Friday, October 24, 2014

What to do with all those Apples...

One bright and sunny Thanksgiving weekend day...
We picked a 10lb bag of apples.
It didn't really take us long...I probably could have picked the whole bag myself in 15 mins.
Seriously...not a difficult task...until you go to store these things!

I know you can store apples in a cool dark place for a few months into the winter.
I just hate the thought of one bad apple in the middle of the bag...rotting away...

So I went straight to keeping as much of the bag as I could with minimal waste or spoilage!

While I've made applesauce before...I've never jarred it for future use.
This was an awesome feat for me!
It usually smells so good when its boiling down...we eat it right away.
3 jars of applesauce now live in our food storage area.
While one can live without is a nice sweet addition to any pork dish.
Owen even likes dipping his potato latkes in applesauce!
Plus no preservatives or weirdness when you make your own...

Another first for me was the apple chip.
Slice thinly and sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar.
Like the tomatoes,  I tried both the dehydrator and the oven method.
Both worked well...but the apples took over 14 hrs in the dehydrator.
I must have sliced these apples way too I finished them off in the oven the next day.
Owen seemed to really like them at first!
Then that trailed off....must have gotten a few cinnamon heavy chips...

Ok...anyone with a little person these days knows that movie...
These are peeled and sliced apples in a freezer bag...
perfectly portioned so that all I have to do is pour them 
evenly into a baking dish and add crisp topping.
Dangerously easy...

As nothing gets truly wasted at this house...I present to you...the chicken treat!
Once I had peeled, cored and chopped my fingers sticky...I took out the bowl to the girls.
They loved this sweet treat!

What do you do with your apple harvest?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Apple Picking and other Fall things...

Over Thanksgiving (second weekend in October here in Canada)
we spent the weekend with my mother and her man in Brighton.

Brighton is a fantastic place to be in the fall!
Historically, it's major industry was APPLES!
They have an Applefest celebration in September.
They block off the streets to showcase everything to do with apples.

Naturally, we thought this was the place to go apple picking!
Turns out it was a perfect day to pick apples and
Everyone else had the same idea too!

I love the shapes and colours of fall...every size, shape and colour of squash...
Get them now, for they store really well in a cool room most of the winter!
No hydro required.

The funky blue one is a Blue Hubbard squash...I'm seriously tempted to grow these things!

Of course the pick-your-own farms have the usual silliness for family entertainment...

I do love a good apple pun!
(get it...MACintosh apples...)

We love Macs because they are good for just about anything!
Pies, crisps, freezing, baking or just eating plain.

Cricklewood Farm also offered pick your own pumpkins!!!

But better still...they had PICK YOUR OWN FALL RASPBERRIES!
I had no idea such a thing existed...

So, of course we set out to pick one very large pint!
Super sweet...those cool nights does a berry good.

The last time I was at Cricklewood Farm with Owen, was an equally great weather day.
We did the enormous corn maze which changes every year.
The farm was NOT this busy though...but the staff handled it beautifully.
What a great place to stop and spend an afternoon!!!

Also, a guy showed up driving THIS...I was dying to steal it!

I highly recommend this place if you are even close to the area of Trenton or Brighton Ontario.

Stay tuned on a post dedicated to everything we did with 10lbs of apples!!!

Friday, October 17, 2014

What to do with your Tomatoes...

As any gardener knows, you do the best with what you've got.
Sometimes that means you deal with a poor growing season...
(like the one we just and rainy)
and save what you can...while you've got it!

This past spring, we started our own tomato plants indoors in March.
We always had indoor this was a first for us!
We raised 45 Roma tomato plants and several yellow pear and tiny tim cherry tomatoes.
The romas did so well, we donated 35 of them to the Grandmothers for Africa plant and bake sale.
In return, we were gifted with some of the heritage tomatoes we grew this year. 

Although the growing season was poor...we were still drowning in tomatoes.
What to do?

I picked a sunny day to sit outside and listen to the Blue Jays 
(a local fall bird....not the sports team)
while I sliced and seeded our plentiful Romas.

There was also a beautiful breeze going I took advantage!
Sundried tomatoes...on my screen.
The dried for about 3 days, each night I brought them in so the heavy dew wouldn't make them mold.

