Monday, August 31, 2009

An Update on the Fall Garden

I have been harvesting many things out of the garden this year. The summer vegetables have been producing quite rapidly. I planted many of my family's favorite cool weather vegetables in my fall garden. Also, my Grammy has given us a lot of tomatoes which we have canned. Her friend, Katy, has generously given us many green beans. We have been enjoying fresh produce from the garden all summer!

I planted the fall garden with turnips, radishes, leaf and head lettuce. I also got some cabbage plants from the greenhouse. Most of the radishes and turnips are for my Grandpa since he loves them. He also does not buy them very much, so fresh turnips and radishes will be a great gift.

I have harvested okra, cherry tomatoes, goliath tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, snap beans and yellow squash. The cherry tomatoes have been quickly producing every day! The garlic that I planted earlier this spring is almost ready to harvest. We harvested the pumpkin, and it makes a nice fall decoration.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Making Salsa and Pizza Sauce

Yesterday, we made some salsa and pizza sauce out of Grammy's tomatoes. We got 40+ ripe red tomatoes. I also had tomatoes out of my garden, which we used in the pizza sauce. Grammy said that she does not want to can any more tomatoes, so we will do some more salsa, pizza sauce and possibly ketchup next week.

Momma and I used packaged seasoning mixes this year for the salsa and pizza sauce. We used Mrs. Wages and Ball seasoning packages.
For the salsa, we scalded the tomatoes. I slipped the skins off of the tomatoes after the were scalded, and Momma cut them up.
Then, we mixed in the package and simmered it for 10 minutes. After simmering the salsa, I put it in the jars and canned it in the water bath canner for 40 minutes.
When we made the pizza sauce, we scalded the tomatoes and slipped off their skins. Momma made a puree out of the tomatoes in our blender. After grinding the tomatoes up, we added the seasoning mixture, and simmered it for 25 minutes.
Once I filled up the jars, I canned them 40 minutes in the water bath canner.

Momma and I enjoyed working together and canning 20 pints of salsa, and 10 pints of pizza sauce!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Planting the Fall Garden

Today, I planted the first part of my fall garden. I sowed lettuce, buttercrunch lettuce and radishes. I also hope to plant some cabbage, turnips, garlic, spinach and onions. (An update on the cabbage regrowth: The heads regrew to about 2 inches. There is another cabbage plant which has a head growing to 4 inches. The cabbage was a bit strong. I am guessing that it was the result of the recent hot weather since cabbage is a cold weather plant.)

While I was turning up the garden, I had to pull some dead squash plants. Ben and I have been wanting to make a whistle out of the squash stems. We tried to make them today, but we were not successful. Ben and I researched how to make them on the internet and found a very interesting site with lots of whistle ideas and garden games. We have seen the whistles made before, so we know that they can work. Have you ever made one? Did it work?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Canning Green Beans

On Wednesday, we canned the green beans that we picked at Katy's garden. We canned our beans without salt. You can also pickle green beans but I have never tried it.

Green beans have to be canned in the pressure canner so that the high heat kills bacterial growth. The pressure canner only needs to be used for low acid vegetables, fruits and meats.
We picked the beans early in the morning. Ben, Momma and I snapped the beans before lunch. (Maggie sat on my lap while I took out some of the older beans from their shell.)
Momma and I washed and packed the beans into quart jars. I filled the jars up with water leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
I canned the beans in the pressure canner for 25 minutes at 10 pounds pressure.
We canned a total of 16 quarts to eat in the winter!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Picking Green Beans

Today, we picked green beans from Katy's garden. Katy is a special friend of my Grammy. We gathered about 2 five gallon buckets of stringless green beans. Ben, Momma and I picked the beans with the help of Katy's granddaughters, Rachel and Sarah. In an upcoming post, I will write about the canning of the beans.

Green beans are best when they are eaten fairly early in their growth. The seeds in the pods should not be fully developed when picked. If the beans grow bigger than the diameter of a pencil, they will not be as tender. We picked some that were really big today so that we could harvest the seeds to go into a big pot of green beans for supper. Daddy loves the seeds within the beans! If you pick your beans off the vine whenever they are ready, they will produce all summer.

Katy has a colorful garden with flowers that makes it enjoyable to harvest vegetables. Her house also has flowers in brilliant colors all around it. Thank you, Katy, for the beans!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Wild Blueberries

Last week, my family and I went camping at Grayson Highlands. When we were hiking, we stumbled upon some wild blueberry plants. The next day, we picked some for our pancakes. We filled up a 13 oz container with the berries. We are not sure whether the berries were huckleberries or blueberries. Some other hikers said that they were huckleberries, though most said that they were blueberries. We also found some blackberries, which made Daddy happy. :)

Wild blueberries are high in antioxidants. They are often smaller that the regular blueberry. Blueberries are from the vaccinum family. Wild blueberries were often used as medicine by the Greeks, which is where their family name originates. Momma and Daddy first had wild blueberries in Maine before Ben and I were born. They were quite surprised to find their favorite blueberries in Virginia!

We enjoyed picking the blueberries in what Daddy refers to as the "Rockie Mountains of Virginia"!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Compost Posting

I am going to be doing some up-coming blog entries on composting. Ben helps me take care of the compost pile. You can tell from the picture that our compost gave us a gift of a pumpkin plant! Each day, it gets more orange and bigger!

