Monday, December 22, 2014

Starting to think about Root Cellars

In terms of keeping our harvest as long as we can, 
we used to do a lot of freezing.
We experimented with different sized veggies and what would thaw out better.
We learned what froze well and what certainly did not.

One day, a pipe in our basement exploded over our large chest freezer.
That was the end of freezing that year.

We lost so much was heartbreaking.
But like most things in life - I chose this sad event to be a learning experience.

How can we save our harvest in other ways?

Last year was an experiment in air drying and preserving.
We have dried some veggies and lots of herbs.
We dried seeds for planting next year.
We put stuff in jars too!
Pickled jalapenos, dill pickles, beans, salsa, wild leeks, 
ramps pesto, strawberry jam, mint jelly and maple syrup.

Ever since the freezer died, I've had my mind focused on root cellars.
The idea of storing things with no electricity.
What a concept!!!

View from the roadside

Across the street from our house there was a lot for sale.
It used to have a small home that fell into disrepair.
The western border of the property has a steep incline.
Built right into the side of the incline is an old rocky root cellar.

I have passed by this structure for a few years now, but decided to take a closer look. 

The above shot looks straight into the cellar, showing both sides and the back.
The structure has long been unused.
It is missing its roof and door.
I imagine what it must have looked like way back when.

Can you see the bright green moss?
It grows off of the sand or mud that was inserted between the rocks.

The above image shows how the original builders of this root cellar used preexisting rock.
See the big one at the bottom of the wall?
I wouldn't want to have moved that one!

See that swirl in the middle?
I imagine there was a piece of wood supporting whatever roof was on this structure.
The sand hardened over time and stayed long after the wood rotted.

I don't think this design is necessarily the best concept for a root cellar.
That being said, someone obviously used it at one time.
Since it is still there (for the most part), I'm going to say the design was very sturdy!

I'm going to start some research on the best home made root cellars 
so that we too can enjoy zero carbon footprint food storage.

In terms of our home, there are a few places I thought would make good cellars.
Over the last few years...I have been monitoring each area.
Upon further inspection, the temperature and moisture levels fluctuate a little too much for my liking.
Perhaps an exterior food storage option is the way to go?
Only time will tell...

What is your favorite method of storing your food?

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Little Potato Company Product Review

Surprise, my first product review!!!

On a very unsuspecting day, Handsome Husband declared I had a package.
I had a momentary panic attack...
Was this something I had ordered online that he wasn't supposed to know about?!? remembered I don't shop online...

So I opened the box...

No way!!!

The Little Potato Company sent me two kinds of potatoes to review 
and come up with some cool recipes.
I have never used this product this was all new for me.
I have friends that swear by these potatoes.  They won't buy any other kind.
So needless to say, my interest was piqued...


Although the cooking instructions did not mention clay bakers...I thought I would give it a try!
Usually I throw everything in a soaked Romertopf clay baker and bake for 90 mins.
This time, I put the dressed chicken in the baker...and in the last 20 mins I threw in
The Little Potato Company's Baby Boomer potatoes.
The result was amazing!
Even though adding the Baby Boomers mid way through the cooking process
made for an extra was well worth it.
The chicken was given to us by a friend who grows meat chickens, the onions and spices from our garden.

These little cuties were soft, tender and full of flavour.
The absorbed a great amount of flavours from both the chicken and 
the spices on the dressed chicken.

The ability to reheat or recreate leftovers is a deal-breaker for me.
Luckily, these potatoes kept on winning me over.
I give you...spicy taters and eggs!
Breakfast of champions...
soft boiled eggs from our girls served up with local goat cheese and fresh tomatoes.
The potatoes were leftover from the clay baker dinner.
These Baby Boomers re-fried up like a dream!
I added cayenne and chili powder.

Another way I served these Baby Boomers was a trip to the East.
Curried Chicken and Veggies

Leftover chicken from the roast, baby boomer potatoes, onions and paddypan squash leftover from the garden.
I fried up the onions and the potatoes for 10 mins, then added the squash.
Simmer for another 10 mins.  Then I added curry, parsley and cilantro.
I used dried cilantro but really wished I had fresh herbs on this one.
Top with plain Greek yoghurt and enjoy warm.



This was actually my first dish made with the fingerlings potatoes.
I wasn't sure what to I went with simple to start.
In this case, I made maple flavoured bacon wrapped pork tenderloin.
Served with a spinach side salad and oven roasted potatoes and carrots.
I roasted the veggies on a stone tossed in olive oil, S & P and roasted for 30 mins at 400 degrees.
The carrots were from our garden and while they were small, they were tasty.
The fingerling potatoes tasted amazing.
Tender and tasty yellow flesh...I almost forgot that I grew potatoes this year!
(All of this cooking...I needed a cool beverage

The piece de resistence...Potato, Caramelized Onions and Rosemary pizza!
Original recipe was found in the Inspired magazine.
Heat 4 tsp olive oil over medium heat in a pan.
Add 1 cup sliced onions and cook until soft and golden brown.
This is where I deviated from the original recipe.
I roasted The Little Potato Company Fingerlings in a small dish at 400 degrees for 20 mins.
I made some homemade pizza dough in the bread maker.
After the potatoes cooled, I sliced the potatoes thinly and arranged them on the rolled out dough.
Then I even spread the caramelized onions and remaining oil on the dough.
Next I sprinkled dried rosemary from the garden and Parmesan cheese.
Bake at 425 degrees for 16 mins.
Enjoy as a side dish, fun appetizer or a savoury main meal.
Trust me...this dish WILL impress!


RESULTS:  I really enjoyed this product!
Although I advocate growing your own food and being food self sufficient...
if you can't grow your own veggies (whether you lack the space or you physically can't manage a garden) ...this is a great product for you.
The potatoes come already scrubbed so they couldn't make it any easier to use this product.

Thank you to The Little Potato Company!
I really appreciate this opportunity to test these wee potatoes.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Critters who ate our garden this year...2014

Japanese beetles....

I know everyone was talking about them...but I didn't really pay attention.

Then one day, I noticed my concord grape leaves looked like lace...


Eventually I did look them up on Wikipedia.
I wanted to make sure they were what I thought they were.
The write up is interesting...although depressing.
They are attracted to just about every plant.
You can use a soap/water mixture...which I will be trying out next spring!
I will try to post my results of a few different types of mixtures too.

This past year, I just reached out, picked it up and squished it.

Black Horsefly...

These things weren't eating my garden...but they were REALLY horrifying!
They are a relative of the horsefly...which is already big and scary.
These suckers are TWICE the size of a regular horsefly!!!
They are jet black all over and probably the worst looking thing I've seen
since moving to the country.