Monday, October 31, 2011

Our Welcome Home from Mother Nature

Mother Nature gave us one unwelcoming welcome home. We had at least 8" of heavy wet snow starting on Saturday and lost electric for about 27 hours. I have to say that I don't ever remember loosing electric for this long, even on the farm. We were very lucky, many will be without power for several days. Boy, we are definitely looking into solar panels, sooner rather then later. We really don't like being dependent on a utility company like this. Jane, I was thinking about you!

Saturday afternoon everything started looking like this. The electric went out, we headed to "The Italian's" parents. His cousin was up from North Carolina for a visit.

We had a wonderful lantern lit dinner of pasta, chicken, mashed potatoes and beans cooked on the gas stove top.

Sunday morning I got out the camp stove, made coffee and tea and then headed out for a walk around the block. I can't wait to get our much needed new stove. It's going to be dual fuel.

All of the following pictures are from a walk around one block. The damage is just amazing. Almost every home had major damage to trees.

As you can see from the pictures, the leaves are still on the trees and most haven't even started to change color. When I got home, we had a nice camping breakfast of eggs and toast.

It was quite warm and the snow was quickly melting. I attached the cold frame tops, cleared off the melting snow and opened them up.

You can see from this picture, just how heavy the snow was. The weight pulled the sides in on the squirrel barricaded garlic bed.

It looks like the weather is going to return to normal for this time of the year.....hopefully, it will stay that way for awhile and I can get some gardening done!

I hope that the rest of you that were hit by this early storm are safe and sound!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

We made it home just in time for.............

SNOW!!!! Yes, it is snowing here in eastern Pennsylvania in October! I really can't remember the last time that we had snow in October. We haven't even had a frost yet.......but, that will change tonight. It looks like we will get about 6" of snow.....just crazy!

As you can see, I haven't put the patio furniture away and the annual flowers are still alive.

I did manage to put the cold frame tops on early this morning before the snow started. I am so happy that I re-covered the tops before we left. I will attach them permanently when the weather calms down....but, the bricks will have to do for now.

The veggies growing in the basement are looking good and will have to wait a bit to get hardened off and planted in the cold frames.

As usual, we had a great time in New Orleans. I did read all of the Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard posts both weeks and some other posts as well. For some reason though, our travel computer would not let me comment on most blogs.

I will do a post or two about some of what we did while we were away. For now, the kit-cats and the washing machine really need my attention!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard........10/20/2011

This post went up early since we are on an airplane headed for New Orleans! I will check in and respond later today after we are settled in. Due to our vacation, next Thursday Jody at Spring Garden Acre will be hosting Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard.

 I will try to post a couple of times this week with some happenings and great food from New Orleans!

This past week I confiscated some nice green tomatoes from next door. I used those tomatoes along with some green tomatoes that I had to make this Green Tomato Salsa. Diana at Voice in the Garden, gave me this recipe. Thanks's Diana!! I only made about a 1/4 recipe since I didn't have enough green tomatoes for a whole batch. We were also out of fresh cilantro. So we will just add some when we open a jar.

This Salsa is very good and a nice change from the traditional salsa that I make!

Green Tomato Salsa to Can from Diana's kitchen

  •  3 TB Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 11 lbs green tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 extra large sweet onions, chopped
  • 3 sweet red peppers, chopped
  • 3 sweet green peppers, chopped
  • 4 jalapeƱo peppers, seeds removed, finely chopped (+/- according to personal taste)
  • 8 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 TB sea salt
  • 1/2 TB black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 TB raw honey
  1. Add olive oil to an extra large kettle and heat on medium.
  2. Add tomatoes, onions, peppers and stir.
  3. Add and combine the remainder of the ingredients. Mix well, heat slowly to simmer, and cook uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until it reaches the consistency you prefer. Stir frequently and be careful of the temperature so as not to burn the mixture.
  4. Ladle the hot simmering salsa into hot sterilized pint jars (or quarts), and fill to within 1/2 inch from top.
  5. Wipe jar rims with a clean cloth.
  6. Place sterilized flat lid on the jar and adjust the ring.
  7. Place in a boiling water bath; water should cover the lids by about an inch. Bring the water back to boiling and process for 15-20 minutes.
 I hope that I get to see a lot of goodies posted later today!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Harvest Monday...............10/17/2011

It's another week of the same harvest.....peppers, peppers and more peppers!

The entire harvest for this past week was picked yesterday at the plots. Although most of the harvest was peppers, I did harvest a few small eggplants, a little bit of broccoli and another small white pumpkin.

We are going on vacation later this week and it looks like we may get our first frost while we are away. I don't think the house/garden/pet sitter will want to truck over to the plots to pick the last of the peppers. So, I harvested everything that was a decent size. 

A little broccoli, a few small eggplant and some hot & spice peppers.

Probably the last of the sweet peppers from the plots.
These were given to my in-laws and sister in-law. I still have two pepper plants at the house which will be pulled before we leave.I thought that there were about four large peppers on those two plants. After taking a closer look, I think that there are about a dozen.

