Too Many Vegetables – Not Enough Time

I know that I’ve been neglecting you and I apologize.

I had every intention on writing something after work yesterday, but I came home to this:

Yellow Beans

Yellow beans from the garden

…and a pile of cucumbers,

and a couple of giant zucchini,

and a 22′ chest freezer that needed reorganized before we can pick up our pork order at the butcher.

Not my freezer, but you get the idea.

Not my freezer, but you get the idea.

I worked until well past dark, but the beans got snipped, blanched, and frozen. The freezer got somewhat more organized. And since I didn’t feel like canning (perhaps because I was exhausted), I made a (really easy) batch of Sweet & Tangy Refrigerator Pickles.

Sweet & Tangy Refrigerator Pickles

  • 3 or 4 large cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 2 onions, halved (or quartered) and thinly sliced
  • 4 cups cider vinegar
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup canning salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 1/4 tsp. celery seed
  • 1  1/4 tsp. mustard seed

In a large non-metallic bowl, combine vinegar, sugar, canning salt, and spices. Mix well.

Add sliced cucumbers and onions. Stir to coat.

Store in glass jars or in a covered plastic container and refrigerate for 5 days before eating.

Keeps in refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.

However, I still have those zucchini sitting on the counter.

I think tomorrow I’ll surprise Farmer D with some zucchini muffins. 

Zucchini Muffins

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More Than a Peck of Peppers: Random Photo Friday

Fresh from the garden


Busy in the Kitchen: Canning Homemade Salsa

This is my busy season.

Between the gardening, the canning, and of all the things I try to squeeze as soon as the weather gets cooler, I’ve barely had time to sit down and think about what’s next on the list.

But that’s okay, because I’ve been getting a lot done…like making homemade salsa with the bounty from our garden.

Farmer D is already pestering me to buy tortilla chips.

Since I couldn’t remember in which book I found the recipe I used last year, I decided to try one I adapted from PickYourOwn.org.

Homemade Salsa for Canning

  • 15 lbs. meaty tomatoes (I used a mix of Roma and Amish Paste)
  • 3 medium onions
  • 6 hot peppers (I used a mix of Jalapeno and Hungarian hot – what to use depends on your taste buds)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups lemon juice
  • 2 6-oz. cans tomato paste
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. cumin (or more to taste)
  • 2 Tbs. dried cilantro (or 1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro)
  • 1 tsp. chili powder (or more to taste)

Clean, core and peel the tomatoes. Cut apart and remove the liquid and seeds (just roughly cut and squeeze them – they don’t have to be perfect). Place tomatoes in a colander for a few minutes to drain.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, chop the onions, peppers, and garlic to the desired size.  Dump into an 8-quart pot. Add the lemon juice, tomato paste, salt, sugar, black pepper, cilantro, and chili powder.

Place the tomatoes (in batches) into the food processor and pulse for a few seconds to break them up. Add to pot. Stir well.

Bring the salsa to a simmer (180 degrees F). Simmer and stir for 30 minutes.

A simmering pot of tomato goodness

Meanwhile, prepare a hot water bath, pint canning jars, lids, and rings.

(I ended up with 11 jars plus a small bowl for the refrigerator.)

Fill sterile jars with hot salsa, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Seal.

Place in the canning kettle – make sure the water is 1-2 inches above the jars.

Process for 20 minutes in a boiling water bath.

—–

Now that the jars are cooling on the kitchen counter and I’m just about done on the computer for the night, I can look at (for a whole 5 minutes before I fall asleep) some of the things I’ve accomplished today.

“Hey. Did you forget about us?”

The only problem is, there’s already a to-do list for tomorrow.

—–

If you’ve never canned, it’s not hard.

(Though I won’t lie…it “can” be a bit time-consuming.)

 

Get a copy of the canning bible, The Ball Blue Book, or my personal favorite, Putting Food By, and start preserving!


