Friday, August 28, 2009

Out of commission

My father has been suffering some pretty major health problems so I haven't been able to spend time in the garden or online much recently.

Will return as soon as possible!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


there is a huge zucchini class! lol

Saturday, August 08, 2009


I've been canning all day and my efforts have yielded 7 quarts of garlic dill pickles, 11 pints of green beans, 3 quarts of sweet pickles, and one quart of dilly beans. (OK, I know, about $35.o0 retail, and it took me all day...with the big burner going on the stove... I wonder how much the electric bill will be this month?) But I know where this food came from, I know which chemicals were used on it (NONE!) and I know how it was processed. That can't be measured in dollars.

Because the green beans are a low-acid food, they must be canned in a pressure canner. The pickles, however, can be canned in a boiling water bath canner. So I had both canners going on the top of the stove, rotating them in as needed to sterilize jars or process a batch of food.

When I opened the very last batch of the night in the boiling water bath canner, I found that one of the jars had cracked around the bottom and all the pickles were floating in the canner! I was heartbroken.

I'm taking "The French Chef Cookbook" to bed tonight for some light reading. It is a compilation of the recipes from the first few years of Julia Child's TV show, and many of the recipes come from the book featured in the Julie & Julia move, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I don't know if the recipe for beef bourguignon is in it, but I certainly hope so.

I took 4 wheelbarrows full of weeds to the compost pile this morning. I quit when it started raining, but the rain didn't last long - fortunately for the weeds, I had already started my pickling adventures. Maybe I can do some more tomorrow.

DH went to the farm this weekend. He needed to get away, GM's bankrupcty is very stressful. He's not sure if the position in Detroit is secure or a good one, it could be a temporary position and he might have to take a pay cut. The cost of living is higher in Detroit than here, but that's true of almost any location other than here. Although Kiplingers seems to indicate that we're about average (100 on their scale) I will probably be taking a pay cut whether or not I relocate (see list of new items on google) so I guess it's a really good thing that I know how to garden and preserve the harvest...

I'm thinking about investing in a food dryer. Given my economic situation, does a $300 - $500 investment sound reasonable, or would I be better served getting a $40 appliance at WalMart?

Garden update

Tonight I went, alone, to watch Julie & Julia movie. I read the book a few years ago, and posted on Mary Jane's Farmgirl connection about it, and the movie moved me as much, or more, than the book.

After reading the book I was inspired enough to buy a Julia Child cookbook, but after seeing the movie, maybe I should have gotten Julia's biography instead.

I was definitely moved to tears while reading both the book and watching the movie. I find parallels in the lives of both characters with my own. I was surprised to feel the emotions when Julia and her husband were talking about having to leave Paris - very similar to my own emotions right now when anticipating having to leave Ohio due to my husband's job change.

I haven't posted much lately, that is because of my guilt complex about not choosing a winner for the zucchini recipe contest...

Now that that is over with, I can tell you my gardening experiences in the last few weeks. Since my knee has been recovering, I've been limiting my gardening to just picking the ripe (or overripe) vegetables and letting the weeds go. Bad mistake!

Earlier this week I pulled a full row of beets. Using a seed tape for the beets was definitely a good decision this year, and I will do it again. My daughters came over and helped me can pickled beets and garlic dills.

I've been a little disappointed with the cucumbers, I noticed I have some cucumber beetles and many of the leaves are turning yellow and drying up. I did have a rather large harvest the night the girls came over, and the ghostly white cukes are the most productive of all. The lemon yellow round cukes (what was the name of that variety?) haven't done so well this year, I think I planted them too close together. I did pickle seven pints of dill pickles, and still have several left to make another batch.

As usual, the zucchinis are quite prolific, all varieties, and because of my neglect due to the surgery, many are as big as baseball bats. I've made zucchini bread, stuffed zucchini, grilled zucchini, the recipes posted on the contest blog entry, canned zucchini salsa (10 pints) and made deep-fried zucchini. It is an ongoing battle with DH to keep them out of the compost pile.

I've been picking green beans (and wax beans, and purple beans) for several weeks. Last night I pulled up all the plants and took them to the patio to sit in a chair and pull off the mature beans. It is much easier on my knee to sit than to stand in the garden on the uneven ground and pick them, and I felt that there wouldn't be many more anyway.

After pulling the beans, I found that I had a huge harvest of green peppers that I hadn't even seen because of the bean foliage. That is a crop to harvest tomorrow.

My tomatoes are FINALLY starting to turn color. I have one Celebrity that is slightly orange, and the plum tomatoes are looking a little bit yellow. I believe they are delayed because the weather has been so cold this year. I am afriad that all will ripen on the same day and I won't be able to keep up with the harvest.

I am still harvesting the Bibb lettuce variety (?) from Territorial that claims it is slow to bolt. Since we've had an unusually cool summer, the claim has held true, and it has been delightful in salads.

Two nights ago we picked the first ears of sweet corn. They were just a little bit under-ripe, so hopefully the rest will come (if I can keep the raccoons out) to enjoy with the tomatoes.

I am trying to clear the garden of weeds this weekend so that I can plant some cabbage, some cultivated arugula, some more beets, and perhaps some cauliflower. This is just about the outer limit for planting the fall garden, except for perhaps some radishes. That is my plan for Saturday, on Sunday I will be working and babysitting my newest little grandchild, he is just adorable!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Contest Winners Announced! Finally!

OK, the contest is over, I've cooked the recipes (I apologize, it took longer than I thought) and I am announcing that Serene Bean is the winner for the squash-stuffed chicken recipe.

The runners up are 1badmamawolf for her stuffed zucchini, and Lisa Marie for the chip recipes.

Please send me an email through MFJ connection to claim your prizes!

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