Category Archives: just picked

Spring in the Asparagus Patch

IMG_7040
IMG_7039
IMG_7038
IMG_7035
IMG_7047
IMG_7078

For the first day of Spring, I thought it only appropriate that I show you pictures of asparagus. It has been coming up for a few weeks and the wee one and I go check on it every couple of days. For the record, this is not how you should be keeping your asparagus patch. I know that. Though the asparagus spears may look pretty emerging out of weeds and we may feel like wild foragers searching for it, asparagus likes a nice weed free, well composted and mulched growing bed. Do as we say, not as we do, friends. This winter we got too caught up in tasks that weren’t related to asparagus patch weeding. Sorry asparagus, next year we’ll do better for you.

The kids aren’t so hot on eating asparagus, which is surprising, because they aren’t picky. You can sneak a lot over on my kids, though, by pickling whatever their vegetable foe is. So I did a quick pickle by heating up 1/3c. water + 1/3c. white vinegar and a dash of salt. Into the half pint jar I put asparagus tips, one peeled clove of garlic, some fresh tarragon, and a few red pepper flakes. I poured the hot vinegar mixture over it and when it cooled I put it in the fridge. In previous years I’ve canned them in a hot water bath, but since we only had enough for one jar that day, we’re keeping it for immediate eating. Yum.

Happy Spring!

10 Comments

Filed under just picked

Walnuts : : A Tough Nut to Crack

IMG_6265
IMG_6261
IMG_6274
IMG_6275

The walnut harvest is upon us. I can’t remember how many walnut trees we have, but there’s a bunch of them out there. All in varying degrees of maturity and health. All in all, we’ve been getting around four full grocery bags of walnuts every year. We eat the vast majority of them, give some away and send some to our children’s school for their walnut cracking activity.

My dad and his siblings grew up on a farm with a large walnut orchard. He and his brother and sisters always had to help with the walnut harvest each fall. One time when my dad came to visit he asked how the walnuts were, picked one up, put it between his two palms and cracked it’s hard shell open with his bare hands! Oy! As for Scott and I? We use hammers to open them.

After you harvest them out of their hull, you need to let the walnuts dry for about two weeks before boxing or bagging them up, otherwise they’ll rot. Don’t ask me how I know this. With all these trees worth of walnuts, this takes a huge amount of space, so you’ll find all our outside tables and the floor of our garage covered at this time of year. After a few weeks, we bag them up and wait for a quiet day when we can all sit around and crack them.

Walnuts are super healthy for you, full of mono-unsaturated fats, Vitamin E, Omega-3 oil and all sorts of other good things your body needs. We use them in cookies, for eating plain, in salads, banana breads and granola. Sometimes I carmelize them with maple syrup in the cast iron skillet for snacks. They all get used eventually. This year I want to experiment with making a walnut butter out of them. We go through so much almond butter, I wonder if this would make a good substitute. Has anyone tried making their own walnut butter before? Maybe walnut milk?

8 Comments

Filed under just picked

grape harvests inside and outside the fenceline

IMG_6207
IMG_6220
IMG_6224
IMG_6216

If you were to look outside our windows this morning these are views you would see. It’s harvest time in our neck of the woods. In case you aren’t familiar with wine grape harvesting, they do it in the middle of the night when sugar and acid levels in the grapes are the most stable. It’s also much more favorable conditions for the work crew as temperatures can still get blazing hot during the day. It’s an exciting time around here, tractors and giant trucks carrying grapes are a constant on the road (usually right in front of you, going a third of the speed limit). Soon, maybe in another month the smell of fermenting grapes will hit you as you drive by wineries. This is a good time of year.

IMG_6092
IMG_6095

On our side of the fence line, we have our fair share of grapes, but not wine grapes. We have various types of table grapes growing. They faired much more productive than our poor Concord grapes so we decided to turn our excess into juice. Unlike with apple cider making, you don’t have to grind the grapes before you press them, which makes grape juice making much quicker. The hardest part was picking out the bad grapes from each bunch and making sure we had washed off all the spiders. Ick! But then we just loaded up the press and twisted and twisted and cranked that handle until we had pitchers of juice.

