Life has been busy here this summer. We’ve barely kept our house clean or our children for that matter. Our primary focus was our garden and our animals. Here’s what we did this summer.
Picked zucchini and then cooked it 101 different ways
Fretted over our failed tomato crops
Listened to my son scream with excitement every time I pulled up a potato plant to expose all those hidden potatoes
Marveled at how fast a cute piglet can turn into a huge hog
Discovered ‘lemon cucumbers’ to be the only worthwhile cucumber to grow
Harvested 15 meat birds and several roosters in our backyard and still have the feathers around to prove it.
Watched our sweet baby girl turn into a toddler
Picked some more zucchini
Truly understood why it’s an insult to say “you eat like a pig”
Finally got our first egg and I no longer have to protect the hens from Robert’s hungry stares
Pleased that our daughter’s first animal sound was a turkey “gobble, gobble, gobble”
Burned through one pair of ‘Lightning McQueen’ rubber boots
Witnessed a fox kill our turkey then watched Robert kill the fox
Saw it rain…once
Helped save a beautiful and endangered breed of American turkeys, the blue slates
Thanks Robert for that update on the storage potential of winter squash. Now I bet you want to know how to cook them. I personally like to roast them and make
pumpkin pie healthy food for my family. Here’s how I roast them. It’s pretty easy and requires no monitoring, so you can go about your other chores. You can roast pumpkins or any winter squash this way.
First, preheat oven to 350°F. Now, cut them in half. Be careful, they can be very hard, which makes cutting a little dangerous.
Next, scoop out the seeds. (You can roast the seeds later if you’d like)
Now pop them in a roasting pan, cut side down, like so.
And finally add some water to the bottom of the pan, maybe a cup or less. It depends on the size of the pan and how many you are roasting. Mine has a groove along the outer edge so I like to add a little more because I know the pumpkins won’t be sitting in the water. Cover with aluminum foil tightly and roast for 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. Until they are tender when you push them with your finger. If they aren’t done, it makes them tougher to scoop out and the pulp is often more stringy and fibrous.
Here is butternut squash, acorn squash and sweet dumplings.
Here’s a link to a really yummy Thai coconut curry soup from Weight Watcher’s that uses butternut squash but I think you could substitute any winter squash.
Please share a link to your favorite squash recipes in the comments section.
While checking out a gardening blog of ours that provides much inspiration, Subsistence Pattern, I saw this quote and had to share it will you all.
“Maybe a person’s time would be as well spent raising food as raising money to buy food. ” — Frank A. Clark
We are in the market for a grain mill. We can’t wait to join the
thousands hundreds dozens of other folks who spent countless hours preparing their own flour. Now you know us, we don’t want just any ol’ electric mill that you can buy at Walmart and that will grind your flour in mere seconds. We want one that you have to crank yourself. And we want one that won’t break. That appears to be a tall order.
So we’ve done some internet searching and consulted our favorite bloggers. At least those who like to do things the
slow way old fashioned way. I think we have settled on a Country Living Grain Mill. Everywhere we look, we only find satisfied customers. We were also considering the Wonder Junior Deluxe mill, but the reviews were mixed. One reviewer said it took her 1 1/2 hours to grind wheat fine enough to use for bread, which required double grinding. That seems like a really long time to me. The cost is about half that of the Country Living mill so we are tempted to try it.
And talk about getting the horse before the wagon, we’ve already purchased a supply of wheat, corn and oatmeal.
We made ricotta a few weeks ago. We, as in my friends from church, and ricotta, as in the cheese. That’s right folks you heard correct, I made cheese. Even though I really just watched, I still consider it a personal accomplishment. I’ve tried 3 times in the past to make mozzarella and 3 times it ended in tears. (It was all the milk’s fault; it was UHT milk, not at all the right thing)
Now about the Home Ec Club, that’s what we’ve coined it, a group of ladies from church, all with an interest in seeing how cheese was made, got together and did it. Just like that. Everyone brought different talents to the party, we had two dairy farmers, one woman who pasteurizes goat milk, one experienced cheese maker, one food scientist who can’t make cheese to save her life (that’s me), one mom who was happy to leave her kids at home with dad, one mom who was just happy to get out of the house and one mom with four kids who love cheese, and cartoons.
We started out our lovely cheese making adventure by enjoying a cup of coffee, or two, or three and chatting. An hour later we watched a pasterization demo, chatted, watched two far more talented ladies than myself make the cheese, chatted some more and then ate lunch.
It was so much fun. I encourage you to start asking your friends if they would like to learn how to make cheese too. You may end up making new friends as well as cheese.
Oh and I was sent home with a wedge of fresh ricotta. It was delicious.
You may have noticed lately, especially if you have flipped through a Pottery Barn catalog or the recent Martha Stewart Living magazine that handmade dolls are trending right now. I can see why. They are so individual and charming, so unlike a cookie cutter doll from Mattel. I recently ordered two matching dollies for our twin god daughters.
My blogger friend, the dollie’s creator, has the cutest little blog Meg + Andy Made with all kinds of DIY stuff, like hair bows and bow ties. She is an artist and creates all these great things in her spare time which consists of practically nothing since she is a stay at home, homeschooling mother of 4 (including a set of 3 year old twins)!! Somehow she manages to whip up the cutest dollies and sells them at art fairs and at her online dollie shop.
Here are some pictures of the dollies that she made for me. And here is a link to more pictures of the dollies posted on her blog. Please try not to snicker at my terrible photography once you see her shots of the dollies. Clearly she excels in not only doll making but photography as well.
All I did was contact her and tell her their hair and eye color. She has an amazing sense of style so I wanted her to design them completely. She’s like that hairstylist that you love because you just sit down and they instantly know what hair cut and color will look best on you. Anyways, I just love them. I reeeeally wanted to keep them but I couldn’t see how depriving two little girls was a good thing. I do get to order one for my daughter but I have to wait until I can tell what color her eyes and hair are going to be.
I’d love for you to check out her dollies. They make such great gifts for little girls. Plus it supports an actual artist who puts love into her work.
It’s garden planning time around our house. Just so you get a feel for what it’s like around our house right now, our coffee table is stacked high with gardening books, seed catalogs and graph paper. Robert and I are both obsessed and our poor children have to either scream for our attention or physically remove the book from our hands. I like to think that I am the master gardener in the house but he seems to think that he is. This leads to many arguments over where to plant things and what to plant. Our latest argument is about how much to plant. I always want to plant less, he always wants to plant more. Since he usually wins the how much to plant argument, we need to figure out where it all goes.
Since reading Four-Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman, which I highly recommend, Robert recommended that we use a technique talked about in the book and that is make all beds the same size and all the foot paths the same size. Why didn’t I think of that? As I sketch out the garden I am constantly consulting Johnny’s Selected Seed catalog to find out plant spacing and row width, etc. I get a little carried away, as is my habit, and the plans end of being somewhat complicated. So to simplify, this year we are making all our beds 30 inches wide and all our foot paths 12 inches. Done.
If you want to learn more or how to plant different veggies in those sized beds, you’d better check the book out of the library or order it on amazon. It’s a good one. I have consulted it at least a few hundred times in the last week alone.
Wish me luck on my upcoming battles with self proclaimed master gardener, Robert. 🙂