Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Wonderland

With 2 feet of snow and drifts 3-4 feet high, I do not think that I will be doing any more gardening this year!









I look forward to gardening with you in 2010!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Gifts from the Garden

This year's fall garden, I planted some turnips for the first time. Although turnips can grow quite large, they are best when they are about 2 to 3 inches wide. All of my family loves turnips. We think that they are best sliced with salt and pepper. You can cook turnips like potatoes, but they lose some of their flavor.

I gave some of the turnips to Grandpa. The turnip greens that I harvested went to Grammy. Turnips are one vegetable that she did not have in her fall garden this year. We will also be giving salsa made from the garden this year to Grandpa. You can go here for some other gift ideas.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Quotations from the Garden

"I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in."

-George Washington Carver

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

My family and I are celebrating our Thanksgiving with our Momma's dad, and Daddy's parents.

Ben and I love our Grandma's recipe for Cranberry Salad. It's a good way to remember her on holidays. (We make it on Christmas, too.)

Cranberry Salad

1 can apple sauce (we have used both chunky and regular)
1 can whole cranberry cranberry sauce
1 large box cherry jello
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup nuts (optional)

Mix jello and water until dissolved. Add other ingredients. Mix well and chill before serving.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Holiday Savings

We love the savings on the day-after-Thanksgiving. However, Momma and I do not like to fight the crowd. This year, Teaching Good Things and Generation Cedar are offering discounts on their products.

Teaching Good Things is offering a sale with 30% off of all their DVD's and e-books, plus free shipping and free gift wrapping. (This sale excludes the DVD bundle, which already has 40% off.) All that you need to do to receive this sale is to enter the coupon code BIGSALE when checking out! This sale starts on Thursday, 11/26, and ends on Tuesday, 12/1.
I have enjoyed learning to crochet and decorate cakes with their DVD's. Right now, I am using their crochet DVD! It is very easy to follow and informative.

Generation Cedar is also offering a sale on their products. The sale is $10 off orders of $50 or more, or $5 off orders of $25 or more. This sale includes their e-book bundle, which has 40% off normally, their skin products, Scripture Songs CD, both tangible and downloadable, baby gift items, and single e-books. This sale is only applicable the day-after-Thanksgiving.

I thought that you would like to know about these sales so that you don't have to fight the crowds!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pecans and Pecan Recipes

Yesterday, Ben and I shelled pecans. Some of our friends had given us some pecans from Georgia. Thank you!

Pecans are tree nuts, and native to North America. (Note: Some people are allergic to tree nuts, so use caution!) George Washington and Thomas Jefferson planted pecan trees at their plantations. In Albany, Georgia, there are 600,000 pecan trees, and a pecan festival is held there every year. Also, Texas adopted the pecan tree as their state tree in 1919. Pecans have no cholesterol or sodium, and are an excellent source of fiber, protein and natural antioxidants.

When you shell pecans, you need to make sure that the center divider between pecan halves is removed. The divider is very bitter! Ben and I cracked the pecans by using vice grips. We would make the vice grips a little bit tighter than the pecan, and then cracked them. The pecans cracked easily!

Here are some recipes that we might be trying with our pecans:

Pecan Pie

1 cup white corn syrup
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
2 cups roasted pecans
pie dough

Melt the butter, and mix it with the corn syrup, brown sugar, salt, and vanilla.
Gently beat eggs and then add them to the batter and stir until the batter looks as it did before the eggs were added
Take your pie dough and roll it out to about 1/8 of an inch in thickness. Then, place the rolled dough in the pie pan. Cut the excess crust off around the edge of the pie pan, leaving 1 inch around the edge.
Fold the inch edge of the pie dough under itself so that it folds in half. You can also pinch the dough around the edge of the pie pan.
Pour the pecan pie filling into pie shell and sprinkle the roasted pecans on top of the pecan pie filling.
Bake at 350° F for 1 hr. - 1 hr. and 10 min.
After the pie has been in the oven for about 30 minutes, take it out, and put strips of foil around the edge to keep the pie crust from burning. The filling will be runny and quite hot. Then, put the pie back in the oven for the rest of the time.
After about 30 minutes, test the pie to see if it is done by sticking a knife in the middle of it. If the knife comes out clean, the pie is done, and if it comes out dirty, it needs about 10 more minutes in the oven.

