Wednesday, July 28, 2010


What are you preserving this week? It has been "Pickle Week" here at the cabin. Over the weekend, we were the recipients of a plastic grocery bag filled with cucumbers (from some wonderful friends), many of which became dill pickle spears (pictured below). We also were given some tomatoes by one of hubby's co-workers and those became the jar of tomato puree pictured below.

Also in this picture are banana peppers, okra (both from our neighbor), peaches (from hubby's co-worker who sent a whole shopping bag full) was planning on putting up peaches in syrup, but we ended up eating most of them), some cucumbers (friend), a huge squash (from our neighbor - she said it is wonderful seeded and cubed and cooked with some brown sugar and cinnamon. I hope to try it, as that sounds wonderful), and another huge zucchini which will also be shredded and put in the freezer for zucchini bread.

Today I made pickled banana peppers and processed 6 half-pints (to the left in the photo). I also put some, unprocessed, in the fridge to use in the next week or so (big jar in photo) - yum!! I still need to decide what to do with the okra. I will probably just cook it down with onions and peppers and put it in the freezer for gumbo this fall.

It is harder to get to the farmer's market this year because we are 40 miles away from the closest one, so our wonderful neighbors' gifts have been such a blessing.

What are you preserving this week?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

It Sounds Like A Farm Around Here

The roosters have started crowing every morning. They are far enough away from the house that we can't hear them unless we are outside, so I guess that's why I still love to hear them crow. It sounds like a farm :) They have also found their libidos and we've witnessed much chicken romance around here in the last few days. Hopefully that is an indication that they girls are getting ready to start laying eggs.

The chickens have been getting more and more destructive with my garden lately, so we finally put up a little fence around the part that is planted. It is working very well, because even though the chickens could easily fly over it (we find them in the trees many evenings, now) for some reason, they do not think of that and stay out of my basil, parsley, and lettuce. The remaining beds received compost last week and will probably be planted with potatoes (some of the one's my Dad grew have sprouted), beets, swiss chard and kale in the next week or two.

I only got to the farmer's market once this last week, as we had several appointments that coincided with the market preventing us from going and we also had surprise guests (which we were thrilled to have). I did not do any canning this week but a neighbor gave us a ton of okra which I cooked down and put in the freezer for okra gumbo this fall. He also gave us an absolutely huge zucchini (the boys were pretending it was a baseball bat) that he said we could shred in the food processor and use for zucchini bread.

The picture does not really give good perspective. Its hard to tell, but its bigger than my forearm from fingertips to elbow.

This morning at the market, I needed eggs and by the time I arrived, an hour after it started, most of the egg farmers were sold out. I got two dozen by absolute luck, as one farmer still had some. I also met a farmer who grows heirloom tomatoes, so we had those (delicious!) with cucumbers (from the market) and some homegrown potatoes and onions for lunch. So yummy. We also got a lot more peaches, some of which we had for desert at lunch and some of which will go into the freezer.
I'm hoping to get to the farmers' market at least twice this week. I am also hoping to do a better job of making a menu plan and sticking to it. The budget has been busted far too many times this pregnancy. We are also having family over for the weekend. They have lots of kids and my kids are so excited as they love playing with their cousins!! I'm hoping to get most of the cooking done before the weekend so that I can enjoy the visit, too. Maybe I'll be able to post my plan in a day or two.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Happenings Around the "Little Cabin In the Woods"

I can hardly believe that I am already in my second trimester of this pregnancy. I can no longer fit into my regular clothes, even with a rubber band attached to the button at the waist. In fact, I look like I swallowed a whole cantaloupe, lol. Thanks be to God, I am beginning to get some energy back and can get a little more done around the house. We have been gifted with several pounds of squash, zucchini, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, green beans and sweet corn throughout the season both from neighbors and hubby's co-workers. A lot of it was eaten fresh and even more was put up in the freezer, while the tomatoes and peppers became salsa and the green beans became dilly beans. I have not been putting up as much as I had hoped, though I am going to try to put up salsa and tomato puree next week and if I can muster up the energy, maybe some pickles, too, before all of the cucumbers are gone.
Peaches are in season right now and last week, I put a few quarts in the freezer for smoothies and Popsicles. In season, local peaches are some of my favorite fruit and we have eaten a ton of it out of hand as well. Yum!

Our chicken flock has experienced a few changes. First, they have grown so much. They must be full grown now as they look to be a little bigger than whole chickens from the grocery store or farmers' market. Second, a few months ago, we realized that one of them was a bantam since it was about half the size of the others. She was small enough to slip out of the run and would do so any time she pleased which led to the change in our flock - Indiana, our dog, got her one day when he was having his "off the leash" time. That left us with only 18 chickens, 14 of which are hens. Then last week, my Dad decided that his two hens (Australorps -such beautiful birds) should come to live with us, so they moved here over the weekend.
That makes 16 hens and 4 roosters. The Australorps are 4-6 weeks older than the other birds and should start laying in about a month. That means I need to finish up the second coop/ run. We are planning to move a rooster and the laying hens into a coop with laying boxes that have access from the outside. We also plan to have one rooster and 3 hens in the current coop/ run to see if they will raise babies. Yeah, that means two of the roosters will no longer be welcome here, except maybe in the freezer.

Our list of pets is growing as well. A few days ago, we found a baby kitten out in the yard in the rain, cold and scared. It took a while to catch it because it was afraid, but we were finally able to bring it in from the rain. It is currently residing in our sunroom, getting used to us, eating and growing like a weed. They boys have named it Whiskers.

Cutest baby kitty ever!

We are hoping to put it back outside in a few weeks, once it is a little bigger and better equipped to take care of itself outside at night.

The summer garden is done. The yellow beans became dilly beans, the potato plants died back and when I dug them up we had about 8 potatoes, which I think is pretty good, considering the garden only sees about 4 hours of full sun a day. That is about to change as we are currently taking bids for removing several of the trees surrounding the house. The onions all died back but did not bulb up much because of the lack of sunlight. Next year, we'll put the onions in another location. We had two heirloom tomato plants which were determinant, so they produced one batch then were done. The pumpkin plants are still growing and have finally started putting out female flowers, so we may hopefully see pumpkins soon. During the week, I pulled up all the dead stuff and put in 6 basil plants and 4 parsley plants. I also added a fence around the new plants because the chickens will eagerly devour anything they can get. We are going adding compost to the remaining beds and getting them ready for fall planting. I need to sit down soon and plan the fall garden.

I guess that's all for now. I'll try to post more often, now that I'm not constantly exhausted.