OK GROWERS – I NEED YOUR HELP!

With the advent of the tornado, lots of our garden produce got lost.  Some has started to come back, but I fear they will need more grow time than Mother Nature is going to provide.  The one thing we do have coming in great-guns yet is zucchini.

Here is my dilemma – what do I do with it all?

We have shredded, chopped, sliced and diced till my fingers are stuck in the hold position.  One of my fav recipes was a simple fried zucchini and onions.  Awesome, but best when fresh.

stuck in holding (stuck in holding position – ouch!)

Earlier this year I found a unique recipe to turn cubed, peeled zucchini into a rectangle pan type of cake that tastes exactly like apple pie, that alone was amazing.  We have taken several of the larger monsters and prepped the peeling, cubing and sauce then froze it.  We did a tester first to make sure it would work well after being frozen, and it did – woohoo!  Twelve biggies down, dozens more to go.

What I am asking for from you, my awesome readers is, please share your best zucchini recipes!

I don’t care if it’s peeled, sliced, diced, canned, frozen, fried, raw, baked, or whatever;  just as-long-as it will help to get rid of the invasion in our kitchen.

The funny part is we only planted three green plants and three yellow plants, yet we have enough food from them for an army (and why is it when you only plant one it will die on you?).

I have a stellar ratatouille recipe from about 12 years ago.  However fresh tomatoes work best for it.  I may have to travel to the farmers market in Denver to seek out some good garden stuff.

Please, if you have the time, share what you make best with your zucchini.  Leave a website or recipe or email me directly – it all works.  Hurry before we are forced to make a movie of Attack of the Killer Zucchini! EEEK!!

You can also check me out on:  www.lifelessonslived.com for all the fun things I have learned in life.

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ANYTHING BUT A DAY OFF

Labor Day (click for more info) here in the U.S. was established to honor the contributions that workers have made. The normal procedure for this is to get the first Monday in September off as a Holiday. Well, if you are a farmer (very laborious – is that a word?), or if you grow your own food in a garden; then this time of year is anything but a day off.
This is what it was for our household this Labor Day:
• Processing a HUGE box of naturally grown plums received from good friends:


• Making homemade tomato paste from our tomatoes to then…
Labor day 1
• Freezing currently picked tomatoes to process later into our special spaghetti sauce from our secret recipe. (Which is actually just using a variety of heirloom tomatoes to get that outstanding flavor – I believe- my sister begs to differ).
LD 7
• Beginning fall clean-up time:

  • Clean up dead plant materials (especially from the current growing stuff which, in-turn, will result in more food to be processed – – – never ending!).
  • Start prepping for winter by shearing up fences, mending posts, painting for weather proofing, and clean up gardening tools.
  • Fix as many repairs as possible before the first snow. (One big one right now is a hole in our chicken roof. The wind sucked off a chunk of sheet metal, and apparently, that spot did not have ply board under it – was this way when we bought the farm? So we have this roughly 2’x2’ hole we have to fix.)
  • This year’s garden tool processing includes sharpening blades (we do cheat here and have a handy-dandy electric grinder/sharpener for this), and paint handles. This year we are going to try a coat of poly over the paint to see if they will hold up better. The smaller hand tools are going to get dipped! We found some rubber dip at the local hardware store that works fantastic for this!
  • If we have low to no wind sometime this weekend, we will be burning a huge pile of dried weeds that have accumulated over the summer.
  • Got to get out big Mr. Green (name of my lawn tractor – LOL), and give the whole place a really good once-over. Some spots were neglected when the weather was too hot. They are now coming back around, and I need to get them under control before they get too big to handle.
  • We have a large pile of weed barrier cloth that we got free from my sister’s work. It needs to be de-weeded, cut into usable pieces, (which uses up a ton of box-cutter knife blades. Dulls them down to nothing in just a few good cuts!), and placed in appropriately needed places:
    • Under the greenhouse fan vents where weeds build up too fast, and I can’t get in to mow.
    • Walkway row covers. (That is another yet to-do project that we want to get a jump on before next spring.)
    • Then just adding an extra layer to spots in the greenhouse where some persistent bindweed keeps sneaking in.

There is a lot more detail to our actual to-do list, but I didn’t want to scare off any potential farmer/gardeners.
So, I hope you all had a Happy Holiday Weekend. We will just keep on working.

WHY ARE THERE NO THANKSGIVING SONGS?

