Monday, June 25, 2012

Preserving the Harvest

For the past week, I've been kept busy in the kitchen canning our fresh fruit!
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A homemade quick bread is easily made for the occasion, so that we can sample our fresh Blueberry/Strawberry jam. This goes quite well with afternoon tea.
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Fruit and veggie scraps are often brought out to the Chickens. The younger chickens should begin laying soon!
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Homemade Relish
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3.5 lbs of cucumbers, 2 cups green peppers, 3.5 cups sweet onions...
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1 red bell pepper, 2.5 cups diced carrots..
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Everything minced fine, and combined in a large bowl. Feel free to keep the cucumber skin on.
I wont mention it took me 5 hrs to chop all this by hand...nope, won't mention it! hehe
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Now for the spices!!
2 TBsp pickling spice, 2 tsp each of: celery seed, dill weed, & dry mustard powder.
1 tsp turmeric and 1/2 tsp garlic powder.
In a large stock pot, combine minced veggies, spices, 4 cups sugar & 3 cups apple cider vinegar. Bring to a boil, and simmer until carrots are soft.
Ladle into jars, & process for 15 mins. Makes 6-7 pints.
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The relish turned out excellent and very flavorful! I hope you'll try this recipe :)
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One morning we all traveled to our nearby small town to shop at the open-air market. Our friends sell organic veggies that they'd hand-picked that same morning.
We're going to start shopping here for any surplus food we may need--I so enjoy supporting our local growers!
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In the garden, it's not uncommon to see a roll of twine atop one of the wooden stakes, with a worn pair of garden scissors hanging nearby. This has been so helpful & convenient as we often tie up heavy tomato vines.
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In the early evening, while the Summer sun was beginning to set--we headed over to our neighbors homestead. With a pasture of over 50 acres, it's a beautiful sight.
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We called in the herd of goats (which numbered over forty) and it's so much fun to watch them approach the gate. The horses and cattle follow soon after.
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To help out our neighbor, my dad offered to build a new structure for the chickens, and it's coming along very well. My brother often works alongside my dad with this project.
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While they worked on the chicken house, my sister and I walked through the pasture with our shovels and wagon in tow. We gathered up manure for the garden, which will be a huge help for our soil!
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Often our meals are eaten out-of-doors, as we gather around the picnic table decorated by fresh picked flowers.
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I find that preserving the harvest helps you to appreciate all the hard work that goes into every jar--and that feeling of accomplishment has been a blessing.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Old Paths...

The days have drifted by, like a soft wind on a hazy afternoon. I look up and wonder, "where has the time gone?" Its swift, unwearying wings have quietly led us into a new month--Yet, I can't help but marvel at how time seems to stand still, here in the countryside.
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Earlier this season I planted the seeds I had saved from last year, and to my delight, the heirloom pumpkins have been growing well. These seeds are local to our area, so they should be quite hardy!
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Collecting straw for a handmade broom.
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Each moment of joy is a gift. Gather and cherish those moments, so that one day you'll have a bundle of beautiful memories to look back on.
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What I love about gardening is the variety of fresh veggies that are in season. We've had a nice crop of onions, garlic, & summer squash-- so now we're anticipating more cucumbers & tomatoes!
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In the garden, on a clear day--Harvesting strawberries.
I'm currently freezing many of the berries for future preserves!
~{An inspiring book: "All the places to Love" by Patricia MacLachlan.}
One of my favorite storybooks, this keepsake highlights the rural life of a close-knit family. The illustrations have brilliantly captured the wonders & adventures of everyday living through a child's perspective.
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Observed the quiet landscape as we took an evening drive through the neighborhood..
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On the 26th day of last month, it was my birthday, and my sister made a glorious cake!
3 layers with butter cream icing, fresh flowers & fruit from the garden!
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Lazy Daisy Cake
4 eggs/2 cups sugar/ 2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups sifted flour/ 2 tsp. baking powder/ a half tsp. of salt
1 cup milk/4 TBsp butter
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Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine eggs, sugar & vanilla--stir until thick. Add sifted dry ingredients. Heat milk and butter to boiling point, then add to mixture. Bake in greased pans for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy!
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I decided to spend time browsing through a local vintage shop.
While there, I ended up meeting a few neighbors--they greeted us by exclaiming, "You're the family who are always in the garden! I see y'all all the time!"
I love small towns :)
~Upon arriving home, the sweet fragrance of climbing roses greet us at the gate.
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One afternoon, I found my brother in the kitchen, making artisan bread.
~I believe our animals enjoy the slow paced days as much as we do. :)
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A hand-sewn dress. It turned out quite nice, and my sister finished it in an afternoon or two. Based off of the Butterick B4973 pattern, but with a modest neckline & added length to the hem.
~Concord grapes...they're growing fast!
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The 'volunteer' tomatoes seem to be a nice variety. My task now is to stake them up, as they've become quite tall!
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Last year, when I was pruning off the flower heads, I decided to try something different.
I buried the flower heads nearby, to see if it would re-seed. Sure enough, many of our flowers came back this Spring because of those seeds!
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On our way into town, my Mother wore fresh flowers in her hair.
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As I weeded the pumpkin patch, I could hear my brother coming out of the woods.  He made many trips though the high grass, hauling fresh pine mulch into the garden.
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A beautiful plant came up unexpectedly--Can anyone identify the flower?  It's quite fun to find 'mystery plants' in the garden!
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One of our hens escaped up into a shade tree, and apparently thought herself very clever indeed. However, her proud cackling to the other chickens promptly gave her hiding spot away-- So back into the coop she went!
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A thought: Life is a gift to be used every day. How glorious is it to be surrounded by nature's beauty, the simplicity of daily devotion to the Lord; to feel the true joy of contentment.
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{My parents took an evening walk up to the garden}
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~Collecting wild muscadine vines~
"...For the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yeild their strength." Joel 2:22
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May the true harvest of my daily life, be a reflection of inner peace and light.
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Every shelf in our home is different..often filled with vintage treasures that are certainly put to good use. How thrilling it is to read a book of poetry while you're waiting for the oven to warm! :)
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For years we used our red wagon for yard work, but over time it has indeed become quite rusty and worn. So it's now resting in the herb garden :) Our cats think it's a perfect spot for naps...
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Recently I was invited to a Ladies Tea, and gave a presentation on 19th century life. We were all gathered under the shade of a large oak tree; & quite a few ladies were in attendance. What a lovely time we had!
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My dear readers, It has been way too long since my last post! I appreciate your patience, and I'm definitely going to begin posting much more regularly now-- I look forward to sharing more with you soon!