Mixed fruit jam

I had some apricots and peaches that were quickly spiraling down the path to spoilage.  I cut them up and parked them in the fridge for the night. 
My family was in town from Washington this week, and my dad brought me a bowl of his home-grown raspberries.  We enjoyed a bunch in yogurt and over ice cream, and then I added the rest to the peaches and apricots. I also threw in some local strawberries that need to be used up. 
I went searching for Pomona's Pectin, but couldn't find any at the time (I later found some at a garden store and in my own cupboard..*eye roll* I should look more closely next time).  Since I couldn't find any at the time I decided to try making jam without pectin. I followed the guidelines I found on the Food in Jars website for small batch jam.  I ended up cooking the fruit in two batches so that I was more assured of getting it to gel. I added in a sprinkling of lemon balm leaves, but they discolored in the final product so I think I will leave that out next time. 

I am grateful to my grandparents who passed down this half size canner to me last month because I have a stove with an attached oven right above it and I can't get my big canner under it and still be able to put stuff in or take stuff out of the canner. This half size canner made it possible for me to can. 
And the finished product!  I like to can jam in smaller jars because we don't go through it that quickly, and if you give it as a gift you can give several small jars that way there is a variety. I also have two of the little jars in the fridge to use now. I made some thumbprint cookies that the jam goes well with. 

I will put up pictures of the greenhouse later- it looks amazing. First I need to go figure out what to do with several pounds of pie cherries.  Oh, and I will have the farmers' market post and a garden update later as well. 



Lots of things have been happening around here, and I made sure to take pictures, but they are currently stuck on the iphone, which my husband has with him at work.  So, updates will have to wait until tomorrow.  Canning, jamming, poppies, and green houses are coming!


This week at the farmers market: 7/9/13

I thought I would start a weekly feature and show what I buy each week at the farmers' market since I love shopping there.  I try to do most of my shopping for the week either there or at my favorite farm stand. Since the farm stand is only open one afternoon a week and it happens to be the same afternoon as the farmers' market, I just make one big trip each week. So here is what I got this week: 

1 dozen eggs (freshly laid today), 1 head of napa cabbage, big container of strawberries, 1 bunch of carrots, several heads of broccoli, 3 zucchini, 1 cucumber, 2 peppers, 2lbs apricots, and 2lbs peaches.  I also got a few treats: 1 freshly squeezed lemonade, 1 freshly squeezed organic orange juice, and 1 apricot walnut puff pastry. I would have gotten cherries, but they were sold out by the time I got there.

I'm still deciding what I want to do with it all- so many possibilities.  I think the cabbage will turn into a chinese cabbage salad since I actually have toasted sesame oil in the house and the salad holds up well in the heat (unlike mayo based salads).  My family is coming to town this weekend and we are going to a lake on Sunday so cabbage salad would be great to take to that.  I can't decide if I want to can any of the apricots or dry them instead. I have cashews that need to be used so I think a slightly tweaked version of Joy the Baker's Vegan Cream of Broccoli soup sounds good. In the past I've made zucchini fritters with a yogurt dipping sauce that turned out really well and since I have goat milk to make yogurt with, the fritters will probably be made again. The carrots, pepper, and cucumber will go well with all the lettuce I have growing for salads, although I was thinking of making a quick refrigerator pickle with the cucumber.  Any other ideas? What would you do with all that produce?  What's growing in your area?


Knitting and reading

     I'm knitting the one thing I know how to knit- a washcloth with only knit stitches, which I think (?) is called garter stitch. The yarn is a mix of some of my favorite colors. 
     I'm reading a book I got at the Mother Earth News Fair where I heard the author, Stephanie Tourles, speak (and she passed around some of these concoctions- it smelled amazing in that room!). It is about herbal topical remedies. Herbs are one of my favorite topics and this is chock full of good recipes. It is organized by condition so you can pick cold and flu, burns, etc and there will be remedies for that ailment. If you are interested in herbal medicine like I am I also strongly recommend anything by Rosemary Gladstar.  I've been hearing good things about "How to Move like a Gardner" by Deb Soule so I will be trying to check that out soon.  Stephanie Tourles has a few other books as well, a couple of which I have and couple of which I would like. This one is by far my favorite of the ones I have. 