Alternatively, I tried a food dehydrator to see if there was a big difference.

It just so happened my mother in law had one she was willing to loan me!
What I eventually found out was...both ways worked about the same.
The dehydrator was pretty darned convenient during our week of overcast skies and rain.
They smelled pretty nice too.
Still...there is something extra nice about tomatoes that were actually dried in the sun.
These sad indoor tomatoes just felt like impostors.

Luckily you can't tell the difference between them when they are all in the same bag!

The end result was a small freeze bag of dried summery goodness that we will enjoy all winter.


Another solution is to host a salsa party!

We had friends come by, enjoy some salsa music and we took over the entire kitchen with salsa fixins.
Of course the open bags of tostitos were for the much sampling...just to make sure, ya know?

A salsa party is an excellent idea to make the work go quicker.
You can also invite each guest to bring something that they has in abundance...
or that they can buy and contribute to the salsa.
We don't grow sweet bell peppers or having our guests bring those ingredients was a win for us!
We even had a guest bring the snap lids!

With so many can make enough to split between each guest.
Everyone wins!


This year, we also made pizza sauce in jars...

And pasta sauce for the freezer...

You can also make ahead meals and freeze them too...using your tomatoes...but I haven't gotten than far yet.
You can also blanch and skin them for the freezer too!


Sadly...I tried making pasta sauce in jars...
but after a few days it became apparent that something went wrong in the canning process.
While this is is no less heartbreaking.
It felt like a serious waste...but that sometimes happens when you are learning.
I am very thankful for the fact that my mistakes aren't going to mean my family will be starving this winter.
Luckily, when I make sauce, I don't add meat until I'm ready to cook it for dinner.
That meant the spoiled sauce went right into the composter.
Not so sad, right?

So tell me, what do you do with your tomatoes?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Wonderous White Corn...

We have grown corn for many years.
You might think that makes us experts on corn.
That our corn grows better somehow.

I smile when I hear stuff like that...
Largely because I know that we fail most years at the corn thing.

Doesn't matter where we plant or what we plant...
We suck at corn.

Each year I mainly grow it because I like looking at it.
I also like having free fall decorations...once I've given up and dried the stalks...
Plus, I'm generally an optimist.
I 'think' every year will be different.
Perhaps the 'right' season will come.
The truth is I don't really research how to grow what we grow all that much, 
but I'm sure there is missing something.
The point of all of this, is that this is what our ears normally look like...

Teeny, tiny, wee, little ears...

In my small can count a handful of kernels...
but you wouldn't ask me to serve you up an ear or two.

Now when faced with a load of wee little corn ears, you might ask...what is a girl to do?
Well, I'm not one for wasting anything!
So while I was happy to have all of these wee corn husks in my compost,
I was actually happier thinking about treasure hunting for actual kernels to save.

It wasn't a bad haul...just labour-intensive.
In the end, I had enough for large freezer bag of white corn kernels for the freezer...
as well as enough to make these jalapeno corn fritters!

While I normally don't subscribe to deep frying as a regular cooking method...
I couldn't resist these puppies!!!!

Here is the original recipe found in the Walmart Live Better magazine:

Whirl one 341 ml can of corn (I used fresh here...obviously), drained,
with /2 onion and 1 jalapeno (both from our garden), seeded, in a food processor.
Add 1 egg (from our girls), 1/4 cup cornmeal, 2 tbsp flour and 1/4 tsp salt.
Whirl until mixed.
Let stand for 20 mins.
Heat enough oil to reach 1 in in a medium frying pan over med-high heat.
Scoop 1/4 cup portions into oil.
Fry until golden, about 2 mins each side.
Transfer to a paper towel lined plate.
Serve warm.

I served these delicious fritters along with another homemade burger patty.
This time the burger was garnished with homemade relish, bacon and a slice of lemon boy tomato.
The fritters are topped with a bit of mayo and parsley.
While cooking these fritters...I couldn't escape the smell.
The aroma was like a carnival...or a savory donut shop.
Again, not being a fan of deep frying...this will be a special occasion dish.

How do you keep your harvest?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

4 Year Anniversary and Giveaway!

October 18th 2010

That was the date of my very first blog post.

It has been 4 years now...and I still love blogging.

Since then, so much has changed...