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Pecan Pie Cookie Bars

2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 cup dark brown sugar, divided
1 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 large egg, beaten
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350° F. Spray bottom of 13x9-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. In large bowl, combine flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar and butter. Spread on bottom of the pan, and bake for 20 minutes.
In a medium bowl, beat together egg, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and remaining brown sugar. Stir in pecans. Pour on top of baked cookie layer. Bake 25 minutes, cool and then cut into bars. Store leftovers covered at room temperature.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Picking Persimmons

Last Tuesday, Ben and I went and picked some persimmons in the field. Our neighbors told us about the trees, so Ben wanted to try this wild food! He thought that they were very tasty! The persimmon trees were loaded with the fruit. They are very sweet, but they have many big seeds in the center. A good frost makes the persimmons sweet.
Adelia and Lina Beard described persimmons in their book, Wild Food on the Trail, as, "The persimmon is about the size of a plum, but is flattened at the poles. It grows close to the branch and its calyx is large. The color is yellow generally flushed with red. Some writers describe it as juicy, but I would not call it that; the flesh is more like custard or soft jelly."

I have Wild Food on the Trail in an e-Book format. It is a very helpful book when it comes to identifying wild foods. Wild Food on the Trail also has some drawings of some of the fruits, berries and the leaves of the plants for easy identification. I got my copy of this helpful book from Olde-Books.com. Right now, Olde-Books.com is offering a coupon for a dollar off on this useful book, which is valid until November 18, 2009. The coupon code is persimmon.

We enjoyed picking persimmons. It was fun to pick our own "wild food on the trail"!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Making Autumn Olive Jam

Last week, my friend Hannah and I made autumn olive jam. Autumn olives are small, red and slightly white speckled berries. They are somewhat like the shape of an apple, though they are only 1/4 inch tall. Autumn olives have a slightly tart taste, though when Hannah and I picked them, they were very ripe and quite sweet.

Autumn olives are invasive, and Hannah's family's woods have many of the bushes. All of the trees were loaded with the berries, and we picked about 16 cups.
After we picked enough berries, we washed them and picked off most of the stems.
Next we cooked the berries with a bit of water and mashed them with a potato masher.
Hannah and I placed the crushed berries in a sieve to strain out the seeds and skin.
We used Pomona's Pectin and followed their instructions for the amount of pectin that we used.
Hannah and I made 9 half-pints of jam!

Autumn Olive Jam
Makes 8 cups

8 cups autumn olives, stemmed
1/2 cup water
7 cups sugar
1 small package dry pectin

Cook the fruit and water in a large stainless steel pot on high/med for about 5 minutes, while crushing with a potato masher until most of the fruit has been crushed and seeds are extracted. Remove from heat and pour through a sieve or put through a food mill to strain out the seeds. 8 cups of fruit will come to 4 cups of pulp.

Measure 4 cups pulp and return to saucepan, adding 7 cups sugar. Add 1/2 tsp. butter, if desired, to help reduce foam. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Quickly stir in the pectin and the sugar and boil for exactly 1 minute longer. Remove from heat and skim off any foam, if necessary.

Ladle quickly into hot sterilized jars, filling to 1/4" headspace. Wipe rims and screw lids on tightly. Process in boiling water canner for 10 minutes.
Thank you, Hannah, for letting me help you!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Canning Applesauce

Last week, Momma and I canned applesauce. We bought our apples at Carter's Mountain Orchard. Momma and I used a bushel of york apples for our apple sauce. We probably won't do anymore than a bushel a day since we started around 10:30 in the morning and finished around 4:30!
I cut the apples using an apple corer, leaving the skin on.
We placed the cut apples in a pot with an inch of apple juice at the bottom.
We cooked the apples until they were soft, stirring them often.
With our bushel of apples, we had 4 pots on the stove full of the cut apples!
After they were completely cooked, Ben helped us when we cranked the food mill to make the sauce. :)
Momma and I seasoned the applesauce with a bit of sugar. You can also add cinnamon and other spices if you want. We had two large pots full of fresh applesauce!
We filled up the quart jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
We processed our quart jars in the water bath canner for 20 minutes. (Pints process for 15 minutes.)
Momma and I made a total of 16 quarts of applesauce! Our hard work will taste great when the snowflakes fly this winter!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Winterizing your Garden

This week, we had a rather heavy freeze, with temperatures down to 29! I had to clean up my garden by pulling plants that would not make it through the freeze. I also will be planting some bulb root crops that will come up in the spring. Here are some things that will help get your garden ready for winter!

Garlic should be planted in the next few weeks. You should separate the bulb into cloves. I plant my garlic about 2 times deep the length of the clove, and I plant each clove about 3-6 inches apart. The point of the garlic clove should be up. Gently cover the cloves with dirt and pack it down. In late November, mulch the garlic with straw which protects the sprouts from cold. Keep the mulch over the garlic until late March.