I have been digging around, and this is all I found:

1. Food, Glorious Food from the movie Oliver (yes – they consider this a TG song??)
2. Count Your Blessing Instead of Sheep – from the movie White Christmas (Christmas – Hello!?)
3. Funny Thanksgiving Song “Thanksgiving Overture” (done to William Tell Overture – it is funny!)
4. Thanksgiving Prayer by Johnny Cash (this one is a REAL TG song – yeah!!)
5. Thanksgiving Song by Mary Chapin Carpenter (love this one – beautiful!!)
6. My Favorite Things – by Julie Andres from the Sound of Music movie (sort of counts?)
7. Over the River and Through the Woods. Some try to say this is a TG song, sorry but I really think this one is more of a Christmas (especially since they use the words “Merry Christmas” in the song – DUH!)
8. This is a true Thanksgiving song and happens to be one of my favorites: Thanksgiving Song by Adam Sandler.
9. What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong. This is also one of my favs, but I use it in many, many more circumstances than just Thanksgiving.

Well, you can only listen to these few songs so many times before you crack! So I am turning to old-fashioned Christmas songs to go with it. These together make me smile and bring back some really wonderful memories.

our-wild-turkey

(Wild Turkey that visited us earlier this year – hope you can see him on the fence?  He is kind of like Where’s Waldo in this pic – hee hee.)

our-turkey-whiskey

(This is our fat bird “Whiskey,” and no he will not be on the menu. He follows me everywhere, and I named him – idiot me!)

I remember helping dad with so many great yummies. Peeling grapes (I hated it), then cutting them in half to go into the fruit salad. We had to open them up back then because there was no such thing as a “seedless grape” – CRAZY I KNOW, BUT TRUE!!?? The fruit salad was always my favorite because I would sample the fruit as it was being cut into tiny pieces. Dad would shoot me a glare every now-and-then, but it would turn into a smile with a “Cut that out” attached to it.
We always had a variety of food, and there were always the potluck’s that came from other family and friends. See, this was also a HUGE football day back then so all the family and closest friends came over. I think it was mainly because of 3 things:

1. All the men fit into our huge living room.
2. All the women fit into our huge kitchen.
3. All the kids had the farm, barns, animals to mess with and kept them away from the parents.

Worked out perfect for all involved!

nice-fall-centerpiece

SO BRING IT ON THANKSGIVING!! I have a lot to be thankful for this year!

 

(Side thought: Has anyone else ever read Stephen King’s The Dead Zone?  What are your thoughts on it?)

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SO EASY AND SO FUN – BREAD IN A JAR!

We subscribe to Countryside Magazine. It is one of the few we actually enjoy and use!  It has everything for small farming, hobby or backyard garden/farming, recipes tried-and-true methods; you name it, they have it (have had it or will have it).  Perfect for anyone wanting to grow their own food.

A few years back they ran a series on “oven canning” which included several recipes for Bread-in-a-jar.  My sister and I were intrigued, so we gave it a shot.  Besides being fun to make, they were the perfect sizes to eat.  They made a fantastic gift for just about any occasion.  We did banana, blueberry, chocolate chip, spice, pumpkin and plain sweet bread.  Then, because we are so crafty, we added a sticky label with ingredients (for allergies), then decorated with bows, ribbons, and a tag.  We received so many compliments on it that we were amazed!

Well, with the house fire all of our saved and categorized Countryside issues were lost.  Along with those the bread-in-a-jar and oven canning secrets – UNTIL NOW!

I subscribe online to thewhoot.com.au it is out of Australia, but a lot of what I get from them can be done anywhere in the world (mainly recipes and crafts).  The latest wonder that they delivered to my email inbox was about Banana Bread-in-a-jar!  WOOO HOOO – oh excited me!!

This is what the completed plan looks like:

banana-bread-in-a-jar-600x400

I was so happy to find it I just had to write this up and share it! Hope you all give it a shot. The bread’s we made up (about 30 jars) sat on our pantry shelf for at least a year (maybe a couple of months more) and were still just as fresh and yummy as day one!

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ALL THIS IN JUST ONE MORNING?

Went to the greenhouse to water and check on things.  I’m pretty sure I have some Elves in there.  I go in one morning, and everything is still green and growing.  Then I go in the next morning and WOW!

I end up in there for about 2 hours, and this is only a part of what I got (ignore the onions – whole other story-darn chickens):

8-27 bounty 1 day

We are going to start (I say “start” because this will be an on-going process for the next several months) with our sauces.  With the variety of tomatoes that we have, it should be awesome!

The little green knobs in the plastic dish are our first real attempt at Mexican Gherkins (the fad now is calling them “Watermelon cucs” and putting them in their drinks?.).  They only get the size of your thumbnail and are really hard to spot on their massive tangled vines.  The variety of cherry tomatoes amazes me this year – especially since we didn’t plant any?!  They are all volunteers from the last year.

full size mexican gherkin    DSC_0011

(full-size Gherkin)                                                                       (mini tomato variety)

The flavors is what is getting me – SOO MANY!  Yellow, deep red, pink, orange, and my sister’s fav – the dark truffle (it’s the oval shaped one – they turn a deep reddish/black when they are at their peak!).  So, the bunch that you see in the top pic will be my breakfast and lunch (maybe I will pick some spinach to go with them – maybe not?!)  We share with family and friends as often as we can.  One friend came over and picked a ton (and amazingly we still have 50 tons left – yes 50?! Hee hee) and said she was going to eat them like popcorn while watching some movies – GREAT IDEA!