Joining Ginny's yarn along today.



It has been hot. Simple and quick meals are in order. This can work for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Most of the ingredients are local as well. 
I went to the farm stand today and the only eggs they had left were 4 turkey eggs. I thought they would be interesting to try. I picked some lambs quarters, basil, sage, rosemary, chives, and one pea. I sautéed all of that in butter with green onions and young garlic that I had chopped and frozen. Then I added salt, pepper, and some local raw milk cheddar cheese. I toasted some new to me gluten free bread and then rubbed it with garlic and a little butter. Added some fruit (local strawberries) to the mix and it was a yummy, healthy 5-10 minute meal. 



Tomorrow I will update about the intentions I set out for last week.  Today I just wanted to take a minute a talk about community and the generosity of people. I recently found this facebook page for my area where gardeners and farmers can post stuff they want to sell or are looking for.  I posted about the school garden we are putting in where I teach, and there has been such a generous response.  I'm so grateful.  There had been soil, plants, and seeds donated by people who had no idea about our school and don't know me.  They just wanted to help.  It has been neat meeting them, and getting tips from seasoned gardeners (this short season gardening is new to me so I need all the help I can get!).  It just goes to show that if you put yourself out there a bit, there are good people who will help make things happen.


Little one

I haven't gotten much done lately because we just welcomed a new little one to the family who needs a lot of attention. This is Hazel: 



     As I'm a teacher and school is out for the summer, I currently have a lot of free time.  Since my husband works night shift and therefore has to sleep a good part of the day away, I am finding myself sitting around the house without much exciting to do.  The garden is in progress, but not producing anything but lettuce currently, and there are no weeds, so doing much out there isn't an option at this time, although later in the season ( and the years to come) I'm sure that will be a different story.  The house could be picked up, but that isn't exactly fueling my desire for a creative outlet, so I do it in spurts and then want to do something else.

     Today this led me to search my pinterest boards for something to do.  I've decided I will pick a few things every week, and then share here how they turned out.  It will be mostly simple things with stuff I already have on hand.  It might be an herbal concoction, a drink or meal, a sewing endeavor, a furniture redo, or something else entirely. For instance, a few days ago I found myself with a bunch of spearmint, so I decided to make spearmint extract.  It is currently macerating, and when it is finished will be good drinks, fruit sorbets, and homemade ice cream.

This weeks to try list is:
Gardener's hand scrub and "the mojito" (without the alcohol) from http://tendcollective.blogspot.com.
Taco Salad with creamy cilantro dressing from thekitchn.com
Practice my figure drawing skills with this tutorial: http://melissaesplin.com/2011/08/tutorial-fashion-sketches/

I will let you know how it goes!


What we did today

Lots of lettuce and a few peas in the back 

A native perennial garden getting started

The salmon berries are already showing life

The beginning of my herb garden- basil, lemon balm, chives, perennial sweet peas, yarrow, bee balm.  I've since added sage and rosemary. 

Beautiful peony

So today we were busy out in the yard.  It all started because yesterday my husband surprised me with a window box right out our bedroom window.  So, of course, today I had to go get flowers for it. I will post a picture of it when we are finished with it.  While we were at the nursery, we saw two gorgeous peonies and could not resist.  We planted both of those with some Persian buttercups aka Ranunculus.  We planted a semi-dwarf Montmorency cherry tree. I've been working on an herb garden- the fencing isn't going to stay that way, but right now that's the only way to keep the dog from laying on it.  We found out (from a lovely lady who was gardening next door) that a bush we were thinking of removing is probably a chokecherry, so it will stay.  I want to try making chokecherry jelly or jam. I would like to get some chokeberries as well so I can make juice from them.  It was a long day, but didn't feel long as we love being out in the yard doing things.  It is very satisfying to us.  We are tired now, though!


Photo update.

Hiked up Bear Creek trail

It was lovely. 

Visited family and got to see a Mariners game- they won!

Bought a new shower curtain that makes me laugh.