Here are some interesting facts and that I will be covering:
  • Why compost piles should not stink
  • What to put in your compost
  • Compost maintenance
  • How to effectively use your compost
Check back for some 'Compost Posting'!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Cabbage Regrowth

After I harvested my first 6 heads of cabbage, I decided to see if my cabbage would grow back. I had read in one of my gardening books that cabbage would grow back. The weather has been so much cooler this summer, so I thought I should try. All of the plants have been developing heads, so I will see if they will amount to anything. I hope the cabbage white caterpillars from earlier this season do not bother my plants. I will sprinkle garlic and cayenne pepper again because I am beginning to see some signs of their munching!
I have been planning for my fall garden, and I will definitely plant some cabbage. We love raw cabbage to eat as a vegetable for lunch. My family goes through the cabbage! Homegrown cabbage has a sweeter flavor than ones bought in the store. Later this month, I will plant my cabbage plants. Cabbage can handle a freeze and if it is a mild fall, it might make it until Thanksgiving!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Dehydrating Green Bell Peppers

Yesterday, we dehydrated some bell peppers. The peppers were from my garden. Momma will use the peppers in sauces and other crock-pot recipes. We sliced them and dried them at 145°. The dehydration time varies on peppers depending on the amount of water content that they contain.

On Sunday, when the tomato plants fell over, one of the plants fell on one of my pepper plants. It partially broke the stem. Ben mentioned using masking tape since he had read it in an old book. So far, the plant has been healthy and has blooms. Thank you, Ben, for the idea!

Bell peppers are native to South America and North America. I also discovered that paprika is made out of red bell peppers.

I have more peppers ripening in my garden for one of my Daddy's favorite dishes. Daddy loves stuffed peppers! Below is the recipe Momma uses from Betty Crocker's Cookbook.

Stuffed Green Peppers
makes 6 servings
6 large green peppers
1 pound hamburger
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
1 cup cooked rice
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Cut thin slice from stem end of each pepper. Remove seeds and membranes; rinse. Cook peppers in enough boiling water to cover 5 minutes; drain.
Cook and stir hamburger and onion in 10-inch skillet until hamburger is light brown; drain. Stir in salt, garlic salt, rice, and 1 cup of the tomato sauce; heat through.
Stuff each pepper with hamburger mixture; stand upright in ungreased baking dish, 8x8x2 inches. Pour remaining sauce over peppers. Cover; cook in 350° oven 45 minutes. Uncover; cook 15 minutes longer. Sprinkle with cheese.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Freezing Corn

Today, Momma and I froze some yellow corn. Our generous neighbors gave us 112 ears from the 2000 ears of corn that they picked from their field. (They still have not finished picking!) We have wonderful neighbors all around us who share their harvest with us. We got a total of 16 quarts of corn to freeze.
Momma and I shucked corn in the garage while Ben mowed so the pests would stay away. (One pest was our dog who loves to steal corn!)
Maggie kept us company while we shucked.She also was the kernel test-taster.I was in charge of cooking the corn and moving it to cold water.Momma took the corn off the cob using a corn cutter.
We'll love this corn in the winter!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Green Tomatoes

Yesterday, we had a downpour! When we came home from church, my large tomato plants had fallen over in the mud caused by the rain. Daddy and Ben found some metal posts in the shed and helped get the tomatoes upright again. While they were fixing the plants, some green tomatoes fell off the vine. My GrandRiley (he does not like to be called Grandpa etc.) loves fried green tomatoes. Momma and I decided to make some today out of the tomatoes that fell off. Here is the recipe that we are going to use:

Fried Green Tomatoes

from All Recipes

4 large green tomatoes
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour*
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 quart vegetable oil for frying

Slice tomatoes 1/2 inch thick**. Discard the ends.
Whisk eggs and milk together in a medium-size bowl. Scoop flour onto a plate. Mix cornmeal, bread crumbs and salt and pepper on another plate. Dip tomatoes into flour to coat. Then dip the tomatoes into milk and egg mixture. Dredge in breadcrumbs to completely coat.
In a large skillet, pour vegetable oil (enough so that there is 1/2 inch of oil in the pan) and heat over a medium heat. Place tomatoes into the frying pan in batches of 4 or 5, depending on the size of your skillet. Do not crowd the tomatoes, they should not touch each other. When the tomatoes are browned, flip and fry them on the other side. Drain them on paper towels.

*Momma and I looked at the comments, and some said to reduce the flour to 1/2 cup. Momma said that she might add more cornmeal.
**Another person said that the tomatoes were too thick and made them 1/8" width so that they would be crispy.

A friend of ours who has eaten them said that the fried green tomatoes were tangy. I'll update this post tomorrow with what we thought of this southern dish.
Update - 6:38 PM - We have just finished frying our green tomatoes. We all loved them - even me! (For those who do not know, I am not a major tomato fan.)
Momma and I would also like to make green tomato relish sometime. Here is a recipe for green tomato relish:

Green Tomato Relish
from Mommy's Kitchen

12 large green Tomatoes (cored)
4 green bell peppers, seeded
1 red bell pepper, seeded
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons yellow mustard seed
1 tablespoon celery seed
2 cups cider vinegar
2 cups granulated sugar
5 teaspoons salt

Chop the tomatoes and peppers very finely. You can chop them either by hand or in small batches in a food processor. Put the chopped vegetables in a large pot, add the mustard seed, celery seed, vinegar, salt and sugar. Stir well and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook while stirring often and skimming as needed. Simmer until the relish cooks down and thickens into a relish, about 2 hours. Turn into hot sterilized jars and process in a hot water bath.