IMG_6096

My initial intention was to can our excess juice, but it was too good, we drank it all right away. Maybe next year we’ll show more restraint and have it last longer. But for this year, we enjoyed every drop of that nectar.

As I said, this is a good time of year!

6 Comments

Filed under just picked

Baked Chiles Rellenos, Corn Harvest & Ponds

IMG_5890
IMG_5891
IMG_5892

The baked chiles rellenos turned out great! We have chili rellenos a few times during the summer and they are without a doubt one of my favorite dinners. But they are a lot of work! This was a nice alternative and I could make it early in the day and pop it in the oven after soccer practice. It’s especially nice when your husband comes home early and makes a peach pie to bake with it! Anyway, recipe for baked chiles rellenos here.
IMG_5906
IMG_5914

We harvested all the corn this weekend. Five portions went into the freezer and the rest went into dinner.
IMG_5909
IMG_5907
IMG_5933

The sunflower plant growing next to the corn just fell over. Much to bees dismay we cut off all the blooms and brought them inside.
IMG_5924

Scott woke up yesterday and decided we needed a pond. A bunch of excited boys and a few hours later we have a pond. I’ll show you more pictures soon.
IMG_5938

While the boys were out digging, the girl and I decided to finally, finally sew this little top I’ve had cut out for months. Instead of sleeves I made it sleeveless (this was supposed to be a summer shirt!), with bias bounding. It turned out cute and if luck is on our side it will fit next spring too. She grew five (!) inches in the last year, so she’d better get as much use out of it now.

Don’t forget, today is the last day of the $50 Pharmaca giveaway. Enter, enter, enter!

How was your weekend?

3 Comments

Filed under just picked, preserving, recipes

Take Better Care

IMG_5872
I just have a moment to write. I have dinner that’s ready to come out of the oven…if it’s good, I’ll share the recipe as it’s helping use up all the excess eggs & chilis we have coming in.
IMG_5873
Thank you for those who agreed that chocolate is health food.
IMG_5867
We picked our poor neglected concord grapes the other day. Note to self: 5lbs of grapes = 2.3 measly half-pints of jam, take better care of grapes next year.
IMG_5868

2 Comments

Filed under just picked

beans and wheat

IMG_5404
shelling favas
fava beans
I so appreciated all your comments on your experiences cutting things out of your diet. I think it’s so interesting how experimenting with cutting just one thing out of your diet can make such an effect on the way you feel. If you haven’t yet tried eliminating anything from your eating habits, you might consider giving it a try. Just for a week at least, just to see if you detect any changes. Even if you don’t think you have any problems to fix. Maybe (hopefully if it’s a food you like) you won’t feel any different, but maybe, as some people have written, it will eliminate some headaches or joint pain or asthma. You never know until you try, right?

After at least 20 days off of wheat, I think I can say that giving up wheat for me personally, doesn’t make a huge difference. Well, it certainly has eliminated my spring allergy sore throat, but I think I’ve actually gained weight this month! I was hoping to get rid of a pound or two as we’ve been thrown full swing into swim suit season, but instead my shorts and tank tops are fitting a wee bit tighter! Maybe it’s from substituting corn chips & nuts instead of crackers and bread.

My son’s asthma is still active, but still seems less active than normal. My daughter’s eczema, which is the entire reason we’ve started this experiment hasn’t been eased at all. Poor thing.

Maybe we haven’t been eating wheat but we have been eating from the garden! After parenting three toddler’s we can say that shelling beans (these are favas) can hold a two-year-old’s attention a surprisingly long time!

Thanks for your diet comments, keep them coming!

10 Comments

Filed under just picked

Promises of Spring

Despite the fact that a well used room in our house looks something like this as of lately and that it has been causing all of us undue stress…
IMG_5019

when you walk through that plastic doorway to the kitchen, or rather when you go outside and walk around the outside of the house to the back kitchen door because you aren’t supposed to walk in this area yet, you’ll find…
IMG_4998
IMG_5001
IMG_5008
IMG_5012
IMG_5013
IMG_5038

…these very lovely promises of spring sprouting up more often on our kitchen counters. Oh fresh veggies, how our taste buds and bodies have missed you so!