I just totaled my pepper harvests to date for this year. Sweet Peppers - 47.75 lbs  Hot & Spice Peppers 27.3 lbs. It's definitely been the year of the Pepper!

Total weighed harvest for the week: 10.375 lbs

Broccoli - 2 oz.
Eggplant - 16 oz.
    Hot & Spice - 18 oz.
    Bell - 98 oz. (6.125 lbs)
White Fortna Pumpkin - 32 oz. (2 lbs)

Stop on over to Daphne's Dandelions, our host of Harvest Monday to see what's going on in veggie gardens around the globe!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard

Wilderness over at Growing and Cooking made a great suggestion to start a weekly preserving post similar to, but different then Harvest Monday, for bloggers to share what they have been putting away and recipes. I thought this was a great idea! With her permission I am starting "Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard". This will be a day to share what you have been canning, drying.....or to share a recipe, a picture, a tip.....or how you have used some of your preserved goods.

So come on and join the first
"Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard"!!

A couple of weeks ago I purchased some pears from a local grower. I got some Bartlett, some French sounding variety that I can't remember the name of and a bag of seconds.

I canned 4 pints of Bartletts since they were the first to ripen. I like to can mine in part juice and part extra-light syrup. I use some of the seconds to make the juice and add it to the syrup.

Then I made some Pear Vanilla Nutmeg Jam with a mix of pears that were ready. Boy, this stuff is good!

Last year I had found a recipe for Pear Vanilla Jam. Then this year I was doing a little research and found a recipe that had a little nutmeg in it. I had also purchased some Real Fruit Pectin made by Ball. The recipe on the flap allows you to adjust for the amount of fruit you have. So, I chopped up what fruit was ready and came up with this.

I don't remember exactly how much fruit I had. I have adjusted this recipe to make a batch with one box of powdered pectin.

Pear Vanilla Nutmeg Jam
  • 5 1/3 Cups Finely Chopped Pears
  • 1 Pkg. Powdered Pectin or 6 Tbsp. Ball Real Fruit Pectin
  • Grated Nutmeg
  • Lemon Juice
  • 5 Cups of Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  1. Peel, core and finely chop pears. Put them in a bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice. I put them in a bowl as I was peeling and chopping and stirred them to keep them from getting brown.
  2. Put prepared fruit in large pot
  3. Grind a little nutmeg onto the fruit
  4. Gradually stir in powdered pectin and bring to a full boil
  5. Add sugar, bring back to a boil that won't stir down. Boil for 1 min.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in Vanilla
  7. Ladle into sterlized jars, cap and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes
Since I had several cups of pear juice and extra-light syrup mixture left over, I decided to try to make some Pear Syrup. After rummaging through the booze, I found some Pear Liquer that "The Italian" must have had in his dowry. I added 2 oz. of the liquor to the liquid and boiled away.

The mixture was boiled down to less then half, which took about 1 1/2 hours. This syrup will be great for dessert toppings or to add to an adult beverage! Maybe there is a pear martini in our future! "The Italian" will have fun with this! The syrup was not canned and is being stored in the refrigerator.

After what seemed like forever, the French Pears that "The Italian" says are Anjou Pears, finally ripened enough to make a small batch of plain old Pear Jam.

I made this jam according to the instructions on the Ball Real Fruit powdered pectin.

So, join in and share a recipe or a good tip on preserving the harvest!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Harvest Monday.................10/10/2011

This past week, I removed the rest of the tomato plants here at the home garden. I did end up with some nice green tomatoes for salsa and some red tomatoes. But, I didn't take any pictures or weigh them.

Sunday I made my weekly visit to the plots. I worked on some clean up and harvested......more peppers! I also harvested a small zucchini and some very small eggplants.

This week's harvests took me over 700 lbs.! I really thought that I would easily get over 1000 lbs. this year with the plots since last year I hit 410 lbs with my very small home garden. I am not complaining though....the weather this year was just horrible!

This is what I brought home.
 I also gave a whole bag of green peppers to a local woman who walks her dogs at the Community Garden.

Total weighed harvest for the week: 5.1875 lbs.

Eggplant -15 oz. 
Peppers :
   Bell - 43 oz.
   Hot & Spice - 12 oz.
Zucchini - 13 oz.

Stop by Daphne's Dandelions, our host of Harvest Monday to see what's happening in gardens around the globe!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fall Garlic Planting

Since the sun has been shining the past couple of days, I have been getting a lot of chores done outside! The remaining tomato plants at the home garden have been pulled and the supports and wiring were taken down.

I was planning on planting the garlic at the plots this fall. But, since the Community Garden is moving (more on that later, I am on the garden moving committee), it is being planted at the home garden. I usually plant some of my own garlic. However, since I really don't think that we have quite enough for the year and the bulbs were smaller then usual, I ordered some new seed garlic. Since I decided upon this a bit late and we didn't go to the Garlic Festival this year, it was a little difficult to find some organic seed garlic. I finally found a grower in Oregon, Whistling Duck Farm, that had two good storage varieties available. I purchased 8 oz each of Silverskin (softneck) and Music (hardneck). Both are supposed to be really good keepers. I have to say that I forgot how much seed garlic cost.

