in it. I don't know if J is interested in finding something to use or not, but I have found that my favorite alternative is making a nut milk out of nut butter and water. I use a little nutri bullet blender, add 1-2 Tablespoons of nut butter (usually almond or cashew) and 1 to 1 1/2 cups water and blend it as needed. The stuff at the stores has such a gross aftertaste in my opinion. The downfall is all nutmilk is so much thinner than dairy. It's quite an adjustment.

I enjoy Jessica at Three Rivers Homestead as well. I like getting new ideas! Becky at The Seasonal Homestead has a lot of good ideas too, also on her blog.

It sounds like you are still harvesting quite a bit. We lost every single one of our Asian Pears to squirrels and our regular pears did not do well at all. Such a bummer.

Zucchini Chips - I found the same thing (thin slices stick - every. single. one.) so I tried the way Colleen does it at grow-forage-cook-ferment and started slicing them about 1/4" thick and they worked out! They don't stick and are delicious.

Our fall soap is curing, and it smells incredible! I can't wait until the weather begins to change.
Have a wonderful week!

Laurie said...

He hasn't been interested in plant milk so far. I think he already has it in his head that he won't like it before he tries it. Thank you for sharing that cantaloupe jam. It is really good! And letting me know about The Seasonal Homestead, and the other version of zucchini chips. How do you season yours?

That's a bummer about your pears. We surely do battle the squirrels around here, as you know. Fall soap and fall weather... yes!

Staci said...

Laurie - I get it, regarding the nut milk. It's a tough transition. Zucchini chips....we do just salt, sometimes a lemon pepper one, and a salt/italian spice/red pepper flakes blend. The recipe I mentioned does have you soak them in ACV and you can taste it on the finished product. I would water it down a bit if you didn't want that vinegar tang. But if you like it, it's delicious as is!

Laurie said...

Thank you! I can't have vinegar these days, but sub lemon juice any time it calls for it. I took the first chips out of the dehydrator a little bit ago, and will try them once I'm finished with my celery juice. Thicker definitely works better.