2 Comments

Filed under just picked

Harvesting Calm Amongst our Chaos & Body Care Recipes in the Works

Harvest Day
The days around here have been non-stop the past two weeks. The Littlest got sick, then the Biggest, followed by the Middle one. The Middle one had a birthday, which he was sick for, the next day the Biggest broke his toe at TaeKwonDo practice. After a full afternoon at the Doctors getting x-rays and waiting for hours with a potty-training, non-napping two year old alongside, we were told there is nothing you can do about a broken toe. So we went home. The next morning I took the Middle one back to the Doctor for an eye exam to find he needs glasses. ‘Oh good!’ I said excitedly, ‘We’ll be twins now!’ Eager to pick out some adorable little boy glasses we headed to the kids glasses display where the Littlest had a potty training accident right there on the carpet and then immediately spilled her apple juice that the seemingly well intentioned nurse gave her. What followed was a classic body twisting tantrum of epic proportions. We couldn’t pick out frames fast enough and get out of there!
Harvest Day
Through the chaos, we’ve been able to gather together the past two weekends as a family for harvesting walnuts. It’s a pretty nice few moments, after a whirlwind week, to work together under shady trees finding and hulling walnuts. Walnuts usually lead to picking tomatoes, peppers, melons, cucumbers, squash, one thing leads to the next.
Harvest Day
Harvest Day
And of course a bit more honey. These couple frames of honey tastes so much different from the last. It’s strong in flavor and we are in debate about whether we like the taste at all. What have they been feasting on the past couple of weeks?
Honey Harvesting
Honey & Lavender

(Honey laden beeswax for the girls to clean off and lavender stalks for the bees to perch on for drinking water. All in my new top feeder)

Luckily the days have slowed down back to their normal pace. The toe is almost back to normal, the glasses turned out to be cute as a bug on him and the Littlest one is back to napping. The potty training is going pretty well.

I’ve gotten back to work on some more body care recipes I can’t wait to share with you. I’m hoping to develop five solid recipes into a little booklet with labels to print. Hopefully it will be perfect for Holiday present making. How does that sound? I have a new lip balm recipe that only calls for 3 ingredients and I’m seriously addicted to! It’s really incredible. I’m putting the finishing touches on a face scrub that has my skin feeling like silk and I figured out how to turn my trusty Beeswax Lotion recipe into a body butter that goes on just like, well, butter. And there is a little something for the men in our lives I’m trying to perfect too. I’m excited about all of them. I’ll keep you updated!

11 Comments

Filed under beekeeping, Body Care, just picked

The Beginning of Autumn

IMG_4175
Welcome autumn! Oh yes, I know technically autumn started a few weeks ago, but to us, this weekend seemed like the very beginning of fall. The temperatures finally cooled, leaves started dropping and everything seems bathed in that warm sunlight. As I was preparing to finish painting our current kitchen this morning, I was delighted to find that our old kitchen has received a much needed facelift and was featured on Remodelista. You must go take a look!
IMG_4174

Around here the walnuts are starting to drop. Since I work well against deadline, I called the boys outside to sit and crack the last bag of last years walnuts before we have to start collecting this years. And I will certainly have to collect some hulls for more walnut dye.
IMG_4173
IMG_4169
IMG_4176
IMG_4177

Turns out we did grow a banana squash this year. Though with our late start they haven’t gotten as big in years past. That’s a bit of a relief to be honest!
IMG_4180

The grapes have been picked.
IMG_4181
IMG_4187
IMG_4191

A portion of a shrub up and died on us for no good reason. Which meant this little bird nest got to come inside. The egg I collected and saved from a few months ago. The bowl is a relic from my days as an aspiring potter.
IMG_4192

Scott harvested up our Smoke Signals popcorn on Sunday. We need to let it sit out for 4-6 weeks until it dried properly and then we can pop away.

Happy Autumn!

8 Comments

Filed under just picked, state of the garden

Abundant Weekend

IMG_3396
IMG_3400
IMG_3402
“Abundance can be had simply by consciously receiving what has already been given to us.” -Sufi saying
IMG_3394

5 Comments

Filed under just picked