We moved to the woods.
We dove head first into foraging.
We started raising chickens!
I now host foraging walks.
Our son Owen loves most veggies...but loves eating weeds more.

And yet, one thing stays the same.
I still love to grow food and make delicious meals.

In honour of my 4 year blogging anniversary
I would love you to have some very valuable reading materials!!!

Check it out:

I have 3 copies of this amazing book (good for home owners AND apartment renters):

I have 1 copy of my gardening bible:
Already given to my dear friend Melissa Alena!

I have 1 copy of this incredibly readable guide to off grid living!!!
I am almost done this book...its so humourous and informative.
I'm having a hard time putting it down!

Be the first one to leave a comment in the comments section or my facebook page or group...
Let me know which is your favorite Small Purse, Big Garden post and I will reward you with a new book!
***also let me know which book you prefer***

In the meantime, here is a selection of some of my first posts...

Here I ramble about my family connection to gardening.

Here is a recipe for Moose Stew and the benefits of eating wild meats!

Here we experiment with Dandelion Coffee and explore settler life.

Susanna Moody likes her coffee..

Here is my post where I hypothesize that Carrot Cake is actually GOOD for you!


Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Mighty Potato...

The mighty potato!
Saviour of the Irish...
Scourge of Atkins-diet followers everywhere...

We absolutely love to grow potatoes!
Each year we attempt to grow a huge amount of potatoes.
The funny thing never know how many potatoes you are growing...until you dig them up!

Each year we come up with some brilliant idea of how to grow MORE potatoes.
This year, we tried to grow the plants inside buckets with the bottoms cut out.

The first few plants I unearthed...I wasn't convinced it was a good method.

For some reason, the other half of the potato bed proved this method an unusual success!

We planted a dozen potato plants...and the above picture shows our white fleshed potato yield.
The ones in the bucket are for storing.
The ones on the straw are tubers that I scratched or nicked with my fingers or the trowel.
I was told that any disturbed flesh on the potato will rot very quickly.
I had no idea how quickly.
That is, until some of our red skinned potatoes went bad in 2 days where I had been careless.

Careless?  Maybe.  Excited to dig up super sized tubers?  Definitely!
There were more than a few that were the size of my head!!!

So what do you do when you scratch a freshly dug potato?
Make a loaded baked potato for dinner!

Gently scrub the skins of the potato (fresh taters have very delicate and papery skin)
Clean, soak and chop a handful freshly picked cooked broccoli.
Chop a few pieces of cooked bacon.
Shred marble cheddar cheese from Wilton Cheese.
Pierce potato all over and wrap in foil.
Bake for 1 hr approx.
Open foil and pinch sides of potato to open.
Add Stirling butter and top with broccoli, bacon, cheddar and s & p to taste.

Over the past few years of blogging, I have discussed potatoes before.

If you would like more potato-ey goodness:

Here I discuss cooking potatoes 
(features recipes for Potato and Wild Leek Soup, Leftover Mashed Potato Pancakes, Hashbrowns)

Here I illustrate the recipe for Shepard's Pie

Here is our recipe for Venison Steak and Veggie Pie with Pastry topping

Here is my original potato post complete with recipe for roasted red potatoes as a side dish.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Beyond the edge...

Lately I've been obsessed with going outside the lines...
Going beyond the edges.

Now when I say 'edges', I mean to say we all stay in the lines.
We all drive on the roads.  Walk on sidewalks.  Work in buildings.
I want to go where only my eye can go.

I want to wander to the other side of those lines.

When I drive in the countryside...I imagine what lies beyond the trees.
Have you ever wanted to park your car and just walk off into the wilderness?
(ok maybe that's just me)

In the springtime, I have heard a waterfall near our home.
I never knew where it was...only where I thought the sound was coming from.
I finally jumped without a safety net.
I walked beyond the edge...

There were shapes and colours, raw and natural.

There was mica sparkling in the daylight.


There was the gentle trickle of life-giving water down the hillside.
I found rocks gathering in huge numbers.

I found peace.  I found tranquility.
I was a nature creature in the wild.

I think its important for us, as human animals, to reconnect with nature.
I have posted about this idea before...but this post is more about the feeling of being in nature.
The feeling of being free.
The feeling of us as animals...and not just corporate entities.

Where do you go for peace?