Farm fresh eggs pulled just this morning.  (3 chickens playing musical nesting box created this bunch)

Then I also cut some rosemary.  This is just a fraction of a fraction of what is growing in there.  I have two bushes that are about the size of a VW Bug vehicle – really!  They are HUGE.

I think the hardest part of gathering the fresh goodies is making it into the kitchen without eating them all.  Oh well, there will be more tomorrow – – – maayybee?!?

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IS THERE ANYTHING BETTER THAN A RAINY DAY?

There is just something about a rainy day that I just love.  I can’t quite pin it down to one single thing.  Maybe it is because I hold so many great reasons:

  • Rainwater is best for all the plants.  Veg, flower, bush and tree all look and act so much better with rain water.  Even more so than our well-water.
  • A steady rain (like what is going on now) makes me feel major creative!  Writing, sewing, knitting, crocheting, even cooking (SHOCKER – for me anyway, I normally do not do the cooking here, and it is not one of my passions – love the eating part, but my Sis does the awesome cooking in our household).
  • Something calming for me in the sound of the rain falling, especially on a tin roof (our outbuildings all have tin roofs).
  • The sound of the wind whipping up, rain pouring down, throw in some lightning and thunder and I can fall right to sleep (hee hee- I know, it keeps most people up but not me – so weird).
  • Then there is the childhood part of it.  When I was young, we couldn’t wait for the rain to come.  It meant fresh fruits and veggies to pick and eat, mud puddles to stomp around in, and the added benefit of hot cocoa when we finally came into the house soaking wet and cold.  It meant something warm and comforting for me.  Snow does the same thing.

I am much older now; I also have osteoarthritis (in all my joints) which can mean some painful moments on these types of days.  I believe my contentment overrides the pain.  Maybe it is also seeing something accomplished.  I used to work in offices and factories.  At the end of the day, I always felt like I didn’t accomplish anything.  There was still a pile of work left to be done on the next day, and it all looked the same.  Now I can work on a project and actually see that it is complete.  The next day will bring a new project.  Sure, I have some projects that take more time than others, but the overall feeling is of accomplishment.

So, this morning is time to finish a sewing project for a friend’s horses:

8-25 sew proj

Then vacuum seal some meat:

8-25 vac sealer

Maybe work some more on knitting projects:

8-25 knit work

Then later I have to fry up some chicken and cook some rice to put on zucchini boats to be grilled this weekend (notice, the least fav thing to do is last – hee hee).

Then I usually end my days by sitting in my recliner and working on the yarn projects again.  I never have just one going at a time.  Right now I am working on 5.  A couple of these are birthday gifts; a couple are going to be sold in my Etsy shop, and the other is one that I am actually doing just for me – woo hoo!

Tomorrow is supposed to be warmer and sunny (boo hoo), so I guess it’s time to do the “real work” – PROCESSING HARVEST  yum!

 

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I’M SO EXCITED! Can’t believe that it worked?

Our Bee Guy brings up the bees every spring via semi-truck.  When he gathers them all back to our place in the fall to go home to Arizona, he always leaves a case (yep – and it’s huge) full of fresh honey for us.  Well, this year we received a pleasant surprise.  He gave us a 25-pound bag of fresh oranges from his orchard – WOW!  These are some huge oranges:

DSC_0005 (2)

I have no clue why the bag says California (maybe he sells to them?).  I do know that they are fresh sweet and juicy – oh and ½ this bag is now gone (and it’s only been two days – hee hee). 

We sat and discussed different ways to preserve these beauties for future use.  The first idea was dehydrating.  Then came freezing, juicing and freezing the juice, and some other ideas.  Then we hit upon orange marmalade.  We make all kinds of jams and jellies, but never tried marmalade.

I grated the orange peels and froze for future cookie use.  Then we juiced and stewed up a recipe (we love our Ball Preserving Cook Book – woo hoo!!).

It worked:

DSC_0003 (1)

 

Made up a dozen of the cute little ½ pints for future Christmas gifts.  Then had enough for a couple of full pint jars and 1-half of a pint jar.  The ½ pint we now have in the fridge so I can have it on toast with peanut butter later today (yum!!).  I have to taste-test everything we do, wouldn’t want anyone to get sick right?  LMAO!!  Yes, that is my excuse for all of my food testing.  We have to make sure it is good enough to share (ok can’t stop giggling at myself now – sick woman that I am!! Ha ha ho ho ho)

orange marmalade made 5-23-16

These are the two big cuties – yum!  So glad it worked!  Happy, happy, joy, joy (doing my happy dance – hee hee)!

happy ck dance

 

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