Planted blueberries, and a bunch of other things I will post later. 

We were told blueberries don't do well here, but I hope ours make it!

Went to the Mother Earth News fair and got to see one of my favorite author/speakers- Joel Salatin!

Recovered the seat of an old rocking chair. 

The color here is quite faded from what it really looks like. 


Dirt and rocks

Saturday evening I watched The Edible Garden with Alys Fowler from the BBC.  I loved it- so inspirational.  It made me re-think how we were planning to arrange our garden.  Then, today, I saw that free dirt and rocks were being offered on craigslist.  We went and shoveled dirt into our pick up truck, unloaded it (after we put cardboard down), and then we went and loaded the truck with river rock.  We have plans for it, but no pictures, yet.  We were too tired to unload it tonight.
Laying the cardboard down

The pick-up truck full of dirt, and our new wheel barrow on top.

What we have still to do

Ryan laying more boxes down

Unloading pick-up

The making of a garden.

More to follow!


Chick update

Oh, how quickly these chicks have grown!

Ruby, again. 



Beryl's beautiful feathers. The white is actually silver in person. 

We just put a perch in for them. Some have the hang of it, others are taking their time. They are all getting along well, and enjoy treats of oats and greens/sprouts. Later on this week we will need to start putting up their fencing, as they are getting close to being big enough to be out in the coop. 



An update on what has been going on in our world: 
I made sprouts for the first time! It was super easy. I followed instructions I found on Mountain Rose Herb's youtube channel. I found a set of sprouting lids for my mason jars at a health food store, and got some alfalfa sprouting seeds. They are good, and it was fun to watch them grow.  It is definitely something I will do more often, especially over the winter when local greens are harder to find. 

Next to the sprouts- raw, local goat milk! I have been eliminating cow dairy from my diet to see if that clears up some health issues I have been having. The goat milk tastes great. 

I have been finding all sorts of things on our local yard sale page on facebook- the chives pictured here are from a lady a few miles away.  I got two chive plants from her.

Speaking of the yard sale page, we picked up quite a few bags of free mulch, bought a small wood chipper, a zoku popsicle maker, and we will be getting a puppy in a couple of months (she was born yesterday).  It has been great to find all this for a good deal, and not have to buy anything new.  It has also helped us get to know people and get to know our community.  I have learned so much already by talking to people.  We dug up the big shrub in the middle of our yard yesterday because we have other plans for there, and someone in the area wanted it.  She and I talked for 2 hours, and she told me all about the best hiking, gardening classes, canning, herb walks, etc.  We had a great time, and our plant is going to a good home instead of a dumpster.  Plus, we now have a big hole in the middle of our yard, which is a great start for what we have planned for there.

Well, that is enough of an update for now.  I made some coconut rice krispie treats (gluten-free!) that I'm going to go enjoy with my love. 


Snow and sunflowers

 It is currently snowing outside.  I needed a little sunshine, and found it in the form of some flowers.  These are from a while ago, but they are still lovely.

 We have warm weather on the way, so hopefully more garden changes coming!



I started a few things right before spring break, and they are doing nicely.  The self-watering tray I bought makes for MUCH healthier seedlings.  I've been quite pleased with them, so the slightly higher price was worth it to me (and I can probably re-use it).  Now, we just need to get some grow lights so that the seedlings don't get too leggy.
Tomatoes- 4 different kinds

Several medicinal herbs and Marconi peppers

Eggplant and mini yellow stuffing peppers
Most of my seeds this year came from Baker Creek Heirloom seeds. I have a lot more to get started, but these will have a big head start.  Outdoors there are a few things coming up as well:
Peas and greens just starting to come up. 
 What are you growing right now?  What are you most excited about growing and why?  I am excited about my medicinal herbs so I can make some herbal medicine for us.


Yard update

We spent this afternoon putting in some fruit bearing plants- apple trees and raspberries.

Apple trees in along with apricot trees. The mini-orchard is starting to take shape.

Blue watching over the trench for the raspberries
Raspberries planted- 3 different kinds

We are looking forward to the fruit of our labor! :)