I get onion bulbs from my Grammy to plant for spring. Momma loves spring onions because of their mellow flavor. They can be planted much like garlic, but in closer spaces of 1-2 inches between each bulb.

Clean the leftover plant debris from the garden to prevent insects from overwintering in the garden. Diseases get established in the garden’s soil from overgrown gardens. Haul all of the plants out of the garden to prevent the possible diseases.

Summer-bearing raspberries should have their 2 year canes removed. The canes that are left will bear fruit next year. Summer bearing raspberries only will bear the fruit when they are 2 years old. Fall bearing raspberries should be pruned after the first freeze.

Cool weather crops, such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and spinach, do not need to be protected from frost. They can normally stand temperatures down to 22-25 degrees Fahrenheit. Some people actually think that the flavor is better because of the frost!

Hoses and drip irrigation systems should be drained and stored for the winter. One freeze can destroy the hoses and nozzles!

When your leaves fall from the trees, and they cover your yard, you can shred the leaves and put the in your compost. (Ben and I love to shred our leaves by raking them in a pile and jumping in them with Kathie! (: ) You can get excellent compost by building (or buying) a composter and placing the leaves in it over the winter.
My garden is mostly ready for its dormant stage during winter. Is your garden ready?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Garden Tours - Part 6

A few weeks ago, we visited our adopted grandparents. Grammie has a raised bed garden at their country home. She grew some kale, kohlrabi, beets, cabbage, purple hull peas, peppers, blackberries, cucumbers, and heirloom tomatoes. Grammie is also growing a fall garden this year with lettuce and other greens.

Grammie also cans many vegetables and meats. She canned pickles, green beans, tomato sauce, beets, okra, salsa, apples, pears, venison, chicken and other vegetables and jams. Did you see the antique square canning jar in the lower right corner?

Grammie's rural garden is surrounded by beautiful mountains. She also has an electric fence around the garden to keep out the unwanted deer! She has used an irrigation system this year for watering.

Thank you, Grammie, for letting me tour your garden!

You can read Grammie's blog at Titus 2 Joy.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Gardening Giggles

As this gardening season winds down, here are some funny pictures that we took this year.
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Maggie grew some long, flowing, corn silk hair! Kathie, as always, was a trustworthy supervisor. :)
And, when jalapeno peppers are dried, a jalapeno monster comes! :)
However, when we froze corn, Ben thought that we had corn coming out of our ears!Lends a new meaning to carrot top...

So, what does Ben do when he waits for his sister? Any guesses?He claimed that he was framed...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Harvesting Turnip Greens

In this year's fall garden, I planted turnips. Turnips are cool weather root crops. The root can grow up to 5 inches in width! The greens of turnips are edible and can be cooked like spinach. They also can be eaten raw in salads. Like lettuce, the greens will get bitter in hot weather.

Turnip greens should be harvested only once if you also want the root. They also should only be gathered around the outside of the root so the plant will be able to grow more. Turnip greens should be picked when they are 2-3 inches tall.

Turnip greens are high in many vitamins and minerals, as well as low in calories. They will not lose many vitamins even when they are cooked. Turnip greens also help prevent some cancers and other ailments.

We will try some turnip greens this weekend from my fall plants!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Curing Garlic

I grew some spring garlic this year. Normally, garlic is grown in the fall. It will hibernate over the winter and grow in the spring. However, I planted my garlic this spring, and it turned out just fine.

There are three types of garlic: stiffneck, softneck, and elephant garlic. Stiffneck garlic is much more temperamental than softneck garlic. It has a central stem, while the other types are all throughout the clove. Also, stiffneck garlic produces scapes that are edible when they are young and tender. Stiffneck garlic is also harder to find, though it stores much longer than softneck. Softneck garlic is normally the commercial garlic found in stores and as the seed-cloves. It is the kind that I planted this year. Interestingly, elephant garlic is not really garlic, but it is a member of the leek family.

Both uncured and cured garlic are edible. Curing garlic is like drying it. Uncured garlic is fresh out of the garden. It must stay in the refrigerator, while the cured garlic does not need to be refrigerated.

When you cure garlic, you should make sure that air will be able to circulate around the garlic. A good way to ensure that it will circulate under the garlic, is to get a screen to keep it off the ground. I made sure that the garlic would be in a dry place so it would not draw moisture.

To cure my garlic, Ben and I made a wooden frame out of some planks. We made some feet for it out of blocks of wood. (Kathie had a good time with us!)
For a screen, we stapled chicken wire to the frame.
I dug the garlic, and shook out some dirt from the roots.
Then, I immediately placed the garlic on the screen. I removed the screen out of the sunlight into our garage.
The garlic should cure for 2-4 weeks, or until the skin on the outside is papery and dry.