Sunday, February 28, 2016

Tiny Greens

I was at Rebecca's Natural Food store in Charlottesville and decided to treat myself.  I got some screen lids for sprout starting and a bag of Alfalfa seeds and Mung Bean seeds.  I love sprouts on salads and things and also like to make asian noodle soups so I thought this would be fun to try out.  It also satiates that "gardening" fix I miss during the winter.  There is something satisfying in sprouting a plant from seed and watching it thrive.

I started the Alfalfa sprouts this morning.  Maybe by next Sunday I'll be enjoying a hummus and sprout sandwich!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Three Birds, One Stone; the gift of Palav Kadu

I had so much fun growing my Palav Kadu Squash!  Winter Squash are wonderful because under just a few conditions, you have a bounty stored for the winter time that is both decorative and low maintenance.  Back when I was just getting into canning and preserving I had looked up recipes for canning pumpkin.  I found it wasn't recommended because of squash's low acidity.  You can cube it and freeze it but I try not to rely on the freezer too heavily.  Then I learned how "the old people" did it and now I'm never going back.  Certain breeds of squash can be stored whole and on their own with no processing.  As long as they are cured and dry, I have found I can store winter squash on a wooden chest in my dining room.  My most favorite is Galeux D'Eysines Squash.  I consider it beautiful but the majority would call it ugly.  It is covered in a tight warty looking skin.  I once had one that lasted sitting on that wooden chest from the time I harvested it in the fall until I cooked it in the following March.  I don't know why but I have a feeling that tight warty rind keeps out the elements.  Inside it has golden flesh that is sweet and succulent.

This year, I tried out Palav Kadu and it did not disappoint!  The picture in the ad shows a pale cream colored gourd with a green netting.  As they age, the netting fades and the rind assumes a dark cream color.  As it ages further from this stage, a powdery residue will bloom on it's surface.  One afternoon in late January I noticed that the two I had left looked particularly dull with residue and I decided to pull them before they were too far gone to eat.

 Having them at so late a stage proved to be good for the seeds.  The seeds were ready to come out and they were glossy and fat.  I hope that means there will be lots of little kadus for next summer!

 The squash that had the nicest seeds had the thinnest bottom where the seed cavity was.  The seeds had sucked up all the flesh to nourish themselves.  In the top picture the gourds have been brushed in olive oil and are ready for the oven.  The two blunt cut ones are where the thin rinds were.  I decided to cube those up to give to goaties instead.

Mixed in with molasses coated grains, they are a treat that you will get trampled for in a heartbeat.

After I cleaned the hoofmarks off my face and back, I came in and made fresh pumpkin soup with bacon and freshly made croutons.  Palav Kadu fed me, my husband, my goats, and with a little luck from those fat little seeds it will feed us all again next year!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Stinky Spring

It's difficult for me these days to keep up with blogs, especially during the spring season with so much to get done!  I wanted to make a fast post to show you what I finally captured before it withers.  Behold, the majestic Symplocarpus foetidus or Skunk Cabbage.

When I first moved in with Pat, I jogged religiously and I began to notice an odor near our creek bridge every spring.  At first, I thought it might have been a dead deer carcass that I couldn't quite find but after smelling it around the same time each spring I figured it had to be some sort of mold or fungus.  Pat figured it out last year when he noticed the goats would not eat a particularly green large leaved plant growing on the lowland.  Usually, for the goats, large leaf equals prized food but not this time.  Pat tried to offer it to them but when he plucked a leaf out and crushed it, he found it smelled like rotten meat.  Bingo.  Culprit found.  He did a little research and found that it actually has the ability to generate its own heat to melt snow in spring.  It also has a contractile root system which means it pulls the plant itself down into the earth further each year.  In essence, it grows down not up.

I went looking for the blossom this year and found it!  I am one of those weirdos who likes carnivorous plants and weird looking blooms.  The green and red striations are very striking to me.

But I have a secret to share:  I had a cold so the whole time I was photographing, I couldn't smell a thing.  Otherwise, I might not have been so into the idea of getting so close to this fetid rose!

First Vegetables out of the Garden

The radishes are peeking above the soil!  Such pretty colors in the summer sun.  The bugs are beginning to notice the broccoli so we pulled the biggest out of the bunch to have for dinner before the insects beat us to it.  I count this as a grand success since we had brussell sprouts that tried to flourish but the bugs just kept at them.  A leaf would unfurl and promptly get nibbled back.  This guy is far from grocery store sized but we ate it anyway!  We chopped up the radish leaves and broccoli stem leaves and mixed it in with salad.  There are good sources of minerals in those leaves!

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Goats of Spring

Spring is here and lovely new green leaves mean the buffet has arrived!  I'm pretty sure the goats are tired of just bamboo and hay.  The winter snow and ice fells a lot of pine and they love to clean up after that but it's just not the same and wandering through a mild spring morning in the shade of the trees while the birds are chattering.  It's been a good long time since I updated on these guys and I know Aunt Amy, Aunt Linda, and Pops Dube are wondering what is up so here we go:

Legend is the alpha goat.  He's mild but cranky in his old age.  Where does a 150+ lb. goat go? Anywhere he wants to go.  He likes the companionship but he's got no problem knocking the other two out of the way if he wants.  Here he has his regal camera pose.  He rules the roost even without horns. 

