Thursday, August 21, 2014

Making the Best of It

Early this week we had a rain storm which blew down the north half of our Bradford Pear tree.  Years ago, my husband planted it on the west side of the house, strategically placing it so it would shade the kitchen window.  He chose it because Bradford Pears are relatively fast growing.  The downside is, they tend to be brittle and break easily.  I was disappointed when I realized most of my shade was gone.  Then, our cats showed up to play.  They acted like they had new playground equipment!  They ran and tumbled and climbed and jumped and wrestled.  They made the best of our bad situation.  I was in the kitchen all day canning tomato juice and they were my entertainment committee right outside the window.  When our son removed the fallen tree parts today, the cats kept looking around as though they were bewildered by the lack of play equipment.

We also make the best of it when it comes to dealing with "less than perfect" vegetables and fruit.  Since we're in the business of growing for farmers' market, we have some produce that is not pretty enough to sell.  We seldom spray our garden with insecticides, so we sustain a reasonable amount of bug damage.  Those were the tomatoes that I was making into juice and canning.  Lately, it's also been an occasional cantaloupe.  Sometimes they crack, but that's okay with me, because I love cantaloupe.  The picture below is some of that "ugly" fruit.  When it's washed, the outside cut away, and the melon cut into a plastic container, it looks and tastes as good as what we sell at market.  It makes me glad everything is not perfect! 


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Stuffed Zucchini

We have lots of zucchini this time of year, so my daughter, Laura and I decided we would try some new recipes.  We read some possibilities and printed some off we thought we'd like to try.  We chose one for stuffed zucchini, then we "Grandma Hauber'd" it.  That's what Laura called the process.  My mother used to say that she'd read a recipe and then make it however she wanted to.  I guess that's recipe free-styling.  Here is our finished version:


STUFFED ZUCCHINI

Medium or large zucchini, halved lengthwise, seeds scooped out
Extra virgin olive oil
1 pound ground beef
2 onions, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Fresh basil and oregano, chopped
Marinara sauce
Parmesan cheese

Brown the ground beef.  Remove to a plate.  Add a couple of tablespoons of oil to the skillet and saute' the onions and garlic.  Stir in the browned ground beef, basil and oregano.

Arrange an oven rack about 7" from the broiler element and heat.  Brush the insides of the zucchini with the olive oil and season lightly with salt.  Place zucchini cut side up on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil for 5 to 10 minutes.  Remove baking sheet from oven and fill each zucchini with enough of the ground beef mixture that it mounds slightly but doesn't spill over the edges of the zucchini.  Broil until the zucchini are fork-tender and the tops are lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes.

Serve immediately with warm marinara sauce and shredded Parmesan cheese.
 We also found that if you have leftovers, they may be wrapped in foil, refrigerated and warmed up in the oven the next day.  They are as tasty as the day you made them!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Wow! Time Flies!

That's how busy we've been!  The weather was very dry in May and we were constantly watering crops:  lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, peas, beets, strawberries, newly planted bedding plants like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, sweet potatoes.  We watered newly planted seeds just to get them to sprout.  This year was another first:  we watered our potato field and onions.  We had never done that before.

When June arrived, we finally started getting rain.  The first decent rain was 4.5 inches.  The next was 2.5 inches.  Rain is predicted again tonight.

The strawberries, lettuce, spinach, and radishes were all delicious.  They are finished.  The green onions will be good for about another week, and then they'll be too large to sell as "green onions."  We'll let them grow to get larger.
 
This was the first basket of Yukon Gold potatoes.  They taste so good.  Dylan dug several pounds and sold them all at Pony Express Farmers' Market in St. Joseph this morning.  He also sold sugar snap peas, green onions, rhubarb and turnips.

The green beans are blooming and starting to set beans.  The broccoli is developing and the cabbage heads are growing.  With the lovely rains we had, the weeds are growing too.  Weeding is our daily exercise plan.  We don't need to sign up for a yoga class; we have our own version of "garden yoga."