When I was finished dismantling the tomato supports, the mail had arrived and my garlic was here. Boy, what nice heads of garlic! I think this is the nicest seed garlic that I have ever purchased! After separating the heads, I ended up with 81 really nice cloves.

I totally forgot to take pics of the heads of garlic before I started planting. These are a couple of cloves of the Music variety which have yet to be planted.

Here is my Garlic Fortress.
I planted the Silverskin and a few of the Music is this small bed. Since the squirrels are totally out of control right now, I covered the top with some plastic fencing that was at the plots when we got them. I usually have tomatoes in this bed. Next year I will only have 4 tomato plants at the home garden, so I decided to put some of the garlic in one of the smaller beds.

The plastic squirrel protectant is held on by these little plastic clips I had. This will make it easy to remove when I cover the garlic with straw for the winter.

The balance of the garlic will be planted at the one end of  the former Garlic Bed. I still have to add compost to this bed before I plant the rest of the garlic.

So, what Fall gardening have you been up to??

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What's else is Canning..............Mint Jelly!

This is just a warning that I am in full "fun canning" mode! Not the staples kind of canning like tomatoes and sauce. So there may be a lot of canning posts coming up!

Since I had about 3 1/2 Cups of Mint Infused Water left from the Mojito Jelly, I thought I would make some plain old Mint Jelly.

After a little research, I came up with this.

Mint Jelly
  • 3 Cups of Mint Infused Water
  • 2 oz. Creme de Menthe Liquer
  • 1/2 tsp. Lemon Juice
  • 1 Pkg. powdered pectin or 6 Tbsp. Ball Real Fruit Pectin
  • 4 Cups Sugar
  1. Combine Mint Infused Water, Creme de Menthe Liquer and lemon juice in large pot.
  2. Gradually stir in pectin and bring to a full boil
  3. Add Sugar, bring to a full boil and boil for 1 minute
  4. Ladle into sterilized jars, cap and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes
This jelly came out a pretty shade of green from the Creme de Menthe Liquer!

As you can see, the sun is finally, I better get out there and get some gardening done!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What's Canning.............Mojito Jelly!!

I found this recipe last year but didn't make it. All of the potted mint is starting to go. So I decided to make it yesterday. If you like Mojitos, you are going to love this jelly!

Isn't it Pretty??

This recipe took some time to make and used a lot of mint leaves. I didn't have enough fresh limes for the amount of juice required, so I had to add some bottled lime juice. The recipe says to boil the infused mint water to 3 cups. I only managed to boil it down to 6 cups. I also added one drop of green food coloring.

Here is the link to the recipe that I made yesterday. Guess what...she came up with a new version here! Boy, the new version sounds good too! I think that I have enough infused mint water left to make this one too.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Harvest Monday...................10/03/2011

It's definitely been the year of the pepper! Tuesday, when I cleaned out the cold frame beds, I had to harvest a few peppers. There were two broken branches on one plant and one plant that needed to be removed.

4.7 lbs. of  peppers from that one picking!
My wine collecting neighbor took only two since they were going to the shore. Two peppers = 1 bottle of French wine! Not Bad! His wife said that peppers are going for $5.99 a pound! That's $28. worth of peppers in that colander!

I also picked these 5 beautiful Eva's Purple Ball tomatoes from the home garden on Tuesday. I thought that these would most likely be the last good tomatoes harvested this season.....But on Sunday I picked two more! We are very pleased with this variety. They are very prolific, have a wonderful flavor for slicing, are good for canning and sauces and don't seem to disease or crack no matter what the weather. Next year we will be planting a lot of this variety.

The Matt's Wild Cherry plant had to be pulled from the one cold frame bed on Tuesday. I have been really bad about not picking the cherry tomatoes this year. My "Little Garden Helper" always ate most of them. But, he has been in Florida all summer with his other grandparents and his mother.

Sunday I made my weekly visit to the plots in between the rain. The fall raspberries were really destroyed from the hurricane. I always eat the few ripe raspberries that weren't blown away while I'm there harvesting. Of course there were lots of peppers to harvest!

These peppers and....

these were harvested and taken directly to my in-laws. There were 6 lbs. 9 oz. of sweet peppers. I was so happy to leave them with my in-laws! How many peppers can two people eat in a year??

And of course there were more hot and spice peppers to pick at the plots also.

I harvested some more dry beans and a little squash on Sunday. I think the squash was a small Long Island Cheese Squash. I will weigh it when I'm sure it is viable. All of the dry beans will be weighed at one time when they are all shelled.

Total weighed harvest this week: 15.8125 lbs

   Bell - 11.25 lbs (180 oz)
   Hot & Spice - 28 oz.
   Eva's Purple Ball - 2 lbs.
   Matt's Wild Cherry - 13 oz

Stop by Daphne's Dandelions, our host of Harvest Monday, to see what's going on in Veggie Gardens around the globe!