Brother and Sister like to stay together even if they butt heads more often than not.  Sometimes you can here them go clack!clack! when one or the other has something the other wants.  The altercation usually doesn't last long.  Sometimes when Pat and I are with them they will put on a play show that will last.  Then we can root for our favorite teams and place bets!

Odin is a true beta.  He can usually be found either kissing Legend's butt or competing with him half heartedly for resources.  Legend puts up with this for a few minutes before he knocks him out of the way.  Odin always cracks me up because if Pat or I are around, he usually diverts from kissing up to Legend to kissing up to one of us; which ever one has the most resources/power at the moment.

Vada is a lady and anything but meek.  She is low goat on the totem pole.  Thankfully, she is also the resident spitfire.  While the boys are busy competing with each other, she will go off on her own path to fend for herself.  You go girl.  She can be sweet too, when she wants, and both her and Odin will come up and lay down on you if they are so inclined. Not Legend.  No fluffy business for him.  He will lay down near you but will flip out if you try to rest against him.

As a white goat, she can be blinding in the sun sometimes.  She's usually pretty clean and I rarely see her get muddy or poke berry stained.  Always a lady.

After a full day of browsing, everyone likes to lounge in the lot and digest in the shade.  Legend looks like he is in the process of telling a bad joke and the rest are responding, "her, her, her, that funny."  Life is good in the spring time and bellies are full.  Can't wait to break into Lana's garden and eat everything when she's not looking!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Say Hello . . .

. . . to my little friend!  Pat and I took a walk this morning and this is the little present I found.  Yep, nasty hippy went digging through road kill.  Don't worry.  I washed my hands instead of licking them clean.

I saw bleached white sticking up out of the grass and went to investigate.  Those are some nasty look'n choppers.  At first I thought it was a cat but the snout is too long to be a cat.  My second guess was fox but owing to the mass of gray fur around the bone pile, I'm pretty sure it's a possum.  I wondered about the gap between the canines and the small incisors but when I looked up "possum skull" I saw that it is a groove for the bottom canines to slot into.  The bottom jaw was missing.

So, now I'll share with you two possum stories.  I'll wax nostalgic and start by opening the way grandma would by telling you to "sit the hell down and listen!"

When we where little, my brother and sister and I went to play in the back yard which included a pasture behind the woodshed.  I was about 7 or 8 and for some reason an old lime green flannel blanket was laying in the middle of the pasture.  Back then we used a clothesline to dry clothes and I can see where the wind might have blown it loose and carried it into the back pasture.  When we went to investigate, we found a very large (20 lb?) possum curled up in it.  He was playing dead and his lips were curled back and we could see his shiny sharp teeth.  We didn't know any better and we figured he was asleep.  I think we turned him at least once and poked him a few times and he never budged.  When we told mom, she just about had a stroke over it.  I'm grateful now to that old possum.  He could have leapt up off the blanket and shredded us kids but I guess he somehow knew we were just kids and would leave him alone eventually.

Story number two involved my father finding a baby possum when he was young.  I think he was about 6 or 7.  At any rate, he brought it home and knew he would get in trouble so he hid it on their enclosed back porch where my grandmother did the wash.  There was a clothesline strung up inside so he curled the little possum's tale around the clothesline and left him hanging to sleep for the night.  Needless to say, when my grandmother did a load of laundry early the next morning she nearly had a heart attack and my dad got in big trouble.

Damn kids, and clotheslines, and possums!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Twas the Day before Christmas

So, on a whim, I snagged the latest copy of Mother Earth News a week ago.  Try a new bread recipe for myself?  Well, yes!  So, when I had Christmas Eve off I knew I had a mission.  I had actually made blackberry juice for jelly earlier this fall and put it in the freezer.  From September up until now I felt as if a fuse had been lit in my life and things went into overdrive.  I had one opportunity or success after another (and I can ask for NO better problem to have really) but boy was it a whirl wind.  Now I finally got to try out the preserves recipe I've been toting around.

I never did try out that recipe in the magazine!  I didn't have some of the ingredients so I just made one up.  To my dismay, it seems the food moths got into virtually all my flours so I inadvertently had to clean out my baking cabinet.  My bread ended up being a oat, flax seed, whole wheat/white mix.  Still tasted good!

I had two recipes I wanted to try.  The first I did was for blackberry jelly.  Jelly has no seeds.  Jams and preserves retain the seeds.  The blackberry juice cooked up so pretty.  Any fan of blackberries will appreciate the sweet dark rich abyss bubbling on the stove top.  

I had just enough blackberries left in the freezer to also do a batch of jam.  Woohoo!  Now there is room in my freezer to stash other things.  It was surreal to be canning my jam and then look out the window and see snow falling.  How lucky we got today to actually have a white Christmas Eve!

It's been a while since I've updated on the goats but they are doing well.  We switched them over to the garden yesterday and put up the temporary shelter.  I wish I had more photos but they didn't stand very still and it was getting dark.  Vada is turning into a little ham.  She kept hopping up on my legs and putting her snoot into the camera lens.  I managed to snap one good shot that wasn't snuffly or blurry.

Say Goat Cheese!

~~~Happy Holidays, Everyone! ~~~