May 7, 2014.
Happy Birthday Richard Edward.
Some recent farm life photos
April 14, 2014
Well I had a mess
of onions, and a mess of cabbage, I had to do something with, so sweet
onion/cabbage relish is was:
Five gallons of peeled onions, waiting for the Cuisinart to shred them.
Ditto some fresh cabbage.
And some bell pepper. I had to buy these, but not next year, if I can help it.
Throw them all in the pot with some spices.
Now this is what I call early Christmas shopping.
I don't know why they call for the yellow bell peppers as you can't see it.
When I first tried this stuff I thought OK, but I don't know what all the praise was about. Then I tried it again and was hooked. You can just stand and eat this stuff right out of the jar. It can sure dress up and sandwich.
My regular morning strawberry picking.
Cleaned, flash frozen, and stored, waiting to make an experimental batch of authentic, old style wild strawberry preserves.
March 7, 2014.
Strawberry time. Which means strawberry jam time at the Billy abode.
I picked up five flats, well, almost five.
And I got to cleaning them as soon as I got home. Last year I procrastinated (imagine that?) and lost half my berries, so I cleaned and refrigerated this batch pronto.
Lots of berries for lots of jam.
And then the cook-down begins. Almost all of this years batch is balsamic vinegar based. It seem to go over well last year so I was planning on making more this year. I remembered to by balsamic but neglected to get enough lemon juice. Since the balsamic replaces the lemon juice the choice was made, this years batch was mostly balsamic.
And we keep cooking it down.
Got to have lots of room on the stove.
And into the bottles go the pesky strawberries. Check my new ladle from Amazon. I absolutely love it. What a great canning tool.
Here's a batch of old school being cooked down. No pectin, just lots of boiling. It takes about 50 minutes of hard boiling to get it cooked down right.
The last two double batches (against all advice I always make double batches) were standard jam with a vanilla bean. I had no idea how hard it was to find actual vanilla beans, or how expensive they are. I ended up driving 20 miles to a Walmart to find some. I almost gave up but at the last moment saw some in a bottle. I never expected the actual beans to be in a bottle but some plastic bag, so maybe the other stores did have them. Anyway, $9 for two stinkin' beans. Billy's cheapster was hurtin'. But it was worth it, nice touch.
And the finished product.
And I had a pretty good broccoli harvest. Blanched and froze most all of it.
December 8, 2013
I planted the last of the garden today. I'd already planted two rows of onions from bulbs but I wanted to try growing onions from seeds. I ended up with five additional rows from the seeds. I'm not really sure how these are going to hold up as I transplanted them pretty quickly. But it's all a learning experience.
The last five rows of onions being watered in. It's hard to see them, but they are there, I can assure you.
Two rows of onions from bulbs, lettuce, rutabaga, turnips, beets and carrots. I'm hoping to get my first batch of turnip greens canned today. I ate a raw turnip from the garden a few minutes ago, delish.
More rutabagas, turnips, Chinese cabbage, hybrid cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts.
The strawberry patch. I've been selling runners out of the patch on Craigslist. Not much money to be made but it sure is fun meeting all the people. In spite of the fact that I know nothing about them, I've become the strawberry guru to a bunch of folks. I'm just starting to get strawberries off the plants.
I vaccum bagged 22#s of pecans this morning. I didn't grow them but I did local source them from a neighbor. How many lane cakes in 22#s of pecans?
November 28, 2013.
It's obviously been a long time since a post but that's one of the reasons I don't have a "real" blog. Two or three posts a year does not a blog make.
But quit yer bitchin', here's something.
Thanksgiving 2013 with Randy, Buddy, Holly, Nipper and Bill.
My very good friend Randy joined me a day early for a impromptu Thanksgiving celebration. He brought along three good friends we're both fond of, Florida lobster.
When Randy and I are alone, we revel in our crude maleness. We also do it when we're not alone, but that doesn't seem to go over quite as well. This celebration was no different. Randy and I could cook a can of Vienna sausages over a garbage fire and think we were living it up. Considering our financial trajectories, that may end up being a very useful trait.
