Sunday, June 25, 2017

Strawberry Overload

We started this day bright and early by going strawberry picking. Halfway to the farm (a good 30 miles away) I realized I was supposed to ping a friend to see if she wanted to go with us. Sorry, Sue, if you're reading this! I totally spaced!

Anyway, we were brought via hayride to a field that had not yet been picked this year. How awesome. We hardly moved, and yet we picked 17 pounds of strawberries. They were beautiful and large and tasty! After returning from the fields, we had strawberry doughnuts and headed home. I had to stop at the store to get sugar, and a few other essentials, and when we got home I got to work.

Strawberries to eat - the ones on the top of the heap, the least crushed.
Strawberries mixed with sugar for the shortcake. (The shortcake itself is currently in the oven.)
Strawberry jam - 9 cups.
Strawberry rhubarb jam - 1 pound of rhubarb and 2.5 cups of strawberry purée - 8.5 cups.
Swans on the pond
Strawberry soup - 1 quart of berries, 8 ounces of cream cheese, some mango juice drink and some honey. That was lunch.

At this point, we went out for an hour long canoe trip in the local pond. They only started renting canoes and kayaks on the weekends last week, and since we have an ambitious canoe trip ahead of us, I wanted everyone to get some practice.

Another stop at the store, to get a few more things, so I could make:

Strawberry Maple Smooch - kind of a strawberry maple syrup thing for cakes or ice cream or pancakes.
Strawberry Jalapeño jam - 4 cups strawberry purée and 1 cup diced jalapeño peppers - 7.5 cups.
Strawberry Lemon Marmalade - 7 cups.

I still have about 1.5 quarts of berries left for something. I plan to make strawberry pancakes for breakfast. I am setting aside 2 jars each of the plain strawberry, the strawberry rhubarb and the strawberry jalapeño jams for the fair. I may change my mind, but at least I've got some things to enter.

And, I have to make burgers for dinner. But I'm taking a break. It's only 5:30 pm.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Better Year

It's shaping up to be a better year for fruit. We've had a lot of rain, and now the sun and heat are making things sweet. While I don't get a lot of strawberries from the front yard, after 5 trips to the mulberry tree in the back I extracted enough juice to make a batch of mulberry jelly. Just like before, I used 4 cups of juice, 3 T. lime juice, 5 cups of sugar and 1 package of powdered pectin. I think I may set aside jars of this for the fair. Now I can let the birds have the rest of the berries; whenever I went to pick they'd sit in the higher branches and squawk at me.

We're hoping to go strawberry picking tomorrow, bright and early. Well, I am hoping to go picking. I am bribing the family with gigantic muffins so they'll get up and come with me.

Also today, I'm making bread so by later tonight I should have three fresh loaves. I'm still managing to make that commitment; I truly haven't bought a loaf of sandwich bread since February of 2016. That makes me very happy.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Getting Back into a Groove

After a slow winter and spring, mainly due to my general overwhelmedness, I'm finally starting up with some projects again. The farm share yesterday came with a large Napa cabbage and, after consulting with my friend, we decided it would be better if I made it into kimchi and then split that up. So this morning I started the brining process for the cabbage and tonight I'll get it set up to ferment.

Also today, I started a batch of yogurt. I was going to do that the other day and then discovered that the milk I'd purchased for it went bad because I'd waited too long. So now that's going until this evening as well, hopefully the yogurt I picked for a starter (Green Mountain Creamery Greek Yogurt) is a good choice.

The mulberry tree in the backyard is covered in berries this year and for the past two nights I've managed to pick enough berries to extract a cup of juice each time. Two more harvests like that and I'll have enough mulberry juice to make a batch of jelly. My strawberries in the front yard are few and far between, I am still competing with the chipmunks to get them first. And I still have to find some sort of netting to put over my peach tree to keep the birds and squirrels out. I'm hoping the chipmunks can't or won't climb that high...

Friday, June 16, 2017

Farm Season

The farm share started up last week and since it's been a cooler and rainy spring it's off to a slow start. Not that I mind. Last year was so hot and dry I'm grateful for all the rain. We were all worried when it was so hot this past February!

This year I'm splitting the share with a friend. It'll be good for both of us, I think. A full share can be so much food! So I'll likely do a little less canning from my share but it'll be less overwhelming.

Yesterday's share contained radishes, Hakurei turnips, spinach, arugula, herbs, snap peas, komatsuna greens, mustard greens and kale. My half of the share, except for the greens I'm giving to Mocha, basically made one terrific salad. I was able to snag a few ripe strawberries from my front garden, the ones the chipmunks hadn't found, and add those as well. Strawberry season should start in earnest next week!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Fiddly

The other day we were going to a party and I wanted to make pretty cookies. I'd seen a picture somewhere of cookies where the dough was woven and then the cookies were cut out and they were adorable. I tried to recreate that.

I will never do it again.

The dough was too flexible and broke a lot, and I had a hard time making even strips. Some of the cookies came out looking like those woven buttons that were popular in the '60's and '70's. I finally gave up and made rounds scored with the tines of a fork. Some of those got sugar crystals and some didn't. It was a long afternoon.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Accomplishments

After making all that apricot jam, I left the canner out for a few days, hoping it would inspire me to work on those fiddleheads I'd bought. It did; today I pickled them and got three 8-ounce jars of garlic fiddlehead pickles. I followed this recipe but changed one thing, mainly that I used champagne vinegar rather than white wine vinegar. The champagne vinegar is from the batch I made a while back. Also, I'm not sure why it says not to submerge the jars when canning; I did submerge and can them the usual way and they sealed up perfectly.

A little blurry but you get the idea...
The other things I managed to get done today were to get the "yurt" ready for summer and wrap up the soaps I made last month with my friend. Several years ago I bought one of those backyard tent things that you can put a table and chairs in and then enjoy your dinner without all the mosquitos. Ours happens to be hexagonal so looks more like a yurt than anything, although I think it's officially a gazebo. Every year we have to hang up the curtains; I made the mistake one year of hanging them up too soon and the stormy spring weather tore off all the velcro straps so I wait now until the weather finally calms down and the pollen surges have passed.

My honey-beeswax-lavender-rosemary soaps finally finished curing and I wrapped them in parchment paper with little labels so we can either use them here or give as gifts. Two were already gifted so I only have six left. However, each bar lasts a fairly long time; and I still have other bars of soap from my friend to use here if I decide to give them all away.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Just Too Much

Have you ever had so much to do you didn't know where to begin?

Yes, of course you have. Well, it's been happening to me lately, which is part of why I haven't done a whole lot of cooking or canning projects. Sometimes, being busy is a good thing. It gets you going in the morning, out the door, and then it's easier to run your errands and get things done because you're already past that inertia. Sometimes, you either have more than that or just slightly less, at which point the path of least resistance is to sit on the couch and play video games and justify that you'll do that thing tomorrow. Over and over again.

So much so that I let an entire bag of Meyer lemons go bad because I kept putting off making curd. That I haven't even planned our summer vacation. That I have to be reminded to do the things I said I do. This is not like me.

Therefore, when I saw that apricots were on sale today I took that as an opportunity and bought a whole bunch. Enough to make a batch of apricot jam and a batch of apricot ginger jam. (I had fresh ginger in the house because I planned to make something with it and, you guessed it, never got around to it.) I'm hoping the apricot ginger jam is fair-worthy and I'll set two jars aside.

Maybe this is the kick I need to get moving. I certainly hope so.