Fresh Picked: Random Photo Friday

Looks like I’ve got some canning to do.


Just One of the Reasons I Garden

Since today is my day off (which means I get to do three times the amount of work I’d do on a “real” workday and NOT get paid), I spent some time weeding in my little garden next to the garage.

Last year our radishes didn’t do much of anything.

This year they ROCK!

This baby here is a Watermelon Radish.

According to The Cook’s Garden, the Watermelon Radish is an heirloom variety originally from China. The large 3 – 3.5″ round roots are creamy white  (or slightly greenish) outside with a full central burst of watermelon rose. The flesh is described as crispy and mild, with a sweet flavor perfect for salads, garnishes, or cooking.

Today we haven’t even bothered with making a salad…

…we’re eating radish slices right off of the cutting board.


It’s Planting Time

The 2012 planting season (or #plant12, if you’re on Twitter) has officially started at our family farm…and the minor catastrophes that seem to go with it.

Here the guys are discussing what’s not working right on the field finisher:


Here is the tractor sitting idle while Farmer D tried to find replacements for some broken bolts:

And here’s dirty Farmer D after dealing with whatever today’s breakdown was:

Thank goodness the corn in the garden is looking good:

(And Farmer D’s amazing humble wife planted the garden all by herself.)


Random Photo Friday: Purple Orchids

Orchids on display at the Rockefeller Park Greenhouse. (If you know the variety, please leave a comment.)


Taking in Some Holiday Color: Rockefeller Park Greenhouse

Mom and I went on an adventure yesterday to Cleveland’s Rockefeller Park Greenhouse.

Built in 1905, the Rockefeller Park Greenhouse is open year-round, including holidays, and not only supplies the City of Cleveland with the plants for its citywide landscaping needs, the greenhouse serves the public as a free facility dedicated to educating, fostering and supporting gardening.

And visiting the Rockefeller Park Greenhouse is FREE.

“The Greenhouse is truly one of Cleveland’s treasures,” said a local lady we talked with…after looking at the one acre of indoor flowers, Mom I had to agree.

Gorgeous!

I took so many photos I can’t decide which to use for my 365 Project.

Which do you like best?

Get directions to the Rockefeller Park Greenhouse.


Random Photo Friday: First Frost

What was left of the flowers next to where I work the morning after the first good frost.


It’s Potato Harvest Time

Big changes at the homestead this week: the Amish crew finished the fence out back, so we finally have a pasture (and hopefully get beef calves soon).

I can't wait to be able to look out the kitchen window and see cows out in the pasture.

We’re also having the garage floor re-cemented….and my personal goal…we’re FINALLY getting our ancient, narrow, take-your-life-into-your-own-hands-in-the-winter, crooked front sidewalk fixed!

(Can you tell I’m happy?)

Anyhow, this morning Farmer D said lots of rain was on the way, and the potato skins have toughened up enough, so it was time to dig them up.

We planted a mix of Kennebec and Red Pontiac potatoes this year.

Farmer D & his dad are ingenious. After a couple of years of digging the potatoes up by hand, they adapted a potato plow to pull behind the four-wheeler.

Dad says this sure beats plowing behind a horse like they did when he was a kid.

After they plowed the row, we just had to sift through the dirt to pick the fresh potatoes. (The guys are always in their Red Wing boots. I think this is easier to do barefoot.)

Now we just have to pick the potatoes.

Though we lost a few plants because of the lousy spring weather, and had a problem with blight, the potatoes we harvested look good.

A portion of our potato harvest: Don't they look wonderful?

The new potatoes will sit outside or in the breezeway (depending on the weather) until we’re sure they’re dry. We’ll then move them to the pantry in the basement to store.

Bacon Cheddar Mashed Potatoes from FoodNetwork.com

Homegrown potatoes sure beat the store-bought ones! Especially since I found this Food Network link for 50 Ways to Make Mashed Potatoes.