Randy did some chores before jumping in the truck to make a three hour run to my pace. I spent the day working in the yard, doing trim work on the windows and, as always, playing with the dogs. As is obvious from the photos, neither of us felt obligated to put on our Sunday best, although in looking at the photos I seem to have the grunge award sewn up. That didn't seem to inhibit our spirit of celebration.
As I've been on a fairly strict low fat, low meat, low frills dietary regime, I left the bulk of the cooking to Randy. This was a wise decision as Randy is one to always be at the ready to throw culinary caution to the wind. Copious amounts of butter ( I had to turn my head during this event to keep from offending my delicate sensibilities) were mixed with equally large amounts of garlic (no protest here from me) sautéed and poured over the split carcasses of the three lobster. It was decided the best method at our disposal for cooking the asparagus was to add them to this concoction of cholesterol and coarsely chopped allium sativum. The end result proved this to be a wise decision. This was dispatched to a 350 degree oven to best mingle the ingredients while we discussed boy business over a few glasses of wine outside in the chill air.
My contribution was a fine tossed salad with poblanos and bell peppers fresh from the garden. I suppose last nights 27 degree weather may signal the end of my ability to augment the dinner table with summer produce. And I cooked up a bag of frozen crookneck squash and onions, also from the garden. I really hadn't, as of yet, been able to test this frozen squash and onion concoction but the results were quite acceptable.
It was decided by a vote of 2-0 that we would eat this sumptuous meal while standing over the stove. I couldn't have asked for better company or better food. It was certainly a Thanksgiving that will be remembered, as long as I have one (memory).
A couple of more glasses of wine and Randy was fast asleep on the couch.
Up early for some strong black coffee, Publix biscuits and Billy's home made peach jam and Randy was on his way to Louisiana.
May 26, 2013 Photos
Good day everyone.
We picked up an old Ethan Allen desk on Criagslist for $100. I had to sand and refinish the top and drawer faces, but it came out fine. It's sure a lot better furniture than average. There's something really satisfying to us misers about scoring a deal on Craigslist. I'm getting some good use out of it right now, my feet propped up on it with the dog sleeping under.
I picked the second round of bush beans. These devils are coming in as fast as I can pick and preserve them. The wash tub you see is from Grandma and Pop's so I'm sure it's not the first batch of beans it's seen. I don't care who you are, that is a mess o' beans. These I cleaned, blanched, vacu-packed and froze. Last night and today we picked another batch of two five gallon pails. These I think I'll cold pack, whole, vertical in wide mouth jars. I saw some like that on the internet and it looked interesting. I want to try some flavored pickled beans but I'll wait until the pole beans start producing to try those.
Buddy, like most dogs, loves to roll in poop out in the pature. Ordinarlily it's dry and all he gets in some dried grass looking stuff in his hair that's easy to brush out. This time he apparently found some fresh wet poo and he managed to get totally wallowed in it before I caught him. Bath time for Buddy. Farm life, gotta love it. And a photo of Holly to show her progress.
Today was the first day Donna has felt up to working in the garden so I put her to pickin'. It was nice to have her back out there with me. As the photos show, the garden is going gangbusters. I'm amazed at how the winter squash beds have exploded in just a week since the last photos. I love getting out in the morning and watching the bees working over the yellow squash blossoms.
I broke another tooth so you won't see any toothy Mexican grin on me in these photos. I got off easy on the last one as the tooth already had a root canal and they were able to reattach it with a post. This time the tooth broke off without enough left to reattach, so I'll have to get an implant, probably. Maybe this will finally teach me to stop eating like a starving coyote.
