Monday, November 3, 2014

Watching the Weather and Watching Baseball

I'm sure lots of people watch the weather forecasts, but farmers typically take it to a higher level.  We are so much at the mercy of the weather when planning our day-to-day activities, that we watch and listen to weather forecasts several times a day and often from more than one source.  We need to know when it's going to rain, when it's going to be windy, and when it's going to frost and/or freeze.

The corn and soybean harvesting is going full tilt around here now.  It's been a long harvest season because there have been numerous rain interruptions.  We have harvested all our vegetables now except for the lettuce and spinach which we grow in a raised bed.  We had a hard freeze this past week, so we put a tarp over the raised bed; the spinach and lettuce are still growing.  I got all the houseplants moved inside before the freeze.  I even dug and potted my lavender and rosemary plants and brought them inside.

 They don't seem to be able to stand the winters here, however, the oregano flourishes.  Our mint and spearmint plants should be fine and I left the thyme in the ground too.  We'll see.

Speaking of watching.  I've watched a lot of baseball in the last couple of months.  We watched the St. Louis Cardinals and the Kansas City Royals in the playoffs.  Then, of course we watched the Royals in the World Series.  Unfortunately, the Royals lost to the San Francisco Giants in the final game.  But, it was a good series to watch.

I have to crochet while I watch baseball, because it drives me crazy just to sit.  Also, crocheting is good therapy for dealing with the anxiety when the games are close.  So, pictured here is the afghan I made during the playoffs and the series.  It's made using 2 strands of yarn held together and a size N crochet hook.  The color of yarn I used is called "Medium Thyme."  The dimensions of the afghan are 45" X 60."  The pattern can be found at www.redheart.com.  The pattern number is LW2684.  It is called "Weekend Throw."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Seasonal Things

Lots of fall things are going on around here.  Most of our focus now is harvesting the rest of the fall produce (winter squash, sweet potatoes, radishes, turnips, green beans, and lettuce.  Then, we're also getting ready for winter.  The farm equipment that we won't need again until spring is getting put away in the barn and the machine shed.  We've been planting iris and tulip bulbs so spring will be pretty.  I'm finally painting the outside trim around the windows of the house.  We had replacement windows installed last year and I was too busy in the spring to get to it.  This summer our Bradford pear tree (which provides shade for the kitchen window) was broken off in a wind storm.  We replaced it with a Sun Valley maple tree.
 House plants are getting my attention now too.  I've been moving them inside, a few at a time.  Some need re-potting and some need dividing.  Some even need to be "rebooted," so I'm saving starts and throwing out the original plant.
 We have outdoor cats which we feed so they'll stay around as "organic mouse traps."  They do an excellent job hunting and capturing mice.  I spied these babies out sunning themselves and their mom was not around, so they posed for me long enough to take their picture.  The calico even let me hold it.  So cute!  I'm easily distracted by kittens.  Now, it's back to working on houseplants.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Wealthy Apples Make Wonderful Applesauce

This is still a busy time of year for us.  We're trying to manage the fall vegetable production and sales while working to get outdoor fall jobs and garden clean-up done.  Also, I'm in the last rounds of food preservation before winter.  I think I'm through with tomatoes; I made my last 2 batches of salsa on Sunday.  Last week I finished cooking Wealthy apples, making applesauce and putting it in the freezer.  It is so tasty!  Very little sugar or sweetener is needed.

I was curious where Wealthy apples got their name, so, of course I looked it up in Wikipedia.  Peter Gideon moved his family to Minnesota in the early 1800's.  The only apples that grew there were crab apples.  He bought apple seeds from a grower in Maine and crossed them with his Siberian crab apples.  Around 1868, when he finally managed to get some trees to survive and produce apples, he named them "Wealthy" apples after his wife whose name was Wealthy (Hull) Gideon.  I would say this is a positive example of genetically modified food!

This first picture is the apples getting washed before I quarter and core them and put them in my big soup pot to cook.  I just add 1 cup of water to the pot to start the cooking; put a lid on and set the heat at medium. When they start to boil, turn the heat down and stir occasionally.
 After the apples are fully cooked and become "mushy", put them in a food mill to separate the peelings.
Add a little sugar or sweetener and cinnamon (if desired).  Put in containers, leaving plenty of headspace for expansion, label, and freeze.  
So, now that the Wealthy apples are finished, it's on to Jonathan apples.  This week I'm starting on apple butter.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

I Spent the Day Chopping!

That's right; chopping, not shopping!  I think I'm as tired as I would be if I'd been shopping all day, especially because I'm not a shopper.  I do have lots of salsa to show for my day of chopping.  And, that's great because all these wonderful tomatoes make salsa that is soooooo good!

I've used up about 35 pounds of tomatoes today, so that helps.  I haven't made any marinara sauce yet this season, so that's probably next on the list.  I have made tomato juice, but we can always use more of that this winter and I haven't chopped and frozen any tomatoes yet, so I'll have to remember to do that.  Frozen, chopped tomatoes are always a good addition to vegetable soup.

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."