Monday, May 5, 2014

Cinco de Mayo

We started the day with an omelet which included pepper jack cheese, then topped with homemade salsa.  We ended the day with soft shell tacos, including guacamole.  The avocados in the store are so good now!  Today was a good day for working outside.  We planted zucchini, cucumber, and cantaloupe seeds.  We're moving our tomato and pepper plants outside each day so they can "harden off," (get used to the wind and the direct sun).  They're doing pretty well.  They take a lot more water when they spend their days outside.

Tom changed the oil in the tractor today to keep it in good condition.  We did more weeding on the strawberry bed and the asparagus.  The strawberries are blooming like crazy and we can see little berries starting to set on.

We hoed dirt up around the broccoli plants.  The wind has been blowing so hard that the plants need the extra support so they won't break off or fall over.
The peas and beets are doing well.  We have done a couple of plantings of green beans and sweet corn.  Next on the list to plant is okra and then winter squash.  Stormy weather is predicted for later this week, so we'll wait until next week to put tomato plants and pepper plants in the ground.  They don't like cold weather, high winds, or hail.  Neither do I.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Cold Again!

The temperature has been hanging around 49 degrees all day and the wind is blowing.  The wind chill must be 32 degrees.  If not, it feels like it.  I only went outside once today, wearing my hooded sweatshirt and holding a hot cup of tea.  I may have stayed all of 2 minutes.  This is ridiculous!  I'm wearing out my sweatshirts putting them on and taking them off.  The temp. is supposed to be in the 80's nest week.  Typical spring.

To stay warm today and to justify staying indoors, I made 2 batches of hot pepper jelly and 3 batches of cherry jam.  I used the remainder of cherries I had in the freezer.
I have several people who always want hot pepper jelly when farmers' market starts and I've had some requests already for cherry jam, so I figured I'd better get started.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Spring Colors!

This is what we've been waiting for!  Winter colors around here were brown (trees and ground), blue (sky), white (snow), and maybe an occasional pink sunrise or sunset.  Now we're ready for some serious, strong colors such as these.



The jonquils, grape hyacinths, and flowering quince are all going crazy right now.  It sure makes us smile to see all these pretty flowers.  The Bradford pear trees and strawberries are blooming too.  They're pretty, but their blossoms are white.

We've been working hard and now some of our plantings are starting to show up.  The onions are growing.  The potato plants are beginning to come through the ground, as are the peas, turnips, radishes and beets.  The lettuce and spinach is growing nicely.  We've planted our first patch of sweet corn and our first patch of green beans. The cabbage and broccoli plants have acclimated and are beginning to grow nicely.  We've been picking asparagus for a few days now and it's delicious!  We've planted 60 new red raspberry plants and 30 new peach trees.  We planted a couple of cherry trees and a couple of plum trees last year.  The year before last we planted 30 apricot trees.  The fruit trees are all planted in our yard, so hopefully, when the surrounding fields are sprayed, our fruit trees will not be killed.  If they all survive, we'll be living in an orchard.  I'll like that.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Afghans Finished!

In the winter I crochet hats, neck scarves and afghans.  It's a warm thing to do.  I made one of those 5 1/2 hour afghans previously which is crocheted on a giant crochet hook using 3 strands of yarn at the same time.  It took more like 5 1/2 weeks rather than hours; part of that time was used trying to get used to working with the giant crochet hook.

When my daughter needed a baby afghan made to give to a friend, we decided to try using lighter weight yarn, a smaller crochet hook, and the same pattern.  It was much easier to crochet and came out looking quite nice, I think.  The colors of yarn are pumpkin, light grey and a variegated grey.  The yarn my daughter chose is very soft, so the feel of the afghan is wonderful.
 I had never made a ripple afghan, so I decided it was time to give it a try.  I had some leftover yarn that I needed to use and it seems this chevron pattern is showing up everywhere in fabrics and clothing.  (I'm so concerned about being on the cutting edge of fashion)!  Anyway, I did enjoy crocheting the ripple afghan.  I may make another one next winter!