The last photo is of the orchard coming along. It looks like I only lost one tree, with two more struggling. All the plants that are struggling are in the same corner of the lot where I cleaned up an old dumping ground. There may have been some old herbicide or oil dumped in that area. Whatever, if those few don't make it I'll not replant there.With the whole dental thing (Donna wants to get two crowns also), we're considering another run out west and down into Mexico in the fall. I could get the implant done here and then go to Mexico for my crown, Donna's two crowns, and then glasses for both of us. The savings on the crowns and glasses would just about pay our fuel bill and then we'd have a few months to explore the desert and mountains out west. Lord knows I hate to spend the loot, but ya never know when someone else will be spending your loot for you iffin' you don't spend it all first.
May 20, 2013 Photos
The big new of the day is Donna came home from the hospital today. Apparently she suffered a mild stroke, if there is such a thing as a mild one. It's good to have her back and in good condition. Her stay, I think it was three days, was at North Florida Regional Medical Center. We were both impressed with the operation and are glad to have such a fine facility so close, if you can call 18 miles close. The best part for me is it's right across from the big mall in Gainesville, The Oaks Mall, so if anything happens to me I can just tell Donna to take me across the street from the mall and she'll know where to go.
The garden is doing fantastic. I credit it to the area being in an old horse pasture with many years of compost build up. The winter squash, butternut and acorn, have just set fruit. The potatoes have bloomed so I'm sure they're busy making yummy tubers. I've spotted the first tassels on the corn plants so it's time to side dress them again. This year I've got multiple stalks on each corn plant, something I'd not seen before. I hear it's nothing to worry about and a sign of highly fertile soil. I'm willing to go with that. I should have some summer squash to harvest in a day or two. The black eyed peas are going gangbusters after almost succumbing to aphids but a couple applications of neem oil seem to have saved them. I've picked my first harvest of bush beans already. We're eating onions from the garden tonight and should have plenty to dehydrate. Unfortunately the southern onions are not the best for storing so we'll dry what we can't eat fresh. I've also got plans for making some of Grandma's squash/onions/pepper dish and freezing that. The asparagus won't be ready until next year and the strawberries are an interesting project but not productive as yet. The few strawberries I'm getting are being eaten by some needy varmint, probably mice. The tomatoes are coming along nicely, all 80 of them. Bending up the cages for them from concrete reinforcing mesh was a big project, but they should last many years. I put in two rows of pole beans using a trellis design I found on the web. The beans are just about to start running up the supports. We've got about a dozen cucumber hills, mostly pickling cukes, but one field cuke and one yellow cuke that looks like a lemon. One hill of cantalope, one hill of watermelon, a dozen or so peppers (poblano and bell, I couldn't get any jalapeno to spout yet), some dill, parsley, oregano, basil, and cilantro.
As I mentioned, I've picked my first batch of bush beans. It looks like I got about 8 gallons on the first picking. I ended up canning all of them for a total of 34 pints. Unfortunately I made the newbie mistake of venting the pressure cooker too soon and boiled about half the liquid out of about 8 or 10 jars. As many times as I've read the directions for pressure canning, some of it just doesn't sink in until I actually see the results. I hope I've learned this lesson for the last time and I'll be more patient in the future. I tried both hot packing and raw packing, just for the experience. Hot packing is the preferable method as the product holds up better over time, or so they say. I was a little disappointed in how cooked the beans were, after sampling a jar of the first batch. Considering you blanche the beans in boiling water for five minutes, then have them in the boiling canner for 10 minutes while the pressure cooker is venting, then pressure cook them at high temperature for an additional 20 minutes, it's no surprise they come out more cooked than I like my veggies. After my second batch I realized what my pressure cooker procedure problem was, made adjustments, and the third batch came out perfect. I'm sure I'll blanch and freeze the next batch as frozen seems to be the best method from keeping the produce "farm fresh". I know the few I froze last year were outstanding.
Holly, the new puppy, is coming along and making herself part of the family. The first few weeks, actually up until a few days ago, she has been a holly terror. She's like a Tasmanian devil on steroids, never stopping and biting the tar out of us with those razor sharp puppy teeth. In the last few days she's mostly stopped the biting and has calmed way down. Buddy has done a yeoman's job of putting up with her (she thinks Buddy is really cool), but three times now he's finally snapped and grabbed her by her muzzle.